Falling in love with Lebanon.

When a friend suggested we meet in Beirut for a couple of days I said yes without hesitation (as I always do) then suddenly realized I didn’t know a lot about the destination itself. So, I did a little research on things to do and places to stay and really went there with no expectations or idea of what it would be like. What I discovered far surpassed any preconceived ideas of Beirut or Lebanon I may have had.

It turned out to be the perfect blend of diverse cultures and religions, delicious food, beautiful weather, interesting architecture and a fascinating history. Top this off with there being very few tourists and many incredibly welcoming locals- I can safely say that this was one of the most underrated places I had ever been to.

By writing this I feel like I am about to share with you a secret, unspoiled spot left undiscovered by dreary tourists.

 

Stay

Hotel Albergo

The Hotel Albergo is an old enchanting hotel in the coolest part of Beirut with a rooftop terrace restaurant and individually styled rooms. This soft pink suite we stayed in was filled with dried rose petals and hand acquired antiques. It completely made me feel like a princess.

Botique luxury Hotel Albergo, Beirut Lebanon, Travel blog

 

Botique luxury Hotel Albergo, Beirut Lebanon, Travel blog

 

Botique luxury Hotel Albergo, Beirut Lebanon, Travel blog

 

Every part of the service and amenities at Hotel Albergo is carefully thought out. From the Rose Bath salts made with salt from the dead sea held in beautiful handmade glass jars to the fresh fruit basket replenished daily and the delicious mini cookies left for turn down service, the staff went above and beyond to provide an exceptional luxury service equal to the opulent décor.

 

Botique luxury Hotel Albergo, Beirut Lebanon, Travel blog

 

The rooftop restaurant is the ideal place for a shaded  indulgent breakfast surrounded by geraniums and greenery while overlooking Beirut, or for a romantic al-fresco candle light dinner in the summer time.

Breakfast at Hotel Albergo, Travel blog Lebanon
Breakfast at Hotel Albergo

 

Go

While there we organised with our hotel to have a private guide show us the best parts of Lebanon. It was such a great idea as we could explore at our own pace, and our local guide was incredibly knowledgeable about both the archaeological aspects of where we explored and about the general knowledge and history of Lebanon. As well as this he introduced us to some cheap, delicious local delicacies and suggested a wonderful restaurant we would have never found on our own. It also took the stress out of the long drives as he knew the roads and how to avoid the notorious traffic so we could snooze in the back seat! I would highly recommend Daniel as an invaluable addition to your Beirut or Lebanon visit. You can contact him on dakvdak@hotmail.com or +961 76 398 685

 

Do

Temples of Baalbek

Baalbek is an ancient Phoenecian city 85 km from Beirut which dates back as early as 3rd century B.C. It is home to the largest noble Roman and temples ever built which are among the best preserved in the world with breath-taking detail and 20metre high columns still intact. The large temple site where a triad of deities were worshiped is truly tear inducing beautiful. The only thing that is possibly more impressive than the ruins themselves was the fact there were NO tourists here, I could literally count on one hand the amount of other people we saw which meant we had this monumental, jaw dropping piece of history all to ourselves.

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Baalbek Temples, Travel blog Lebanon

 

Chateau Ksara

This was a great little stop on our way to the Temples of Baalbek. The Ksara winery offers guided tours of its huge underground roman caves followed by a tasting. Ksara have been making wine consistently since 1857 and is the country’s oldest winery. A nice little break and a pick me up for the long drive to Baalbek.

 

Jeita Grotto

I have done the blue grotto’s in Italy, and the Waitomo caves in NZ. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the gargantuan incredible caves of Jeita. At a height peak of 120m the caves located 25km from Beirut were in the finalist for the new 7th wonders of the world and came in at 14th place- yet it appears no one has ever heard of it! It contains the worlds largest stalactite at 8.2 metres high, and spans an overall length of over 9km. Again, there were sections of it where we were the only ones around and you couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like for the first people who discovered this magnificent natural beauty. It truly feels as though you are entering a lost world. Unfortunately, I was not able to take photos in the caves and these images from the internet really do not do it any justice. You just have to see this for yourself.

 

Jeita Grotto Lebanon Photograph by Manal Sabbagh
Photograph by Manal Sabbagh

 

Jeita Grotto Lebanon

 

Lebanese journalists and photographers tour the lower cave of the Jeita Grotto by boat during a media day to campaign for the selection of the Jeitta Grotto as one of the seven natural wonders of the world July 1, 2008. The Jeita Grotto is a compound of karstic limestone caves in Lebanon located 20 kilometres north of Beirut in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb (Dog River). The grotto complex is made up of two caves, upper galleries and a lower cave through which an underground river runs. Picture taken July 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON)
REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON)

 

Byblos

40 km north of Beirut lies Byblos, an ancient world heritage UNISECO coastal town possibly the oldest continually inhabited one in the world being occupied since 5000bc. Not only is it packed with archaeological artefacts and beautiful ancient ruins but it has a great bar and restaurant scene where you can sip rose’s and eat fresh seafood in the sunshine either by the sea or in its inner medieval walls. I can recommend Chez Pepe for delicious seafood and authentic Lebanese dishes.

 

Byblos, Travel blog lebanon
Byblos
Lunch at Chez Pepe, Travel blog Lebanon
Lunch at Chez Pepe

Sursock Museum

This small and quiet museum had a great collection of modern art and some interesting history about the building itself. My favourite part was a fascinating little section devoted to early European travellers exploring Lebanon and Syria which to me was truly captivating.  It provided a little glimpse of travel before the days of blogs, Instagram, Google Maps or even telephone lines. They have guidebooks from the early 20th century talking about how to travel in Syria & The Middle East and which hotels to stay in – A peep into a very fascinating and different past. At the front of this museum there is also a delightful little gift shop and outdoor café which is great to sit in the sun and drink delicious Lebanese rose.

Sursock museum Exploring Beirut, Travel Blog Lebanon

 

Sursock museum Exploring Beirut, Travel Blog Lebanon

 

Walk Around

Beirut is laden with tumultuous history which is reflected in its buildings and architecture. Take an afternoon to wonder the beautiful flower filled streets and discover some of its most impressive abandoned buildings.

Exploring Beirut, Travel Blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Beirut, Travel Blog Lebanon

 

Exploring Beirut architecture, Travel Blog Lebanon

 

If you have any other questions about Lebanon or Beirut please feel free to comment below or send me a message. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you

Eat well, travel well, live well,

Ainsley xx

 

 

About The Author

Ainsley DS

Freelance photographer and blogger traveling the world. Blogging about both luxury and low-budget adventures. For those who like the best of both worlds.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Blondetheroad | 17th May 17

    Love this post!! I’ve never thought in lebanon as a destiny at all. You made me think about it!! I will keep it in mind for my nexts adventures. 😊
    Best!!!

  2. Cheryl Howard | 27th May 17

    Wow, these photos make me want to see Lebanon so badly! Those ruins are incredible. 🙂

  3. Nate | 27th May 17

    I can totally understand why you fell in love with Lebanon! It looks amazing! As I am a lover of Lebanese food, I totally have to visit the country one day as well.

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      Ohhh me too the food was amazing! Worth going there for that alone! 🙂

  4. Julia Dent | 27th May 17

    I’ve been dying to go to Lebanon! That’s so awesome that you had those ruins to yourself, I’ll definitely have to check that out when I go!

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      Yes! I hope you can make it there and get as lucky as we were to have it all to yourself!

  5. Rhiannon | 28th May 17

    What a beautiful place! Your photos are stunning, and I love how much detail you’ve included in this post. Definitely making me want to visit!

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      Thank you! I hope you get there one day 🙂

  6. Ha | 28th May 17

    Nice post! I have one good friend from Lebanon, so I would love to visit there one day! The architecture of Sursock Museum looks really interesting 🙂

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      I hope you do! Sursock Museum was beautiful. Such a good find!

  7. Annika | 28th May 17

    Wow! Lebanon is beautiful! This destination was not previously on my radar but now I would love to visit. You did an awesome job capturing its essence.

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      Thank you! It really is a stunning country. x

  8. Kristine Li | 28th May 17

    This is so nice! Enchanting is indeed the right word to describe your hotel room, it’s oozing with so much charm! I’m fascinated seeing the Temples of Baalbek in your post with the history behind it. How many days were you in Beirut?

    • Ainsley DS | 28th May 17

      Hi! We were originally planning to stay 3 nights but loved it so much we stayed four! Baalbek & the Grottos you kind of need a day each for, plus a couple of days to explore Beirut!

  9. Roxanne Reid | 28th May 17

    Lebanon hasn’t really been on my radar before, but I could easily be convinced by a friend to visit now I’ve seen your photos of the architecture, the food and the grottos. Nice post.

  10. Candice | 28th May 17

    I’ve wanted to go to Lebanon for so long! Your post makes me wonder why I’ve waited. There’s a hiking trail I’d love to do there but also see the sites you visited. How many days were you there? You saw a lot.

  11. Penelopi | 28th May 17

    ahhh Lebanon!!!!!!! I never visited it but as I was working in the Middle East for 9 years I know a lot about the Lebanese culture and its beauty!! Amazing photos, that hotel is a gem!!

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