Beyond Beirut: 8 Best Day Trips from Beirut

A tiny country sandwiched against the Mediterranean in the Middle East, Lebanon is a place where nearly any location can be made into a day trip from the capital Beirut if you’re ambitious enough! (To put it into perspective, it’s smaller than the U.S. state of Connecticut).

view over byblos Lebanon, ancient ruins looking back to the Lebanese coast

For those who visit Lebanon and wish to base themselves in Beirut, there are plenty of places to visit in Lebanon and lots of options for good day trips from Beirut. The following list includes some enjoyable and doable tours from Beirut that can be adjusted to your preference, depending on what you and your family are looking to do in a day.

A note about transportation in Lebanon

Traffic within and around Beirut can get heavy at times, so keep in mind that all travel times listed below are traffic-dependent.

It’s also important to remember that as Lebanon does not have a reliable public transportation system to move beyond Beirut, you must typically either rent a car, hire a taxi, or use a tour outfit to get around.

While apps like Uber and Bolt are easy to use in Beirut, they are not necessarily available throughout the country. Allo Taxi is a reputable local service through which you can arrange transport around Lebanon in advance.

Other local companies, like Beirut International Taxi offer a reliable and affordable option for visitors.

If you prefer not to drive or go by taxi, many local tour operators like City Sightseeing organize decent day trips to some of the more well-known sites like Baalbek and Jeita Grotto, but will, of course, offer you less autonomy.

1. For an Easy Day Trip Close to Beirut

  • Destination: Harissa & Jeita Grotto
  • Total Drive Time: (Beirut – Jounieh – Jeita – Beirut) 1 hour 15 minutes

If you don’t want to venture too far from Beirut, an easy and enjoyable day trip option is visiting Harissa and the Jeita Grotto – or either one on it’s own if you only want to spend a half-day outside the capital.

Harissa & the Télépherique du Liban

About a 30-minute ride up the coast from Beirut lies Jounieh, a past-its-prime resort town with an array of casinos. Head straight to the télépherique station and take the 10-minute cable car ride up to Harissa Park.

View from the Telepherique back to Harissa

It’s a fun little trip that offers some really nice views of the sweeping coast. Once you disembark the cable car, you’ll have to take the funicular to the top where there’s an open area that centres around the painted white bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, called Our Lady of Lebanon, a site of pilgrimage for many Christians.

Harissa Park itself is an open, green space where you can admire the views and take a break at one of the cafés. There’s also a playground for kids.

Once you’ve had your fill, take the cable car back down and head to the Jeita Grotto, about a 25-minute drive southeast from Jounieh.

Jeita Grotto

The Jeita Grotto is a fun option for kids and adults, even if you’re not necessarily a cave enthusiast. The grotto itself, which has some quite impressive rock formations that are well-lighted, is divided into upper and lower caverns.

If you’re game for another cable car, the upper cavern can be reached by a short ride and then explored inside on foot. An alternative is to take a short train ride between the two. The lower cavern is especially appealing as it can be toured by a boat ride through a crystal-clear lake.

Colorful cable cars take you through the forest to the top level of Jeitta Grotto, close to Beirut

The grounds also boast a small zoo and a sculpture garden. There are also a snack bar and restaurant options and souvenir shops.

2. History & Beaches

  • Destination: Byblos (or Jbeil)
  • Travel Time: (Beirut – Byblos – Beirut) 1 hour 30 minutes

Byblos is definitely one of Lebanon’s highlights. A city on the coast about 45 minutes north of Beirut by car, Byblos (or Jbeil in Arabic) is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, dating back 7,000 years.

Its old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very nice place to explore. The Byblos souk has some nice dining options, like Feniqia Restaurant, which offers Lebanese-Asian fusion dishes, souvenir shops, and Mémoire du Temps, a shop/museum selling ancient fish fossil remains from the surrounding mountains. 

Byblos Castle

At the Byblos Archeological Site, you can discover the literal layers of history that date back to the Phoenicians and span the Greek, Roman, and Crusader periods.

To get the most out of your visit, it’s recommended to hire a guide, as many historical sites in Lebanon are not necessarily well-marked. Regardless, the site is beautifully poised against the sea and offers a lovely view up and down the coast and of the mountains. 

Byblos’ picturesque old port is a great place to have a drink or a meal and gaze at the fishing boats in the harbour or watch the sunset. If you walk along the harbour, there are plenty of rocks for kids to climb on.

Byblos harbour

Everything in and immediately around the old city, like the ruins, can be accessed by foot. You can also pair Byblos with a trip to one of the nearby beaches, many of which you can walk to from the old souk.

While there are public beaches nearby, many are very rocky. If you’re looking for softer sand and some amenities, it’s probably best to go to one of the nearby resorts and pay an entrance fee.

Resorts like Eddésands Hotel & Wellness Resort and Le Phenix de Byblos, have their own private beaches, a pool, and restaurant on-site, plus showers and changing rooms, and are very close to the old city.

3. More Beach Time

  • Destination: Batroun
  • Travel Time: (Beirut – Batroun – Beirut) 1 hour 50 minutes

Batroun is a nice destination for a day trip from Beirut, especially if you want beach time with your family. Just north of Byblos along the coast, Batroun can also easily be combined with a Byblos visit.  

With its variety of bars, restaurants, and shopping options, Batroun’s old city and fishing harbour are fun to explore on foot.

skyline view of the city of Batroun, lebanon on the Mediterranean

Diaspora Village, in the old city, is a cultural and community hub that showcases the varying countries home to the extensive Lebanese diaspora (of more than 4 million people) and includes a museum, a library, and a café.

The area is also known for its citrus trees, so a stop at the famous Hilmi’s Lemonade is a popular choice. The 225-meter-long ancient Phoenician wall, which abuts the sea on the outer edges of the old city, is also worth a look. 

Batroun definitely has a beach town vibe, and there are several options if you’re looking to spend some time on the beach, which are a short drive away from the old city. Just as in Byblos, many beaches here are rocky, but there are also resort options like Stan Stefano, which have sandy beaches, pools, and restaurants on-site.

Seaside bars and restaurants like Pierre and Friends, right up along the shore, offer great views and delicious seafood.

Just east of Batroun (about 4km) is the Moussalayha Castle, which is said to date back to the 17th century and offers a winding stair climb to the top with good views. 

4. If You Want to Get Out into Nature 

  • Destination: Chouf Mountains
  • Travel Time: (Beirut – Beiteddine – Moussa Castle – Jahliye – Beirut) 2 hours, not including hiking

About a 45-minute drive from Beirut, the Chouf mountain region is one of the most ideal Beirut day trips.

Meander the winding roads and enjoy the scenery as your ears pop with the increased elevation as you head first to the Beiteddine Palace.

Lebanon - Beiteddine Palace

Built over the course of 30 years (1788-1818) by Lebanon’s final ruling prince Emir Bashir Shihab II, the palace is a fun place to explore and admire the beautiful Italian and Arabic architecture and its mountain views. Chances are it will not be crowded with tourists during your visit.

Just a short trip down the road from Beiteddine is the quirky and off-beat Moussa Castle, an extensive museum of plaster figures that depict scenes from traditional Lebanese life. It’s an unusual and amusing stop if it interests you.

Moussa Castle
Moussa Castle | Depositphotos

Next, head to the village of Jahliye and take a nature hike along the paths through the forest by the beautiful Jahliye River toward the stunning Al Zarka Waterfall (about 1 hour 10 minutes, one way).

The Shallalat Al Zarka Restaurant, which sits on the river, is an ideal lunch stop. Alternatively, head straight to the restaurant if you want to skip the hike.

5. For more experienced hikers

  • Destination: Arz Tannourine Nature Reserve & Baatara Gorge
  • Time: (Beirut – Arz Tannourine – Douma – Baatara Gorge – Beirut) 4 hours 30 minutes

For families with older children or children more experienced with hiking, the Arz Tannourine Nature Reserve is another good day trip.

Arz Tannourine Nature Reserve

About a two-hour drive from Beirut, the park—a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing Lebanon’s most concentrated collection of its beloved cedar trees—has challenging paths that vary between 2-4.5 km in length and boast stunning views.

Pack lunch and enjoy a picnic in the park between hikes and spend your day there. Alternatively, drive to the village of Douma for lunch (about 40 minutes) to enjoy a locally sourced, traditional and delicious Lebanese meal at Beit Douma, a beautifully restored and decorated traditional Lebanese house.

On your way back to Beirut from either Beit Douma or Arz Tannourine, stop at Baatara Gorge Waterfall, which free falls through a layered sinkhole.

Baatara Gorge Waterfall

It’s ideal to go in the spring when the water is abundant (it can slow to a trickle during summer) and the area is lush and green. While the Baatara Gorge Park itself has become a bit overdeveloped for tourists, the fall itself is an impressive sight. The nearby suspension bridges are also fun to try.

6. If History is What You’re Looking for …

  • Destination: Baalbek Archeological Site, Aanjar & Taanayel Park
  • Time: (Beirut – Baalbek – Aanjar – Taanayel – Beirut) 4 hours

Baalbek is one of the Middle East’s most impressive historical sites and a must-see when visiting Lebanon. The site itself dates back to the Phoenicians before it was later taken over by the Greeks and on to the Romans. Its structures, like the temples of Bacchus and Jupiter, built over the course of two centuries, are extensive and well-preserved.

Baalbek Temple of Bacchus in Lebanon

While the site is located in Bekka where Hezbollah’s presence is strong, the ruins are generally safe to visit with children. Guides are available for hire on-site and are highly recommended to really understand its history.

A visit to the ruins of Baalbek may also be paired with a visit to Anjar Archeological Site, an impressive place that doesn’t get as much attention as Baalbek.

Smaller than Baalbek, this ancient city is the relic of an 8th-century Arab dynasty called the Umayyad caliphate. The site gives the visitor an idea of how this ancient trading hub operated, and the restored arches of the Great Palace are a highlight.

Anjar Archaeological site Lebanon

On your way back to Beirut, stop at Domaine de Taanayel, a sprawling park and farm with a lake in the middle, which you can explore by foot or by renting a bike. Horseback riding is also available, as are horse-drawn carriage rides. Kids will also enjoy the array of cows, goats, and chickens.

7. And Even More History to the South

  • Destination: Sidon (Saida) & Lazy B
  • Time: (Beirut – Sidon – Jiyeh – Beirut) 1 hour 30 minutes

South of Beirut lies Sidon (Saida in Arabic), an appealing coastal city. Its arguable claim to fame is the Crusader Sea Castle (Qalaa al-Bahr), which is built on top of a Phoenician temple and dates back to the 13th century. Located offshore, it’s connected to land by a stone causeway and a fun place to visit with kids.

Lebanon - Sidon Sea Castle

Nearby the castle is the Khan al-Franj, a caravanserai from the 17th century, which is impressively restored and open to visitors. There’s also Sidon’s Soap Museum, a surprisingly interesting journey through how soap is made. (Sidon was once well known for its soap).

Sidon’s other renowned highlight is its really nice old-style souk, which is great to explore for shopping and eating.

You can also pair a morning or afternoon visit to Sidon with the beach if you’d like. Twenty minutes north of Saida on the way to Beirut is Lazy B Beach Club in Jiyeh, where you can enjoy sandy beaches, several pools (once specific for children), a restaurant, and shower/changing facilities.

Learn more about the best beaches to explore in the Middle East!

8. You really can ski and swim at the beach on the same day!

  • Destination: Mzaar & Le Phenix de Byblos
  • Travel Time: (Beirut – Mzaar – Byblos – Beirut) 3 hours 5 minutes

For those who would like to actually test out the cliché of Lebanon being the place where one can go to the beach and ski on the same day, head to Mazaar, the country’s largest and most extensive ski resort with 42 slopes.

Mzaar skiing in Lebanon

Once you’ve finished, head to Byblos on your way back to Beirut and relax on the beach at Le Phenix de Byblos.

We hope you’ve found some inspiration here to help you plan out your day trips from Beirut.

More on Visiting Lebanon

Don’t miss our further family-friendly guides to exploring Lebanon with kids:

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Family Travel Middle East
Family Travel Middle East

The Family Travel in the Middle East team of travel writers are all parents based in the Middle East, sharing first hand experiences and reviews from across the region to help you plan your next family adventure.

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