How to Spend 3 Days in Beirut
Three days in Beirut allow you to check off the city’s signature sights and discover the joys of Lebanese food. In addition to the coastal charms of Byblos and the beautiful Jeita Grotto, you can get out into the valleys and add one (or two) more of Lebanon’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites to your list. Read on to find out how.
Day 1: Beirut Bliss
Explore thousands of years of Lebanese history at the National Museum of Beirut, the perfect introduction to the ancient cultures that await. Next, check off the city’s signature sights: Nejmeh Square, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and the Roman Baths. Head out to Raouché for a Lebanese coffee overlooking the sea pillars Pigeon Rocks. After a light Middle Eastern lunch, indulge in the scents and flavors of Lebanese cuisine on a cooking course, ideally in a family home. Master meze, grills, stews, salads, and so much more, then get to know your hosts over a leisurely dinner, fueled by the aniseed taste of authentic Lebanese arak liquor. If you’re visiting in summer, enjoy an evening local style, by catching an outdoor screening of a classic movie or taking a gentle stroll along the Corniche.
Day 2: Caves and Castles
Head north along the coast and spend your second day in Beirut visiting three ever-popular sights. Start at the Jeita Grotto, where illuminated stalactites deck spiraling caverns and rowboats ply the underground river. Continue north to Jounieh and ride the vertiginous Téléferique cable car 2,132 feet (650 meters) up into the mountains to the shrine of Our Lady of Harissa, with its enormous statue of Lebanon’s patron saint. Hit the ancient town of Byblos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in time for a seafood lunch on the pretty harbor. Spend the afternoon shopping for fossils and more in the medieval Old Town, immersing yourself in history at the Crusader castle, and traveling through time at the archaeological site, where ruins from different eras stretch back many thousands of years. In the summer season, particularly on weekends, you might want to stay in Byblos for sunset, dinner, and even a nightclub.
Day 3: Vines and Valleys
On your third day in Beirut, head inland to Lebanon’s ancient valleys. Choose between the Bekaa Valley, home to over 50 wineries plus two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the Qadisha Valley, UNESCO-listed in its own right. If you opt for Bekaa, start at Baalbek, a classical city that’s home to what may be the Middle East’s finest Roman ruins, then head to the 8th-century Islamic city of Anjar. Finish with some gourmet food, a tour, and a tasting at a winery such as Chȃteau Ksara or Chȃteau Kefraya. If Qadisha is more your speed, explore the pretty town of Bcharré, the ancient stand of biblical cedars known as the Cedars of God, and one of the ancient monasteries that line the valley, such as Qozhaya. Head back to Beirut to wrap up your stay in style: Savor a modern Lebanese dinner and a long summer night at one of the city’s rooftop lounges, perhaps at the Le Gray hotel.