Kempinski Blog Article
If you love city breaks and enjoy seeing the meeting and mixing of cultures, cuisines and customs, the capital of the tiny Middle Eastern country of Lebanon should certainly be added to your holiday destination wish list.
Once referred to as the 'Paris of the Middle East' in the 1950s and 60s thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, Beirut has reinvented itself after its civil war. Today it is a hive of entrepreneurial, liberal and multicultural people, offering all sorts of nightlife, sightseeing and shopping opportunities.
Hot, bustling and completely chaotic, Beirut is a place to visit if you are the kind of person who enjoys exploring a lively destination.
Avenues lined with twisting trees make way for enormous, tightly packed skyscrapers and street blocks reminiscent of Barcelona or Paris, all while crowds go from one boutique to the next in the search for the hottest fashions, or tourists travel between the city's wonderful selection of museums and galleries.
At night the city gets even more vibrant, with all kinds of restaurants, bars, clubs and parties filling up, exposing Beirut's charmingly bohemian nature. Whether you are looking for a taste of Lebanon's world-famous cuisine or a pool party on top of a skyscraper, you will be able to find it here.
Lebanese food is famous across the world for being healthy, delicious and fresh, so understandably, a visit to its capital offers travellers all sorts of culinary treats.
The best traditional Lebanese restaurants in the city include Abdel Wahab, known for its delicious breads, beautiful outdoor seating and reputation for good service; Em Sherif, whose mezze and atmospheric oriental music acts are the perfect accompaniment to a great evening; and Babel Bay, where the menu features a large array of excellent seafood dishes.
There are international flavours to be sampled as well, of course, including the Armenian dishes at Mayrig, the delightful Italian menu at SUD, and spicy Thai flavours at Jai.
There are all kinds of things to enjoy during a stay in Beirut, appealing to every sort of visitor.
National Museum of Beirut
If you would like to learn more about the history of Beirut and Lebanon, there is no better place to do so than in the National Museum. With guided tours and a companion app available to guide you through the collections, it is easy to spend hours here learning about the Phoenician, Roman and Mesopotamian exhibits, many of which are in exquisite condition.
Nicolas Sursock Museum
Housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in Beirut is the Sursock Museum, named after the prominent 20th century aristocrat who had an eye for the artistic. The museum's collections include modern, contemporary and Islamic pieces, alongside exhibitions by local artists.
As is the case with many places that were once occupied by the Romans, Beirut is home to a large, expertly excavated complex of Roman baths. An interesting place to visit on a sunny day, the site is lined by large, modern buildings, which provide an interesting contrast to the millennia-old structures beneath. For more Roman ruins, head to the Garden of Forgiveness Archaeological Area, where the many layers of the city's age are also revealed.
A calm and beautiful place, the Mim Museum features an enormous variety of rare gems, fossils and minerals from across the world, all expertly lit in order to display their dazzling reflective and refractive properties. Crystals of all colours and sizes can be found here, but if you are not familiar with geology, it is very beneficial to book a place on a guided tour.
Entering Beirut is possible via Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport, which connects to the vast majority of major international capital cities and is a 10 to 15 minute drive from Beirut's city centre by local taxi or Uber. Private minibuses are available, but most travel to the Dora district in the city's north-east, so if your accommodation is elsewhere a taxi or transfer service might be preferable.
Visa-free travel is available for travellers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, while those from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa must obtain a visa either on arrival or from a Lebanese consulate or embassy. Click here for more information.
Within the city, taxis, shared taxis and buses are easily available, with buses in particular being highly efficient. To get an idea of which services to catch, ask your hotel reception or the driver. Walking is also a viable means of transport, given the city's compact nature.
In terms of accommodation, stay at Kempinski Summerland Hotel and Resort. Situated in the heart of the city, yet offering a tranquil and luxurious retreat from the hustle and bustle, it is the perfect base from which to explore Beirut.