1. The stunning town of Bsharri that sits above the Kadisha valley
2. Snow on Lebanon’s ancient cedar trees
3. This bizarre sculpture in the center of Tripoli port made entirely of old computers, topped with a bicycle
4. Cool cave buildings
It seems ancient Lebanese priests really liked caves. The mountains of Lebanon are dotted with ancient monasteries and churches built into the mountainside that often incorporate cool natural caves.
5. Watching the sunset from a seaside cafe overlooking Pigeon Rocks in Raouche
6. A much bigger range of great chocolate than in most countries in the region
Including some old favorites you may be craving from home.
7. The ancient brothel of Baalbak
Ancient tablets describe the public prostitution rituals that took place within these majestic walls. It was believed that these sexual acts aroused the sky god Baal which, somewhat disturbingly, resulted in rain. The temple, situated in a Hezbollah stronghold, receives few visitors these days, but that hasn’t deterred the gathering of street sellers hawking Hezbollah T-shirts at the front gate.
8. The Lebanese love their balconies!
Almost every high rise has balconies on all sides and on every floor so it’s likely even your bedroom will have a private balcony. And most places have a massive rooftop space as well.
9. This piece of an old building that seems to be randomly attached to the outside of a new building
This may be the exception to the balcony rule.
10. Snow to play in!
You can throw it, ski on it, mash into something resembling a snowman, and it looks amazing covering the mountains. The best thing about Lebanese snow is that even in the middle of winter, the weather is mostly quite sunny and pleasant so it is cool, not cold.
11. $1.50 falafel sandwiches at Falafel Arax in Dourha, Beirut
12. Jeita Cave and the biggest stalagmite in the world
Courtesy: Dr. Nabil Haddad
Don’t let the touristy exterior fool you (eg, kiddy train, cable car, petting zoo). This cave is actually stunning and stupidly big. You can even take a boat ride through the lower cavern and if you happen to be there on a busy day you can stare at small animals in cages as you wait in line. They thought of everything.
13. The bomb shelter/nightclub of B018
From the outside it looks like nothing more than a large empty parking lot, but then you notice the group of bouncers standing by a strange trap door. At the bottom of the dark stairway you’ll find all the action you can handle. And sometimes they open the roof so you can dance under the stars.
14. Nips and tucks
Lebanon is also the plastic surgery capital of the Middle East. And here, it’s not shameful but rather expected that any self-respecting woman, or man, would have a little work done. It’s quite common to see young women in the street holding their bruised and bandaged new noses up high.
15. A ride from the coast of Jounieh to the mountain village of Harissa on the Teleferique
16. Religious diversity
Lebanon has certainly experienced its share of religious conflict and political instability due its religious diversity. But on a social level, Lebanese people are much less uptight. It is inspiring to see, despite the violence, churches standing alongside mosques and friends of all sects and affiliations enjoying each other’s company in Beirut’s numerous bars and cafes.
17. The view over the city as you fly into the airport in Beirut