First written by sally.raouf and 2 others, on Thu, 2008/07/24 - 9:01pm, and has been viewed by 19384 unique users

Although seemingly small, Lebanon is one of the most diversified countries of the Arab world: geographically, ethnically, as well as culturally. Tourists tend to skim through it superficially, but it much more could be explored.


The Capital; as you may know Beirut during the 70ies and 80ies war was divided in 2 sides; west (Muslims) and east (Christians) separated by an imaginary Green Line; starting by Martyr Square in Down Town, the green line width was from the end of Sacré-Coeur Gemmayzé to Phoenicia Hotel, then going down to Mat-haf area (National Museum), crossing by Sodeco through Damascus street to reach the Pine Forest and go by its border to end in Ain-el-Remmaneh. Making Down Town, Saifi and Pine Forest area a "No Man’s Land", whoever tries to cross there definitely get sniped; the only crossing was through Museum area. Barakat building, between the Museum and Sodeco square, was left as a living example of the war’s green line. The photos below shows the status of this building till a very recent time, however, renovations were taking place in the past few year, trying to make good use of the building while leaving part of the facade untouched as a war memory! http://flickr.com/photos/antoniocaselli/428416808/ & http://www.wallpaper.com/w-bespoke/ubs-smart-art-triple-action .

Now this separation doesn't exist anymore in the religious perspective, you will find Muslims and Christians living everywhere, but like anywhere else, the lifestyle and outings of each area differ from one another. Down Town and Saifi Village were bought from their land owners and renovated by “Solidaire”; a construction company that belongs to Hariri and their buildings are sold as the most expensive business / residential area in Beirut.

Currency: 1 USD = ~1,500 Liras


West side of Beirut is famous with those districts:

  • El-Hamra; It's mainly a residential and a commercial area and you may go for standard shopping in el-Hamra & Mar-Elias streets or you may enjoy the coffee shops and restaurants near by the AUB (Bliss Street), also known as Ras Beirut. Like most Beirut areas, nightlife in Hamra was booming during a certain time then faded out & moved to other areas.
    However, El-Hamra still includes the largest percentage of Beirut Hotels amongst the rest of Beirut districts; which varies in 3, 4 and 5 stars, the most famous ones are Le Bristol, Crown Plaza & Gefinor Rotana.
  • Verdun (pronounced as Verdann); considered to be part of el Hamra but more expensive as a residential area, it has the Holiday Inn Beirut Dunes http://www.holidayinn-dunes.com/Paged/mainframe.htm, the 730-732 mall, in addition to restaurants, cafés and theatres.
  • Rawshé and Cornish area in general; where the famous picturesque Rawché Rock exists and most of Beirut sea side restaurants and cafés lies https://www.zomato.com/beirut/raouche-restaurants/cafes; If you are a "Starbucks" fan, el Rawché branch has a marvelous sea view, that was somehow replicated with the San Stefano branch in Alexandria, Egypt.

This is mainly the west side of Beirut, of course in addition to other residential / commercial areas that are less important for tourism, but worth seeing while car cruising with a local.


East side of Beirut is famous with those districts:

  • Achrafieh; With the rise of the new millennium, its “Monot” street attracted a lot of tourists in addition to local when it was the nightlife hub of Beirut. “Pacifico” as a cool Mexican resto/bar style with a good menu of both drinks and food, has been one of the best places there. This is in addition to some stylish restaurants, very classy shopping boutiques and the ABC mall that has a good variety of shops, restaurants and cafés http://www.abc.com.lb/site/ashrafieh.
  • Sodeco; which is next to Achrafieh and was very close to the green line area during the war, now it has few restaurants and pubs as well as some clothing shops.
  • Gemmayzé; since 2005 it became the new hot spot for small pubs and bars next to Achrafieh, there u can go to a nice Lebanese restaurant called "Ahwet L'Ezaz", means the glass coffee shop, it's decorated in the style of café riche in kasr el nile street in Cairo, but much bigger in size. It also has several authentic places where you can work in a quite environment while grabbing a bite like "Em Nazih" café https://www.zomato.com/beirut/caf%C3%A9-em-nazih-gemmayze/menu.
  • Mar Mikhael; since 2014 the area started to be the trendiest place for pubs and bars. Wether you are looking to have a nice chat with your friends at the bar around the corner in Armenia street http://www.timeout.com/beirut/bars-and-pubs/the-best-bars-in-mar-mikhael or you are looking for a more lively nightlife in a place like "Train Station" https://www.facebook.com/trainstationmarmikhael/, "Mandaloun" http://almandaloun.com/ and B-018 https://www.facebook.com/B018Beirut.
  • Furn el Shubbak; good alternative for shopping, where shops are spread all the way down the street in a good variety of prices and styles.
  • Bourj Hammoud and Arax st. (the Armenian area); Less expensive but not too cheap (nothing is cheap in Lebanon) http://www.hotelibanais.com/fr/article/bourj-hammoud-beirut/. One of the best things to buy from there is Pastirma; either "Mano" or "Bedo" both are specialized in that area, they also wrap it and vacuum it for travel, BUT you must get it right before you go to the airport or leave it in the fridge at a friend house until you go. NB. The shops in this area is closed on Sundays

This is mainly the east side of Beirut, of course in addition to other residential / commercial areas that can be seen while car cruising with a local.



Down Town:





This is an absolutely informative post Sally ... Keep the flow of quality reports from Lebanon going :)

Sun, 2008/07/27 - 11:50am Permalink