Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been inhabited for over 5,000 years. The city has been rebuilding itself again following the devastating Lebanese Civil War that took place between 1975 and 1990. Now, the city is claiming back its former title of the Paris of the East and there’s lots of great things to do in Beirut.
As a gateway from the west to the east, Beirut is a good starting point for traveling in the Middle East. There’s so much to experience and enjoy here from the great food and museums, mosques and souks, history and culture, all on the beautiful Mediterranean coast. Here is the top 11 things to do in Beirut.
Best Things To Do When Traveling To Beirut
Place des Martyrs
The Place Des Martyrs, in the center of Beirut, is a crossroads between the Muslim west and Christian east. This historic square stands as a tribute to the Lebanese martyrs and has a long history as a site of protest and political demonstrations. This is one best things to do in Beirut
Visit Lebanon’s most extraordinary archaeological site, Baalbek, a three hour drive from Beirut. This temple complex is a legacy from the years of the Roman Empire’s occupation of Lebanon, built by the Phoenicians and the Romans. This is a must do thing in Beirut. Baalbek has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. The colossal size of the constructions here is truly awe inspiring.
Place de l’Etoile
The main square in downtown Beirut is Place de L’Etoile, a great place to hang out, soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the local culture. The square is a focal point of the city and is surrounded by beautiful architecture, cafes and restaurants – the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. A striking 1930s clock-tower is a famous feature of the square, with its Rolex clock faces. Here you can find some of the best places to eat in Beirut. The square is popular with locals, tourists and the many, many pigeons!
The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque or Hariri’s Mosque, is situated in downtown Beirut. It is referred to as the Hariri Mosque because its building was funded by Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese president and construction tycoon who was assassinated in 2005. The design of this mosque also takes inspiration from the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This is a popular thing to do in Beirut
Located on Levant coast and a forty minute drive from Beirut, Byblos is an ancient site steeped in history and architecture. In fact, the alphabet was created in Byblos. This is a great thing to see in Beirut. The most visited sites here are the Phoenician temples, Byblos Castle, the Medieval City walls and St John the Baptist Church.
Beirut Souks & Souk el Tayeb
For the biggest shopping and entertainment in Beirut, head to the Beirut Souks in the middle of the city. There are cafes, restaurants, designer shops, a 14 cinema complex, a children’s science museum and over 200 shops. There’s plenty of good places to eat in Beirut here. On Saturday mornings you can visit the Souk el Tayeb, a farmer’s market where you’ll find fresh produce, traditional Lebanese dishes, pastries, sweets and local, handmade crafts.
About 11 miles north of Beirut you can visit the Jeita Grotto, the Middle East’s longest cave. The grotto comprises of two separate but interconnected limestone caves. Here you’ll find the most spectacular cluster of stalactites and stalagmites. Jeita Grotto is a national symbol of Lebanon and was one of the top 14 finalists in the new 7 wonders of nature competition and is a must do thing in Beirut
Saint George Maronite Cathedral
The neoclassical basilica, Saint George Maronite Cathedral, serves the Lebanese Maronite Christian population. The cathedral was established by 12th century crusaders. It was modernized in the years 1884 and 1885 in the style of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. In fact, some of the columns are Roman ruins that had been found elsewhere in Lebanon. The cathedral endured a lot of damage and looting during the civil war, but it has since been restored fully and many of the looted items have been returned.
Raouche (Pigeon Rocks)
To the south of the Corniche is the area of Raouche and the location of the famous natural formation, Pigeon Rocks. These 60 meter high rock couple, formed by a geological movement in the prehistoric era, is a popular place for Beirut’s teenagers to rendezvous and for tourists to stand and watch in admire. This is a great thing to see in Beirut.
The remains of the Roman Baths in downtown Beirut were discovered in 1968-69. The baths were thoroughly excavated and cleaned and now make for a very interesting historical site.
The al-Manara Corniche is a 6.2 mile long promenade along the Beirut seafront. The corniche in line with palm trees and coffee vendors. The promenade is popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and sunset watchers. To the south of the promenade is the area called Raouche, famous for the Pigeon Rocks, two massive rock formations created by a geological movement in the prehistoric era.