At the crossroads of the Mediterranean and Arabia, Lebanon has a rich history, with evidence of settlement dating back more than seven thousand years. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Arabs, Ottomans and French all left their legacy in architecture, cuisine and culture. The Lebanese people are resilient and extremely hospitable, loving get-togethers and festivities. Whether your passion is archaeology, music, food or cultural diversity, Lebanon has so much to offer for such a modestly sized country.
Byblos is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world (5000BC), and is thought to be the birthplace of the Western alphabet, and the origin of the name of the Bible.
Beirut offers everything you expect from a cosmopolitan city, and more. A lively cafe and arts scene, excellent dining options, and a cool vibe keep it interesting. Decimated by a civil war which ended in 1990, you may come across an abandoned building bearing signs of those troubled times, adding an edge to this vibrant city.
The food! Lebanese cuisine has benefited from both French and Middle Eastern influences. Add to that some of the best wine in the region, and this is a foodie heaven.
Baalbek With its incredible Roman ruins, Baalbek is one of the most important archaeological sites outside of Rome.
The old souk (market) of Saida offers a labyrinth of alleyways in which to explore and get lost. Largely unchanged for centuries, you’ll find everything from antiques to Arabic rugs and felafel stands.
Lebanon can be visited year-round, but our favourite time to go is in spring (April, May, June) when the weather is warm (but not too hot) and dry. Summer can get too hot on the coast, but it is cooler in the mountains.
I appreciate I have a bit of a head start when travelling in Arab countries – I lived in the Middle East for a number of years so I understand the culture, the crowds and chaos, I am not phased by the energy and I speak the language. But Beirut is a modern, friendly city with an enormous pulse and vibe. I’m a real foodie and Beirut allowed me to indulge myself in the best of Lebanese food. Yum.. grilled eggplant baba ghanouj, delicious manakish flatbreads with olive oil, sumac, sesame and thyme, oniony, spicy kafta meatballs, fried felafel, fragrant marinated meat shawarma, zingy lemon hummus – heaven. Of course, I don’t just travel for food…. Well.. maybe. But Lebanon also has culture, history and archaeology enough for any buff. There are a number of cities to lay claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited and Byblos is one of them. First believed to have been occupied between 8800 and 7000 BC, Byblos is a pretty and atmospheric town while Tyre and Sidon were important harbour cities in ancient Phoenicia. Add to that hiking in majestic forests and mountains, great wine and nightlife galore and you have the perfect little destination.
Kate Couling, Director
Although Lebanon is in the heart of the Middle East, over 40% of its population adhere to some form of Christianity, existing in relative harmony with the rest of the Muslim population.
Currency The Lebanese Pound (LBP), also known as the Lebanese Lira. All coins and banknotes are bilingual – in Arabic and in French.
Language Arabic is the official language, but English and French are also widely used.
Why we love it
It’s just so fascinating to explore such a culturally diverse modern life and rich ancient history all in one country.
Weather Lebanon has hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters. Nearly all the rain falls in winter, and in the mountains you can get heavy snow that stays around until early summer.
Social customs and quirks Resilience is a strong trait of the Lebanese people who have lived through stormy times over the years. People are naturally hospitable, gregarious and refreshingly honest!
Festivals and events
The Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Arts is held each February in Beirut, with a wide range of concerts and performances on offer over five weeks – a great time to visit! The Byblos Festival in July is a week long music festival attracting international acts of all genres, whereas the Baalbeck International Festival, also in July, is focused on jazz. For a more cultural experience, try the Tyre and South Festival in July, with poetry, craft fairs, dance shows and lectures on the region’s culture and history. The end of the holy month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, is a public holiday around August and September. And don’t forget Lebanese Independence Day, celebrated on 22 November, marking the country’s independence from France, gained in 1943.
You may be advised to consider vaccination against Hepatitis A and Typhoid prior to visiting Lebanon.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.