9 Places to Visit in Lebanon

Lebanon is a beautiful country in the Middle East, bursting with history, great food, and great culture.  It being a classic traveler’s destination, how can you decide where to go and what to see?  Since planning a trip can be quite the task, Go Eat Give has named the nine must see cities in Lebanon for your touring pleasure:

1. Beirut

This capital city of Lebanon is nicknamed “The Paris of the Middle East,” and is bustling with things to do. Along with great shopping and beautiful scenery, Beirut has a rich cultural history to explore. There are many museums and sacred religious sites there, such as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, the National Museum of Beirut, and the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

Beirut

2. Baalbek

Baalbek is located on the western end of Lebanon and is home to some of the most well preserved Roman ruins known to mankind.   The city dates back over 9,000 years and was previously known by the name of “Heliopolis,” or The City of the Sun, during the period of the Roman rule. Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus are all believed to have been worshipped at the Baalbek temples.

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3. Jeita Grotto

Located in the center of the Nahr al-Kalb valley in Jeita, Lebanon, the Jeita Grotto is an amazing sight. The interconnected limestone caves, which can only be accessed by boat, span around nine kilometers in length. To make the grotto even more intriguing—it was a finalist to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Lebanese journalists and photographers tour the Jeita Grotto by boat during a media day to campaign for the selection of the Jeitta Grotto as one of the seven natural wonders of the world

4. Sidon

This is a Lebanese town that is filled with old history and remarkable sight seeing.   Located on the western coast of the country, it was one of the most important Phonecian cities and is now known as an active fishing town. Sidon is home to the largest Lebanese flag and also the Old Souk, a famous marketplace.

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5. Tyre

Tyre is another city in Lebanon that contains very interesting ruins and historic sites. One main attraction here is the Roman Hippodrome—an ancient stadium for chariot and horse racing! The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is also the largest sandy beach in the country.

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6. Beit ed-Dine

Beit ed-Dine is a town famous for its’ magnificent Beiteddine Palace (shown below). This one-of-a-kind palace was built in 1788 and hosts the annual Beiteddine Festival and Beiteddine Palace Museum. Interestingly enough, after Lebanon’s independence in 1943 the palace was officially renamed the “People’s Palace” since it had been created by the people’s hard work and will.

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7. Faraya

Lebanon is known for it’s interesting climate, and this town is the perfect example why. Above this village lies the Mzaar Resort, which is a ski resort. The resort is only about 20 miles away from Beirut, meaning you could experience warm weather and winter all in the same day!

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8. The Cedars of God

Cedar trees are sacred and known to have covered Mount Lebanon in the past, but The Cedars of God is one of the last forests left in the country. This was caused by persistent deforestation by Lebanon’s ancestors, such as for shipbuilding and construction. The snowy area has great hiking and beautiful views.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 11.28.24 PM9. Deir el-Qamar

The name of this Lebanese village can be translated from Arabic into the “Monastery of the Moon.” It’s home to many important religious sites such as Saydet El Talle and the Mount of the Cross. This village is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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World’s first four sustainable tourism destinations

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has put together a brand-new set of criteria that will help put travel destinations, not just hotels, restaurants or airlines, on the path toward social, cultural, and environmental sustainability. Continue reading “World’s first four sustainable tourism destinations”

Experience Ireland in Atlanta

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend an event held by Tourism Ireland in Atlanta, Georgia on April 28, 2011.  The event was held specifically for travel agents who send clients to Ireland and the media who write about traveling and destinations.  Titled “Experience a Flavor of Ireland”, the evening was filled with Irish entertainment, information, and food.  Tourism Ireland partnered with fourteen other organizations, ranging from tour operators to hotels and B&Bs to Dublin Tourism, to sell Ireland as a wonderful destination and to share details about travel and accommodation offerings.

I had recently visited Ireland at the beginning of April and wrote a post about my key learnings there.  This event was a wonderful opportunity to relive my experiences and gain new insights about the country and the island.

What impressed me the most about this event was the professionalism and the creativity.  How do you share information so that it is meaningful, memorable, and exciting?  How do you keep an audience engaged for over three hours?  Tourism Ireland did it with structure and with the senses of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells.

They began with registration and cocktails.  In the cocktail area, stand-up tables were manned by each of the fourteen partners.  This gave the partners one-on-one speaking opportunities to introduce their products and services to the attendees.  Brochures and other literature were offered at this time.  Live Irish music was played in the background.

This was followed by the core program in the main room.  Three large screens, professional lighting, an audio/visual team, and a stage up front hinted at the entertainment that was to follow.  After brief introductions, the female duo violinists from Sephira delighted the audience with their brand of Irish music.  This duo debuted in 2007 and has performed with Celtic Thunder and other musical groups.  You can check them out at their website.
The information from the partners was delivered via a two hour “skit” led by two professional actors.  One actor played a U.S. based travel agent arriving in Ireland to check out the destination, the tour operators, accommodations, food, and other amenities.  The other actor played an Irishman to help the agent get the information he needs.  The partners played themselves.

This approach was creative and entertaining, and it kept the audience engaged.

– The use of professional actors made it work.  They were natural, delivered their lines well, and kept the flow moving at a nice pace.

– The script was perfect.  Humor was used throughout the skit.  The questions asked by the travel agent actor were the type a regular travel agent would ask.

– The large screens gave the right visual clues all along the way.  Maps of Ireland indicated where hotels and other properties were located.  Images flashed on cue with the script, showing pictures of the outside and inside of hotels, the transportation vehicles, the golf courses, and the scenery.

– The partners played themselves well.  They are salespeople and they know their material.  This skit format allowed them to share the information in an entertaining way rather than behind a lecturn.

Wade Murphy, billed as one of Ireland’s top chefs, represented one of the hotel partners (he is the head chef at that hotel).  At the end of the skit, the attendees were led to an Irish food tasting prepared by the chef.  Samples included:  cheeses of Ireland; fish and potatoes; beef and mashed potatoes; salmon; and desserts.  While the attendees ate, live Irish music continued until the end.

It was a marvelous evening.  I hope to go back to Ireland to visit the places mentioned that I did not see during my recent trip.

– By guest blogger Daniel Sklar