How to Spend 1 Day in Beirut
Despite its troubled history, cosmopolitan Beirut competes with Tel Aviv for the title of the Middle East’s most vibrant city. One day in Beirut gives you enough time to discover Lebanon’s thousands of years of history, cook up a Lebanese feast, and, in summer, party up a storm at one of the city’s rooftop bars and lounges. Here’s how.
Morning: Culture Vulture
Start the day at the landmark National Museum of Beirut with a journey through Lebanon’s long history and a world-class selection of ancient sculpture, art, and artifacts. Once you know your Phoenicians from your Seleucids and your Umayyads from your Ottomans, check out downtown’s signature sights: Nejmeh Square, Martyrs’ Square, the Roman Baths, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, and St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral with its fascinating crypt museum. If time permits, head out to Pigeon Rocks, the towering sea pillars that are a symbol of the city, and sip a Lebanese coffee as you soak up the Mediterranean views.
Afternoon: Cooking Class
Fresh, tangy, and packed with big, bold flavors, Lebanese is one of the Middle East’s most fascinating cuisines. Get hands-on with a cooking class in a private home. Feast on eastern Mediterranean meze appetizers, from hummus and moutabal (eggplant dip) to stuffed vine leaves, then prepare savory favorites from Turkish-influenced grills and salads to pomegranate sauces and lentil stews. Fill up with classic pastries, such as honey and pistachio baklava, and don’t miss the chance to sample homemade Lebanese arak liquor. Along the way, take the chance to learn about how Beirut’s myriad different cultures get along.
Night: Rooftop Romance
Head back to base and get glammed up for a night on the town. While anything goes stylewise in Beirut and glitz is not compulsory, more is definitely more at many of the rooftop bars and lounges that spring up around the city for the summer party season. The scene changes every season, but Iris and Capitole have stood the test of time, while the rooftop bar at the stylish Le Gray boutique hotel is a classic. Even outside the rooftop season, the party doesn’t stop: Try the bustling Armenia strip in Mar Mikhael.