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    Once occupied by Rome and Phoenicia, Lebanon is historically amelting pot of major civilisations. Today, it is home to thelargest and best-preserved Roman sites in the world and offerstourists the rare opportunity to snorkel among submerged Phoenicianruins in the coastal cities of Sidon and Byblos. The pre-Roman siteof Baalbek is perhaps the best place to see the region's intriguingpast.

    Sometimes called 'Paris of the Middle East', the capital Beirutis a trendy cosmopolitan city where a variety of languages,nationalities and religions transcend social barriers. Ironically,it suffered twin suicide bombings a day before the Paris attacks inNovember 2015.

    The highlight of any visit to the Mediterranean country is theconstant reminder of its role in world history, its location at thecrossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe making it part of a globalnetwork of trade ports during Roman times. The Beqaa Valley is oneof the leading wine-producing areas in the world and has been thecountry's main agricultural region since the 1st century BC, whenit was known as the 'granary of Rome'.

    Lebanon has a remarkable natural landscape, especially whenconsidering how much desert surrounds it. Each region varies inclimate and topography, though the country's small size meanstravellers can pack their itinerary with daytrips to historiccoastal towns and lovely mountain villages from Beirut.

    Lebanon's bloody civil war ran from 1975 to the early 1990s anddeeply scarred the country. The Lebanese people have tried torebuild since then and an atmosphere of tolerance andopen-mindedness has been the reward. Visitors can certainly enjoysafe and pleasant stays in this popular destination, though theyshould be aware of the socio-political situation at any given timeas Lebanon still appears on consular warning lists.

    Ski resorts, ancient cities, striking landscapes, gorgeousbuildings, wonderful food, internationally-renowned wineries,incredible shopping districts, red-hot nightlife and skilledartisans are all on offer in Lebanon.

    Hamra Street

    If Beirut is indeed the Paris of the East, then HamraStreet is the Champs Elysees. A centre of intellectual activityduring the 1970s, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Borzou Dragahidescribed it as a "bastion of liberalism, embracing multiplereligions and political views amid sectarian conflict."

    Hamra remains a wonderfully cosmopolitan, open-mindedarea, full of shops, pavement cafes, and trendy bars, thick withtourists and students from nearby universities. The street housesfive-star establishments and budget backpackers alike.

    And so, visitors to Beirut who want to experienceauthentic Lebanon but who also don't want to miss out on theluxurious comforts that really make a holiday abroad, would do wellto make Hamra Street their home base.

    Ultimately, Hamre Street is the perfect home base forthose who want to experience authentic Lebanon but not sacrificethe luxurious comforts that really make a holiday abroad.

    Capoeria in Hamra Street Capoeria in Hamra Street Youssef Chaker
    National Museum of Beirut

    Located on Museum Street in the heart of the city,the National Museum Beirut has a history that rivals its artefacts.During the Lebanese Civil War, the museum stood on the demarcationline between warring factions and the Egyptian Revival-stylebuilding suffered extensive damage.

    Many of its treasures would have been destroyed hadit not been for heroic pre-emptive measures undertaken by acommitted group of individuals. These days, the museum is spreadover three floors and renowned for its collection of ancientPhoenician antiquities.

    There are also beautifully-organised exhibitions which take thevisitor on a journey spanning numerous eras, including prehistory,the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine,and medieval Malmuk periods.

    Address: Damascus Boulevard, Beirut, 1100, Lebanon
    Exhibit Exhibit american_rugbier
    The Corniche

    Encircling Beirut's promontory, the Corniche is aseaside promenade and pedestrian walkway that constantly bustleswith daily life. Offering perfect views of the resplendentMediterranean and towering Mount Lebanon to the east, the Cornicheis extremely popular with walkers, joggers, and bikers.

    A wonderful place to hang out in the sun andsocialise, with push-cart vendors peddling tasty snacks and drinks,the Corniche is to Beirut what the Malecon is to Havana. It alsostands as testament to Lebanon's troubled past, with many of thepalm trees lining the promenade still pock-marked withbullet-holes.

    Corniche Evening Corniche Evening Samfay
    Beirut Hippodrome

    Officially the Hippodrome Du Parc De Beyrouth, theBeirut Hippodrome comes highly recommended by visitors to Lebanon'scapital city. Every Sunday, Beirut's elite mingle as they gatherfor an afternoon at the horse races. During spring, the annualGarden Show attracts crowds in excess of 25,000.

    The pristine grounds of the Beirut Hippodrome remainsthe property of the city's municipality and are maintained by anon-profit organisation known as SPARCA, the Society for theProtection and Improvement of the Arabian Horse in Lebanon.

    Head to the Beirut Hippodrome for a late Mezze lunch, and revelin the sight of the beautiful Arabian horses pounding their wayaround the track. There are also betting offices aplenty at theHippodrome, for those who fancy a flutter.

    Address: Abdallah El Yafi Street, Mathaf
    Exhibit Exhibit american_rugbier
    Al-Omari Mosque

    One of the biggest and oldest mosques in Lebanon, theAl-Omari Mosque in Beirut is a worthwhile tourist attraction,boasting an interesting history. Built in 1291, the Al-Omari mosquewas one of the first buildings restored after the Lebanese CivilWar.

    The Al-Omari Mosque started life as a Crusader churchin the guise of the Cathedral of St John. But when the Mamluks tookcontrol of Beirut from the crusaders they immediately beganconverting the cathedral into the large, impressive mosque that wesee today.

    Visitors to the Al-Omari Mosque should dressappropriately with no revealing clothing, and should requestpermission before entering. Note that the mosque is closed tovisitors during prayer times and over the whole month ofRamadan.

    Address: Corner of Rue Weygand and Rue Allenby
    Al Omari mosque Al Omari mosque Aboluay

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Beirut has a typically Mediterranean climate, characterised byhot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The hottest month isAugust, with temperatures reaching 86°F (30°C), and the coldestmonths are January and February, with temperatures between around50°F (10°C) and 63°F (17°C). The best time to visit Beirut is inspring (May) or autumn (September), when the weather is perfectlymild and there is plenty of tourist accommodation available.

    Lebanon has three different climate zones: the coastal strip,the mountains, and the Beqaa Valley. Coastal areas experience aMediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainywinters. Mountainous regions have typical alpine climates and arecool in the summer and cold with heavy snowfalls in the winter. TheBeqaa Valley has hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters with snow,frost and cold winds.

    The sun shines for an average of 300 days a year and the averagetemperature in Beirut is 70°F (21°C), with a range of 50°F (10°C)in winter to 86°F (30°C) in summer. Coastal regions can climb toover 95°F (35°C).

    Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated four miles (7km) south of thecity.
    Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March tothe last Sunday in October).
    Getting to the city: Taxis are available outside the arrivals hall and can beorganised through hotels or reputable companies online prior toarrival, and Uber is also available in Beirut. Authorised vehiclesbear the airport logo on their side and charge an official rate.Other taxis are also available but their charge is subject tobargain.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies located at the airport include Dealers,Budget, City Car, National, Avis, Europcar, and Hertz. The carrental operators' desks can be found in the arrivals hall.
    Airport Taxis: Organising taxis through reputable companies online or throughhotels prior to arrival is the easiest way to get a reliable taxi.Otherwise, certified airport taxis are usually available outsidethe arrivals hall and have a unified official rate. Uber is anincreasingly affordable and reliable option.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include ATMs, currency exchangeservices, offices, a bank, pay phones, a post office, luggagewrapping services, lost baggage complaints, business lounges, wifiaccess, separate Muslim and Christian prayer rooms, and first aidand emergency medical services. The Information Centre staff members aremultilingual, generally speaking Arabic, French, and English. Thereare a number of cafés and restaurants open to the public, locatedin the arrival zone. There are also a number of shops, includingduty free.
    Parking Parking for 2,350 cars is available at the airport. The parkingarea is connected to the terminal by an underground walkway.Parking rates start at LBP 5,750 for less than an hour, and go upto LBP 22,000 per day.
    Money:

    The official currency is the Lebanese Pound (LBP), which isdivided into 100 piastres. The Lebanese Pound is locally known asthe Lira. ATM machines are widely available in Lebanon except inisolated towns and cash can be withdrawn from banks during businesshours. Credits cards are widely used.

    Language:

    Arabic is the official language, though Lebanese Arabicis its own dialect, often a patois including at least one otherlanguage. French and English are the most common European languagesand most people are bilingual.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. The Europeanround two-pin plug is standard (type C), but a variety of otherplugs are used.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon. A visa isrequired for all travellers and can be obtained on arrival atBeirut International Airport for one month. However, some visas dorequire prior arrangments with the Lebanese government to ensurelonger stays.

    British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastone month beyond their entry date into Lebanon. A visa is requiredfor all travellers and can be obtained on arrival at BeirutInternational Airport for one month. However, some visas do requireprior arrangments with the Lebanese government to ensure longerstays.

    Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon.A visa is required for all travellers and can be obtained onarrival at Beirut International Airport for a maximum stay of onemonth. However, some visas do require prior arrangements with theLebanese government to ensure longer stays.

    Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon.A visa is required for all travellers and can be obtained onarrival at Beirut International Airport for a maximum stay of onemonth. However, some visas do require prior arrangments with theLebanese government to ensure longer stays.

    South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon,and need a pre-arranged visa to enter Lebanon. When prearranged,they can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of sixmonths.

    Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastone month beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon. Avisa is required for all travellers and can be obtained on arrivalat Beirut International Airport for a maximum stay of one month.However, some visas do require prior arrangments with the Lebanesegovernment to ensure longer stays.

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon. A visa isrequired for all travellers and can be obtained on arrival atBeirut International Airport for one month. However, some visas dorequire prior arrangments with the Lebanese government to ensurelonger stays.

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond their estimated duration of stay in Lebanon.A visa is required for all travellers and can be obtained onarrival at Beirut International Airport for a maximum stay of onemonth. However, some visas do require prior arrangements with theLebanese government to ensure longer stays.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Most foreign nationals can obtain a visa on arrival in Beruit(BEY), Lebanon, provided that: (i) they are holding confirmedreturn/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation fortheir next destination; and (ii) they can supply a valid addressand telephone number for themselves while in Lebanon; a familial orcorporate sponsor are good examples of appropriate sponsors.

    These tourist visas are either free (for stays of up to onemonth), or will be charged according to the nature and duration ofthe visit (for a maximum of up to six months). Visa extensions arepossible from within the country. Business travellers and largetourists groups (min. 8 people) registered with a local touroperator can get visas on arrival for up to six months. Note thatholders of passports containing a visa for Israel (whether valid orexpired, used or unused), or containing any Israeli stamps orendorsements, will not be allowed to enter Lebanon. A yellow fevervaccination certificate is required to enter Lebanon, if arrivingwithin six days of leaving or transiting through an infectedarea.

    NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at leastsix months validity remaining after your intended date of departurefrom your travel destination. Immigration officials often applydifferent rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.

    Travel Health:

    Health risks for travellers to Lebanon are not excessive. Updateroutine vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine,diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, chickenpox vaccine, and poliovaccine, as well as flu shots.

    There is no risk of yellow fever, but a vaccination certificateis required for travellers arriving from an infected country.Typhoid vaccinations are recommended to all travellers, with theexception of those who intend to stay in Lebanon for only a shortperiod and take their meals in major restaurants and hotels.

    This is especially applicable around the rainy season, whencontaminated water may filter into the cities. Medical facilitiesand healthcare in Lebanon are good but expensive and all paymentsare expected in cash, regardless of insurance. Make sure medicalinsurance covers any possible expenses and consider provision formedical evacuation.

    Tipping:

    Tipping is customary in Lebanon and service staff are usuallytipped around 10 to 15 percent of the bill. Porters, hotel staff,valets, and doormen usually receive a nominal fee, depending on thearea, service, and establishment.

    Safety Information:

    Safety warnings change regularly and Lebanon is unpredictable atbest, featuring on numerous consular warning lists. Most recently,twin suicide bombings in November 2015 killed 43 people and wounded239 others in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

    Vigilance is essential, as family, neighbourhood, and factionalviolence is spontaneous, sporadic, and often lethal. Certain areasmust be completely avoided, particularly at the Syrian and Israeliborder. Any travel south of the Litani River is discouraged.

    Politically or economically motivated kidnappings occur, andother crimes, such as burglary, petty theft, vehicle theft, andbreak-ins, are present in Lebanon, but are low by internationalstandards. Visitors should be streetwise and exercise normalprecautions otherwise.

    Local Customs:

    Lebanon is a religious country where Islam and Christianityhaving the two largest followings. Though more liberal thansurrounding destinations, visitors are still expected to dress andbehaviour modestly at religious sites and during religious holidayslike Ramadan.

    Cosmopolitan areas in places like Beirut are far more liberalthan the rest of the country and wider region, meaning travellerscan relax and express themselves in more ways. Possession, use, andtrafficking of controlled drugs are serious offences that carrycustodial sentences. Most jurisdictions consider homosexuality acriminal office.

    Overstaying without the proper authority is also a seriousoffence. Photographing military personnel or installations andgovernment buildings may lead to confiscation of photographicequipment and possibly imprisonment.

    Business:

    Many businesspeople speak English but an interpreter may beneeded. Work attire is conservative and local business customs mayat times take precedence in an increasingly Westernised businessenvironment, especially for smaller companies.

    Business people consider it rude to negotiate without chattingover tea first. Direct eye contact, physical closeness andfriendliness are important points for gaining confidence in abusiness meeting.

    Cross-gender negotiations are more reserved and don't usuallyinclude physical greetings. Gift giving is common and it's worthasking a legal consultant to explain the legal boundaries of whatcould be considered a gift.

    The working week runs from Monday to Saturday but some Muslimbusinesses may be closed on Fridays. Business cards are widelydistributed.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Lebanon is +961. Theoutgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0044 for the UK). City codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Beirut, (0)6for Tripoli. Internet services are provided at places likeStarbucks. There is good mobile phone coverage and many networkshave international roaming agreements.

    Duty Free:

    Duty free allowances for travellers to Lebanon over 18 are 800cigarettes/50 cigars/1kg of tobacco, two litres of spirits and fourof other alcoholic beverages, and perfume for personal use. Allcurrency should be declared on arrival, and a valid import licenceis required for any arms or ammunition. All prescriptionmedications should be accompanied by a Dr's letter and check a listof contraband medication prior to travel.

    Useful Contacts:

    The National Council of Tourism, Beirut: +961 0 1 343 073

    Lebanon Embassies:

    Lebanon Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 9396300.

    Lebanon Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 0 20 7229 7265.

    Lebanon Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 5825.

    Lebanon Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 012 430 2130

    Lebanon Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for NewZealand): +61 2 6295 7378.

    Foreign Embassies in Lebanon :

    United States Embassy, Beirut: +961 4 543 600.

    British Embassy, Beirut: +961 0 1 960 800.

    Canadian Embassy, Beirut: +961 4 726 700.

    South African Honorary Consulate, Beirut: +961 0 1 804 100.

    Australian Embassy, Beirut: +961 0 1 960 600.

    Irish Embassy, Cairo, Egypt (also responsible for Lebanon): +20227 287 100

    Embassy of New Zealand, Cairo, Egypt (also responsible forLebanon): +20 2 246 16000

    Lebanon Emergency Numbers : 140 (Ambulance), 175 (Fire), and 112(Police)
    Lebanon

    Public transport in Beirut is not very well established as mostresidents use their own vehicles for getting around the city. Busesoperate along set routes, but schedules can be erratic. They aregenerally modern, comfortable, and air-conditioned.

    To avoid embarrassment, men should be aware that seats at thefront of the bus are usually reserved for women. Taxis are apopular mode of transport and easily hailed off the street. Theyare not metered so it's best that passengers agree on the farebefore getting into the vehicle. Visitors should try to usereputable companies or a ride-hailing app to get fair prices.

    Car hire is available and a viable option for travelling aroundBeirut, though traffic congestion can be extreme during peak timesand Lebanese roads have a very poor safety record. Travellersshould consider this option carefully.

    Uncommonly blessed with a wide range of sights and activities,Beirut is truly able to cater to tourists' every whim. Culturejunkies should check out the National Museum of Beirut, housingimportant archaeological artefacts. Additionally, the world'sfinest example of imperial Roman architecture survives in the formof the Temples of Baalbek.

    Beachgoers head to Ramlet al-Baida, while adventurers go skiingon nearby Mount Lebanon in the winter. Visitors can also gosnorkelling among shipwrecks and ruins in the Mediterranean Sea, orhike up to the Our Lady of Lebanon statue in Harissa.

    Whether mixing with locals on the Corniche at sunset, browsingsome of Beirut's cosmopolitan shops and restaurants, or exploringthe incredible underground cave network of the Jeita Grotto,visitors will be blissfully busy while on holiday in Beirut.

    Jeita Grotto

    Undoubtedly Lebanon's premier sight, the Jeita Grotto is amust-see tourist attraction. Located just 14 miles (about 22km)from Beirut, the Jeita Grotto is an underground complex consistingof two separate, but connected, limestone caves, spanning anoverall length of 5.6 miles (about 9km).

    Situated in the Nahr al-Kalb river valley, the caves areaccessible by boat and house a series of limestone concretionsshaped for millennia into unique formations, sizes, and colours.Known as 'Mother Nature's Masterpiece', the Jeita Grotto alsofeatures an incredible upper gallery.

    The upper gallery is accessible via walkways carved into thenatural rock where travellers can observe the world's largeststalactite. A finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition,no holiday in Beirut would be complete without checking out theseextraordinary caves.

    Jeita Grotto caves of Lebanon Jeita Grotto caves of Lebanon kcakduman
    Temples of Baalbek

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple complexfound at Baalbek contains the world's best surviving example ofimperial Roman architecture. The small town in Lebanon's BeqaaValley is just 53 miles (86km) from Beirut.

    An ancient area rich in history, it was known asHeliopolis, meaning 'City of the Sun', during the HellenisticPeriod. Today, the towering, intricately-carved monuments ofBaalbek continue to amaze and delight visitors to the region.

    Even for non-history buffs, a visit to the acropolisat Baalbek is deeply fascinating. It represents a confluence ofexquisitely-preserved Greco-Roman architecture built over thecourse of two centuries.

    Consisting of 24 monoliths, numerous religiousstructures, and the grand Temple of Jupiter, the temples of Baalbekare an essential inclusion in any Lebanese travel itinerary.Moreover, the town of Baalbek is a wonderful place to stop over andrest for a few days on your Middle Eastern adventure.

    Baalbek Temple Complex Baalbek Temple Complex upyernoz
    Our Lady of Lebanon

    Our Lady of Lebanon is a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary,painted white for added splendour. It dates back to the early 20thcentury, erected on a hill overlooking the beautiful Bay ofJounieh. A major Lebanese pilgrimage site, the statue is also aroundly-celebrated tourist attraction.

    Towering 2,130 feet (650m) above sea level, unforgettable viewsunfurl at sunset when the western sky darkens over the sea. Anadded benefit is the cable car system, offering thrilling andaffordable rides up the pine-forested mountain towards theshrine.

    Those looking to make a day out of their trip to see Our Lady ofLebanon can also walk up the steep hillside, about 5.5 miles (9km)from the town of Jounieh to Harissa at the summit. Jounieh islocated just 12.5 miles (about 20km) north of Beirut, considered anobligatory stop for holidaymakers in Lebanon.

    Address: Harissa, Lebanon
    Our Lady of Lebanon Our Lady of Lebanon Serge Melki
    Sidon (Saida)

    The third-largest city in Lebanon, Sidon is full of interestingcultural sites and shopping opportunities. A worthwhile excursionfrom Beirut, it's located just 27 miles (43km) south of thecapital. Known as Saida in Arabic, it's primarily a destination forday-trippers from Beirut.

    By far the main attraction of the city is its legendary stretchof covered market-places (souqs), where tourists eager to find someLebanese souvenirs can shop to their heart's content. A bustling,atmospheric place, shopping in Sidon's Old Souq makes for anenriching experience.

    Other notable sights in Sidon include the Sea Castle, which is afortress built by the Crusaders in the 13th Century, the Sidon SoapMuseum, and the Temple of Eshmun, a Phoenician structure erected inhonour of the god of healing, dating back to the 7th centuryBC.

    Sidon Port Sidon Port Heather Cowper