Lebanon

Possessing a balmy, Mediterranean climate, long stretches of sparkling coastline, clusters of impressive archaeological sites and a pulsating capital full of modern and ancient delights, Lebanon could be considered one of the world's most underrated travel destinations. Throw in magically mellow port towns, rare forests of ancient cedar and a culinary scene built on centuries of knowledge and you've got an enriching yet complex country just begging to be explored.

Lebanon Tours & Travel

Articles on Lebanon

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About Lebanon

At a glance

Trips Available: 0
Capital city: Beirut (population 2.1 million)
Population: 4.2 million
Language: Arabic
Currency: LBP
Time zone: (GMT+02:00) Beirut
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin) Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
Dialing code: +961

Best time to visit Lebanon

Lebanon has a typically glorious Mediterranean climate. Summer (June to August) is usually hot and humid with daytime temperatures usually hovering around 30°C. In winter (December to February) the days are mild and the nights can get cold. Rain is common, as is snowfall in the mountainous areas. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are considered the supreme times to travel as the weather is warm but not too hot.

lebanon weather map chart

Geography and environment

Sharing land borders with Syria and Israel, Lebanon has an interesting mix of mountains, valleys, beaches, rivers and ancient forests. With a long stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon does coastal living very well with stunning beaches, vibrant ports and relaxed resort towns that populate the coast. Lebanon's large cities are typically fast-paced urban centres with shopping malls, modern hotels and a chic cafe-culture. In contrast to this, rural life is decidedly quieter, with most village dwellers living simple lives reliant on agriculture.

Top Picks

Top 5 People-Watching Spots of Beirut

1. Corniche

This scenic promenade is one of the best places to soak up the diverse society of contemporary Beirut. Just go for a slow stroll and let the sights of mellow fisherman, energetic teens, sophisticated cafe-dwellers, busy street vendors and hookah-smoking elders all roll into one.

2. Gemmayzeh

The cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Gemmayzeh is fast becoming THE place to see and be seen at night. Experience the irrepressible energy of modern Beirut as you watch parades of '24 hour party people' come out to play in the impossibly cool bars, clubs and cafes on the main drag.

3. Hamra Street

Located near many universities, it's no surprise that this street (once referred to as the Champs Elysees of Beirut) used to be a popular spot for intellectuals back in the 1960s and 1970s. These days, Hamra Street offers travellers an incredible snapshot of contemporary life in Beirut. With coffee shops, boutiques, hotels, pubs and bars, this busy hub of commercial activity buzzes with energy day and night.

4. Souk el Tayeb

Experience yet another side of diverse Beirut at Lebanon's first farmers' market. This weekly open-air market features organic produce, homemade treats, local honey, flowers, soap, cakes and handicrafts - all housed at two locations in Beirut (Saifi Village and Rue Verdun). A visit here will reveal home cooks in action, artisans at work and age-old culinary traditions in real life.

5. Monot Street

This busy street in the Ashrafieh neighbourhood is another hot spot for nightlife and is particularly popular with young clubbers and bar-hoppers. It's fascinating to watch the old-world charm of this neighbourhood contrast with the glamorous fashions and modern attitudes of the people who frequent here.

FAQs on Lebanon

LEBANON
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival

All nationalities require a visa to enter Lebanon. Currently, visas are free and are issued for 1 month on arrival.
It's customary to tip porters, hotel and restaurant staff and guides between 10-15%. Also, it's considered polite to leave a donation in the box when visiting churches.
Travellers will be able to access the internet in cyber cafes, hotels and at Wi-Fi hotspots in Lebanon's capital and large cities. Rural areas will offer less internet connectivity so prepare for this before venturing out of the city.
Travellers should be able to use their mobile phones in Lebanon as coverage is generally very good (especially in urban areas). Ensure global roaming is activated with your provider before you leave home.
Expect to encounter a mix of modern, flushable toilets and squat toilets while travelling throughout Lebanon. It's a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser as these aren't always provided in public toilets.
One hour at an internet cafe = 3000 LBP
A local beer = 3000 LBP
Falafel or shawarma from street vendor = 3000-6000 LBP
Simple dinner at a restaurant = 12,000-16,000 LBP
Tap water is considered safe to drink in Lebanon unless otherwise marked.
Major credit cards are usually accepted by large shops, restaurants and hotels in Lebanon. Smaller shops and cafes may not accept credit cards, so always carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
Travellers will be able to access ATMs in cities and large towns. Rural and remote places may not have ATMs so be aware of this before travelling out of the city.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 6 Orthodox Armenian Christmas
Jan 24 Mawlid al-Nabi (Prophet's Birthday)
Feb 9 Feast of St Maroun
Mar 29 Good Friday
Mar 31 Easter Sunday
May 1 Labour Day
May 5 Orthodox Easter
May 6 Martyrs' Day
May 25 Resistance and Liberation Day
Aug 8 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Aug 15 Assumption of the Virgin
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Nov 4 Islamic New Year
Nov 13 Ashoura
Nov 22 Independence Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. Not all religious holidays are celebrated or observed by all people in Lebanon. Islamic festivals and feasts are timed according to the lunar calendar (which changes each year) so these dates are estimates only. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Lebanon/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Lebanon Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Lebanon

1. Be considerate of Lebanon’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims. During this month no food, drink or smoking is permitted during daylight hours. While non-Muslims visiting Lebanon aren't expected to fast, it's important to be mindful of Ramadan when visiting Muslim communities in Lebanon.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Spirit of the Phoenix: Beirut and the Story of LebanonTim Llewellyn
Lebanon: Through Writers' EyesEd. Ted Gorton and Andree Feghali Gorton
Agents of InnocenceDavid Ignatius
De Niro's GameRawi Hage
A Good LandNada Awar Jarrar