BeirutTravel Guide

Beirut, Lebanon’s exciting capital city, is a must-visit gem of the Middle East. This cosmopolitan metropolis offers something for every kind of traveller, whether you're a history buff, foodie, beach fan or looking for a unique cultural experience.

Once called "the Paris of the Middle East", the term “cultural melting pot” really applies here. Locals are Lebanese and Armenian, Christian and Muslim, and they speak Arabic, French and English, often all in one conversation.

Beirut is also one of the oldest cities in the world, imprinted by ancient civilisations like the Romans, Phoenicians and Byzantines, and their architecture. Today, the city is a fascinating blend of old and new with one of its trendiest districts, Gemmayze, dubbed the Soho of Beirut.

Here’s a capital city where you can visit ancient Roman ruins, browse farmers’ markets, and make the most of the sunny Mediterranean climate on one of the many beautiful beaches. Then there’s the eclectic culinary scene, exciting nightlife, and the natural beauty of the mountains nearby. Talk about options!

Ready to find out more? Our Beirut travel guide is all you need!

Beirut quick facts

Language

National language

Arabic

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

CAD $2.05

Local time

Sunday

4:30pm

Currency

United States dollar

CAD $1.00 = USD $0.73

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

CAD $10.89

Electricity

Plug type: A

2 or 3 pins • 220V

Explore Beirut

Where to stay in Beirut?

As with any city, you can choose to be in the middle of the action or find a quieter neighbourhood to enjoy some relaxation. The variety of accommodation in Beirut, also means every kind of traveller can find their sweet spot whether highflyer or budget savvy.

Downtown Beirut is where most of the magic happens, from the best sights to top activities. Go big with an ultra-luxurious stay at Hotel Albergo, an all-suite hotel housed in a 1930s mansion, or save a little without sacrificing on experience by booking a stay at the sleek and modern Hotel De Ville, just 15 minutes from the airport.


In western Beirut, Hamra is the old Muslim district famous for being the city’s main cultural hub. The polished Le Commodore Hotel is a firm favourite with business and leisure travellers alike, boasting more than 200 rooms and suites and a peaceful atmosphere, while still being close to some great attractions. For a budget friendly option, you can’t beat Hamra Urban Gardens, with its bed and breakfast stay, free Wi-Fi, and a gym. But the best feature is the rooftop garden with a pool and bar!


The upmarket neighbourhood of Achrafieh, in the old Christian part of the city, is your haven in Beirut. Enjoy the slower pace at the five-star boutique hotel Sofitel Beirut Le Gabriel, guaranteed to deliver lavish French feels combined with Lebanese warmth. Then there’s the elegant Royal Tulip Achrafieh, with its stylish restaurant offering a smorgasbord of cuisine from Mexican and Japanese to Italian and local.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

Things to do in Beirut

A quick history lesson before we begin! During 15 years of civil war (1975-1990) much of the city’s architecture was destroyed and neighbourhoods were cut off from each other. This affected the character of Beirut as did the rebuilding after the war. Some areas were reconstructed as modern, while others incorporated traditional Lebanese architecture. In some cases, the scars of the war were preserved on purpose as a reminder. All of this makes Beirut a fascinating and unique city to explore, no matter the time of year you choose to visit. Here are a few things to do in Beirut to get you started.

The Blue Mosque, known officially as the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, is an iconic landmark on Beirut’s skyline. Situated downtown, it’s Lebanon’s largest mosque, stretching across 11 000m², with 65m high minarets (spires) on the corners. Named after its powder-blue tiled domes, which contrast sharply with the exterior, the mosque is lit at night, and is quite incredible to see.


Beirut offers travellers centuries of history and loads of art and culture to discover. The country’s museums showcase it all – and there are many of them! The National Museum of Beirut should be your first stop for a look into Lebanon’s past. View the thousands of artefacts in the collection from prehistoric and ancient Phoenician times to the medieval Mamluk period. The Nicolas Sursock Museum is another must, this time with a focus on art. The museum is housed in a stunning 1912 villa and features modern and contemporary works. Then there’s the mineral and fossil museum for something a little different that’s ideal for the whole family.


Head off to the neighbourhood of Raouché to see the famous Pigeon Rocks – two unique, gigantic rock formations poking out of the Mediterranean Sea. Believed to have been formed during prehistoric times because of a sudden geologic shift, legend has it that these limestone “sentinels” guard the Lebanese coastline, protecting the people from harm. Take a boat ride around the rocks by booking with a local tour operator or go with a local boat owner (but agree on the price upfront to prevent any surprises!)


Just over half an hour’s drive outside central Beirut, Casino Du Liban boasts gorgeous views of Jounieh Bay and loads of entertainment. Give the slot machines a spin if you’re feeling lucky. Or enjoy a gourmet meal with a glass of fine wine, followed by a comedy show or a concert. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it at Lebanon’s favourite casino.


Lebanon was once part of the Roman Empire, and many ancient Roman ruins lie scattered throughout Beirut. One of the most famous landmarks is the Roman Baths, discovered in the 1960s. You can find it downtown, set in a beautiful garden. Featuring a marble pool that was the sauna, a large stone basin, which used to be filled with cool water, a main hot room and a tepidarium (a bit like a heated bathroom), it’s an incredible piece of history that everyone can appreciate – not only the history buffs!


Beirut’s business hub and residential neighbourhood of Badaro is a beauty – its charming village feel invites you to stroll along the tree-lined streets day or night. Under 5km from the city centre, Badaro is dotted with pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés, and the vibey atmosphere is popular with locals and tourists alike.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Beirut

Beirut food and drink

Beirut’s culinary scene is all about fusion, flavours, spices, tradition and innovation. Foodies descend on the city for its menu, so that says something! Expect locally sourced ingredients, seafood, meze platters, some unusual dishes, all washed down with good Lebanese wine. From gourmet to street food, you’ll find it in Beirut.

Em-Sherif situated in Achrafieh is a must for authentic Oriental cuisine from days gone by. It boasts a menu made for sharing, featuring some traditional Lebanese dishes like fattouch (a salad with fried pita cubes) and meghle (a rice pudding spiced with anise).

Also highly recommended is the best restaurant in Lebanon for 2022, according to the “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” website. It’s called Baron and you’ll find it in the Armenian Mar Mikhael district. The eclectic menu features twists and touches from a variety of international cuisines, including Chinese and Greek, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.


If you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur (or you enjoy pretending to be one!), Bekaa Valley (also Beqaa Valley) is where you’ll find Lebanon’s finest. Packed with exclusive wineries, this fertile valley is where almost all of the country’s wine is produced and here you can enjoy wine tastings and tuck into delicious local dishes, such as sfiha (flatbread topped with minced meat) and tabbouleh (a colourful and fragrant local salad).


There’s a strong street-food culture in Beirut and traditional Middle Eastern and Lebanese street food is both mouth-watering and moreish. Shish kebabs (skewered lamb and veggies) are a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, as are shawarmas (loads of tasty ingredients stuffed into a pita pocket and finished with a generous drizzling of sauce).

Visiting in the summer? You must try booza (ice cream in Arabic)! The recipe has been around for about 500 years and unlike soft, creamy western ice cream, booza is deliciously stretchy and chewy, sometimes with added pistachios.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Beirut through your eyes

Where to shop in Beirut?

The shopping experience in Beirut varies depending on where you’re staying. But you’ll find everything from fancy shopping malls to no-frills flea markets and farmers’ markets.

The city boasts an open-air shopping zone called Beirut Souks, with more than 200 shops, many restaurants, a big cinema complex, and more. This is one-stop shopping at its best! At the same time, you can marvel at some amazing sculptures and ancient architectural attractions that have been embraced by modern design.


If hanging out in malls is not your favourite pastime, we suggest a visit to the popular Souk El Tayeb Farmers’ Market on Armenia Street in Mar Mikhael. Open every Saturday, it’s packed with friendly vendors and well-loved for upholding culinary traditions and rural heritage. Many small streetside markets are also scattered across the city, if you’re shopping for souvenirs or wanting to soak up some local vibes.


ABC Mall in Achrafieh is a go-to for anything that you could possibly think to buy during your visit to Beirut. Along with an array of stores, you’ll also find a world of entertainment options, from cafés and restaurants to cinemas and much more. Just 15 minutes or so from Beirut, CITY is of a similar calibre but spanning a whopping 80 000m². From fashion to eyewear, electronics to jewellery, the mall also offers various forms of entertainment, such as roller-skating and a family entertainment centre. is of a similar calibre but spanning a whopping 80 000m². From fashion to eyewear, electronics to jewellery, the mall also offers various forms of entertainment, such as roller-skating and a family entertainment centre.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Beirut?

Beirut has a Mediterranean climate, so the summers are hot and muggy with no rain. The average highs are around 30°C (86°F). The winters are cooler and wet with average temperatures around 14°C (57°F). Tourists tend to head to the city in the summer months to enjoy the beaches in Beirut.

Spring, from March to May, or autumn, from September to November, are the times of year where Beirut is more relaxed. It’s out of high season, so there are fewer crowds, but the weather is still good. This is also the best time for hiking and enjoying the fruits of the vine in Bekaa Valley.

But if you’re on a tight budget, don’t hesitate to travel to Lebanon during winter to score out-of-season rates. While you’ll need a warm, rain-proof jacket, there will still be plenty of activities and attractions to add to your itinerary, with the bonus of snow-capped mountains and thrilling winter sports.

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How to get around Beirut

A heads-up that public transport isn’t very good in Beirut. Unfortunately, there are no trams and there isn’t the convenience and affordability of a subway. But you don’t have to be confined to one neighbourhood for the duration of your holiday.

Taxis are the most popular form of transport in Beirut and there are three kinds: shared, private and yellow taxis. Up to four people can divide the fare in a shared taxi. Tourists tend to use private taxis for getting to a particular destination and these need to be pre-booked online or by phone. Yellow taxis offer airport transfers only. It’s easy to hail a taxi on the street but be aware that it’s not the case at night. Rather pre-book a taxi if you want to enjoy the nightlife with peace of mind. An alternative to taxis is Careem – Beirut’s version of Uber.

Most buses are privately owned in Beirut, and they follow pre-defined routes across the city and further afield. They’re relatively affordable to use but tend to stray from their schedules quite a lot – not good news when you need to be somewhere on time! Much more fun is to book your spot on an iconic, red, hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing bus.

It’s possible to rent a bicycle in the city and there are several operators – just beware that there are no designated lanes for cyclists and traffic in Beirut can get quite chaotic.

Let us help you organize your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Beirut?

From vibey to secluded, there’s a beach in Beirut to suit your mood! Let’s start with the one that’s on your doorstep! Ramlet el Bayda is under 2km from the city centre and is Beirut’s longest public beach. Popular with locals and tourists, it’s perfect for picnics and strolling along the shore.

Keen on a day trip? Tyre Beach is just over an hour out of Beirut, in Batroun, north Lebanon. Dive with the turtles, build sandcastles with the kids or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants.

Also in Batroun, on the south shore, you’ll come across a famous socialising hotspot – the private beach and bar of Pierre and Friends. It’s famous for awesome beach parties in summer and talented DJs on the decks.

Prefer some tranquil beach time? Then Puncho Beach is a better fit, especially in the morning or early afternoon. You’ll find this hidden gem in Amchit, under an hour from Beirut. Take advantage of the docks for the best ocean views.

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