Audley in LebanonLebanon is easily visited in a trip of a weekto ten days, with all the major sites withinreach of Beirut. Typically you would be basedin the capital and take day excursions toByblos, Tripoli, Sidon, Beiteddine and Baalbek.Trips can be extended, with extra time torelax in Beirut, or up in the hills or skiresorts. Lebanon combines well with time inSyria and Jordan, usually travelling by road tocross the land borders. For a comprehensivetour of these Levantine countries, you wouldneed around three weeks to include sitessuch as Baalbek, Palmyra and Petra.Accommodation Accommodation in Beirut tends to be ininternational hotels, with a range of locationsand prices. Some of these have fantastic seaviews out onto the Mediterranean. OutsideBeirut the hotels are not quite of the samestandard but there are some good optionsalong the coast and in the mountains for achange of scenery.Find out more For suggested itineraries and practicalinformation about travel in Lebanon, pleasesee page 59.www.audleytravel.comInteractive maps and features, further suggested itineraries,accommodation, climate informationand articles written by our specialists.Discuss your plans with our Lebanonspecialists 01993 838 405?Beirut Once known as the Paris of the Orient, Beirut isagain becoming the leading city of the MiddleEast. Riven by sectarian divides during the civilwar, the city today is vibrant and bustling. TheNational Museum is an essential stop -bright andwell laid-out, with interesting historical displays.The central Solidère district attracts visitors andlocals alike: its restaurants and cafés are busythroughout the day. Evidence of Beirut's ancientpast is visible, with the ruins of Romanbathhouses, whilst the parliament buildingsdemonstrate the French influence of the Mandateera. The Christian quarters in the east are a mazeof streets and staircases linking hills, and here youwill find some of the best restaurants and bars.Beirut is truly a Mediterranean city and itsCorniche is wonderful for experiencing the locals'legendary joie de vivre.ALBERGOHOTEL, BEIRUTA Relais and Chateaux property, the AlbergoHotel is something of a Beiruti institution. It islocated in the Ashrafiyeh district, on a small, quietstreet surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafés.The hotel retains many of its original features,including old-fashioned lifts and ornate furniture.Rooms are spacious and some have balconiesoverlooking the street. The hotel has a rooftopterrace with a small swimming pool. The Italianrestaurant is renowned and a Thai restaurant addsto the choice of dining options should you want achange from Lebanese cuisine during your trip.Lebanon57Druze man, LebanonPhoenicia InterContinental, BeirutThe Mövenpick Hotel and Resort, BeirutBeirut street sceneTHEMÖVENPICKHOTEL&RESORT, BEIRUTLocated just off the Corniche with a superbwaterfront location, the Mövenpick Hotel isoriented towards the west, so the views of thesunset over the Mediterranean are hard to beat.It has a range of facilities essential for acomfortable stay in Beirut, including a largeswimming pool and extensive gym complex forthose needing more activity after sightseeing. TheMövenpick is a good place to sample Lebanesecuisine at its best, in the Burj Al-HammamRestaurant, while its bar has an extensive wine list, with plenty of local wine.PHOENICIAINTERCONTINENTAL,BEIRUTThe Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel in Beirutdeservedly enjoys a reputation as one of the mostglamorous and luxurious hotels in the city. Thehotel was a landmark and fashionable hive ofactivity in the 1960s, when Beirut was at theheight of its wealth, glamour and sophistication.Today it still offers luxury facilities, stylish décorand fine furnishings. The rooms are large anddecorated in an elegant, understated fashion, withplump pillows and soft bed linen. Six restaurants,a bar and a lounge offer a wide variety of cuisineand areas to unwind, while the two swimmingpools and spa provide the perfect antidote to along day of sightseeing.
58The Bekaa ValleyRunning along the border with Syria and sittingbetween two mountain ranges, the Bekaa Valley is an agricultural region in the east of Lebanon.The area has been used for farming since ancienttimes, and provided grains for the Roman Empire.Nowadays the valley is known for its vineyardsand wineries and Lebanese wine is some of thebest produced in the region. Several of thewineries are open for visits and tastings, includingKsara and Chateau Musar.Sidon As the birthplace of former Prime Minister RafiqHariri, Sidon has undergone several renewalprojects in recent years, which give a rathersanitised feel to its souqs and historic sites.Nonetheless, it has a very picturesque setting,with the Crusader's Sea Castle acting as a focalpoint and gateway to the town. The souqs hideinteresting old churches, caravanserais andmosques. The town, like Tripoli, was known for its soap industry and today there is an interestingmuseum which displays the original tools andmachinery used by workers.Baalbek Baalbek is the main focus for many trips toLebanon, and with good reason -it is one of themost impressive sites of the region, giving visitorsa taste of the power and might of the Romanempire. Standing at the north of the Bekaa Valley,a remote location away from the coast, it haswell-preserved temples. One of these is dedicatedto the Roman god of grapes and wine, Bacchus, alittle incongruous nowadays given the proximity ofthe site to a local mosque. Another is dedicatedto Jupiter and once had 54 columns marking itsperimeter. Today only six remain standing, butthey are still the largest columns in the world -over twenty metres high and with a girth of justover two metres.Sea Castle, SidonKsara wine from the Bekaa ValleyTemple of Bacchus, BaalbekBeiteddine PalaceBeiteddine and Deir Al QamarThe two former palaces of Beiteddine and DeirAl Qamar belonged to the rulers of Lebanonduring the Ottoman period. Beiteddine is a seriesof three interlinked buildings, with the stables ofthe palace now housing some fine Byzantinemosaic, taken from a nearby site. Deir Al Qamarhas further palaces and is also a good place toenjoy a typical Lebanese snack.