Beirut, the Middle East Paris

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is a city between the West and the East characterised by both an ancient and modern style. Just sit back and get ready because we are about to discover this beautiful and fascinating Middle East capital. I am sure you will be amazed. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Where is Beirut?

The city is the capital of Lebanon and it holds the seat of governments, situated on a small peninsula in the midpoint of the country. Lebanon is in the Middle East, it borders with Israel and Syria and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea on the east.

Beirut's map:

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

Do you want to live in Beirut? Don't miss the most useful information before your arrival

Beirut could seem an unusual place to live, study or work, but after reading this article, you will be looking forward to visit it!

1. Things you need to know before arriving in Beirut (Lebanon)

Before you leave, it is important to know a few things:

  1. Beirut has a different time zone, so you have to move the hands one hour forward;
  2. There are multiple religions in Beirut. Many religions have always coexisted: the most important are the Muslim and the Catholic, followed by the Druze.
  3. In Beirut, the language spoken is Lebanese, but also French and English. Indeed, almost the totality of the population is trilingual! Modern Standard Arabic is rarely used;
  4. Phone: the Lebanon and Beirut's area code is +961;
  5. Beirut's zip code is 01270;
  6. Beirut flag represents the national symbol which is the cedar;

    Beirut, the Middle East Paris

  7. There are 450,000 inhabitants in Beirut. Indeed, it is the most populated city of the country. There is also a numerous Italian community in Beirut;
  8. Womenin Beirut enjoy all the typical freedoms of the West, in contrast to others Arab countries. So, if you are a woman, you don't have to worry!

If you want to know more about Beirut from a student point of view, don't miss the Experience in Beirut, Lebanon by Anthony.

2. How to get into town: flights to Beirut

The easier and faster way to arrive in the Middle Eastern capital is by plane. Every flight lands at the Beirut Hariri Airport, so let's check the options. If you travel from Italy, you can fly Milan-Beirut or Rome-Beirut low cost or you can fly from Venice. A good option could be the direct flight Milan Beirut by MEA (Middle East Airlines). This option doesn't include changes so you don't have to wait at others airports or risk to lose the connection!

Taxi - Beirut airport:

If you know nobody there, the only way to reach Beirut is by taxi. One route to the city centre costs around 30$ or 50$. It is quite expensive for one route to Beirut, but I swear it is worth it.

3. How's the weather?

The weather in Beirut is perfect for heat lovers: the temperature never goes below the 15ºC also during winter. The best months to visit the country are May, June, September and October, meanwhile the worst are July and August. Remember that temperature in Beirut can change a lot compared to the rest of the country.

Once arrived, what do you have to visit in Beirut?

What to see in Beirut? Well, it is a city full of differences which is divided between past and present, and between West and East. There you have everything: from museums about the rich Lebanese history, to beaches, modern architectures and monuments. You will be completely charmed by it!

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

Beirut city: neighborhoods and museums

As the other big cities, Beirut is splitted into districts. Here is a list of the most important ones:

  1. Downtown Beirut: it is the historical, geographical, commercial and administrative core of the city. It was destroyed during the civil war and it has been rebuilt with modern architecture.
  2. Hamra Beirut: it is one of the areas with the highest number of shops and pubs of Beirut. It goes from the American University of Beirut till the Sanayeh Garden. The essence of the district is the homonymous street, Hamra Street. It is not the most traditional neighborhood, but here you can experience the Western Beirut!
  3. Saifi Beirut: this set of well-finished and coloured streets and places is right in the centre, very close to the famous Beirut Martyrs square.
  4. Gemmayze Beirut: the perfect district to enjoy the Lebanese architecture during the day, and go wild in the pubs during the night. It is located between the Beirut port and Saifi Village.
  5. Mar Mikhael Beirut: it is a residential and commercial district next to the port. It is the area dedicated to trendy clubs and cafés where you can also find art galleries and vintage shops. The district is named after the Maronite Catholic church of St. Michael.
  6. Beirut Armenian district: it was founded by Armenian survivors emigrated 35 years ago after the genocide. Today it hosts the most part of Syrian refugees of the Country.
  7. Ouzaï Beirut: it is a suburb in the Southern of Beirut, abandoned by the city government. In 2017, Ayad Nasser, with other students, gave life to the district through the Ouzville project.

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

Talking about museums, the most important one is the National Museum of Beirut which is about Lebanon archeology. You need to visit also the Beit Beirut (Lebanese civil war museum), the Sursock Museum (modern and contemporary art museum) and the Beirut art centre (an art gallery).

Beirut - Tourism: places of interest and hotels

After neighborhood and museums, it is now time to talk about places of interest around the city. Beirut sea is not the best because of the pollution. For this reason, if you want to have a relaxing day you have to take an Uber from Beirut to the beaches on the coast (take a look at "travels around the city").

As for the neighborhoods, here there is a list of the city touristic places and monuments:

  1. Corniche Beirut: a promenade on the Beirut seafront. Flanked by palm trees, it gives a wonderful view of the Mediterranean Sea and of the Mount Lebanon. From here you can also see the famous "Pigeons' Rock" or Rock of Raouché, two rock formations which emerge form the sea as two sentinels.
  2. Beirut Zaytuna Bay: the best destination for your free time in Beirut. It is located next to the touristic port and it includes several restaurants, cafés, shops and other activities. Numerous promenades create a pedestrian area where you can eat, participate to events, cultural festivals, concerts and much more.
  3. Beirut Martyrs Square: historically known as “al Burj”. The place has been created to honour the martyrs who died there during the Ottoman control. During the Lebanese Civil War it was part of the line which divided the city in two parts, the Green Line of Beirut.
  4. Mohammad Al-Amin mosque (the Blu mosque): it is a Sunni mosque in Ottoman monumental style in the centre of the city. Its construction begun in 2002 and it has been inaugurated in 2008.
  5. Beirut Terraces: a wonderful skyscraper built by Herzog & de Meuron in Beirut in 2017. It has 26 floors and it is 119.5 m high, so you can't miss it if you are a modern architecture lover.

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

If you haven't decided yet where to stay during your holidays in Beirut, here are some of the most wonderful hotels (and also the most expensive ones) of the city:

  • Four Season Beirut;
  • Hilton Beirut;
  • Phoenicia Hotel Beirut;
  • Monroe Hotel Beirut;
  • Movenpick Beirut;
  • Mayflower Hotel Beirut;
  • Holiday Inn Beirut;

To book these and other hotels you can visit Booking Beirut or Airbnb Beirut and search for the best accommodation on the search engine. On Tripadvisor Beirut, you can find other hotels, monuments and Beirut photos!

Beirut - Nightlife: where to go out at night in Beirut

I know what you think about Middle East, but trust me: Beirut nightlife have nothing less than every Western big city. Bars, pubs, discos and restaurants are all around the city, especially Gemmayze is famous for being the centre of the night life.

To cut a long story shot, I'm going to tell you about my four favourite clubs.

  1. Skybar Beirut/ ON1E: it is one of the most beautiful bar located next to the port and Zaytuna Bay. It is a building overlooking the sea that has an open-air disco (Skybar) and one indoor for winter months (ON1E). They play commercial music and they often organise theme parties as the once for the independence day on 22nd November.

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

  1. BO18 Beirut: situated in the Karantina district in the northeast of Beirut. During the weekend it is the favourite club for the house music lovers. Here is where internaltional Djs use to perform and the location is really evocative. During the week live bands perform too.
  2. The Gärten Beirut: located in Downtown, it is an oasis in the middle of the city. Its strong points are the abundance of trees, the gardens (400 mq) and the steel structure just above the dance floor that will surprise you through wonderful light tricks. The music is house/techno.
  3. Radio Beirut: one of the most characteristic places of Mar Mikhael. It has been the first café radio of the Middle East and today it streems live on the web in www.radiobeirut.net or in their app. Come to listen some amazing music and sip their delicious cocktails.

To enter clubs there is always an age limit and the selection while entering is strict. You always need to have a document and respect the dress code!

Beirut - Travel on the city surroundings

If you get tired of the city chaos, you can take an Uber (the best way of transport) and reach one of the touristic destinations of the city. If you want to visit other cities you can point the north toward Tripoli or the south toward Tiro and Sidone. They are all peculiar small towns that are worth to be visited. If you prefer to stay in the nature, I recommend you to go toward Jeita Grotto. It is a system of two interconnected karstic limestone caves that you can visit by foot or by boat. They give a really unique show. For nature lovers, there is also a trip you can't pass up in the Cedars of God, the cedars forest whose tree is the country's symbol. Outside Beirut you can find a lot of beaches that are as good as the European ones. Among them there is Batroun, Byblos (the only one with sand), Tiro, Saida and much more around the Lebanese coast.

Beirut, the Middle East Paris

If you have doubts regarding your trip, read our article on How Erasmus changes people's life!

University of Beirut: is it the only one in the city?

There are plenty of universities in Beirut, whether Arabic or American or French. The main universities are the American University of Beirut or AUB Beirut and the Universite Saint-Joseph or USJ Beirut. Two of the most important hospitals of Beirut are part of the Hotel Dieu University of Beirut.

Don't miss the Experience at Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon by Myriam to learn everything about USJ!

Beirut - News: history, wars and attacks

Because of all the military events of its history, a lot of people ask if Beirut is dangerous, and the answer is no. The civil war in Beirut ended more than 20 years ago and the last attack was in 2015. Recently people started to worry again because of the bomb explosion in the Beirut port. Don't be deceived by news and the huge amount of soldiers because Beirut is a very safe city. Here also small-scale crimes are sporadic and women and men can wander without problem both during the day and night.

Beirut today: is it safe during the covid-19?

As the rest of the world, also Lebanon and Beirut are facing the corona virus pandemic. On the 8th February a gradual reopening has began as well as the vaccine campaign. According to the Italian website viaggiare sicuri, Beirut can be reached only for those who have a negative covid test. Take into account that the airport is working at the 20%. For more information:

  • Google "viaggiare sicuri Beirut";
  • Visitate la pagina del sito relativa a Beirut della Farnesina;
  • If you are already there, go or call the Italian embassy in Beirut;
  • Read our article about Which Covid Apps you need to travel abroad.

Do you want to discover what are the best post-covid Erasmus destinations? Click here!

And don't forget that...

If you are looking for an accommodation, we can help you! Erasmusu allows you to chose a spacious bedroom, studio apartament, university residence or flat. In this way you can find the accommodation that you like the most before your arrival in the city.

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