Lebanon travel advice

Naomi Jackson, from our vacation specialist Explore, talks safety.
“When you read advice from the FCO it is quite intimidating and detailed – but something we did right at the beginning of the process was assess the risks and we regularly revise the route. We speak to our ground operators every day – they’re based in Beirut – to check that everything is ok for travelers.”

Baalbek

“We put this trip back on because the FCO’s guidelines changed, opening up Baalbek. For us, Baalbek is one of the highlights of Lebanon and we didn’t feel we could run a trip without it. It’s right in the middle of our itinerary, the tour leads up to it, and it doesn’t disappoint. These are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, still standing. They have a real air of mystery because of their size. No one really understands how they were built without machinery.”

Best time to go

“We have a lot of people who travel with us over Christmas. It’s a really interesting time to go. Lebanon is so diverse, but Christians in the country have a big celebration. The country is great year round but in January, in the peak of winter, snow can make some parts inaccessible, and there is a bit more rain.”

Is it safe to travel to Lebanon?

Tourism to Lebanon is just starting to recover after years of political instability and violence. While travel here is largely safe, for now it is always best to travel as part of an organised tour which uses local operators that are closely aware of risks. For instance, there are reports of unexploded ordinance in some areas, particularly the south, which present a danger when leaving designated hiking paths. Security risks were raised in February 2019 when the UK government announced it planned to proscribe the political wing of Hizballah under the 2000 Terrorism Act. The FCO currently recommends against travel to within 5km of the Syrian border, and all but essential travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut, and Tripoli. Large crowds should be avoided, as well as any political gathering.

Health and safety in Lebanon

HEALTH

The emergency services in Lebanon can be reached on 112. Be sure to take out comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Lebanon’s tap water is not drinkable. Reusable water bottles with in-built filtration systems are perfect for travelers. Most Lebanese people drink bottled water. Vegetarians will have no trouble finding something to eat, especially in the mezze department. Some 85 percent of Lebanon’s rubbish goes to landfill – don’t contribute to the crisis that currently sees beaches awash with plastic and dirty streets. Grass roots initiatives are pioneering recycling and clean up – you can help out by keeping your own plastic waste to a minimum.

SAFETY

International SOS, which maps the world annually and assesses risk of travel, graded Lebanon a ‘medium travel security risk’ – the same as Israel, Turkey, South Africa or India. Most people are surprised at how safe it is here. FCO travel advice changes often when it comes to Lebanon, but generally the border with Syria, and the southern border with Israel – where there are unexploded landmines – are no-go zones. Driving here is difficult, as drivers don’t always obey the rules of the road and can be difficult to predict – especially in Beirut. Going by coach is better than attempting to drive yourself, and greener, too. You’ll quickly get used to seeing armed military police here. They are a normal presence. Bring modest dress. In Beirut you’ll see a mix of western and Middle-Eastern fashion, but further afield there are towns that are less cosmopolitan. With monasteries, mosques and Catholic services on itineraries, you’ll need outfits for all occasions, and it’s best if they cover your arms and knees (as well as your other bits). Lebanese courts criminalise homosexuality under a vague article that prohibits any sexual relations that ‘contradict the laws of nature’. The LGBTQ+ community are advised to check before travel, though Beirut is considered a gay friendly destination, especially compared to other Middle Eastern cities.

Our top Lebanon Vacation

Lebanon small group tour, 9 days

Lebanon small group tour, 9 days

10-days of Lebanese Sites and Cultural Exploration.

From £1550 10 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2021: 5 Feb, 16 Apr, 29 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Lebanon or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travelers in Lebanon

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Lebanon travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
Simone Flynn, one of Responsible Travel’s travel experts, visited Lebanon in December 2019

Meeting people

“Everybody that we spoke to was ridiculously friendly. There was a Syrian man outside the bakery, and he approached us whilst we were buying our coffee. He insisted on us trying the almonds he was selling, and he had some figs and raisins to sell, too. I took some to be polite and they were the best almonds I’ve ever had – so I went straight back and bought some more. He was lovely.”

Historic sights

“We went to Baalbek and it was definitely one of my highlights. It’s an amazing place: just the scale of it and the detail that our guide went into as well was really helpful as she’s lived there all her life. It’s a little bit hard to get your head around some of the time frames that they’re talking about in places like Baalbek and the Jeita Caves, as the history dates back so far in Lebanon. There were a lot of big numbers being thrown around!”

My recommendations

“I think Lebanon is a great destination for people who have travelled a fair bit. It’s one of those places that might not be at the top of your list, but if you’ve travelled a bit then you’re used to reading things about places and not being put off. I’ve recommended Lebanon to everyone who’s asked me about my trip. Now that I’ve been, I would feel safe to bring my nieces here – they are five and two years old – I felt that safe there.”
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Rain Rannu] [Baalbek: Khalid Albaih] [Is it safe to travel to Lebanon?: Franzfoto] [Beirut street: Alper Cugan] [Baalbek - Simone quote: american_rugbier]
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