Lebanon one of the most ancient and fascinating countries in the Middle East, home to Mount Lebanon and several of the oldest cities in the world.
Tiny Lebanon is roughly half the size of Wales and sits on the Mediterranean bordered by Syria and Israel. It’s one of the most ancient and fascinating countries in the Middle East, home to Mount Lebanon and several of the oldest cities in the world. Most visitors take advantage of the compact size to choose a coastal base and explore from there. On a family holiday, it’s always best to avoid northern and eastern borders with Syria and check UK government travel advice before booking.
Direct flights from the UK to Beirut, year round, take just over five hours.
Lebanon has warm, sunny weather from April to October with temperatures of 25 to 30˚ in June, July and August.
The fabled Mount Lebanon range stretches across the entire country from north to south, runs parallel to the Mediterranean in the west and Syria in the east.
Lebanon has five UNESCO World Heritage sites including the great Phoenician cities of Byblos and Tyre on the west coast and Wadi Qadisha (Holy Valley) in northern Mount Lebanon.
UNESCO World Heritage Cedars of God forest in northern Mount Lebanon is now so heavily protected it can only be visited by appointment.
Shouf Biosphere Reserve is Lebanon’s largest, has over 250km of walking and hiking trails and encompasses the Ammiq Wetland.
Lebanon’s western coastline is on the Mediterranean, and the country shares borders with Israel to the south, and Syria to the north and east.
Once a byword for chaos, Beirut has worked tirelessly over the past 30 years to eradicate effects of the civil war which brutalised Lebanon in the 1980s. Today the city’s often described as the region’s, ‘most glamorous’ and ‘Paris of the Middle East’. But you’ll have to get past the pollution, crowds, ugly new build and unmistakeable traces of political tension to appreciate those more esoteric qualities.
The world’s oldest, continually inhabited settlement and one of Lebanon’s remarkable Phoenician cities, Byblos is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular day trip from Beirut, just over an hour’s drive south. As a holiday base it’s a good choice for families, with peaceful Mediterranean beaches, ancient history to explore, international resort hotels and access to Mount Lebanon and the north west coast.
Lebanon’s most southern city is just a short drive from the border with Israel. Small compared to the likes of Beirut and Sidon, it’s generally considered loveliest of all in terms of ancient monuments and historic architecture. It feels more like a Mediterranean town, and has several good beaches and resort hotels.
Sidon is Lebanon’s second largest city, 40 minutes’ drive south of Beirut and another ancient Phoenician settlement with a mesmerising historic heart and Mediterranean beaches.
Not to be confused with it’s Libyan namesake, Tripoli is Lebanon’s most northern city and by far the most traditional and historically interesting. It’s close enough to the Syrian border to discount as a family holiday base, but good to visit for the day with older kids and teenagers. Dress code is conservative for women so carry a headscarf.
Taxis are the best way to travel round Beirut and most other Lebanese cities. They’re inexpensive but don’t have metres, so agree a fare before getting in. Driving in the capital is nerve wracking and best left to locals. Exploring the rest of the country, along the coast and on the western side of Mount Lebanon, can be done quite easily by road. But, before you hire a car or make plans, check UK Government travel advice on getting around Lebanon safely with kids.