Do you consider yourself an expert on Beirut and are looking to venture out of the city for a day? Look no further than Tripoli in North Lebanon, just an hour away by highway. With a fascinating history and a burgeoning nightlife scene, Tripoli offers a delightful change of pace. Picture a perfect day for tourists, starting with a delicious breakfast and ending with refreshing evening cocktails.
10am - Arrival in Tripoli
Your first destination in Tripoli should be Abdul Rahman al Hallab, known as the ultimate pastry destination. Relax on the terrace and indulge in a delicious sweet and savory breakfast featuring one or two "lahm bajen" and a generous portion of sweet, cheesy Knafeh, drowned in syrup. This meal will give you the energy you need to power through the rest of your day.
11am - Visit of the Khan el Khayyâtine
Khan al Khayyâtine - or " tailors’ caravansary " - was built in the early 14th century. It is a long-covered walkway with arches and lined with shops where traditional tailors work and sell their products. It is the ideal place to buy yourself a beautiful traditional Aabaya.
12:30pm - Picnic on the Araneb Island (Rabbits Island)
This island is the largest among a chain of islands located off the coast of the city. It has been recognized as a natural marine reserve and has been protected by UNESCO since 1992. It is home to sea turtles and rare migratory birds, and can be reached by a 35-minute boat ride from the shore. Visitors can enjoy a picnic, take a swim (weather permitting), and explore historical landmarks such as an old saltcellar or a drinking water well that dates back to the Crusades.
2 pm - Visit of Tripoli’s Citadel
The Citadel is a remarkable monument that encapsulates the rich history of the city. The building's architecture reflects several centuries of history, starting with its construction in the Fatimid era (11th century) and its transformation into a church during the Crusades. Later additions include Mamluk features from the 14th century and Ottoman details from the 16th century. Each layer of history is superimposed upon the other, creating a captivating narrative that reflects the cultural and architectural evolution of the region over time.
4 pm - Visit of the Mansuri Great Mosque
The mosque dates from the early 14th century and combines Eastern and Western architectural elements, like pure Mamlouk decoration and a minaret. You don’t need a guide for this monument, as inscribed plaques embedded in the walls tell you the story of the mosque, and a description of the life led by the Mamluks.
5:30pm - Walk in the Menshiyyeh Park
Right next to the Tripoli Al Tell Clock Tower, the park offers a respite. Remember that Tripoli is a city in constant motion, and a bench under the shade of a tree can only do you good. Consider buying a glass of Kharnoob, a traditional beverage consumed mainly during the fast of Ramadan, from one of many vendors around the park.
7pm - Dinner and cocktails at Mino
In any lively and large city, there is a street only consisting of restaurants and bars. In Tripoli, it’s Mino Street. If the name reminds you of a street in Beirut, it’s not a mere coincidence. The real name of the street Mino is the street El-Mechty, in El-Mina, which allows restaurants that have settled to sell alcohol. Wander along the pedestrian street, and select a bar or restaurant that piques your interest before returning home.