When I first landed in Beirut, I thought I knew what awaited me. Friends had raved about its electric nightlife, its tapestry of history, and the unforgettable flavors of Lebanese dishes. But, as I soon discovered, Beirut wasn’t just about the stories I’d heard – it was a whole universe waiting to be explored. You see, travel blogs and guides often paint a picture, but Beirut… it’s a city you need to feel. From the ancient whispers of Byblos to the ever-buzzing streets of Hamra, every alley and avenue has its own tale. And the more I explored, the more I realized: this isn’t just a city; it’s an experience.
Right on the Mediterranean, Beirut isn’t just about the iconic landmarks like Raouche Rocks. It’s where centuries-old traditions meet modern-day life. It’s where you can sip coffee in a quaint café in Gemmayzeh in the morning, wander through historic ruins by noon, and dance the night away in Mar Mikhael.
I’ve been there, done that, and still felt the urge to do it all over again. Every sunset over the sea, every bustling market, every hidden corner has its own magic. And if you’re anything like me, always on the lookout for genuine experiences, then Beirut is your next stop.
So, pack your bags, bring your appetite, and maybe a dance move or two. I’ve put together this guide to help you see Beirut the way I saw it – raw, real, and absolutely riveting. Dive in! Here are my top 12 things to see and do in Beirut.
Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Beirut? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant vacation spot in Lebanon. So keep reading to discover all these unique Beirut places to visit.
Are you looking to savor exquisite Lebanese cuisine and immerse yourself in the local art scene? Or would you prefer to dance the night away in vibrant nightclubs? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Beirut can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Beirut that you should know about.
Beirut’s coastline offers many picturesque views, but none quite as iconic as the Pigeon Rocks. Located in the Raouche district, these natural rock formations stand tall against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. A visit here is a must for anyone exploring the city.
Among the best things to do in Beirut, taking a boat tour around these rocks ranks high. It’s a unique way to get up close to these geological wonders. As you glide on the water, you’ll see locals and tourists alike, snapping photos from the Corniche. The area surrounding the rocks is also dotted with cafes and eateries, each offering a unique blend of Lebanese flavors and hospitality. After your boat ride, grab a seat, order a traditional Lebanese coffee, and soak in the views.
The Pigeon Rocks aren’t just a tourist attraction; they’re a symbol of Beirut’s resilience and beauty. Over the years, they’ve withstood the test of time, much like the city itself. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just someone looking to capture a perfect sunset shot, Raouche should be on your Beirut itinerary.
If you’re seeking a blend of luxury and leisure in Beirut, Zaitunay Bay is the place to be. Situated by the Beirut Marina, this waterfront promenade is lined with yachts, upscale restaurants, and chic boutiques. It’s a world away from the bustling city streets, offering a slice of the high life in the heart of Beirut.
One of the top activities here is simply strolling along the bay. With the gentle sea breeze, views of anchored boats, and the distant hum of the city, it’s a refreshing experience. Hungry? The restaurants at Zaitunay Bay serve everything from gourmet Lebanese dishes to international cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or a hearty steak, you’ll find it here.
But Zaitunay Bay isn’t all about luxury. It’s also a testament to Beirut’s ability to reinvent itself. Once a simple fishing harbor, it’s now a hotspot for both locals and tourists. It’s a reminder of the city’s dynamic spirit and its knack for blending the old with the new. So, if you’re making a list of things to do in Beirut, pencil in some time for Zaitunay Bay. It’s a taste of the good life, Beirut style.
For history and art enthusiasts, Beirut’s museums are a goldmine of knowledge and insight. The city boasts a range of museums, each offering a unique glimpse into Lebanon’s rich past and vibrant culture.
Start with the National Museum of Beirut. As you walk through its halls, you’ll be transported from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period, and from the Roman era to the Mamluk dynasty. Each artifact has its own significance. Whether it’s a Phoenician statue or an Ottoman manuscript, each tells a tale of civilizations that once thrived in this land. The displays are well-curated, with English explanations making it accessible for international visitors.
Next, head to the Nicolas Sursock Museum. Housed in a stunning 1912 mansion, it’s dedicated to contemporary art. With a mix of permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, there’s always something new to discover. The MIM Mineral Museum, showcasing a dazzling array of minerals and gems, is another must-visit.
When considering Beirut things to do, diving into its museums should be high on the list. They offer more than just artifacts and art. They narrate the story of a city that has witnessed the rise and fall of empires. This city has faced challenges and has always emerged with its spirit intact.
There’s no better way to start a day in Beirut than by indulging in a traditional Lebanese breakfast. And trust me, this isn’t your typical toast and cereal affair. Beirut offers a plethora of eateries where you can savor the authentic flavors of the Middle East.
Head to Barbar, a local favorite. Here, you can dive into a plate of manakish, a type of flatbread topped with za’atar or cheese. Pair it with a side of labneh, a creamy yogurt dip, and some fresh olives for a complete experience. Another must-visit is Abou Hassan, known for its foul moudamas, a hearty fava bean stew, and crispy falafel.
Em Nazih and Mezyan are other popular spots that serve a spread of breakfast delights. Think hummus, tabbouleh, and fresh-baked bread that’s perfect for scooping up all those delicious dips.
When you’re jotting down places to visit in Beirut, make sure to leave room for these breakfast spots. They offer more than just a meal; they provide a taste of Lebanese culture and tradition. After all, they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In Beirut, it’s also one of the most flavorful.
Mar Mikhael is where Beirut’s pulse can truly be felt. This neighborhood, with its narrow streets and historic buildings, has transformed into one of the city’s most dynamic areas. By day, it’s a hub for artists and entrepreneurs. By night, it comes alive with energy and excitement.
Stroll down Armenia Street, and you’ll be greeted by a mix of old and new. Traditional Lebanese houses stand next to modern art galleries and trendy boutiques. The area is also home to some of Beirut’s most innovative restaurants and cafes, where fusion dishes and experimental flavors are the norms.
But as the sun sets, Mar Mikhael truly shines. The streets become a hotspot for nightlife, with bars, pubs, and music venues opening their doors to locals and tourists alike. From live music at Radio Beirut to craft cocktails at Anise, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a place where Beirut’s past and present coexist, Mar Mikhael is it. It’s a testament to the city’s resilience and its ever-evolving nature. For those seeking a mix of culture, cuisine, and nightlife, adding Mar Mikhael to your itinerary is a no-brainer.
In the heart of Beirut, two architectural marvels stand side by side, representing the city’s rich religious diversity: the Al Amin Mosque and the St. George Orthodox Cathedral. Both are must-visits, not just for their spiritual significance, but also for their stunning architecture.
The Al Amin Mosque, with its towering minarets and blue dome, is a recent addition to Beirut’s skyline. Yet, it has quickly become one of the coolest things to do in Beirut. Inside, the intricate calligraphy and detailed mosaics are a visual treat. Just a stone’s throw away is the St. George Orthodox Cathedral. Though it is smaller in size, its importance cannot be understated. The site has been a place of worship for centuries.
Visiting these two landmarks offers a unique opportunity to understand Beirut’s religious tapestry. It’s a chance to see how different faiths coexist harmoniously in this vibrant city. Whether you’re drawn by the call to prayer or by church bells, these sites are special. They provide a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. They’re a reminder of Beirut’s enduring spirit and its embrace of diversity.
Downtown Beirut is a blend of history and modernity, and nowhere is this more evident than at Aswaq Beirut. This shopping district is a haven for retail enthusiasts. It allows you to soak in the city’s unique ambiance while shopping.
Aswaq Beirut is home to a mix of international brands and local boutiques. Whether you’re searching for high-end fashion or unique Lebanese crafts, this place is ideal. Even if you just want to window shop, you won’t be disappointed. The architecture here is a blend of the old and new, with renovated historical buildings housing contemporary stores.
But shopping isn’t the only attraction. The area is dotted with cafes and restaurants, making it a perfect spot to take a break and people-watch. As you sip on a coffee, you’ll observe the diverse crowd. Enjoying a meal here lets you see everyone from business professionals to tourists mingling in this lively area.
Aswaq Beirut is more than a shopping destination; it’s a reflection of the city’s evolving identity. It showcases Beirut’s ability to honor its past while looking forward to the future. For anyone keen on experiencing the city’s cosmopolitan side, a visit to Aswaq Beirut is a must.
One of the unique things to do in Beirut is taking a leisurely stroll or a brisk jog along Corniche el Manara. This seaside boulevard stretches for several kilometers, offering uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a favorite spot for both locals and tourists, providing a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle.
The Corniche is lined with palm trees, adding a tropical vibe to the urban setting. As you walk, you’ll pass by fishermen casting their lines, families enjoying picnics, and fitness enthusiasts getting their daily dose of exercise. The atmosphere is relaxed, making it a perfect place to unwind and soak in the sea breeze.
Street vendors set up along the path, selling everything from roasted corn to fresh juice. If you’re feeling peckish, grab a snack and find a bench to enjoy the sunset. The views, especially during the golden hour, are nothing short of spectacular.
Corniche el Manara is more than just a scenic route; it’s a slice of Beirut’s daily life. It’s where the city meets the sea, and where memories are made. Whether you’re looking to relax, exercise, or simply people-watch, the Corniche is a must-visit.
Among the unique things to do in Beirut, diving into the culinary scene stands out, and nothing screams “authentic Lebanese” quite like a well-made shawarma. This popular Middle Eastern wrap, filled with thinly sliced meat, veggies, and tangy sauces, is a staple in Beirut’s street food culture.
Makhlouf is a name that resonates with many locals when it comes to shawarma. With decades of experience, they’ve perfected the art of crafting this delicious wrap. The meat, be it chicken or beef, is marinated to perfection. It’s roasted on a vertical spit and then wrapped in soft bread with ingredients like garlic sauce, pickles, and sometimes fries.
Another spot worth checking out is Basterma Mano. While they offer a range of dishes, their shawarma stands out for its unique flavors and generous fillings. The aroma alone is enough to draw you in from a distance.
Tasting a shawarma in Beirut is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. It’s a bite into the city’s rich culinary heritage. This mix of flavors tells a story of traditions passed down through generations. So, when in Beirut, make sure to savor this delightful wrap; it’s a taste you won’t forget.
When the sun sets in Beirut, Hamra Street comes alive. Known as the city’s nightlife epicenter, Hamra is a bustling blend of cafes, bars, theaters, and shops. It’s where the young and the young-at-heart converge to experience the best of Beirut’s evening offerings.
Back in the day, Hamra was the cultural and intellectual hub of Beirut. Today, it retains its charm but with a modern twist. The street is lined with a mix of old theaters and contemporary pubs, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re in the mood for live music, a quiet drink, or a night of dancing, Hamra has got you covered.
One of the standout spots is De Prague, known for its eclectic music and laid-back vibe. Another popular haunt is Captain’s Cabin, a bar that’s been serving patrons for decades and still retains its old-world charm.
Exploring Hamra is like tapping into Beirut’s heartbeat. It’s a testament to the city’s vibrant spirit and its love for good times. If you’re looking to experience Beirut’s nightlife at its best, a night out in Hamra is a must on your itinerary.
Just a short drive from Beirut lies one of nature’s most impressive creations: the Jeita Grotto. This extensive limestone cave system, with its stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites, offers visitors a surreal journey into the depths of the earth.
Among the best things to do in Beirut and its surroundings, exploring the Jeita Grotto is a unique experience. The grotto is divided into two main sections: the upper and the lower caves. The upper cave, accessible by foot, showcases chambers with incredible rock formations that have been shaped over millions of years. The lower cave is explored by boat. This allows visitors to glide over its serene waters and admire the reflections of the illuminated formations above.
The grotto isn’t just a natural wonder; it’s also a testament to Lebanon’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage. Efforts have been made to ensure the caves remain pristine for future generations to enjoy.
Visiting the Jeita Grotto is like stepping into another world, one sculpted by nature’s own hands. It’s a reminder of the wonders that lie just beneath our feet and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Beirut.
Tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of Beirut is Badaro, a neighborhood that seamlessly blends the old with the new. With tree-lined streets, charming cafes, and a relaxed vibe, Badaro is a refreshing change from the city’s busier districts.
Once a residential area, Badaro has transformed into a hotspot for young professionals, artists, and expats. The streets are dotted with artisanal shops, boutique stores, and cozy eateries that serve everything from Lebanese delicacies to international cuisines. One of the highlights is the Badaro Farmers Market, where you can find fresh produce, handmade crafts, and local treats.
But what truly sets Badaro apart is its community spirit. Frequent events, from live music nights to art exhibitions, foster a sense of camaraderie among residents and visitors alike. It’s a place where you can strike up a conversation with a stranger over a cup of coffee and feel right at home.
For those looking to experience a different side of Beirut, away from the typical tourist trails, Badaro is a must-visit. It offers a glimpse into the city’s evolving urban culture. This place is a testament to Beirut’s ability to reinvent itself while staying true to its roots.
Looking for more content on the top things to do in Beirut? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Beirut:
Absolutely. While Beirut has had its share of challenges in the past, the city today is welcoming and safe for tourists. Like any major city, it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings and follow standard safety precautions. But overall, visitors to Beirut often find the locals friendly and eager to help.
Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) are ideal times to visit Beirut. The weather is pleasant, and you’ll avoid the summer crowds. Winters are mild but can be rainy, while summers are hot and humid.
It’s advisable to drink bottled water in Beirut. While the tap water is treated, it might not be up to the standards you’re used to. Bottled water is widely available and affordable.
The local currency is the Lebanese pound, but US dollars are also widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments and street vendors.
While Arabic is the official language, English and French are widely spoken, especially in tourist areas and by younger generations. Most signs are in Arabic and English, making it relatively easy for English-speaking visitors to navigate.
Beirut, often referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East,” is best known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and diverse architecture. The city boasts a mix of ancient ruins, modern skyscrapers, bustling markets, and a lively arts scene. Additionally, its Mediterranean coastline, delectable cuisine, and unique blend of cultures make it a melting pot of experiences.
Absolutely. Beirut offers a unique blend of ancient and modern, with its historical sites, contemporary arts scene, and buzzing nightlife. The city’s resilience and the warmth of its people make it a memorable destination. From its delicious food to its scenic views and cultural landmarks, Beirut provides a rich travel experience that’s hard to match.
Beirut is a city that seamlessly blends its rich history with a buzzing modern vibe. When you step into Beirut, you’re stepping into a unique Middle Eastern experience. From the remnants of ancient civilizations to the aroma of local dishes wafting from street stalls, there’s something to discover at every turn.
But what really makes Beirut stand out is its people. Despite facing numerous challenges in the past, the city’s spirit remains unbroken, and its residents are some of the most welcoming you’ll meet. If you’re looking for a destination that offers a deep dive into history, a vibrant culture, and a genuine local experience, Beirut should be on your list. It’s a city that never fails to surprise and inspire its visitors.