My trip to Lebanon was rather unfortunate one. I’ve been there for a week, at the time of my annoying health issues, and despite my big plans of exploring numerous sights around the country I’ve spent all the time visiting Beirut (that I loved anyway!).
I was hoping to do couple of day trips around – after all most of the interesting destinations are easily reachable from Beirut, but I ended up going to only one place – Byblos. And it turned out to be the best day trip from Beirut!
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How to get from Beirut to Byblos
One of the things I was dreading the most in Lebanon was the public transport. I was trying to go to Tyre and Saida but I failed at getting to the bus station (I was waiting for half an hour for the city bus to take me there and when I gave up and crossed the street to go to another district of Beirut I haven’t seen yet the bus arrived).
Fortunately it was so much easier with Byblos. Literally at the back of my hostel – Saifi Urban Gardens (highly recommended!)- there was Charles Helou Bus Station serving north of the country, especially Tripoli. After a small communication challenge when four people tried to help me and no one really spoke English we established I will take the bus heading to Tripoli but the driver will drop me off at the side of the highway in Byblos.
The journey took around one hour, I was checking maps.me along the way to see if we’re getting closer but fortunately the driver remembered about me and stopped where I wanted to. From there it was just a short walk down to the center of Byblos.
Short history of Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos, Lebanon is among the cities that are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited in the world (others that claim this title are Athens, Damascus, Jericho or Beirut). The place is like a book of Lebanon history since Stone Age times.
First settlers came here between 8.000 BC and 5.000 BC (there are various sources). Already in the middle of 3rd century BC Byblos was an important trade center, exchanging goods especially with ancient Egypt. That’s also where the Phoenician alphabet – the foundation of the alphabet we’re currently using – was invented.
Following centuries were troublesome in the Byblos history, the city was under constantly changing occupation: Amorites, Egyptians, Muslims or Crusaders to name few. Byblos never regained its position and lost its importance to nearby Tipoli.
First impressions of Byblos
First impressions of Byblos were so-so. It looked like a typical random city in the area.
But very quickly I found myself in the Souk area – a truly magical place – and I fell in love right away! It was beautifully restored and now you can find mostly souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants here. Some of them are hidden in the charming corners, with branches romantically wriggling above the tables.
It’s one of those perfect places where you could spend way too much time, just reading, writing, chatting over a drink and enjoying the atmosphere.
Amazing ruins in Byblos
I was already over the moon with the charming Souk and called Byblos a successful day trip from Beirut when I stumbled across another amazing place – the ruins. From the outside you can see only the Crusaders Castle, dating back to the 12th century but there is so much more to see.
You’re immediately transformed back in time. The area around the castle is rather big and full of various ruins strewn around: couple of temples from the BC times, King’s Well, Royal Tombs or Roman Theatre. Among those ancient remnants there is one thing that surely is beautiful but doesn’t really fit to the place: Ottoman-era house that kind of dominates the place.
It took me quite a while to wander around as there was so much to see and the view from the ruins was pretty spectacular: to the mountains rolling into the endless Mediterranean Sea.
Laid-back Byblos harbor
When I thought Byblos can’t get any prettier I walked down to the harbor. And it was beautiful again!
What used to be a busy shipping area in the ancient times now is a quiet place, with fishing boats and yachts rhythmically jiggling in the water. Only the remnants of the defensive tower built by the Crusaders and ancient quays remind about the great past.
A little bit further long and wide sandy beaches start. No wonder that in the 1960s and 1970s Byblos was a major hotspot, hosting celebrities like Marlon Brando or Frank Sinatra!
While most of the people dine in the Souk I’ve decided to get my lunch in one of the harbor restaurants. Lebanese food is one of the best in the world and that’s already a good reason for me to visit Lebanon! Combined with the pleasant harbor view and fresh seaside air I couldn’t have ended my day in Byblos any better way!
Is it worth to go for a day trip from Beirut to Byblos?
I’ve never expected Byblos to be that beautiful. I read a little bit in my Lonely Planet guide but didn’t fully realize what I’m in for. I’ve thought I’ll need maybe 2 hours to see everything in such a small place – it took me so much more (around 5 I guess) and I’d gladly have stayed longer!
Byblos is picturesque, interesting, fascinating and I honestly can say this is the best day trip from Beirut!
Byblos, Lebanon in pictures
Below you can find some pictures that hopefully will inspire you to visit Byblos too!
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