Jbeil, one of the world’s oldest cities, has always been one of my favorite cities in Lebanon and I tend to visit it quite often. There are so many things to do there and you can spend a whole weekend touring the city and having fun, especially during summer. A couple of months back, I criticized these unheard of awards that Jbeil is being awarded every year and mentioned that our primary focus should be on promoting tours and activities in Jbeil because these awards won’t help much if tourists don’t know how to get to Byblos. In fact, most of the tourists and a lot of Lebanese want to go to Jbeil but they have no idea what to do there or what to expect, so here’s a small post to highlight some of the things that you can do there:
Spend the day at the beach:
Picture by Nicolas Karim
Most people know Edde Sands in Jbeil and it’s a beautiful resort but there are others like Santa Prairie, Ocean Blue, Bay 183 and Byblos Sud. You can also find a couple of public beaches, especially one near the Crusader Castle called Al Ba7ssa.
Visiting the Old Souks:
The old souks connect the centre of the city to the sea side and are packed with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. There are also beautiful churches and a mosque to visit. You can either take a calm walk during the day or wait till the souks get really packed at night. If you are looking for Arabic places to try out, I recommend Bab El Mina, Beit Nezha, La Locanda (especially the desserts), 1188 lounge and bar resto or Feniqia (Lebanese food with a twist). If you are looking for international cuisine, ecafé is a good option even though I was rather disappointed by the food and service during my last two visits. There’s also a small place called éBaladi that serves breakfast (manakish, eggs, etc ..) and is worth a try if you want to grab a quick bite. If you head out of the souks, there are plenty of fast food chains and restaurants to check out (Roadster, Zaatar W Zeit, Crepaway, Ksar, Mon Maki A Moi and others). There’s also one of the first ever Mexican restaurants in Lebanon El Molino that you can check out.
PS: You can also rent bicycles and tour the city but bike tours and tracks are not well organized.
Take a boat trip and have lunch by the sea
For those who enjoy the sea, you can head down to the Byblos port and go on a boat trip for 1 hour or more. It’s a fun ride and if you are lucky enough, you might spot dolphins. Once you are back to the shore, you can enjoy lunch at one of the many fish restaurants by the sea. Pépé Abed (Byblos Fishing Club) is a must-visit.
During the summer, you can also enjoy the Byblos International Festival which takes places right by the sea.
Public gardens, churches, ruins, museums and a lot of sightseeing:
Byblos is one of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, and there are plenty of archaeological sites and attractions to visit there. There are several old churches, mainly St. John the Baptist Church and the ancient Our Lady of Deliverance Church, the Sultan Abdel Majid Mosque, the iconic El-Houssami Old Lebanese House and the archaeological site around it, the Crusader Castle, the Roman Theater, Roman columns and others …
The best part is that most of these sites are nearby and you can walk around the city discovering them one by one. There’s also a wax museum worth checking out and a public library.
Jbeil by night:
The souks are usually crowded at night and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to visit. I sometimes used to go there just to walk around and enjoy the city by night. The harbor is a great spot to grab a beer and just watch the sunset. Some of the places worth checking out are Garten, Backdoor, Barbacane, Oasis and 1188. If you are looking for the real nightlife experience, you can head to Publicity, a large venue with many pubs and restaurants 5 minutes away from the souks.
Unknown parts of Jbeil:
If you like Shawarma, there’s a popular place called Rock. There’s also another place called Kaddoum that has all sorts of sandwiches and has great cocktails. Sub-Omelette or Chicken Sub at Mike Snack are also worth a try. Ice cream (Achta) at Nashawati comes highly recommended as well.
All in all, Jbeil is a beautiful city that can easily become a tourist attraction if it’s promoted properly. If you feel like I’ve missed something worth mentioning, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will gladly add it to the post. Until then, spread the word and Live Love Jbeil!
Special thanks to Sophie and Chadi!