Scenic view of the Sidon Castle in Lebanon

Things to do in  Lebanon

East, meet west

Despite its tragic past and complicated present, Lebanon is one of the Middle East’s most intoxicating destinations. Let’s face it: there aren’t many countries where you can stroll straight from an 8,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site to a pumping beach club. Besides ancient relics and slick nightlife, the list of things to do in Lebanon is legion: on a fine spring day, you can hit the slopes in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. The nation’s world-class cuisine should be high on your agenda, too.

Top 15 attractions in Lebanon

Jeita Grotto

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Lebanon’s spectacular Jeita Grotto makes an exciting day trip from Beirut. Once considered as a finalist for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this dramatic cave is divided into two levels: a lower grotto and an upper grotto, which contains the White Chamber, home to the world’s largest stalactite.More

Baalbek

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lebanon’s Baalbek ruins are some of the best-preserved Greco-Roman structures in all the Middle East. The site was once a thriving Phoenician city known as Heliopolis (“Sun City”), and today, the Temple of Bacchus, Temple of Venus, and Temple of Jupiter offer visions of past glories.More

Byblos (Jbeil)

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Byblos (Jbeil) has been home to a wealth of civilizations over the last 8,000 years. A historic harbor, a Crusader castle, an atmospheric medieval center, and a fascinating archaeological site add heritage charm. During summer, there’s a vibrant party scene as well as outstanding seafood eateries.More

Jounieh

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Known for the enormous Casino du Liban and the Téléferique gondola lift that runs to Our Lady of Harissa above, Jounieh is a party-friendly high-rise beach town about 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of Beirut. The main attractions here are eating, clubbing, and barhopping, although the old souk has charm, and paragliding is possible.More

Anjar

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Founded in the early eighth century, at the start of the Islamic period, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anjar is a fascinating example of an Umayyad fortified city. Set in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley astride an important trading route, Anjar highlights include the remains of palaces, a mosque, and Roman-style public baths.More

Our Lady of Lebanon (Notre Dame du Liban)

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A 15-ton, seven-piece molten bronze statue honoring the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon has been a popular pilgrimage site and tourist stop since it was constructed in 1908. Situated in a pine forest, the shrine is equally famous for its sweeping panoramic views overlooking the Bay of Jounieh. The complex is reachable by cable car and contains a Basilica, four churches, and a chapel.More

Chateau Ksara

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Founded in 1857, Château Ksara is one of Lebanon’s oldest wineries and an ever-popular stop on Bekaa Valley tours. Situated at around 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level, the estate has vineyards across Lebanon. Star of the show at the winery, besides the wines themselves, are the historic 1.5-mile (2-kilometer) cave cellars.More

Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

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Prized in biblical times, the cedars of Lebanon are the remnants of an ancient forest. The Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab), a cluster close to northern Lebanon’s Qadisha Valley, is recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status. These majestic trees, a distinct species known as cedrus Libani, can live more than 1,000 years and grow to 130 feet (40 meters) tall.More

Beirut National Museum (Musée National de Beyrouth)

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With its grand neoclassical frontage, the landmark Beirut National Museum (Musée National de Beyrouth) houses Lebanon’s most important archaeological collection. Artifacts run the gamut from prehistory through the Renaissance, and include gorgeous sculptures, sarcophagi, and jewelry.More

Qadisha Valley (Wadi Kadisha)

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The rugged slopes of the Qadisha Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are home to mountain wilderness, ancient monasteries, the pretty village of Bcharré, and even the occasional hermit. Carved by the sacred river Qadisha and mentioned in the Bible, it’s also known as the Kadisha Valley, Wadi Kadisha, Ouadi Qadisha, and Kadisha Gorge.More

Sidon (Saida)

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Mentioned in the book of Genesis, the ancient port city of Sidon is known to Lebanese as Saida. Its scenic old town boasts attractive souks, historic mosques, a Crusader sea castle, a 17th-century khan (trading inn), and a fascinating soap museum. Close to town lies the Temple of Eshmun, Lebanon’s best-preserved Phoenician ruin.More

Martyrs’ Square (Place des Martyrs)

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This bustling public landmark in downtown Beirut—once the cultural and economic heart of the capital, now a popular gathering place and protest site—pays tribute to the Lebanese nationalist activists killed for rebelling against the Ottoman rule in 1916. The square’s bronze statue created by Italian sculptor Marino Mazzacurati was erected in their memory in 1965. During the 15-year Lebanese civil war, the square marked Beirut’s demarcation line, and the sculpture has the battle scars to prove it.More

Tyre (Sour)

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Known to locals as Sour, the port city of Tyre in southern Lebanon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular vacation destination for Beirutis. Ruins here date back over 4,000 years and span the Phoenician, Roman, Crusader, and Ottoman eras—and beyond. But white sand and fresh seafood mean Tyre is not just for history buffs.More

Gibran Museum

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In the town of Bcharre, in northern Lebanon, the Gibran Museum is a converted 19th-century monastery devoted to the poet and artist Khalil Gibran, best known for The Prophet, a book of poetic fables. It houses Gibran’s drawings, paintings, manuscripts, library, and furniture, returned to Lebanon from New York after his death in 1931.More

Beiteddine (Beit ed-Dine)

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The 19th-century Beiteddine palace complex stands on a hill above the village of Beiteddine (also written Beit ed-Dine) in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains. Elegant interiors, landscaped gardens with Byzantine mosaics, and architecture that fuses Arabic and Italian elements make it a national monument. It hosts a well-regarded festival each summer.More

Top activities in Lebanon

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All about Lebanon

When to visit

With four mellow seasons to enjoy—not to mention the Middle East’s best skiing in winter—Lebanon is a year-round destination. Avoid high summer (July–August), when beaches and ancient sites are crowded—unless festivals are on your itinerary. Visit a little earlier or later, in May, June, or September, for days that are sunny enough for the beach, nights that are warm enough for rooftops, and temperatures that are mellow enough to hike mountain valleys.

Getting around

For a pocket-sized country, Lebanon is surprisingly tough to get around. Checkpoints, switchback mountain roads, and hair-raising driving makes car rentals a minority choice. A range of buses and minivans cover routes around the country: the crowd-sourced busmap.me site is your best bet for finding them. Most taxis are not metered, and shared taxis (called ‘services’ and pronounced serveess) are hard to hail: private drivers or the Uber and Careem rideshare apps are generally the way to go.

Traveler tips

Beirutis love to party, and the first of the city’s rooftop bars begin opening for the summer season as early as late April—albeit often at weekends only. SPINE Beirut offers on-point cocktails, contemporary sounds, and 360-degree views across the city and the Mediterranean, topped off with a geometric web of architectural lights. Do note that the minimum age is 24.

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People Also Ask

What is Lebanon best known for?

Lebanon is best known for its history, with UNESCO World Heritage sites, including 8,000-year-old Byblos, the enormous Roman temples of Baalbek, and the 8th-century palace at Anjar. Natural wonders include ancient cedars and the Jeita Grotto caves, while Lebanon’s delicious Mediterranean-Middle Eastern cuisine has won fans across the globe.

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How many days are enough in Lebanon?

For time-pressed travelers, five days are enough to hit key Lebanon highlights—although the country merits a fortnight. Spend day 1 in Beirut; hit the Jeita Grotto and Byblos on day 2; visit Tyre on day 3; tour Baalbek and wineries on day 4; finally, discover the cedars and Qadisha Valley.

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Is Lebanon an expensive country?

Not really. Lebanon is cheaper for travelers than Israel or Dubai, but more expensive than Egypt or Jordan, and soaring inflation means it’s hard to be specific about prices. Visitors on a tight budget will find Lebanon challenging as public transit is complex to piece together, and hostels are in short supply.

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Is Beirut tourist-friendly?

It depends. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against travel to Beirut’s southern suburbs, and anywhere a political demonstration is being held. But the areas of Beirut that tourists visit are generally safe, and Beirutis are famously welcoming, even if the city lacks signage and infrastructure.

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What language do they speak in Lebanon?

Lebanon’s official language is Arabic, and locals speak the Lebanese dialect. However, many Lebanese speak English and French, as both tongues are taught in schools. You’ll hear Lebanese switching fluently between English, French, and Arabic or mixing words from different languages into a distinctive stew.

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When is the best month to visit Lebanon?

If you had to pick just one month to visit Lebanon, June is an excellent choice. Clear skies and sunshine mean the beach clubs and rooftop bars are open but not yet heaving. The weather is still cool enough for hiking in the mountains, and the archaeological sites aren’t too busy.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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