It’s summer and time for Lebanon’s yearly onslaught of tourists. Many are Lebanese expats coming back to visit family, friends and their beloved country, but there are also loads of foreigners, intrigued and curious to see what they’ll discover within these 10452 km2 of land bordering the Mediterranean. What’s your favorite reason to visit Lebanon?
1. The Parties
Maybe we’re a little biased here at BeirutNightLife, but we think nightlife is the number one reason you need to be here this summer. Can you blame us? Beirut has made a name for itself as a nightlife hub and this summer promises loads of exciting venues and events. Like its people, Lebanon’s nightlife is super diverse, with a broad definition of night-time fun. Underground parties organized at cool venues, fancy shindigs at swanky clubs, hipster havens (yes, Mar Mikhael, we are talking about you), beach parties that last all night, and chill outdoor rooftops, we’ve got it all. People from around the world agree that Beirut can throw one hell of a party, so don’t miss the summer fun in 2014!
2. The Food
The authenticity of Lebanon’s food is undeniable. We know how to eat and we do it often. We are the country famous for food marathons with the family and we sure love our stomachs. In Lebanon you can find everything you can imagine: from the most exquisite, traditional dishes to yummy neighborhood hangouts; from fancy international cuisine to typically Lebanese delicacies; from sweet-tooth-pleasing ice-cream parlours to specialties for spice-addicts; and from breakfast, lunch and dinner to after-hours hangover-helpers. Sahtein!
3. The Beaches
We may be small but we’re lucky to be lined up against the amazing Mediterranean Sea. From North to South, there’s a gorgeous and varied coast, with sand, rock, cliff and everything in between separating land and sea. The many seaside beach clubs offer luxury and simplicity, parties and peace, so you’ll find a beach to suit your needs no matter where you go. The weather is perfect for beaching almost year round, but it’s absolutely perfect in the summer.
4. The History
There’s a long list of sites to see in Lebanon. It’s almost impossible to visit them all on one trip, and many Lebanese don’t even know about them all. It’s a historian’s dream – Sour, Saida, Beiteddine, Beirut, Byblos, Baalbeck, and Tripoli – among smaller cities — are all filled with ancient monuments and artifacts, gorgeous reminders of our rich past. The country’s small area is so densely populated with history that people joke you could probably dig under any building and find museum-worth relics.
5. The Mountains
And then there’s the natural beauty of Lebanon. For a Middle Eastern country, Lebanon has a lots of cool mountaintops, and they come with fun activities. Our magnificent Jeita Grotto was recently an international candidate for the New 7 New Wonders of Nature, and in the north, Balaa is spectacular 3-layer cave and waterfall. The active types will enjoy hiking and mountain-climbing while the siesta-lovers rest in one of many restaurants and beautiful picnic spots. There’s also campsites and natural reserves where you can really escape from life in the city and take in the beauty.
6. The Music
Every summer there are tons of music festivals held around the country. From Ehdeniyat in the North, to the Beiteddine Festival in the Chouf, the festival at incredible Baalbeck where Fayrouz gave an outstanding performance of her famous “Nehna Wel Qamar Jeeran”, the Byblos Festival by the stunning ruins of one of the oldest cities in the world, to the Jounieh festival and its annual, spectacular and anticipated fireworks, and lots of other festivals around the country, summer is the peak time for music and entertainment. In 2014 there’s lots of amazing talents coming to perform in Lebanon and local acts that are just as spectacular, don’t miss them!
7. The Women
There’s no denying it. Pitbull sang about them, and online studies have elected Lebanese women some of the most gorgeous on the planet. The women of Lebanon are not only beautiful, they go to great lengths to always look attractive, stylish and polished… and the men aren’t so bad either!
8. The Weather
Unlike many of our sweltering neighbors, Lebanese summers are mostly warm and mild. There’s always a few hot days, but the cool sea breeze helps cool off, and in the mountains it can get downright chilly. If for no other reason, come and enjoy Lebanon’s perfect weather in the next few months.
9. The Photo Ops
It’s a photographer’s dream to visit a country like Lebanon. From north to south there are gorgeous landscapes, stunning sea views, picturesque mountains like the Wadi Anoubin from where you can capture the panorama of heavenly valleys, beautiful natural details – as well as lots of intriguing and colorful scenes of city and country-life. Beirut is the city of contrasts and capturing that on film (or for Instagram) is definitely worth more than a thousand words.
10. The Friends
Expats are here to visit their loved ones and have a great time with them, and their friends in Lebanon have the itinerary already planned for them as they hop off the plane. It’s the people in our lives that make or break our days in the sun and nights out on the town. Visiting friends is one of the best reasons to go anywhere, and Beirut is always full of friends!
11. The Family
We’re known to be family-oriented and Lebanese families are big and loud and welcoming and nosy. Even if they are not your own family, they will ask you lots of questions, give you lots of (often unsolicited) advice, and feed you lots of deliciousness from morning till night. Expect lots of kisses and treats and be ready to be welcomed as one of their own. It’s Middle Easter hospitality at its best.
12. The Weddings
If you’re Lebanese, you know at least 20 people getting married this summer. If you’re not Lebanese and going to your first Lebanese wedding, your senses are in for a treat. My Big Fat Greek Wedding ain’t got nothin’ on us. From village hoopla’s to multi-million dollar affairs, the dancing, music, and REALLY fancy dresses are definitely something to experience. Tis the season to save up for all those “liste de mariage”, and even if weddings have becomes sort of a drag, at the end of the day you always end up having fun – or at least eating great food. Oh ya, and being happy for the newlyweds.
13. The Sea
It’s not just a backdrop for your latest #beach Instagram. The sea in Lebanon is a great place for diving, and many diving centers have been around for years, taking the water-loving curious adventurers to lots of amazing diving sites and shipwrecks unda da sea. (Also, the sea is a good source of all the yummy fish we will be feasting on this summer.)
14. The Diversity
We’ve heard it all… In Lebanon you can ski and swim in the same day; we are the Switzerland and Paris of the Middle East; a girl in a short dress can walk next to her friend in a veil. The country is tiny but very diverse, and sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re within the same borders when going from village to town, or from the coast up the hills. In the summer, you can have a lovely breakfast in the mountains, drive to the beach for the afternoon, and end your day with a good party in Beirut. Just as well, the people are incredibly diverse and their cultures are varied and vibrant. It’s this diversity – in all its forms – that is one of the special things that makes Lebanon so beautiful, and worthy of a visit.