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Top 10 Attractions in Lebanon

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Thank you to the Lebanese Examiner: https://www.lebaneseexaminer.com/ And thanks also to Getty Images for the pictures and videos! Who’s ready for a historically rich adventure? Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Attractions in Lebanon. For this list, we’re looking at popular must-see attractions and destinations found within this tiny but fascinating nation.
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Top 10 Attractions in Lebanon

Who’s ready for a historically rich adventure? Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Attractions in Lebanon.

For this list, we’re looking at popular must-see attractions and destinations found within this tiny but fascinating nation.

#10: Baalbek

Beqaa Valley



A UNESCO World Heritage site, Baalbek is home to some of the best surviving examples of Roman architecture; many would argue that they rival the offerings of Rome itself. An ancient city dating back before 9000 BC, Baalbek’s history is too complicated to succinctly summarize in so little time, but over the years it has served as a center of worship for Mesopotamian, Roman, Christian and Islamic cultures. Baalbek’s notable attractions include the Temple of Bacchus, the Temple of Jupiter, the Great Court, the Temple of Venus, the Odeon and the hexagonal forecourt - structures that inspire awe with both their scale and complexity. It’s the sort of place that you really need to experience firsthand.





#9: Monastery of St. Maron & Tomb of Saint Charbel

Annaya



Regardless of your religious beliefs, you can’t help but but find inspiration in the devotion paid to this Lebanese saint. Charbel Makhlouf was a 19th century Maronite monk and priest whose faith, simple life and commitment to worship and prayer led to his veneration and sainthood. To this day, people make pilgrimages to the site of his tomb at the Monastery of St. Maron, often praying for health, as over the years countless miracles have been attributed to Saint Charbel. Located at the top of a mountain, the monastery offers a breathtaking view, insight into the life of the saint and the opportunity for reflection that extends beyond the boundaries of one’s creed.





#8: Faraya

Keserwan District

Lebanon might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think “ski trip”, but Faraya is guaranteed to change your mind - it’s home to the largest ski resort in the Middle East. Despite being located roughly 30 miles north of Beirut and its Mediterranean climate, Faraya’s climate is notably colder, which, coupled with its position on Mount Lebanon, has made it a skiing enthusiast’s delight. Faraya is a cozy hub of activity, with accommodations ranging from luxury resorts and spas to more rustic chalets. In the summer, it’s the go-to place for various outdoor activities. It also just so happens to be home to the country’s largest statue of Saint Charbel.





#7: Zaitunay Bay

Beirut

Along the coast of Lebanon’s ever-popular capital city is Zaitunay Bay, an upscale marina and waterfront promenade that has become a must-visit spot for tourists and locals alike since opening in 2012. The development boasts a wide variety of upscale restaurants and retail outlets that perfectly pair with the atmosphere of elegance established by the myriad of yachts moored at the docks. Regardless of your travel budget however, the beauty of Zaitunay Bay makes it worth the trip. It also plays host to a variety of cultural events and celebrations. The development was built with the intention of rejuvenating this once decrepit area of the city, and it has certainly succeeded in breathing new life into the space.





#6: Byblos

Jbeil District



Prepare to fall in love. According to local legend, Byblos, one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, was constructed by Cronus, the father of Zeus, for the Phoenicians. So yeah, it’s got history, mythology and a whole lot of magic packed into it. A coastal city with something for everyone, Byblos is home to a quiet ancient fishing harbor, ruins (including a Crusader castle), cobblestone streets packed with cozy cafes, restaurants and artisan shops, phenomenal beaches and much more. When the sun sets however, Byblos transforms, coming alive as a hub for nighttime revellers.





#5: Cedars

Bcharre

Ever wondered why Lebanon has a tree on its flag? Wonder no more! These formidable and distinct looking cedar trees once covered Mount Lebanon, but over the years, exploitation and climate change have taken their toll on their numbers, prompting action by various parties to ensure their continued survival. Dating back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Cedars have stood out as being emblematic of the area; and as such, they are deeply intertwined with Lebanon’s sense of cultural identity. Though cedar forests exist in various areas of Lebanon, the most famous are the Cedars of God in Bcharre.





#4: Sidon (or, Saida)

South Governorate


This ancient city, known by both the names Sidon and Saida, has played host to a number of civilizations over the years, and the various historic ruins and buildings stand as a testament to its colorful past. A Crusader sea castle, jutting out from the coast into the ocean and dating back to 1228 A.D., is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The Souq area, like in Byblos, is the perfect place to while away the hours exploring the various shops. Of course, while you’re there, you’ll also want to see Khan al-Franj, a formidable structure which served as a meeting place for merchants in the 17th century.



#3: Central District

Beirut

Beirut is a world-famous destination for a variety of reasons, but many of them can be found in the city’s Central District. In addition to the aforementioned Zaitunay Bay, there are numerous historic buildings to visit, beautiful squares surrounded by restaurants and cafes where you can indulge in local delicacies, and a number of museums which are just waiting to get you acquainted with the history of the area. Then, of course, there are the open air markets where you could realistically spend all day shopping or sampling wares. Beirut’s Central District is where tradition and modernity mix, and the result is a truly unique neighbourhood.





#2: Tyre

South Governorate



A district capital in Lebanon’s Southern Governorate, Tyre, a UNESCO World Heritage site whose name is occasionally romanized as “Sour,” is the mythological birthplace of the goddesses Europa and Dido - so you know it’s got history. Tyre is a perfect destination for travellers looking to sample the very best that Lebanon has to offer. Are you looking for pristine beaches and fun in the sun? Tyre’s got ‘em. Are you looking to explore ancient ruins, including Roman hippodromes, but still have access to all manner of modern amenities? You’re in luck! An ancient fishing port? Check. A quiet place to watch the sunset? Check. Great food? Yep! Tyre has been called the Mediterranean's best-kept secret for good reason.





#1: Jeita Grotto

Nahr al-Kalb Valley



Last but most certainly not least, is this cave system in the Nahr al-Kalb Valley where you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another world. Billed as “The Pearl of Nature”, Jeita Grotto is made up of two interconnected, naturally formed, limestone caverns, and makes for quite the adventure. The Upper Grotto is visited on foot and is home to the world’s largest known stalactites, while a visit to the Lower Grotto involves an otherworldly boat trip on an underground river. It’s the sort of attraction that you really need to experience to fully understand and appreciate, but trust us… awe-inspiring feels like an understatement when describing “The Pride of Lebanon”.
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