Lebanon: From Antiquity to the 21st Century
Lebanon has been at the crossroads of many civilizations, from Biblical times of the Canaanites, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Arabs and more. All have left their footprints in Lebanon, as one sees visiting the National Museum, to some of the country’s well preserved archaeological ruins.
Continuing thru to modern times, the influence of these many settlers can often be found in the diversity of Lebanon embodied in the country’s Constitution which provides representation for its eighteen confessional groups, ranging from Christians, Muslims, Druze and other confessional groups.
From beautiful mountains dotted with ancient Christian villages, to a seacoast of diversity from north to south, all roads seem to come together in the multi-faith society that makes Beirut, the country’s capital, such a cosmopolitan mix.
Join Iconic Journeys Worldwide, a pioneer in cultural tours to Lebanon and enjoy a country that is beautiful, hospitable and so misunderstood by many in the West.
Throughout this deluxe tour, you will enjoy the special cuisine and wines that have made Lebanon a culinary experience!
Iconic Journeys Worldwide has always seen travel as a way of educating travelers to the reality of a destination, as well as being a cultural bridge in the process. This very special tour of Lebanon follows embodies philosophy.
Day 1, Friday, November 15– Beirut arrival
Upon arrival into Beirut, you will be transferred to your 5* hotel in central Beirut, across from the Mediterranean Sea. The remainder of your afternoon being free for you to relax and refresh yourself from your flight.
This evening, join your fellow participants for a “Welcome Dinner” introducing you to what will be the first of many Lebanese culinary treats that will be interwoven throughout the trip. Overnight in Beirut. (D)
Day 2, Saturday, November 16 – Touring Beirut
Today we have a walking tour of Beirut, a city spread out between the Mediterranean and the mountains. There are times during the years when Lebanese can swim in the sea and then drive to the mountains to ski. Our touring will take us through some of the neighborhoods that were central during the country’s civil war which have since undergone renovations, as well as discovery of archaeological remains.
While touring, we will visit Souk-a-Tawlet, in interesting project that gives small farmers and food producers an opportunity to show their products in the heart of the city. Open only on Saturday mornings, you will find stalls with everything from honey, cheese, bakery goods, wine plus much more!
From the museum, we embark on a walking tour as well as a walking tour thru areas of Beirut that were resurrected under the project begin under the auspices of Solidere Construction, initiated by the visionary former Lebanese Prime Rafik Hariri, who was later assassinated by the Syrian government, though this was never proven. The Solidere district is a modern construction to help revive the very heart of Beirut that was so heavily damaged during the years of Lebanon’s Civil War, from 1974-1990.
We will also learn throughout this trip how the many faiths and ethnic groups among the Lebanese interact in daily life, from the confessional system of the government, to neighborhoods to more outlying regions of Lebanon that we will visit in the days to come.
Dinner and overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 3, Sunday, November 17 – Beirut
Today’s touring will begin with the National Museum of Beirut, with its extensive archaeological remains.
Following the museum, we depart for a visit to the outskirts of Beirut where we visit the the Jeita Grotto, which are natural caves of magnificent stalactites and stalagmites.
Outside of Beirut we continue on to Byblos, considered to be one of the oldest, continually inhabited cities in the world. A relatively small town along the water, we will have lunch in this charming town and then a walking tour thru the archaeological ruins which include Roman, Crusader and later.
For your independent dining tonight, suggestions will be provided, as well as instructions on how to get around Byblos. The atmosphere at night is wonderful, as it brings families and tourists to enjoy the many shops and restaurants that are in this charming and compact town.
Overnight in Byblos. (B, L)
Day 4, Monday, November 18 – Bshaare, Qadisha Valley
This morning we depart Byblos and take the highway east, eventually bringing us to the area of the Qadisha Valley and to the small, mountain town of Bshaare. In Bshaare, we visit the final home of Lebanon’s most noted poet, Khalil Jibran. Originally from Bshaare, Jibran left Lebanon as a youth and moved to the U.S. with his mother, where he lived much of his youth and early adulthood, choosing to return to Lebanon later in his life. His final years were in Bshaare, where one finds many paintings he also did in addition to his books.
While in the Qadisha Valley, which in English means the Holy Valley due to the many churches and monasteries that are found throughout this region, we will visit one or two such places. We will have lunch in the region, enjoying village, home style cooking.
From the Qadisha Valley, we continue thru the mountains en route to visiting the Cedars Forest, the ancient tree which graces Lebanon’s flag. Today, the cedar trees are very precious due to the fact that they take many years to grow and over decades, there was little attempt to conserve them. Thus, most of the cedar trees were cut down over generations and were used in building and for other purposes.
Overnight in the Qadisha Valley. (B, L, D)
Day 5 , Tuesday, November 19 – Bekaa Valley, with Baalbek, winery and Anjar
This morning begins with a drive to our primary stop for today, being Baalbek, where we visit this large and impressive archaeological site whose origins date to the Greek period from the 3rd century BC and then under the Romans. We will spend at least two hours exploring the site, as well as its museum.
Lebanon has a robust wine industry that has origins dating back thousands of years. We will visit one of the many wineries in the Bekaa Valley as well as having lunch.
After lunch, we continue on with our next stop being the 11th century Ommayid ruins of Anjar, which today, also has a large Armenian population.
From Anjar, we return to Beirut, arriving early evening. Dinner tonight is independent. Dining suggestions will be provided. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L)
Day 6, Wednesday, November 20- Southern Lebanon
Today’s touring will take us to southern Lebanon, where we visit Tyre, a Phoenician city, also referred to as “Sour”, its name from Roman times.
We continue our visit of southern Lebanon by visiting another coastal town, Sidon, referred to as “Saida” in Arabic. We will walk thru the marketplace (souk) of Sidon and its former caravansaries, including a visit to one of the city’s old soap factories, and the Citadel of St. Louis which dates to the 11th century Crusader period.
Late day return to Beirut. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 7, Thursday, November 21 – Chouf region
This morning we head east of Beirut to the Chouf, an area of lower mountains whose inhabitants are primarily Druze and Christians. We will learn a bit about the Druze during the day and eventually arrive to Deir El Qamar. Historical writing can trace the region back to the 12th century, with structural remains today that include a 15th century Maronite Church, the Fakhreddine Mosque, also from the 15th century, as well as a 17th century synagogue, which today is closed to the public, as there is no longer a Jewish community.
From Deir El Qamar, we drive a short distance to the village of Beitaddine. Here we visit the Palace of Beitaddine, built in the early 19th century. We return to Beirut late in the day, giving you a bit of free time and the chance to prepare for our festive “Farewell Dinner”. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 8, Friday, November 22 – Departure
Transfers will be arranged for your departures from Beirut. (B)
Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to make itinerary changes, if necessary.
NOTE: U.S. citizens are eligible to receive their visa to Lebanon at the airport upon arrival. Passports must have at least six months remaining prior to expiration. Passports with stamps showing travel to Israel will be cause for denial of entering Lebanon.
Beirut: Le Vendome or similar
Serai: Hotel Le Tournant or similar
Beirut: Le Vendome or similar
COSTS: $5,395 per person. No Single Supplement!
* Meals included as indicated by B, L, D. Any other references to meals are for logistical purposes, only.
* Itinerary as shown
* Hotels as described or comparable properties.
* English speaking guide and private vehicle throughout Lebanon itinerary, as noted.
* Iconic Journeys Worldwide specialist
* Group airport transfers
* Honorariums for guest speakers or organizations in Lebanon
* Entrance fees at sites noted in Lebanon
* Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses. All expenses in addition to included room and breakfast
* Gratuities to Lebanese guide and driver
* Alcoholic drinks not included during group meals.
* International flights to and from Beirut.