Country guides Middle East
Once occupied by Rome and Phoenicia, Lebanon is historically a melting pot of major civilisations. Today, it is home to the largest and best-preserved Roman sites in the world and offers tourists the rare opportunity to snorkel among submerged Phoenician ruins in the coastal cities of Sidon and Byblos. The pre-Roman site of Baalbek is perhaps the best place to see the region's intriguing past.
Sometimes called 'Paris of the Middle East', the capital Beirut is a trendy cosmopolitan city where a variety of languages, nationalities and religions transcend social barriers. Ironically, it suffered twin suicide bombings a day before the Paris attacks in November 2015.
The highlight of any visit to the Mediterranean country is the constant reminder of its role in world history, its location at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe making it part of a global network of trade ports during Roman times. The Beqaa Valley is one of the leading wine-producing areas in the world and has been the country's main agricultural region since the 1st century BC, when it was known as the 'granary of Rome'.
Lebanon has a remarkable natural landscape, especially when considering how much desert surrounds it. Each region varies in climate and topography, though the country's small size means travellers can pack their itinerary with daytrips to historic coastal towns and lovely mountain villages from Beirut.
Lebanon's bloody civil war ran from 1975 to the early 1990s and deeply scarred the country. The Lebanese people have tried to rebuild since then and an atmosphere of tolerance and open-mindedness has been the reward. Visitors can certainly enjoy safe and pleasant stays in this popular destination, though they should be aware of the socio-political situation at any given time as Lebanon still appears on consular warning lists.
Ski resorts, ancient cities, striking landscapes, gorgeous buildings, wonderful food, internationally-renowned wineries, incredible shopping districts, red-hot nightlife and skilled artisans are all on offer in Lebanon.