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Home » Destinations » Middle East » Lebanon » Explore! Highlights of Lebanon
Uncover Lebanon’s fascinating history on this one week holiday. Stand in front of the vast Roman ruins at Baalbek, discover Crusader castles and Phoenician ruins and see the reminders of the civil war on a walking tour in Beirut.
TRIP PACE: Moderate
GROUP SIZE: 10 – 16
DAY 1 – Join trip in Beirut
Arrive in the capital, Beirut. If time allows, you may choose to take a walk along the waterfront or go in search of Beirut’s best falafel.
Depending on your arrival time, you will be greeted by your leader or information will be left for you at the hotel regarding tomorrow morning’s meeting time.
DAY 2 – Stand on Beirut’s Green Line, discover Roman ruins and stroll along the Corniche
After breakfast we’ll make our way to the National Museum, starting here we can begin to understand the civilisations that have shaped Lebanon. The museum is located at the end of the Green Line, this line divided the city during the civil war and for those 15 years the museum was closed, its facade suffering serious damage throughout the conflict.
Moving further down the Green Line we’ll visit Martyrs Square and the Mohammad Al Amin Mosque. The mosque resembles the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and it’s minarets stand at 65 metres tall making it a very useful navigation tool!
Much of the city has been rebuilt since the war ended but there are plenty of reminders of the 15 year civil war that Lebanon lived through, we’ll pass the bullet-ridden Holiday Inn which still stands, with talks of demolishing the building or preserving it still taking place.Walking along the Corniche is a must when in Beirut, and we’ll join locals drinking strong, sweet coffees as we go.
DAY 3 – Visit Sidon’s Phoenician sea castle and narrow souks before driving in to the Chouf Mountains
This morning we’ll leave the city and drive south to Sidon. Once an important trade port on the Phoenician sea route, Sidon is now a busy seaside city, where remnants of its ancient past can be found at every turn. We’ll start at Qalaa al-Bahr, a defence sea castle built in 1228 by the crusaders. The castle is a great display of how each civilisation built on the previous one, with Roman ruins used by the Crusaders to add support to the walls, then the Ottomans arriving and building a mosque on the west wall of the castle.
We’ll explore the souk and the renovated khans, including Khan al-Franj which dates back to the 17th century and once operated as an ‘inn for foreigners’, offering lodgings for many the merchants and traders that travelled through on the way to Mediterranean.
DAY 4 – Discover Beiteddine Palace and Tawlet Ammiq community project. Travel to Baalbek
We’ll have a relaxed breakfast today before checking out and taking a short drive to the the 18th century Beiteddine Palace complex. Beiteddine translates to ‘House of Faith’ and the palace is built on the remains of a Druze hermitage. The design is an intricate mix of Italian Baroque architecture and Arabian styles which perfectly symbolised the power and wealth of it’s creators.
Crossing over the Chouf Moutains we’ll descend in to the fertile Bekaa Valley and drive to the village of Ammiq, set on the slopes of Mount Lebanon. Here the villagers mostly work in agriculture and are using less intensive, more environmentally friendly methods of farming. We’ll have lunch in Tawlet Ammiq, their restaurant which celebrates traditional recipes using the freshest ingredients.
DAY 5 – Explore the vast Roman ruins at Baalbek and walk in the Cedars of Lebanon Forest
Today, we will see the jewel in Lebanon’s ancient crown; Baalbek.
After breakfast we’ll walk through the town to one of the world’s finest remaining examples of Roman architecture. The details of Baalbek’s true origins and history are a highly emotive topic among historians and archaeologists but it’s widely agreed that the site dates back some 5,000 years. The site is a dedication to the gods of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, and was classed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Entering through the forecourt into the remains of the Hexagonal court you can begin to imagine the city at its peak. The Temple of Bacchus is without doubt the highlight of the site with its ornately decorated stonework, niches and columns surrounding an ancient theatre.
We’ll spend plenty of time exploring the site and in the afternoon we leave Baalbek and drive through the mountains to the Cedars of Lebanon Forest.
Dating back to the 12th century, the monastery is still in operation today under the control of the Lebanese Maronite Order, home to resident hermits and the centre of many pilgrimages. We’ll be spending the night in the simple guesthouse that has been built within the monastery grounds. The rooms are twin-share and all have en-suite bathrooms.
DAY 6 – Join the early morning prayers in St Anthony’s Monastery, walk in the Qadisha Valley and travel to Byblos
We’ll wake early this morning to the sound of the monastery bells ringing and there will be an opportunity to attend the monks’ morning prayers inside the church. The Catholic service is spoken in Arabic and everyone is welcome to attend. After the service, there will time for breakfast before a 90 minute hike in the valley. The gentle walk follows dirt paths, surrounded by fruit trees and the route offers spectacular views through the valley and is a great chance to look back at the monastery which is built into the cliff face.
Around mid-morning we will leave the monastery and the Qadisha Valley behind, travelling back towards the Mediterranean coast to Batroun. One of the world’s oldest settlements dating back over 5,000 years, Batroun has played an important role in different phases of ancient civilisation but is now a relaxed coastal city. Together with our leader, we will walk around the ancient sea wall, the fort and the old souk before free time for lunch. For a refreshing break, be sure to try a glass of the Batrounian lemonade – it is said that people come from near and far to try it and the locals fiercely debate who makes the best!
DAY 7 – Free morning in Byblos, discover dramatic limestone formations at Jeitta Caves and return to Beirut
We have a relaxed start to the morning with free time to watch the fishing boats in Byblos harbour, pick up some souvenirs in the souks or just grab a coffee and take in the views.
Later this morning we will start our journey back to Beirut. On the way we’ll make a stop at Jeitta Caves. The caves were discovered by chance by an American missionary, out on a hunting expedition he fired his gun towards the sound of running water and investigated more on hearing the echoes! The upper section of the cave has a 750 metre pathway allowing you to walk beneath giant stalactites and look down on the river water and stalagmites below. The entrance to the caves is a little touristy with a toy train and gift shops but once on in the caves photography is banned and noise is kept to a minimum giving you the chance to fully appreciate this impressive feat of nature – where it takes at least 100 years for 1cm of new rock to form.
DAY 8 – Trip ends in Beirut
Our trip ends this morning after breakfast. Depending on your flight time there maybe time for some last minute exploration of the city before heading home.
Lebanon’s tourism infrastructure is well developed and standards are generally good.
In Beirut, Baalbek and Byblos stay in well-located standard properties. Rooms are clean and offer en-suite facilities.
In the Qadisha Valley, sleep a simple guesthouse within the grounds of St Anthony’s. The rooms are in a new block, twin-share and all have en-suite bathrooms.
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don’t include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment’s notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability
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