Consisting of a narrow strip along the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon has undergone shifts of power over its history due its strategic location. Despite having a smaller size, its topography has ranged from snow-capped mountains, cedar forests as well as seaside coastal zones. In terms of heritage and history, there is no shortage of World Heritage Sites, starting from the Levantine-Byzantine city of Anjar, the Roman port of Tyre, the Qadisha Valley of the Crusaders and the Phoenican settlements of Byblos and Baalbeck. The monasteries of Mar Sarkis, St Anthony and Our Lady of Hawqa bear witness to the establishment of monasticism. The temples of Jupiter, Bacchus, Venus and Mercury are intact with their basic structures or ruins in certain cases, established from the rule of the Phoenicans. Byblos Mosque, Boyblos Crusader Castle, the Temples of Byblos and St John’s church of Byblos Church highlight the significant importance Byblos has played from the Ottoman and Crusader era. Prominent Christian heritage constitute the Saint Charbel Tomb, Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and the statue of Our Lady of Harissa. The age of the crusades is left preserved at the Musa Castle, which even has a moat among its many defences since the time it was originally built, along with the Sidon Sea castle, established over a Phoenician port for coastal defence. Beit Ed Dine Palace preserves the thrones, the stone art architecture and the lobbies of the original sultanate of Lebanon. Some of the biggest institutions like the National Museum of Beirut, Khalil Gibran Museum, the Byblos Wax Museum, Museum of Lebanese Prehistory and Lebanese Heritage Museum fulfil and educational tour in all respects. Other specialty museums like the Byblos Fossil Museum, Sidon Soap Museum and Ameen Rehani Museum highlight the progress of intellectualism and industrialization in the region. The Mleeta landmark is established in recognition of militant efforts for freeing Beirut from Israeli occupation. Art heritage is well represented at Robert Mouwad Private Museum for Islamic art, the Zamaan Art Gallery, Ibrahim Sursock Museum of contemporary art, and the Beirut Arts Centre for contemporary artists. These facilities range from the works of new age of talent for contemporary artists having a national platform to display their talent, as well as galleries preserving classical pieces collected across the history of Lebanon. Adventure opportunities are an entirely separate category worth pursuing in this country. Zaarour, Faqra and Laklouk are the main ski resorts with specified slopes to promote alpine skiing as well as snow mobile tours in the mountains. Complete with a chair-lift service over its slopes, the Faraya Mzaar Ski Resort is the largest professional skiing facility across the Middle East. It hosts regular events not only promoting tourism but also culture and fashion in the region. Aerial tramway tours are also operated atop Mount Harissa. Numerous forms of adventure sports are being made available amongst the countryside terrains of Lebanon, which range from white-water rafting along the Wali and Assi Rivers, Paragliding from the peaks and mountain biking through wilderness trails. Horsh Ehden Natural Reserve, Tannourine Cedars Forest, the Kadisha Valley along with the Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve highlight one distinct class of fauna, the cedar tree, regarded as the national symbol of Lebanon. The main green area under public planning is the Rene Moawad Garden, complete with plantations, walking tracks and seating areas, all surrounded by the urban complex of Beirut. The Lebanese seaside has its own charms, may it be the Tyre beach declared as a protected marine zone for the indigenous turtle habitat, the Palm Islands Natural Reserve consisting of three flat limestone islands located beyond the coasts, or the Yammouneh Natural Reserve housing valleys of calm waters. The Raouche Pigeon Rock and the Zaintunay Bay are other main spots popular for sightseeing while spending a day outdoors exploring the piers of Beirut. Marine life can also be explored in nearby waters, with the Pure Tech Diving Centre providing snorkelling and deep sea diving services. Leisure activities amongst the waters can be pursued at the Watergate or Waves Aquaparks, along with beach clubs, resorts and for caving, the Jeita Grotto is internationally acclaimed for its interior limestone formations, its flooded surface allowing it to be accessible only via boat tours, and its interior completely lit in all sides. Roueiss cave is another landmark for spelunking specialists. The eastern-western mix of Islamic construction designs can be seen at the Muhammad Al Amin’s Blue Mosque, Mansouri’s Great Mosque of Tripoli housing its minaret atop the highest tower, and the ancient Omari masjid, converted from a church under the invasion of Islam.
The main aviation hub of the country is in Beirut; Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport is located just alongside the coasts and is geographically established in the central zone of Lebanon. About 44 airlines operate flights to Lebanon landing at the facility, which number to roundabout 950 flights on a weekly basis.
Some of the biggest air operators of the world are present for facilitating air travel to Lebanon. Qatar Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Middle East Airlines are joined by British Airways, Alitalia, Iberia Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa to operate on this route.
There is high competition present amongst airlines providing direct flights on this route. The flag carriers of UK, Spain and Lebanon, British Airways, Iberia Airlines and Middle East Airlines, are operating direct flights which take off from London Heathrow to land in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
Direct flights just take 4.5 hours to complete the whole journey. The flight time of indirect Lebanon flights is about 7 hours, taking a single stopover which would take an additional 1.5 hours or so for boarding the connecting flight.
With the entire country being small, all local transportation relies on the road network. Bus services are a bit constrained spread amongst few towns and the main cities. Local public transportation relies on minibuses plying over specified routes. Most of the public transportation setup is privately owned and operated. Taxis are of two categories and form the main component of road transportation, as car rentals are highly expensive and commute via bike is highly discouraged owing to excessive and dangerous road traffic. Shared ‘service’ taxis and ‘private’ taxis both operate in the same domain. However, their rates vary greatly as shared taxis save a lot in terms of divided fare. There are two main seaports which attend to passenger ferry services for coastal tours as well as water transportation.
Lebanon is generally more intent towards deluxe rooms and suites in high-rise or low rise hotels, depending on the area being suburban or a commercial district. The biggest advantages are in terms of luxury standards, access to major landmarks as well as ample views of the surroundings. Towards the beachside and coastal areas, there are high rise apartments and hotels, which are also observed amongst shopping and commercial areas. Many of these hotels constitute of shopping plazas themselves. Towards the seafront, there are resorts and lodges which specialize in luxury amenities like pools, spas and outdoor restaurants. The boutique category includes multiple hotel accommodations which are based upon renovated buildings in older towns, conserved over centuries. Winters bring in their own added attraction in Lebanon, with multiple ski resorts opening their doors in the northern mountain ranges and slopes for ski training as well as trekking. Clubs, guesthouses and lodges fall in special accommodations category, as they are mostly rare and highlight heritage and culture, mostly within rural areas and districts. You’ll observe that the elite class of hotels fall in European influence in terms of style, designs and overall environment of services.