Tap into this post to read about some of our sightseeing, fun facts, travel tips and many pictures of our time in Lebanon. We encourage you to get out and see the world if you are able, and if not, we will bring it to you through our posts. We hope you enjoy!
The national flag of Lebanon consists of two horizontal red stripes representing blood shed for liberation around a white banner containing a green Lebanese cedar tree. The white banner symbolizes peace, mountain snow, and purity. The green cedar tree symbolizes holiness and eternity. Lebanon cedar is mentioned in the Holy Bible some 77 times.
A Long Weekend in Lebanon
Since direct flights to Beirut from Dubai are under 4 hours, Nina and I decided to spend a long weekend in the Mediterranean sunshine along the shoreline of Lebanon. We booked a fabulous seaside resort just south of Beirut for a mixture of sightseeing and relaxation in the sun.
Lebanon is a very old country steeped in biblical history and must be explored. We hired a local taxi with a nice car for the day and toured around Lebanon. The national boundaries of Lebanon are not far reaching so we were able to see a good bit of the country in two full day excursions to destinations recommended by our driver, some known to us and some surprises.
Our driver took us to Jeita Grotto, which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise stop that we had not researched. We took a cable car up to the entrance where we were required to place our loose belongings into lockers, including any cameras and mobile phones as no photos are allowed inside the caverns. Jeita Grotto is a series of vast caverns with massive stalactites and stalagmites and underground lake. Formed in the mid-Jurassic era, the caverns cover some 9 km (5.6 miles) inside Mount Lebanon. The caverns have been fitted for tourism with easy to navigate paths and large steel-frame stairways and platforms with terrific views near and far. I have been to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico (USA) and the Jeita Grotto is easily on par with that experience. This was a very nice surprise and we highly recommend it!
Our driver took us to Harissa to see the Our Lady of Lebanon monument where there are terrific views of Beirut some 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) below. After spending about an hour in the area we took the Telefrique cable car back down to city below; about a 10-minute very picturesque ride.
Touring the City of Beirut
We asked our driver to drop us off in Beirut city where we conducted our own walking tour to see some historic sites. We were surprised to find that much of Beirut’s older architecture has a French flavor and was once known as the ‘Paris of the Mediterranean’. Our favourite area was the Roman Forum archaeological site in the center of Beirut at the side of the beautiful Al-Omari Grand Mosque and Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. This was a very impressive and picturesque area!
Continually inhabited since around 5000 BC, Byblos is one of the oldest cities in world. For me, Byblos was the highlight of our trip. We visited the old souk, Byblos harbor, had lunch at a quaint shaded outdoor restaurant, and visited Byblos Castle with its massive gardens. The castle grounds and castle itself were stunning, set against a backdrop of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.
Facts & Figures
- Lebanon is also known as ‘Liban’, the French equivalent
- From 1923 until after World War II in 1946, Lebanon was governed as a French Mandate; much French influence can be seen in the architecture around Beirut
- Beirut is an ancient city and was once part of the Egyptian Empire, which dates back to 1570 B.C.
- Prior to arriving, we read much about not being allowed into Lebanon if you have ever visited Israel, however we were not asked by border control agents in Beirut airport
- We recommend hiring a private taxi for getting around Beirut and further destinations within Lebanon. The condition of most public taxis were low quality; typically older cars with not-so-clean interiors and no a/c
- Since Lebanon sits on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea, sunsets are fabulous looking west across the sea, so bring a good camera
- We found Lebanon to be completely safe and had no worries at all walking around the city; like any big city, it’s better to stay in the touristy areas
- Currency in Lebanon is the pound
Psalms 92:12 – New Living Translation (NLT)
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
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Thanks for stopping by! Happy travels.