Lebanon has been in the news a lot since protests against corruption and inequality broke out. The protests have brought the country to a standstill and its economy has continued to slide. It’s a difficult, but also a hopeful time. People from the many different sects in the country have united and it seems like they are there to stay until their demands are met.
Especially now you can make a difference by taking a trip to Beirut. You can help the local economy by spending your tourist dollars (worth 30% more than before the protests) with local entrepreneurs. Locals would love to talk to you and explain the current situation. You’ll tell about your trip back home, which will create attention and positive vibes…
Another good reason: visiting a like Beirut instead of a city where “everybody is going” helps against overtourism! Oh yes, and it’s 17 to 20 degrees Celsius now…
Here’s a few of our Beirut locals’ unique “to do” tips!
Barbeer – Beirut’s “real” souk
The first time I went to Beirut’s souks, I was disappointed. Like many visitors, I was expecting an authentic souk, a maze of alleyways and sellers touting spices, jewellery and other goods. What I found instead was a modern shopping arcade. It did have a jewellery section, but sadly Cartier was a little out of my budget…
If you’re on the hunt for some locally made gold and silver jewellery, head instead to Barbeer, an area close to the National Museum of Beirut and Beirut’s pine forest (Horsh Beirut). You’ll find a bustling road with gold and silver shops everywhere you look. — Lidija Liegis
An abandoned mansion turned artist community
Located in one of Beirut’s oldest areas, Zuqaq al-Blat, this beautiful villa-mansion has been there for many years since the 1930s, yet was abandoned during the civil war. 6 years ago, the mansion was bought by 2 Lebanese that wanted to bring the mansion alive again by turning into a place for the community.
The community that has been going in and out of this mansion are artists, architects, designers, writers, musicians, fashion designers, dancers etc — basically a community of artists enjoying their art space. It is open for the public and for anyone that wants to just come by and chill. — Rayan Ezzeddine
Donate blood at Donner Sang Compter
Here’s something you probably haven’t done on a city trip before… Donate blood! The idea behind Donner Sang Compter is to connect blood donors to patients in need anonymously. It just takes 15 minutes.
I highly recommend each and every one of you to register with them as a donor, for the after-feeling you get is awesome, selfless and full of love! — Stephanie Geryes
Break everything, release anger and recycle!
Kasser is an NGO that cares about recycling WHILE giving you the chance of breaking everything… You get a uniform that keeps you safe from glass and go inside a room with a weapon of your choice (hammer, baseball bat…) and start breaking everything in it!
The room with glass bottles that you throw to the wall was my favorite… Broke up with your partner? Go to Kasser. Long day at work with a lot of unfinished tasks? Kasser! Stuck in traffic and everyone is calling you? Kasser! — Stephanie Geryes
Fine dining in an old Lebanese house
Villa Clara is a charming French restaurant in an old Lebanese house from the 1920s that was totally renovated in an art nouveau design style. The plates are tailor made with delicious recipes, and the menu is seasonable, as part of the chef’s main rules: FRESH & ORGANIC!
More than just a dining place, Villa Clara is an exquisite experience to live. Once I stepped in, I felt the warm atmosphere and the hospitality. — Nancy Haddad
Perfect Lebanese breakfast with an even better view
Manara Palace Cafe is the perfect breakfast spot after a walk on the Corniche. The cafe serves typical Lebanese breakfast fare: labne, foul, manaeesh and cheeses, as well as a variety of teas, coffees and fresh juices. Everything is laid out on starched white table clothes, with proper linen napkins.
But the main reason to come here is for the unbeatable view: on one side, you can look straight out onto the Med, and on the other you have the Beirut skyline with the mountains in the background. — Lidija Liegis
An authentic street food market
Souk El Akel in Beirut is a pure celebration of Lebanon’s vibrant culinary world, showcasing Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisines. Designed as a public market space, Souk el Akel is a new Lebanese concept which I totally adore and encourage going to because it brings a new spirit to the city.
It’s so beautiful walking by and seeing people together with a shared love of great food and a sense of pride in their community. The food is always fresh and tasty. — Nancy Haddad
More local tips? check out Spotted by Locals Beirut. And we’re looking for Beirut Spotters!