Top events in Lebanon

November
01

A super-sneaky way of getting Lebanese youth to pay attention to eco issues, the three-day annual extravaganza that is the Forestronika festival...

December
01

A must for lovers of indie cinema, Iritijal celebrates the Lars von Triers of the Arab world: the film makers whose work shocks, baffles and...

February
19

Beirut’s annual celebration of classical music and dance is a must-do for classical music aficionados. For an entire month, performance after...

Baalbek, Lebanon
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Baalbek, Lebanon

© Creative Commons / conjure1

Lebanon Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

10,452 sq km (4,036 sq miles).

Population

4.1 million (2013).

Population density

395.3 per sq km.

Capital

Beirut.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Michel Suleiman since 2008.

Head of government

Prime Minister Tammam Salam since 2013.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin, round three-pin and square three-pin plugs are used.

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 (140 miles) long and 46km (29 miles) wide, roughly the same size as the neighbouring island of Cyprus.

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.

Beirut and its architecture was a heavy casualty of Lebanon's 16-year civil war, the vestiges of which can be seen all over the city. Reconstruction started in earnest and the city was poised to become one of the most popular tourist and business destinations in the Middle East until the Israeli attacks of 2006. Despite more recent political unrest, tourism to Lebanon is recovering and Beirut has gained something of an international reputation as the party city of the Middle East with an ever-increasing number of fashionable restaurants, bars and clubs.

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, Umayyad, Mamlouks, Ottomans and the French all having left their mark. These include the one of the oldest Phoenician coastal ports, the fortified Byblos, 40km (25 miles) north of Beirut and the haunting remains of Baalbeck on the south western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range - arguably one of the finest examples of Greco-Roman civilisation to be seen anywhere. Other unmissable sights include the lush and fertile Bekaa Valley dotted with historic vineyards, the magnificent cedar forests and Christian monasteries of the Holy Valley in the north of the country as well as the fascinating cities of Tyr, 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.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 23 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • Tripoli
  • Palestinian refugee camps
  • within 5km of the Syrian Border
  • the Hermel Area, including Arsal, Baalbek
  • the Bekaa Valley east of the Baalbek El Hermel High Way to the Syrian border and down to En Nabi Chit
  • southern suburbs of Beirut east of the airport road, defined as: south of the sports stadium to the airport, to east of the main airport highway including the neighbourhoods of Ghobeiry, Chuya, Haret, Hraik, Burj Al Brajne, Mraije, Er Rouais and Laylake
  • southern suburbs of Beirut west of the airport road, defined as: west of the airport highway to the coast, south from Adnan El Hakim Road to Abbas El Mousawi Road.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Bekaa Valley west of the Baalbek El Hermel High Way
  • Saida
  • south of the Litani River

The security situation in parts of Lebanon can deteriorate quickly. There is potential for further violence, which could restrict departure options. The ability of the British government to provide assistance with departures may be limited. Keep up to date with developments, be vigilant, follow local advice and avoid any protests or demonstrations. Roads can become blocked due to protests.

There is a high threat from terrorism. There is a high risk of attacks by Islamist extremist groups, which could be indiscriminate and affect Lebanese security authorities, checkpoints and places visited by foreigners like hotels, restaurants, tourist sites western-style shopping centres and supermarket chains.

Security authorities are at a high state of alert and conducting security operations across Lebanon. Suspects have detonated explosions to avoid arrest and attacks could take place in areas not previously targeted. If you notice that a security operation is underway you should immediately leave the area.

You should exercise extra vigilance. Bystanders have been killed in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. Attacks have involved car explosions and grenades. Further attacks are highly likely.

On 25 June 2014, there was an explosion in the Duroy Hotel in the Raouche neighbourhood of Beirut which resulted in 1 death and 11 people injured.

On 24 June 2014, a car bomb exploded at an Army checkpoint in Tayyouneh in south Beirut. Reports indicate that at least 1 person was killed and 12 people watching a World Cup match in a nearby cafe were injured.

On 20 June 2014, a car bomb exploded in Dahr El-Baydar on the Beirut to Damascus highway. At least 1 person was killed and around 32 injured.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

We advise that you regularly monitor local and international media and this travel advice.

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