Weekend in Beirut, Lebanon
When writing this I’m sitting at a Lufthansa flight from Beirut, Lebanon to Frankfurt, Germany. Looking out the window above Cyprus thinking about the last couple of days that I have spent together with some uni friends in Beirut. We have known each other for 12 years and try to do one trip every year to a place no one of us never visited before. It is rather tricky. All of us are big travelers so after looking at the map we decided to go for Beirut this year. An undiscovered place for many people near us but with curious mindsets we went there.
Many people around me were worried when I said I was going to Beirut. Thinking it would be dangerous but to be honest I never felt insecure at any point during our four days in the city. One of us even forgot the purse with passport, car keys and credit cards at Starbucks and when coming back half an hour later it was still there. And we forgot to close the door to our hotel room one day – but no one has entered. People were extremely friendly and although they couldn’t speak English they tried their best to help out. Even walking around outside in the dark felt safe.
Being a tourist in Lebanon
Lebanon is a Muslim country but it didn’t felt as strict as The Arab Emirates or Qatar. Even one Uber driver we went with was Muslim and his wife were Christian. I didn’t noted that many women that had the full burka dress. People were in general well dressed (think office style) but since it was 25 degrees and sunny when we packed our luggage our outfits consisted of shorts and T-shirt’s and there wasn’t any problem walking around in that looking like a real tourist.
Beirut had not that many sights so we were more there of curiosity of the lifestyle and experience the local culture as well as having afford time together catching up having nice food and drinks. But we found some interesting places in the city. My favorite quarter were near the main Mosque, the marina, the Corniche where the famous pigeon rock is located and the bar district Mar Michael which was kind of a hipster area with a nice pace at night time with many bars.
Lebanon is a rather expensive county to visit. The price of food and drinks were similar to Scandinavia. Shopping wise the chain stores (Zara, H&M, Massimo dutti etc) where more expensive than Scandinavia. Taxis were also expensive and due to the war twenty years ago no public transport system existed so we were relaying on Uber which was the cheapest and easiest way to travel around. We even hired one Uber driver for a full day of excursions which I will tell more about later.
Who travel to Beirut for a weekend?
Beirut really felt like a non tourist place and I like to visit those non developed destinations but if you don’t that is not the place to go. Most other tourists we met were also experienced travelers and when we compared our Been apps we all had visited more than 50 countries. With just a limited amount of sights and as a quite pricy destination I would only recommend Beirut to travelers that want to see and explore something out of the ordinary. When going to Beirut, don’t count on a city trip similar to Barcelona or Prague. Be prepare with a curious mindset and you will find a unique place with sweet people where not many people near you if you are from Northern Europe have been. Yet. If Lebanon won’t suffer from any crises I see a great potential for the place as an upcoming destination in ten year. The locals are ready for tourist but the question is if the mindset of the average traveler is ready to take on what Lebanon has to offer?!
Would you be up for a trip to Lebanon? Pssst, do you know that SAS will start flying to Beirut from Stockholm this summer?
/ Pernilla that loves exploring the world