Beirut is definitely one of my most favorite holiday destinations in the world! Even though it’s right in the center of Middle East and in the midst of political instability according to some media sources, Beirut oozes positivity, open-mindedness and fun. Don’t believe what they say on the news!!! In the ten days I have spent here in July, I have not been bored for a minute. I felt free to wear so many fun outfits and navigate around the city on my own as a woman. In Beirut nobody bothers you on the streets if you stay in the central neighborhoods and don’t walk around alone in the middle of the night, which is kind-of common sense anywhere you go. It is a safe city with lot’s of beautiful surrounding beaches, plenty of opportunities for day trips, food options in all different price categories and amazing clubs to dance your heart out. But, first things first:
Travel & Visa Info
Flights arrive at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport. Many passport holders can obtain a one month visa on arrival on the airport, others have to apply in advance. More info on visa requirements can be found here: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/middle-east/lebanon/passport-visa/
Important Notice: Getting into the country is pretty easy, but don’t forget to fill in the little immigration form BEFORE you get to the immigration counter, otherwise you might be sent back to the beginning of the line. Getting out of Beirut airport takes forever and has been one of the most frustrating airport visits of a lifetime for me. We had to stand in line for at least 2 hours, so make sure you arrive way in advance when returning home, as we nearly missed our flights and the airport staff is particularly unhelpful.
Uber works perfectly in Beirut and is really cheap. Normal taxi’s charge a little more, but are also fine and safe to use. There are also shared taxi’s where the driver picks up more people at once. I used all of them during my stay and felt equally safe and comfortable. Be careful not to get cheated by taxi drivers and make sure to negotiate the price before you get in the taxi. I recommend using Uber as a first choice as they know where they are going and the price is always fixed in advance.
Lebanon overall is pretty safe but it is not recommended to travel South towards the Israeli border, and neither can you cross that border (of course). Whilst in Beirut I have not experienced any kind of discomfort or feelings of not being safe.
At night when going to restaurants and clubs, the sexier the better. There’s no such thing as being overdressed in Beirut. During the day you should be a little more conservative. However, I found that wearing shorts or dresses was totally acceptable during the day.
Places to Stay
I stayed in a private apartment in Achrafieh on my stay. I prefer renting my own place as I like to cook some food at times and make my own breakfast. However, there are plenty of decent hotels in Beirut as well. Airbnb has a wide variety of places to rent in Beirut, I would stick to the Northern half of the city, as everything kind of happens over there. Nice areas are Achrafieh, Downtown Beirut, Hamra, Mar Mikhael and Biel. I am sure there are other nice places as well, so please do some research before visiting.
My Hotel & Hostel Recommendations
A hostel, a cafe, a space for art, community and travelers from all over the world coming together. And very affordable as well! Starting from as little as 18 USD a night for a bed in a dorm, this cozy and artistic little secret in the centre of bubbly Beirut can help you save hugely on your travel cost, while offering a wonderful experience.
A visually stunning little boutique hotel right in downtown Beirut. They have a gorgeous pool and spa on site as well. Suitable for higher budgets as it starts at around 225 USD per night.
5 star luxury in Beirut central district. Classy hotel with a higher price tag.
A real super luxury resort like experience. Kempinski is always beautiful and you don’t have to leave the hotel at all 😉 Starting from around 300 USD a night. If you’re into luxury, then this is your place.
Beaches & Beachclubs
What I’ve noticed, is that there are hardly any free beaches around Beirut, all are paid and definitely worth to explore a couple of them during your holiday. Here are my recommendations for beaches around Beirut:
Oh my God, this place is just like you are going straight back into the 60’s or 70’s. Such a gorgeous vintage feel to the whole place and really casual, not your boring “seen and be seen” scene at all. Everything is old and the people are from all ages. It’s the perfect place to relax for a day and watch the sunset. There’s a beautiful seafood restaurant upstairs as well called Feluka. You really HAVE to visit this place if you want a real authentic Lebanese experience.
An hours drive South from central Beirut, this place is like a Mexican or South American inspired Paradise. Hugely colorful and laid back, the name itself says it all. The atmosphere here is so chilled out, I could have easily spent all week on this beach. There are several pools on the property, of which my favorite the natural rock-pool on the beach. You can’t really swim in the ocean here as there’s strong currents, but the beach is beautiful and the rock pool has actual sea water in it. Views are breathtaking and you really feel like you’re in another world here. Entrance fee is around 25 USD for a day. Closes after sunset, so you must go back to Beirut for dinner.
A luxury beach resort with different locations throughout Lebanon. I went to the one in Jihey, about an hours drive South from Beirut. It’s kinda nice, a bit more upscale as the other ones, so it’s a different kind of experience. Lovely to spend a day there. The beach is not necessarily very peaceful though due to the factories and smokey chimneys in sight, but the pool is very nice.
Batroun is about 55 kilometers north of Beirut and quite a drive (takes about 1,5 hour), but really worth a visit. The beaches are raw and rocky, and the atmosphere is so laid back you would want to spend a few nights here if you’re into lazy beach holidays and doing nothing but eating fresh fish and tanning. We spent the day at Loco, a really laid back beach resort. For dinner you MUST go to Pierre and Friends, a laid back little pub on the beach serving the best Calamari I ever tasted.
Ok, that was it for my Beirut basics, hotel and beach recommendations. Stay tuned for part two on restaurants, clubs and party places coming up soon!