Holiday in Lebanon – Jounieh & Byblos (sept’13)

If you are looking for an alternative getaway to the usual European package holiday then Lebanon has that Mediterranean escape vibe with a Middle Eastern twist. It has a wonderful climate, tasty food and breathtaking scenery. We were fortunate enough to be invited to attend our friends wedding and jumped at the chance to be there. We had week to fit in sightseeing, relaxation, a hen & stag do and most importantly a wedding. This is part of what is wonderful about Lebanon. It is roughly the size of Greater Manchester so you are really not far from the main attractions. We are all aware of the civil war that devastated the country and many lives from (1975-1990) and subsequent conflicts and fragility ever since, and even when we were there. However, not once did we ever feel unsafe or at risk. I think that is mainly down to the well natured, resilient temperament, enjoying life attitude of the Lebanese people we met whilst we were there! So here are some pictures, info and recommendations of what we did in Lebanon. Note we flew into Beirut but chose not to stay and sightsee there, as we wanted to explore the coast and due to having wedding commitments didn’t have the time. Always worth saving something back, so a future trip is essential. So after a relatively easy trip 7 hours including change in Paris flying Air France (£400 return) we landed in Beirut. 15km drive north we checked in to our hotel in Jounieh. Jounieh is a charming little town with lots of cafes, restaurants, pubs and boutiques. We stayed at Queens Land Hotel. Basic, clean and friendly staff for around £50 per night inc breakfast and 5 mins walk to the 1st attraction that was on our must do list. The Teleferique up to the Harrisaa mountain where Our Lady of Lebanon towers over the bay. I would recommend going at sunset as you have wonderful views of the sun going down over the bay.

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http://www.teleferiquelb.com/ Another must see when you are in Lebanon is the Jeita Grottos, 20km north of Beirut and 10 km from Jounieh. You are not aloud to take cameras into the caves but visit these website to get a glimse of the jaw dropping limestone caves. If you only do 1 thing in Lebanon this has to be this!! http://www.jeitagrotto.com/ http://world.new7wonders.com/the-new7wonders-of-nature/jeita-grotto-lebanon/

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So after 2 nights in Jounieh we headed a further 18 km to Byblos where the rest of the wedding party were staying. We all stayed in Aleph Boutique Hotel (http://www.alephboutiquehotel.com/). Individual themed rooms, lovely comfortable beds, modern bathroom, friendly attentive staff and 5 mins walk to the beach, cafes, bars and restaurants.

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The city of Byblos dates back to Neolithic times and any archaeology/history enthusiasts will love walking around The Crusader Castle. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/295

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Byblos provided a wonderful mix for everyone in the wedding party. The brides family from the UK of all ages had chance to do things that suited everyone. If its chilling on the beach or going to a beach club or enjoying the more traditional side of Byblos on the fishing harbour and walking around the souks, there really is something for everyone. Some excellent restaurants we ate at were Feniqia & Bab El-Mina. Both great value for money but there is penalty of places to try with a great variety of Lebanese, Middle Eastern, European and Mediterranean cuisine. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g298264-d2019823-Reviews-Feniqia-Byblos_Mount_Lebanon_Governorate.html

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For a 7 day trip in Lebanon I would recommend maybe to do 2-3 night exploring Beirut then go straight to Byblos for 4-5 nights for a more beachy holiday vibe. Stopping off at the Teleferique in Jounieh then on to the Grottos for a fews hours or you could arrange a day trip out there once you get to Byblos. Lebanon really does have a great mix of everything you could possibly want in a holiday. Oozing with culture, history, amazing food, nightlife, beaches, walks and most importantly really welcoming friendly people.

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Overall our trip to Lebanon was possibly one of the best experiences of our lives and can not wait to go back to explore more of this fascinating country.

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