5 DAYS IN LEBANON – HERE ARE THE BEST ATTRACTIONS
Are you planning your Lebanon itinerary and wondering about the best places to visit in Lebanon in a few days? Then this post will help you find out about the best attractions to visit + more travel tips.
An often overlooked but definitely great travel destination in the Middle East is the small country of Lebanon. It is a beautiful, small country with friendly people, ancient sights, modern cities, cute villages, pretty landscapes, and wild nightlife – that is what you can expect in Lebanon.
Since I am from Germany, I have always been around Lebanese people, but the country was never really high on my bucket list. Eventually, though, I added it to the list and went for about a week, and before, I then went to Jordan.
And what can I say? Lebanon was a fun place to visit and exceeded my expectations. I did not know what to expect as a solo female traveler. But it turned out to be fine, and there is no reason to worry. Lebanon is, in general, a safe travel destination – even for solo female travelers. But of course, for other kinds of travelers, too.
Was everything perfect? No, for sure not. Was it still fun? Yes, definitely.
A bit crazy, hectic, and chaotic – here is what to expect when visiting Lebanon. Find out where to go and what to see in only 5 days in Lebanon. While I wished that I had two more days in Lebanon (I think that 7 days in Lebanon would be awesome), I got a good glimpse of the country and got to see some wonderful places – and so can you with less than one week.
Lebanon’s political situation is tense at the moment, but it is also a quite liberal and modern country. Especially Beirut reminded me of Southern France. Different religions coexist and, thus, has a different feeling from many other Arab countries.
UPDATE 2021: THE SITUATION IN LEBANON IS VERY DIFFICULT RIGHT NOW. WHILE THE WHOLE WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN, THE SITUATION IN LEBANON IS EVEN MORE DRAMATIC. I DO NOT RECOMMEND VISITING AT THE MOMENT, AND RATHER USE THIS POST AS INSPIRATION.
So, before talking about the very best places to visit in Lebanon, here are some travel tips for your itinerary.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR LEBANON ITINERARY
Before talking about the best places to visit in Lebanon in 5 days (or so), here are some travel tips.
How to Get to Lebanon
I suggest flying into Beirut. There are many flights from Istanbul and other countries in the Middle East, and it allows you to combine your trip easily with a trip to Jordan, Istanbul, or other nearby destinations.
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How to Get Around in Lebanon
If you are brave, you can rent a car and explore Lebanon on your own. However, driving in Lebanon seems very crazy because I experienced it as crazy, hectic, and wild, where drivers make their own rules.
This did not only apply to Beirut but also many other places. Streets are always crowded, and an extra car would only add to the pollution (which is a big problem in the country).
However, the alternatives are not perfect, but there are some fun other ways to get around.
I mostly used the minibusses to get around. There are some newer ones (as you can see in the picture) and some which were really old. In general, they are for sure not fancy, and the drives were insane in some parts, but they were fun – and cheap. And in the end, I did not have to worry about driving myself. Whether I went to Baalbeck, Byblos, or Tyre, it was possible to go in the small buses and get around for very little money.
There are also Uber and taxis available, but I suggest only using Ubers in Lebanon if needed. My first time using Uber was in Lebanon, actually. I did not use them often, but there are plenty of Ubers available, and you do not have to worry about being ripped off (which can be an issue with taxis).
Where to Stay in Lebanon
For this itinerary, I suggest staying in Beirut most of the time. Lebanon is small but stretched, and Beirut is quite centrally located.
I did only day trips (minibusses all the way). Getting around in Lebanon is time-consuming, and even an 80-km drive can take up to 3 hours. Still, you will also get to see different landscapes and do not have to worry about checking in and checking out all the time.
However, if you stay for more than 5 days in Lebanon, it might make sense to book one or two nights near Byblos and do a few trips from there, so you avoid too much driving.
I stayed in a hostel/hotel in Hamra – a popular district in Beirut. There are dorms, but you can also book private rooms. The great thing about this hostel is that it has a pool on the rooftop and that you, especially if you travel as a solo traveler, easily meet other people. Check out rates at Hamra Urban Gardens.
If you are looking for luxury accommodation, you might want to check out Four Seasons Hotel Beirut. It comes with a great location, and the views from the rooftop are great!
What to Eat in Lebanon
The good news: Lebanon is foodie heaven!
Whether you are a meat-lover or a vegan, this country has amazing cuisine. So, as someone who eats veganish (and strictly vegetarian), I was in heaven. All the delicious food was to dream off. Of course, there are falafel & hummus and the fresh Fattoush salad, but there was so much more to eat and enjoy.
It is more diverse than in many other countries in the Middle East. Though I love Arabic food in general, Lebanon has probably one of the best cuisines in the world, so plan in enough time for good food and fresh juices.
Safety in Lebanon
I am generally cautious but did not feel the need to take extra precautions. Despite its very complicated history (and present), it is a safe destination to visit (INFO: SITUATION MIGHT HAVE CHANGED IN 2021)
However, if you visit these days, there might be some demonstrations and problems.
Also, not all public services function properly, like waste collection. I must say that Lebanon is – unfortunately – very dirty in many parts, and you will see tons of trash everywhere. However, I doubt that this is the result of the irregular waste collection, but more from people just littering wherever they go.
If you stay in a hotel/hostel, you will not be strongly affected by regular blackouts (even though there are many).
BEST PLACES TO SEE IN IN LEBANON IN 5 DAYS
Let´s start with the capital of the country: Beirut.
Beirut – 2 Days
My tip is to spend 1.5 or two days in Beirut and explore the gems of the city. While Beirut is the capital, it is still quite small, and with 2 days, you will have time to see the main attractions and places. Also, while Beirut is small, it is not so small that you could see everything in less than one day – especially if you plan on only (or mostly) walking.
My tip for the first day (especially if you do not have a full day) is to visit the American University first and explore this area for an hour or so before heading to the Rauche Rocks (for the sunset), and then having dinner/drinks there before strolling the promenade. Start this day slowly and prepare for a busy day 2.
If you have more time on your hands, visit Hamra – a popular busy area with many cafes and shops. This is also a good place to visit in the evening.Day 2 in Beirut will be busier. Start at the Sursock Museum and then walk down and visit the St. Nicolas Stairs, the St. Elian & Gregory Cathedral, and Beirut Souks, and stroll the Gemayzeh area – this is also a lovely area to have lunch or dinner.
Then, make sure to visit Zaitunay Bay and stroll Beirut´s Marina, where you will find – besides yachts – a lot of restaurants, too.
The most stunning building in Beirut is the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque. Make sure to not only admire the architecture from outside but also pay a visit inside. The entrance is free, and you do get something to cover yourself up with if you are not dressed appropriately.
There are also a few churches in the area that you can visit. Next to the mosque, you will also find the Roman Baths Gardens that you can visit (it does not take much time, though).
Beirut is one of the very best places to go out – even I went to a club. Okay, it was during the week, and there was not that much going on, but if you want to experience the infamous nightlife in Beirut, visit during the weekends. There are many rooftop bars and clubs where you can dance the night away.
Balbeeck – 1 Day
Plan one day for visiting Baalbeck – and a must-see place in Lebanon.
Getting there is time-consuming but worth it. Baalbeck is Lebanon‘s greatest Roman treasure. Actually, it is the largest Roman temple ever built and still very well-preserved, even though it has suffered from theft, war, and earthquakes.
Thanks to the efforts of archaeologists, it is still in great condition. So it does not surprise that it is actually quite busy as many people come here to visit this exquisite place.
There are quite a few sights, including Jupiter Temple, Bacchus Temple, and Venus Temple, so make sure to plan in some time to explore them. Yes, we all know the Acropolis in Athens. Still, Balbeeck is actually way more impressive, so either take a minibus (we had to change buses once, and it took me than 2.5 hours in total, but it was an interesting ride), join an organized group, or hire a car and get there yourself.
In early July through August, there is an international festival held in Balbeeck.
Jeita Grotto – Harissa – Byblos – 1 Day
My favorite day was when I visited these three spots in one day because they are some of the best places to visit in Lebanon.
Many tour operators offer tours to these places in one day, and it is definitely doable.
One of the girls I met at the hostel where I stayed and mostly used minibusses to get around (but also Uber and a taxi). It saved us tons of money this way, and we saw all three beautiful places – and it was fun!
The first stop is probably Jeita Grotto, which is less than 20 km north of Beirut. I am surely no expert on visiting caves, but I have seen a few over the years – and these were my favorites.
The best EVER. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures. I am repeating myself – it one of the best places to visit in Lebanon.
This limestone cave is imposing, and it exceeded my expectations. The grotto was discovered in 1836 by an American and opened in 1958 (Lower Grotto) and 1969 (Upper Grotto).
After a scenic drive, you can get out at the funicular station and buy your ticket (cash only) for a bit more than 11€, and then you can use the funicular to go up. It is a very short ride up, and once there, you can explore the Upper Grotto.
Over a distance of 700 meters (the total length of the cave is more than 2 km), you’ll find many lime formations, which come in all kinds of sizes and shapes.
If you look closely, you’ll find many different “animals,“ “vegetables,“ and more.
You cannot take pictures inside, but I can assure you that it is well worth it. It did not take us too long to go through, and after probably less than 30 minutes, we were walking out and walking down to the Lower Grotto.
At the Lower Grotto, you can do a short boat ride over a distance of 400 meters. Don´t worry – you don’t have to row yourself. Just sit down and enjoy the short electro ride.
It is quite chilly inside, so bring a pullover with you (around 16 degrees Celsius).
All those activities are included in the ticket price (funicular, Lower and Upper Grotto, and a ride on the mini train, which I did not use).
A documentary is also shown in different languages, but we missed the English version and would have had to wait for a few hours for the next one. So, if you want to watch it, ask for the times beforehand.
The whole tour took less than one hour, and on the way to the car park, we also spent time in the pretty gardens on the property.
Jounieh / Harissa – Téléférique
At the car station, we took a taxi. We were approached by many people and ended up with an older driver in a very ancient but cool taxi that brought us to Harissa – Téléférique. We paid around 12€, but you could probably haggle and get a better price (but I did not feel the need to haggle with this older man).
One of the best tourist attractions in Lebanon is going up via the Téléférique.
The Téléférique leaves a few kilometers north of the old center of Jounieh, and you have beautiful views already on the cable car ride up – I have never seen cable cars riding so close to house buildings (and I am an expert in cable car riding) – and it gets even better once you have arrived in Harissa. You could hike up or drive up, but why not take the cable car and enjoy the ride? Especially given the affordable prices for the cable car (less than 7€ for a 2-way ticket) and the views along the way, I do recommend hopping on a capsule.
I am all about the views, and here you can probably experience some of the country’s best views.
Also, you’ll find the Our Lady of Lebanon here – a bronze, white-painted, 13-ton statue of the Virgin Lady that has become a popular place for religious people to visit.Once you get out of the cable car, you need to walk a few minutes and then climb a few steps to enjoy the views.
There are several cafes/restaurants with good views and also playgrounds if you visit Lebanon.
From Harissa, we took a minibus and headed to Byblos, which is surely one of the best places to visit in Lebanon.The minibusses leave from the highway, so you need to get there to take them (unfortunately, I did not save the exit location, but if you ask for the minibus to Byblos, locals might help you).
Byblos was another of my favorite places to visit in Lebanon. It is a charming little village with a long history.
Located about 40 kilometers north of Beirut, it is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world – with over 7,000 years of history. It received UNESCO World Heritage Status in the 1980s. I am all about cute cafes, narrow streets, and pretty views, and I found all of that in Byblos. The village is small, and we strolled Byblos for around 2 or 3 hours before having an early dinner. However, I would not have minded staying longer – not because I felt that I missed out on something, but because I liked the relaxed vibe… and because Byblos is so over-the-top cute!
Check out the ancient fishing harbor, the small but pretty historical center with its narrow streets and small shops. Make sure to stroll the side streets for the cute cafes. Visit the archaeological sites, like Crusader Castle, where you can find out more about its history and have lovely views, or St. John the Baptist Church (Eglise St. Jean-Marc).
If you‘re in Lebanon for just 5 days – or something like that – 1 day is definitely enough to see the aforementioned places in one day.
Yes, it might be a busy day (whether you join guided tours or organize it yourself), but it is worth the hassle – this day was my favorite day in Lebanon.
You should add at least one day in the south of the country to your Lebanon itinerary in less than a week.
Tyre – 1 Day
I opted for Tyre (Sour) and wanted to experience a lesser-known place on my itinerary in the south of Lebanon.
Again, one of the girls from the hostel joined me, and again, the minibus was our best friend that brought us to our destination.
The drive was interesting because it was my only time going to the south, and I loved to see the numerous banana plantations along the way.Again, we got to visit one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world.
It is a small town (but busier than Byblos) with several Roman and Byzantine archaeological sites, colorful buildings, and a busy town center.
There is also a beach area (if you are into beaches, check out the public beach in the Tyre Coastal Nature Reserve – the watercolor looks lovely, but unfortunately, there is a lot of trash everywhere, which was sad to see). Tyre suffered a lot during the war, and there are still UN soldiers and jeeps deployed in Tyre, but I also remember the overly friendly people here, so it was another must-see in Lebanon.
MORE PLACES TO GO IN LEBANON IN 7 DAYS
With five days in Lebanon, I got a good idea of the country. I wish I had two more days to hike in the mountains because Lebanon is known for some pretty mountain areas, like Qadisha Valley.
It is great for hiking in the summer and good for winter sports in the winter. If I had 7 days in Lebanon, I would have stayed a night in Byblos, and on my way back to Beirut, I would have stopped at some villages and towns along the way.
Looking back now, I am pretty happy with how I created my 5-day Lebanon itinerary and didn’t regret the way I planned my trip at all.
So, this is why I hope this Lebanon itinerary helps you to plan your trip as well (and if Lebanon isn’t on your bucket list yet, then make sure to add it now) – it is a beautiful country that has deserved much more recognition.
Hopefully, these tips on the best places to visit in Lebanon will help you plan your Lebanon trip!
READ MORE: Is Jordan safe for solo female travelers?
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