Lebanon – One Epic Journey in The Middle East


UPDATE: March 2023 (back to Lebanon)

The last 2 years have been difficult (to say the least) for Lebanese people, struggling with hyperinflation due to decades of government corruption, lack of electricity, endless queues for inexisting fuel, lack of medicines in the hospitals. A blast that destroyed the capital, killed more than 2 hundred people, injured thousands, left hundreds of thousands homeless… all of this during a pandemic!

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People are still waiting for answers and justice from the government… one year after their lost! 

For 10 days we had the opportunity to travel in Lebanon from north to south, from east to west. We visited the historical areas, the mountains, the forest, we went to the beach. We met fantastic people and enjoyed the Lebanese cuisine.

It is easy to make a road-trip in Lebanon, as the roads are generally of good quality and the distances are short, allowing you to cross the country in a short time.

The only difficulty you may encounter is in buying fuel, as the shortage at gas stations is great and the waiting time to fill up can range from “a lot to an eternity”.

You may ask: why did you go to a country that’s facing a humanitarian crisis like Lebanon?

Well… let me show you why! It was an epic adventure in Lebanon!


To write about Beirut is to delve into an amalgam of history, which has blended over the centuries and shaped the city to arrive at what we know today.

Lebanon’s capital has a long and turbulent history, an immeasurable cultural and religious richness, and an absolutely fantastic people. It is so complex that the thought of writing an article about it left me “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it justice and convey how extraordinary it is! 

Credits – Inês Jorge

Although it carries history on every facade, on every face of its inhabitants, Beirut has a very special energy that involves us in such a seductive way that no one can remain indifferent to it. Its dichotomies.

On the one hand we have a modern Beirut, full of skyscrapers that reflect the most modern architecture. On the other hand we have a decadent Beirut that reflects well the recent past of a capital that welcomed thousands of refugees from neighboring countries. 

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, despite all the vicissitudes, is a cosmopolitan city where a mix of religions, cultures, and races coexist.

We had the opportunity to visit Sabra and Shatila, Bourj Hammoud, Gemmayze and Mar Mikhail, and even Khandaq al-Ghamik, all neighborhoods of Beirut, all of them with very distinct characteristics and different personalities. Yes, a neighborhood has a personality.

Beirut is rich in history, culture, and gastronomy. It makes you want to stay a little longer to try to get to know its people better with open smiles and hearts, always willing to help.

Despite the regrets, Beirut is and always will be the “city of light of the Middle East,” as it was once dubbed in comparison with Paris.It may not be the electric light that becomes scarcer every day, but it is the light of the soul of its people, who do not stop constantly fighting for better days.

Sidon and Tyre

Lebanon is filled with historic cities and sites, where centuries have materialized in ruins and ancient cultures.

Examples are the towns of Sidon and Tyre, located between the capital and the southern border of the country.

Sídon – The Sea Castle
Credits – Inês Jorge

Many empires have passed through these biblical cities, and the remnants of some of them are still very visible.

Colonnaded avenues, fortresses that lead into the Mediterranean, and souks that vibrate with life to this day.

Tyre sunset at the beach

If in Sidon the port area dominates the landscape, leaving the fortresses in the background, in Tyre it is the huge beach with its cosmopolitan bars that faces the sea.

In Sidon it is a must to visit the Soap Museum, learn about the ancestral techniques of natural soap production and let yourself be involved by the aromas of natural products.

In Tyre you must visit the archaeological site, classified by UNESCO, where the vestiges are mostly Roman.

A curiosity about Tyre: legend has it that the color purple was invented in this ancient city!

Tyre sea port


East of Beirut, right on the border with Syria, at the foot of the mountains lies Baalbek.

To explore Balbeek is to take a trip back in time, where every detail carved in the stones of the times reflects the millennial history of this place. Anything you may see in photographs will never reflect how majestic this archaeological complex is.

The ancient Phoenician city, inhabited since 9000 B.C., became an important pilgrimage site in the ancient world for the worship of the sky-god Baal and his consort Astarte, the Queen of Heaven in Phoenician religion. 

Bacchus Temple
Credits – João Sousa

The center of the city had a large temple dedicated to Astarte and Baal, and the ruins of this early temple remain today on the back side of the Roman Temple of Jupiter. 

In Biblical times it was the site of bloody human sacrifices to Baal, the god of fertility. Some of the remains of this ancient civilization can still be seen in the archaeological enclosure.

After it was conquered by the Greeks, Baalbek was given the name ‘Heliopolis’ and was later taken over by the Romans as the base for a new temple complex that took 250 years to build.

The most remarkable Roman buildings in the complex would have been the temples of Bacchus, Jupiter, and Venus. Together, these constituted one of the largest temples in the entire Roman Empire.

Nowadays, the Temple of Bacchus is one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world and Baalbek is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Kadisha Valley and the Cedars of God

No one is indifferent to the monumentality of nature in the Kadisha Valley, the Holy Valley of Lebanon.

The large valley of rocky cliffs has served over the centuries as a place of meditation, and some of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world can be found here.

It was here that hermits sought refuge, and even today you can see the cultivated agricultural terraces that were the origin of the first occupations of the territory.

The monasteries, perched on rocks, some practically inaccessible, continue to perpetuate the search for isolation. Intrinsically linked to the Kadisha Valley is the Cedar Forest of God, or at least what remains of it.

Cedars of God
Credits – Francisco Agostinho

The history of Lebanon is so deeply related to this forest that the cedar is the ultimate symbol of the nation’s flag. Over the centuries this patch of green has been delapidated, for the most diverse reasons, leading almost to its extinction.

To walk in what remains of this forest is to take a journey through millennia of human history. The size of these giants is a dazzle to the eye and makes you wonder how resilient nature can be in the face of human intervention.


Tripoli is the perfect example that what you hear is not always what you get. When I went to Tripoli I had the preconceived idea, formed by the international press reports about Lebanon. Wrongly I thought it would be a very poor city, where the inhabitants did not like to receive foreigners and that it would be a somewhat dangerous destination.

I could not have been more wrong! Tripoli was, without a doubt, the city that surprised and fascinated me the most during the trip to Lebanon with 100 Rota, because it is so genuine.

Credits – Inês Jorge

As the largest city in the North of the country and the second largest in Lebanon, Tripoli is located along the Mediterranean coast. It includes in its territory a number of islands, one of which is classified as a protected area by UNESCO.

As a city it is said to have been founded by the Phoenicians, and having gone through several invasions, it has a rich and turbulent history.

Modern Tripoli, which has a population of about 500,000, is divided into two parts: El-Mina (the port area and site of the old city) and the city of Tripoli itself.

If the medieval city, at the foot of the Crusader Castle, is where you can find most of the historical sites and enjoy the monumental views of the city. It is around it that a modern metropolis develops and offers all kinds of commerce and services, with restaurants that are on par with any European city.

The area known as “at-Tall”, dominated by an Ottoman clock tower (built in 1901/2) is located in the heart of downtown Tripoli. There we can find the transportation hub and terminal of most cab routes.

The old souk, in the center of the city is absolutely fascinating, not only for its architecture, but also for all the hustle and bustle that goes on there. People welcomed us with broad smiles and immense friendliness.

Al Mina, the port area, is a good place to find fish and seafood restaurants and also fish markets.


Imagine a small town on the edge of the Mediterranean, in the coast of Lebanon that looks like something out of a storybook, that town is Byblos.

If we don’t surrender to the town’s millennial history, one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the world, we will surrender to its charm.

Byblos Alley
Credits – Soha Sayed

The ancient Phoenician port of Byblos is one of the oldest in the world. In its surroundings you can find restaurants and taste all the delicacies of Lebanese cuisine with a touch of the characteristic menus of a seaside town.

Stroll around the harbor, appreciate the architecture of the buildings that surround it, and if you feel like it, take a boat ride and enjoy a different experience.

Wander through the old souk and the narrow streets, filled with stores with local handicrafts and flowery alleys, where the terraces invite you to sit and enjoy this charming city.

The ancient Phoenician port of Byblos is one of the oldest in the world. In its surroundings you can find restaurants and taste all the delicacies of Lebanese cuisine with a touch of the characteristic menus of a seaside town.

Stroll around the harbor, appreciate the architecture of the buildings that surround it, and if you feel like it, take a boat ride and enjoy a different experience.

Wander through the old souk and the narrow streets, filled with stores with local handicrafts and flowery alleys, where the terraces invite you to sit and enjoy this charming city.

The returne to Beirut

The trip ended with the return to Beirut and the certainty that Lebanon is much more than what the media makes it seem.

It is a country with a millenary history, extraordinary people, drool-worthy cuisine, and stunning landscapes.

Lebanon is made by a conjuncture of factors that lock the economic crisis it is going through, it is made by its people. And, as such, it deserves to be visited, known, felt in all its splendor.

That’s why I’m going back to get to know it a little bit more!


UPDATE: Março 2023 (de volta ao Líbano)

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Durante 10 dias tivemos oportunidade de percorrer o país de norte a sul, de este a oeste. Visitámos as zonas históricas, as montanhas, a floresta, fomos à praia. Conhecemos pessoas fantásticas e deliciámo-nos com a culinária do Líbano.

É fácil fazer uma road-trip no Líbano, já que as estradas são genericamente de boa qualidade e as distâncias são curtas, permitindo atravessar o país em pouco tempo.

A única dificuldade que poderão encontrar é em comprar combustível, já que o défice nos postos de abastecimento é grande e o tempo de espera para abastecer pode variar entre “muito e uma eternidade”.

Podem questionar-me: por que é que foste para um país que está a enfrentar uma crise humanitária, como o Líbano?

Bem … deixem-me mostrar porquê!


Escrever sobre Beirute é mergulhar numa amálgama de história, que se mistura ao longo dos séculos e que moldou a cidade para chegar àquilo que conhecemos nos dias de hoje.

A capital do Líbano tem uma história longa e turbulenta, uma riqueza cultural e religiosa incomensurável e um povo absolutamente fantástico. Assim como o resto do país.

Créditos – Inês Jorge

É de uma complexidade tão grande, que pensar escrever um artigo sobre a mesma, deixou-me “à beira de um ataque de nervos”. Tive receio de não conseguir fazer-lhe justiça e de não ser capaz de transmitir o quão extraordinária é!

Mas embora carregue a história em cada fachada, em cada rosto dos seus habitantes, Beirute tem uma energia muito especial que nos envolve de uma forma tão sedutora, que ninguém lhe fica indiferente.

Aquilo que mais me surpreendeu na cidade? As suas dicotomias. Se por um lado temos uma Beirute moderna, cheia de arranha-céus que refletem o que de mais moderno há na esfera da arquitetura. Por outro lado temos uma Beirute decadente que reflete bem o passado recente de uma capital que acolheu milhares de refugiados dos países vizinhos.

Beirute, apesar de todas as vicissitudes, é uma cidade cosmopolita, onde convivem uma miscelânea de religiões, culturas e raças.

Tivemos a oportunidade de visitar Sabra e Shatila, Bourj Hammoud, Gemmayze e Mar Mikhail e até mesmo Khandaq al-Ghamik, todos eles bairros de Beirute, todos eles com características bem distintas e personalidades diferentes. Sim, um bairro tem personalidade. Aquela que lhe é conferida não só pelos edifícios, mas pela vivência e identidade dos que lá habitam.

Beirute é rica em história, cultura e gastronomia. Faz-nos querer ficar por lá mais um bocadinho para tentar conhecer melhor as suas gentes de sorriso e coração abertos, sempre disponíveis para ajudar.

Apesar dos pesares, Beirute é e será sempre a “cidade luz do Médio Oriente”, como antes foi apelidada em comparação com Paris.

Pode não ser da luz elétrica que escasseia a cada dia que passa, mas é da luz da alma do seu povo, que não deixa de lutar constantemente por dias melhores.

Sídon e Tyre

O Líbano está recheado de cidades e lugares históricos, onde os séculos se materializam em ruínas e culturas ancestrais.

Exemplo disso são as cidades de Sídon e Tyre, localizadas entre a capital e a fronteira a sul do país.

Castelo de Sidon
Créditos – Inês Jorge

Foram muitos os impérios que passaram por estas cidades bíblicas e ainda são bem visíveis os resquícios de alguns deles.

Avenidas com colunatas, fortalezas que entram pelo Mediterrâneo adentro e souks que vibram de vida até aos dias de hoje.

Pôr do sol na praia de Tyre

Se em Sídon a área portuária domina a paisagem, deixando a fortaleza timidamente em segundo plano, em Tyre é a enorme praia com os seus bares cosmopolitas, que faz frente ao mar.

Em Sídon é obrigatório visitar o Museu do Sabão, conhecer as técnicas ancestrais de produção de sabão natural e deixarmo-nos envolver pelos aromas de produtos naturais.

Em Tyre é obrigatório visitar o sítio arqueológico, classificado pela UNESCO, onde os vestígios são maioritariamente romanos.

Uma curiosidade sobre Tyre: reza a lenda que a cor purpura foi inventada nesta cidade milenar!

Porto de Tyre


A Este de Beirute, bem junto à fronteira com a Síria, no sopé das montanhas fica localizada Baalbek.

Explorar Balbeek é fazer uma viagem no tempo, onde cada detalhe esculpido nas pedras dos tempos reflete a história milenar deste lugar. Tudo o que possam ver em fotografias, jamais irá refletir o quão majestoso é este complexo arqueológico.

Interior do Templo de Baco
Créditos – João Sousa

A antiga cidade fenícia, habitada desde 9000 a.C., tornou-se um importante local de peregrinação no mundo antigo para a adoração do deus-céu Baal e da sua consorte Astarte, a Rainha do Céu na religião fenícia. 

O centro da cidade tinha um grande templo dedicado a Astarte e Baal e as ruínas deste templo primitivo permanecem hoje no lado posterior do Templo Romano de Júpiter. 

Nos tempos bíblicos era o local de sangrentos sacrifícios humanos a Baal, o deus da fertilidade. Alguns dos restos desta antiga civilização ainda podem ser vistos no recinto arqueológico.

Depois de ter sido conquistada pelos gregos, Baalbek recebeu o nome de ‘Heliópolis’ , e mais tarde foi tomada pelos romanos como base para um novo complexo de templos que demorou 250 anos a construir.

Os edifícios romanos mais notáveis do complexo teriam sido os templos de Baco, Júpiter e Vénus. Juntos, constituíam um dos maiores templos de todo o Império Romano.

Atualmente, o Templo de Baco é um dos templos romanos mais bem conservados do mundo e Baalbek está classificada pela UNESCO como Património Mundial.

Vale de Kadisha e os Cedros de Deus

Ninguém fica indiferente à monumentalidade da natureza no Vale de Kadisha, o Vale Sagrado.

O grande vale de penhascos rochosos serviu ao longo dos séculos como lugar de meditação, podendo ser aqui encontrados alguns dos mosteiros cristãos mais antigos do mundo.

Era por aqui que os eremitas procuravam refugio e ainda hoje é possível ver cultivados os socalcos agrícolas que tiveram origem nas primeiras ocupações do território.

Os mosteiros, encavalitados nas rochas, alguns praticamente inacessíveis, por ali continuam a perpetuar a busca pelo isolamento.

Intrinsecamente ligada ao Vale de Kadisha encontra-se a Floresta dos Cedros de Deus, ou pelo menos o que resta dela. A história do Líbano está tão profundamente relacionada com a esta floresta que o cedro é o símbolo máximo da bandeira da nação.

Cedros de Deus
Créditos – Francisco Agostinho

Ao longo dos séculos esta mancha verde tem sido delapidada, pelos mais diversos motivos, tendo levado quase à sua extinção.

Passear no que resta desta floresta é fazer uma viagem por milénios de história da Humanidade. A dimensão destes gigantes é um deslumbramento para os olhos e faz-nos pensar em como a natureza consegue ser resiliente face á intervenção do Homem.


Trípoli é o exemplo perfeito de que nem sempre o que ouvimos, é aquilo com que nos deparamos. Quando fui para Trípoli tinha a ideia preconcebida, formada pelas notícias da imprensa internacional, de que seria uma cidade bastante pobre, onde os seus habitantes não gostavam de receber estrangeiros e que seria um destino algo perigoso.

Não podia estar mais enganada!

Trípoli foi, sem dúvida, a cidade que mais me surpreendeu e fascinou, na viagem ao Líbano com a 100 Rota, por ser tão genuína.

Créditos – Inês Jorge

Sendo a maior cidade do Norte do país e a segunda maior do Líbano, Trípoli desenvolve-se ao longo da costa do Mediterrâneo e inclui no seu território um conjunto de ilhas, uma das quais classificada como área protegida pela UNESCO.

Diz-se que enquanto cidade foi fundada pelos Fenícios, e tendo passado por diversas invasões, tem uma história riquíssima e também turbulenta.

A Trípoli moderna, que tem uma população de cerca de 500,000 habitantes, está dividida em duas partes: El-Mina (a zona portuária e local da cidade antiga) e a cidade de Trípoli propriamente dita.

Se a cidade medieval, ao pé do castelo dos Cruzados, é onde podemos encontrar a maioria dos locais históricos e apreciar a vista monumental sobre a cidade, é em redor desta que se desenvolve uma metrópole moderna que oferece todo o tipo de comércio e serviços, com restaurantes que estão ao nível de qualquer cidade europeia.

A área conhecida como “at-Tall”, dominada por uma torre de relógio otomano (construída em 1901/2) no coração do centro de Trípoli, é onde podemos encontrar o centro de transportes e terminal da maioria das rotas de táxi.

Os antigos souq no centro da cidade são absolutamente fascinantes, não só pela sua arquitetura, mas também por todo o rebuliço que ali acontece. As pessoas receberam-nos com sorrisos rasgados e uma simpatia imensa.

Al Mina, a zona portuária, é um bom local para encontrar restaurantes de pescado e frutos do mar e também mercados de peixe.


Imaginem uma pequena cidade à beira do Mediterrâneo que parece saída de um conto de histórias, essa cidade é Byblos.

Se não nos rendermos pela história milenar da cidade, uma das mais antigas continuamente habitadas no mundo, vamos render-nos ao seu charme.

Ruela de Byblos
Créditos: Soha Sayed

O ancestral porto fenício de Byblos é um dos mais antigos do mundo. Na sua envolvente é possível encontrar restaurantes e provar todas as iguarias da cozinha libanesa com um toque próprio das ementas características de uma cidade à localizada beira-mar.

Passeiem no porto, apreciem a arquitetura dos edifícios que o rodeiam e, caso tenham vontade, deem um passeio de barco e desfrutem de experiência diferente.

Percam-se no antigo souk e nas suas ruelas, recheado de lojas com artesanato local e de becos floridos, onde as esplanadas convidam a sentar e desfrutar desta cidade encantadora.

O regresso a Beirute

A viagem terminou com o regresso a Beirute e com a certeza de que o Líbano é muito mais do que a comunicação social faz transparecer.

É um país com uma história milenar, com um povo extraordinário, com uma culinária de fazer babar e com paisagens deslumbrantes.

O Líbano é feito por uma conjuntura de fatores que transcende a crise económica que está a passar, é feito pelo seu povo. E, como tal, merece ser visitado, conhecido, sentido em todo o seu esplendor.

Por isso, vou regressar para conhecer mais um bocadinho!

5% de desconto em todos os seguros de viagem

14 thoughts on “Lebanon – One Epic Journey in The Middle East”

  1. Pingback: Beirut – Fascinating Glamour and Urban Decay »

  2. Pingback: Trípoli – What you hear is (NOT) what you get »

  3. I adored Lebanon and really explored Beirut a lot to capture its history, charm and atmosphere. I have to say this was before the huge explosion and consequent downturn in the economy however. Baalbek was perhaps the place that engrossed me the most as it was much bigger than I expected and more complete.
    You have some wonderful photos here and I was glad to read about places I didn’t get to see like Tripoli and Sidon.
    Maybe, like you, I am due a second visit to see more of this evocative country.

  4. It has been many, many years since we visited Lebanon and this post brought back very happy memories. Looking at your photos it is really interesting to see what has changed and also what hasn’t. Sidon, Baalbek and the Kadisha Valley appear to be as we saw them. What we also remember was the warm welcome we received wherever we went. This has prompted us to think about making that second trip – as Lebanon was a country we adored.

  5. I am impressed by your beautiful trip around Lebanon, a moving story, and an amazingly inspiring journey. I have always admired the photos from Beirut, a city beautifully rightly called the Paris of the Middle East, and maybe even more attractive. This country’s history, culture, and architecture are vibrant, and above all, it has wonderful inhabitants. I would also like to see Sidon, Tyre, Baalbek, and Bacchus Temple. Also would love to visit Tripoli as it’s on the UNESCO list.

  6. You write so passionately about Lebanon that I’m thinking of booking a trip asap! Lebanon has such a rich history and growing up in Morocco I’ve had several Lebanese friends in Uni and they were some of the most interesting and cultured people I had met. Your pictures are lovely as usual, Baalbek looks wonderful and you must have felt like you just stepped inside a history book. Tyre sea port is postcard pretty and so does Byblos. The diversity of the landscapes is incredible and I completely get why you feel the urge to go back and see more.

  7. I honestly love your way of travelling and I take it you did another tour with 100 Rota? I love their concept of travelling in a small group to rather unusual countries and showing the local side mixed with unique experiences. Again you’ve taken me to never seen/heard before places and ignited some wanderlust for me. I would have never considered Lebanon before, but seeing your pictures from the lush harbours of Tyre to the epic ruins of Templo Baco has me sold.

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

  8. I find cultural symbols so fascinating, and it’s cool that you got to see a cedar forest to connect with Lebanon’s flag. We hear so much about Beirut, so I really enjoyed reading about the unfamiliar places, like Baalbek and Byblos. I’d love to visit Lebanon someday as I’ve heard a lot of good things!

  9. thedctraveler9b7e4f7d4d

    Wow – what an incredible journey! It looks like you got to see a ton in the country. I was only familiar with Beirut, but exploring Sidon and the castles. It seems like it would be a sharp contrast to the bars at the beach. Byblos sounds absolutely incredible to visit.

  10. This post just proves that you can’t believe anything you read. Although Ives never been, I concur with the people . I have met many Lebanese people here in Canada and they are so nice. They also say they go back home if they could. I’ve always wanted to visit a monetary. Having never been that would be a dream come true

  11. Great post, Angela.

    Sad to hear about the hardship of the Lebanese people and what happened during covid. Is there anything we and other travellers can do to help? Packages, donations etc? And also where is best to send it without risk of more corruption?

    Baalbek looks absolutely stunning – yikes!

    Love how you went against the grain and enjoyed Tripoli. I’ve often found this about with places that ‘avoidable’ as well and ended up having the best time, meeting the best people.

    I’ve also just fallen in with Byblos, I think I would definitely have to take the boat ride. What a stunning place and quite the setting for a romantic novel.

    Loved this, thank you!

  12. Every place you talked about in Lebanon had me itching to visit and thinking it can’t get better than this. Until then I saw the next place. The Fortress and soap making museum of Sido; the temple at Baalbek, the gorgeous outdoor views and ancient cities along the way. What a spectacular looking place with such a history. I can see why you would want to return

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