Living it up in Lebanon
I think it's safe to say that Lebanon isn't the country that springs to mind whilst planning your summer holiday, however this tiny state - the smallest recognised state on the entire mainland Asian continent - is bursting with history, mouth-watering food and views so spectacular they are bound to be imprinted on your memory for a lifetime. Myself and a group of fellow travellers stayed in Lebanon for 2 weeks; we were based mainly in Beirut, Lebanon's sprawling and diverse capital that overlooks the Mediterranean. Although we had come out to Lebanon for a reason other than purely sightseeing, we did have a lot of time to explore the country, and why shouldn't we? Lebanon's small size really played to our advantage; you can travel practically anywhere from Beirut and get there in less than a couple of hours. Beirut Previously known as the Paris of the Middle East before the Lebanese civil war, Beirut has always been an open-minded and exciting Arab city. The capital is very much divided up into different religious and cultural areas, and some parts of the city can feel completely different to others due to the large class divide. If you're looking for relaxation then Beirut is not the place for you, but what you will find is bustling streets, fresh fruit in abundance, scarily bad driving and beautiful waterfront views. Don't miss out any beautiful religious buildings - or hummus.
Sidon Sidon, the modern seaport town, is notable in ancient history. There is evidence that Sidon has been inhabited since 4000 B.C and has become a hub for glass production over the years. With its notable Crusader castle overlooking the azure coastline, Sidon is worth a visit for its maze-like streets, soap factory and souks.
Byblos Rumour has it Byblos is the oldest inhabited city in the world. Without a doubt a notable player in the history of Phoenicia, the UNESCO World Heritage site couldn't feel any more different from chaotic Beirut. This is where we saw the majority of tourists roaming the quiet and quaint streets, picking out souvenirs and taking photos of the timeworn architecture. Perhaps my favourite place in all of Lebanon, the port is a perfect place to hang out and watch the waves. Lebanon also boasts some really nice beaches, although it isn't advisable to actually swim in the sea there (we only discovered this after we had been at the beach for about 4 hours, heh.) If you're looking for all things picturesque however, the coast is where it's at.
The mountains A trip to Lebanon wouldn't be complete without the mountains and the famous cedar trees, as seen on the country's flag. You need only travel less than 2 hours from Beirut to be met with spectacular views. Try a cedar forest walk for a cool down and a bit of repose.