Lebanon is a small Middle Eastern country with a long western coastline facing the Mediterranean Sea, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, situated just southeast from Cyprus.
Where east meets west; Lebanon possesses a fine balance of Arabian culture and the best traits of the Mediterranean, famed for its cuisine, mountainous vistas and long, rich history. It is therefore undeniably one of the Middle East’s most fascinating places to visit. More than that, Lebanese locals are known for their easy-going nature and will frequently offer to help tourists, consisting of various ethnic and religious groups including mainly Christians, Muslims and Druzes.
Lebanese food is loved the world over, and so feasting on a fresh mezze of small savoury dishes while relaxing on a sandy beach is a common lure for foreign visitors. Other popular attractions include the ancient monuments and ruins scattered around the country from Phoenician, Egyptian, Roman, Ottoman and Persian empires. The most spectacular include the Roman baths, Mosques and Synagogues of Beirut, and the Place des Martyrs: a commemoration to the Lebanese nationalists hanged during World War I.
Other notable sites can be found in Baalbek, in the northeast, featuring the largest temple from the entire Roman Empire, and Tyre, on the southwest coast, with its Roman Hippodrome which has been enlisted a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. For excellent seaside resorts and upscale nightclubs, Jounieh is the place to be, while the town of Sidon is filled with numerous beautiful medieval remains.
The capital and largest city, Beirut, is one of the oldest in the world, alongside Byblos, Tyre and Sidon, and is known affectionately as ‘the Paris of the east’ for its French-like café culture and chic fashion. In May 2015, Beirut was officially recognised as one of the ‘New 7 Wonders Cities’ which acknowledges cities representing the achievements of global urban civilisation.
Ferries across the Mediterranean offer some of the most scenic sailings in Europe, given the long golden coastlines and turquoise waters. Linking southern Turkey with Tripoli in northern Lebanon, there are a couple of routes each week lasting approximately 10 hours, so it’s advised to book some more comfortable accommodation on board.