The main draw for visiting Byblos (named Jbeil in Arabic) is that it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the world, with 7,000 years of history and UNESCO World Heritage status. This coastal settlement is just under 40km north of Beirut, and while this close proximity means many travellers just come here for the day from the capital, Byblos without doubt deserves a night or two in its own right.
Byblos’ Archaeological Site, one of the main reasons for visiting, was uncovered in the late 19th century, revealing layers and layers of human civilisation that are baffling for any visitor to discover. The attractive harbour makes for a pretty spot to stroll around during the day and night, with an obligatory stop-off at Pepe’s, a restaurant that attracted a wide variety of international stars and celebrities in the 60s and 70s. It’s worth popping in if only just to peruse their photos plastered across the walls. A handful of hotels are located right in the heart of the city’s old souks, pleasant to wander through for some shopping and bustling at night when the bars open up and you can hear music drift through the lanes.
A further 16km up the coast is Batroun, another town with Phoenician roots and home to some of the best coastal scenery in the area. Lively beach bars are dotted along the shores here, in summer filled with both locals and travellers sitting on benches in the sea enjoying a few drinks bathed in sunshine. Inland in the region you’ll find a few vineyards championing the increasingly popular wines of North Lebanon, as well as some traditional accommodation options for those who would prefer to be in the countryside instead of on the coast.