Ancient Wonders of Lebanon


Culture | Archaeology | Silk Road

Discover ancient history, archaeology & architecture

7 days Ask us for pricing This is the price per person for a private tour (based on 2 people travelling) excluding international flights. Contact us for pricing for other group sizes including individuals.
Intro, Dates & Prices


Home to some of the Middle East’s most ancient archaeological sites, Lebanon has a rich and varied heritage which has stood the test of time. Discover the birthplace of the modern alphabet at Byblos, and marvel at the stunning Roman complex of Baalbek. Explore the Sea-Castle of Sidon, wander through the ruins of Ancient Tyre and marvel at the Temple of Eshmoun, as you uncover the secrets of this desert-swept land.


  • Experience Beirut's beguiling mix of antiquity and modernity
  • The National Museum in Beirut
  • The stunning cave complex of Jeita Grotto
  • Byblos, birthplace of the alphabet
  • Baalbek, vast Roman complex
  • Ancient cities of Sidon and Tyre
  • The Temple of Eshmun

Places Visited

Beirut - Jeita Grotto - Faqra - Byblos - Baalbek - Anjar - Sidon - Tyre - Eshmun

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guide
Entrance fees to sites & parks

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Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Beirut

Arrive into Beirut airport where you will be met by your Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Evening free to relax.

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Beirut - Jeita Grotto

After breakfast, spend the entire day sight-seeing in and around Beirut. Start your day with a visit to Harissa where you will take the cable car up the mountain to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. Later visit the caves at Jeita before returning to Beirut where you will continue with a city tour.  Drive to the downtown district to see the huge reconstruction project-taking place to create a new commercial and residential complex. On starting this project it was  discovered that the capital is standing atop the site of a very ancient settlement going back at least 5,000 years. Recent excavations have uncovered important archaeological sites from Cananite, Phoenician, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Omayyad, Abbassid, Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman eras. The 1.80 sq. kilometers reconstruction project includes new buildings but constructed in the traditional style, besides hundreds of old structures that have been restored and renovated to their original shapes, including Beirut’s souks and historical mosques and churches. Later proceed to Corniche road and take a short walk in the favourite promenade of many Beirutis. Return to your hotel and spend the evening at your leisure.

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: Breakfast

Jeita Grotto is a system of caves that has been sculpted by water over thousands of years. Discovered in 1836 by Reverend William Thomson, an American missionary, the caves provide a tunnel - or escape route - for an underground river, which is the principal source of the Nar el-Kalb (Dog River). The lower galleries, discovered in 1836 and opened to the public in 1958, are visited by boat. The upper galleries, opened in January 1969, can be explored on foot. 

Beirut's history goes back more than 5,000 years. Its antiquity is indicated by its name, derived from the Canaanite be'erot ("wells"). These wells refer to an underground water table still tapped by the local inhabitants. Historically occupied by the Romans, the Crusaders and the Ottomans, among other ruling dynasties, Beirut’s art and architecture is layered with multiple and diverse influences. Lying at an historical crossroads, excavations in Beirut’s downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains. The first historical reference to Beirut dates from the 14th century BC, when it is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets of the Amarna letters, three letters that Ammunira of Biruta (Beirut) sent to the pharaoh of Egypt. Biruta is also referenced in the letters from Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos. The city was known in the Roman period as Berytus. Weaknesses in Roman Byzantine rule did not go unnoticed by the emergent Ummayad Arabs to the south, who in the 8th century ruled from Damascus. In 1110 the coast, including Beirut, fell to the Crusaders. In 1291 it was conquered by the Mamlukes. Ottoman rule began in 1516 and lasted for 400 years until the defeat of the Turks in World War I. The French Mandate Period followed and in 1943 Lebanon gained its independence. Beirut's history of dynastic successions is quite remarkable. Set between the Mediterranean and dramatic mountains rising up in the background, modern, secular Beirut is also one of the Middle East’s liveliest cities.

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Day 3 : Faqra- Mashnaqa- Byblos

After breakfast, visit the ruins of Faqra and Mashnaqa  before continuing to the ancient wonder of Byblos, to explore the site. Return to Beirut for an overnight stay.

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: Breakfast

The ruins of Faqra are 1600 meters above sea level and they extend over a small plane that towers over a deep valley where water of Nabaa el Aasal and Nabaa el Laban flow. The site is distinguished for its fascinating natural beauty and for the rocks made of dolomite which form a forest that is carved in a natural manner. 

The coastal town of Byblos is located on a sandstone  cliff 40 km north of Beirut. Byblos bears outstanding witness to the beginnings of the Phoenician civilization and scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least seven thousand years. Touted as the birthplace of the modern alphabet, Byblos was also once the epicentre of the world’s shipping. Its remarkable Crusader Castle was built in the 12th century. The castle, along with the town, was captured by the Muslims and its walls destroyed in 1188. The Crusaders recaptured and rebuilt it in 1197.

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Day 4 : Baalbek - Anjar

After breakfast, depart to visit the historic cities of Baalbek and Anjar. Overnight in Beirut.

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: Breakfast

For centuries the temples of Baalbek (a.k.a the “Sun City”) lay under metres of rubble, obscured by medieval fortifications. Excavation and restoration work began in 1898 and has since been recognized as hugely important in understanding the style of Imperial architecture within broader Roman history. Seen from this angle, Baalbek is probably the most important Roman site in the whole of the Middle East. Baalbek's temples were built on an ancient tell that dates back at least to the end of the third millennium B.C. Construction of the temple began in the last quarter of the 1st century B.C., and was finished by the 3rd century AD. The temples were closed in 313 AD when Christianity became the Roman Empire’s official religion.

Founded during the Umayyad period under Caliph Walid Ibn Abd Al-Malak (705-715), the city of Anjar was an inland commercial centre, at the crossroads of two important routes: one between Beirut and Damascus and the other crossing the Bekaa and leading from Homs to Tiberiade. Only discovered by archaeologists at the end of the 1940s, excavations uncovered a fortified city surrounded by walls and flanked by forty towers. Dominated by gates flanked by porticos, an important North-South axis and a lesser East-West axis divide the city into four equal quadrants. Public and private buildings are laid out according to a strict plan: the great palace of the Caliph and the Mosque in the South-East quarter occupies the highest part of the site, while the small palaces (harems) and the baths are located in the North-East quarter to facilitate the functioning and evacuation of waste waters. Secondary functions and living quarters are distributed in the North-West and South-West quarters. The ruins are dominated by the walls and colonnades of the Umayyad palace, three levels of which have been preserved. These structures incorporate decorative or architectonic elements of the Roman era. 

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Day 5 : Eshmun - Sidon - Tyre

Journey to visit the archaeological site of Sidon, stopping first to visit the Temple of Eshmun. Continue to Tyre for a visit of the town. Return to Beirut for overnight.

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sidon (a.k.a. Saida) is located in the southern part of the country, and, as such, has been the crossroads of many civilizations whose traces may still be seen today. It is known as the capital of the South. Sidon’s habitation goes back as far as 6000BC. Its trade links with Egypt aided its rise during the Phoenician period in the 12th to 10th centuries BC. Despite invasions in 1200 BC by Philistines and in 675BC by Assyrian king Esarhaddon, Sidon reached its pinnacle under the Persian Empire (550 - 330 B.C.). At the end of the Persian era in 351 B.C., unable to resist the superior forces of Artaxerxes III, the Sidonians locked their gates and set fire to their city rather than to submit to the invader - more than 40,000 died in the blaze. After the disaster the city was too weak to oppose the triumphal march of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. This city’s turbulent history of invasion and destruction is evident in its buildings and sites and makes for a fascinating visit. The city’s sea castle, lively port and excellent seafood also make it a popular spot for locals.

Legend has it that Tyre, (or Sur in Arabic), was the birthplace of Europa (a Phoenician woman of high lineage from Greek mythology after whom Europe was named) and Dido (Queen of Carthage). Tyre has a long and illustrious history. In ancient times it was the most important city of the Phoenicians, amassing great wealth and power from the export of purple dye. In the first century AD, Tyre was the home of a Christian community visited by St. Paul, and it became a major stronghold of the Crusaders in the 12th century. Today, Tyre is the fourth largest city in Lebanon and is famous for its ancient ruins and a Roman Hippodrome, which became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984.

The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing. The site was occupied from the 7th century BC to the 8th century AD, suggesting an integrated relationship with the nearby city of Sidon. Although originally constructed by Sidonian king Eshmunazar II in the Achaemenid era (c. 529–333 BC) to celebrate the city's recovered wealth and stature, the temple complex was greatly expanded by Bodashtart, Yatan-milk and later monarchs until the fall of Paganism under Christianity. The continued expansion spanned many centuries of alternating independence and foreign hegemony, and today the sanctuary features a wealth of different architectural and decorative styles and influences. Compromising an esplanade, a grand court, a huge limestone terrace and a monumental podium, the sanctuary features a series of ritual ablution basins fed by canals channelling water from the Asclepius river (modern Awali) and from the sacred "Ydll" spring. These installations were used for therapeutic and ‘purification’ purposes by the cult of Eshmun. The sanctuary site has yielded many artefacts of value, especially those inscribed with Phoenician texts, providing valuable insight into the site's history and that of ancient Sidon. 

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Day 6 : Beirut

After breakfast in the hotel, make a leisurely visit to the National Museum of Beirut, followed by a trip to the American University of Beirut (AUB), where you will visit the their museum.  The AUB Archaeological Museum, founded in 1868, is the third oldest museum in the region, after Cairo and Constantinople. It is a regional Museum with collections from 7 countries Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, ​Iraq, and Iran. The Museum was renovated in 1999 and reopened to the public in 2006

Overnight in The Parisian Hotel, Beirut

Meal plan: Breakfast

The National Museum of Beirut is the main archaeological museum in Lebanon. Opening in 1942, it boasts around 1,300 artefacts which date from pre-historic times to the Medieval Mamluk era. Most of the finds are Medieval, but the museum holds a reputation for ancient Phoenician objects. 

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Day 7 : Beirut

After breakfast you will be taken to Beirut International Airport for your return flight home.

Meal plan: Breakfast



All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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The Parisian Hotel

Beirut (6 nights)

Located a short walk from Beirut’s Mediterranean coastline, just 2km from the city centre’s many cultural sites, and a 15-minute drive from Rafic Hariri International Airport, The Parisian Hotel is conveniently situated to accommodate a range of desires. The hotel’s 46 guestrooms feature modern, homely décor, all modern amenities, a full en-suite with bath and a balcony with cityscape or sea views. During their stay, guests may also enjoy extensive dining options in The Parisian's John Posh Café and a range of convenient services including 24-hour reception and car rental.

Visit hotel's site

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The Qadisha Valley is a beautiful and fascinating place. The night in the monastery was a highlight for me although both the other home stay nights were equally enjoyable in their own way. Danielle made me feel particularly welcome and my guides looked after me very well throughout.

Mary , Hiking the Holy Valleys, Lebanon

Great mixture of everything. Of all the places we visited, Byblos is a lovely town with great restaurants. Also, the lunch at the Eco place in the Bekka valley was stunning. While it was expensive, Lebanon is an expensive country and we saw more than we could possibly have seen by ourselves. Best holiday in a long while. Travel The Unknown were flexible and professional to deal with and put together a trip for us that was one of the best holidays in years. Would definitely consider Travel The Unknown again for future trips.

Joanne Hyde , Essential Lebanon

The trip to Lebanon was first class in every way. In the four full days of the tour, we saw all the main sights in the country and some extras were thrown in. The guide and driver were outstanding. The accommodation was good and the food was absolutely superb.

Charles Harpum , Essential Lebanon

The Lebanon Explorer visit was a pleasure from start to finish. From a personal and friendly approach to booking to the seamlessly organised and well paced itinerary, the trip was highly memorable. Our guide was always ready to help us to understand the complexities of everyday life in Lebanon as well as providing entertaining information on the rich historical and archaeological sites. For me, the best part was that I didn't feel rushed.

Chris Thompson , Lebanon Explorer

Travel the Unknown is now our travel company of choice. It is really easy to deal with Rahul, the destinations offered are very comprehensive and all aspects of the trips are carefully chosen - itinerary, accommodation, meals etc. Our guides have been superb. They are knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and always happy to suggest tweaks to enhance the experience. The drivers are equally good and willing to go the extra mile - literally too. All in all, a first class company.

Andrea Nutter , Tailormade Lebanon

Most of my 40 years of travelling across the globe has been independent travelling with the occasional exception. My recent organised tour of Lebanon with Travel The Unknown was excellent a diverse and great trip. It was a great way of seeing such a small and wonderfully diverse country in a short time, a truly great place!! Rahul and his team were responsive, knowledgeable and a real pleasure to do business with them. The local guide was excellent and the driver friendly and helpful. I strongly recommend them if they travel to a country you want to see albeit do not want the effort, hassle and planning to travel independently.

Robert Williams , Lebanon Explorer
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