Lebanon Group Tour Holiday - Vineyards and Valleys of Lebanon


Lebanon - Vineyards and Valleys of Lebanon

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 8 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Itinerary

Lebanon was known in the 1960’s as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Today Lebanon has rebuilt itself after a devastating civil war that ended in 1991. This small country extending for only 250km’s north to south and 50 km’s from east to west excels in its diversity of experiences and exceptional sense of hospitality. On our journey we will experience the vibrant city of Beirut, both old and new. However this tour offers much more. Get to grips with the heart of Lebanon as we spend 5 nights out of the big city. We will journey to ancient settlements such as Byblos and Batroun on the shimmering Mediterranean coast, wander through the atmospheric souks of Sidon, and admire the noble emblem of Lebanon: the majestic Cedar Forests of the Chouf Reserve. Stay in a monastery in the lush Qadisha Valley, cook with locals, and enjoy the magnificent food and wine of Lebanon in the fertile Bekaa Valley. For history lovers, standing in front of the magnificent Roman temples of Baalbek (UNESCO) is sure to inspire and delight as well as castles from Crusader times and the UNESCO town of Deir Al Qamar with its excellent examples of grand feudal architecture.  This exciting new tour has something for everyone and in our view should be high on the list of travellers must see destinations.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●●○○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Day 1 - Arrival in Beirut
Arrive in Beirut and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Le Caramel Boutique Hotel or similar. No meals included.

Day 2 – Beirut – Byblos (Approximate driving time today is 1 hour)
This morning after breakfast, start the day with a stroll on the breezy and bustling corniche, an activity enjoyed by many local Beirutis. During the walk, learn about how the area was shaped by the civil war and the regeneration efforts since. Stark reminders of the conflict are very much still visible including the bullet ridden Holiday Inn hotel building which has remained derelict and were the scenes of intense battles. Continue to Martyrs Square and the impressive Mohammad Al Amin Mosque complete with its towering sandstone minarets. We will also stop to see the archaeological site of the Roman baths in the centre of the city. Continue to the National Museum where we take an enriching visit and learn about the turbulent history of Lebanon which will give the experiences of the coming days added context. This afternoon drive up the coast to the ancient town of Byblos, said to have been continuously inhabited since the 6th Century BC. Spend the afternoon exploring this delightful place with its picturesque harbour, the well restored 12th century crusader castle and the roman archaeological site with a beautifully situated small amphitheatre overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. The evening is at leisure and you may wish to explore the easily accessible and atmospheric souk area and perhaps try a dinner of seafood down near the harbour. Overnight Hotel Ahiram or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Byblos – Batroun – Tannourine – Qadisha Valley (Approximate driving time today is 2 hours)
After breakfast, continue a short distance up the coast to Batroun. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets and observe the traditional Ottoman style houses. Also take a stroll through Batroun’s old souk and the magical ruins of the Phoenician port including the ancient sea wall.  Enjoy a local picnic style lunch in Batroun before heading inland from the coast to Baatara Gorge Waterfall in Tannourine – also known locally as Bala’a. This is an extraordinary sight. The gorge has 3 natural bridges connecting it from side to side. We take an easy walk here. In the spring the water falls an impressive 250 metres into a natural sinkhole. Later, continue to the splendid Qadisha Valley and to our accommodation which will be a peaceful 12th Century monastery in a lovely setting. Overnight Saint Antoine Monastery or similar. (BLD)

Day 4 – Qadisha Valley – Bcharre – Cedars Forest – Baalbek (Approximate driving time today is 2.5 hours)
This morning after breakfast, explore the sites of the Qadisha Valley including the main town of Bcharre located in the refreshing mountain air at an altitude of 1450 meters above sea level. The road leading to this traditional town offers stunning views over the town’s red roofed houses and the lush valley that surrounds it. After a light local lunch, continue the short distance to the Cedars of Lebanon Forest. Known as Arz Ar-Rab (The Cedars of the Lord), this is one of the most beautiful places in the country. We will take an easy walk in the forest in amongst these majestic and precious trees some of which are many hundreds of years old and which represent a symbolic emblem of Lebanon, and features on the national flag. After the walk, continue to Baalbek which will be our overnight stop. Overnight Hotel Palmyra or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 – Baalbek (UNESCO) – Bekaa Valley Vineyard – Deir Al Qamar (Approximate driving time today is 2.5 hours)
This morning after breakfast we visit what surely must be regarded as one of world’s most astonishing Roman archaeological sites. We spend ample time in the softer morning light exploring the site which is believed to date back some 5000 years. The site is so grand in its scale that is not hard to visualise what the city must have been like in its pomp. After the visit we continue to Anjar Citadel for a visit before we stop for lunch at small and welcoming vineyard in the Bekaa Valley. Here enjoy a tour of the cellar and the production areas before enjoying degustation of the excellent wines and a delicious lunch of typical Lebanese mezze dishes. After the leisurely lunch, continue to Deir Al Qamar and our overnight accommodation. Overnight La Bastide Guesthouse or similar. (BLD)  

Day 6 – Deir Al Qamar (UNESCO) – Beiteddine Palace - Chouf Cedar Reserve - Tyre (Approximate driving time today is 3 hours)
After breakfast, stroll in the quiet streets of the well-preserved village of Deir Al Qamar and enjoy the traditional Lebanese houses and style of architecture. Many of the houses are adorned with colourful flowers and walled gardens. The walk ends at a picturesque square complete with a lovely church. Continue the short distance to the 18th century Beiteddine Palace complex notable for its elegant mixture of Italian and Arab influenced architecture. The palace contains important archaeological collections including some stunning mosaics. The views from the grounds are also a delight. After the walk, return to the coast, this time at the southern most ancient city of Tyre. Overnight Al Fanar auberge or similar. (BLD)  

Day 7 – Tyre – Sidon – Beirut (Approximate driving time is 2 hours today)
This morning we travel from Tyre to Sidon, once a prosperous and flourishing Phoenician city. Visit the 13th Crusader Castle of the Sea and Khan el Franj 17th century, before taking a leisurely stroll in the atmospheric narrow streets of the old souk where once can observe all manner of tradesmen and craftsmen and the kaleidoscope of colours of the fresh produce on offer is striking. After the souk, we visit the interesting Soap Museum which traces the history of soap production in the region and the building dates from the 13th century. Also learn about the production of olive oil soaps. Lunch will be taken at an authentic falafel shop where the freshest ingredients are used and speed the ingredients are married together is a sight to behold! Thereafter, continue back to Beirut and visit Les Quartier Des Arts which is full of interesting shops and boutiques where you can look for a gift or a souvenir to remember your visit to this fascinating country.  This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant in Beirut and a farewell drink in a nearby bar. Overnight Le Caramel Boutique Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 8 – Depart Beirut
The final day is at leisure until your airport transfer. If time allows you may wish to spend some final time enjoying the sea breeze and local scenes of the Corniche. (B)