Beirut, just like any capital, is fast-paced, rather hectic, and over the past two years, the pollution’s only gotten worse. We don’t come to Beirut to relax, but rather for our kids to learn about their dad’s culture, the city he spent his childhood growing up in, and spend time with their grandma and cousins, and experience the Middle East.
Other than eat delicious home-made Lebanese food, what is that we do while we’re in Beirut? Here’s our kid-friendly guide to exploring this Middle Eastern’s metropolis!
Our Kid-Friendly Guide to the Lebanese City of Beirut
No visit to Beirut is complete without stopping by Pigeon Rock in the neighborhood of Raouché. Popular amongst tourists and locals alike, the two gigantic rocks in the water are iconic formations and look like two guards, protecting the city from the sea.
There’s a promenade/corniche surrounding the coastline that locals love to walk along – we recommend going early in the morning, or in the evening to watch a spectacular sunset.
Walk along the Corniche
While you’re checking out Pigeons Rock, take a stroll along the 2.5 miles of corniche and breathe in some fresh seaside air – which we’ve started to do a lot more of because of the increase in pollution we’ve experienced over the past couple of years in Beirut.
Growing up in Hawaii means my kids love being outdoors, whether it be at the beach, or hiking through the forest (link to oahu things to do). They miss the outdoor spaces when they come to Beirut, which lacks enough green space for the kids and residents in general. You can take a walk, jog, or just relax in the grass under the shade of the trees – Sanayeh Garden is the perfect refuge for getting away from the chaotic city!
Located an hour outside of Beirut, Beit Ed-Dein or “House Of Faith”, is Lebanon’s greatest treasure, known for its palace which was built by Emir Bechir II of the Chehab dynasty. The palace reflects the typical Ottoman architecture of the 19th century and took approximately thirty years to be build beginning in 1788.
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The kids loved walking around the palace, learning the history of the area, and checking out the ancient mosaic art. Every summer, the palace now hosts the popular Beteddine Art Festival, full of theatrical performances and shows.
While you’re in the city of Beit ed-Deine there, be sure to stop by Moussa Castle, an impressive structure built single-handedly by one man, Moussa Abdel Karim Al-Maamar. The castle is a testament to the fact that if you set your mind to anything, regardless of how many people you have telling you no, you can accomplish anything!
Jeita Grotto is incredible ancient limestone cavern consisting of two caves – the upper cave that you can walk through, and the lower cave, that you get to after a boat ride along a subterranean lake.
The caves were inhabited in prehistoric times, but the lower cave wasn’t discovered until the 1800’s and can only be visited by boat. There’s also an underground river that is the source of fresh drinking water to Lebanon’s population. The kids had a lot of fun looking at the stalactites and stalagmites – a definite hidden gem just 30 minutes away from Beirut.
The Silk Museum
Lebanon has a rich history of producing silk, and a trip to the Silk Museum is in order if that’s something you were not aware of.
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Located just 9 miles outside of Beirut, the museum building itself has a fascinating history and, in addition to a garden filled olive trees and traditional Bsous apricot trees, a kid-friendly tour to demonstrate the live process of silk production, there’s also an exhibit of modern and antique items from the famous “Silk Road” and the exchanges of silk between Lebanon and the East & the West.
Al Hariri Mosque
Located in the heart of downtown Beirut, this mosque is commonly known as the Blue Mosque, after well, the blue dome that dominates the city’s skyline. The Mohammad al-Amin mosque has served as the backdrop for waves of mass protests that have altered the course of politics over the past three years.
Known locally as the Hariri mosque, it was to be a focal point of the central Beirut commercial district whose reconstruction was driven by the billionaire businessman. Before he was killed by a massive truck bomb, Rafik al-Hariri had personally overseen aspects of the construction, including the selection the shade of blue for the ceramic dome.
Telepherique to Harissa
While it’s a bit of a drive from Beirut, you cannot leave Lebanon without a cable car ride on the Telepherique to see the Lady of Lebanon in Harissa. The Lady of Lebanon is an important statue for the Catholics of Lebanon, as well as the world, and is a pilgrimage site visited by people from all over. The church located on top of the mountain overlooks the entire coast of Jounieh, and you can see Beirut in the distance as well.
Visit the Roman Baths and Place de l’Etoile
Beirut is a city steeped in history, some of which date back more than 5,000 years. So it should come as no surprise that if you’re looking for Roman bath ruins, you’ll find them in the heart of the city. The ruins contain the remnants of the brick vaults and columns that supported the floor and are surrounded by terraces with benches.
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The area is a pedestrian-only zone so the only way to get to the square is by foot. Due to the military checkpoints, there’s been a decrease in the amount of tourists to the area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go into the square to view the French & East Asian architecture. We like going in the evening, it makes for a great picture, and sometimes head there to feed pigeons.
And there you have it, our kid-friendly guide to exploring the Middle Eastern metropolis city of Beirut. Have you been to Beirut before? Let us know in the comments below if we missed any kid-friendly city favorites of yours!