Beirut Nightlife: Winter Edition

If you ever come across a Lebanese expat and strike up a conversation with them about their homeland, they are likely to boast about the vibrant nightlife scene particularly in the capital Beirut. Despite the country’s occasional instability there’s no doubt the Lebanese know how to party, so much so that many famous Lebanese clubs and lounges have recently opened in Dubai.  Having experienced a fair number of nightlife scenes around the world, I am yet to find anywhere that compares to Beirut – in terms of variety, cost, and ambience. Dubbed the party capital of the Middle East, Beirut has something for everyone no matter what day of the week it is. Most, if not all, clubs/lounges/bars open late daily which is one of the many reasons I love Beirut. Here are my top picks for going out in Beirut during winter:

Music Hall

Looking for good music, live performances and great food? This place is for you. Serving a slightly older crowd in a theatre-like setting, this is one spot guaranteed to keep you entertained all night. Avoid if on a budget. Reservation is a must.

Indie

This lavish lounge is the winter brainchild of the team behind White, one of Beirut’s hottest summer rooftop nightclubs. I love the interior décor of this place, not to mention the excellent cocktails. You can catch a live band playing here frequently. Reservation is a must for large groups.

Bistro Bar

This bar is one of the pioneers behind the revival of the iconic alleyway in the Hamra district. For a chilled out night Fridays here are best, but for a pumping night be sure to go on a Saturday as the music is more upbeat.

Caprice

Bazaar night happening here every Friday is one of the hottest tickets in town. Dance the night away at this funky lounge/bar with a fusion of English, French, & Arabic tunes. If you prefer R&B music be sure to head over on a Thursday for URBN night. Reservation is a must.

Uruguay Street

Looking for a last minute drinking destination and not sure where to go? This alleyway in the heart of downtown Beirut is home to an endless streak of pubs and bars. Good for pub hopping with friends.

B018

EDM music lovers, you won’t want to skip this underground nightclub famous for its open and closeable ceiling. Be sure to check out its legendary 80’s night every Thursday. Reservation is a must for large groups.

The Hub

The latest nightclub to hit the Beirut party scene, this place hosts superb R&B nights every Saturday and funky Pop Tart nights every Friday. Reservation is a must.

Under Construction

Enjoy deep house beats all night long in one of the coolest lounges in Mar Mikhael. The interior is super dandy with pipes along the ceiling and large bolts on the walls, hence the name ‘under construction’.

Coop D’etat

Located on an enclosed rooftop in Saifi, this bar is a favorite among foreigners due to the cheap drinks and casual atmosphere. Go early to get a good spot because they don’t take reservations. Good for those on a budget.

The Grand Factory

This place hosts the “C U NXT SAT” party every Saturday. If you’re seeking somewhere to let loose and rave to EDM music all night, you’re in for a real treat here.

The O1ne

The winter equivalent of Skybar, this club has only been open a year and is already booming. If you’re looking to have a wild night this is the place to go. Avoid if on a budget. Reservation is a must.

SUD lounge

For those looking for a more relaxing vibe, head to SUD Lounge right above SUD restaurant in Mar Mikhael. Great for both dinner and drinks.

P.s: Be sure to ask about the age restriction as a lot of these places are 21+

Have you ever experienced Beirut’s nightlife scene? If not, which is your favourite party city?

Morning Bliss

I’ve been wanting to change my morning routine for a while. On weekdays, I have afternoon classes so I spend my mornings lazing around the house before heading to university. But today was different. My mother usually goes for morning walks in the neighborhood and I decided to join her since I’m not a big fan of the gym.

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I can’t tell you how amazing I felt afterwards, there’s something about walking in nature that truly rejuvenates you. Besides the obvious health benefits, I got to spend some quality time with my mother and I know how happy it made her. They say the best way to make yourself happy is to make someone else happy, right? And as an added bonus I was rewarded with beautiful scenery, which I never take the time to appreciate. Sometimes it’s just a little lifestyle change that can make a big difference and drastically improve your day. I’m going to start doing this three times a week, hopefully I can keep it up.

What is your morning routine like? Do you prefer to exercise at the start or end of your day?

My Love Affair With Byblos

There are certain places that, no matter how many times you visit, never seize to amaze you. Byblos is one of those places for me. It was certainly love at first sight for me and Byblos and every time I go there I fall in love all over again. I call it my happy place, my sanctuary. There’s something about it, a sort of magical aura that’s sure to leave a mark on you, which isn’t surprising considering it’s the second oldest continuously inhabited city in the world (Telegraph).

Located 40km north of the Lebanese capital, this picturesque Mediterranean port town is the perfect combination of history and modernity. Whether you’re looking for a getaway from the city or a simple break from reality, Byblos is for you. Go for a ride on one of the fisherman boats nestled along the harbor. Take a stroll throught the ancient cobblestone souks adorned with beautiful souvenir shops. Discover the Roman ruins and Crusador citadel. Have a meal at one of the charming restaurants. And if at the end of the day you’re still buzzing, stick around till it gets dark and watch the pubs come to life.

Old Souk

Old souk – Image via Lebanon Guide

The port

The port – Image via Friends Choices

eCafe

eCafe – Image via Edde Yard

Crusader Citadel

Crusader Citadel – Image via Wiki GOGO

Young or old, Byblos has something for everyone. I’m so lucky to have this gem in my country and be able to go whenever I want. It’s definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Lebanon.

Do you have a happy place? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

7 Days in Beirut

I recently had my cousins from Australia over in Beirut for a visit. Seeing as though it was their first trip to the “Paris of the Middle East”, I was more than happy to formulate an itinerary for their 1 week stay. Nothing like a local to show you around, eh? The following is a recommended 7-day itinerary for Beirut, Lebanon. Despite the tense security situation, this city has a lot to offer if you know where to go. With its rich history and culture that blends East & West, along with its buzzing nightlife and friendly citizens, Beirut is one city you won’t regret visiting.

How to get around: The public transportation system in Lebanon isn’t that great, so if you don’t have relatives or friends to drive you around I suggest you take company cabs which are more expensive but a lot more reliable than the random service taxi’s you’ll see on the streets. (Warning: the driving in Lebanon is a little crazy, the road rules are close to none so buckle up.)

Where to stay: There are so many accommodation options in Beirut if you don’t have family or friends to stay with. Depending on your preferences and budget you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to stay if you do some research beforehand.

Day 1 [Monday]

Arrive in Beirut, go for a walk through the downtown area to see Parliament Square and the Roman ruins. Do some shopping at Beirut Souks followed by dinner at Classic Burger Joint (one of the best, if not the best, burger place in Beirut.)

Day 2 [Tuesday]

Go to PAUL restaurant in the suburb of Gemmayze for a nice French brunch, then head to Bonita Bay in Batroun for a relaxing day by the sea (Note: if you’re not a fan of pebbly beaches go to Jbeil aka Byblos instead where the coastline is sandy.) When you’ve had enough sun, go for a late afternoon stroll through the old port & old souk of Byblos where you’ll find plenty of Roman ruins. Have dinner at E café in Byblos, they offer a wide selection of steaks as well as Italian cuisine.

Day 3 [Wednesday]

Traditional Lebanese saj breakfast at a Zaatar w Zeit branch (Order the labneh sandwich, it is to die for) Make your way to Jounieh and catch a cable car up the mountain to the Our Lady of Lebanon Church for some breathtaking views of Jounieh Bay, then take the cable car back down and have lunch at Margherita Mare in the old souk of Jounieh, my favourite Italian restaurant. After lunch head to Jeita Grotto, a nominee for the 7 Natural Wonders of the World [Note: The place closes at 5pm but I always recommend doing this activity in the afternoon to skip the long queues and crowds of tourists] For dinner, grab a falafel to go from Arax in Bourj Hammoud before going clubbing at White Club (Note: This club is strictly 21+ and on Wednesday’s they only play R&B music, so if you’re not into that music you’re better off going there on a weekend.)

Day 4 [Thursday]

Go for a morning walk along the corniche in Raouche and catch a glimpse of the ginormous Pigeon Rock, one of Beirut’s icons. From there go to ABC Mall in Ashrafieh for some midday shopping [Note: if you’re a fan of sushi, OBI restaurant at the mall does all you can eat for 28 U.S dollars on Thursdays.] For a nice Lebanese dinner, head up to Mounir restaurant in the mountain town of Broummana, one of the most famous Lebanese restaurants. However, if you’d prefer to stay in Beirut you can go to Al Falamanki in Monot, a traditional Lebanese café famous for its chill atmosphere.

Day 5 [Friday]

Take a roadtrip to the Bekaa Valley for some wine tasting at the Ksara vineyard in the town of Zahle. Have lunch at the Berdawni in Zahle followed by a visit to Baalbak, one of the most well-preserved Roman ruin site in the world. Head back to Beirut just in time for sunset dinner and drinks at Iris Rooftop bar in the city [Note: A live band plays here on Fridays.]

Day 6 [Saturday]

Have breakfast at Bar Tartine in the Mar Mikhael district then take another roadtrip, this time to the Chouf area to see the spectacular old Beiteddine Palace, the official summer residence of the Lebanese President. While you’re in the Chouf check out the Baakline waterfall where you can enjoy a nice picnic or lunch at one of the restaurants. Head back to Beirut and have dinner at Zeitounay Bay, followed by drinks at one of the pubs on Uruguay Street. If you’re still buzzing afterwards, head to the Train Station in Mar Mikhael (the name speaks for itself – a rundown train station turned outdoor bar, the latest addition to the Beirut nightlife scene.)

Day 7 [Sunday]

Head to Rikky’z restaurant located in the mountain town of Faraya for a massive barbecue party. For 66 U.S dollars you can eat & drink all you like while a DJ plays the latest hits all afternoon. (Note: Rikky’z only does barbecues on Sundays and reservations at least 1 week in advance are recommended.)

P.s: This itinerary is ideal during the summer months and for those aged 18+ who aren’t on a budget. I’ve only included 3 breakfast options because I’ve assumed you’ll be having breakfast at your hotel. Also, I haven’t included the North & South of Lebanon on this itinerary but if you’re interested you should definitely check them out.


Some useful tips:

– Two currencies are accepted in Lebanon, the Lebanese Lira and the U.S Dollar.

– The majority of the Lebanese population is trilingual. Most people can speak English, Arabic, and French so don’t stress about the language barrier.

– Everything opens late in Lebanon whether it be shopping malls, restaurants, or clubs so take advantage of it.

– Most beaches are actually private beach resorts since there are very few public beaches in Beirut or Lebanon in general. You can access any beach resort for a fee yet keep in mind that some are cleaner, nicer, and cheaper than others. I personally prefer going to the beaches in Batroun because the water is crystal clear, it’s less crowded and entrance is cheap but the resorts in Jbeil or Damour are great too. [Note: on weekdays the entrance fee to beach resorts is cheaper than on the weekend yet on weekends many resorts throw huge beach parties.]

– Not that I want to promote laziness, but you can get almost anything delivered in Lebanon whether it be fast food, groceries, even shisha!

– If you’re going clubbing or pubbing in a group, its best to reserve a table beforehand. But if you’re only 2 or 3 people head to the pub/club early and grab some seats on the bar.

– Tipping is a regular aspect of Lebanese life since the minimum wage here is pretty low. A 10% tip at restaurants is appreciated but not obligatory.

– During the Ramadan season the nightlife scene in Lebanon dies down a bit. If you are in Lebanon during Ramadan though, it’s best to go clubbing/pubbing on the weekend or on theme nights like R&B Wednesdays at White Club.

If you liked this post, you might also like: 7 Days in London

And so it begins…

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, forgive me. I’ve been living under a rock the past two weeks trying to get through final exam period, and I can finally say that it’s over. Today marks the beginning of my summer break and I can’t tell you how good it felt waking up this morning knowing I won’t have to open a textbook or type out another essay.

Although technically the semester has ended, I’m going to be spending a lot of time at university this week preparing for the annual outdoors festival. I’m part of the decorations team and this year’s chosen theme is New York city so you can only imagine how creative we’re going to get. Stay tuned for a post next week!

In June I fly over to London for 8 days with my sister. I’ve always dreamt of going there and we’ve never travelled on our own so I’m really looking forward to being the ultimate tourist. Leave a comment if you know of any places I must see 🙂 I’m happy to take any suggestions.

Once I’m back from London I’ll no longer be a tourist but a tour guide because one of my best friends from Australia and my cousin along with his Italian wife are coming to Beirut. They’ve never been here before so I can’t wait to show them what Lebanon has to offer; one of my favorite things to do is show people my country through my eyes. Then after they’ve left I have to plan a surprise 21st birthday bash for one of my closest friends, and what remains of the summer I’ll hopefully spend doing an internship before I go back to university.

My summer in a nutshell. What do you guys have planned? Any of you travelling?

 

Tourist At Home

I live in such a small yet beautiful country. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, yesterday was proof of how little I’d actually seen.

I went on a hiking trip with my geology class from university; we stopped at 10 locations and I hadn’t been to any of them. What was supposed to be an educational excursion turned into me discovering a whole new side of my homeland. I was a tourist in my own backyard.

Baloo' Bal'aa, Lebanon

Tannourine, Lebanon

Our last stop brought us to this gorgeous hidden waterfall within a cave. These pictures don’t do it justice but I tried my best to capture its beauty. If you’re ever in Lebanon and in the Tannourine area, I highly recommend you go see it as it’s truly breathtaking.

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Tannourine, Lebanon

We talk about travel all the time but sometimes the most beautiful treasures are not as far as we might think!