Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by adventurous travelers. This vibrant city is full of history, culture, and stunning natural beauty. From the ancient Roman ruins to the modern Zaitunay Bay, Beirut offers a unique blend of old and new. During my recent trip to Beirut, I was captivated by its charm and beauty, and I couldn’t wait to share my experience with you. So join me as we explore the top attractions of Beirut and discover why this city should be on your travel bucket list.
Let’s dive in!
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Located in the heart of Beirut, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque is a must-see for its stunning architecture and historical significance. Built-in 2008, the mosque features an Ottoman-inspired design with a beautiful blue dome and four minarets. You can explore the mosque’s interior and marvel at its intricate details, including calligraphy and mosaics.
- Hours: Daily 8 am-11 am and 1 pm-4 pm
Stroll along Beirut’s beautiful waterfront promenade, the Corniche, for stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. This popular spot is perfect for a leisurely walk and also offers plenty of opportunities to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants along the way.
A trip to Beirut is incomplete without visiting the Raouche Rocks. These iconic rocks jut out of the Mediterranean Sea and are a must-see for their stunning natural beauty. You can stroll along the Corniche and enjoy the views of the rocks from afar or take a boat ride for closer look.
To catch a boat ride to see Raouche Rocks, you’ll need to head to the Corniche. The boats depart from a small nearby harbor, just a short walk from the landmark Raouche Arjaan by Rotana Hotel. The tour takes approximately 30 minutes.
Beirut is home to several ancient Roman ruins, including the Roman Baths, the Roman Columns, and the Roman Hippodrome. These ruins offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and are a must-visit for history buffs. Walking through the downtown area, you will see these Roman Ruin sites.
Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
The Saint George Greek Orthodox Church is one of Beirut’s oldest and most prominent churches. It was built in the early 18th century and has undergone several renovations and restorations. The church is perched upon a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
The exterior of the church features stunning Byzantine architecture. The church’s ornate decorations include beautiful murals, colorful stained-glass windows, and an impressive altar.
One of the most unique features of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church is its underground crypt, which houses the tombs of several prominent Greek Orthodox figures.
- Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9 am-12 pm, 3 pm-6 pm. Sunday: 7:30 am-1 pm, 3 pm-6 pm
- Admission: Free
Saint George Maronite Church
The Saint George Maronite Church is a beautiful and historic church in the heart of downtown Beirut. It was built in the late 19th century and features stunning neo-Gothic architecture, with a soaring bell tower and intricate stone carvings.
Inside, the church is just as impressive, with a spacious nave and an ornate altar featuring intricate gold leaf detailing. The church also has several stunning stained glass windows depicting scenes from Saint George’s life and other important biblical figures.
One of the unique features of the Saint George Maronite Church is its museum, which houses a collection of rare and ancient manuscripts and other artifacts related to the history of the Maronite Church.
- Hours: Monday-Saturday: 8:30 am-5 pm. Sunday: Closed
- Admission: Free
Saint Louis Cathedral
Saint Louis Cathedral is a stunning piece of architecture that is a testament to the city’s rich history and culture. Built-in the 19th century by the French, the cathedral boasts a unique blend of Gothic and Byzantine architecture.
One of the most striking features of the cathedral is its towering twin spires, which can be seen from around the city. In addition, beautiful stained-glass windows, intricate woodwork, and impressive sculptures adorn the church’s walls and ceilings.
- Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
To taste Beirut’s modern side, head to Zaitunay Bay, a beautiful marina with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops. This spot is perfect for a leisurely stroll and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
National Museum of Beirut
Get ready to travel back in time and explore Lebanon’s fascinating history at the National Museum of Beirut. This museum houses an extensive collection of archaeological artifacts dating back to prehistoric times, as well as ancient Phoenician, Greek, and Roman artifacts. The museum’s exhibits are organized chronologically, taking you through Lebanon’s past. You won’t want to miss the famous Sarcophagus of Ahiram, which dates back to the 10th century BC.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays.
- Admission: 10,000 LBP (around USD 6.60)
Explore Beirut’s historic district by taking a stroll through Downtown Beirut. This area has beautiful architecture, including the Grand Serail and the Government Palace of Lebanon. A beautiful clock tower is in the central square of downtown called the Place de l’Etoile. Nearby is the Beirut Souk, a modern shopping district featuring a variety of international and local brands. Visit the historic Al-Omari Mosque, that features stunning Ottoman-era architecture. Finally, walk through Martyrs’ Square, a public square dedicated to the memory of the Lebanese martyrs who died during the country’s civil war.
Grand Serail (Government Palace)
The Grand Serail is an impressive historical building just east of Place de l’Etoile. It has served as the headquarters of Lebanon’s Prime Minister since the country’s independence in 1943.
Visitors are not generally allowed inside the Grand Serail, as it is a working government building. However, the building can be admired from the outside and is a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying the architecture.
Emir Munzer Mosque
Emir Munzer Mosque is a stunning example of Islamic architecture and design. Built-in the 16th century, the mosque has undergone several renovations and restorations but retains much of its original character and charm.
One of the most impressive features of the mosque is its intricate facade, which is adorned with beautiful calligraphy and geometric patterns that are typical of Islamic art. Inside, you can admire the mosque’s spacious prayer hall, which is filled with beautiful carpets, chandeliers, and other decorative elements that add to the mosque’s unique ambiance.
- Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Note: Visitors are asked to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the prayer hall as a sign of respect for the mosque and its worshippers.
Jeita Grotto (a short distance outside Beirut)
Nature lovers won’t want to miss the Jeita Grotto, a breathtaking natural wonder located just outside of Beirut. This underground cave system features stalactites, stalagmites, and underground rivers. Visitors can explore the cave on foot and by boat, with a guided tour that takes approximately an hour.
- Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 am-5 pm, closed on Sundays.
- Admission: 22,500 LBP (around USD 15) for adults, 15,000 LBP (around USD 10) for children.
- Al Falamanki is known for its authentic Lebanese cuisine and relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant has a large outdoor seating area with comfortable chairs and a beautiful view of the sea and the Raouche Rocks. It’s a great spot to enjoy a leisurely meal or a cup of coffee while taking in the stunning natural beauty of Beirut’s coastline.
- Paul Bakery is a popular bakery and cafe in downtown Beirut’s heart. Founded in France in 1889, the bakery has since expanded to locations all over the world. Located on the ground floor of the Beirut Souk shopping center, just a short walk from the historic Place de l’Etoile. The menu at Paul Bakery includes a range of French pastries, breads, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and a selection of hot and cold drinks.
- East Village Kitchen is a cozy and charming restaurant offering a unique blend of Middle Eastern and international cuisine, focusing on using fresh and locally sourced ingredients.The menu features a wide range of dishes, including mezze, salads, sandwiches, grilled meats, and seafood. It is known for its friendly and attentive service.
- Napoletana is an Italian restaurant located in ABC Mall. The restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere with a traditional wood-fired pizza oven. The menu at Napoletana features a wide range of classic Italian dishes, including antipasti, salads, pasta, seafood, and, of course, pizza.
- Second Cup is a popular coffee chain in Zaitunay Bay on the waterfront. The café offers a cozy, inviting atmosphere, comfortable seating, and a modern design. The menu features a variety of coffee and tea drinks, smoothies, milkshakes, and a selection of pastries and sandwiches. In addition, Second Cup also offers free Wi-Fi and a great view of the marina, making it a popular spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
- Kun Restaurant is a popular dining destination that offers a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Lebanese cuisine. The restaurant offers an elegant and sophisticated ambiance coupled with exceptional service. Every dish is crafted with the finest ingredients and served with a creative twist that showcases the chef’s culinary prowess.
- Duo Restaurant offers a chic and modern dining experience with a menu inspired by Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Various dishes, from classic Italian pasta and pizza to fresh seafood and grilled meats. The restaurant also offers a selection of international wines and cocktails to complement the meal.
WHERE TO STAY
Due to our extended stay, we booked with Airbnb.
The 2 Bdr. Apartment in Ashrafieh is beautifully remodeled, cleverly furnished and all amenities are provided for a pleasant stay. The apartment is located on a quiet street in the Achrafieh neighborhood. Many grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants are within two minutes’ walk. The ABC Mall is within 10 minutes walk. Communication with the management team of this Airbnb was easy, prompt and very responsive to our questions. I highly recommend this apartment for an enjoyable stay while in Beirut.
Beirut is a city full of adventure, history, and culture. From ancient ruins to modern marinas, this city has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.