I’ve been lucky to have been able to travel a fairly substantial amount in my life both for holiday and for work and in doing so, I have spent time in some incredible Cities with Beirut coming in at the top of my list. Here are my 3 favourite things about Beirut and why everyone should visit this exciting, vibrant City at least once in their lives.
1. The Food & Wine
Lebanese food is absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt some of the very best the world has to offer and it certainly seems to be growing in popularity outside of Lebanon too – I have eaten Lebanese food as far apart as London and Bangkok but there is nothing quite like experiencing it in Beirut . One of my favourite things about Lebanese food would have to be Mezze, a selection of small dishes that you eat as appetisers – assuming you remember to actually stop eating them and leave room for your main course that is! My list of favourite mezze is too long to list but would have to include Tabbouleh – a salad of chopped parsley flecked with tomato, onion and bulghur wheat in a zesty lemon dressing, Kibbeh – a sort of croquette made with bulghur wheat, ground meat and onion with chunks of meat and pine nuts inside and Labneh – a sour yoghurt that you scoop up with Lebanese flat bread. Undoubtedly the best thing about mezze is that you have so many different varieties and even if there are only a few people eating, the list of mezze ordered can easily run into double figures!
What better to enjoy with Lebanese food than Lebanese wines? Wine has been made in Lebanon for centuries with the first of the “modern” day Lebanese wines, Chateau Ksara dating back to 1857! The vineyards of Ksara, Massaya, Marsyas and Chateau Musar are all an easy day trip from Beirut and a visit into the Bekaa valley should make its way onto everyone’s itinerary.
2.The Untold Stories Behind Every Historic Building, Monument and Bullet Hole
Beirut is a great City to explore on foot – not that many Lebanese seem to travel this way – and every street brings exciting new discoveries. Whilst it is true that many of the City’s most beautiful historical buildings have been bulldozed to make way for high end condo’s and shopping malls there is still plenty to see as you work your way around this beautiful seafront City including Martyrs Square, Raouche or Pigeon Rock and those seemingly long forgotten buildings still remaining in a romantic state of disrepair, there really is nowhere quite like Beirut.
3. The Location.
I touched a little on this in my first point about how the beautiful vineyards of the Bekaa are an easy day trip from Beirut but it doesn’t stop there. My Top 3 day trips from Beirut would have to be Baalbeck, Byblos and the Bekaa Valley vineyards for the mind-blowingly beautiful temples of Baalbeck to Byblos, the longest permanently inhabited town in the world and home to one of Lebanon’s best beaches. This is before we even mention Zahle, Lake Qu’Aroun, the Chouf or the Cedars, there really is nowhere in Lebanon that cannot be visited as part of a simple day trip. It’s true that many Lebanese are now bored of the “Ski in the morning, hit the beach in the afternoon” tourism campaigns but this is one of the few places where this is indeed possible and it would be remiss not to mention that as well but I prefer to visit Beirut in the spring so you can be guaranteed of glorious sunshine like you can see in the images below!
I could go on and on about Beirut but truth be told, its “magic” is something that I can’t quite put my finger on – it really has to be seen for yourselves but I hope my post has whetted your interest & encouraged you to do so.