Beirut is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city with lots of museums and a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. Still, many of Lebanon's most captivating attractions, including some of the most impressive ancient ruins in the Middle East, lie beyond the boundaries of the capital.
Things to do in Beirut
Welcome to Beirut
Ancient yet charming, mysterious yet hospitable, Beirut—situated on the banks of the Mediterranean—has a multi-faceted allure that continues to entice travelers. Lebanon’s capital city was once known as the Paris of the East, and it seems to be reclaiming that nickname. Today, the renovated downtown brims with stylish professionals and gleaming skyscrapers, and a central business district offers boutiques, a stunning archaeology collection at the National Museum, and plenty of cafes serving thick black coffee and tasty mezes (small dishes). Outside of Beirut sit the ruins of some of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations, and tours that conveniently link multiple sites can maximize your sightseeing potential. First-time visitors will want to journey to the limestone caves of Jeita Grotto, 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Beirut, followed by Byblos, one of the world’s oldest cities, and Harissa, known for its Virgin Mary Statue as well as its sweeping views. Another tour links the Roman ruins of Baalbek (two hours from Beirut) and the Umayyad ruins of Anjar with Ksara Caves, a series of ancient caverns used as wine cellars. Or you can combine the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tyre, an ancient Roman city around an hour from Beirut that’s still inhabited today, with the holy sites of Sidon and the monument-studded city of Maghdouche. Whatever tour you choose, you’ll return to Beirut in time to hit up some of the city’s famous bars and nightclubs.
Top 10 attractions in Beirut
An essential stop for all visitors to the city, Beirut National Museum (Musée National de Beyrouth) features an impressive, well-displayed collection of archaeological artifacts from throughout the ages, offering a thorough overview of Lebanon’s history. Entry into the National Museum of Beirut is a staple of most historical Beirut walking tours....
On May 6, 1916 a group of Lebanese nationalists were hanged for rebelling against Turkish rule. In 1965 a bronze statue was erected in their memory in what is today called Martyrs’ Square (Place des Martyrs). Since then it has served as Lebanon’s most important public gathering places and the site of the massive March 14th demonstration in 2005, which brought 1 million Lebanese to the square on the one month anniversary of the murder of Hariri....
Along Beirut’s aptly-coined 'museum mile' is a real gem of a collection, housed at the Mim Mineral Museum Beirut (Mim Musée des Minéraux Beyrouth) on the Saint Joseph University campus. Featuring local engineer Salim Edde’s private collection of more than 1,400 minerals, the museum showcases precious stones from around the world, attracting chemists, collectors and enthusiasts alike....
Beirut’s Banque Du Liban (Bank of Lebanon) Museum opened in 2010 to chart the story of currency throughout history and to increase public awareness of the role of the central bank; after its establishment, the Banque Du Liban (sometimes shortened to BDL) created the nation's fourth currency. Exhibitions within the museum display banknotes and coins dating as far back as the Phoenician era, while others highlight the current Lebanese pound as a stable monetary system. It may not sound like it, but this is a family attraction that even children can enjoy, with money puzzles and the opportunity to calculate your weight in gold. You can also design your own banknote and get your picture printed onto it....
Take a walk through Lebanon's cultural history on a visit to Hamra Street (Rue Hamra) in Beirut. In the 1960s and 1970s, the neighborhood served as a cultural epicenter for progressive artists and thinkers, its many art galleries and multicultural way of life representing a new era in Lebanese history. Though far more commercial present day, Hamra maintains its energetic atmosphere, and a visit to the neighborhood is highly recommended....
Once considered as a finalist for the “7 Natural Wonders of the World”, Lebanon’s Jeita Grotto is a sprawling cave complex located 11 miles (17.7 kms) north of the capital city of Beirut. The caves are divided into two separate grottos the upper and the lower grottos. The White Chamber in the upper grotto famously boasts the world’s largest stalactite, which hangs down 27 ft. from the cavern ceiling above. Accessible via a specially built walkway, the upper grotto reaches a dramatic terminus when the third chamber rises to an astounding height of 390 ft. A hollow chamber which gazes into the innards of the Earth, Jeita Grotto easily ranks as one of the top cave complexes on the planet. Though evidence suggests that Jeita Grotto was once inhabited during ancient times, the gaping caverns were only rediscovered in 1863 after an American missionary stumbled upon the lower grotto....
On a 1,970-foot (600-meter) hilltop just north of Beirut overlooking the Bay of Jounieh stands a painted bronze statue of the Virgin Mary with her hands outstretched toward the city. The shrine to Our Lady of Lebanon (Notre Dame du Liban), the nation’s patron saint, was erected in 1908 and has become one of the world’s most important shrines to the Virgin Mary and attracts millions of pilgrims and visitors each year. It's also occasionally known as Our Lady of Harissa....
Founded in 1857, Château Ksara is one of Lebanon’s oldest wineries and an ever-popular stop on Bekaa Valley tours. Situated at around 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level, the estate has vineyards across Lebanon. Star of the show at the winery, besides the wines themselves, are the historic 1.5-mile (2-kilometer) cave cellars....
Set 53 miles (85 kms) outside of Beirut in the fertile Beqaa Valley, the ancient city of Baalbek is inarguably Lebanon’s greatest Roman treasure. An architectural pinnacle of empire known to the Romans as Heliopolis, this UNESCO World Heritage site has served as a center of worship for a staggering number of millennia. Civilizations as old as the Phoenicians worshiped here and themselves built massive stone structures to “Baal”, revered Phoenician deity and possible subject for the town’s name of Baalbek. With the arrival of the Romans in 64 BC, Baalbek was converted to a pagan center of worship and work was begun on the massive Temple of Jupiter, a hulking structure of granite columns which would eventually become the largest temple ever built in the history of the Roman Empire. While many of the columns have crumbled and eight were even relocated to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, six columns still remain standing and provide a relevant framework....
Top activities in Beirut
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Discover the top things to do in Beirut.
- Byblos, Jeita Grotto and Harissa Day Trip from Beirut
- Anjar, Baalbek, and Ksara Day Trip from Beirut
- Small Group Tour from Beirut to Jeita Grotto, Harissa and Byblos
- Private Tour: Anjar, Baalbek and Ksara Day Trip from Beirut
- Private Tour: Byblos, Jeita Grotto and Harissa Day Trip from Beirut
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