The Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon is a country of stark contrasts: beautiful Mediterranean beaches and high mountain ranges, Christianity and Islam, ancient history and modern lifestyles. And there are many more reasons to fall in love with Lebanon. Consider a trip to this Middle Eastern hidden gem and discover the gorgeous mountain villages, idyllic fishing towns, mesmerizing historical sites and vibrant capital Beirut yourself.
This 10-day itinerary covers the most significant historical towns, UNESCO sites, and landscapes and will give you plenty of time to experience a little bit of everything this beautiful country has to offer.
The Route In A Nutshell
Day 1: Beirut
Day 2: Beirut
Day 3: Harissa & Byblos
Day 4: Batroun
Day 5: Tripoli
Day 6: Qadisha Valley & Cedars of God
Day 7: Baalbek & Bekaa Valley
Day 8: Sidon
Day 9: Beirut
Day 10: Beirut
Highlights Of The Trip
– Get to know Beirut aka. “Paris of the Middle East”
– Stroll around the romantic old town of Byblos
– Buy souvenirs at the most traditional souk in the country
– Explore the rock-cut monasteries in Qadisha Valley
– Marvel at millennial cedar trees
– Visit the famous Baalbek Temples
– Taste some of Lebanon’s finest wines in Bekaa Valley
This itinerary starts and ends in Lebanon’s capital city Beirut. Since this itinerary has a pretty tight schedule, be sure to add a few extra days here and there if you prefer traveling slowly. I created this itinerary to be a road trip meaning you’ll move from one place to the next and sleep in different cities.
Since Lebanon is quite a small country, it would also be possible to base yourself in Beirut and do each location as a day trip. However, despite the short distances, traffic around Beirut is absolutely crazy, and it will take you quite some time to get to each day trip destination. So, I recommend renting a car or even car and driver, and make the entire trip as a road trip if you want to travel hassle-free.
Day 1: Beirut
After arriving in Beirut, go to your accommodation and have some rest.
Depending on the location of your hostel/hotel, you may take an afternoon or evening walk around the area, grab some dinner and have an early night.
Day 2: Beirut
After breakfast, make your way to Achrafieh, a district in the east of downtown. It is definitely one of Beirut’s most charming areas with many restaurants, cafés, pubs, and nightclubs. Apart from that, Achrafieh has some of Beirut’s oldest buildings with both Ottoman and French architectural influences.
From Achrafieh, walk in a northward direction until you reach Mar Mikhael, which is most famous for being the new hipster neighborhood. Art galleries, antique furniture stores, trendy boutiques, and fine dining make this a fashionable area frequented by Beirut’s in-crowd.
If you stroll westward on Rue Armenia and then along Rue Gouraud, you will soon reach Gemmayzeh, one of Beirut’s most liberal neighborhoods. This area is home to the city’s culinary scene featuring more than 100 trendy bars and restaurants.
I suggest having lunch somewhere in Gemmayzeh. I really loved The Gathering in Rue Pasteur, which is a parallel street of Rue Gouraud.
Walking on Rue Gouraud, you will also come across the famous St. Nicholas Stairs, which not only happens to be the longest staircase in the Middle East but it’s also one of Beirut’s most iconic landmarks and often referred to as the Stairs of Art.
Keep following Rue Gouraud until you stand in front of Beirut’s most famous sight, the Mohammad-al-Amin Mosque. It is located right next to a massive cathedral.
Both the mosque and cathedral are situated on the former border between the Christian and Muslim part of Beirut and welcome everybody regardless of their religious beliefs. I also recommend visiting the mosque’s interiors since the light effects and artworks inside are absolutely beautiful.
>> See also: 15 Unique Spots To Check Out In Beirut
After this extensive self-guided walking tour, go back to your accommodation and have a relaxed evening.
If you’re interested in visiting additional tourist attractions and museums as well as having authentic local experiences, consider purchasing the Beirut Pass, which brings you a few free drinks, special rates and good discounts in the city’s most loved spots.
Day 3: Jounieh + Byblos
Today it’s time to head out of Beirut!
Take the Sea Side Road northward towards Tripoli. After 20 km, your first stop will be the base station of the Teleferique, which is a few kilometers outside of Jounieh.
Embark on a panoramic ride on this 50-year-old cable car to the top of Jounieh mountain. Not only will you have amazing views of Jounieh Bay but you will also see the imposing statue Our Lady of Lebanon, which is a famous place of pilgrimage.
Back down in Jounieh, continue driving on the Sea Side Road until you reach one of my favorite places in Lebanon: Jbeil aka. Byblos, which is one of the oldest towns in the Middle East. It’s best to explore this lovely gem with its narrow old souk, and Crusader castle ruins on foot. I recommend having a late lunch there in one of the cute restaurants overlooking the sea.
In the late afternoon/evening, make your way to Batroun, where you’re gonna spend the next two nights.
Day 4: Batroun
After a good breakfast, head out to explore the historical town of Batroun.
Besides its beach club scene, this ancient city is famous for its Phoenician port and wall, several cathedrals and a castle. Unfortunately, only very little is known about its history even though you’ll find so many incredibly old buildings here.
For an overview of Batroun’s attractions, check out this comprehensive guide with some suggestions on how to make most of your short stay in the city.
Batroun has a couple of excellent seafood restaurants, which you should try in the evening.
Day 5: Tripoli
Day 5 is going to be pretty long, so don’t leave Batroun too late in the morning.
Keep driving northward until you reach Lebanon’s second-largest city Tripoli.
Tripoli used to be the center of ancient trading and is home to some impressive Ottoman and Crusader architecture. On top of that, what you’ll find here is the most authentic souk in the country with bustling lanes and narrow alleyways. So, if you’re looking to buy some traditional Lebanese souvenirs, this might be the right place.
In the afternoon, follow the Tripoli-Kousba Road into Qadisha Valley, where you’re going to spend another two nights in the mountain village of Bcharré.
Day 6: Qadisha Valley
After breakfast, explore some of the UNESCO awarded ancient monasteries that have made Qadisha Valley famous.
Ten of these isolated rock-cut monasteries can be visited, some of them by car, others on foot. Back in the Middle Ages, these cave churches were used as refuges for religious groups and ended up becoming the most important Maronite settlement.
Some of the monasteries you can quickly reach by car are Deir Qannoubin Monastery, Deir Mar Elisha Monastery as well as Deir Mar Antonius Qozhaya Monastery featuring a rock cut chapel, a courtyard, and even a small museum.
If you’re interested in checking out some of the isolated monasteries only reachable on foot, you’ll find all kinds of information on this website.
If you want to immerse yourself even more into Qadisha Valley’s culture and history, consider visiting Gibran Museum, which houses an extensive collection of poet and artist Khalil Gibran’s paintings. The museum is located very close to Bcharré and offers fantastic views from the terrace.
In the afternoon, make your way to the nearby Arz Forest aka. Cedars of God, which is located at an altitude of 2000m.
What you’ll find here are some of the remaining millennial Lebanon cedars, some of the most majestic trees in the world. Believe it or not, they once covered the entire mountain range of Mount Lebanon. Due to the tree’s resilience and majesty, the cedar has become an important symbol to Lebanese people and can even be seen on the official Lebanon flag.
>> See also: 7 Ways To Explore Qadisha Valley
Day 7: Baalbek + Bekaa Valley
If you want to visit the impressive Baalbek Temple, which I highly recommend, be sure to check with your country’s travel advisory as well as local authorities regarding the current situation in Baalbek. The location is very close to the Syrian border and a Hezbollah stronghold. Therefore, I suggest only going to Baalbek with a local who can assess the situation and also knows the area well.
The ancient temple ruins of Baalbek are Lebanon’s premier attraction. The massive Baalbek temple complex is truly mesmerizing, and the history behind it is stunning. Most parts can still be visited today and are a must-see for all history enthusiasts and photographers visiting Lebanon.
Baalbek Temple is situated in Bekaa Valley. After visiting the temple ruins, you can also check out some of the traditional wineries in Bekaa Valley and learn of the millennial history of winegrowing in Lebanon while, of course, tasting some of the fruity wines.
In the late afternoon, make your way to Zahlé, where I suggest having dinner at one of the lovely restaurants in the north of town overlooking the river, such as Casino Mhanna.
Day 8: Sidon
In the morning, make your way to the coastal city of Sidon aka. Saida.
Again, you can see incredibly old and fascinating buildings, such as the Crusader Sea Castle, the Eshmoun Temple ruins and the ancient marketplace Khan el Franj, and learn about the town’s culture that’s rooted in the history of the Phoenicians.
Just like in Tripoli, you can also find a very traditional souk here, which will give you some last-minute options to buy authentic Lebanese souvenirs.
In the late afternoon, head back to Beirut, which is only 45 km, but can feel like 100 km depending on the traffic.
Day 9: Beirut
On your last day, do whatever it is you feel like doing.
There’s still tons of stuff to see in Beirut, from museums (e.g. National Museum Beirut or Sursock Museum), to other historical attractions and cultural hubs, such as Bourj Hammoud (Little Armenia), one of the most densely populated districts in the Middle East and home to some of Lebanon’s subcultures.
I recommend spending some time strolling along the Corniche and seeing the famous Pigeon Rocks aka. Raouche Rocks, which are among my favorite spots in Beirut. Stretching for almost 5 km along Beirut’s coast, the Corniche is a gorgeous seaside promenade lined with palm trees.
In the evening, enjoy a nice Lebanese dinner at one of the beautiful restaurants in Gemmayzeh.
Day 10: Beirut
How To Extend Your Trip?
If you have more time to travel, why not extend your trip and visit another country in the Middle East? Both Israel and Jordan are not far from Lebanon. You may also take a cheap flight to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where you can spend another couple of days experiencing other Middle Eastern cultures.
If you prefer to add some more European vibes to your trip, take a flight to either Turkey or Cyprus, both destinations are not far from Beirut and are served by several airlines on a daily basis.
Planning A Trip To Lebanon?
If you’re looking for travel inspiration, beautiful nature gems, awesome photo spots, and the best historic sites, these posts have got you covered:
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