In Lebanon you’ll find Ancient Roman ruins and upscale restaurants and shops within a short stroll of each other, relics of ancient Christianity scattered throughout its countryside and the most beautiful coastal blues. Travelers may be weary to pack their bags and call Lebanon their destination of choice, but this Western Asian country so often overlooked by travelers is one of my favorite destinations EVER. I honestly believe it should be on more traveler’s bucket lists!
Lebanon’s long held history of warfare has turned a corner. For two years, peace has reigned over its major cities. Major businesses have come back to downtown Beirut, as have upscale designer brands and luxury restaurants, and I felt nothing but safe during my time here. The locals of Lebanon were warm, welcoming and so kind, each one pronouncing their love of their country.
I’m so excited to share my insider’s guide to Lebanon, a country that has me absolutely smitten!
Where To Stay
Four Seasons Beirut
Sitting in the heart of the most ideal area of Beirut, The Four Seasons Beirut is our choice of residency when in Lebanon. A sleek landmark on the edge of the Mediterranean, we were blown away by the hotel’s warm and welcoming hospitality and love of luxury.
Be sure to experience their rooftop to see the city shine from a new perspective and soak in their pool for a quick, relaxing dip in between your explorations.
If there’s one thing I learned quickly during my time in Lebanon, it’s that the food here is unreal! I was constantly blown away at the feasts this property presented every day!
Mir Amin Palace Hotel
Lebanon has everything from city life to the seaside, to snow capped mountains as well as the country side. After you’ve conquered the city, you can escape the Mont Libnan. This hotel is the perfect setting for any dreamer who loves the old world mixed with new. Set in an 1800’s royal residence, this polished and ancient hotel on the green Mont Libnan mountainsides is a magnificently luxurious place to rest your head. The panoramic views of the mountains and maintained gardens are so beautiful. We made a day visit here so even if you don’t stay, lunch here is just as beautiful of an experience.
Where To Eat
This family owned restaurant was one of my absolute faves in Lebanon. Located in the coastal town of Jounieh, this impeccably decorated restaurant that feels like a home is perched on the hillsides looking over the bay.
This rooftop bar has one of the best views of St. George’s church. Capitole is a staple in Lebanese night life, so come for the sunset and stay well into the night sipping cocktails!
Iris is another rooftop bar, but with a serious party attached to it. Full of great ambience and a stylish vibe.
Can you tell that Lebanon is proud of its seaside views? Babel Bar is perched right above the sea, serving fresh fish from the ocean below. It’s slightly costly, but worth it, in my opinion!
Em Sherif Cafe
If you want a taste of authentic Lebanese cuisine, Em Sherif Cafe is THE place to go!
This downtown Beirut restaurant is another staple for Lebanese cuisine!
Many visitors are completely unaware of this – but Lebanon as amazing wineries! Try Kefraya Winery, Ixsir Winery, or Ksara Winery during your visit. I was so blown away at how delicious their wines were!
Where To Go
After settling in to your hotel, I’d highly recommend exploring downtown Beirut by foot. Walking your way through the city, you’ll see many recently renovated buildings from after the war, Lebanon is rebuilding its roots each and every day. And while its shopping area is filled with big designer brands, the ancient architecture still remains, bold and worn, in juxtaposition with the modern buildings being renovated.
For all of your shopping needs with modern stores and old Lebanese architecture.
Harissa & Our Lady Of Lebanon Sanctuary
Harissa is an incredibly special place for Christians. Here, atop the town, Our Lady Of Lebanon Sanctuary embraces the skies. This incredibly statue and shrine of Mary looks down onto the Lebanon countryside and seaside, glowing and giving hope to the people below.
This pilgrimage site is a path for millions of wanderers from both Christian and Muslim faiths from around the world. Seeing it with my own eyes was incredibly touching.
Be sure to visit on a clear day and take the cable car to see the most spectacular views of Lebanon’s countryside and the mountains hugging the sea below. And be sure to walk the steps up to the statue, just like the millions of other visitors have done in the past.
Take a short drive outside of Beirut to visit this mountains and Chouf’s stone town, and thank me later! This area is absolutely stunning and is surrounded by some of the most epic mountainsides.
This coastal city near the Our Lady Of Lebanon shrine in Harissa is a gem! Visit its old stone souk, wonderful ports and take a gondola to the top of the mountains.
The Zaitunay Bay is a luxurious pit stop in your travels around Lebanon. It’s the epitome of touristic destinations, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely beautiful. This area is a must for people watching and taking part in various activities along the waterfront.
Pigeon Rock For Sunset
Pigeon Rock took my breath away. The roaring ocean crashing into the famous rock formation was so incredible to see as the sun set in the distance, making the sky turn purple and blue and pink. Take a stroll around the area, snap some photos and enjoy a drink at one of the waterfront cafes.
Saifi Village is a colorful, upscale neighborhood where each building is painted a pastel color unlike the next. It’s a total feast for the eyes!
This beautiful, old port by the sea is one not to be missed. I’d recommend visiting a few hours before sunset to give yourself time to explore the old market and Roman ruins nearby. Just be sure not to miss the epic sunsets here! Seeing the day come to an end in such a stunning setting is incredible.
Jeita Grotto is an expansive, interconnected limestone cave sculpted by water and time. Take a small boat in to the grotto to see it up close and personal!
Explore The Coastal Towns
Most travelers are completely unaware how coastal Lebanon is! I’d recommend nothing more than to take a day or so to explore the old, storied coastal towns of the country. Each one is unlike the next! Batroun features incredible blue waters, while Enfeh looks similar to the Greek homes you’d find on the islands, and Tyre is a great beach to enjoy on a hot day.
Visit The Lebanon Cedar Trees
The bible mentions that Lebanon’s cedars (known as the “Cedars Of God”) were carved as an adoration of Christ. Needless to say, taking in the Lebanon cedar trees that line the roads outside of the city is incredible. If you’re lucky, on your drive back to the mountains from the coastal towns, you can sometimes catch the fog laying on the mountains curves while the sun dances through them. It’s a magical sight to behold.
We’d like to give a huge thank you to Rana Marie who so graciously gave us so many of her recommendations as a Lebanese local!