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What to see and do in Beirut – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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A city thriving with intrigue and paradox, Beirut offers a unique chance to sample both emotive history and full-on hedonism in the same day. With such a varied choice of attractions, sights and landmarks, visitors are well and truly catered for. Whether you choose to stroll down the Corniche, admire the stunning mosques and ruins throughout the city, or go bargain hunting in the souks, you won’t be short of options.

George Mahfouz

My Destination local expert on

Beirut

Mohammed al Amin Mosque

 

The shining crown in the city, Mohammed al Amin Mosque, rises from the sand with a grandeur that has to be seen to be believed. Completed in 2007, becoming Lebanon’s largest mosque, its blue dome dominates its surroundings. Wander the interior and marvel at the intricately decorated ceilings, homage to their Ottoman inspiration, lit beautifully by the enormous crystal chandeliers. Those visiting should be aware that the surrounding area gets busy during prayer times.

 

Pigeon Rocks

 

Impossibly close to the edge of the city, Pigeon Rocks stand a few hundred metres off the western coastline. This completely natural archway in the rock is a spectacular antidote to the hustle of the city. After a long day, why not wander the picturesque promenade, Corniche, and watch the sunset over these spectacular formations .

 

Place des Martys

 

A symbolic location at the heart of Beirut’s turbulent past, the square is a poignant reminder of the capital’s struggle. The scene of many protests and demonstrations, it played a fundamental part in redefining Beirut’s future and the historic statue presents a moving tribute for visitors to admire.

 

National Museum of Beirut

 

Filled with historic antiquities and moving artefacts dating from the Bronze Age through the Ottoman Empire, the museum is a must for archaeology lovers. The museum itself was on the frontline during the 1975 Civil War and suffered substantial damage. However, due to a magnificent renovation programme, visitors can wander the beautifully laid-out exhibitions whilst learning about Beirut’s unstable past.

 

Zaintunay Bay

 

With a clear tourist agenda, Zaintunay Bay stands out as a symbol of Beirut’s cosmopolitan objectives. Beautifully constructed and landscaped, luxurious yachts moor alongside the marina, providing a refreshing taste of glamour to the city. A popular destination for tourists from all over the globe, it’s an ideal place to grab a bite and watch the world go by.

 

Hamra Street

 

Arguably one of the most famous streets in Beirut, Hamra Street’s personality changes after sundown. During the day, the street is like any other high street: full of shops, cafes and restaurants. However, after dark it becomes the beating heart of the city. Huge and diverse crowds descend on the street for nightclubs, live music and all-night parties.

 

Byblos, Jeita Grotto and Harrissa

 

Just a short trip north from the capital is the world famous Jeita Grotto. This stunning subterranean cave spans over five miles and visitors can chose to explore it in all its majesty by boat, or navigate their way through this vast chamber on foot. Recently shortlisted as one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’, it mustn’t be missed.

 

The nearby archaeological sites of Byblos and Harrissa are equal in beauty. The former is widely regarded as one of the oldest cities in the world, whilst Harrissa‘s showpiece is the breath-taking 15-ton bronze statue of the Virgin Mary. A popular pilgrimage site for many, as well as being a beautiful spot to enjoy the spectacular surrounding coastal views.