Lebanon travel guide
Lebanon is a long narrow country with its long western border on the Mediterranean Sea giving it many locations for beautiful beaches and other water activities. Parallel to the shore are two mountain ranges with the fertile Bakaa Valley in the middle. Its long eastern border joins Syria and the tiny southern border joins Israel. It has had numerous conflicts with its neighbors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but currently all is quiet on the border.
Lebanon has several of the oldest inhabited cities in the world including Beirut, the capital, Byblos and Sidon. With its long border on the Mediterranean, first the Phoenicians then the Romans conquered the area thousands of years ago and there are still magnificent ruins to be seen today. As it most recently was under French rule, many things are still French, including the language. The country is divided among many sects of Christian, Muslim and others so it has a rich history as well as a rich and diverse present.
Beirut is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East and has frequently been called the “Paris of the Middle East.” It has incredibly fine dining, hotels and night life, especially in Ashrafieh. Entertainment is very European with café sitting a regular occupation. Otherwise there are museums as well as areas by the water to stroll and shop and many parks for jogging or walking. Very popular is the Hippodrome where they hold weekly horse races. As many ships went down in the Med, there are a lot of opportunities to go wreck diving.
Outside of Beirut is the Jeita Grotto. It is an underground labyrinth of caves and tunnels with a river running through them.
It is in South Lebanon where you will find the most ruins. There are some crusader castles in Sidon as well as Eshmon Temple going back to Phoenician times. Be careful to stay away from the Blue Line border with Israel as Hezbollah keeps an active presence there and it may not always be safe.
Tyre is a charming Mediterranean town and the Al Bass Archaeological Site with its Hippodrome is one of the best preserved of Roman times. It has a Roman road and aqueduct that are still recognizable today.
Lebanon is a magnificent country filled with history as well as a modern city of today. You can go see the contrasts for yourself on your next holiday.