The airport is four miles from Beirut. It was expanded and renovated at the end of the 1990s. It is apparently one of the safest airports in the world and we would certainly hope so, considering the high risk of enemy attacks here! Reaching Beirut by taxi should cost around £5.
FCO UPDATE:The security situation in Lebanon is currently fragile. Two explosions took place close to the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on 19 November 2013, causing numerous deaths and casualties. Practice vigilance, avoid crowds and keep updated with local media.
The FCO advises against all travel to: Tripoli, Palestinian refugee camps, within 5km of the Syrian Border, the Hermel Area and the southern suburbs in Beirut. The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the Bekaa Valley west of the Baalbek El Hermel High Way, Saida and south of the Litani River.
Road safety is an issue, with there being few road signs and consequently, accidents are a regular occurrence.
Despite being illegal, hashish is very popular in Lebanon. If caught in posession, prison sentences can be lengthy.
For the latest developments, see the FCO Travel Advice section on Lebanon.
The official language is Arabic, used in daily conversation, while English is the language of business and French the language spoken by the educated elite. The Lebanese also enjoy mixing languages in conversations.
Required travel documents for
European citizens require a visa and passport valid for at least six months after the return date. The visa, which is valid for three months, can be obtained at the Lebanese Embassy, though it is better to get it upon arrival in Lebanon, at the airport (bring an ID photo). Lebanon will refuse entry to those with an Israeli visa (used or unused) in their passport as Lebanon is officially an 'enemy state' to Israel.
There are seventeen religions in all. Muslims form the largest group and within that 30% are Shiite, 23.7% Sunni and 5% Druze Muslims. Eleven Christian communities are recognised constitutionally: Maronites (22%), Greek Catholics (5%°), Greek Orthodox (8%) and Protestants amongst them.
The Lebanese Pound (LBP) is known locally as the lira. £1 Sterling = approximately 2.20 Lebanese Pounds. The bureaux de change and banks accept Euros without any problem, although it is worth remembering that the banks are only open in the morning, from 8:30am to 12:30pm and until 12:00pm on Saturdays. Travellers cheques are only accepted in larger hotels, but credit cards are more widely used. The cashpoints can be unreliable and users have been charged large sums for using them, so the best option is to bring plenty of cash.
Lebanon is not a huge country and can be traversed from north to south in approximately three hours. In Beirut renting a car can be expensive, but then again almost anything can be negotiated in Lebanon. However, keep in mind that traffic jams in Beirut are terrible and driving rules are almost non-existent. If you use a texi make sure you bargain the fare before you hop in.
There are irregular shuttles from Beirut to both the north (Byblos, Tripoli) and the south (Saida, Tyr) of the country. Try and get on a minibus which also charge affordable rates.
The hotels in Lebanon were once the local tourism industry's weak point, but the scene is improving. Beirut has several international hotels that were reconstructed after the war. The best hotel in Beirut is the Mir Amine Palace in Beit ed Dine, an ancient palace restored to its former glory. Other hotels throughout the country offer a minimum standard of comfort and decoration (unlike hotels in Beirut), but at least they all share one thing in common: the warm and hospitable welcome.
No particular vaccine is required before entering Lebanese territory. However, only drink bottled mineral water and remember to protect yourself against the sun with appropriate clothing and lots of sunscreen.
Voltage of 220V so visitors from the UK will need to bring an adaptor
1.85 million tourists visited Lebanon in 2009.
Taxes and tips
Restaurants and taxis welcome tips, especially if the bill was reasonable to begin with.
To call Lebanon from the UK, dial 00 961 followed by the area code, without the initial 0 (Grand Beirut: 01; Beqaa: 08; Kesrouan 09; South region: 07; North region: 06;
Metn: 04; Chouf: 05), + the number you are trying to reach.
To call the UK from Lebanon: dial 00 44 followed by the number you are trying to reach, without the initial 0.
In the UK
Lebanese Embassy in London
At the destination
21 Palace Gardens Mews
London W8 4RA
Telephone: (020) 7229 7265
Fax: (020) 7243 1699
British Embassy in Lebanon
Embassies Complex, Army Street
PO Box 11-471
Telephone: +961 (1) 9608 00 (24 hours)
Fax: +961 (1) 990 420
Office Hours GMT: Mon-Thurs 6:00-14:00 and Fri: 6:00-12:00
Office Hours local time: Mon-Thurs 8:00-16:00 and Fri 8:00-14:00