Discover Lebanon for solo travellers

Resort: Discover Lebanon for solo travellers
Operator: Saga
Destination: Lebanon
Price From: £2499.00

Discover Lebanon land for the curious and adventurous

From awe-inspiring ancient Baalbeck to the vibrant city of Beirut, Lebanon is a place for the curious and the adventurous.

Historic and beautiful, this small country is home to one of the worlds oldest inhabited settlements, five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mountain vistas, and the majestic Cedars of God. Its also known for its cuisine regarded as some of the finest in the Middle East, and the warm hospitality of its people.

On this new holiday, look forward to visiting a variety of important sites and cities including Beirut, when youll see the National Museum with its magnificent collections rescued by curators during the civil war, as well as the Roman Baths with their vast hypocaust still in place. Youll visit Tyre and Sidon the former a UNESCO World Heritage site by virtue of the impressive remains of Greek and Roman cities that once stood here, the latter famed for its Sea Castle built by the Crusaders. Explore a typical village, and marvel at the staggering UNESCO World Heritage site of mighty Baalbeck in the Beqaa Valley, where youll see one of the worlds finest Roman sanctuaries whose stunning Temple of Bacchus is of epic proportions. Walk in the countryside of Lebanon, home to the Qadisha Valley, stroll in the cedar forest amongst the aptly named Cedars of God, and hike to hidden chapels and monasteries. Youll also see the citadel of UNESCO-listed Byblos, inhabited since the Neolithic era.

During your tour, youll stay in city hotels and travel in the company of an experienced local tour manager. Most of your meals during the tour will be included, providing a good opportunity to sample the food of the region. Lebanon is still largely an undiscovered tourist location although the importance of its archaeology and the unique beauty of its countryside have been appreciated for centuries. This tour provides an opportunity to see accessible parts of the country and its unique highlights, with the chance to visit remarkable historic sites and cities, engage with welcoming people and marvel at the countryside.

For information and advice on visiting Lebanon, we recommend you consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office information which can be found at- https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/lebanon

Including…

VIP door-to-door travel service from anywhere on the UK mainland

8 nights in hotels

21 meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 light lunches, 7 dinners

Excursions and visits

Tour of Beirut Visit the National Museum of Beirut // The Crusader Sea Castle in Sidon // Sidons old Souks // Al Bass Archaeological site in Tyre // Palace of Beiteddine // Wine tour and tasting at Chateau Ksara // Archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site of Baalbeck // Gibran Museum, Bsharri // Walk in the Cedars Forest of the Qadisha Valley // Hike in the Qadisha Valley visiting religious sites including monasteries // See the Citadel of Byblos // Tour of Jeita Grotto // Private tour of Beirut with a local // Cooking class in Deir el Qamar // Tour of Batroun

Plus all this

UK Return flights and transfers // Saga tour manager // Porterage at all hotels // Tourist visa for full British citizens resident in the UK


Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK-Beirut

After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly to Beirut, arriving late evening.

Transfer to the locally rated 5-starLe Commodore Hotelwhere you stay for the next three nights. Enjoy some small snacks and fruit in your room on arrival. Situated in the Hamra district of the city, facilities at the hotel include two restaurants, a lounge bar, outdoor pool, and exercise room (situated seven minutes walk away at the nearby Lifestyles Health Club). Each of the 203 bedrooms is equipped with a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe and hairdryer.

Beirut, Lebanon

Day 2 Beirut

Enjoy a leisurely start, before meeting your guide and Beirut local mid-morning and embarking on a special private tour, during which you can learn about life as a local and explore some of the cultural opportunities within the city. Afterwards, look forward to continuing your tour with your guide then youll learn more about this fascinating city.

By the 3rd century AD Beirut had become a city of note when it emerged as a centre for law in the Roman world. It subsequently fell into Crusader control, followed by the Ottomans and finally the French in 1920, before achieving independence in 1940. In 1975 the harrowing civil war erupted, ending in 1991 leaving the city in ruins. Today large parts of Beirut have been rebuilt including the stylish waterfront and downtown area, but evidence of the conflict can still be seen in the ruined Holiday Inn building now regarded as symbol of the civil war, and those in the former green line area.

The city has a bustling cosmopolitan centre known for its art, culture and fashion, and some of the highlights which you may see include the beautiful Corniche offering views of the Mediterranean and Mount Lebanon, Martyrs Square which represented the demarcation line during the civil war, the Al Omari Mosque and Orthodox Cathedral.

During your tour youll visit the National Museum an archaeological treasure house. Throughout history, civilisations and people converged in Lebanon, connecting East and West in ancient times, leaving the legacy of a rich and varied culture which today is reflected in the museums collections. Housed in a handsome neo-classical building, the collections range from statuary and mosaics dating from 3000BC to the Byzantine period, as well as a large collection of objects spanning prehistoric to Mamluk periods (13th-16th century AD). Youll also visit Beirut Roman Baths an outdoor site discovered in 1968 and renovated some 20 years later. Excavation continues but these impressive baths with their original hypocaust still intact, offer a glimpse into Roman life in the city. Today they serve also as a popular meeting and performance space.

Look forward to enjoying lunch in a Lebanese Armenian restaurant. After your tour return to your hotel where you can look forward to enjoying a welcome drink followed by dinner either at your hotel or at a restaurant in the town. B, L, D

Ruins of the Roman Baths of Berytus in Beirut

Day 3 Beirut (Sidon and Tyre)

Leave Beirut behind as you travel first to the city of Sidon. This coastal city has a long history dating back to the 4th millennia BC and beyond, and was an important Phoenician city and commercial hub trading with Egypt. Flourishing during the 5th-3rd centuries BC it was overcome by Alexander the Great and endured changing fortunes during later centuries. One of Sidons most important monuments is the Sea Castle which youll see today. Built by the crusaders in the 13th century on the site of a former temple, the castle was damaged when taken by the Mamluks and renovated in the 17th century. Within its two towers and connecting walls, lies a small mosque and room. The castle also offers fine views over the city.Please note:parts of the castle are not in a good state of preservation. Walking may be over uneven, sloping or rocky ground.

There will also be an opportunity to see the citys souq with its narrow lanes and old buildings, including some restored khans a form of inn with associated buildings that also acted as a centre for trading.

Afterwards, depart Sidon and travel south to Tyre which suffered badly during the civil war, but has since been the subject of rebuilding and restoration. The town has a long history of colonisation including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Ottomans. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site by virtue of the remains of the great Phoenician city that once stood here. Evidence of the towns rich past is contained within the Al Bass Archaeological Site which is home to the remains of Roman baths, a colonnaded road and a later cathedral and castle. The site is made up of two areas, the other housing a ruined necropolis and a wide walkway with an impressive triumphal arch (2nd century AD), as well as the remains of a large hippodrome. Tyre is also renowned for the discovery and manufacture of purple pigment known as Tyrian, which was obtained from murex shellfish and used for royalty and nobility from Phoenician times. During the day, enjoy a traditional fish mezza for lunch.

After your tour return to your hotel in Beirut. Enjoy dinner this evening. B, L, D

Crusaders Sea Castle, Sidon

Day 4 Beirut-Deir El Qamar

After breakfast, depart from your hotel as you travel south to the Chouf region of Lebanon. This historic area with its backdrop of valleys and mountains including Mount Lebanon, was once the home of the countrys Emirs. One of the most celebrated Bachir Chehab II was a Maronite christian who ruled during the first half of the 19th century and was responsible for the building of the Palace of Beiteddine nearby, which youll visit today. Constructed between 1788 and 1818 this elegant palace with its fine views, has been used by various dignitaries including the countrys first president post independence. Comprising a series of charming courtyards enclosed by elegant buildings the palace features beautiful interiors and also houses a fine collection of Byzantine mosaics.

Afterwards, continue to the nearby village of Deir el Qamar where you will stay for the next two nights. The home of emirs during earlier times, this enchanting village with its elegant buildings and far reaching views has a souk, museum and historic centre. At lunchtime look forward to sampling a Lebanese waffle a popular and tasty snack served with a variety of accompaniments.

Look forward to staying two nights at the locally rated 3-starDeir Al Oumara Hotel. Set within the historic village the hotel was converted from a former education institution in 2014 and has been listed by the Ministry of Tourism as an historic hotel. From its attractive terrace you can enjoy fine views over the Chouf region. Built in traditional stone the hotel features a restaurant housed in the converted chapel, serving Lebanese food which can be enjoyed inside or outdoors in the courtyard. Each of the 18 tastefully decorated rooms is equipped with facilities including a television and free Wi-Fi. Later today you can also look forward to enjoying a cooking class when youll learn how to create some local Lebanese dishes, which youll then enjoy for dinner this evening! B, L, D

Cedars of Lebanon

Day 5 Baalbeck

Travel from your hotel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Baalbeck today, pausing en route at Chateau Ksara, where you can enjoy a wine tasting. Established in 1857 the Ksara vineyard is situated in the Beqaa Valley at an altitude of around 3,000 feet. Grapes are grown organically here on a series of vineyards with the rarest and fine vintage wines stored in caves that date to the Romans. Enjoy a tour of the winery and caves as well as a tasting of a selection of wines produced by the estate. Afterwards continue to Baalbeck, pausing for a Lebanese sandwich.

The ancient city of Baalbeck fell under Roman control around 64BC and subsequently became a Roman colony. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, comprising the remains of a series of magnificent temples that stood here, built over a period of 200 years. It is one of the most famous of all Roman sanctuaries, evidenced by its extraordinary architectural and artistic achievements, and sheer size. The heart of the site is dominated by the towering Temple of Jupiter the largest temple in the Roman world, with its massive 75-foot high columns, of which six remain standing. With stones weighing between 60 and 100 tons, how the Temple was constructed continues to puzzle archaeologists. Close by lies the stunning and remarkably well preserved Temple of Bacchus, its carving and decoration depicting Bacchanate scenes. Although smaller than the Temple of Jupiter, this is perhaps the most spectacular of the buildings at Baalbeck. Take time to admire the relief decoration and sculpture on this temple, including the dancing Maenads found on the parapet. Perhaps contrast these two principal buildings with the more restrained but beautiful Temple of Venus with its curved profile, which can be found closer to the entrance. During your visit look forward to an informative commentary from your guide, helping to bring this important site to life. B, L, D

Roman temple of Bacchus at Baalbek

Day 6 Deir El Qamar-Bsharri

Set off after breakfast for Bsharri in the Qadisha Valley, birthplace of the artist and poet Kahlil Gibran. Gibran was author of numerous books including The Prophet comprising 26 prose poems representing the collected wisdom of Al Mustapha a fictional figure who shares his views on the important questions of life with the residents of an island where he lived in exile. Today, The Prophet has been translated into 50 languages and has never been out of print since it was published in 1923. Despite being initially criticised by the western world, Gibrans work achieved huge popularity and inspired the creation of academic chairs. Visit the Gibran Museum housed in a 19th century monastery in Bsharri, which chronicles his life and time spent in America, along with examples of his manuscripts and original art works.

Later, enjoy a traditional lunch of mezza, then look forward to a walk in the Cedars Forest. This small forest of the Cedar of Lebanon also known as the Cedars of God is one of the remaining group of cedars that once grew in the Mount Lebanon. The wood has been valued throughout history and was in great demand in the ancient world by the Phoenicians, Babylonians and others.

Stay overnight at the locally rated 4-starCedrus Hotelin Bsharri where facilities include a restaurant, bar, outdoor terrace and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 40 rooms is equipped with a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, and hairdryer. B, L, D

Hill town of Bsharri and Qadisha Valley

Day 7 Bsharri-Byblos

The Qadisha Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site not only due to the presence of the Cedars of Lebanon forest, but its significance in terms of early Christianity. The valley was a centre for religious communities and hermits, and the monastic settlements found in this rocky mountainous landscape range from hidden chapels to hermitages, monasteries, and fresco-decorated caves carved into the rock. Set off today for a hike in the valley seeking out these unique sights and taking in the landscape that inspired their development here. The hike will be of easy to moderate difficulty and will take approximately three hours.Please note:you will be walking over terrain that may be rough, uneven and sloping. A reasonable level of fitness is required and you should ensure you wear appropriate footwear. Should you have any doubts as to your suitability for the trek, please speak to your tour manager beforehand.

After your trek, travel to the coastal city of Batroun, regarded as one of the worlds oldest, where youll take in its picturesque harbour and visit a brewery. During your brewery visit youll be able to enjoy an included beer tasting – a fantastic way to toast your holiday with your fellow solo travellers. Afterwards, continue to the town of Byblos where youll visit the Citadel. Byblos was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 in recognition of the the many civilisations that have inhabited the area since Neolithic times. From the Bronze Age and Phoenicians to the Romans and Crusaders, the town has unique and historically important antecedents. During your visit look forward to exploring the citadel when youll visit the 12th century Crusader Castle, perhaps walking amongst Neolithic, Greek and Roman remains to be found in the adjacent archaeological site testament to the towns importance.

Spend the next two nights at the locally rated 3-starAhiram Hotelsituated overlooking the Bay of Byblos and just a short walk from the old port and souk. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, bar and terrace . Each of the 24 bedrooms is equipped with a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. B, L, D

Coastal Town of Byblos, Lebanon

Day 8 Byblos

Explore one of Lebanons natural wonders today as you travel to Jeita Grotto in Keserwan, Discovered in 1836 the site consists of two limestone caverns or grottos. Travel to the upper cave by cable car enjoying views of the surrounding countryside, before entering the cave which is over 1.3 miles long. With its cathedral-like appearance, dotted with stalactites and stalagmites and other sculpture-like stone formations, take in this limestone wonderland. Youll also see the lower cave which extends to some five miles, travelling via a small train and then small boat as you explore this spectacular cave from the water for around 400 metres (quarter of a mile). During your visit look forward to enjoying a Lebanese sandwich as a light lunch.

Return to your hotel mid to late afternoon and enjoy relaxing before dinner this evening. B, L, D

Jeita Grotto Limestone Caves

Day 9 Byblos-Beirut-UK

After breakfast, travel to Beirut airport for your return flight and your included UK door-to-door travel service home. B

Beirut, Lebanon

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