Beirut is located on a small peninsula stretching out into the Mediterranean sea and is fringed by the majestic Lebanon Mountains. It is the capital of Lebanon and the country's largest metropolitan city. Diverse, cosmopolitan and fast-paced, where East meets West and where Arabic as well as French and English is spoken. European architecture can be found everywhere and its outdoor cafe culture continues to thrive. The city was voted as one of the New7Wonders of the World in 2015.
Beirut is made up of distinctive districts, such as Downtown, Badaro, Hamra and Ain El Mraiseh, each has its own history, attractions and places to visit. What holds them altogether is their overwhelming friendliness and openness to travellers from whatever part of the world.
Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, with it first inhabited over 5,000 years ago. One of the earliest historical documentations of the city can be found in ancient Egyptian tablets of the famed Amarna letters, spanning back to the 14th century BC. But over the last few years the capital has seen a rapid regeneration after the war-torn years it endured; this has resulted in a fascinating array of historical and archaeological museums, contemporary art galleries, chic boutique hotels, and high-rise skyscrapers, all alongside ancient mosques, churches and royal palaces, plus numerous trendy bars and restaurants.
Natural wonders close to the city not to be missed are the magical caves of Jeita Grotto and the spectacular Pigeon Rocks, a great place to see the sunset across the sea and through the natural arches. Sun lovers will enjoy bathing on the public beach at Ramlet al-Baida or try one of the smart beach clubs dotted along on the coastline, many have swimming pools and paved terraces down to the sea. Other outdoor activities to enjoy are golfing at the Golf Club of Lebanon or take a trip on the Beirut Balloon that offers breathtaking views. The Beirut coastline is renown for its excellent scuba diving opportunities around shipwrecks, caves, canyons and shark habitats. With some great festivals and events, like the Beirut Spring Festival, taking place each year, the city is fast becoming a top destination for the adventurous traveller. Don't miss your chance to visit this up-and-coming destination and book your tickets today.
Things to do
Beirut offers a multitude of exciting activities, top class attractions, interesting museums, contemporary art galleries and a great range of shopping opportunities. Sample some of the wonderful local cuisine whether its tasty street food such as manouche (Lebanese pizza) or dining at one of the city's many top quality restaurants.
Contemporary galleries and historical museums
Archaeology-enthusiasts will enjoy the historical artefacts on display in the National Museum of Beirut and the AUB Museum, one of the oldest museums in the Middle East. While contemporary art-lovers can visit the internationally renowned Agial Art Gallery or the Beirut Art Centre, Matignon Gallery and Art Factum Gallery to name but a few of the excellent venues located around the city districts.
Chic fashion hub
Head to the Downtown district for a fabulous choice of expensive designer outlets or if you prefer more regional options visit some of the authentic open-air shopping malls such as Beirut Souks. Call in at one of the boutiques in Saifi Village where young designers showcase their talent and pick up a one-off exclusive outfit. Achrafieh is a charming area full of unique stores as well as department stores. Take time to walk round Achrafieh's back streets and discover some beautiful hidden architectural gems, it also has filled with some amazing restaurants.
There is a fantastic variety and choice of nightlife in Beirut from bars, clubs and pubs all offering entertainment until the early hours. Enjoy cocktails at the cool Ferdinand Bar in Hamra, or on the terrace at the sophisticated Hemingway's Bar and Cigar Lounge. The open-air C-Lounge is the place to be on warm weekends, located in the Bayview Hotel with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. There are numerous clubs around the city and some great live music venues such as the lavish Music Hall.
Immerse yourself in Lebanese history and take a day trip out to see some amazing ancient sites such as the Umayyad Ruins and Heliopolis dating back to 705 AD. Head to the historic town of Baalbek and marvel at the well-preserved Roman temples. Ksara is a captivating village, visit the local Ksara Caves and the Ksara Chateau where 1000's of vintage wine bottles are preserved. And don't forget to stop off at the medieval Roman port of Byblos and the picturesque village of Harissa, which offers stunning views across the Mediterranean coastline.
St George Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Take time out to explore round this cathedral, one of the oldest buildings in Beirut, it was completed in 1767. Bullet holes from the civil war are still visible, as the damage inflicted by bombs during the conflict. However, amazingly the bombing uncovered the ruins of a Byzantine church with mosaic floors and several tombs. The early 20th century frescoes have now been restored inside the reconstructed church.
Calendar of events
Beirut often hosts some of the biggest Dance Music events on the international calendar. Bacardi Night is one of the highlights of the year, held in the summer it attracts some of the hottest bands. There are many other festivals held in this vibrant and happening city.
Beirut International Jazz Day: This annual event attracts some of world's top jazz artists who play alongside talented local musicians. The Lebanese capital joins other cities across the world in celebrating International Jazz Day, organised under the UNESCO umbrella.
The Beirut Spring Festival: Launched in 2009 and features international theatre, dance and music performances that focus on the themes of cultural diversity and tolerance. The week long festival is inspired by the Lebanese-French university professor of history and journalist who was assassinated in 2005.
Fete de la Musique: Summer brings the much anticipated festival to the city, it highlights performances of well-known French artists and also Lenanese bands. It is organised by the French Institute who bring over top French musicians such as Lionel Mehard, Baden Baden and Primael Despax. There are around 14 stages where up to 100 bands and artists perform to over 80,000 people.
The Beirut International Film Festival: This takes place each October, showing ovies from all over the Middle East, some of which are highly political. Most of the films are in Arabic and French, and many of the competing productions cover poignant issues such as human rights and freedom of expression.