Best Places to Visit in Lebanon
Lebanon is such a beautiful country rich in archaeological sites and holy monuments. But the issue with visiting Lebanon is the fact that it has been in and out of war so many times, vacationers are thinking twice just to book an airplane ticket. Now, if you are one of those people who seek thrills and excitement, Lebanon may keep you on your toes. Here is our Lebanon travel guide to assist you on your vacation.
15. Museum of Lebanese Prehistory
One of the places to visit in Lebanon is the Museum of Lebanese Prehistory. It is a pioneer prehistory and archaeological museum in Middle East which was founded in the year 2000 in honor Saint Joseph University’s 125 years in existence. (The university is a Jesuit-run school with a motto – AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM – which means “For the greater glory of God”.)
What you will see inside the museum is a mix of unique displays. Human bones and some animal carcasses are inside the museum. There is also some ancient pottery from the Neolithic era. Relics from the 19th century are also exhibited.
14. Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut
The third oldest museum in the Middle East is the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut. It was set up in 1868 back when the American University of Beirut was still new. Luigi Palma di Cesnola, an Italian-American war hero, presented a Cypriot pottery to the school and it was the first item inside the museum. If you plan to visit the place, then, a good hour or two is enough to explore the whole building. Entrance is free of charge, as well.
13. Town of Jeita
If it is your first time in Lebanon, you have to visit Jeita. It is in the Keserwan District in North Beirut which has an altitude of 380 meters above sea level. Two of the country’s most popular tourist attractions are located in this town which will be featured in a short while. But aside from that, Jeita is home to restaurants that serve authentic Lebanese cuisine. It also has lovely beaches and an Old Souk for your shopping needs.
12. Beirut Art Center
Beirut Art Center or BAC was established in 2009 and is a non-profit organization composed of five founders. Sandra Dagher is the person responsible for initiating this organization and she is also one of the members of the board.
This art center is located by the river banks of Beirut River and it showcases Lebanese modern-day art as well as some international art collections. If you just want to chill and take an hour break from a busy tour, you can drop by at BAC. This is one of the places to visit in Lebanon.
11. Byblos Wax Museum
Locals and vacationers alike always find a way to visit Byblos Wax Museum. Reviews on the place have always been great – people say that it’s an interesting visit and they strongly recommend going to the place if ever you are in Lebanon.
Here are three of the most famous wax figures in the museum: Cadmus, Europa and Adonis. Cadmus was a Theban King in Greek Mythology and an eradicator of evil beasts. Europa was the mother of King Minos, son of Zeus. And Adonis is known to be a handsome royal that even goddesses admire him.
10. Saint George Maronite Cathedral
The Saint George Maronite Cathedral is a Maronite-affiliated church which was sanctified in 1894. It is located in Beirut and is still being used as a place of worship to this day – 122 years after. The building was designed by architect Giuseppe Maggiore in the neoclassical architectural style and was founded by Monsignor Joseph Debs. There was an old building in 1755 on the same location where the cathedral now stands. Inside the church, it will be noticed that it looks quite similar with Santa Maria Maggiore of Rome.
9. Byblos Castle
Byblos Castle is a 12th century castle created by the Crusaders. When one mentions the Crusaders, these are a group of people that involved themselves in a religious war from the 11th century to the 16th century in order to capture Jerusalem from an Islamic rule. This is the reason why they also call it The Crusader Castle.
Today, the castle is in ruins but it is nostalgic somehow. Inside the castle, there is a dainty museum showcasing potteries and artifacts discovered within the castle grounds.
8. Gibran Museum
They used to call it the Monastery of Mar Sarkis. That was the name of Gibran Museum back then and it is one of the places to visit in Lebanon. The building was instituted in 1935 as a dedication to a son of Lebanon – the Lebanese-American artist by the name of Kahlil Gibran.
The museum also serves as his tomb site and all his works are within the halls of the structure. His belongings in New York were also shipped to Lebanon and displayed here in the museum.
7. Kadisha Valley
Kadisha Valley or as UNESCO inscribed it – Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) – is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Lebanon. It is a World Heritage site with criteria of iii and iv. They call it the Holy Valley because of its many places of worships located on the gorge. You will see thick forests and cliffs. The valley is also at the base of Mount al-Makmal.
6. Rene Moawad Garden
The Rene Moawad Garden is an open garden park which was initiated by a Turkish Army commander called Khalil Pasha in 1907. At first, the garden was named The Hamidi Public Garden. People of the Sanayeh district called it the Sanayeh Garden until it was officially renamed as Rene Moawad Garden. Rene Moawad was Lebanon’s president and he was assassinated in 1989 near the garden area. There is also a Sanayeh Relief Center on the location which was used as a gathering place by war refugees and NGO’s back in the Lebanon War.
5. Mzaar Kfardebian
Who would have thought that a desert area like Lebanon in the Middle East has a ski resort? Ski as in snow?The Mzaar Kfardebian or the Ouyoune el Simane, as the locals call it, is a posh ski resort in Lebanon and an alpine ski resort at that! The season usually starts at December and goes all the way to April – which is a really great time to stopover. It is truly one of the best places to visit in Lebanon if you have the funds and the guts.
4. Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
There are also practicing Muslims in Lebanon and one of their main mosques in Beirut is the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque. The masjid (Arabic term for “mosque”) was inducted in 2008 and was built through the efforts of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – he gave a donation for the mosque to push through. It is a Sunni-affiliated mosque but Shia Islam believers are welcome to perform their Salaah in this complexly planned blue masjid. Looking at the architecture of the building, one who knows will understand its Ottoman style.
3. Sursock Museum
The Sursock Museum or the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum is an art museum which displays modern art and impressions. In 1912, a very affluent nobleman named Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock planned to create a grand villa as one of his many properties. When he died, he left the villa as a gift for the Lebanon government and it was stated in his last will that the villa will be used as a museum. His wishes have come true and now, his beloved home is a place where thousands of people learn about 21st century art of all types.
2. National Museum of Beirut
The National Museum of Beirut is an archaeological museum which holds at least 100,000 items from the continuous efforts and excavations of the Directorate General of Antiquities. At this time, there are 1,300 relics on display and some of which are believed to be from the prehistoric era. The museum is also holding objects from the Phoenician period and this is a unique find – not all museums have this kind of artifacts. It was established in 1937 and visitors will really enjoy seeing the exhibit.
1. Jeita Grotto
As mentioned earlier, Jeita Grotto is one of the best places to visit in Lebanon because it is the country’s top tourist attraction. It is a cave with two openings and it has walkways too for a safe and wonderful tour experience.
You will see an underground river which supplies the water system of Lebanon. The grotto has an upper and lower cave which travelers can see. The caves are also covered with limestone and are 9 kilometers long. It is such an adventure to explore the Jeita Grotto, according to many travelers.