Lebanon is one of the gems that has not yet been discovered by mass tourism. With many historical cities in a small area of land, Lebanon is one of the best countries to visit in the Middle East.
Destinations within Lebanon can be categorized into three groups -- Beirut, the capital and only cosmopolitan city in Lebanon with its vibrant nightlife; the smaller cities such as Baalbek, Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre with well-preserved archaeological sites dating back from the Roman era; and finally, the hiking destinations in the valleys.
Beirut is the city that hosts the international airport and therefore is your point of entry when traveling to Lebanon. Almost all citizens from first-world countries can get a visa on arrival at no cost. Beirut is also the central hub of the country. Due to Lebanon’s small size, it is possible to visit almost all destinations in Lebanon as a daytrip. Most destinations can be reached in no more than two hours by minibus from one of the three bus stations in Beirut, and buses depart frequently. Some buses depart at a set time, while minibuses depart when full, but waiting times are short.
The ease with which you can travel around Lebanon helps with the fact that there is a limited amount of hostels in Lebanon. Beirut, however, does have a few Lebanon hostels; these hostels in Lebanon are a great base to explore the historical towns. The first Lebanon hostel worked with refugees and targeted travelers to cooperate with them. Now there are a few more Lebanon hostels, many of which offer a very high-quality stay with luxury facilities. Beirut is a big city with different interesting neighbourhoods, so check which neighbourhood appeals to you before booking your Lebanon hostel.
While the majority of the Lebanon hostels are in Beirut, it is not the only city where you can find hostels in Lebanon -- you can also find Lebanon hostels in Tripoli and Bcharre. Some of the accommodations with dorm rooms -- sometimes exclusively -- are labeled as a guesthouse, but they are pretty much similar to a hostel, just smaller. Tripoli is a destination for the more adventurous travelers. It is an interesting city from a cultural perspective and also a Hezbollah stronghold (which will be no issue for you as tourist). Bcharre is a good base for exploring the Qadeesha Valley, because you will be short of time if you want to visit the valley as a day trip from Beirut or Tripoli. In some other towns you may or may not find other budget accommodations, but unfortunately no hostels.
With tense borders with Syria to the north and east and the Israeli border to the south, Lebanon has become a fly-in, fly-out destination. The borders are simply closed or dangerous. However, Lebanon as a travel destination is surprisingly safe for a country that is surrounded by violent conflicts in neighbouring countries. If you do not travel to the actual border, you won’t even notice anything about the ongoing conflicts. Safety is not something to worry about when visiting Lebanon; you will probably feel safer than in most US or European cities. The only thing you may have to "worry" about is being approached by curious locals who like to meet foreigners and may invite you for a tea or offer you sweets, especially in smaller villages.
Hi, I'm Martin Straatman,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Lebanon hostels. Welcome.