Byblos – Beirut’s small sister plus a glimpse on Festivals in Lebanon
Byblos is my absolute favorite place in Lebanon and no Beirut visit without at least one night there. I love to sit at the small fishing harbor or to walk through the old cobble stone streets of the Souk, which is becoming one big open-air pub at night.
Usually I stayed at the hotel Edde Sands (www.eddesands.com), which is a popular beach club as well and where you have a choice of either expansive beach side bungalows or a 3* sister hotel (el’Hotel) just a few minutes away from the beach club. Walking distance to the old center from here is around 15-20 minutes.
In my recent stay I tried another option which is a bit closer to the old center, however without any beach – the Aleph Boutique Hotel (www.alephboutiquehotel.com) . A nice and convenient city hotel. I got an up-grade into a corner suite room which had an amazing view on the old castle from the room-integrated Jacuzzi. Very recommended room category as you can see in the pictures below.
The rooftop bar is also very nice and even from the breakfast room you can enjoy the breathtaking view over the shorelines of the Mediterranean Sea. I also have to raise the flag here for the super friendly receptionist Etien, who helped me out with all my hundred special requests :-) merci Etien!
Byblos you can easily explore on foot starting in the Old Souk area – remember at night this area gets super lively with the restaurants around and the various pubs that are filling up the streets with their tables.
I mentioned them already in one of my previous Blog posts, but have to do it here again as they never disappoint: at the end of the Souk you find the Feniqia Restaurant – with amazing food and an inventive presentation of their dishes and drinks! I just love it!
Before you descend to the harbor it is nice to have a stop at the St. Jhon-Marcus Church to enjoy some tranquility before reaching the lively seaside.
At the picturesque port that is also home to the yearly Byblos International Festival (see below) you can find various fish restaurants like Chez Pepe or a bit up the hill Hacienda de Pepe for pizza and other food in a lush green garden.
If you stand at the port facing the sea, you can reach on your right after a brief walk a small city beach as well for a quick swim.
If you are up for a lazy day in the sun, then you will find some nice beach clubs on the way to Batroun – about 20 minutes drive away from Byblos. Well, if you want to be precise they are not real beach clubs as the coastline is rocky and rough here, but they do have nice pools and sunbeds. Like the fancy Orchid Beach Club (www.orchid-lifestyle.com), where you can zip nice cocktails on the white sun and pool decks, chill down in the pool or relax at the Spa – Orchid has it all.
A more laid back surfers hang out is Pierre and Friends, which is rather a bar than a beach club, clinched to the cliffs. The wooden bar deck is the perfect place to enjoy some sundowners.
Also Batroun (www.batroun.gov.lb) itself is worth to visit for a walk through its narrow streets, a visit to the Souk or some excellent fish served in the restaurants along the sea.
I would like to include here a listing of some of the real unique Festivals that you can find in the summer in and around Beirut with international and local artists. A lot of these festivals are in stunning surroundings and ticket prices are moderate – so it’s really a shame that the outside world doesn’t know much about them.
I have been this summer to:
Beiteddine Art Festival – www.beiteddine.org
Located in a beautiful historic palace in the mountains. Already the around 90 minutes drive from Beirut is spectacular. The program is usually a mix of international singers (I saw Carla Bruni), local performers, artistic shows and art displays.
Byblos Festival - www.byblosfestival.org
Located at the seaside in the beautiful Mediterranean village of Byblos. This festival also brings local and international singers on stage. I saw a real cool gig from the Chainsmokers which were supported by a famous local DJ. The seating area is partly built above the sea.
More Festivals to check out:
Batroun Festival – a mix of film, sports and food festival
Zouk Mikael International Festival – in a Roman-styled amphitheater, not far away from Beirut
Cedars International Festival – beautifully located in the Cedar mountains saw international stars like Shakira performing www.cedarsinternationalfestival.org
Tyre International Festival – another stunning venue located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Baalbeck International Festival – spectacularly located in the ruins of a Roman Temple
Apart from the Music Festivals there are also some nice Food Festivals in Beirut like the one I have visited in September at the former Mar Mikhael Train Station - very cool location for itself. Here you can experience food from many famous Beirut restaurants and of course also on the liquid side you will find your treat. The festival is stretched over a full weekend and also features local artists for music entertainment. They don’t have a proper website, but you can see all about Lebanon and the up-coming events on www.visit-lebanon.org
Also the yearly Lebanese wine festival Vinifest (www.vinifestlebanon.com) is worth a visit as Lebanon is home to some excellent home grown wines. About the wines of Lebanon and the various wine yards you will read something soon in another Blog.
So much to do, see and taste in Lebanon!