Story by Celine Sidani
1.) Zaitunay Bay
At Zaitunay Bay, Beirut’s newest marina, one can choose from a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and bars to explore and shop for swimwear and sunglasses while marveling at Beirut’s skyline and the dozens of grand yachts lining the boardwalk. This is a great place to visit whether it be for a croissant and cappuccino at Paul’s on a quiet Sunday afternoon with your family, or for a drink or two at Mywaterfront, Zaitunay’s open-roof champagne bar, on a lively Friday night. For a casual lunch or dinner, stop by Classic Burger Joint or Cozmo Café. If you’re a seafood fan, try Babel Bay to experience a delicious fusion of Lebanese cuisine and fresh seafood. Zaitunay Bay’s lively atmosphere, scenic views, and exciting varieties make it a must-visit for anyone in Beirut.
2.) Beirut Souks
Walking through the Beirut Souks, you will be able to appreciate the beautiful juxtaposition between Lebanon’s ancient Roman ruins and the modern international designer shops, dozens of jewelry stores, and funky bars and bistros. The Beirut Souks often showcase art installations, vendor fairs, car shows, and concerts. If you get the chance, visit “Solidere,” a historical area in the souks known for its center clock tower and traditional Lebanese restaurants and shisha cafes. Right around the corner is Lebanon’s well-known Al-Omari Mosque, defined by its stunning blue dome. Stop by Balthazar for their famous “pain perdu” and The Garden for a romantic rooftop dinner surrounded by blooming flowers.
Stroll along Beirut’s 4.8-kilometer-long Corniche for a sunny, family-friendly experience defined by palm trees, glorious views of the Mediterranean Sea, and Beirut’s landmark, Pigeons’ Rock. Along your walk, you will encounter many locals jogging, fishing, or biking with their families, as well as several street vendors selling corn and traditional kaak bread. If you’re hungry for traditional Lebanese food, you will find several restaurants to satisfy your craving, including Bay Rock Café, known for its Lebanese mezze breakfast and breathtaking views of the sea. After your stroll, stop by Movenpick Hotel & Resort for a peaceful poolside nap, a drink in its lively pool bar, or a few laps in its Olympic-size pool. Beirut’s Corniche is a great place to be active all while getting an authentic Lebanese experience and mingling with the locals.
This story appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Baedeker.