Overview: Fringed by the azure waters of the Mediterranean along its western coast, Lebanon offers an enchanting blend of sandy beaches, breathtaking mountains, fertile valleys, historic cities and a wealth of archaeological sites waiting to be explored. All this is contained within the country’s relatively small borders encompassing a landmass measuring just 225km long and 46km wide.
Once referred to as the ‘Paris of the Orient‘ thanks to its impressive architecture and cosmopolitan feel, the Lebanese capital, Beirut, is one of the great seaside cities of the Mediterranean, commanding a magnificent position perched on a promontory and surrounded by the sea. One of its most celebrated attractions is the palm-tree lined seaside promenade known as The Corniche, which skirts the glittering waterside for almost two miles from downtown Beirut to the picturesque Pigeon Rocks. It is lined with restaurants and cafes and is a popular destination for families, joggers and walkers and fishermen.
Beyond the capital there is also much to discover. Lebanon is home to five designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites reflecting the country’s rich and varied cultural heritage with the Phoenicians, the Romans, Christian Crusaders, Islamic, Mamlouks, Ottomans and the French all having left their mark. These include the one of the oldest Phoenician coastal ports, the fortified Byblos, 40 km north of Beirut and the haunting remains of Baalbek on the south western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range – arguably one of the finest examples of Greco-Roman civilization to be seen anywhere. Other unmissable sights include the lush and fertile Bekaa Valley dotted with historic vineyards, the magnificent cedar forests and many religious and Islamic sites as well as the fascinating cities of Tyre, Tripoli and Anjar. Outdoor activities are also an increasing draw, with several nature reserves and many areas of unspoilt wilderness to enjoy by foot or bike, whilst in the winter months, the mountains are a popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing.
Finally, Lebanon‘s cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to Kibbeh and Tabouleh , you’ll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality and food, what more could a traveler want?
At a glance:
- Population: ~ 4.1 million
- Capital city: Beirut (pop. 1.5 million)
- Area: 10,452 sq kms
- Currency: Lebanese Pound (LBP)
- Time zone: UTC + 2, summer UTC + 3
- Religion: Islam & Christian.