I've been coming to Beirut for almost seven years and my love for this place keeps growing each time. My husband is Lebanese and the family still lives here and that's why we share our time between the US and Lebanon. Just like Brazil, this place has a special part in my heart and it makes me feel like home! It might be the rich culture, the kind people, the happy spirits even in times of adversity, the delicious food or the many different sceneries that cross the country. Lately, I've been discovering Lebanon like I never did before. Amazing days skiing followed by lunch on the beach, a visit to a Syrian refugee camp and the many schools built there, a gorgeous day at the Baalbek ruins and many other adventures. People often ask me if it's dangerous coming to Lebanon. My personal answer after being here more than 20 times is no. In fact, I feel more secure in this country than in other places. For this reason I'm sharing details of my favorite places and things to do. This was carefully put together based on my personal experiences and the help of close Lebanese friends. Enjoy and don't forget to take notes!
WHERE TO STAY IN BEIRUT
WHERE TO EAT IN BEIRUT
Lebanese cuisine is by far my favorite! The variety, the flavors, the richness, simply unbelievable. Expect to gain a few pounds while here (: Some of these restaurants are more traditional and others are more trendy but all of them are amazing. Note that some of them have the summer and the winter editons but I linked all places and if you click on their names it will direct you to their pages where you can get more information.
Amazing traditional fresh lebanese food located 20 minutes form Beirut in a beautiful hill. It's usually the first place I go for dinner when I arrive in Beirut. Make sure you have a light lunch before!
The summer edition has a gorgeous view of Beirut and a super cool atmosphere with a DJ on the rooftop. The winter edition is right next to my house and it's super cozy. Everything is good but the burger is amazing.
Great for dinner and drinks, the view is beautiful and the most popular night is Thursday.
Located Downtown Beirut next to all the shops. The food is spectacular, definitely a must for lebanese food lovers.
You know when a restaurant is good when the locals are always there. It was the first place my husband took me 7 years ago and the food remains great. Simple and delicious.
It started as a small place the it was such a success that they keep expanding. Fresh and yummy choices for a nice lunch or dinner with friends!
Gorgeous place by the sea for lunch or dinner especially during the summer. Feels like you're in the south of France.
This place is special. Summer or winter it has a great atmosphere and a super cool bar!
WHERE TO WORKOUT/YOGA
Because I spend long periods of time in the city, I try to attend some yoga classes as well as boxing and spinning. I do my boxing/Muay Thai classes with Jihad (a Lebanese champion) at U ENERGY gym. My spinning classes are at EXHALE gym and my yoga at YOGA SOUK.
WHERE TO SHOP
It's hard to tell you where to shop in the city as there are endless boutique and hidden places all over Beirut but here are some of the places I go: All shops in the Downtown area, PLUM, Sarah's bag, L'artisan Du Liban, Orient 499, Elie Saab, Les 66, Aishty, Sandra Mansour, Andrea Wazen, Vanina and many other places around MAR MIKHAEL and Gemmayzé. If you need a shopping mall you can go to the new ABC Mall.
WHAT TO DO IN BEIRUT
Now that I gave you a list of the best restaurants to go in Beirut, I will also tell you what are my favorite things to do in the city and the "must do's" outside of Beirut. You can do everything by car and the roads are usually beautiful!
This is usually the first thing I do when I get to the city. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and go walk around. You'll have a great sense of the city's eclectic architecture that has mostly been reconstructed but still carrying the 19th century feel. You will see churches, cathedrals and mosques. When walking around the SAIFI area you'll most probably see beautiful brides (christian and muslims) taking photographs with their grooms. You'll also see many shops and boutiques, from the fanciest names like Hèrmes and Chanel to amazing local shops. While walking around you'll stumble upon modern constructions and really old historical buildings, sometimes right next to each other. To me, this contrast is what makes Beirut extra special. Girls often ask me: "Can I walk around by myself? Is it safe"? Yes, you can definitely walk around alone without having to worry. Something I can't do in my country these days. So put your comfy shoes on and enjoy the journey!
GEMMAYZE AND MAR MIKHAEL
These are the two "coolest" areas of Beirut, I love walking around these streets and stopping by cafés and boutiques. At night the streets are filled with happening bars and restaurants!
Located at the Beirut Marina, the bay has several restaurants and cafes. Perfect for a nice walk, lunch or diner.
CORNICHE - SEASIDE
I usually go for a walk or a run by the corniche during the sunset. I leave form Zaitunay bay and finish by the Pigeon Grotto (Raouché). When you get there you can sit by a cafeé and enjoy the view.
You can check a list of the best museums in Beirut HERE
THINGS TO DO IN LEBANON
This was the first place I visited when I came to Lebanon and I still go there from time to time. the ruins are beautiful and they have amazing concerts during the summer. Byblos is the oldest port in the world so you'll breathe history all over the place. Have lunch at PEPE by the port.
BEIT EL DINE PALACE AND SUMMER FESTIVAL
SAIDA (AND ITS SOUK)
OSCAR NIEMEYER LEGACY - TRIPOLI
I have not visited Tripoli yet but I was very surprised to know that the legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer has designed 15 incredible structures in 1963 that were unfortunately unfinished due to the country's civil war in 1975. Read more about this incredible futuristic structures HERE
Still in Tripoli, I was told the the tour of the Hammans it's a must, more tham 1000 years of story. Make sure you contact an experienced and trustable team before visiting the area.
It took me six years to visit Baalbek! I don't know exactly what I was waiting for but I finaly made it happen during my last trip to Beirut. I took my friend and together with a guide (firstname.lastname@example.org) we explored the ruins and the vicinities. The day was incredible as Salim included some surprises such as a visit to the Lamartine Valley, a visit to the Ksara winery and a gorgeous sunset on a beautiful road surrounded by cedars.
This is it! i could go on and on with more places and more tips so feel free to participate and help me add things to this precious list. This country is very dear to me and I couldn't be happier to be able to share my experiences with you (: