This small Mediterranean country has had a turbulent recent history but now makes a great place to visit, either in its own right or as part of a longer Middle East holiday itinerary. Places of interest include the capital city Beirut, the impressive Roman remains of Baalbek, the old souks in Tripoli, and the mosaic streets and massive Roman hippodrome in Tyre. More active pursuits include, scuba diving, trekking and skiing.
The modern capital Beirut makes a perfect base and is regarded as one of the liveliest cities in the world, with excellent restaurant, theatres, pubs and nightlife. From here it's easy to make excursions into the surrounding countryside. To the north the coastal city of Tripoli is famous for it sweets and traditional olive oil-based soap, which can be bought in its wonderful old covered souks. In land lies the superbly preserved Roman remains at Baalbek, with the colossal temple of Bacchus the main attraction. To the south scuba diving and snorkelling in the waters around the ancient city of Tyre, where divers can explore interesting underwater archaeological ruins, is a popular option. The city is also home to one of the largest Roman hippodromes ever discovered.
For more active options, there is plenty of great scuba diving and snorkelling along the miles of Mediterranean coast, along with other popular water sports. Inland in the mountains there is excellent walking and skiing, with several great ski resorts available.
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Lebanon’s climate is best described as a temperate Mediterranean climate with warm, arid summers and cold, wet winters. In comparison to its more arid neighbors, Lebanon is considered to have rainy, wet weather which is why Summer is generally a more popular time to visit as there is generally no wet weather.
Autumn and Spring are also considered optimal times of the year to visit as there is less humidity, fewer rainy days and cooler temperatures. There are also fewer tourists during Autumn and Spring in comparison to Summer.
During Winter, there is often snow-fall towards the mountain regions and there are several ski resorts throughout the country. However, during Winter the coastal region is still relatively mild and temperatures below 13°C (55°F) are rare.
Lebanon’s official language is Standard Arabic and the native language Lebanese Arabic which is similar to the Arabic of Syria, Jordan and Palestinian territories.
The Lebanese locals understand Standard Arabic but will likely respond in Lebanese Arabic or English as English is widely spoken, particularly by the youth in the business and scientific sectors.
The official currency of Lebanon is the Lebanese pound(LBP) or Lebanese Lira which is often abbreviated to “LL”. The value of their currency is kept stable relative to the US dollar, with a value of LL 1,500 to US$1.
Most places in Lebanon accept Either Lebanese pounds or US dollars and it is common to pay in dollars but receive change in Lebanese Lira.
Lebanon is abundant in natural scenery, with sandy beaches to breath-taking mountains and valleys. The Lebanese people are prideful of their country because it is one of the few countries in the world that offers the opportunity to go skiing in the morning and then visit the beach in the afternoon. However, it is only possible to go skiing for a few days of the year during the snow-fall periods in Winter.
Lebanon boasts an outstanding range of exquisite cuisine, ranging from mezze like dips such as hummus, to salads such as tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves called ‘inab. Groups going to a restaurant often share a variety of Mezze which reflects the cultural and social importance of food in the Lebanon.
The concept of sharing an array of different foods allows you to try several different Lebanese dishes in one sitting. The main dishes often involve meats that have been barbecued in a Labense style, such as a Shish Tawouk (barbequed chicken).
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