12 Incredible Places to Visit in Lebanon

Nestled along the eastern Mediterranean Coast, Lebanon is a small nation—about a quarter the size of Switzerland—jam-packed with a diversity of things to see, do, and experience.

From its beaches, to its ancient ruins, age-old cedar forests, bustling markets, and scenic mountains, Lebanon holds great appeal with its variety of beautiful places, many of them designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Pair all of this with amazing food, a friendly and hospitable population, and an agreeable climate, and Lebanon makes a great Middle East travel destination for families.

Baalbek temple in Lebanon with text overly Places to visit in Lebanon

The country has a fascinating history stretching back more than 7,000 years. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, and the French (among others) all left their marks here.

Today, the nation’s 18 different religious groups (all of which have representation in parliament) make Lebanon quite religiously diverse in comparison to other Middle Eastern nations.

Lebanon has seen its fair share of violence and upheaval over the course of its more recent history, and sectarianism still remains an ongoing issue. However, most of Lebanon remains safe and feasible for family travel, with English, French and Arabic all widely spoken.

Best Way to Get to Lebanon

Bordered by Israel to the south and Syria to the east and north, crossing overland into Lebanon can be difficult and complicated.

The best and safest way to get to Lebanon is to fly directly to Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport (BEY).

As well as the national airline MEA (Middle East Airlines), BEY is serviced by airlines including Etihad, Emirates, Saudi, Air France and Lufthansa.

Best Places to Visit in Lebanon

Below are some of the top places to see in Lebanon that you’ll find to fit into a family itinerary visiting this small but vibrant country.

1. Beirut

Lebanon’s cosmopolitan capital on the coast, Beirut, is an energetic, chaotic and dazzling feast for the senses. From the country’s recent economic crisis to the devastating Beirut port explosion of 2020, which destroyed some of the most vibrant neighbourhoods, the capital has experienced some hard times in recent years.

However, this is a city that rewards those who take the time to explore it with vibrant neighbourhoods, interesting architecture, and great restaurants. With a diverse population, Beirut is quite culturally open and welcoming to visitors.

Lebanon - Beirut

The city’s long, wide corniche along the sea is ideal for renting bicycles or for taking a stroll to people watch or see the sunset. The famous Pigeon Rocks are a must-see. Burj Hammoud, the Armenian Quarter, is a great place to taste some local specialities while watching artisans at work and in their shops.

Visit the National Museum of Beirut which has some fascinating archeological pieces from Lebanon’s incredibly layered history and learn more about the incredible story of how its relics were protected from 15 years of civil war.

Browse the higher-end boutiques in Saifi Village, Downtown Beirut, or visit the Souk al Tayeb in Mar Mikhael for authentic locally-sourced meals while picking up souvenirs made by local designers and artisans at its Saturday market.

You can find our complete guide to visiting Beirut with kids here.

How to get there:

Fly to Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, which is about a 20-30 minute taxi ride from Beirut’s centre. As Lebanon is a small country, Beirut makes an easy base from which to organize day trips around the rest of the country. For the most convenient travel, it’s best to rent a car or book taxis in advance.  

Beirut does not have a well-organized public transport system. While there are some minibuses,  their routes and schedules can be difficult to access. It’s, therefore, easier and more convenient to travel throughout Beirut by pre-booked taxi.

Companies like Allo Taxi are recommended, and apps like Uber and Bolt are widely used.

2. Harissa & the Télépherique

A stone’s throw from Beirut is the town of Jounieh, sitting north on the coast, from where you can take the Téléferique, a roughly 10-minute cable car ride up to Harissa. The ride offers some lovely views along the coast.

Lebanon - Lady of Lebanon harrisa

At the top, take a funicular up to Harissa, location of the Our Lady of Lebanon, a large white-painted bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, arms outstretched. A site of pilgrimage for many Christians, the area offers more beautiful views, which you can take in from one of the areas cafés. This is an easy half-day trip from Beirut.

How to get there:

Jounieh is about a 30-minute ride up the coast road from Beirut by car or taxi.

3. Jeita Grotto

Located about 22km from Beirut, the Jeita Grotto makes a nice day or half-day trip from the capital; it appeals to both kids and adults. The grotto itself, an impressive array of stalactites and stalagmites, is divided into the upper and lower caverns.

Lebanon - Jieta Grotto
The cable car ride to the upper cavern is half the fun for kids!

The upper cavern can be reached by a short cable car ride and toured on foot. The lower cavern is particularly fun as it can be toured via a boat ride through a strikingly clear and well-illuminated lake.

Apart from the grotto there are some restaurants and cafés at Jeita where you can easily grab lunch or a snack.

How to get there:

Jeita is about a 30-minute drive north and east of Beirut, conveniently reached by car or taxi. 

4. Deir al-Qamar

About 40 km southeast of Beirut, Deir al-Qmar is a pleasant little village nestled in the lush Chouf mountains. Perched along the edge of a picturesque valley, the village’s distinctive stone houses and winding cobblestone back streets make it a lovely place to take a break from the hustle of Beirut.

Lebanon - Deir al-Qamar

The village’s expansive main square with a fountain in its centre is bordered by the Fakhreddine Mosque, which dates back to the 15th century. Another quirky feature of the town is the Marie Baz Wax Museum, which contains 150 figures important to the history of Lebanon. Cafes and restaurants are all located within walking distance.

A visit to Deir al-Qamar also works well in tandem with a visit to the Beiteddine Palace, which is located opposite the village, across the valley.

How to get there:

The most direct way to get to Deir al-Qamar is to either take a taxi or rent a car. A roughly 40-50 minute drive from Beirut, Deir al-Qamar can easily be a day trip or an overnight.

5. Beiteddine Palace

The palace, one of Lebanon’s most famous attractions, was built over 30 years (1788-1818) by Emir Bashir Shihab II, Lebanon’s final ruling prince. After changing hands a couple times between the Ottomans and the French during their ruling periods, it was later made into the presidential summer residence following the country’s independence from France in 1943.

Lebanon - Beiteddine Palace

It combines Italian and Arabic architecture and makes for a couple hours of fun exploration. The palace also boasts impressive views of the valley. As with many of the historical sites in Lebanon, there is not much explanation offered on-site, so it’s best to hire a guide to gain a better understanding.

Beiteddine is an easy day trip from Beirut and also works well as an overnight or weekend trip combined with Deir Al-Qamar or the Chouf Cedars Reserve.

How to get there:

Beiteddine is about a 40-50 minute drive from Beirut and the easiest way to get there is to drive or take a taxi.

City Sightseeing Lebanon, which runs hop-on, hop-off bus tours in Beirut, also runs day trips to the palace from Beirut, including stops at Deir el Qamar and Shouf Cedars Reserve (more on that below!)

6. Byblos

One of Lebanon’s gems and top sites, Byblos (or Jbeil) is an ancient coastal city. With a history that dates back 7,000 years, Byblos is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Its old city, hemmed in by a stone wall built during the Crusades, is a UNESCO world heritage site. This is also where the Phoenician’s 22-letter phonetic alphabet was born, the foundation of our modern alphabet.

Lebanon -Byblos

Byblos’s souk has plenty of places to eat and shop (mostly tourist shops). A wander through the souk can lead you down to the old port to admire the fishing boats and dine seaside.

At Byblos Archeological Site, you can see layers of history that date back to the Phoenicians and span the Greek, Roman and Crusader periods. It’s quite extensive and provides beautiful views of the sea and the coastline.

Byblos is an easy day trip from Beirut and also an ideal weekend or overnight getaway. There are also many beaches next to the port city, making it an easy place to pair with a beach escape.

How to get there:

Byblos is about 45 minutes north of Beirut by car. It can be great to combine with stops at Harrisa and Jeita Grotto along the way for a full day adventure north of Beirut.

7. Batroun

Batroun is another coastal city primarily known as a summer resort destination. Just north of Byblos it also boasts a pretty harbour and a picturesque souk in its old city, which is perfect for a wander.

The town also has an ancient Phoenician wall and attractive churches like St. Stephen’s Maronite Cathedral at the old harbour and the Our Lady By the Sea Greek Orthodox Church. Batroun is also known for its citrus trees, and any visit to the old city should include a stop at the famous Hilmi’s Lemonade.

Lebanon - Batroun

Batroun has a great variety of beaches. Although many of them are rocky, there are some beach resort options with sand beaches if that’s your preference. There are also plenty of places to eat fresh fish and other seafood along the sea, although many outside the city centre may require a short taxi ride. For scuba divers, excursions off the coast are also available.

A short trip 4km inland from Batroun is the Moussalayha Castle, said to date back to the 17th century, which can make for a fun excursion. Its steep steps wind their way up to the top, rewarding climbers with some great views.

How to get there:

Batroun is about an hour’s drive from Beirut and 15 minutes north of Byblos  along the coastal road.

8. Tripoli

Farther north along the coast lies Lebanon’s second-largest city, Tripoli. It has a remarkably different feel from Beirut, significantly more Arabic than the capital’s eclectic mix. Tripoli is less touristy than other cities in Lebanon, but it still has quite a bit to offer to visitors.

The Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles (or Qala’at Sanjil), is a fortress that overlooks the old city and a fun place to explore plenty of hidden rooms and corners. The site also houses the Northern Lebanon & Akkar Museum, which gives an interesting historical overview of the region. To make the most of a visit here it would be best to hire a guide at the site.

Lebanon - Tripoli

Nearby, the citadel is the city’s old souk. Wander the labyrinthine passageways, and you can watch artisans working on their respective crafts and shop for anything, from authentic wooden backgammon sets to spices to tasty treats. (Tripoli is well known for its desserts.)

The port area of the city called El Mina is quieter, with many narrow alleyways and streets to explore, many of which are closed to cars. Nearby is a long promenade along the seaside.

During July and August it’s possible to do a half-day trip to the Palm Islands Nature Reserve, a group of 3 small, flat islands with UNESCO protected status due to their delicate and unique flora and fauna.  

How to get there:

85 km north of Beirut, Tripoli is about a 1.5 hour drive from Beirut along the coast.

Connexion Transportation & Tourism offers coach bus trips between Beirut and Tripoli about 7 times daily on weekdays and 3 times per day on Saturdays and Sundays. It is best to check beforehand as their schedule changes from month to month. 

9. Sidon

Another city on Lebanon’s coast, about a 45-minute drive south of Beirut, Sidon (or Saida) has a more authentically Arab feel with a fantastic old-style souk to explore.

The arguably biggest attraction, however, is the Crusader Sea Castle (Qalaa al-Bahr), built on top of a Phoenician temple, which dates back to the 13th century and is actually located offshore, but is connected to land by a stone causeway. A short walk from the castle is the Khan al-Franj, a caravanserai from the 17th century, impressively restored and open to visitors.

Lebanon - Sidon Sea Castle

Nearby, the Great Omari Mosque, which was originally a church for the Knights of St. John, has an impressive courtyard and is worth visiting. Sidon’s Soap Museum is also surprisingly interesting journey through the manufacturing process of the product that Sidon was once known for.

How to get there:

South of Beirut along the coastal road, Sidon is about a 45-minute drive from the capital.

Lebanese Transport Co also has coach buses that travel between Beirut and Saida, usually about once per hour.

10. Baalbek Archeological Site

Perhaps less known than other sites in the Middle East, Baalbek (ancient Heliopolis) holds some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world and they are a must-see for visitors to Lebanon. About two hours northeast from Beirut by car, the ruins of the temples of Baalbek are a treasure trove to behold.

The site itself dates back to the Phoenicians. It was later taken over by the Greeks before it became part of the Roman empire where its structures were built over the course two centuries.    

Lebanon -Baalbek Temple

The Temple of Bacchus is certainly one of the most impressively intact temples you will find anywhere globally. The Temple of Jupiter was once the largest in the Roman Empire, though only six columns remain now.

While Baalbek is located near the Syrian border, in the part of the country where Hezbollah’s presence is strong, it is generally considered a safe place to visit with children and one of the best places to visit in Lebanon. Multilingual guides are readily available for hire at the site entrance, where a small entry fee is payable.

How to get there:

One of Lebanon’s most popular tourist sites, Baalbek can be easily reached by taxi hire or car rental. In addition, many tour operators organize day trips to the site and the surrounding area, such as the city of Zahlé or Anjar, from Beirut.

See some suggested tour operators which can be conveniently booked using Viator

11. Qadisha Valley

The Qadisha Valley (Kadisha Valley) is one of the most stunning parts of Lebanon and a must-see for nature lovers and hikers. It is a natural gorge that cleaves the land in half. The valley is dominated by dramatic cliffs, scenic mountains views, and a river that snakes along its floor. There are many hiking opportunities here, and several small companies offer guided tours.

Lebanon - Qadisha Valley

As an area inhabited by early Christians fleeing persecution, there are many monasteries cut into the rocks that can be visited today, along with some grottos, like Notre Dame de Lourdes and Qadisha Grotto. Qadisha was also home to one of Lebanon’s most famous sons, the poet Khalil Gibran whose former home and tomb, also carved into the rock, is now a museum.  

The village of Bcharré sits above the valley and offers splendid views of the valley, with accommodation if you want to make this an overnight. Qadisha is also located near the Cedars of God and the Tannourine Cedar Forest Nature Reserve.

How to get there:

Bcharré is about a 1.5 hour drive from Beirut.

12. Cedar Forests

The cedar tree is Lebanon’s national treasure, woven into the cultural tapestry of the country’s identity. (There’s even a cedar tree on the nation’s flag.)

Unfortunately, these majestic trees, previously abundant in Lebanon and used by the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Romans and the Ottomans, have been whittled away over the last century due to resource exploitation and deforestation. Today, a handful of protected reserves remain, but they are a great experience for nature lovers. 

Lebanon - Cedar of Gods

The most well-known reserve is Cedars of God (Arz Al-Rab), just five km from Bcharré, which is home to some of the oldest trees in Lebanon, some dating back nearly 2,000 years. It is a small preserve but with an impressive array of trees and well-marked paths.

The Arz Tannourine Nature Reserve, south of the Qadisha Valley and around 85 km from Beirut, has several hiking trails ranging in length from between 2-4.5 km. While rockier and more demanding than the other preserves, it has some of the largest cedar trees in Lebanon and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Chouf Cedar Reserve, a protected Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is Lebanon’s largest nature reserve and extends over three cedar forests (Barouk, Masser Al-Chouf and Ain Zhalta). The Chouf Cedar Society offers different activities like hiking, bird watching, and mountain biking within the reserve. The reserve features trails for all levels, including a specific 300-meter trail for people with physical disabilities.

How to get there:

The most convenient and reliable way to access any of these three reserves is by car. From Bcharré, the Cedars of God can easily be reached by a short drive or taxi ride.

The Arz Tannourine Nature Reserve can be reached by car or taxi from Beirut.

The Chouf Cedar Reserve is about an hour’s drive southeast from Beirut.   


More on Visiting Lebanon

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

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4 Comments

  1. John Khoury
    14/04/2022 / 2:45 pm

    Very informative, beautiful and nostalgic.

  2. Dr. Refaat Henry Awad
    30/04/2022 / 12:30 pm

    Marvelous presentation. Very informative

  3. Fawzi Chamoun
    04/05/2022 / 9:25 am

    Good morning, i think you forgot jezzine , Tyr, maghdouche ( south of sidon), chateau Beaufort near nabatieh…..