When you say you’re going to Lebanon, people frown. Despite these beliefs, many individuals doubt Lebanon because of its political instability. Also, it’s close to the border of Israel and Syria, and that’s a concern for everyone. If you stay in a tourist area like Beirut, you will be fine.
How on earth I’m interested in traveling to Lebanon? Since my solo trip to Saudi Arabia, I’ve been fascinated by the Middle East. Lebanon is a country that has grown as a travel destination, a gem in the Mediterranean with an abundance of sights to see.
I decided to go to Lebanon after booking my trip to Jordan. Since I still had some days free, I didn’t want to go home yet. So I was looking for another country to visit after Jordan and Lebanon evoked my interest. I could go to Israel, but I don’t want to risk going to Lebanon after visiting Israel. I’m sure you know the conflict between these two countries. I have a plan to visit Israel after Lebanon. Besides, it was just a one-hour flight from Amman.
What was I thinking about Lebanon?
At first, I have some doubts! Government travel advisory not to travel to Lebanon. Thus, before booking my flight, I did a lot of research. I even called the Lebanese embassy in Brussels to gain more information about the safety in Lebanon for solo female travelers. Their advice is not to go alone near the border of Syria and Israel.
However, things can change rapidly. I visited Lebanon in June 2023 and haven’t encountered any problems at the time during my visit. I haven’t seen a demonstration, which happens frequently in Beirut. Was I lucky? I have learned that if you encounter such things during your trip, stay away from the occurrences.
What it feels like traveling to Lebanon as a woman
I have been to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which hold traditional values that can be tougher for a woman alone. In Beirut, I’m comfortable walking around without being hassled by men, more at ease than in Saudi Arabia. Religious diversity is noticeable with Lebanese women dressed modernly and have more exposure.
In Saudi Arabia, you don’t see women on the street, and that’s why I have been catcalled, which is so irritating. I even walked to the slum area where poverty in Beirut, but in the daytime, is not recommended to walk there at night.
Tourist Visa for Lebanon
Lebanon is easy to visit without the need for a prior visa. Most nationals can get a tourist visa on arrival in Beirut. But make sure you don’t have a stamp from Israel on your passport, or you will decline entry.
You can check HERE if your countries are illegible for a visa on arrival. Print out a copy of your return flight and hotel bookings it might ask at the airport in Beirut.
Which currency to use in Lebanon
It’s handy to carry some USD cash. Although, the Lebanese pound is used to pay for everything. But you can also pay in US dollars, not with euros. However, you can exchange euros in a bank in Beirut, but I didn’t feel like visiting banks, so I bought some dollars from my bank before going on a trip.
Credit cards are not widely accepted. Some establisments have signboard outside that you can only pay in cash. Hotels will take credit cards, so that would not be a problem if you are short of cash. Also, there are ATMs around Beirut, but I never used them.
How expensive is Lebanon?
Although Lebanon is grappling with a deep economic crisis, you barely notice it. But this is not a budget-friendly destination in the Middle East, which reminds me of Saudi Arabia. But the good thing here, hostels exist in Beirut.
I’m not into hostel, and if I will, then I book a private room. If traveling to Lebanon your budget goes to the accommodations and food. Anyway, if you are not too fussy, street food in Lebanon can be pretty damn good and cheap.
Tours can sum up to 60 dollars or even more, depending on the chosen site. For some Lebanese, life goes on. It doesn’t look like they have a money problem – but there’s a big contrast between the rich and poor. Poor people go on the street begging for money – while some individuals without financial issues spend their time in shopping malls and restaurants.
Flights to Lebanon
If you search on Skyscanner, you don’t see a lot of flights to Lebanon. Some airlines only fly on specific days to Beirut, so be flexible if you’re planning a trip to Lebanon.
As already mentioned above, I fly from Jordan to Lebanon. It was, in fact, one of the better ways because the Lebanese Airlines MEA has daily flights between Amman and Beirut, and actually, it came out cheaper for me.
To be precise, I booked a one-way ticket for each destination. From Brussels, I flew with Aegean Airlines with a long layover in Athens. I have been to Athens several times; if you ever had a long layover, read my separate post. How to spend six hours in Athens
My connection flight departs from Athens at night to Amman, where I spend two weeks exploring Jordan. From Amman, I fly with MEA Airlines to Beirut. If you book multiple flights, you can save some bucks – that is if you don’t mind long layovers.
Getting from Beirut Airport to the city center
Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport is home to Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s only international airport. It’s a four-story terminal with arrivals on the ground floor and departures on the first floor. The distance from Beirut Rafic Hariri Airport to the city center is 9 kilometers – an approximate travel time of 15 to 20 minutes.
Remember you can only take a taxi to the center with a fixed price of 20 dollars. Make sure you have the exact amount because not all taxi drivers in Beirut are sincere. If you want to save a little bit, book a ride on Booking.com – I paid 11 euros, and on my return trip, only 6 euros. You can’t get anywhere cheaper; the taxi in Beirut is pricey.
Where to stay in Lebanon?
Without a second thought, Beirut will be the safest city to stay in, for first time travelers. As the capital city and cultural hub of Lebanon, Beirut has many offers on accommodation. When you type which area to stay in Beirut, you’ll get an answer at the downtown center, but where in the center? Beirut is not a big city, so it doesn’t matter which area you stay in.
Some suggest that Hamra Street is the heart of the city. Well, this is actually one of the best districts to stay in Beirut, especially for solo female travelers. Also, if you are looking for accommodation without beaking you bank account, Hamra is the place in Beirut.
Just don’t read too much about the reviews because it can be freaking. Many hotels in the area rated too low, but I haven’t noticed anything. My priority is the wifi, as I didn’t buy a SIM card because it was too expensive. My advice is do not book your room at the last minute because it can be costly. Right after booking my flight to Lebanon, I reserved my room. It cost me only 251 euros for six nights at the Mayflower Hotel.
What to wear as a woman in Lebanon
Lebanon isn’t a country where conservative dress is the norm compared to other countries in the Middle East. You can wear whatever you like. The Lebanese women are very stylish, especially the ones in Beirut. I was greatly surprised that some wearing shorts and skimpy tops. When I was there in June, it was too hot and humid, but I didn’t dare to wear my short pants.
No one cares what you wear, but you should be modest if visiting religious sites. As for the beach, the Lebanese go along with the western women flaunting in bikinis. In Beirut, I did not see anyone wearing a hijab. But the more you go up north, you feel the presence of traditions people were conservative. Also, the majority of women wear hijab. So, if you visit Tripoli, I suggest dressing modestly or going on an organized trip. I remember, one of my groups was wearing short pants, but no one bothered as we had the local guide.
Visiting other places in Lebanon, how do you get there?
I’m sure you want to visit some cities in Lebanon. But getting from one place to another isn’t simple. The buses in Lebanon don’t run on schedule. The advice is not to take them if you aren’t familiar with the route, especially if you are alone.
The second option is hiring a taxi, but they are horrendously expensive. Renting a car is another choice. Although I drove in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, I’m glad haven’t done it in Lebanon. I’ve seen how they are – the Lebanese driver has no patience.
Your best bet is to go on an organized trip. There are different tours offered from Beirut. Regarding the tour prices, you will visit three places in one day, which I couldn’t do it myself and saved me some time. Also, it feels safer if you have a local guide because they know exactly where to go. Honestly, I didn’t plan to venture my own outside the capital.
So, before I went on this trip, I contacted one of the agencies in Beirut to see what they offer for day trips. Below in this blog, you will find the company in Beirut where you can book a tour. No hidden fees and if you use this code BBZ5% during booking you get 5% discount.
Of course, you don’t have to skip Beirut. The capital of Lebanon is so diverse that every corner presents new things to see. You can feel the French influence noticeable in buildings and street names. Immerse yourself in a mix of history with modern styles in the most stunning ways that Beirut has to offer.
Electricity short cuts
Lebanon’s economic crisis caused electricity failures but seems to have worsened in the last few years. Don’t get surprise when sitting inside your hotel room in the dark. Power cuts are frequent in Lebanon, but most hotels have backup generators.
Lebanon electrical outlet and plug types
One of the most important on a trip is adapter. How can we charge our devices? If you didn’t have it, you can always purchase them on the spot. But I rather have them, I don’t want to be stressed searching for shops on arrival.
Lebanese sockets are type C and D. My hotel in Beirut has two different sockets: C – can fit a device with a European plug. The other is D – which is suitable for UK and Australian plugs.
Getting around in Beirut
Taxis in Beirut are expensive, ranging from 7 to 10 dollars per ride and can sum up depends on where you go. The small city buses are cheap for 75 Lebanese pounds, but quite complicated to use. I only took it once. Walking can be a great way to explore Beirut, but the heat can be annoying.
For the most comfortable way, the tourist bus will run through the city’s tourist attractions and that only cost 25 dollar, a lot cheaper than the taxi. Besides, you have the freedom to hop on and hop off the bus anytime.
Sim cards in Lebanon
If you want a sim card in Lebanon, I suggest waiting to purchase when you arrive in the city center of Beirut. You can have a prepaid SIM card for 26 dollars with 5 GB data. Avoid getting your sim card at the airport because they are so expensive it costs 50 USD. I have download the offline map, and save the money, it wasn’t really important. But if you plan to travel around by buses, then you should have a local number.
Be careful when photographing buildings.
The capital of Lebanon was long known as the Paris of the Middle East but suffered extensive damage during the devastating civil war, but rebuilt. Here and there, you can still see damage. But the newer buildings are really an eye-catcher.
Be careful where you aim your camera because some buildings in Beirut, are protected by the army with no awareness, I just took a picture. It jolted me when one of the armies screamed from afar not to take a picture.