Your browser does not support the HTML5 video element.
Uncover Lebanon's fascinating and complex history whilst travelling around this remarkable country which packs a lot into its diminutive borders. Discover Crusader castles and Phoenician ruins, and see the reminders of the civil war on a walking tour in vibrant and cosmopolitan Beirut.
Explore Tour Leader
6 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple monastery
Trip maximum 16 Explore average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Beirut, Lebanon's historic capital city. Broken down into many different districts on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Beirut is a city of contrasts and home to a diversity of ethnicities, languages, religions and cultures.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to welcome you in the hotel reception at 7pm and offer information on where to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Beirut at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), which is around 30 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic. Due to flights arriving throughout the evening on day one, the official welcome meeting will take place after breakfast on day two.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take a walk along the sea front or go in search of freshly-cooked falafel to get a taste for the Middle East.
Le Commodore Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast we'll make our way to the National Museum. Starting here we can begin to understand the civilisations that have shaped Lebanon. The museum is located at the end of the Green Line; this line divided the city during the 15 year civil war, during which time the museum was closed and its facade suffered serious damage. Artefacts on display range from sarcophagi from the Phoenician period to ornate mosaics from the Roman city of Baalbek.
Much of the city has been rebuilt since the civil war ended in 1990, but there are plenty of reminders and we'll pass the bullet-ridden Holiday Inn before moving further down the Green Line to visit Martyrs Square and the Mohammad Al Amin Mosque. The mosque resembles the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and its minarets stand at 65 metres tall making it a very useful navigation tool!
Walking along the Corniche is a must when in Beirut and we'll join locals strolling along the promenade to Pigeon Rocks. With the sea to one side you can take stop, take in the city landscape and start to understand how the city was divided during the war and how the regeneration projects have created modern-day Beirut.
Our hotel, located in the Hamra neighbourhood, has a fascinating history as it was used as a base for journalists covering the war. Before dinner tonight we'll take a drink in the bar and understand a little more about what life was like in Beirut between 1975 and 1990.
This morning we'll leave the city and drive south to Tyre. Once dubbed the 'Queen of the Seas' for its flourishing seafaring activities, Tyre is now well known for its UNESCO-listed Roman archaeological legacy. We'll visit two well preserved sites which give an insight into the Roman and Byzantine period of Tyre's history before travelling to Sidon. Previously an important trade port on the Phoenician sea route, Sidon is now a busy seaside city, where remnants of its ancient past can be found at every turn. We'll start at Qalaa al-Bahr, a defence sea castle built in 1228 by the crusaders. The castle is a great display of how each civilisation built on the previous one, with Roman ruins used by the Crusaders to add support to the walls, then the Ottomans arriving and building a mosque on the west wall of the castle. We'll explore the narrow souks and pass by Khan al-Franj, a caravanserai which dates back to the 17th century, offering lodgings for merchants and traders who travelled through on their way to the Mediterranean.
There are many good spots to eat in Sidon and we'll have lunch here before moving inland to the Chouf area of Lebanon. Our base for tonight is the sleepy town of Deir Al-Qamar, set on a hilltop looking down towards the coast it is a great place to relax.
L'auberge des Emirs (or similar)
We'll take a short drive to the 19th century Beiteddine Palace complex. Beiteddine translates to 'House of Faith' and the palace is built on the remains of a Druze hermitage. The design is an intricate mix of Italian Baroque architecture and Arabian styles which perfectly symbolised the power and wealth of its creators.
Crossing over the Chouf Mountains we'll visit the Chouf Biosphere Reserve before descending into the fertile Bekaa Valley and drive to the village of Ammiq, set on the slopes of Mount Lebanon. Here the villagers mostly work in agriculture and are using less intensive, more environmentally friendly methods of farming. We'll have lunch in Tawlet Ammiq, a community restaurant which celebrates and showcases traditional recipes using the freshest ingredients. We'll have time here to relax and enjoy the sweeping mountain views before continuing our journey through the Bekaa Valley and on to Byblos, stopping enroute at a small family run small Arak factory, where it's possible to try some of this grape based spirit.
Ahiram Hotel (or similar)
This morning we wake up by the sea in Byblos, an ancient port city rich in history and home to some of the earliest known inscriptions using the Phoenician alphabet. After breakfast, we'll walk to the 12th century Crusader Castle to take a guided tour of this fascinating archaeological site, taking in panoramic views of the surrounding coastline from. There are ruins in various stages of decay dating as far back as the Bronze Age and the site is an excellent reminder of the numerous civilisations that have ruled this area.
The afternoon will be free to shop in the old Ottoman souks, choose a quiet spot for a strong coffee or head down to the fisherman's' harbour to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean. Alternatively, enjoy an optional wine tasting at an award-winning winery.
There are many choices for an evening meal but the seaside location means a great selection of fresh fish options.
We have a relaxed start to the morning with free time In Byblos harbour. Later in the morning we'll drive into the mountains and the fertile terraces of the Qadisha Valley. We'll stop to see the Cedars of Lebanon Forest and, weather permitting, we'll take a short walk amongst cedars that are over 100 years old.
We'll then make our way to St Anthony's Monastery where we spend the night. Dating back to the 12th century, the monastery is still in operation today under the control of the Lebanese Maronite Order, home to resident hermits and the centre of many pilgrimages. We'll be spending the night in the simply-furnished guesthouse that has been built within the monastery grounds, from where we can enjoy the tranquil valley views and, on a clear night, some star gazing.
St Anthony's Monastery (or similar)
We'll wake early this morning to the sound of the monastery bells ringing and there will be an opportunity to attend the monks' morning prayers inside the church. The Catholic service is conducted in Arabic and Aramaic, and everyone is welcome to attend. After the service there will time for breakfast before a short walk in the valley down to the small settlement of Al Fraidis. The gentle walk follows dirt paths, surrounded by fruit trees and the route offers spectacular views through the valley and is a great chance to look back at the monastery which is built into the cliff face.
Leaving the Qadisha Valley behind, we'll travel back towards the Mediterranean coast to Batroun. One of the world's oldest settlements dating back over 5,000 years, Batroun has played an important role in different phases of ancient civilisations, but is now a relaxed coastal city. We'll walk around the ancient sea wall, the fort and the old souks before lunch. For a refreshing break, be sure to try a glass of the Batrounian lemonade - it is said that people come from near and far to try it and the locals fiercely debate who makes the best!
We'll then start our journey back to Beirut, stopping on the way at the breath-taking Jeitta Caves. The caves were discovered by chance by an American missionary out on a hunting expedition; he fired his gun towards the sound of running water and investigated more on hearing the echoes. The upper section of the cave has a 750 metre pathway allowing you to walk beneath giant stalactites and look down on the river water and stalagmites below. The entrance to the caves is a little touristy with a toy train, but once in the caves, photography is banned and noise is kept to a minimum to give you the chance to fully appreciate this impressive feat of nature where it takes at least 100 years for 1cm of new rock to form.
Returning to Beirut we'll celebrate the last night of the trip with a traditional mezze dinner. In Lebanon food is such a key part of family life and is an experience to be enjoyed; tables are covered generously with small mezze dishes that are shared and accompanied with home-grown wine. There is something for everyone and particular favourites include fresh tabbouleh salad, grilled meats and smoky baba ghanoush.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Beirut.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Beirut at any time.
If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), which is around 30 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic.
Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and humid, mild weather in spring and autumn; winter can be cold with some snow and can drop to sub zero from December to March.
2 Pin European
Byblos: optional wine tasting at local winery, including transport - US$20 per person.
May to mid-June is spring time and October to November is autumn time - layers and/or a sweater are suggested especially for the cooler evenings and a waterproof jacket. November can have heavy rains which can feel colder, an umbrella and warm sleepwear for nights 4 & 6 would be useful. June to September is Lebanon's summer time - lightweight clothing and layers are best, and a hat for sun protection is essential. Remember swimwear! It can still be cooler at altitude, especially in the early mornings and evenings, so a sweater and light jacket are advisable for the Qadisha Valley. December to April is Lebanon's winter time - Down by the coast it remains relatively mild, so we recommend layers and a waterproof jacket. At this time, snow is common throughout the Qadisha Valley, so please bring suitable warm clothing including warm sleepwear for nights 4 & 6. Women are advised not to wear shorts or dresses that are too revealing as this can be disrespectful and attract unwelcome attention in the souk and old town areas - loose fitting trousers or slacks are ideal.
Comfortable walking shoes/boots are recommended for the valley and ancient sites, while trainers and sandals may be preferred for the towns.
One main piece of baggage and a day sack. Hotel porters are not always available, so don't overload yourself.
Lebanon's tourism infrastructure is well developed but standards can vary across the country. In Beirut and Byblos we stay in well-located, comfortable properties. Rooms are clean and offer en suite facilities. In the Qadisha Valley we sleep in a beautifully located guesthouse within the grounds of St Anthony's Monastery where you can have a break from the outside as there is no Wi-Fi here. Please note that due to the nature of the accommodation, occasionally the monks who host us may need to move the date of your stay to accommodate pilgrims. Should your tour be affected, the tour leader will inform the group during the main briefing. Your tour will still cover the same highlights, just in a slightly different order, depending on the alternative dates offered by the monastery.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Lebanon: British, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and America passport holders can apply for a single entry visa on arrival valid for one month (foc). Please note British Overseas citizens and British Protected Person will need to obtain a visa prior to travelling. Persons with Palestinian heritage should check with the Lebanon embassy if they need to obtain a visa prior to travelling. All passports must have a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of entry into Lebanon. Please note that any passport that contains an endorsement or a visa for Israel or stamps from other countries' border crossing points with Israel, regardless of whether it has expired, will not be accepted for visa on arrival or by the Lebanese embassy. All visitor's names will be checked upon arrival against a database for individuals wanted for/convicted of offences in Lebanon. If you are concerned you have a common name please travel with a copy of your birth certificate that includes your parents names to permit additional checks. Where names are matched against the database, the individual may be detained. Please be aware that entry may also be refused to some countries if your passport bears stamps or visas (valid or expired) from certain countries. Please bear this in mind when booking/traveling to certain destinations as it can negatively affect your future travel plans.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.