The Best Road Trips to Take in Lebanon
Al Mina archaeological site in Tyre, Lebanon. It is located about 80 km south of Beirut | © JPRichard/Shutterstock
Measured by the coast, the length of Lebanon is just 225 km. The average trip from Beirut to anywhere takes no more than three hours with moderate traffic. This means the whole beautiful country is just a road trip away. You can always combine several destinations to create a longer route. Here is our list of the best road trip destinations from Beirut.
Start your road trip north from Beirut early in the morning with the first stop being Jbeil an hour and a half away. Jbeil is one of the country’s oldest cities, having been occupied as far back as 5000 BC. It was the first city in ancient Phoenicia and has earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of Lebanon’s most beautiful coastal cities, it is a must see. Stop along the sea, walk in the old souks and around the city’s castle. Grab breakfast at Cafe Tournesol in Byblo Sur Mer hotel and continue you trip onto Batroun and Chekka.
Byblos, Jbeil, Lebanon
Sunset, Byblos | © Karan Jain/ Flickr
The journey between is full of great stops for you to explore on you way up north. Fifteen minutes usually separates each town from the next and every site is worth a stop. Check out the Batroun port, one of the oldest in Lebanon for a picturesque view of the Mediterranean. Then drive on the the Mseilha Fort, a 17th century structure seemingly suspended in time along the highway. Drive on to the coast again in Hamat to see one of Lebanon’s oldest shrines, Our Lady of “Nourieh” or “Light”. Believed to have been built by two sailors in the 4th century AD., the shrine became the site for a 17th century monastery.
Batroun Street | © Petteri Sulonen/ Flickr
It’s not a trip north without stopping in Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli. Grab lunch at place like Matte then move onto exploring the city with its unique visual history. Drive from Dam w Farez to the Rachid Karami International Fair Theater. Check out the center’s amazing buildings and walk around the greenery.
Then explore El Tal square which is Tripoli’s 19th century district full of building with beautiful architecture, steeped in history. Park your car and walk through the city’s old souks then check out the famous Citadel north of the city. There is much to see and do in Tripoli, but you have to move on!
Citadel, Tripoli | © Valery Shanin / Shutterstock
One of the largest stretches of the trip, Akkar is one of the country’s greenest pieces of land. You don’t need to stop on the way, just enjoy the gradual break down of the city into endless views of mountain. Marvel at the country’s beautiful greenery on your way to Qoubaiyat, a major town in Akkar. The site of summer music festivals, Qoubaiyat is the perfect place to grab dinner. Have a meal at the Qoubaiyat Country Club and start your late night drive back to Beirut. A trip that, without stops you’ll find takes no more than three and a half hours.
Nature in Northern Lebanon shows potential for touristic growth | © Jczraiby / Wikimedia Commons
A two and half hour drive from Beirut, start your trip with one of Lebanon’s most famous sites: Baalbek. Home to the famous Roman Ruins, it is a must see on a road trip in Lebanon. Baalbek has been inhabited for the last 8000 years and has been occupied by Romans, Christians and Muslims alike. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most visited in Lebanon. Grab breakfast at any Man’ouch shop on the way and delight in a truly amazing experience.
Baalbek Roman Ruins, Baalbek, Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon
Baalbek, Ruins | © Francisco Antunes / Flickr
Drive on to Zahle, at 50 minutes away from the Roman ruins, it is an amazing town to visit. Home to the Chateau Ksara, it is the perfect place to stop for a quick trip and vineyard tour. Walk through the Chateau’s vineyard and its Roman caves used as natural wine cellars. No appointment is necessary to tour the venue and to sample some of Lebanon’s best wine.
Chateau Ksara, Ksara, Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon, +961 8 801 662
An hour’s drive from Zahle, Aley is the fourth largest city in Lebanon. It is a major tourist destination for the country’s wealthy visitors and a burgeoning ski/mountain resort site. Visit Souk Aley, a historical boulevard in the city full of pubs, restaurants and shops. Grab a meal in the souk and drive around the picturesque “Capital of the Mountains”. Head back to Beirut refreshed and ready for your next adventure.
Aalay, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon
An hour and a half away from Beirut, this small city is one of Lebanon’s most notable ones. Home to the Beiteddine International Festivals and Beiteddine Palace, the city is a must visit if you’re touring Lebanon. It has long been cemented as one of Lebanon’s most important cultural sites because of the 19th century palace and its museum. It has great historical significance having been occupied by the Ottomans after the exile of its rule Emir Bashir II. Take a trip back in time and marvel at a visual demonstration of Lebanon’s past. Visit the Moussa Castle, a 20th century monument which took 60 years to build from hand-carved stones. Grab some breakfast at Beit El Qamar guesthouse and continue on your road trip. It’s far from over!
Beit Eddine Palace | © Peripitus/ Wikimedia Commons
The third largest city in Lebanon, Sidon is one of the country’s most historical cities. It has been occupied since pre-history, even prior to the invention of pottery! It has survived through the ages and still exists today as a city with many historical treasures. Visit the Temple of Eshmun, a Phoenician worship site built around 500 BC. Ruined by an earthquake in the 4th century BC and decline through neglect means not a lot of the site still exists. However, it is still an essential monument to visit.
Move on to the city’s sea castle, a holy site built be the Crusaders and modified over the years with Mamluk and Ottoman occupation. Finally, tour the Sidon Soap Museum, one that is dedicated to the city’s history of soap production. Learn about the process of preparing olive oil based soaps and traditional hammams.
Crusader Sea Castle, Sidon | © ya.zan / Flickr
Half an hour away from Sidon is Tyre, the city has a number of historical sites and is one of the places you need to see at least once in your lifetime. Tyre is a Phoenician city named the birthplace of Dido, the legendary queen of Carthage and the protagonist of Virgil’s Epic Aeneid. It is on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Drive around the city and discover all the history it has to offer. Grab a meal along the way and trek back to Beirut after a truly memorable road trip.
Tyre, Southern Governorate, Lebanon