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9 Things to see on your trip to Lebanon

Whether you're peering down into the lush Qadisha Valley or are enjoying a stroll along Beirut's bustling Corniche, there's plenty to see in Lebanon. Here are our top 9 picks for your next Lebanon adventure.

 

1. Sidon Sea Citadel

Built in 1228 AD, the Sidon Sea Castle sits on a small island in the Port of Sidon, reachable by a narrow roadway. While the fortress was once almost entirely destroyed, it was rebuilt in the 17th century and is now a prominent site of history and culture in Lebanon. Visitors can explore the two towers and courtyard, and work their way up a winding staircase to take in views over the city and harbour.

2. Beiteddine Palace

Constructed over the course of 30 years, the 19th-century Beiteddine Palace was designed by an Italian architect, comprising both Arabic and Italian Baroque design. It was once the residence of Emir Bashir Shihab, as well as a government building for the Ottomans, and the president’s summer residence. While some areas still belong to the president, you can explore the opulent courtyard, intricate mosaics, and vibrant stained-glass windows.

3. Mtein

As one of the oldest villages in Lebanon, Mtein is undoubtedly a haven of history and culture. In the 16th century the Al-Lamaayeen Emirs built the five palaces that can be seen today, each boasting a beautiful Arabic-Baroque style of architecture. On a Lebanon group tour you’ll also explore the ruins of an old silk factory, as well as the central square, Midane. Wandering through this mountain village gives you a glimpse of rural Lebanese life for the Druze community.

4. Qadisha Valley & the Cedars of Lebanon

Venture into the mountains and you’ll look across the fertile terraces of the UNESCO-protected Qadisha Valley. Throughout the valley you’ll find grapes and olives in abundance, flourishing wildflowers, and rural monasteries. One of the most serene areas of the Qadisha Valley is the Forest of the Cedars of God. Seen as sacred land, some of the cedars growing here are said to be over 3,000 years old, with many trees at least a hundred years old. As you explore Lebanon you’ll take a walk among this ancient forest.

5. Jeita Caves

As the longest cave in the Middle East, Jeita Grotto offers unparalleled underground exploration. First discovered by a missionary in 1836, the caves are now a much-loved landmark of Lebanon. In the upper grotto, peer upwards at the huge stalactites looming overhead, and look down at the river flowing below. As you venture further into the cave the sound levels fall to a minimum, leaving you in peaceful silence to enjoy this magnificent grotto.

6. Byblos Harbour

One of the oldest settlements in the world, Byblos Port was first inhabited over 5,000 years ago. It’s here that you’ll discover the Phoenician history of Lebanon, including some of the earliest known records of the Phoenician alphabet. Take a walk through the city and you’ll come across archaeological sites and ruins, as well as old Ottoman souks and fresh fish. Visit the fisherman’s harbour to watch the fishermen at work as the sun sets over the Mediterranean.

7. Chouf Mountains

Lush flora and fauna stretch across undulating land as far as the eye can see, making the Chouf Mountains one of the most scenic areas of Lebanon. Vineyards, orchards and olive groves thrive here, giving you plenty of opportunity to sample local wine and produce. Among the Chouf Mountains you’ll also find the sleepy village of Deir Al-Qamar, home to some of the best-preserved architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

8. Beirut

Despite a troubled past, Beirut is often referred to as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’. Both historic and fashion-conscious in equal measure, this fast-paced city will sweep you off your feet. On a tour of Lebanon you’ll start your Beirut exploration with a visit to the Green Line and the National Museum, a perfect way to understand the turbulent history of this destination. For a spot of mingling with the locals, head to the beloved Corniche and enjoy a strong, sweet coffee overlooking the waterfront.

9. Baalbek (soon!)

Around two hours from Beirut in the Baalbek valley stands ancient ruins dating back approximately 5,000 years. Throughout its vibrant history, Baalbek has been occupied by the Phoenicians, Romans, Ottomans and more, and is now recognised as on of the best examples of Roman architecture, boasting grand pillars and elaborate structures. While Baalbek is currently closed to visitors, it's certainly one to keep on your bucket list for the future.

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