Gourmet Lebanon


Culture | Culinary

Discover the flavours of the Levant

8 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


Discover the taste of the Levant - from mouthwatering mezze and heavenly hummus to delicious falafel and scrumptious shawarma. Take a cooking class in the famous kitchens of Le Bristol Hotel, learn the art of sweet-making from the experts at the world renowned Abdel Rahman Al Hallab pastry shop and sample wine in the natural caves of Ksara winery, one of the best wineries in the verdant Bekaa Valley. Visit the iconic archaeological sites of Byblos - birthplace of the alphabet and once the centre of the world’s shipping - and Baalbek - one of the most impressive Roman sites in the world.


  • Cooking class in Le Bristol
  • Enjoy Beirut`s restaurants, bars & clubs
  • Learn the art of sweet-making
  • Byblos, the birthplace of the alphabet
  • Visit the stunning Jeita Grotto
  • Sample Ksara`s best wines
  • Explore the Roman site of Baalbek

Places Visited

Beirut - Byblos - Beiteddine - Jeita Grotto - Sidon - Baalbek

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport
Accommodation (4* hotel in ideal location)
Cooking classes with expert chefs
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Breakfasts and some meals (as per itinerary)
Drivers and guides

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Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Beirut

Arrive into Beirut airport where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and brought to your hotel in downtown Beirut. The rest of the day is free. Overnight in Beirut.

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Beirut

After breakfast you will take a cooking class at the famous Le Bristol Hotel in downtown Beirut. Under the guidance of executive chef Georges El Murr you will learn to prepare some traditional Lebanese dishes. You will then have lunch at the hotel and taste the delicious food you have been involved in creating.

After lunch you will see the huge reconstruction project taking place to create a new commercial and residential district of the 21st century. This project resulted in the discovery that the capital is standing on the site of a very ancient settlement going back at least 5,000 years. Recent excavations have uncovered important archaeological sites from Canaanite, Phoenician, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbassid, Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman eras. The 1.80 sq. kilometres reconstruction project includes new buildings constructed in the traditional style, as well as hundreds of old structures that have been restored and renovated to their original form, including Beirut's souks and several historical mosques and churches. Visit the site of the famous Green Line which divided the city into various sectarian factions during its darkest years - from the mid 1970s up to 1990.

Proceed to the famous Corniche waterfront and stop for a short walk in the favourite promenade of many Beirutis. Further along, the road climbs steeply to a cliff edge, which is the headland of Beirut, with an array of cliff-top restaurants and cafes, a panoramic view of the bay and of the famous Pigeon's Rock. A road then leads down, stretching out to a beautiful sandy beach and the prestigious residential area of Ramlet El-Baida.

Dinner with drinks and entertainment at a local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel in Beirut.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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 : Byblos - Tripoli - Beirut

After breakfast we visit Byblos, a town 37km north of Beirut whose history goes back 7,000 years and claims not only to have spawned the world's first alphabet but also to be the worlds oldest continuously inhabited town. Visit its ancient sites, and then explore the old part of the town on foot, starting with fishermen's harbour (which was once the epicentre of the world's shipping), continuing uphill towards the Church of St. John the Baptist and Byblos' beautiful souks.

You will stop for a lunch of Lebanese mezze and fresh fish at a local restaurant. After lunch you will continue north to visit Lebanon's second largest city, Tripoli. The city has its own unique character and a historical wealth that goes back to 14th century BC. Of most interest however is its old town, which includes sites from the Mamluke era, including colorful souks, hammams, khans, mosques, narrow alleyways and theological schools (madrassas). All are within easy walking distance of each other. You will also visit the Crusaders Fortress of Raymond de Saint-Gilles. Finally you will attend a Lebanese sweets demonstration at the world renowned Abdel Rahman Al Hallab pastry shop. Return to the hotel in Beirut for overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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.

Located in northern Lebanon, Tripoli is Lebanon's second largest city and has its own unique character and historical wealth going back to the 14th century BC. Of most interest however is its old town, which includes sites dating back to the Mamluk and Ottoman eras, as well as colourful souks, hammams, khans, mosques, narrow alleyways and theological schools (madrassas). All are within easy walking distance of each other.

A short history of Lebanese sweets
In 1881, the Lebanese city of Tripoli, renowned for its ancestral history, heritage and vestiges, witnessed the rising of a new dawn in the world of traditional oriental sweets… The variety and range expanded and was enriched with numerous sorts of ingredients giving an authentic taste, the unique qualities of which still keeps the experts guessing as to how. Is it the unique freshness of the ingredients? Or the extraordinary skillfulness in the preparation? Or the superior quality in every single piece? The secret probably lies in the mixing of the three, which gives the sweets of Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons an unrivaled name in the world of oriental sweets.

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Day 4 : Deir el Qamar - Beiteddine

After breakfast, drive south along the coast and then cut eastwards before stopping in the charming town of Deir el Qamar, a village consisting of stone houses with red-tiled roofs. Between the 16th and 18th centuries the village was the residence of Lebanese governors. Next you will continue to the imposing palace of Beiteddine. The palace is the best example of early 19th century Lebanese architecture, built over a 30-year period by Emir Bashir. Visit the palace complex and its museums housing costumes & weapons of that era as well as a fine collection of well-preserved Byzantine mosaics. You will take lunch at Al Akd guesthouse in Barouk, and participate in a cooking demonstration of local food typical to the village. In the afternoon visit the Barouk Cedars. It is a nature reserve in the Chouf District of Lebanon and has an area of 550 km2. It is an Important Bird Area(IBA) and Eco-tourism area. It hosts 32 species of wild mammals, 200 species of birds, and 500 species of plants.

 Return to Beirut. In the evening you will visit a local restaurant for a fish dinner with arak. Overnight in Beirut.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Deir el Ahmar, a village consisting of stone houses with red-tiled roofs. Between the 16th and 18th centuries the village was the residence of Lebanese governors.

Located 45 kilometres southeast of Beirut, Beiteddine  is the administrative capital of the Chouf District. The palace is the best example of early 19th century Lebanese architecture, built over a 30-year period by Emir Bashir.

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Day 5 : Jeita Grotto - Beirut

Breakfast and departure to visit Jeita Grotto, a beautiful natural wonder considered to be the best caverns in the Middle East. Transfer by cable car to the caverns, which consist of two parts, lower & upper galleries. The lower ones are visited by boat, the upper caverns on foot. Enjoy the refreshingly cool temperature, the sound of rushing water and columns and sculptures that have been formed by water and time, supported by an effective lighting system that allows you to glimpse the uppermost roofs.

Return to Beirut. Afternoon free. Overnight in 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. 

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Day 6 : Sidon - Tyre - Beirut

After breakfast drive to Tyre, 83km south of Beirut, a town that was declared as a World Heritage Site for its historical importance. Visit the excavated ruins which consists of three parts: the south side of the old Phoenician island-city that includes a large site of colonnades, public baths, mosaic streets and a rectangular arena; the northern site ruins observed from the road; the third area on the landward side east that consists of the most impressive archaeological remains, such as the Roman necropolis and hippodrome. Drive back along the coastal road to visit another important Phoenician town, Sidon, with its Sea Castle and old covered souks.

Fish lunch at a local restaurant in Tyre (including Lebanese mezze) After lunch Lebanese sweets tasting at Al Baba pastry in Sidon. Return to Beirut for overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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.

Al Baba Sweets is a family business that dates back to 1950. The business started with a 50 sq. metre kitchen in Tyre and has since flourished with more than five production lines in the Middle East. The showrooms have a unique aesthetic appearance, and are served through a 2000 sq. metre factory. Throughout the years, Al Baba has witnessed several generations who have shared the same vision and consistently implemented and developed the standards of the business as recommended by the company's core values: food safety, quality, and consistency .

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Day 7 : Baalbek - Ksara - Beirut

Breakfast and departure to visit Baalbek. Cross the Mount Lebanon range and drive through the Bekaa Valley towards Baalbek, 85km from Beirut. Here you will visit Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, counted among the wonders of the ancient world. The site includes the temples of Jupiter, Bacchus & Venus, with the remarkable Great Court and the Hexagonal Forecourt.

We will stop for a tasting of the local specialty Lebanese meat sandwiches (Safiha). In contrast to the modern use of lamb or beef, traditional safiha are open-faced meat pies made with ground mutton. Next we continue to Ksara winery for a wine tasting and lunch. Return to Beirut. In the evening we will have a gala dinner with entertainment at a local restaurant - including an open regular bar. Overnight in Beirut.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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.

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Day 8 : Departure

After breakfast transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast


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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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