Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, is aptly known as the 'the Paris of the Middle East'. It is the commercial, cultural, and tourist center of the country. The city's vibrant nightlife and rich historical legacy make it one of the topmost tourist destinations in the country. From ancient sites to eateries and shopping centers, you can find it all in Beirut.
Being the largest city of Lebanon, Beirut is a favorite of tourists all over the world. If you are looking for fun things to do in Beirut and interesting places to visit, you will not be disappointed as the city has a lot to offer. Whether you like to party it up or spend time browsing for goods to take back home, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. One of the essential things to do in Beirut before you start with anything else is to marvel at just how beautiful it is and what better way to do this than going for a stroll along The Corniche. The coastline offers an interesting mix of the fishermen, the wealthier people in their Lamborghinis and loud vendors trying to sell you coffee and tea all in one place. The fresh sea air blowing from the sea serves as a bonus point. One of the things to do in Beirut is to stuff yourself with some amazing delicious food. Food lovers are in for some treat when visiting Beirut since the place has so many good and affordable restaurants. Dar Bistro &Books, Tawlet etc are some of the popular restaurants here serving you deliciously heavenly food. One restaurant in particular is ‘Motto’ which has the honor of being the only restaurant in all of Lebanon where customers have the right to pay whatever they think is fair for whatever they eat. Talk about convenience!
One of the most famous places to visit in Beirut is the National Museum of Beirut. Though it is not that big in size, it still contains a lot of interesting things for you to look at. The beautiful mosaics in the museum serve as the cherry on top. The artifacts that are displayed here are no less than intriguing. Since the museum is not that big, and if you are looking for places to visit in Beirut that don’t eat up much time, a visit to this museum is a must. Another one of the fun things to do in Beirut is to practice your photography skills! Beirut offers so many beautiful views that you would be crazy to not capture some beautiful shots. Places like Zaitunay Bay are perfect for pictures. Considered as the one of the most posh areas in all of Beirut, it serves as the perfect backdrop for your pictures. So dress stylish and blend right in with the environment.
The Ottoman Military Hospital which today houses the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction was once used as a courthouse. Located just in front of Grand Serail, the military hospital was built in 1865 by Sultan Abdul Aziz. Initially, the hospital was known as a military infirmary, but later, it was turned into a courthouse by the French in 1918.
The large hospital building is located between Eglise Saint-Louis and Grand Serail. It has two wings.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Aziz, the northern wing contained a drugstore, which was turned into a courtyard during the French mandate. Later on, the courtyard was moved to another space and the building was used by the Lebanese University. After its use as the Institute of Fine Art, Ottoman Military Hospital housed several art exhibitions. However, the Lebanese Civil War caused extensive damage to the structure, and as a result, most parts of the building were turned into ruins.
Ottoman Military Hospital was reconstructed and re-inaugurated in 1992. Today the building is used by the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction – a governmental organization that is responsible for the reconstruction of public facilities and landmarks that suffered damage during the Lebanese Civil War.
Grand Sérail, which is also known as the Beirut’s Government Palace, is a building built during the Ottoman Empire. Since the building acts as the government headquarters these days, it is not open for public. However, the stunning Ottoman architecture and the Hamidiyyah Clock Tower never fail to catch the attention of the visitors.
The history of this great monument dates back to the early 19th century when the Egyptians decided to set up their headquarters on the top of Sérail Hill in order to keep watch for the Ottoman armies. However, the Ottoman Empire managed to recapture authority over the city and constructed their barracks on the hill. A clock tower was also built in 1897 to celebrate the coronation of Beirut’s Sultan. Today, the 25 meters tall clock tower is commonly known as the Hamidiyyah Clock Tower and has become a famous tourist attraction in Beirut.
As already mentioned, the interior of the building is not open to visitors. But the facades and the walls of the building make for great photos. There are also a number of restaurants in close proximity of Grand Sérail where visitors can enjoy a heart-warming Mediterranean meal after a long day exploring Beirut’s architectural heritage.
Riad El Solh was Lebanon's Prime Minister when Lebanon gained its independence in 1943. After the war, the statue pedestal was rebuilt and a garden area was developed around it.
The Evangelical Church is the first Arabic Protestant congregation of the Middle East which is located in Beirut in Lebanon. This church happens to be the administrative center and headquarters of nine churches which work under the single name of NEUL i.e. the National Evangelical Union of Lebanon.
The first Evangelical Church was built in 1870, and it housed the English and Arabic congregations. For the next hundred years and was the main center for all the celebrations and activities of both these communities. It was was destroyed in the Lebanese civil war between 1975 till 1990.
The church was reconstructed in 1998 and since that time, this church happens to be the heart and soul of the Central District of Beirut. It engages the worshipers through services which are conducted by the famous Rev. Dr. Habib Badr. The church is also popular for its significant educational activities and diverse socio-cultural gatherings. In recent times, this church is running two schools of Beirut and also the Johann Ludwig Schneller School of the Western Beqaa District.
The horse racing scene in Beirut has always been a tradition after the Roman era. The roman Hippodrome in Beirut was discovered in 1988 and is the largest hippodrome out of the 5 in the region. The cultural minister had the site listed officially as one of the general inventory of historic buildings in 2009.
There are daily horse racing and the betting are heated up on certain events, so if you are up for something similar to a Thai cock fight on a larger scale and the adrenaline challenges the Beirut Horse Racing track is the place to go. Do check out their website for race timings and info about the horses participating.
Ramlet Al-Baida Public Beach has always been a quick getaway for the nearby city locals and families. It’s a corniche as well were you could find fine dining and authentic restaurants and coffee shops across the street.
Fisherman are always throwing their baits towards the water and local down to earth guys throw theirs at the woman walking! Relaxing on a bench with some simple street food and local beer is recommended to watch the show or go for a jog, a badminton game or even join the wise old men for a game of chess. It’s a corniche that has enough entertainment from beginning to end.
Beirut, with its rich history and culture, remains one of Lebanon’s most frequented cities. Each year, you would find people from different walks of life, discovering the numerous things to do in Beirut. Some things to do in Beirut include visiting its famous landmarks such as Pigeon Rocks, Place de l'étoil, Martyr’s Statue, Jeita Grotto, and more. There is just so much to discover and so many things to do in Beirut. Visit it now!