The largest city and the capital of Lebanon is nothing short of a pleasurable ride especially because of the numerous attractions, lively bars, wonderful historic sites and the delicious traditional dishes such as hummus to tantalize your taste buds. Lebanon's prime seaport in the middle of its coasts with the Mediterranean Ocean, Beirut is the capital city and the seat of government over the country. Beirut reserves the grandeur of palaces, whether it is the Beit ed-Dine Castle to highlight historical heritage, or the Chateau Montagne to offer modern luxury for guests. Christian heritage like the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George and the Evangelical Church are proof that Christian communities are still present and safeguarded in the country. The Temples of Baalbek are one of the most ancient intact structures hailing from the Roman Empire, with their sheer magnanimity undermining every single element surrounding them. Same goes for the Roman Baths, as well as the Garden of Forgiveness. The National Museum of Beirut and the Archaeological Museum of the American university of Beirut are the largest institutions present to represent history at the national state level. Other specialty museums like the Mineral Museum, Banque du Liban (Lebanon Bank Museum) and the Cilicia Museum attract interest from tourists exploring for something unique on a wanderlust tour. Private museums have spawned from Beirut’s very own collectors such as the Sursock Museum, AUB Museum and the Robert Mouawad Private Museum, home to a variety of articles and rare collectibles. Special places to look out for a historical tour are the Charles De Gaulle residence, left rather remote and secluded in the main old district, as well as Saifi Village, which is under consistent renovation efforts for art décor and architecture through its streets and souks (traditional commercial markets). Having an underground lake well lit with spotlights to expose the roof of rock formations within the cave, Jeita Grotto to be accessed by boat for a visit. Other natural landmarks in and around Beirut's outskirts are Raouche Pigeon Rocks, Zaintunay Bay and the Kfarhim Grotto Caves. Natural beauty has also been represented by the municipal administration, with the Saneya public Garden and the Rene Moawad Garden having complete skating rinks, walkways and benches set for seating in the heart of greenery. Beirut also borderds the Horsh Beirut Forest, a protected sanctuary of pine trees which are branded as Lebanon’s symbolic topography. Muslim architectural buildings which are a signature in the Middle East include Al-Omari Mosque and the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque. These mosques highlight the shift of Beirut’s rule from the Crusade empires to the muslims, along with Al Majidya Mosque and Emir Munzer Tannoukhi Mosque highlighting influential Islamic personas to have hailed from these communities. Theme park entertainment is mostly availed among the water parks, may it be the Waves Aqua Park Resort, which has water rides and giant slides out in the open along with resort facilities, or the Watergate Park, having smaller pools for families to tag along younger children. For the winters, one can head to the mountains towards the outskirts to reach the biggest ski facility across the Middle East, the Mzaar Kfardebian Ski resort. With its flair of history, art has also made a permanent influence across Beirut, may it be in the form of numerous private art exhibitors and galleries like the Camille Allam Studio, the Art on Spears, DIY art collector or the Matignon and Emmagos galleries. Official art institutions like the Beirut Art Centre and larger and older public galleries like the Agial Art Gallery and Alice Mogabgab Gallerie attract the larger public of tourists visiting the city. Food is mainly what Lebanon is famous for. When in Beirut, one has to gorge into the mouth-watering Lebanese dishes that have been tailor made to perfection. For those history fanatics, Beirut is the ideal place to take a stroll down memory lane as it has many historic landmarks and tours such as the Beirut Old City Walk and Walk Beirut. Solidere Avenue and Gemmayzeh Street are the main heritage spots for a tour of restaurants and cafes, while the Place de L’Etoile, the Martyr’s Square and the Grand Seral are Beirut’s central landmarks preserving its history through the civil war. Beirut is a bustling city that not only provides you with remnants of prehistoric settlements but also has some of the most hip and happening parties that last all night. Enjoy the sunsets and romantic walks at the Corniche which also provides stunning views of the skyline, perfect spot to sip on coffee and grab a bike to go cycling.
Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways are some of the leading airlines that are offering Beirut flights from London. Other airlines include Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, British Airways, Middle East Airlines and Egypt Air.
Yes, British Airways and Middle East Airlines (MEA) are offering direct flights to the city of Beirut from London.
Non-stop flights take nearly 5 hours to reach Beirut directly. Flight duration for the connecting flights can range from 7 hours to 13 hours depending upon the itinerary chosen for the flight, while a good itinerary would have a single stopover of at least 1.5 hours, while 2 stopovers are also common on these routes.
Beirut Rafic Hariri Airport, formerly titled as Beirut International Airport, is located 9 kilometres away from central Beirut much towards the southern limits of the city.
The only form of formal public transport available at Beirut’s airport is the airport taxi. The airport operates certified taxis that are located next to the terminal at the arrival gate and have an airport logo on the side of the vehicle. Regular taxis are also available and are located a little farther from the airport. The second main comfortable option is to get hold of a car rental service, with 7 to 8 international car rental firms including Avis, hertz, national and budget competing for radio cab services. They also serve a great range of vehicles to suit the demands of the arriving passengers. In the budget, local transport category, there are irregular and unofficial bus routes which often touch down at the domestic terminal. Outside the parking zone, the local ‘service taxis’ cater for passengers on shared basis, which are minibuses operating to drop off passengers en-route.
Banking services such as ATMs are at the arrivals terminal whereas the departure terminal is equipped with full banking services. For on the go communication, the airport also provides free Wi-Fi connectivity for up to 30 minutes. Card phones and telephone cards can also be procured from automated machines. The departure terminal is also equipped with a post office, along with business lounges with basic office utilities, an emergency medical clinic, and an international information centre for foreign as well as local visitors. Economy class lounges with basic passenger services include Beirut Lounge, Babylos Lounge and Cedar Lounge shared among various airlines. There are several choices available at the airport in terms of restaurants and cafés. Some of the options include authentic Lebanese food and popular international chains, including a Japanese seafood eatery among the snack bars and cafes. Passengers can indulge in duty free shopping while they wait for their next flight. The shopping at the airport is excellent as there are various numbers of shops that provide a range of items including electronics, jewellery, cigars and much more. The airport also has a lost luggage tracking system, luggage packaging service and a 24 hour first aid service. In addition to this, prayer rooms for Muslims and Christians are also available on level 2. Although there are no hotels located on or near the airport premises, some of the top notch hotels and guest houses are located along the main road leading to the city centre, such as Habtoon Grand, Beirut Golden Plaza, Coral beach hotel and Movenpick. For facilitating disabled individuals, there are ramps, special toilets, telephones and lifts present in the main terminals. Lastly, car rental services are also available at the information desk. There is a proper internal parking facility established for the passengers as well as visitors.
The main public transport options available in Beirut are buses and taxis. Private companies like the Lebanese Commuting Company (LCC) operate red and white buses throughout the city only during the working hours of the day. There are no bus stops available per se and the only way of getting hold of one is to signal with your hand as you see one approaching and the bus will stop. After 7pm, when the working hours are over, the same routes are taken over by minibuses. A more convenient form of transport in Beirut is to use the taxi service. Taxis can be shared service-taxis or private taxis. You can also find many international chains of car hire companies in Beirut. However, navigating through Beirut might be difficult given that the streets have multiple names while some are not even clearly marked. Beirut is also compact enough to be easily navigated on foot.
Beirut offers great accommodation options that exemplify modern chic with just the right touch of Ottoman-era opulence that is further matched with the warmth of Lebanese hospitality. A lot depends on the district opted for a stay, whether it’s the central historical district, or one of the scenic districts which would include suburban towns. Hotels in Beirut are generally well-equipped with the modern amenities and facilities. If looking to splurge on your stay in Beirut, choose from the list of hotels located on the beachfront featuring spectacular views of the Beirut Marina and the Mediterranean. These are generally five star standard hotels that also feature indoor and outdoor pools, fully equipped gym and fitness centres. Some completely function as resorts, which also has beachside bars and cafes for the rampant nightlife popular across the Middle East. Then there are boutique hotels, guesthouses and lodges, following particular themes and some having divided their facilities for a few rooms to cater for niche clientele arriving in Beirut. Central areas are dominated by plazas and towers which serve as hotels in line with Beirut being a metropolitan hub. Along with deluxe rooms being the standard offer in this generalized category, luxury suites are also found plentiful among the same hotels. Other options can let one choose from the Bed and Breakfast Home stays to unravel and explore the hospitable Lebanese culture.