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7 Reasons Lebanon Should be on Your Travel Radar

With a stunning, 470km trail running right through the middle of the country, breathtaking history and utterly unique culture, Lebanon is currently on... Read more
7 Reasons Lebanon Should be on Your Travel Radar

With a stunning, 470km trail running right through the middle of the country, breathtaking history and utterly unique culture, Lebanon is currently one of the world’s most underrated destinations for adventure. Here’s why it needs to be on your travel radar. 


1. Walk through thousands of years of history

The term ‘melting pot’ probably doesn’t describe many places better than Lebanon. Inhabited since ancient times, throughout various periods it was under the rule of the Persians, then the Romans. Christianity reached it, and the Maronites were formed, a sect hidden in the mountains hiding from the Romans. Arab rule took over along the coast, and then the Crusaders arrived, driving Islam out. In the early 16th century, the Ottoman Empire arrived, starting a civil feud which would last until Napoleon partitioned the entire state. After WW1, Lebanon was handed to France, until the Republic of Lebanon emerged in 1946.Despite unrest throughout the remainder of the 20th century, walking through Lebanon now offers an incredible insight into each of these cultures; Roman ruins remain, languages vary from Arabic to French to Kurdish to Greek, and throughout Beirut you’ll see mosques, synagogues and churches alike. Here, a turbulent backdrop has formed a place where east meets west, traditions collide and a whole new culture has flourished as a result.



2. The Lebanon Mountain trail - 470km of stunning mountain paths

One of the world’s lesser-known thru-hikes, this is one long-distance trail that deserves more recognition. Born in 2009 out of a vision to showcase the unique natural and cultural heritage of Lebanon’s central mountain range, it spans the length of Lebanon in 27 sections, crossing 5 protected areas and passing through more than 76 villages and towns. Built on a network of ancient paths and trails connecting settlements, it’s the perfect way to see into the heart of the country and experience a side to Lebanon those who simply visit the highlights won’t. On KE’s new adventure, you spend 3 days on the trail.As you walk through the mountains, you’ll visit the Fortress of Niha, a breath-taking site from before the 17th century carved into a cliff face; walk amongst ancient cedar trees in the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve and trek through the stunningly beautiful and verdant Qadisha Valley, awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1998. Along the way, accommodation varies, but there’ll be a chance to stay in the Maronite Monastery of St Anthony and even a rural ecolodge.

Photo credit: bassil.jad / Instagram 



3. Climb to the summit of the highest peak in the entire Levant 

Lebanon is home to Qurnat as Sawda’, which, at a substantial 3088m, is the highest peak in all of the Levant. The Levant refers to roughly Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, which means you’ll be stood at the highest peak across all these countries if you summit. The climb itself is a long but very achievable day, with the views at the top well worth the reward as panoramic vistas stretch out before you - even all the way to Cyprus on a clear day.



4. Beirut, Byblos and Baalbek

These cities are a must for anyone visiting Lebanon. When it comes to Beirut that sort of goes without saying, as it’s where you’ll most likely fly into, but even if it wasn’t you’d be mad to miss this beautiful Mediterranean marvel. It’s a bustling port, where Lebanon’s east-meets-west vibe is at its strongest. Contrasting fashions and cultures walk side by side in the streets, and despite Beirut’s business, its people are wonderfully friendly and will help in any way they can. Just 30km north, things slow down a little with the ancient fishing town of Byblos. Peppered with historical sites which tell the story of over 9000 years of inhabitation, it's a fascinating feast for the senses, as old and new buildings tumble down toward the sea. Heading inland, the Phoenician city of Baalbek offers another historical goldmine with a monumental, 2000-year-old Roman temple to Juno, which still stands strong to this day.



5. It's a foodie journey too

Lebanese food is said to be the finest in the Middle East, so if you consider yourself a foodie and Lebanon is not on your list, it’s time to rectify that. Masters of the eastern Mediterranean staples, you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of the chance to try hummus, falafel, dolma and tabbouleh at its most authentic. Of course, there’s also much more to it than just the classics. Seek out ka’ak, a steaming, sesame-covered bread best eaten straight from the oven of a local vendor, or manoushe, flatbread often devoured at breakfast. Typical dishes will feature stuffed courgettes or squash, and for meat-lovers, kibbeh or kafta are a must, dumplings and meatballs flavoured with spices. These spices are something to look out for; you won’t get za’atar blended so finely anywhere in the west. Of course, we can’t forget that Lebanon is a coastal country too, meaning you’ll find an abundance of seafood in Beirut and Byblos; try samke harra, whole haddock served with fresh herbs, peppers and lemon, or Lebanon’s take on mouth-watering calamari.



6. The wine. When it’s been made for over 5000 years, it’s pretty fantastic

Lebanon is home to some of the oldest sites of wine culture in the world. The Phoenicians were instrumental in spreading viticulture throughout the Mediterranean; you could say you have Lebanon to thank for your favourite Sicilian Nero d’Avola. At this time, there are 50 Lebanese wine producers keeping the tradition going strong and producing some of the world’s finest varieties. On KE’s new adventure, you’ll spend time in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s centre for viticulture, and visit the Chateau Ksara winery, learning about the production of one of Lebanon’s most prized exports. Full-flavoured and delicately spiced, these wines match perfectly the bold and robust sensations of Levant cuisine.



7. It’s really easy to get there – and now’s the time to go

With British Airways currently offering mid-haul flights direct from London to Beirut at enticingly affordable prices, it’s exceedingly easy to get to Lebanon. It’s not often we get the chance to explore a place so untouched by over-tourism – we can’t recommend enough that you get ahead of the crowds and snap up the chance to visit this timeless jewel of the Middle East.

Want to know more about going to Lebanon or the Middle East? Give us a call and chat to our specialists on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415.

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