The land of cypresses is one part modern, one part traditional. Beirut was called the Paris of the East before the civil war. It was place to see and be seen, a place to party, a place of sophistication, modern and trendy and unlike anywhere else in the Middle East. Then the eighties arrived and Lebanon was plunged into war. After decades of sectarian violence, combined with an Israeli invasion, Lebanon had turned to rubble. But peace finally came, a tenuous peace, but peace nonetheless.
Beirut has been rebuilt, and parts of it are as cosmopolitan as thirty years ago. But Beirut is still split up in several neighbourhoods based on religious lines, just as Lebanon as a whole is. Between Christians and Muslims, between Sunni and Shia. Politically the country is stuck, with no party seemingly able to cooperate with any of the other parties and since nobody has the upper hand, nothing much happens. And yet somehow it hobbles on without falling back into violence. And somehow things do get done. And somehow this country that can hardly govern itself or its people has managed to accommodate a million Syrian refugees. That is Lebanon, it works, even if you don’t quite understand how that is possible.
Lebanon is a diversity of people and religions. Lebanon is ancient Christian monasteries and churches versus ancient mosques, it is ski-resorts in the Lebanese Alps for the western elite versus age old villages where the call to prayer divides the day, it is bikini clad women at the beach versus veil wearing women a few blocks inland, it is twenty four hour nightclubs versus tea-houses, it is vineyards versus halal, it is chic and trendy and it is old and traditional.
Lebanon is unique, come and experience its uniqueness for yourself!
Highlights from Lebanon
- Witness the changing faces of Beirut, from its nightlife to its tea-houses, from its elegant restaurants to its markets, from the beach to mosque, from its Muslim quarters to its Christian quarters
- No trip to Lebanon is complete without visiting Baalbek, one of the best preserved ancient sights in the Middle East
- Ski the Lebanese Alps at Mzaar or the Ciders
- Visit a vineyard in the Bekaa Valley and try some Lebanese wines
- Soak up the atmosphere in ancient Byblos (aka Jbail) with its Crusader Castle, old harbour and more
- Hike around Qadisha Valley with its rock hewn monasteries
- Stroll through Beitedinne Palace (Beit Ad-Dine)
- Explore the Jeita Grotto Cave System
- Take in the archeological sites around Tyre/Sour
- Go south to Sidon and its old town and souk
Hints and Tips for Lebanon
- Free one-month visas are available at the airport and border crossings for most countries, they can be extended with 3 months
- You won’t be allowed entry into the country if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport.
- Arab is the official language, but English and French are also widely spoken.
- Check the security situation near the Syrian border before venturing that way, same can be said for the Israeli border.