In recent years, Lebanon has emerged as a popular travel destination in the Middle East, attracting visitors from around the world who are curious to explore its rich history, diverse culture and vibrant lifestyle. What is it that makes people fall in love with this small Mediterranean country? In this article, we delve into the wonderful aspects that make Lebanon so attractive and special.
1. A delicious culinary affair: Lebanese food and wine
The Lebanese cuisine is certainly one of the major reasons why people adore this country. Known for its delectable dishes and flavorsome spreads, it offers an enticing amalgamation of Mediterranean, Arab and Ottoman influences. The abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices lends a distinctive taste to the Lebanese food. Some of the must-try dishes include:
- Hummus – A creamy chickpea dip served with olive oil and warm pita bread.
- Falafel – Deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas and fava beans, usually stuffed in a pita pocket with salad and tahini sauce.
- Kibbeh – A mixture of minced meat, bulgur wheat and onions, which can be deep-fried or baked.
- Tabbouleh – A refreshing parsley and mint salad with tomatoes, onions, bulgur wheat and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Beyond their scrumptious food, Lebanon also boasts a remarkable wine industry. With vineyards scattered throughout the Bekaa Valley, their wines have gained international recognition and appreciation. Whether you prefer full-bodied reds or crisp whites, you will find something delightful in the Lebanese selection.
2. Embracing the rich history and diverse culture
Lebanon’s long and eventful past has left traces of various civilizations scattered across its landscape. This layering of epochs gives visitors the opportunity to experience a truly unique blend of multiple heritages.
Ancient cities and archaeological wonders
Many Lebanese cities exhibit archaeological sites and ruins from different eras, such as Byblos, which is said to be among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The ruins of the ancient Phoenician city adorn this coastal town, providing it with a timeless appeal. Another enchanting destination is Baalbek, renowned for its monumental Roman temples – an unparalleled spectacle in the region.
A kaleidoscope of religions and traditions
As a melting pot of different faiths, Lebanon showcases a harmonious blend of communities living side by side. This religious diversity is visible through the numerous churches, mosques and synagogues that have peacefully coexisted throughout the centuries. It’s not uncommon for a mosque and church to share the same street corner or for people belonging to different sects to join together in celebrating each other’s festivals.
3. Vibrant cities brimming with life and entertainment
From bustling souks and lively seaside promenades to the thriving nightlife, Lebanese cities are known for their relentless energy. Among them, Beirut, the capital city, stands out as a symbol of modernity while retaining elements of traditional charm.
The “Paris of the East”: Beirut
Often dubbed as the ‘Paris of the East’, Beirut is an urban gem with a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe. Its renovated downtown area is lined with chic boutiques, elegant restaurants, and beautifully restored Ottoman-era buildings. But it’s also in Beirut where you find the true pulse of Lebanon through its bustling streets, trendy cafes and electric nightlife which cater to every taste – from traditional Lebanese music performances to techno dance clubs.
4. Breathtaking natural landscapes
Beyond the cultural allure, Lebanon is blessed with a stunning variety of natural landscapes that captivate both adventurers and nature enthusiasts. From its lush forests and green valleys to dramatic mountains and pristine beaches, the country’s scenery provides endless possibilities for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
The great outdoors: Hiking trails and ski resorts
Lebanon’s mountain ranges offer spectacular hiking trails for all levels, such as the popular Lebanon Mountain Trail which stretches over 290 miles across the country. In winter, these same peaks transform into bustling ski destinations, providing a rare opportunity to ski in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon – an irresistible combination for many visitors.
5. The captivating paradoxes of Lebanese life
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Lebanon is the way it reconciles contradictions and coexists amid chaos. Despite grappling with political and economic challenges, the people’s resilience, warmth and generous spirit create a sense of hope and determination that prevails over adversity.
Ultimately, what makes people fall in love with Lebanon is its capacity to surprise, enchant and bewilder at every turn. Its rich tapestry of cultures, flavors, sights and experiences weave together to create an unforgettable journey for those who visit this fascinating corner of the Middle East.