The latter half of the 20th century was extremely tumultuous for Beirut, a city which became the battle ground for a bloody Civil War that claimed thousands of lives. The Green Line separating the Muslim West from Christian East is still clearly identifiable by the lush vegetation sprawling across this once no man's land, and sobering war memorials, such as the decrepit Holiday Inn hotel which only saw one year in operation preceding the start of the Civil War, serve testimony to the horrors experienced by locals a mere three decades ago.
Visitors to Beirut will benefit greatly form taking a guided city tour designed to provide a deeper understanding of historic and political context. Today's Beirut is a much safer and more secure place with a distinctive buzz and joie de vivre, but do remain vigilant if you plan to set out exploring on your own, and make sure the city's volatile southern suburbs do not sneak their way onto your itinerary.
The Corniche and Pigeon Rocks
Walk (or bike) along the Corniche to witness the leisurely flow of life by the Mediterranean; if you head south towards the Raouche neighbourhood, you will eventually come to one of Beirut's most iconic natural sites: the Pigeon Rocks, limestone formations jutting out of the sea. Come at sundown for shisha with a view.
Gemmayzeh & Mar Mikhael Neighbourhoods
To discover an edgier, hip side to the city, walk down the thoroughfares of Armenia Street (Mar Mikhael) and Gouraud Street (Gemmayzeh), and soak in Beirut's undeniable cool. There are plenty of attractive brunch spots and swank art galleries around (check out the St Nicholas Stairs in the summer for some al fresco art).
The iconic B 018 started out as a house party during the tumultuous 1980s, but having moved to its current location has grown to make lists of the world's hottest nightlife venues. The action goes on underground, but the retractable roof makes for a fantastic setting directly underneath the night sky. Celebrity musicians and DJs make frequent appearances; mind that no food or snacks are served and drinks are only offered by the bottle.
Good to know
Although the Beirut public transportation system is rather extensive
Two- and three-pin plugs of type A, B, C, D and G are all in use; 220 V/50 Hz.