- Continent: Asia
- Area: 10,452 km²
- Population: 4,822,000
- Capital city: Beirut
- ISO code: LB
- National language: Arabic
- International dialing code: +961
- Currency: Lebanese Pound
- License plate number: RL
- Flight routes from Lebanon: 735
- Flight routes to Lebanon: 700
- Popular airports: Beirut (BEY)
- Large cities: Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre, Habboûch, Juniyah, Zahle, Baalbek, Byblos, Batroûn, Zouaïtîni, Zouq Mosbeh, Zouq Mkayel, Zoûq Haddâra, Zouq et Tahta
- Airlines based in Lebanon: Middle East Airlines
Lebanon travel guide (Asia)
The Lebanese Republic is a country in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea bordering on Syria, Israel and the Mediterranean.
Geography: the country is surrounded by two large mountain ranges and is located on a very fertile highland that descends gently to the coast.
Mountains and rivers: the highest mountain in the Lebanon is the Qurnat as Sawda with an altitude of 3,085 metres (10,121 ft); the longest river is the Litani with a length of about 145 km.
Climate and best time to travel: due to the topography of the country, Lebanon can be divided up into several climatic zones. On the coast the climate is Mediterranean with dry and hot summers and mild and humid winters. In the mountainous hinterland, the climate tends to be mountainous and continental, with precipitation in the winter consisting mainly of snow. On the Lebanese Syrian border, the dry climate of the steppe begins forming the transition to the desert climate. Despite the small size of the country the great diversity of climates in Lebanon cannot be exaggerated; in the spring visitors have the choice between a skiing holiday in the central mountains and a beach holiday on the Mediterranean. The famous cedars that are portrayed on the Lebanese coat of arms grow in the mountains and on the lower slopes there is an abundance of all kinds of fruit.
Language and communication: the official language is modern Arabic, communication in French and English should not present a problem anywhere in the country. Kurdish and Armenian are also spoken in Lebanon.
Health and vaccination: Vaccinations are not officially required at the moment, but a vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended, as well as up-to-date vaccinations against typhoid and polio. A rabies vaccination is not obligatory but recommended for longer visits. Travellers arriving from areas listed by the WHO as infected areas are required to show a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate on entry. Only those passengers that do not leave the transit area of the airport are exempt from this rule. Taking out travel insurance that also covers the costs of repatriation and packing a personal first aid kit is recommended. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled or boiled.
Entry requirements: British citizens require a visa to enter the Lebanon and passports should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Visas are valid for a maximum of 3 months and may be obtained from the Lebanese embassy or on arrival. A children’s passport with a photograph or an entry in the passport of the parent is required for those travelling with children. Passports with an Israeli stamp are not accepted. More information on current entry requirements and security recommendations is available on the travel advice pages of the home office website.
Arrival and onward journey: the Lebanon is served by many large airlines. British Airways provides a regular service from London and the Lebanon’s own airline Middle East Airlines (ME) provides flights from many major European airports.
Capital city: the capital Beirut, the Paris of the near east, is on the Mediterranean coast and is the economic and cultural centre of Lebanon. The city is host to numerous universities and places of interest. Unfortunately the flair of the city was strongly damaged by the years of conflict. The buildings that have been reconstructed in the meantime have a strong western influence. Shopping and nightlife are both excellent in Beirut. Places of interest include the Turkish baths in the district of Basta Tahta and the countless mosques and churches in the centre of the city. Beirut’s beauty is best enjoyed by the sea, the foreland of the mountains reach almost down to the sea and in the winter the snow-capped mountains can be seen from the coast. There are wonderful beaches with all kinds of water sports facilities. The beach promenade is ideal for joggers, walkers and to enjoy a meal. A trip with the cable car to the Statue Notre Dame de Liban offers spectacular views.
Places of interest: the Lebanon is famous for its archaeological excavations of many ancient Mediterranean peoples that have left signs in this part of the world. Sidon, about 40 km south of Beirut was built on Roman foundations and is especially interesting due to the castle that was built in the 13th century by crusaders. The city has a very varied history and was a city-state in the 6th century with great importance and influence in trade in the Mediterranean area. Tyros, below Sydon, is particularly impressive due to the remains of the ancient city. The well-preserved hippodrome was amongst the largest in antiquity, north of Beirut is Byblos, the oldest city in the world. Phoenician, Egyptian, and Byzantine influences are all easily discernible; the history of this ancient city can be traced back to thousands of years before Christ. In antiquity, Byblos was always an economical, religious and cultural centre and its harbour was considered the most important in the eastern Mediterranean. The ruins of the old city wall are worth a visit, as is the cathedral St. Jean-Marc from the time of the crusades along with temples, royal graves and a Roman theatre located directly by the sea. By the Syrian border in the north is the medieval harbour town of Tripoli. Tripoli has a long history and a large number of architectural remains from the Mamluks. These add to the charm of the second largest city in the country. The main place of interest is the mosque that was built on a crusaders church.
Highlight: the most famous sight in Lebanon is Baalbek. The city was designated world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1984 and is surrounded by the mountains of Lebanon and anti Lebanon. Due to the favourable climatic conditions, the city is host to the best-preserved temple from the roman era in the world. The smallest temple in Baalbek is bigger than the entire Acropolis in Athens. The city is considered exemplary of the Roman megalomania that eventually led to the downfall of the empire.
Religion: In Lebanon there are several recognised religious communities, 40% of these are Shiites, 25 % Sunnite, 30% Christians and 5% members of other religious communities.
Cities and accommodation: Beirut, Tripoli, Nabathieh, Zahlé, Sidon, Tyros and Chmestar.