The Best Places to Visit in Lebanon for First-Timers (+ Budget Travel Tips!)

Planning a visit to Lebanon for the first time? Click to read this travel practical guide to the best places to visit in Lebanon for travelers on a budget! |

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Type “Lebanon travel” into Google, and the first thing that shows up isn’t a list of the best places in Lebanon. Rather, it’s a travel warning not to visit at all. So yes, at first glance, Lebanon may not seem like a typical vacation destination. But after spending ten days in Lebanon with my sister this past summer, I can assure you that Lebanon is safe to visit, even as a female traveler. More about that later.

One thing I noticed while planning my trip is that there isn’t a ton of updated information out there about traveling to Lebanon (especially on a budget). Therefore, I’ve written this comprehensive budget travel guide to Lebanon, including the best places to visit in Lebanon and all other practical travel information.


Best Things to do in Beirut

Many travelers come to Lebanon and spend all their time in Beirut, and I can definitely see why: it’s a fascinating contradiction of a city. In some parts, it feels just like a fancy neighborhood in Paris, with immaculate buildings and high-end shops. In others, it feels like a different world entirely, with run-down housing and chaotic streets. It’s diverse and energetic with a true East-meets-West vibe that you don’t find in many places in the Middle East. Without further ado, these are some of the best things to do in Beirut.


Explore local neighborhoods

Beirut is an amazing city to explore on foot. You’ll find tons of cool cafes, art pieces, architectural designs, and more. The four main neighborhoods you should explore are Hamra, Downtown, Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël. You’ll likely want to split up your exploring over a couple of days as Beirut is much larger than it looks on the map. You can do your own walking tour or book an organized one instead.

  • Hamra: This is a university neighborhood (The American University of Beirut is located here) so it’s bustling and lively, filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, and bars. It’s also where you can find some of the city’s best street food. Make sure you spend plenty of time meandering down Hamra street and don’t miss the urban René Moawad Garden just outside the center.
  • Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël: Although these are two separate neighborhoods, it’s hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins (at least to me). This residential and commercial area (especially Rue Gouraud) is home to some of Beirut’s best street art and trendy cafes. It’s definitely the young adult, hipster part of town. These are the best areas for nightlife too, according to the locals.
  • Downtown: Downtown is the area nestled between Hamra and Gemmayzeh, around where the Beirut Souks are located. This is also where you’ll find some iconic historical statues and buildings such as the Martyr’s Statue, the Roman Baths, the Clock Tower, and Al-Oman Mosque. However, my favorite building by far is the Mohamed Al Amin Mosque, a large, towering mosque that resembles Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. What’s particularly cool is that it’s located right next to a church, a symbolic reminder that religious harmony can (and does) coexist.


(Window) shop at the Beirut Souks

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Once upon a time, the Beirut Souks were a historical icon, but they were destroyed during the Civil War. They’ve since been converted to a large and swanky outdoor mall comprised of several buildings and well-known, international brands, cafes, and restaurants. We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but it’s definitely one of the best places to go in Lebanon if shopping is your thing.


Have a photoshoot at Saifi Village

Walking into Saifi Village makes you forget you’re in Lebanon for a second. It’s filled with tons of boutique shops, cafes, and colorful, European-style apartment buildings. Unfortunately, all the shops there close on Sundays (when we went) but it did mean we were able to get some cute photos without people. #DoItForTheGram


Walk along the Corniche

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The Corniche (the waterfront promenade) comes alive in the evenings, once the weather cools. Start your stroll at the Raouche Rocks at sunset and end at Zaitunay Bay for dinner if you want to treat yourself. Alternatively, there are tons of restaurants along the promenade where you can enjoy a meal with a view.


See the Raouche Rocks

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These rock formations are iconic to Beirut and thus, a must-visit. I imagine this would be an amazing place to watch the sunset (which I’d planned to do one evening but was shut down by a bout of food poisoning). You can also do a short boat ride around the rocks if you’d like.


Where to Stay in Beirut

Disclosure: I was given a discount on my stay at The Mayflower Hotel but all opinions are my own.

Many of the top places to visit in Lebanon aren’t too far since the country is relatively small. So, we chose to use Beirut as our base and take day trips from there. In terms of location, there are really only two neighborhoods to consider for accommodation in Beirut: Hamra and Gemmayzeh/Downtown. Gemmayzeh is trendy and hipster, while Hamra is lively and urban.

How to Save on Accommodation in Lebanon:

  • Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is huge in Lebanon and easily the best way to see Lebanon through a local’s eyes while saving money. Not only will you save on accommodation if you find a host, but you’ll also have a local friend that can help you figure out day trips, cheap eats, and more. Even if you don’t find a host (or prefer to stay in a hostel or hotel), you’ll be able to use it to connect with fellow travelers to split travel costs.
  • Hostels: Unfortunately, there aren’t many hostel options in Lebanon – there are about eight or so in Beirut. That being said, a friend of mine highly recommended The Grand Meshmosh for solo travelers but since I was with my sister, The Mayflower Hotel ended up being a better deal with more privacy.

We (my sister and I) chose to stay at The Mayflower Hotel in Hamra due to its location and affordability. We spent nearly a week here, and we would definitely book it again.

Planning a visit to Lebanon for the first time? Click to read this travel practical guide to the best places to visit in Lebanon for travelers on a budget! |
Our room at The Mayflower Hotel

The good: We were just a couple of blocks away from Hamra street – easily walkable but far enough away where we weren’t bothered by the noise. The service was friendly and professional, the rooms were clean and comfortable, and a basic buffet breakfast was included (win!).

The bad: The beds were a little too firm for my liking and the Wi-Fi was pretty unreliable (like many places in Lebanon, unfortunately). Thankfully, I had my TEP Wireless device otherwise this would have been a deal breaker. Book your stay at The Mayflower Hotel on


Where to Eat in Beirut (Under $20)

Eating in Lebanon (specifically, Beirut) isn’t the cheapest but it sure is delicious! We didn’t eat a single bad meal here. On average, a meal would cost anywhere between $12 – $15 at a restaurant, and around $7 for a quick-serve place (example: shawarma to go). If you’re really looking to stretch your budget, groceries are inexpensive.

How to eat in Lebanon on a budget:

  • Street food and quick-serve restaurants are big in Beirut (and in other parts of Lebanon as well), so if you don’t mind eating sandwiches, baked goods, and other snacks, you don’t have to worry too much about overspending your food budget.
  • One way to save is by ordering mezzes (think tapas or small plates) that are often served as appetizers. You’ll probably want to order 2-3 to get full, though.
  • Mid-range restaurants are pretty reasonable, especially if you only eat out once a day. We would often fill up on breakfast at The Mayflower, eat a snack during the day, then eat out for dinner. I’ve listed some of my favorite places for cheap eats in Beirut below.
  • Barbar: You cannot go to Beirut and not eat at Barbar – it’s one of those iconic Lebanon places. They serve all the good street food eats at insanely low prices. Everything is delicious, with the highlights being the shawarma and the manoush (flatbread pizza).
  • Abu Naim: Located just off of Hamra street, this restaurant serves a wide variety of home-cooked Lebanese dishes. The owner was there when we arrived, and personally recommend we share a cold mezze (appetizer platter) and a mixed grill dish. Easily one of the best meals I had in Beirut. If you aren’t traveling solo, getting a couple of appetizers and dishes to share is an excellent way to get a good meal here without breaking the bank.
  • Tabliyit Massaad: I’m embarrassed by the number of times we ate here, to be honest. It’s a popular quick-serve chain, but it’s so freaking good. The tawouk sandwich is to die for and it was conveniently located down the street from our hotel, which was excellent for the days I couldn’t bring myself to leave my bed for dinner, ha.
  • Zaatar and Zeit: This is another, slightly more upscale chain in Beirut – and another great place to eat manoush. It’s more of a modern / fusion take on traditional dishes, but it’s delicious.
  • Mazzat: Mazzat has a giant menu with so many good options, and we definitely over-ordered. It’s also sort of quick-serve style, but this didn’t affect the quality whatsoever. I loved the hummus, shawarma and the grilled halloumi cheese here. When ordering, note that the portions are pretty generous.
  • Bar Tartine: Located in Mar Mikhael, this is a great place to get some authentic French pastries and good quality coffee. They have a ton of seating as well, so I imagine it would be the perfect spot to have a lazy coffee-and-work afternoon.
  • Falafel Karim Sahyoun: Basically, you have two dish options here: falafel or a falafel sandwich. Not going to lie, being Arab, nobody makes better falafel than my mom, but this place makes a mean sandwich. Also, at $2 per sandwich, the price is unbeatable.
  • Amal Bohsali: I tried SO hard to eat knafeh, Lebanon’s most famous pastry, from Amal Bohsali. I went twice and failed both times so learn from my mistakes: 1. It’s closed on Sundays and 2. You can only get knafeh in the morning. This is supposedly the best place to get some but until I can sample Lebanese knafeh, Jordan’s is still the best I’ve ever had. Sorry, Lebanon.


The Best Day Trips from Beirut

Don’t make the mistake of spending all your time in Beirut! Make time to check out these other places to see in Lebanon.

Planning a visit to Lebanon for the first time? Click to read this travel practical guide to the best places to visit in Lebanon for travelers on a budget! |
Shopping at Byblos Souk
  • Jeita Grotto, Byblos, and Harissa: I know this sounds like a lot to do in a day, but most tour companies or cab drivers can easily take you to all of them without you feeling rushed. If you only have time to do one day trip from Beirut, make it this one. Our hotel put us in touch with an organized tour, but we realized it would be cheaper (since there were two of us) to hire out a cab for the day instead. Our driver had done his fair share of tours before, so he acted as a tour guide, sharing stories about each stop. Book the tour here.
  • Jeita Grotto: Let me just quickly reiterate that if you don’t go to Jeita Grotto, your trip to Lebanon is incomplete. It’s SO freaking cool and arguably the best place to visit in Lebanon. Basically, it’s this giant cave that’s naturally formed by stalagmites and stalactites. Your experience starts with you getting whisked to the main entrance via cable car. The grotto itself is separated into an upper part with a walking bridge and a lower part, which you see by boat. You’re not allowed to take photos (and they have plenty of guards to make sure you don’t), but you can see photos on the official website here.
  • Byblos: Byblos is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Lebanon (some say the world), so it’s no surprise that the entire city is a UNESCO heritage site. While there, we visited the Byblos Citadel, the Old Souk, and the Fish Fossil Museum. The Citadel is huge, and you could easily spend a few hours exploring all the nooks and crannies here (but it was hot, so we saw the main parts and left). The souk isn’t large, but it’s a great place to buy souvenirs and other trinkets at reasonable prices. Lastly, the Fish Fossil Museum is exactly what it sounds like, but it’s tiny. You can actually purchase fish fossils here though, which would probably be the coolest souvenir for the science nerd in your life.
  • Jounieh and Harissa: Jounieh is basically the fancy coastal part of Lebanon where people vacation at private beaches. It’s a pretty drive, but really it’s just the entry point to ride the famous telefrique (cable car) up to the tall mountain town of Harissa. The views are seriously to die for. At the top, you can continue with another cable car ride that will take you to the Lady of Lebanon church, a pilgrimage site in Lebanon that is home to a large statue of the Virgin Mary (think the Lebanese version of Christ the Redeemer). The views from up there are beautiful as well.
  • Kadisha Valley, Bcharre and the Cedars Forest: The main reason we wanted to go to Bcharre was to visit the Khalil Gibran Museum, an homage to Lebanon’s most well-known artist. If we had known that we had to take a four-hour bus ride sans AC up there, we probably wouldn’t have been so keen (or I would have booked this tour instead). However, once we got a glimpse of the Cedars Forest from above, all our complaints went out the window. It’s truly spectacular, and my only regret is that we didn’t stay overnight and hike in the forest as well. So if you can, definitely spend the night here (the little town is cute too) and do some exploring. I recommend visiting the Christian monasteries and the museum, as well as going hiking. For accommodation, I recommend here or here.
  • Tripoli: Tripoli is Lebanon’s second largest city and way more conservative than Beirut. We went for half a day and encountered a historical city with lots of cool street art and political signage. That being said, we didn’t feel like we got the full experience of Tripoli because we hadn’t done proper research. I’d recommend doing a walking tour to get the full experience.
  • Tyre: Tyre is the most southern city in Lebanon and is said to have some of the best beaches, so it’s probably one of the better places to visit in Lebanon in the summer. That being said, it’s expensive to spend the night here, and it takes two buses to get to, so we didn’t end up visiting in the end. According to a local friend, Tyre is best visited on a day tour if you want to see it without blowing your budget on accommodation.
  • Baalbek: Most people that visit Lebanon take a trip to Baalbek, one of the largest Roman temples ever built. In fact, some say it’s the best place to go in Lebanon. We actually really wanted to go but ran out of time in the end. Note: it is near the Syrian border but it’s protected by lots of security and there are mountains between Baalbek and Syria, so I wouldn’t worry, safety-wise. Check it out here!

Check out organized tours to these destinations and more below!

  • Full Day Shouf Trip
  • Douma Village and Tannourine Mountain Tour
  • Full Day Bekaa Valley Trip
  • Byblos, Jeita Grotto, and Harissa Day Trip
  • Anjar, Baalbek, and Ksara Day Trip
  • Tyre, Sidon, and Maghdouche Day Trip
  • Beirut, Beiteddine and Deir El Qamar Day Tour
  • Beirut Cooking Class and Meal
  • Cedars, Kozhaya and Bcharre Day Trip
  • Half Day Beirut Historical Tour

Other Practical Information:

Visas in Lebanon

When I went in August of 2017, there was no visa fee for the stamp on arrival. Over 100 nationalities have the same luxury, but of course, double check before buying your plane ticket.

Best Time to Visit Lebanon

I went in the summer and it was hot! Lebanon has four seasons so I recommend visiting either in Autumn (September-November) or Spring (March-May). Lebanon also has mild winters compared to most places, so it's doable to visit then as well. Just avoid the summer unless you enjoy the heat.

Safety: Is it safe to travel to Lebanon?

The short answer? Yes. Lebanon, especially in the areas where tourists would want to visit, is totally safe (at the time of writing). No, you don't need to worry about extremism, kidnappings, or even getting pickpocketed. I understand that the U.S. has a travel warning issued for Lebanon, but they're always extra AF with travel warnings so I tend to look at the U.K.'s instead, which are often more specific. My sister and I never questioned our safety while in Lebanon but we also made a point to avoid areas where there could be potential conflicts, such as the Syria-Lebanon border and the Israel-Lebanon border.

I've traveled extensively in the Middle East and Beirut is the most liberal city I've visited in the region, so if you have any misconceptions thanks to the media, forget what you think you know and go visit Lebanon for yourself. If you want to read even more detailed information about safety in Lebanon, this guide is excellent.

Currency in Lebanon

Lebanon accepts both the Lebanese pound and US Dollar everywhere, so you don’t really need to exchange currency if you're carrying USD. ATMs have the option of withdrawing in either currency.

Transportation in Lebanon

It's pretty easy to get around Beirut, and to other major cities from Beirut. If you're trying to go anywhere off-the-beaten-path or if you're crunched for time, you may end up spending a fair amount of money, time, or both on transport. The most we spent was on our excursion to Jeita Grotto, Byblos, Jounieh, and Harissa, when we hired a car with a driver for the day ($100). While you're planning, be sure to read transportation information online specific to the destination you're headed to.

Budget-friendly tips for getting around Lebanon

  • Bus: Beirut has a public bus system that I personally found to be a bit too confusing for my liking. Also, I walked the majority of the time except for the occasional shared Uber, so I wasn’t incentivized to figure it out. That being said, you can definitely use it to get around the city.
  • Servis (shared taxi): In most major cities, there are taxis operating as "servis," a shared taxi system where drivers take you to your destination while picking up and dropping off various passengers along the way.
  • Uber or Taxi: Uber is active in Beirut whereas taxis can be found all over the country. Uber is usually cheaper.
  • Long-distance buses: You can usually find buses between Beirut and most other major cities like Tripoli, Qadisha Valley, etc. Depending on the destination, these depart from various stations and can range in condition. For example, our bus to Tripoli was an airconditioned bus that took us straight there whereas it took us four hours to get to Bcharré in a minibus without AC.
  • Car: Renting a car is probably the best thing to do if you're planning on spending lots of time outside of Beirut and will save you money in the long run. Note: driving in Lebanon is a bit chaotic but could be fun if you're up for the challenge.

Lebanon Packing and List and What to Wear in Lebanon

Unlike its neighbors, Lebanon is far more liberal in terms of its dress code. However, don't mistake the dress code for Beirut and beach towns like Tyre as applicable to the whole country. Certain parts, like Tripoli, are much more conservative and you will stick out like a sore thumb if you show up there in a mini skirt. So, while in Beirut, you're welcome to wear what you'd like (within reason - I always prefer to err on slightly more conservative) but cover more if you're visiting smaller cities and towns. Note that people in Beirut are very fashionable, so put a little effort into what you're wearing because people love to dress up. While traveling in the rest of the country, for both men and women, cover your shoulders and up until your knees at least. Below are some items that I recommend if you're going in the summer. And click here to see which items are always in my suitcase, no matter the destination!

  • Daypack: For days where I’m out all day, I always carry a daypack. This daypack is great because it’s durable, water-resistant, has several organizational pockets, and folds into a tiny pouch.
  • Locking Purse: Lebanon doesn’t have a pickpocketing problem and I’ve never been worried that someone will snatch something from my bag. However, I’d rather be safe than sorry, which is why I bring this handy lockable purse with me everywhere I travel. Is it the most stylish purse I’ve ever owned? No. Does it keep me from worrying about pickpockets? Absolutely. Plus, it’s surprisingly roomy – I keep my water bottle, camera, wallet, and other stuff in there and they fit no problem. If a smaller purse is what you’re after, check out this one or this one.
  • Basic temperature regulating t-shirt: No matter what the season, you’ll want at least one basic temperature regulating shirt, like this one. This T is specially made to be moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and offer SPF protection. Plus, it doesn’t look like an exercise top but still offers a lot of the benefits of high-performance clothing. It’s cute enough to be dressed up with a cardigan or nice scarf. If you decide you love these shirts and want more, try this one.
  • Blouses / Shirts: For the rest of the time when you’re out and about, you’ll want to bring along some cute tops (short or long-sleeved depending on your sensitivity to the sun). People in Lebanon dress really well, so keep that in mind when choosing clothes. Just make sure whatever you pack is lightweight if you're going in the summer!
  • Cardigan: Having a cardigan on hand for cool evenings or for entering religious buildings is a must. You’ll also want an additional layer if you take a bus anywhere.
  • Lightweight, loose pants: If you’re going to Lebanon in the summer, you’ll want loose and lightweight everything, including pants. I’m a fan of this particular style but anything lightweight, but not sloppy, will do. If you’re traveling in winter, you’ll probably want just one pair of lightweight pants and two pairs of jeans. Mix and match according to the season and your personal style.
  • Jeans/nicer pants: If it’s summer, don’t bother bringing jeans. It’s way too hot to wear them. However, you’ll probably want to bring along at least one pair of nicer pants for evenings. If you’re traveling during winter, you’ll want to bring a few pairs of jeans/nice pants and maybe one pair of lightweight ones. Mix and match according to the season. Anyway, prAna is my go-to brand of choice for pants that are comfortable for all-day travel and outdoor activities without being ugly. They also have nice jeans as well!
  • Skirts: Bring a couple of skirts if you're heading to Lebanon in the summer. I recommend longer ones if you're planning on spending lots of time outside of Beirut. Shorter skirts are fin e in Beirut though (but not too tiny).
  • Dresses: If you’re traveling during summer, bring a few nicer casual dresses that you can wear both during the day and in the evening. You'll need longer / more conservative dresses outside of Beirut.
  • Secret pocket scarf: One of my favorite minimalist hacks for travel is to bring several scarves and several basic shirts and mixing and matching them to make it look like a whole new outfit. Cool trick, right? My favorite scarf to pack for every trip is this secret pocket scarf. It’s cute and functional and has the added bonus of having a hidden pocket, where you can keep your passport, some money, or any other valuable you’re worried about.
  • Swimsuit: Yes, you can wear a bikini in Lebanon but a one piece is a little more respectful. Definitely no topless sunbathing or swimming.
  • Cover-up: Out of respect, bring a cover-up and wear it if you’re lounging around a resort or hotel.
  • Sun hat: Your skin will want a break from the strong Lebanese sun, especially if you’re prone to burning. Check out your options here.
  • (2) Bras, (1) workout bra, (7) underwear: I always bring this workout bra for outdoorsy days or if I want to hit the hotel gym because it keeps moisture and smells away. Same goes for this underwear (plus, it dries quickly for easy washing). I also pack a couple of my regular t-shirt bras and voila. Done with undergarments.
  • Moisture-wicking socks: These moisture-wicking socks are perfect for all-day wear without smelly or sweaty feet. Just a few pairs will do.
  • Sandals: I love these Keen sandals because they’re cute and super comfortable to walk in all day. I bring them with me everywhere and they haven’t failed me yet.
  • All-purpose sneakers: Last year, a friend of mine introduced me to Allbirds, these awesome wool sneakers that don’t make your feet sweat (even if you wear them without socks). Then I found out they’re made of Merino Wool, which explains the magic behind them. They’re cute, they’re functional, and they’re comfy AF. You can wear them to hike up a mountain or to explore a new city. They’re my go-to travel shoes and if they get dirty, I can throw them in the wash.
  • Sunscreen: For everyday use, I use Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen because my skin is prone to acne. The original Neutrogena sunscreen is just as good if acne is a non-issue. Neither will leave your skin feeling gross and greasy. For the rest of me, I use the solid body stick, which works well. My friends who dive told me that the chemicals in sunscreen are really bad for the ocean though, so if you’re going swimming, they recommend All Good Sunscreen, which is safe for reefs and the planet. The more you know!
  • Insect repellent: If you’re traveling to Lebanon in the summer, you’ll definitely want insect repellent. It’s not as bad as when you’re traveling to tropical destinations, but even so, the mosquitos are pretty relentless. This insect repellent specifically was voted number one in consumer tests and I can vouch for that fact that I’ve gotten fewer bites using it. Plus, you can use it on your clothes and your skin and it doesn’t make you feel or smell gross!
  • Chafing gel: The only time I ever wish for a thigh gap is when it’s hot and I’m wearing a skirt or dress. Chub rub, that uncomfortable rawness you get between your thighs from them rubbing together, is very real, especially when it’s hot out. I used this anti-chafing balm while I was in Lebanon, and my only disappointment is how long it took me to figure out that it’s a thing that exists.
  • Travel Insurance: Yes, you need travel insurance for if things (hopefully don’t but often do) go wrong. I’ve been sick, needed stitches, crashed a rental car, had cash stolen and have dealt with luggage delays. Let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson about travel insurance the hard way. My go-to insurance is World Nomads cause they’re awesome. Be sure to check out the different plan options to pick one that’s right for you!
  • Travel First Aid Kit: I love that this travel first aid kit is small enough to stick in your bag but still has tons of items in it. I’d remove the scissors if you aren’t planning to check your luggage, but otherwise, this is incredibly handy, especially if you’re going to be doing outdoorsy things.
  • VPN: For those of you who don’t know, a VPN (virtual private network) is a service that allows you to securely and privately route your internet through a server. Basically, it makes your internet think you’re in one place when you’re in a different one. Why do you need this? Well, if you want to access your bank account or any secure online account, the sites get super sketched out when you’re in a foreign country. It makes accessing some of these sites annoying or downright impossible. Luckily, NordVPN is powerful enough to get around all the blocks. Yay for internet security!
  • Power bank: I don’t know if I’m a phone addict or what (jk, the answer to that is an unfortunate but resounding yes) but I legit don’t understand how people can travel without a power bank. You’re out and about all day and using your phone to navigate, take photos, and who knows what else. I always carry my Anker PowerCore while I’m out. It’s light, holds multiple charges, and charges phones quickly. Win!
  • An eSIM: Once upon a time, I used to collect SIM cards like 90’s kids collected Beanie Babies. I had one for each country I visited and multiple phone numbers I could never remember. Why? So I could always have internet (I’m an addict and I know it). Nowadays, I use an eSIM. I get internet pretty much everywhere and can use it for multiple devices. Plus, I get to keep my actual number and contacts in my phone. Win!
  • Universal travel adapter: After accidentally bringing the wrong plug for a country multiple times, I learned my lesson and bought a couple of universal travel adapters. You can use them in every country and never have to worry about plugs again, yay! This one also has USB slots, which is super handy if you are mainly charging phones, cameras, and tablets. I usually pack two just in case and charge all my stuff with a power strip (linked below).
  • Travel Camera(s): I know all the cool kids are about that #iPhoneOnly life, but I still like taking photos with a camera. Does that make me old? Whatever, I’m embracing it. Anyway, for adventure footage and photos, the latest GoPro is seriously the best. It’s waterproof, image stabilizing, and a bunch of other cool features. If you’re looking for a nice digital camera that doesn’t involve complicated lenses, I personally use the Sony RX100 II, which I’m obsessed with. This is the older model (I think they’re on the 6 now) but it works great. The Carl Zeiss lens helps take spectacular, high-quality photos but the camera is small enough to fit in a purse. I also bring my Instax Mini 9 with me cause I’m extra like that, but I also understand that most normal people don’t travel with three cameras.
  • Headphones: There are a lot of things that suck about planes, but bad headphones don’t have to be one of them. The small Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones do a pretty good job of blocking ambient sound on airplanes (and everywhere else). They’re small and they’re wired, making them much more practical for travel than the bulky over-ear headphones.
  • Insulated water bottle and water purifier or water purifying bottle: I always bring a water bottle with me when I travel because single-use plastic sucks for the planet and buying lots of bottled water is expensive and inconvenient. You can technically drink the tap water in Lebanon but most people don't. What you can do is drink filtered, purified water. I bring along a Steripen, a UV water purifier that gets rid of 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa and use it in combination with my CamelBak Insulated Water Bottle. This bottle is particularly awesome because it holds 20 oz and keeps water cold, which you’ll want in Lebanon (at least in the summer). If you’d rather purchase an all-in-one solution, Grayl’s water filtering bottle is a great alternative so you can fill directly from the tap and drink almost immediately.
  • Microfiber towel: Pretty much all hotels will have towels for use on hand, but I find that it’s always nice to have a towel I can use when I travel, whether I’m on the beach, at an impromptu picnic, or just a bit chilly. This Wise Owl Camping Towel dries super quickly, takes up almost no room and comes with a bonus face/hand towel for hikes and outdoor activities. I always bring it with me when I travel, whether I’m staying in a hostel or not.
  • Guidebook: I’m one of those people who uses blogs to plan my trip but brings along a guidebook when I’m in another country. I know it’s weird, but I like having a reference along. Totally not a necessity if you’ve done proper research and/or have internet access.

Other things to note

  • People just sort of stare at you when you walk down the street. Apparently, it’s not a you thing, just a Lebanon thing. Shrug. Just ignore it, I suppose.
  • Arabic is the official language but most people also speak English and French, especially in Beirut. Outside of Beirut, Arabic is the way to go.
  • There's a large military presence in the country and plenty of checkpoints along roads. Don't be alarmed, they're just there to keep everyone safe.

Check out more things you need to know before visiting Lebanon here. And, if you'd like a Lebanon travel guide to carry with you, this Bradt guide is the most up-to-date.

As you can see, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Lebanon, so you have plenty of options depending on your interests and the time of year you're visiting. Although I personally didn’t fall in love with Lebanon like many people do, I can objectively say that it’s an excellent introduction to the Middle East, with plenty to do and see. Beirut itself is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, with a thriving art, fashion and music scene; it has truly earned its nickname as the Paris of the Middle East. Of course, always stay updated on the political climate before planning your trip.

Planning on visiting other countries in the Middle East? Check out my posts on Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Jordan!


Tell me: have you ever considered visiting Lebanon? Has anything about the country that I’ve written surprised you?


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13 thoughts on “The Best Places to Visit in Lebanon for First-Timers (+ Budget Travel Tips!)

  1. Maxine Hamilton says:

    Amazing guide, so helpful! I had never considered Lebanon before, but now I really want to go. It looks so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  2. Hannah Baer says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been to Lebanon personally but I saw that Anthony Bourdain “Parts Unknown” on it a few seasons ago and it looks like fascinating place. I love how thorough you were with everything to do (or avoid!), where to stay, and day trips 🙂

    • Sally E says:

      Oh awesome! I haven’t seen that episode actually but the food was definitely amazing. I hope you get a chance to visit soon :).

  3. Cristina says:

    Ugh I would LOVE to visit Lebanon but in my situation it’s impossible…
    Very helpful guide and your pictures are stunning! I hope you’ll have a great time exploring the ME and Africa! I’m currently in the Middle East too. 🙂

    • Sally E says:

      I hope you get a chance to visit soon! Glad to hear you’re at least exploring other parts of the Middle East :). It’s such an underrated region!

  4. Selam says:

    I’ve been thinking about visiting Lebanon recently, and you’re right! There aren’t many useful, updated guides. Thanks for making one – your photos are amazing!

  5. Brianna says:

    I think I’d give Lebanon a try if I had the opportunity. Those viewpoints in your photos look amazing! And it looks like the weather was pretty nice while you were there, too!

  6. Chaitali Patel says:

    Headed there next week so writing down many of your suggestions. Is it safe for a single woman to walk around throughout the day, even when the crowds are thin? Thanks

  7. Ryan Biddulph says:

    I absolutely love these photos Sally. Big time fan of the Middle East, and I need to see more of it. I only visited Qatar, and Cyprus. Cyprus is Europe of course but is so close to Syria that it basically qualifies in many ways. Gotta love this region of the world. Rocking blog.

    • Sally E says:

      Thanks Ryan! There are so many great places in the Middle East worth exploring. Hope you get a chance to see more of it soon!

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