What to do and see in Beirut, Lebanon: The Best Places and Tips

March 4, 2018 Harland Bartelt

Often called "Paris of the Middle East", Beirut is a thriving hotspot for shopping, socializing and sightseeing, despite many wars and unrest. The city has been rebuilt several times, with modern architecture sharing space with Ottoman and colonial French buildings. Bustling streets such as Hamra and Ashrafieh provide hopping nightlife while the National Museum and the Gibran Museum give visitors a taste of the city's history. The Corniche is the place for activities like jogging and biking.
Restaurants in Beirut

1. Mim Museum - Mineral Museum

Damascus Street | Saint Joseph University Campus of Innovation and Sport, Beirut, Lebanon +961 1 421 672
Excellent
86%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
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5 based on 174 reviews

Mim Museum - Mineral Museum

mim is a private mineral museum in Beirut, Lebanon. It exhibits more than 1800 minerals, representing some 400 different species from over 70 countries. Created by nature itself, those works of art with their breathtaking aesthetics were formed in earth’s crust millions of years ago. Mr. Salim Edde has built up this collection starting 1997. You can discover pieces originating from a number of renowned collections --both old and more recent-- as well as from the major mining discoveries of our era. The mim collection is now considered to be one of the world's paramount private collections for the variety and quality of its minerals. A didactic circuit, accompanied by screens displaying films and scientific applications of mineralogy, will reveal a world of unsuspected marvels--priceless both from an aesthetic and scientific point of view. Mimodactylus libanensis “mimo”, the fossil of a pterodactyl is featured in a special wing. This one-of-a-kind complete specimen in the Middle-East was found in Lebanon. It is promoted by means of state-of-the-art modern techniques: a hologram, an auto-stereoscopic movie, a full-scale reconstitution and a game “fly with mimo” – an entertainment that delights children and adults. Moreover, mim hosts a thematic exhibition of 200 marine fossils. “Fish’n’Stone” was organized with the collaboration of Mémoire du Temps. Known throughout the world, those fossils were quarried in the Lebanese Mountains. The history of the fossil formation is shown through an animation that submerses you in the marine life – a time capsule that takes you in a journey to some 100 million of years ago.

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Didn't know mother nature harbored so many treasures. Before visiting this museum I was only vaguely aware of the existence of minerals. Elements I remembered from chemics lessons at high school. However here a whole new perspective opened up: a huge variety of of over 1500 minerals are exhibited including radioactive ones! What happens in nature under the influence of temperature, pressure, water given time (millions of years).
There is a small collection of fossils as well, mainly from Mount Lebanon. Don't miss it, as the format is very instructive, participatory and pleasant.
Entrance fee 6000 Lebanese pounds (4 US$) Closed on Mondays
Location is some 200m from the National Museum.

2. National Museum of Beirut

Corner of useum Street, Damascus Street and Abdallah El Yafi Avenue., Beirut, Lebanon +961 1 426 703
Excellent
66%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 948 reviews

National Museum of Beirut

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Fine collection of old Greek and Roman art. Especially the mozaics, sculptures and reliëfs are of great quality and testament to artistic craftmanship.
The documentary about the history of the museum shows the efforts that were made by generations of Lebanese to preserve their history. They were able to salvage and restore a lot of the damage caused by the civil war in the 1970s and 80s.
The new section about funerary traditions -appropriately on show in the basement- is very worthwhile as well. Especially the colorful frescos in the tomb of Tyre with good explanations give you a good idea of how people imagine life after death.
All exhibits are presented in a modern way keeping text (in Arabic, French and English) to the minimum and giving full scope to study objects from different angles.
Take your time. It took me 3 and half hours to get through most of the collection.
Entrance fee 5000 Lebanese Pounds (just over 3 US$)

3. Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George

Beirut, Lebanon
Excellent
69%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
5%
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4.5 based on 287 reviews

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Welcoming portal with elegant arcades lead into a main hall at the end of which worshippers pay respect to Saint George. Of classical Greek orthodox design, the structure is well-maintained by the members of the second largest Christian minority in the country (estimated at 8% of the population).
Before my visit to Beirut the only Greek orthodox person I knew was Fairuz, the famous singer, but meanwhile I have learned that this community has many more well known contributors to Lebanon's fortunes such as Souha Bechara (resistance fighter), Octavia Nasr (journalist CNN) and of course the Sursocks.

4. American University of Beirut

Riad El-Solh, Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon +961 1 340 460
Excellent
64%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
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4.5 based on 627 reviews

American University of Beirut

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Established in 1866 as the Syria Protestant College by reverend Daniel Bliss, an American missionary who became its first president and professor of the Bible and Ethics at the college. In 1920 the protestant college was renamed American University of Beirut (AUB). The institution now emphasizes it is secular and independent.
The location of the AUB is at a wonderful spot on a hill side in West Beirut bordering the Mediterranean sea. If you wander around the area it feels like an oasis in Beirut's city jungle of stone, concrete and cars. An excellent environment for education and science.
The main building, rebuilt in 1999, looks solid and elegant at the same time. The mix of oriental and European architectural styles feels pleasant.

5. Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque

Martyrs' Square, Amir Bachir, Beirut, Lebanon +961 3 306 237
Excellent
61%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
7%
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1%
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4.5 based on 479 reviews

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Inaugurated in 2008 serving to underscore the prominence of Sunni Islam in Beirut. One of the Horizon 2000 projects of Rafic Hariri who made the construction of this Ottoman style mosque possible. There only used to be an old zawiya (prayer corner) at this site, that was clearly too small to reflect the growing influence of the Sunni in Lebanon. The new building is big and the minarets are tall (65m) standing next to the Christian ortodox church making the statement: we are as important as you are.

6. Nicolas Sursock Museum

Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon +961 1 202 001
Excellent
62%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
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4.5 based on 136 reviews

Nicolas Sursock Museum

Reviewed By 1Rahhalatun - Troy, Michigan

The Sursock Museum is a grand Beirut house transformed into a contemporary art museum. The grand staircase on the exterior and the Sursock library are really the only surviving elements of the old home. The museum is home to a wonderful collection of Lebanese and regional art works. Well worth a visit. Admission is free!

7. Zaitunay Bay

sn Beirut Marina - Minet el Ho | Beirut Marina, Beirut, Lebanon +961 3 996 976
Excellent
52%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
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4.5 based on 1 reviews

Zaitunay Bay

The Zaitunay Bay certainly exceeds all expectations and transcends the national borders to further polish Lebanon’s image and allow it to assume its rightful position as a touristic destination, but more importantly, as an exclusive and luxurious destination rivaling the best the world has to offer. Being the go-to place for all the Lebanese, Zaitunay Bay also inevitably is a prominent touristic destination. A must-see destination offering an array of various, cultural, leisure and social activities which finally brings back those faded photographs of Lebanon into the new millennium.

Reviewed By almond6 - Melbourne

And a very small one at that. Nothing special here so if it's out of your way, no reason to try and get there. It's a nice stroll in front of a few restaurants and boats, but that's it! Certainly not a highlight of Beirut or any city it may be found in. It's not a long walk from the souks so if you find yourself there, then you may as well tick it off too.

8. Pigeon Rocks in Raouche

Raouché, Beirut, Lebanon
Excellent
47%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
2%
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4 based on 806 reviews

Pigeon Rocks in Raouche

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

There still are some spaces where you can have a look at the rocks without having to eat or consume something. The best spots have been privatized. Wish the city authorities would defend public interests better for instance by making an effort to improve the trail going down to the shoreline close to the rocks.

9. Gemmayzeh Street

Gemmayzeh Street, Beirut, Lebanon
Excellent
40%
Good
47%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
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4 based on 502 reviews

Gemmayzeh Street

Described as the "Greenwich Village" or "Soho" of Beirut, Gemmayze is a residential neighbourhood that has emerged as one of Beirut's trendiest districts. It is bordered by Saifi Village/Downtown Beirut to the west and Achrafieh to the south and its main thoroughfare, rue Gouraud, contains many popular restaurants and bars. The district has some beautiful traditional as well French-mandate architecture and is charming day and buzzing by night.

Reviewed By MoChehab53 - Celebration, Florida

Gemmayze is a young touristic area. Its pulse is very vibrant at night and very authentic old Beirut during the day. Plenty of good restaurants serving authentic Lebanese, Armenian and European food, plus many sandwitch shops, and night clubs at night.

10. The Corniche

Manara, Beirut, Lebanon
Excellent
46%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
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4 based on 800 reviews

The Corniche

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Partly Promenade with lots of cafés, restaurants, food outlets and even a Luna park along Beirut's seashore. Striking is the diversity of people coming here; fishermen, jogging women in their 40s, young cyclists, families with children, older overweight men walking their dog, couples in romance, gays, tourists, rich and poor people of all faiths. It is one of the few places in Beirut where everybody gets together.
From Zaitunay bay to the sandy public beach at Rafic Hariri the Corniche is 4.6 km long(just under 3 miles). Good for running in the morning. In the afternoons and early evenings there are just too many people to run comfortably.

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