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Getting around Beirut

Public transport

Beirut's public transport system is chaotic at best. Private companies operate buses within the city. One of the main operators is the LCC (tel: +961 5 810 510; www.lccworld.com), which has a fleet of red and white buses. There are no stops; to get onto a bus you must stand at the side of the road and signal with your hand as the bus approaches. Beirut has no metro or trams.

Taxis

You can also use a service taxi (a shared taxi) or regular taxi in Beirut. Be sure to tell your driver where you're headed before you enter the car, otherwise you will be charged extra. Most locals book taxis in advance by calling Allo Taxi (tel: 1213, in Lebanon only) or Charlie Taxi (tel: 1514, in Lebanon only).

Driving

Driving in Beirut, as in the rest of Lebanon is a fairly hazardous experience, thanks to the speed-loving local drivers and potholed roads. You can bring your own car, but a steep charge (levied in cash) is payable on entering the country, although you should have it returned on leaving. Hire cars are available but the quality varies and they can be expensive. There are no regular tolls, barring the inventions of local police, and no set-in-stone parking regulations.

Car hire

Most international car hire companies have offices in Beirut. Sixt (tel: +961 1 707 505; www.sixt.com.lb) and Avis (tel: +961 1 366 662; www.avis.com.lb) have numerous offices throughout Beirut. For a local company, call Beirut Call Rental (tel: +961 1 740 741; www.beirutrentacar.com). You generally have to be at least 23 and have been the holder of a driving licence for at least two years to hire a car in Beirut. You will also need an International Driving Permit.

Bicycle hire

Beirut by Bike, New Waterfront (tel: +961 1 365 524; www.facebook.com/beirutbybike, is the main bike hire service. Bikes are available to rent by the hour. It’s worth bearing in mind that Beirut’s traffic can be dangerous, so be careful. There are no designated cycle paths.

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Talal Hotel

Talal Hotel offers bright, clean rooms complete with comfortable beds for next to nothing. Better still, it's within striking distance of Gemmayzeh and Place des Martyrs. The atmosphere is lively and the hotel also has a communal kitchen. The result is friendly but a bit like living as a student.

Regis Hotel

At first look, you could be forgiven for thinking that you'd just pitched up at the Lebanese Fawlty Towers. However, staff are warm and welcoming, rooms are clean and the breakfast is excellent. All rooms have modern air-con, fridges and TVs, but better still is Regis' proximity to the Corniche.

Casa d'Or

The Casa D'Or is a welcoming, comfortable alternative to functional budget hotels or the home-stays that dominate the lower end of the market. It's not especially glamorous but rooms are clean, comfortable and well appointed, and a decent breakfast is included in the price. It also offers low season discounts.

Pension al-Nazih

Close to the main sites, including the Place des Martyrs, Pension al-Nazih is a small 10-room budget hotel offering pleasantly comfortable rooms complete with cable TV and 24-hour hot water – neither guaranteed in Beirut. Rooms are plane and a little dated, but it's still an excellent budget option. Wi-Fi and breakfast cost extra.

Port View Hotel

It's no Hilton but the Port View Hotel is comfortable, clean and well appointed, which is more than can be said for many mid-range sleeping spots in the Middle East. Set a little off the beaten track in the quiet Gemmayzeh district, it's convenient for the main drag to but still peaceful.

Cedarland Hotel

Located in the heart of the buzzing Hamra quarter, the Cedarland is comfortable, safe and set well back off the road. Relatively quiet compared to other Hamra hotels, rooms are pretty beige and bland but have everything you need and some have sea views (read: views through gaps in the city skyline). Breakfast is extra.