Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is a city of contrasts. Chaos and surprises await in a city that’s a leading example of multicultural co-existence. It’s one of the most westernised destinations in the Middle East and aims to clear away many preconceived ideas you may have.
When you’re about to land, you realise the immense size of this megacity, 200 square kilometres on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast with a more than impressive skyline.
A haven of peace, although its streets remind us that this was not always the case. A stroll through the centre shows signs of its past and present, with examples like the Ain Mreisse quarter with damaged buildings standing side by side with other pristine modern buildings.
The greatest exponent of this modernity is found in the Beirut Souks, an area entirely rebuilt after the war that today is a modern shopping centre with stores selling the most exclusive brands.
Another area deserving a special mention is Raouché, the promenade, which is great for a quiet stroll along the beach without any traffic. Spectacular sunsets, restaurants, bars and lots of life by day and night are the main attractions for this popular meeting point among locals and tourists.
Beirut is a showcase of westernised life that contrasts, for example, with the ringing of bells calling Christians (40% of the population) to mass and the muezzin calling Muslims (54% of the people) to prayer.
Minarets and Christian crosses coexist in harmony resulting in a landscape hardly imaginable anywhere else in the world.
Gemmayzeh is one of Beirut’s most colourful and modern quarters, with people from all walks of life. It has a bohemian feel to it, with plenty of historic buildings, narrow streets and numerous street artworks.
Walking north, you’ll hit the frenetic Mar Mikhael neighbourhood where you can take a photo on its famous coloured steps, one of the city’s most Instagramable spots.
The city’s historical and artistic wealth is also remarkable. Proof of this can be seen in the National Museum of Beirut, which houses important archaeological collections.
Another dominant feature of Beirut’s skyline is the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, which is notable for its size and blue dome in sharp contrast to its beige façade and four towering minarets.
A dream break
A trip to Beirut will leave you besotted and hungry for more. Enjoy a relaxing break at Le Royal Beirut Hotel*****, with its fully equipped with every imaginable comfort, and it even has its own aqua park.
Recognised at the biggest Aqua Adventure Park in the Middle East, it offers a host of entertaining rides, activities and restaurants serving international food, crepes, waffles and ice cream.
The park is the perfect place to cool off during the summer while the hotel’s Royal Spa is the ideal sanctuary to relax all year round. A four-floor complex covering 6000m2 featuring the only authentic Turkish Hammam in Lebanon, a fully equipped gym, a wide variety of treatments and spectacular views of the Mediterranean.