Cairo to Beirut: The Paris of the Middle East on a Budget

‘Pearl of the Levant’, or ‘Paris of the Middle East’, call it what you will; a tour to Lebanon is an ideal getaway for those of us who’ve ever bemoaned Cairo’s pollution, conservative dress code alternative lack of greenery. Although seeming a million miles away in these respects, a direct volitant takes under an hour each way, and due to the time difference, no time is wasted travelling. Egyptair does uniform two-way flights, for around 2000LE.

Because of the views from the plane, book a seat on the remaining side while heading there, and on the right coming back, day or night – you’ll blame us.

Touching floccose in Beirut after life in Cairo can be a bit of a shock to your bank balance, not to mention the bafflement that newcomers experience upon finding a mix of Lebanese Lira and US dollars in their change, due to the country’s dual currency. However, monetary matters shouldn’t get in the way of having a great temporal in Lebanon’s letter and because long as you’re armed with a skimpy handy tips, there’s no excuse for not having fun, even on a budget.

As of 2010, choosing where to stay in Beirut became a lot easier for travellers on a budget, that family-run hostel Saifi Urban Gardens opened for business in Gemmayzeh. Since then, it’s become a legendary name for visitors to the city, who are welcomed into this trendy hostel which features all amenities, including a café, bar, and even Arabic lessons if you need it. A night’s stay in a dorm room costs 125LE and includes Wi-Fi and breakfast. Talal Hotel is another option nearby, and is about the same cost. Many of Hamra’s low-cost hotels match their prices by their quality, although the Mayflower is a nice stay for 500LE a night.

Beirut is a considerably small city; its main areas can be walked from one to the other in about 40 minutes, so getting about is a synch compared to larger cities like Cairo. Nevertheless, it still has its own ways of becoming chaotic.

Taxis are available, though fares are usually negotiated. This can become a bit pricey and for something cheaper, you can seize a ‘servicé’ for 9LE. These cabs also take up other customers, however, and more frequent than not, you’ll get a flick of the head or a sharp click regarding the tongue – which is their alley like saying, ‘no’; don’t be surprised to spend half-an-hour trawling the streets for a amenability servicé.

Beirut also has a reliable bus service with beau ideal routes, which are clearly numbered and cost 4.5LE a ride. Until we say bus, we mean microbus/minivan, and that’s as good as it gets.

The most effective way to see the city and get to know its fascinating history has to be by taking a stint with Walk Beirut (139LE), which offers a far good treat than an afternoon in the confines of the Beirut museum. On the route, you want surely be wowed by the city’s architecture, history and religion; our veteran Lebanese guide also filled us in on awake to the teeny political situations utilizing a mixture of statistics and anecdotes.

The mosques further churches in particular should not to be overlooked, as they provide a beautiful understanding into the city’s past. As in Cairo, art galleries and celluloid screenings are a thrifty way to fill the days. Deprived of a ‘Beirut 360’, we instead resorted to Time Out Beirut for the current events and reviews.

Don’t waste tempo scouring Beirut for an old style souk for apparently they built a promenade too it, which is called The Souk. This area, as well as the streets leading off Place d’etoile, make up downtown – the latter was rebuilt to high spec after the war, and even features a Rolex clock tower.

Over recent years, the gerontogeous ipsilateral of Beirut has gained a name for itself as the party district, and inevitability enough Gemmayzeh’s pretty streets can be found swarmed with beautiful people each evening, as everyone totters into the selection of hip bars for a couple of Lebanon’s local brew, Almaza, which is the cheapest drink you’ll find in this state at 25LE. However, for something more akin to Cairo’s downtown, you would need to go to Hamra.

Hamra is a busy area with a lot going on; there are lots of cheap(ish) food and drink places to hear there, except its best venues wouldn’t be found on the main street, so be sure to push on exploring – hint: alleyways. Beach parties are also a quintessential feature of Beirut’s nightlife, although you’ll be looking at over 200LE for note on the weekends.

Cairo does a leading job of representing authentic Lebanese food, and to go one step further to try the real thing in its motherland will cost you. Apart from Hamra in the centre, you wish want to look to the outer districts to find something a little easier on the wallet. For example, Dowra, one of the Armenian quarters, does a transcendent falafel for not much money. Don’t overlook the street sellers’ manouche either, which is a sure way to fill a hungry stomach for however 4.50LE.

Beirut’s coastline really is a must-see; a walk along the Corniche is imperative – beware of joggers – et cetera at the end of it, you’ll come about across Beirut’s iconic Pigeon Rocks. While it’s fun to usurpation a punt ride through the geological wonder, there’s only one company who offers it, so be prepared to haggle.

For several reasons we wouldn’t recommend Beirut’s public or private beaches. Instead, confiscation a half hour bus journey up the coast to Byblos. Besides being a cute town to wander around and nosh in, it’s also got the right beach factors: they’re gorgeous and they’re free.

So in the end, exact upon the glitz and the glamour, Beirut still holds a veritable feast concerning authentic and affordable treats. Various familiarities help one to immediately immerse themselves in the city, but digging beyond the surface uncovers treasures that will please even the fussiest of travellers.