Help me plan my family’s first trip to Lebanon!

Somehow..between the begging and the pleading, and the months and months of blogging, I’ve managed to convince my Mom and my Grandparents to come to Lebanon for 10 days in December (ok, so I couldn’t convince the whole family, but it’s a start, right?!)!  Woo hoo! Alas, my efforts are beginning to pay off!

Now the real work begins: planning a 10 day trip that will make them understand why I decided to move here..

Normally, this would be a very easy task, except that the three people who are coming on the trip couldn’t be more opposite from each see.,

My Mom likes to see sites, and eat everything in sight…oh, and when she’s on vacation, she loves to take afternoon naps after lunch (she’s the most like me! ;D)..

My Grandmother would be happy spending the whole day bargaining in souks and markets, and spending the whole night (every night) on the dance floor (unlike my Mom and me, she can go loooong periods of time without eating or drinking, and she scoffs at even the mention of the word NAP!!)…

My Grandfather..that angel of a man..well.. he is the easiest to please..he just wants my Grandmother to be happy – because if she’s happy, we’re all happy – (but if he had a choice he would be very ok with seeing a few sites, eating some delicious Lebanese meals, and spending the rest of his time reading all of Robert Fisk’s books at Younis).soooo, you see the challenge?

Anyway, I have spent the last few days asking a trillion questions and compiling a schedule that I think could work.  Ten days is a short amount of time to see all that Lebanon has to offer, but hey, I will take whatever time I can get with my family, ya know?  Anyhow, if you guys could read through what I have, and offer some suggestions, my family and I would really appreciate it!

Dec 26th.   Breakfast at Bread Republic (or do you have the name of a place where we could go to have an authentic Lebanese breakfast in Hamra? Labneh, foul, etc etc..), walk all around Hamra (Bliss street, Hamra main street, AUB, Jean d’Arc, etc etc) coffee at Café Younis..take taxi down to Corniche..walk around Corniche for a bit, lunch (and shisha and mint lemondate) at Bay Rock Café them Pigeon Rocks.  Go back to Hamra for a little rest.. Dinner and drinks somewhere in Gemmazyeh at Gem/Bar Louis/MYU/Torino/Dragonfly/Tawlet/Joe Penas)..(any other suggestions?..i don’t know which place to choose…maybe FRIDA’s as per @fadyroumieh’s recommendation).

Dec 27th. Breakfast at Ristretto..Drive to Byblos (old souk, harbor, churches, Locanda or Sea food place (forgot the name) for lunch)..continue to walk around Byblos.take Granny back to souks..have a coffee..head back to Beirut.. rest a bit..hang out around Hamra at night..dinner at Molino/Ferdinands/Le Rouge/Olio/Prague..drinks and live music (hopefully) at Graffiti or Dany’s.

Dec 28th. Breakfast at Buttermint. to Tripoli (old souks, what else is a “must see” in Tripoli?) – need to find private tour/guide for Tripoli (any suggestions?).  Best restaurant in Tripoli anyone?  Best sweets in Tripoli (I think you guys mentioned Hallab??)  Night time back to Hamra..dinner/drinks in Hamra at Molino/Prague/Ferdinands/Le Rouge/Olio…or maybe night time dinner at Locanda in Byblos.  Oooorr..if we’re feeling fancy shmancy, dinner at Sydney’s.  (whoa…way too many options).

Dec 29th. Breakfast at Mandaloun Café (are there any other breakfast places in Achrafieh?).  Walk through Achrafieh and Mar Mikael.  Best landmarks to see in both places anyone?  Best coffee shop?  Transfer on to Bourj Hammoud, let Granny wonder around and absorb all of the action (she loves that)..lunch at Varouj  (I’ve been hearing so much about this place!).  Head back to Hamra to rest.  Light dinner/night out in Gemmazye at Gem/Bar Louis /MYU /Torino/ Dragonfly/Margherita/Yasmina/Tawlet/Coquley..salsa night at El Gardel…Granny loves latin music!..and we love to make her happy. 😀

Dec 30th. Full day tour to Baalbeck, Anjaar, and Ksara – with Nakhal tours – including..Bekaa Valley, Baalbeck (the big stone, Temples of Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus), Ksara (Wine tasting and visit of the caves), Anjar (Omayyads’ Town). Lunch at a restaurant in Zahleh.  Light night time suggestions anyone?  Dec 30th is a Thursday, I know Graffiti has live music on Thursdays, any other suggestions?

Dec 31st. Breakfast at Bread Republic/Ristretto/Bathazar..walk through Downtown (Souks, Roman ruins, clock tower, Mosque, Church, Martyr’s square) and Saifi Village.. lunch at Al Balad (Downtown) or Fiona’s (Saifi)..maybe take them for a macaroon at that new French place in Downtown.  Continue walking through to Gemmazye (visit boutique shops, St. Nicolas stairs, have a coffee (where is the best cafe/most authentic coffee experience in Gemmazye)? Anything else that is a “must see” in Gemmazye during the daytime?  Head back to Hamra to rest.  New Years Eve House party with friends – which one of you is going to invite me and my family over? 😀

Jan 1st. Day OFF. Breakfast at Ristretto/Bread Republic Hamra…or rooftop of Le Grey (over priced, I know,, but could be a nice change?)  Treat Mom to Mani/pedi and massage at Le Grey.  Granny walks/shops around Hamra…leave her in her element.  Grampa relaxes with book…leave him in his element.  Dinner/Nighttime  suggestions?  Music Hall perhaps – does anyone know where I can find their performance schedule so I can book? Or maybe Mounir in Broumanna?

Jan 2nd. Sunday brunch at Gruen/Casablanca..spend morning at Souk al Ahad (Granny insists on going to all of the souks/markets), afternoon at ABC (thought it would be a good example of the breadth of shopping options in Lebanon Souk al Ahad/ABC/Beirut Souks)…late lunch at Al Mayass in Achrafieh (have heard a lot of great things about this place as well).  Dinner/Nighttime options – suggestions anyone? What’s good on a Sunday night?

Jan 3rd. Full day tour to Sidon, Tyre, and Eshmoun –with Nakhal tours – starts by visiting the Sea Castle, Khan El Franj and Soap museum in Sidon then the Necropolis and Sea site of Tyre.   Lunch is served in a good restaurant in Tyre. On the way back, the tour stops at the temple of Eshmoun.  (Or we might go to the Cedars, or to Beiteddine, still haven’t made up my mind!)  Back to Hamra to rest.  Dinner and drinks somewhere in Monot…mabe Pacifico? Other light nighttime options?

Jan 4th.  Last day entirely open for suggestions..what about trip to Faraya, or Faqra?  What’s the best way to end their trip?

What do you think of what I have so far?  What have I missed out, what do I have too much of?  Please please please, I’m very open to suggestions and recommendations! Tell me what you think! 😀



Filed under life in Lebanon

54 responses to “Help me plan my family’s first trip to Lebanon!

  1. I will get you a name of a breakfast place that serves Lebanese food. but you should consider taking them to try Manakish in the morning 🙂 there are plenty of bakery shops here and there, there is wooden and Zaatar w Zeit, and ghlayini in Hamra.

    When you go to byblos, I suggest you spend the whole day there, there is souk that is a must see, many museums (wax, and fossils and others..) a church to see, the sea, the port, and many pubs and restaurants there.

    I would suggest for Jan 1 at night to hang out in Downtown Beirut, it;s usually packed and fun, so maybe you can switch program

    And consider taking them to a place called Mayrig in gemmayze (facing wild discovery), it is a fusion between lebanese and armenian cuisine and a must try 🙂

    You should definitely spend a whole day in Arz (cedars)
    Consider tripoli for a day there (darine and walid can help you prepare it)
    And consider beiteddine for sure! We can sit together if you want and tackle it

    Nice program 😛 wish i can take off and join you hehe

    Oh.. check my visit lebanon page maybe it can help a bit

    • meinlebanon

      Thanks so much for this! How could I have left out Manakish!! It’s my favorite… 😀 I will have to take them to ZWZ in the morning for sure. And yes, I was thinking about spending the whole day in Byblos, I just didn’t want my Grandmother to get bored..she’s kind of the pulse of the whole trip, you know? But I also do know that Byblos transforms at night. Yuuumm Mayrig, yes I’ve been there too, I’ll have to include that in the dinner plans.. As for the Cedars,,I’m torn between the Cedars, Beiteddine, and Sour..I don’t want to tire them too much with full day tours..that’s why I have to choose one..maaan I wish we had more time.

      Thanks so much for your help, I will for sure check out your post was one of the first things I looked at when typing up the itinerary. 😀

    • f

      Seconded on ALL points but especially mana2ish! 2+ years after visiting, and my mother still constantly mentions how much she misses “that Lebanese breakfast”, i.e. a “cocktail” (zaatar + jibne) man2ouche. I think my parents had one every day they were here.

  2. Marie

    No Cedars in your plan 😛 I suggest a visit to the Chouf : Barouk Cedars, Beiteddine, Moussa Castle, Deir el Amar.. guess it would depend on the weather hopefully we’ll have some snow by 1st of January and it wont be too stormy so it can be a nice trip

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  4. Elie

    I took my wife site seeing last summer to Lebanon. Jeita Grotto was one of the highlights. I would highly recommend that if it is open. Beittedine was a disappointment, but they were setting up for the summer festival.

    Good Luck

  5. Youssef

    good list and plan. let us know what you actually end up doing. ive never been a ‘tourist’ in lebanon so i wonder what tourists do. i had 24 hours to show a friend of mine lebanon and basically ended up rushing him through the country between jbeil and saida!

    liliane pretty much beat me to all the suggestions i was going to make!

    i hope your family has fun 😀

    • meinlebanon

      I hope they have fun too! You should act like a tourist in your own city sometimes..go on a tour, do touristy things, open up your eyes to your beautiful country! 😀

  6. I love how thoughtful you are about this 😀 and how you managing to show the best parts of Lebanon to your parents and to leave a good impression on them 😀

  7. didie

    beiteddine is just magical…
    as for tripoli, besides the souk, you could show them the citadelle (in abou samra). there’s a corniche too there, but beirut one is better.
    what you’ve planned is pretty intense but seems really enjoyable!
    oh and last thing: in Jbeil, if you want to go to the best seafood restaurant, go to Chez Pépé!

  8. In Tripoli, there’s a new “fancy” restaurant called “Beitna” the maximum you’ll spend per person is like $15 but I’m not sure if they serve alcohol. We also have a lot of authentic places to eat like Danoun for breakfast or lunch. Also for manakeesh I really like Wooden Bakery- I’m not sure if it’s better than ZWZ.

    Also, if you hit the Tripoli Mina you can take a boat ride — though I’m not sure they are still offered now. And be sure to give them a little flavour of street food.

    Falafel from Abou Andre in Jounieh is the best as well.

    Have fun! Sounds amazing regardless.

  9. N.

    you should do both the South and Beitteddine. not “or”. i don’t think ABC is a must though.

    • sara ajami

      yea me neither … becuase there r lots of hanging arounf in hamra street, i think that from day 1 they’ll know everything abt hamra… so skip a day in hamra, and head to beitel dine, or moussa’s castel.

    • meinlebanon

      yeah I agree with you..ABC is not a must. 😀

  10. Also when heading to Beitteddine, there’s on the way Moussa Castle.

    Also for an authentic Lebanese dining experience I HIGHLY recommend Assaha restaurant. It’s a palace almost literally. Good service and food. The waiters are dressed in Lebanese dress. There’s a mini-wax museum, there’s a mini-shopping area, argileh if they want to try, a coffee-crusher guy whom is rather amusing and serves coffee all night. There’s a saj manakeesh lady. Anyway, a great place. It’s not as popular because its funded and built by I think, Fadlallah, so people don’t go but its actually really good. They also have good valet service. Very clean, authentic and generally a good experience. It’s like being in a old Lebanese village.

  11. Girl don’t forget to consider traffic in ur schedule. You are talking about the holiday season, it tend to be nightmarish.
    I would definitely take them to the chouf area: beteddine, deir el kammar, barouk chouf. Try the trout in one of the places there.
    Tripoli: Al-Hallab for sweets, khan el saboun, lunch at Al-Danoun.
    There is a very nice fish place in Tabarja “Al-Mina” (not Bab Al-mina in tripoli). Chez Sami is a treat in old jounieh too.
    La Duree in downtown, is the french macaron place. Try the “Beurre Salee” and “Rose.”
    For a Lebanese Breakfast, I would suggest “Rawda Cafe” next to Sporting Beach and the Luna Park.
    Definitely take them for a “Kanafe” Breakfast. Try “Abu Adnan” for manakish, it’s on Mahamata Ghandi street in Hamra, next to Neighbors (pub).
    Finally, enjoy a walk along the cornich, grab some chestnuts and corn cobb.

    • meinlebanon

      Wow wow wow..thanks for all of the recommendations. I’ve since revised the itinerary to include Beiteddine, and Deir el Kammar.. Thanks again, all of these are great!

  12. I forgot, for excursion, the village of Douma. Can’t get more Lebanese than this. And the Hermitage of Mar Charbel (the place is out of time).
    Lunch @ Le Chef in Gemmayzeh. Charbel (I think that is his name, i suck @ names) is quite a celebrity.

    • meinlebanon

      Mar Charbel, you are the second person to mention it hard to get to? And I will definitely take them to Le Chef for lunch. Thanks for the recommendations. 😀

  13. A Voice from NY

    If you don’t mind, I may be stealing bits and pieces of your itinerary for myself 😀 I arrive in Lebanon 2 days after your parents and hang out till the middle of January. I’ve already done all the sight-seeing in the past, but I could certainly use an updated list of eateries and nightlife venues. Hope your family enjoys their time in Lebanon.

  14. Simon

    You can’t come to Tripoli (not much to see there other than the castle and the mina) and not go to Ehden, Kadisha Valley (St Anthony’s Monastery) , and the Ariz (Cedars)!!

    I’ll be in lebanon on the 24th of Dec, and i’ll be more than happy to show you around on that day (28th of Dec). but i only know the basics in Tripoli.

    • meinlebanon

      Thanks for offering Simon! I may just take you up on that offer. I will for sure need some help showing the family around Tripoli. I have never been myself!

  15. Well I live here and I got tempted !!!

    Best of luck for your family visit,

    Regards 🙂

  16. Liliane

    Lol a Bare Truth, whatever she does, traffic is in her plans 😛 NO WORRIES!

  17. It sure looks like you have it all planned. I would suggest you try dinner at La Estancia on the 29th and then Salsa at El Gardel.
    I hope your family will enjoy their trip.

  18. I love the plan you made! But definitely add manakish to the breakfasts. You can also go to a place called “Professeur” in mar elias, it’s very well known. They have the hummus/foul kind of breakfasts and is the first that comes to mind when you mention these meals.

    You should also take them to Mar Charbel. It is honestly a really nice and peaceful place. It’s a walk up and then you reach where he lived and it is interesting to see it.

    If you go to Faraya, include a lunch or dinner in a restaurant called Erzal, which is in Hrajel (right before Faraya). It’s not expensive at all and the food is amazing.

    I was in Beiteddine last weekend. It was amazing to walk through it. They have recently opened rooms that were closed to the public (or so the guide told us). Chouf is an amazing area but you will find trouble finding some place to eat after the tour as most are closed so you’d have to go to another area for lunch.

    I’ll let you know as I think of more places. But your plan sounds like fun and it made me wish I could join you guys!

    • meinlebanon

      Wow Riham, I’m taking note of all of these places. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave recommendations. I really appreciate it! 😀

  19. Alf

    You should take the telepherique to Harissa.
    While going to the noth, you should go to Nourieh, in Chekka, great view from there..

    • meinlebanon

      Alf, I thought about the teleferique..but then I thought again. From what I’ve heard about it, it’s pretty old and rusty..and I think my Grandfather is both claustrophobic and afraid of heights! Not a good combination! Thanks for the recommendation though.

      • You can drive up rather then use the telefrique though I trust that more. And actually… it’s BEAUTIFUL up there- you see Lebanon from start to finish almost. I love it. Great view and not rusty and old at all.

  20. Sean

    adopt me! what a list!! hehehehe

  21. Taline

    i would recommend taking them to the Jeita Grotto.
    Also keep in mind that if they are coming here during the holidays, there’s gona be a LOT of traffic in Lebanon so it’s going to take some time going back and forth leave some time to that or else you wont be able to accomplish everything you had planned for that day.

    • meinlebanon

      The traffic! eeeek. Thanks for the reminder! I’m hoping that it doesn’t affect too many of my plans! As for Jeita Grotto, I will have to make a stop by on the way to Byblos.. Thanks for the recommendation!

  22. Mom

    Wow … I am so impressed by all of this! Danielle, thank you so much for taking all this time to plan things so we can make the absolute most of our time. And thanks also to all of your readers and friends for their wonderful suggestions. It looks like I am going to be eating VERY WELL on this trip with all of those wonderful restaurants to try out. Hopefully with all of the walking around in the daytime and dancing in the evening we will be able to burn off the calories! Thanks for the warning about the traffic also. So exciting …

  23. maryam

    would you happen to have a copy of the final version of your plan?
    im trying to plan my 7 day trip to lebanon (first real vacation in over 3 very long years) and it would be nice to have a template made by people who live there to start… tour prices are way over my budget and i need to do all the planning myself

    • Umm..I think we pretty much stuck to the plan above. The thing is, unless you know how to navigate the roads..or have someone willing to drive you, tour packages are your only option. I would never attempt to go to Baalbeck by myself for example. Tell me a bit more about what you’re interested in doing and seeing and I’ll try and help you out! Email me at 😀

  24. maryam

    how is public transport in lebanon?

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  26. As I am reading through all the suggestions here, I am wondering how long one has to plan the trip for and what would be the cost? How about transportation? I have never been to Lebanon and I am way overdue for a vacation. Any feedback would be awesome…

  27. But wanna say that this really is extremely valuable , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

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