The towns of Tyre and Sidon (also known as Sour and Saida respectively) in south Lebanon first made names for themselves as being the main port towns for the Phoenicians. For centuries after this as other dynasties and civilisations staked their claim on Lebanon they built extra layers on top of what the Phoenicians had already established, making this one of the most historically significant regions in the country. One of the claims to fame that you’ll hear most frequently is Tyre’s invention of purple dye, and the town’s Roman archaeological sites – inducted onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1984 – are a must-visit. Sidon’s 13th century Crusader castle, soap museum, and traditional souk offer snapshots into this town’s interesting history and daily life as it has been for years.
Many of the hotels we recommend staying in are located in Tyre’s more liberal Christian quarter, an excellent base while you spend a few days in the region. Here you’ll find boutique guest houses dotted along charming alleyways, just a few minutes’ walk away from beaches (among the most popular in Lebanon) and the quality restaurants on the town’s harbour.