Your Cultural Guide to Beirut Lebanon
Beirut, Lebanon, was the very first city I visited in the Middle East. I don’t really know what made me choose Beirut as my first destination and, tired after teaching English for eight months in China and traveling South East Asia on next to nothing for two months after that, hadn’t done enough research to know what to expect.
And so, armed only with my camera, the two small bags with which I always travel and the little bit of french I remember high school, I got in a taxi outside of Rafic Harriri International Airport and headed for central Beirut. I would spend three days in total in the Lebanese capital, choosing not to venture out to see the rest of the country out of fatigue more than fear, and during my three days in Beirut I experienced a strange world different from others. d seen, but strangely similar too.
NOTE: I spent my 3 days in Beirut before the tragic explosion of 2020 and also before the coronavirus pandemic. While most of the facts in this article are still current, some details may now be inaccurate for reasons beyond my control.
Where to stay in Beirut
When I visited Beirut, I stayed at University hotel, an economical property located near the American University of Beirut in the cosmopolitan city Hamra neighborhood, not so much because it was cool, but because it was literally the only cheap place to stay in Beirut at the time. These days if I were to come back I would probably go for an upscale property, like Saïfi Suites Where O Monot Boutique Hotel.
How to divide your 3 days in Beirut
Day one: Hamra
No matter where you stay, it’s a good idea to be near Hamra, which is a hub for restaurants, shopping, and some of the nightlife in Beirut. I will come back to this later. It is also close to historic downtown Beirut and Ain el Mraiseh, the waterfront district that was in its infancy when I visited.
No matter what time you arrive in Beirut, be sure to get off by the sea Cornice to admire the sunset, it is absolutely breathtaking. There are also many waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood and plenty of Lebanese desserts.
Day two: history and nightlife
One of the reasons I have planned for the first of your three days in Beirut to be light is that the second day will be heavy, both in terms of attractions and in terms of emotions. Start your day at martyrs place in Beirut city center, a monument erected to the first Lebanese nationalists, who courageously gave their lives to declare independence from France in the 1940s. After exploring the area around the square, which houses Roman ruins and a large mosque (which I will mention again in a minute), head over to the Achrafieh neighborhood and enjoy a delicious falafel sandwich for lunch – I have never had a better falafel in my life than in Beirut.
Spend time strolling through cosmopolitan Achrafieh, which isn’t entirely different from Hamra, before heading back to the Corniche for sunset. Refresh yourself at your hotel or hostel before returning to Achrafieh and nearby Gemmayze, which are Beirut’s liveliest nightlife districts, the latter literally lined with bars and clubs, but make sure and stop by the aforementioned mosque (named Rafic Harriri Mosque, after the assassination of the former Lebanese leader) to see it in all its illuminated splendor before getting too drunk.
Day three: a day and an evening at the beach
You’ll probably be torn apart by your night out, which is why I’ve scheduled a relaxing finale for your three days in Beirut – you’ll wind up relaxing, anyway. To start, however, I recommend that you walk west along the ledge towards Ras Beirut (the “chief” of Beirut) in Manara, which houses a lighthouse of the same name. Just after turning a very steep bend you will pass Rawcheh (the Pigeon rocks), your last stop before reaching Ramlet al-Baida, the only sandy beach in Beirut.
Relax on the beach for as long as you want (or as long as you can get there without the Eastern hornets disturbing you – obviously swimming helps with that), then come back through where you came for a performance. sunset like no other. Ideally, you’ll return to Hamra as darkness overwhelms the light, leaving you free to enjoy the moonlit waterfront, take one last look at the illuminated Rafic Harriri Mosque, or set off again the night before. to get to your next destination.
Other FAQs on visiting Beirut
Is Going To Beirut Safe?
It is difficult to say that Beirut is completely safe, given the years of war that Lebanon has endured in its short modern existence, as well as the catastrophic explosion of 2010. At the same time, the level of personal security in Beirut is very high. You are unlikely to be the victim of pickpocketing or harassment, and certainly not to be violently robbed or killed.
Is Beirut expensive?
Beirut is affordable in some ways and overpriced in others. I find upscale hotels and restaurants here can be pricey, while street food and sit-downs for local restaurants are much cheaper. Depending on the Lebanese pound exchange rate, you should probably plan to spend a minimum of $ 75 per person per day in Beirut, and possibly a little more.
How many days do you need in Lebanon?
If you only visit Beirut during your trip to Lebanon then obviously I think three days is a good amount of time to spend. However, if you are planning to visit other destinations such as Byblos and Baalbek, you can easily spend a week in Lebanon or more, the choice is yours.
The bottom line
As the world finally escapes the horrors of Covid-19, 3 days in Beirut, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Spend a day exploring historic Hamra, then a day split between the Christian and Muslim parts of the city. You should also devote plenty of time to Beirut’s beautiful beaches and spectacular coastal scenery, whether it’s a dedicated day or interspersed with the rest of your trip.