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Beirut Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 3-5 days

Best Time: April - November Read More

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"Paris of the East - Beirut"

Beirut Tourism

The repercussions of Civil War have subsided considerably and it seems the Lebanese zest for life and hospitality can have no deterrent. Beirut is a city rich in heritage, architecture and intellect. Recently with its outstanding new hotels, high-octane nightlife and arts quarter, Lebanon's resurrected capital has a lot in store for you.

Beirut is the wild child of the Middle East, exuding an air of organised chaos - designer boutiques with magnificent mosques, bullet scarred buildings with a vibrant nightlife. The 'city that never dies' resonates energy and resilience, even after years of being plummeted by invasive forces. Formerly a Phoenician port, the city juts out on into the Eastern side of the Meditarranean sea, making it a spectacular location. No matter where you are, whether in the glamorous environment of restored Downtown, the bustling streets of Hamra or the chic pubs of Mar MIkhael, its a place that caters to all yearnings. Tracing the path in and around the former Green Line, dividing East and West Beirut, you will find crumbling Ottoman mansions, bullet-scarred French Mandate-era apartments and contemporary structures standing side by side. Despite the infiltration of designer boutiques, music festivals, eateries, an eeri charm hovers above rebuilt Downtown. Head to the livelier neighbourhoods of Hamra and Achrafieh in the Servees taxis, an anecdote worthy ride as recounted by most travelers! As evening falls, you ought to join the fishermen and lovelorn Beirutis for a stroll along the Corniche as you sip on to some local Ahweh. History, hedonism and a whole lot of hummus, Beirut will only leave you craving for more!

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Currency in Beirut

US Dollars are widely accepted in the city. Restuarants, hotels and stores often quote their prices in USD.

Exchanging Money in Beirut

ATMs are dotted all over the city with the option of withdrawing both USD and Lebanese Pounds. Money exchangers are concerntrated in Rue Hamra .

Daily Budget for Beirut

Beirut is an inexpensive destination, and for those spending in dollars, your expenses will be hardly much. On an average expect to spend not more than USD $ 35 - USD $ 40, inclusive of food, beverages, entertainment and travel. Even if you opt for luxury dining, use of private taxis your daily expenditure shouldnt exceed USD $ 55 - USD $ 60.¾

Religion of Beirut

Islam (Shia and Sunni) Christianity (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Melkite)

Beirut Customs

Beirutis are liberal about attire, so dress in whatever is comfortable for you. Dressing fashionably will be regarded highly though. Be sure to cover up when visiting places of religious interest. Extend basic courtesies in form of pleasantries, to taxi drivers, hotel staff and shopkeepers. Maintaining eye contact in your communication conveys a certain sense of trust, sincerity and honesty. Tipping is not compulsory in Lebanon, but neverthless appreciated.

Language of Beirut

Arabic is the official language, however English and French are widely spoken. Most locals speak 2 to 3 languages, hence communication will not be a difficulty. Signboards, menus, information also tend to be in both Arabic and English. Some common phrases: Marhabaan - Hello Shukraan - Thank You Min Fadik - Please Kam Thaman Hudha - How much is this?

History of Beirut

Beirut‚s history goes back more than 5,000 years. The culture of Beirut has evolved under the influence of many civilizations and people, including Phoenician, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Ottomans. This history of cosmopolitanism is a point of pride for the Lebanese. The antiquity of Beirut is indicated in its name, derived from the Canaanite name of Be'erot (Wells), referring to underground water table which is still tapped by the locals. The city gained prominence when it was granted status of a Roman colony in 14 BC. The original Roman city was located in the valley between the hills of Al-Ashrafiyah and Al- Musaytibah, which was destroyed by natural disasters. Under Arab rule, Beirut was reconstructed as walled garrison town administered from Baalbek as part of the jund(Muslim province) of Damascus. In 1110 Beirut was conquered by the military forces of the First Crusade and conducted flourishing trade with Genoa and other Italian cities. Beirut became a chief port of call for spice merchants from Venice under Mamluk rule, who drove the Crusaders out in 1291. The Portugese rounded the African continent to divert the spice trade of East away from Syria and Egypt, shortly after which Beirut and Syria passed under Ottoman rule in 1516. By the 17th century, the city reemerged as an exporter of Lebanese silk to Europe, mainly to Italy and France. Between the 17th and 18th century Beirut fell under the control of the Druze and Maronite tribes, to be taken over by the Ottoman again. The Russo-Turkish war saw more wreck to the city. The Industrial Revolution in Europe led to infiltration of factory produced goods into Beirut, marking the advent of growth of modern Beirut. The city continued to commercially prosper under Egyptian reign and its population inflated with the influx of Christian refugees from the mountains. Beirut was made the capital of the coastal province of Syria. Emphasis was laid on development of education, duly materialised by establishing universities. This period was an intellectual renaissance of sorts - Missionaries stimulated the growth of the city's publishing industry, while attempts were made at reviving the Arabic culture. By the end of the First World War, Beirut was occupied by the Allies and declared the capital of Greater Lebanon by the French. The Muslims of Beirut resented the inclusion of the city in a Christian dominated Lebanon. Social and political tensions between Christians and Muslims, instigated by the inundation of Palestinian refugees, flared into open hostilities and ultimately the aggravated violent Civil War, all through 1975 - 1990. West Beirut was devastated when Israeli forces attacked the Palestine Liberation Organization. Syrian military intervention finally restored peace to Lebanon. The following years was a major effort to reconstruct war-torn Beirut. The city developed a plan to modernize its transport facilities, restore many of its historic buildings ¾and revive its ecoonomic sectors.¾

Nightlife in Beirut

Labelled as the 'Party Capital of the Middle-East, Beirut has a pulsating night life adorned with clubs, lounges, pubs and super nightclubs. Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh and Hamra come alive with resonating beats from the local watering holes. Party at the all time favourite, B018, an underground venue with a retractable roof situated in a former detention center which held some 20,000 refugees during the Civil War! Sky Bar and White follow ensuite amidst popular choices. Some light local beer, Almaza and dou dou shot, Beirut's vodka, lemon, Tobasco and olive laced speciality at Dany's, Demo or Torino while you sway to live music, or some techno and house to groove till dawn, the night is always young in Beirut! The Super Nightclubs are actually strip clubs, atlhough you should be wary of these places as a lot goes on here that doesnt meet the eye.

Shopping in Beirut

On Saturday morning head to Souk el Tayeb a farmersê market devoted to Lebanonês traditional, organic agriculture. Farmers from all over Lebanon gather to share their produce here; pick up a freshly squeezed pomegranate juice or jars of delicious labneh and fig jam. Sunday means the Souk Al Ahad, the place to visit for an authentic souk experience. The wares for sale here are extremely diverse, including exotic pets! Downtown and Hamra are full of up-market retail stores selling international labels. For more moderate shopping experience head to the Beirut Souks. A box of baklava, a bottle of Lebanese wine or handmade soap from Khan Al Saboun would make fine souveniors.

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FAQs on Beirut

What is the best time to visit Beirut?

These months span the seasons of Spring, Summer and Autumn. The summer months of July - September witness the maximum footfall. August tends to be the hottest month. If you wish to avoid the incessant crowd and enjoy pleasant weather, a visit in the Spring months of April - May or Autumn months of September - November will be ideal.
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What is the local food in Beirut?

While in Beirut you could actually survive only on street food! That is the beauty of Lebanese cuisine - use of only fresh and healthy ingredients like fresh breads, olive oil, laban (homemade yoghurt) herb and spices, very mild in flavour yet quite delectable. Typically the 'ferns'(colloquial for local places with ovens serving cheap food) offer Manousheh, a flatbread of sorts, fragrant with thyme and cheese or meat or Shawarma, garlic flavoured meat grilled on a vertical spit and Falafel, deep fried balls made of chick peas or fawa beans or sweet pastries topped with pistachios. The Mezze is often regarded as a meal in itself, with as many as forty hot and cold dishes being served together as a platter. The most basic Mezze will have Hummus (chick pea puree with sesame oil and garlic), Baba Ghanoush (eggplant puree laced with pomegranate), Tabouleh (salad of chopped parsley, tomatoes and onions), Labneh(strained yoghurt similar to Cream Cheese), Waraq Anab (grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat), kebabs (cubes of lam with peppers), pickled vegetables. Grilled seafood, cubes of goat cheese, black olives are part of more elaborate platters. Bread, a staple food in Lebanon is served with almost every meal in the form of flat bread or pita. Kibbe, consists of ground lamb meat with cracked wheat paste and is considered the national dish. Lamb is the popular meat preference here and is used widely in kafta, kebabs or even lamb legs are stuffed with rice. Desserts in Lebanon are usually are for those with that extra sweet tooth. Osmaliyeh, a vermicelli cake with cream cheese filling and syrup, and Mouhallabie, flan like pudding are the most sought after desserts here. If you don't fancy sugary endings to your meal, do try the Booza, an Arabic ice cream made with mastic gum, giving it an elastic and sticky texture and is melt resistant! Metri's booza shop is what you should look out for. Finish your meal the local way, with some Ahweh, thick Arabic coffee or Arak, a white alcoholic beverage made with anise. Restaurants in Beirut serve all of Italian, Continental, Mediterranean, Japanese and French as well. Fast food joints are also scattered all over. Venture to Bourj Hammoud to experiment with some Armenian cuisine.
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What are the things to do in Beirut?

The top things to do in Beirut are National Museum of Beirut, Corniche, Grand Al Omari Mosque, Achrafieh, Jeita Grotto, Robert Mouawad Private Museum. You can see all the places to visit in Beirut here

What are the places near Beirut?

The top places near to Beirut are Jerusalem which is 237 km from Beirut, Amman which is located 220 km from Beirut, Petra which is located 396 km from Beirut, Tel aviv which is located 212 km from Beirut, Antalya which is located 547 km from Beirut

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