Lebanon’s spectacular Jeita Grotto makes an exciting day trip from Beirut. Once considered as a finalist for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this dramatic cave is divided into two levels: a lower grotto and an upper grotto, which contains the White Chamber, home to the world’s largest stalactite.
The Jeita Grotto is a sprawling cave complex, divided into upper and lower levels. Guided tours take in all the highlights. Visitors enjoy a boat cruise through the lower grotto, a walking tour of the upper grotto, a cable-car ride, and a scenic train ride between the two grottoes. Most travelers visit on a day tour from Beirut, often in combination with nearby attractions such as UNESCO-listed Byblos or the pilgrimage site of Harissa.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A complete cave tour takes two hours, and the entrance fee covers all attractions.
- The cave complex has a restaurant, gift shops, gardens, a video presentation about the caves, and even a small zoo.
- Photography is not allowed within the caves.
- The caves are not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The cave complex is located 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of Beirut, or about 20 minutes’ drive. There is no direct public transportation to the caves, but buses from Dawra will drop you off at the Jeita exit along the Beirut–Jounieh Highway, and from there it’s only about five minutes’ journey to the Jeita Grotto by taxi.
When to Get There
Tours of the Jeita Grotto run Tuesday through Sunday year-round, and the sight is open from 9am until 5pm. However, the lower grotto is often closed during the winter months due to high water levels.
History of the Jeita Grotto
Though evidence suggests the Jeita Grotto was inhabited during ancient times, the caverns were rediscovered in 1863 by an American missionary. The subterranean Nahr el-Kalb river runs through the Lower Grotto, making it accessible via boat at certain times of the year. During the Lebanese Civil War the grottos were closed to the public and used as munitions storage, but in 1995 the Jeita Grotto was reopened to the public.