Lebanon is another country that has a specific stigma surrounding it. The immediate question is always “Is Lebanon safe to visit?” The reason why this question is typically asked is due to the civil war that took place from 1975 to 1990. It’s a surreal feeling walking by buildings in the downtown area that are still affected by it.
Interestingly enough, a month before we arrived protesting (Link) took place a month before we arrived. We almost decided not to go because of it, but remained committed to the experience. We actually did see where the riot had taken place, however were able to see ample graffiti and military presence. Most importantly, at no point did we feel unsafe.
We ended up staying at an Airbnb in the Achrafieh area. I highly recommend this area as it has a very modern feel to it with unique architecture. Just off our road, we were able to walk to a ton of great restaurants, shops and bars that I recommend just exploring. As we started to walk through the area, we saw newer development mixed with the old. In every corner we went, there was plenty of great restaurants and shops.
The food in Lebanon was out of this world! We found so many great dishes that was influenced by areas all over the middle east. The different Humus, Kafta, Kibbeh, etc. make up an assortment of delicious food for each meal. We really enjoyed a couple of restaurants there such as, Le Chef, Meat the Fish, and Leila Min. Le Chef was great for dinner, it had was a local spot that had 7 tables. It was very affordable and served flavor filled food. We went for lunch at Meat the Fish since it was a tad more expensive as it serves farm-to-table food. It still was delicious and packed with so much flavor. Leila Min was Rainier’s favorite meal. They have a hummus with meat that is to die for! We enjoyed having a different type of dessert along with some shisha. It was located in a shopping center hidden in a neighbor on the hill. It was two blocks from our Airbnb so it was great to explore before and after dinner.
Beirut is located on the coast and is quite mountainous. There is a long boardwalk that wraps along a decent part of the city, which makes it a great spot to walk along and relax. We passed by locals selling fish, saw people fishing off the boardwalk everywhere and some rocks down in the water. We even passed by the some locals playing sports in bathing suits while others were lounging in the sun. Funny enough, it was mostly men. We probably noticed a few women and they were covered in clothes. Near the coast is The American University of Beirut, not only was it a beautiful campus to admire but there really is so much crazy history there. What stood out to us the most when exploring is the distinctive architecture and art everywhere.
We continued on the boardwalk for what seemed like forever until we got to a beautiful sunset view. We were recommended to see it from the Raouche Rocks. It is a popular spot to watch the sunsets. I think we did more walking in Beirut than any other city. We hit over 25,000 steps in one day! It was such a cool place to just get lost.
Side Note: As someone living in South Florida most of my life, I was completely oblivious that places were closed on Sunday! The city of Beirut was completely shutdown. On the other hand, Rainier grew up in the Caribbean so had a feeling of nostalgia experiencing this again. Sadly we did not come across this while doing our research and we found that out first hand in Beirut. We left Sunday to travel around, however, we couldn’t go to as many places as we would have liked because of the sabbath. So our Sunday of exploring ended up becoming a big laundry day!
This is one of the critical pieces we thought about prior to leaving on our adventure. It is something you have to think about when taking longer trips. Understand when you are going to need to do laundry, and think about where you are going to do laundry. We knew we could always find a laundry mat, but we wanted to multi-task while doing laundry so we would make sure to book a place that has a washing machine in our rotation of stays. We would multi-task our time with planning the logistics and next few days of travel. It’s so important to account for these necessities and give your body a break of constantly moving. Check out our Travel Tips, for laundry associated items that help the process!
Overall, Lebanon was incredible. The food, people and history made this a must see city and country. We highly recommend checking this little gem of the Middle East out! I know Rainier’s appetite alone will be dragging me back!