Living overseas has blessed me with many perks, and one of my favorites is being able to take quick weekend trips to places nearby to explore, celebrate, and have fun.
Lebanon has always been on top of my to visit list. I always heard great things about Beirut, so my expectations were high, which is a little risky, because you don’t want to travel somewhere & then feel disappointed.
Beirut is a pretty open city. You’ve got a mix of both Muslims and Christians, and a handful of both representing the conservatives, or the liberals. Depending on the area you’re in some differences were more obvious than others. English is a pretty popular language, and of course you’ve also got Arabic & French. If you’re worried about the dress code, relax, Beirut is pretty laid back with this and most people are comfortable wearing whatever they feel is appropriate for the situation. If you’re going out bar hopping or to the clubs at night, get ready to dress to impress. No exceptions.
For this trip, one of my friends was celebrating his birthday & we decided to hit Beirut for 5 days. Our itinerary included a day of site seeing & of course, hitting the party spots. After all, we had heard Beirut partied better than Miami and I had to see it for myself.
Since we were a group, we found it best to stay in an Air B&B. Depending on the destination, and group, I’m a fan of using Air B&B for many reasons. I like staying and moving like a local when I visit a new place.
Our Air B&B was located in a cute little neighborhood in Beirut Called: Achrafieh, which was fairly close to Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael, a popular area for great bars and restaurants. Our flat was located in an old old building & it was modernly decorated, but the infrastructure and architecture was quite old. This gave it a nice charming, historical feel. Our building and some of the others in the area also had bullet holes from the war! You’ll find many buildings across Beirut with this historical touch and many people are fighting for the protection of these buildings.
Pros & Con’s of our Air B&B stay in Beirut;
- Great for small groups because we can all stay together, get ready together, etc; after all one of the reasons you travel with a group of friends is to spend time with them, right?
- Local feel because you get to be in the mix of day-to-day life for the locals.
- Proximity – closer and easier access to the neighborhoods we were interested in spending a lot of time in.
- Electricity Outages: We heard about it, but didn’t think much of it. We experienced it and it made things a little uncomfortable, as the weather was quite warm when we visited. Luckily we spent most of our time out, but still something to keep in mind.
- Language barrier: You might find yourself fully immersed in a local neighborhood and maybe have some trouble communicating at a local Bakala, or mini mart. It happened to us as most people spoke French / Arabic with little English. This wasn’t an awful thing; everyone in Beirut was super welcoming to us, so we got by.
- Transportation: Taxi, or Uber – Not always easily available. If you’re deep in a neighborhood taxis might visit less frequently and if you don’t put your address correctly, Uber might have a hard time finding you.
We all arrived into Beirut at different times so we decided to take it easy on the first night. Or that’s what we thought. Mar Makheil, one of the sbar areas in Beirut was too much for us (lol). We came from Kuwait, those type of things don’t exist on a day-to-day for us. The vibe was fun, kicked back, and welcoming, it was like we were just existing with the locals enjoying our night with our belly’s full and wine in our hands. We went hard our first night (accidentally), so the next day – our city tour day – was a bit of a struggle.
Because our time in Beirut was quite limited and it was our first time, we decided that the best way to see the popular sites was to book a day tour for the sites.
I’m sure there are quite a few options out there for tours, but we went with Private Tour – Jeita Grotto & Harissa – Day Trip from Beirut & booked via Viator (https://www.viator.com/tours/Beirut/Private-Tour-Jeita-Grotto-and-Harissa-Day-Trip-from-Beirut/d4215-64936P24?mcid=61846). I wish I could remember our tour driver’s name, but I can’t! I can tell you that he was a lot of fun & would share with us bits and pieces of Beirut while we made our way through the day.
The tour lasted 5 hours, which was plenty for us. It didn’t include food, the entrance fees etc, but he did help us with the bookings along the way, plus he was pretty patient with us in wanting to stop for potty breaks, or water, or snacks. Hey! We were recovering from the previous night out! Needles to say, we would definitely book with them again.
We spent about ½ a day exploring the sites I mentioned above and the rest of our time in Beirut was spent just walking around and getting lost in the city. We ate at random places, we got tattoos, we drank (a lot) and most importantly had a blast in the city. If you’re looking to get a tattoo while in Beirut, check out American Body Art. They were super friendly, & the shop was super clean. Only 2 of us got tatted, it was a little expensive, but well worth it!
Moving through Beirut can be a bit of a hassle as you need to decide if you want to ride local taxis, or ride-share apps like Careem or Uber. We tried a little bit of both and the experience was pretty much the same throughout. The good thing about Uber or Careem is that you can drop a pin for the location and most of the time the drivers will find you quickly, plus the set price makes it easier not to get hustled.
Our first visit to Lebanon was really short and I hope I get another opportunity to visit and explore the areaS outside of Beirut. The city definitely stood up to my expectations and even more. In some instances I felt like I was back in Venezuela cruising the streets with my friends. The locals were welcoming and fun, the weather was gorgeous (we went in September), the food delicious, and the parties…well the didn’t surpass Miami 😉 but they were incredibly fun!
My visit to Beirut included a lot of Champagne. I didn’t take a lot of notes while visiting, which is why I can’t remember many of the little details, but lol, I managed to come up with the places we spent time at and I’ll share the list below!
- Dragonfly – Delicious Crafted cocktails.
- Fabrk – Great food & drinks, fun bar vibe, good mix of people.
- Sud Bar (& restaurant) – Great dinner and drinks.
- Iris Beirut – Really fun place, but get yourself a reservation & get ready to spend some money.
- La Plage Beirut – although this is probably not the best beach club in the area, we had a lot of fun because the vibe was on point and we were in good company. It wasn’t very busy when we went, the prices were decent, and we enjoyed our kicked back afternoon.
- Pool D’état – Roof Top type of bar. Really friendly prices and offers day passes! We hung out here after checking out of our Air B&B to kill time before our flight. Needless to say we left the place feeling…incredible. Try the Sangria Pitchers!