If you like adventure and discover new regions, surprise yourself with Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. Get to know the bright side of the Middle East, the Beirut that Lebanese people get to enjoy every day. Not what is shown on the news? Of course, like any other country, Lebanon undeniably has its problems. When located in the Middle East, between Syria and Israel, there is even a bigger challenge.
Beirut is definitely my favourite city in the Middle East! There is not only great weather year round, but Lebanon also has a rich, interesting history and culture. Did you know for example that…
- Beirut is also called ‘Paris of the Middle East‘?
- 1 in 10 persons is doctor in Lebanon?
- schools teach in Arabic, French and/or English?
- there is no desert in Lebanon?
- you can both swim in the sea and ski on the mountains on some lucky spring days?
- almost half of the country is Christian? (>40%)
- people are very open in talking about their salary?
- Lebanon’s flag includes a cedar tree?
Let’s have a look at what Beirut has to offer to adventurous travelers like you and me.
Maybe Lebanese food is not as famous as the Italian kitchen, it definitely has the taste and ingredients! Tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghanouj, kebbeh, sambusac, stuffed grape leaves… All finger licking delicious!! The Lebanese kitchen has a great variety, dishes usually include olive oil, herbs, spices, garlic and lemon. One thing is for sure: you will never leave a Lebanese restaurant or house without having a full stomach! By the time the main dish arrives I am usually already stuffed haha
Like tapas in Spain, Lebanon has mezze. You will rarely see drinks like Arak, the Lebanese national anise-flavored liqueur, or a glass of chilled Lebanese wine, unaccompanied with at least some small mezze dishes. For example raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread. Lebanese salads are amazing; for example tabbouleh and fattoush, usually served with a fresh dip such as hummus, baba ghanouj or moutabal and kebbeh. Main dishes can be anything from seafood to chicken or lamb kebab skewers. Desserts are often sweet, like baklava, or original Lebanese ice cream flavors such as dried apricot and pistachio.
Live music and shisha’s are very popular in Lebanese restaurants. Check out my video on YouTube with a performance of a Lebanese band performing in a restaurant in Beirut. A great restaurant I can recommend in Beirut is Abdel Wahab, which expanded to other Middle Eastern countries over the years. Discover more great restaurants in Beirut on review sites such as TripAdvisor.
Want to go dancing in a club on Tuesday night?! Sure, no problem in Beirut! Lebanese people are super friendly and crazy about clubbing, any night of the week! They know how to celebrate life. I am not sure how they combine this with their families, but somehow they do. Families are very important in Lebanon. Gemmayzeh Street is a well-known area with lots of bars and clubs. One evening I went to Taiga in the Ashrafieh area and it was great fun! The evening started with a live music performance, after which a DJ took over for the rest of the evening. Dancing till dawn baby!
Whenever I look on my weather app, there is always nice weather in Beirut! Enviable, really. With mild winters and not too hot summers the weather is always great. Averagely taken, August is the warmest month and January the coldest and wettest, with temperatures ranging between 13°C (55°F) and 28°C (82°F). From April till November it’s the time to go without having to bring a winter coat. The time I went up in the mountains with snow was in February, but in the city center I wore t-shirts…
Beirut has many interesting sights for you to visit. National Museum of Beirut, Cathedral of Saint George, Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Mineral Museum… Go shopping at Beirut Souks, Hamra Street and ABC Mall, and stroll at Zaitunay Bay, The Corniche and Saifi Village. And yes, in the summer you can go to the beach and in the winter you can go to the mountains and enjoy the snow! Quite an original winter sports destination, right?! We ended up with a big snowball fight of about 30 adults LOL The mountains offer a wide range of possibilities for activities anyway, from hiking to horseback riding.
It’s a great view when you land at Beirut Hariri International airport (BEY) between the mountains. Privileged is what I feel when thinking back about my visit to this wonderful country. Lebanese people are so friendly and loyal, like family really!
However, I must say that before booking, do not only to check out the weather forecast and tourist attractions, but also your national advisory institute with regards to safety for traveling to Lebanon at that particular moment. Not only for safety itself, but also for insurance purposes. Also, you must understand that you cannot combine a trip to Beirut with an Israeli destination such as Tel Aviv, unless you have a 2nd passport and make a stopover in another country in between, for example Amman (Jordan) or Dubai.