Beirut is an amazing, vibrant city with so much to see, eat and discover. A true mix of Western and the Middle Eastern cultures. I had the pleasure to spend a weekend here visiting my friend Casper and celebrating my birthday. Full guide below and if you have any questions drop me a comment.
Beirut has a vivid food scene and there are tons of great restaurants and bars. You can easily walk around town safely – all the way from the Armenian neighborhoods with fruit markets and small stores to the more Brooklyn-style bar alley at Mar Mikhael.
In the muslim neighborhood of Hamra you’ll find some of the best shawarma and falafel and you should definitely pay a visit to the bar February 30 which turns into a nightclub with great Arabic music.
The food scene is dominated by Lebanese and Armenian cuisine with influences from France and other parts of Europe. The meze in general is very good, whether you go to high-end places like Lizas or a family-run Armenian restaurant, you’ll rarely be disappointed.
I’ve narrowed it down to a selection of restaurants and bars you definitely should visit while in Beirut.
Restaurants to visit in Beirut
1. Lizas: is located in the Achrafieh area, with an oriental and spacious vibe that feels very luxurious. Make sure to order their Hommos, Labne, Fattouche, Kafta, Kebbe Meklie, Halloum and Fattit Batenjane Bel Habak.
We had a few dishes, wine, drinks and a dessert for about €40 per person. It’s a great spot, but make sure to also visit the smaller family-owned businesses as well. That’s were you will find the locals. For Lizas make sure to book in advance.
2. BARBAR: After a long night out, join the locals and have a fresh grilled shawarma at Barbar. There are a few Barbars in town and the one pictured here is located in Hamra. It’s a cheap street food place that is always crowded and just watching the busy chefs is a sightseeing itself.
3. Falafel bars: All over Beirut you will find small falafel bars like the one pictured below. Perfect to cure a hangover or grab an afternoon snack, they are always packed with fresh herbs, tahini and pickled delicacies.
4. Tawlet Souk el Tayyeb: Traditional dishes from all over the country – each day by a different chef from a distinct region.
Featuring mostly vegetarian cuisine served as a buffet, you better get here early since they don’t refill the buffet trays once they have been emptied. The restaurant has large, beautiful windows and the buffet is priced at about €20-€30, which is a little bit more expensive than a regular meal in Beirut.
5. Byblos: An hour drive north of Beirut, you’ll find a small city by the ocean named Byblos. It’s a cute, little town with a marina and loads of restaurants serving fresh seafood.
We had lunch at the sunny terrace of Al Mina, which was great. However, the cocktails were a disappointment, so I recommend you go for a local beer or a glass of wine.
There are two roads to Byblos, the highway is a great alternative in the morning but in the afternoon you should take the more scenic route along the coast line. Lots of local fishermen and cool old houses.
6. Tusk: Looking for a great breakfast with homemade bread, delicious granola and great coffee? – this is your place. It’s located in Achrafieh close to the Armenian part of town.
7. Seza: is a family run Armenian restaurant in the Mar Mikhael area. Let them bring in their specialities and share. The interior feels very vintage, the service is great and they’ve also got an intimate outdoor with a few tables.
Bars to visit in Beirut
8. Torino Express: is a tiny bar located in Mar Mikhael. Great cocktails and nice ambience.
9. L’Appartement: is a nest in the beating heart of Beirut. A neighborhood bar, bistro & social club. Expect concerts, ateliers, house parties, pop-up shops & the nicest service in Beirut!
10. February 30: is a Lebanese bar located in the Arabic neighborhood, Hamra. Lots of people dancing to local club music and the place is packed with happy people.
11. Internatizionale: stop by for some Bloody Marys and check out their beautiful interior.
12. Centrale: French fine dining in a renovated house dating back to the 1920’s. Stop by for a drink in the bar which is like a long dark tunnel filled with jazz and RnB. Very elegant and a must when visiting Beirut.
13. B-018: a legendary Night club designed by architecture Bernard Khoury. Labeled as war architecture this club is located underground in a part of the city that was a refugee camp during the civil war. In the middle of the night they open up the entire roof and it turns into an open air party. Be there around 01-02, open all night.
Rent a car and make a roadtrip to the mountains – skiing available during winter/spring season (important to ask for snow chains in advance). Make a visit to the art gallery PlanBEY in Mar Mikhael and make sure to check out their outdoor cafe and artisan shop on the second floor. The great Mosque and to check out all the cool buildings and great variety of architecture is also a must. For a foodie all the fruit and vegetable markets will be a given stop but I can highly recommend everyone to browse these small stores and taste the local specialities.
They use Lebanese Pounds (LBP) and cash is to prefer. €10 is about 16 000 LBP. Prices are almost the same as in any large European city.
Fly to Beirut:
Frankfurt is a great hub with daily departures. We flew with one of my favorites, Lufthansa (one of few that still values free beer in cabin). Our roundtrip from Stockholm were priced at €230, but if you are a planning kind of person you should be able to find a lot cheaper tickets.
You can pretty much walk around town safely at all hours and that’s the best way to discover the city. For longer distances or bad weather taxi is however cheap. You either go for something they call service which is like UBER pool in the U.S. -you share a cab with others on the way and that costs about €1.2/person (2000 LBP) A regular taxi would be about 10 000 LPB) within the city. UBER is also available but a little bit more expensive. Works great as an airport transfer but be sure to use the free wifi inside the terminal and book your UBER from there (roaming prices are a nightmare in Lebanon).
English, French & Arabic. People are well educated and getting around with english is not a problem in general.