48 Hours in Lebanon: Cramming in the Best Bits

48 Hours in Lebanon

I’ve spent over 2 months in Lebanon and honestly think that that longer you’re in this country, the more you realise there is to see and do.

That said, I understand not everyone has the luxury of time on their hands and as word gets around about just how cool this country is, long weekends to Lebanon are becoming increasingly popular for us Europeans.

After all, this country is just a hop skip and a jump from Cyprus and with direct flights from across Europe to Beirut leaving on a Friday evening, visiting Lebanon for a couple of days and returning back home on a Monday is definitely a growing trend!

So if you’re knocking around at the cool and quirky end of weekend breaks, then look no further than this amazing Middle Eastern country and my perfect itinerary for 48 hours in Lebanon if you want to cram a lot in!


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Day 1

Morning:

Start your day in Beirut early if you want to cram a lot in!

As Lebanon is such a small country, I’d honestly advise staying in this city the whole time during your 48 hours here and simply day tripping from there.

The best areas to stay in the city are Mar Mikael and the Gemmayzeh districts.

Hostel Beirut is a great option for those on a shoestring in Mar Mikhael – think dorms, cute roof terrace, guest kitchen and top location.

Whichever place you stay, there’s loads to explore in the surrounding area, including cute cafes such as Kalei and Haven for Artists, as well as galleries, mosques, churches and museums.

Top of my list are the Sursock Museum, the National Museum, the Mim Museum and Beit Beirut when it comes to getting your historical and cultural fix.

You should also wander to see the gorgeous Mohamad al Amin Mosque, the Saint George Maronite Cathedral and the Roman ruins that lie semi-scattered behind it!

Then grab an amazing lunch at Tawlet!

The great people behind this place are also the founders of the city’s farmers market and each day they have a rotating menu with food that comes from a specific area of Lebanon.

Their ethos is to “celebrate food and traditions that unite communities and the culture of sustainable agriculture.”

Can’t argue with that, especially when you learn that Tawlet is a social business whose profits go towards supporting local farmers, cooks and producers –  winning!

 

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Afternoon / Evening:

Head out to the amazing Jeita Grotto care of an Uber after lunch and take in this amazing cave structure for an hour or 2.

The cable car and boat ride should not be missed.

Afterwards, head to the seaside cities of Batroun and Byblos – rumoured to be 2 of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, they’re chock full of interesting history and quaint cobbled charm.

Spend a few hours wandering the streets here, stopping for lunch and taking in the religious buildings, monuments and citadels.

If time allows afterwards, take the cable car up to Harissa to snap the impressive view or head to either the St Charbel Church or Our Lady of Noorieh Monastery to complete the day, before returning to Beirut to enjoy the cosmopolitan and hedonistic nightlife of Beirut’s Mar Mikael and the Gemmayzeh districts.

My picks of bars here include Dragonfly and 429.

A great Lebanese dinner at the quintessential Le Chef in Gemmayzeh can’t be missed either.

 

5 ESSENTIALS TO PACK FOR LEBANON

#1 Lebanon Bradt Travel Guide – A great guidebook for the maps and background info on this layered and complex country, Bradt make a great job of covering this off the beaten track destination.

#2 Camera – I highly recommend the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, which is small, compact and ideal for adventurous travellers.

#3 Walking Shoes – There’s going to be a lot of sightseeing in Lebanon, so good day shoes are a must. I love my New Balance trainers, which are city friendly and super comfy for mounting all those monasteries too.

#4 Bikini – When you see that glistening Mediterranean Sea, there’s no question you’ll want to dive straight into it. Don’t hold back and come prepared to Lebanon with a beautiful Rip Curl Bikini.

#5 Small Day Backpack – With hiking and historical day trips a plenty in Lebanon, having a backpack to house your camera, sunscreen, water, snacks and guidebook is a must here and the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack is ideal for the job – I can guarantee it!

 

 

Day 2

If the hangover isn’t too bad, make it another early start to get your second full day of fun in during your 48 hours in Lebanon.

While most people tend to head north again to visit Tripoli, the Cedars or Qadisha Valley (which you should definitely do if you have more time), I suggest bucking the trend to head either East or South instead if you’re short on days.

Here’s my 2 options…

Option 1 – The East:

Heading out to the east of Lebanon will take you into a completely different landscape from that of the coast and the beguiling city of Beirut.

Your main destination is of course the largest Roman Temple in the world, which can be found in the incredible UNESCO heritage-listed site of Baalbeck.

Honestly, I’ve seen some ruins in my time, but this really takes the biscuit.

The place is huge and (probably because it’s so close to the Syrian border) there’s hardly a soul around.

Honestly, you can wander through some of the most amazing, most enormous intact Roman ruins in the world and barely see another tourist – it’s quite unbelievable.

On the way back from Baalbeck – which also has a charming “modern” town next to it by the way – you can’t miss a stop in the Beqaa, or Bekaa Valley.

Famous for its vineyards, there are dozens of wineries here where you can test a local drop.

Probably the most famous of these is Caves de Ksara, just outside Zahle, where you can also tour the cellars.

Zahle boasts a riverside setting and is a lovely place for a pitstop and some food. The view point at Berdawni also shouldn’t be missed.

On the way back, and if time allows, popping into one of the historic towns of Aanjar or Deir El Qama is a lovely finale.

You can get buses to Baalbeck from Beirut, but if you’re wanting to see the other attractions round here as well, it’s best to take a guide.

I highly recommend Nicola from Explore Lebanon Tours or Mohammad El-Draihi from Kazdoura Tours, who will both look after you impeccably.

LEARN MORE: Solo Female Travel in Lebanon : Is It Safe?

 

Option 1 – The South:

Heading to the south of the country on day 2 of your 48 hour Lebanon itinerary is a great option if you want to hit the coast rather than the mountains.

With some of the nicest coastal areas in the country in my opinion, plus the largest free public beach, it’s hard to go wrong when you throw in the historical elements of this part of the country too.

Grab a bus from Beirut’s Cola Intersection to the important town of Saida, or Sidon. Here you’ll find a wealth of castles, old city walls, souks and squares to marvel at.

After this, continue on to the city of Tyre, otherwise known as Sour, which boasts a delightful seafront setting, complete with bustling souks, lovely harbour, a UNESCO-listed Old Town and some impressive Roman ruins that stretch down to the sea.

Finish up on the huge public beach here, enjoying the waves and a few beers at the best beachside eatery – Cloud 59.

If any time allows, why not motor on to check out the Lebanese / Israeli border and the controversial Tourist Landmark of the Resistance – part war memorial, part propaganda museum, it’s fascinating!

 

Evening Day 2:

Whichever option you take on day 2, make sure you’re back in Beirut by sunset!

Honestly, you do not want to miss the light display over La Rouche Rocks on your last night in Lebanon, before strolling along the Corniche with the masses and taking in the Mediterranean atmosphere.

Bliss!

 

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Will that do you for 48 amazing hours in Lebanon?

Pretty jam packed, combining history, nature, coast and mountains, hopefully this will give you more than enough to get your teeth into in this amazing country.

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Shamma Hage says:

    Hi my name is Shamma, Im a Canadian of Lebanese descent , its been 22 yrs since my last visit to Lebanon, and planning a trip there this coming June, Ive enjoyed reading your blog about Lebanon and would like to correspond with you in regards of other questions tips info on getting around solo without doing group tours Im trying to stay within a budget and yet still enjoy my vacation. Thank you for your time

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