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Fly to Beirut and you’ll discover one of the finest jewels in the Middle East’s crown, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. This fascinating city has a rich and colourful history as one of the greatest trading points in the ancient world. Now, with plenty of flights to Beirut with Qatar Airways, you can explore this exotic location for yourself.
Beirut was once dubbed as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, and its café culture is still a strong feature in the city. While ‘people watching’ may be a relaxing pastime, the city also has a wealth of other attractions to entertain and enthral. One of the best kept secrets is the Cilicia Museum, which houses a spectacular collection of Armenian cultural artefacts. The National Museum of Beirut offers an in-depth timeline of the country’s past, including Phoenician marble statues from the 5th century BC.
If you fancy getting out of the city for a while during your trip to Beirut, then head for the Horsh Beirut, a 40,000 square metre pine forest on the edge of the city. There are also plenty of classical architectural examples to visit, including the recently restored Roman Baths, the ruins of the Cardo Maximus, and the Grand Serail, a perfect example of Ottoman architecture at its best.
Any trip to Beirut has to include the city’s café culture as part of its itinerary. Head for Al-Raouda, a waterfront café that’s a favourite with the locals, for a taste of authenticity and some seriously strong coffee. For some laid back jazz and traditional Lebanese music with your refreshments, check out Li Beirut on the Corniche. This boulevard is also one of the traditional locations for the locals to see and be seen, so a stroll down the Corniche is a must during your trip to Beirut.
There are also plenty of festivals and events on in the city during the year, including the Beirut International Film Festival in October, the Jazz festival in September, and the Byblos International music festival in the summer.
Lebanese cuisine is a fusion of Turkish, Mediterranean and Arab influences, and has a reputation for excellence. The best way to experience as much Lebanese flavour as possible in one sitting is to order a Lebanese Mezze – a collection of around 30 dishes that includes everything from salads like Tabboule and Fattouch, through to Moutabal, Hommos and stuffed vine leaves. Other local specialities are Mankoushé, which is effectively a Lebanese pizza that can be found in almost any bakery or shop, and Lebanese sweets such as Maamoul, Ktaef and Halawet el Jibn.
A trip to Beirut will uncover a shopper’s paradise. The city is divided up into sectors, and there are four main shopping areas to explore. Downtown Beirut is the city centre and has recently undergone extensive renovations. It is now home to a variety of designer stores and boutiques. Hamra Street has also undergone a programme of revitalisation, and is now an ideal location for anyone looking for international brands and up-market retail outlets.
Mar-Elias Street is located towards the south of the city and houses mainly Lebanese brands. This is the ideal location to find something authentically Lebanese, rather than the usual tourist trinkets. Finally, Rue Verdun provides visitors with a selection of high-end shopping malls and department stores.
Flights to Beirut with Qatar Airways land at Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport, which is approximately 11km from the city centre.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Beirut please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Lebanese Pound (LBP)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type A / B / C / D / G
International dialing code: +961