Monday, 10 September 2012


 General Information

Pigeon Rock Beirut
This spring we decided to fly to Lebanon for a week in search of sun, snow and ancient cities. Lebanon is one of the most western countries in the Middle East. Beirut, once called Paris of the Middle East, is a bustling city full of energy. It has a bit of everything: A wonderful cornice, historic places of interest, museums and great shopping. One could spend weeks in this city of contrasts and still not have seen it all.

Harbor in Jbeil
We wandered through the fascinating towns of Batrun & Jbeil (Byblos) with their Phoenician, Roman and Crusader ruins that seem to instantly teleport you back to ancient times.

Walking in the Qadisha Valley
The mountains are a nature-lovers' (and winter sport) paradise with their cedar trees and lush green valleys. One of the highlights for our kids was playing in the snow in the Cedar Mountains. My favorite was walking in the Qadisha valley, which is on the Unesco World Heritage List.  It’s amazing to see the century-old monasteries clinging to the green valley walls and the waterfalls that cascade down from high in the mountains like long white ribbons.  

For more information on exploring Lebanon take a look at the Tourism Lebanon website.

French is the second language in Lebanon but English is also widely spoken.

Tip: If you’re lucky you can Ski and Swim on the same day in Lebanon!


Street vendor in Hamra, Beirut
As this was a short trip, we didn’t spend too much time in the supermarket. Beirut is spoiled for choice and has many western-style shops and supermarkets. The smaller towns also have well-stocked supermarkets. This is an overview of supermarkets in Lebanon.

I’ve listed a few for you below.

Various Locations. They also have a good gluten free range.
We found gluten-free bread at their Zouk Mosbeh outlet along the highway from Beirut to Jbeil.
On your right hand side. Just before entering Jbeil along the Beirut- Tripoli highway. You can see it from the high-way.
Local Mini Market
In between the church and the Falafel shop in Bsharry. They also have a small selection of soy products and rice crackers.

If you’d like to try some local specialties or want to buy Organic produce, I suggest you try the lovely little Earth Market that’s held every Tuesday in the Hamra District in Beirut. Even if you don’t buy any food, it’s something different from the glitzy supermarkets.

Tip: The ATM in Bsharry doesn’t work with foreign cards. The nearest ATM is 45 minutes away at the foot of the mountains in Amioun so make sure you have enough cash with you!

Medical Care
Church in the rocks

The level of medical care seems to be high in Lebanon although we could see that the larger facilities are mainly in Beirut. We saw some clinics in the Cedar Mountains and many ambulance services. Follow this link to find a list of hospitals in Lebanon.

These are the hospitals that were recommended to us.

Notre Dame De Secours

Tip: One of the main health hazards in Lebanon is probably the traffic. In case of emergency don’t drive to the hospital yourself but call the emergency number 112.

Hotels & Restaurants

There is a wide choice of hotels in Lebanon. Ranging from super trendy hotels to basic wooden cabins. The hotels we stayed in during this trip were all wonderful and the staff was very pleasant. 

In Beirut we stayed in the trendy “35 Rooms” which is located in the lively Hamra district. The apartments also have a microwave if you need to cook.

In Jbeil our accommodation was the Monoberg hotel. There was no cooking facility in the room but as the rooms were large, we had enough space to use our travel cooker.

Snowy Cedar Mountains
In the Cedar Mountains we got lucky and stayed in a huge apartment at the Hills Hotel. We had cooking facilities, a fridge and a crackling fireplace in the living room. The view of the snowy mountains from the balcony is breathtaking!

While walking through the Qadisha valley we visited the Qannoubine monastery where pilgrims could stay the night. It has a communal sitting area with basic cooking facilities. The serenity of the valley with the undoubtedly millions of stars one would see at night seems like a magical place to sleep.

Tip: Try using Tripadvisor for finding vacation rentals and hotels.

Do you know of a restaurant, supermarket or place to stay that caters to travelers with an allergy? Make sure to share the details with us in the comments section below. Be as specific as you can and if possible add a web link.

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