Following World War II, Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, became a popular destination for international tourists on account of its thriving café culture, killer fashion sense and strong French influence. And despite a civil war that broke out in the 1970s and the ongoing conflicts with Israel, this bustling city, known as the “Paris of the Middle East,” has managed to retain a distinctive energy and eccentric soul. Delicious food options and exciting nightlife activities abound, and since 70 percent of the population is Muslim and 30 percent is Christian, there’s a wonderful mix of mosques and churches.
Some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods include Hamra, a former commercial hub of the Middle East during the 1950s and 1960s. These days, Hamra is a center of round-the-clock activity, as well as a number of good moderately priced hotels.
Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael have transformed from industrial areas to hip addresses for fun. A trip down Armenia Street reveals plenty of chances to get drinks in cool, contemporary bars, as well as opportunities to discover delicious local food.
Achrafieh is a delightful area full of dining spots, coffee shops, shopping destinations and nightclubs and it always seems to be able to attract big groups of tourists. Downtown holds some of the most modern and luxurious structures of the city, and it's also where Mohammad Al Amin Mosque is located.
Nearby Byblos, only 20 miles from Beirut, is the oldest city in the world and a must-see spot for even more cute shops and cafés in the city center. Our Lady of Lebanon is one of the most important Marian shrines in the world, and it is located in Harissa, just outside of Lebanon, and can be reached via a fun cable car ride.
A few more suggestions for a Beirut itinerary are listed in the photo gallery below.
Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa
Jeita Grotta, a site that was a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of Nature
Mohammad Al Amin Mosque in Downtown.
Pigeon Rock in Raouché