Byblos (also referred to locally as Jbeil) is perhaps one of the most underrated places to visit in the Middle East. It has a rich cultural heritage, lots of interesting sights to explore, fantastic beaches, and more. In this article, we’ll guide you to the best things to do in Byblos.
How to get to Byblos
Byblos is accessible from Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. There are various international flights to Beirut that come with ample Middle East Airlines baggage (economy class at 30kg, business class at 50kg).
From Beirut, you can rent a car and drive to Byblos, get a taxi, or join an organized day tour. If you’re after ease and convenience, the best option is joining an organized tour.
Also known as Jbeil, Byblos is an ancient city located along the Mediterranean coast in Lebanon. One of the most interesting facts that you should know about it is considered the oldest city in the world that is continuously inhabited up to the present.
It has a rich history that dates back over 7000 years. It was built by the Phoenicians and served as an important trading center between the Phoenicians and people of Egypt. It is home to various ruins from different civilizations including the Egyptians and Romans and is considered a World Heritage Site. It is also the place where the Phoenician alphabet was developed.
Today, Byblos stands as a modern city with a thriving tourism that welcomes those who are interested in taking a break from the capital and exploring its historic sites. In fact, you may find that the city is a bit more touristy compared to Beirut, but this only adds to its charm. While the city is large, the main tourist hub is small and quaint and can be explored in a day.
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Byblos, Lebanon.
Best Things to do in Byblos
1. Old Souk
If you’re someone who takes delight in visiting traditional markets, then Old Souk is a must-visit.
The Old Souk (old market) is one of the top attractions in Byblos and you will pass by this area when heading to the archeological site. Wander through its charming cobblestone streets, appreciate traditional Lebanese architecture, and shop for various local handicrafts, textiles, spices, and souvenirs.
The artisans and sellers at Old Souk are friendly, so take this opportunity to get to know the locals and their daily lives. You might also want to stop by for lunch in a local restaurant or café, although it’s worth nothing that commercial establishments in this area are more expensive compared to other parts of the city.
2. Byblos Fossil Museum
Located in the Old Souk, the Byblos Fossil Museum (also called Memory of Time) is a must-visit especially for those who love science and history. This museum houses some of the most beautiful fossils in the world. You can see remains of various ancient fish and crustaceans dating back to the Cenomanian Stage of the Middle Cretaceous, which is about 95 million years ago.
3. Archeological site
One of the top things to do in Byblos is exploring its archeological site.
First, stop by Byblos Castle (previously called the Castle of Gibelet). This castle was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, from the remains of Roman structures and indigenous limestone. See its structures and feel the time turning back thousands of years in the past. You can also visit the on-site museum to see various displays and the history of the city, as well as see a panoramic view of the surrounding cityscape and coastal area.
From the Byblos Castle, head to its neighboring attractions including the Temple of the Obelisks, the Temple of Baalat Gebal (the Mistress of Byblos) — the oldest temple in the site dedicated to the goddess of the city, the Roman theater, the nine royal tombs, and other remnants including houses, huts, and enclosures.
4. Saint Jean Marc Cathedralhttps://www.instagram.com/p/B4SWAvFJ61b/
Saint Jean Marc Cathedral is one of the hidden gems of Byblos and one that you should visit especially if you love visiting old churches!
This church was originally built in 1115 AD by the Crusaders in dedication to St. John the Baptist. It is now dedicated to St. Jean Marc, the patron saint of Byblos. It is an important landmark especially for the locals as it serves as a meeting place and events venue and, for tourists, it is a well-preserved part of history.
Take a peek inside the church and appreciate its Roman-style architecture, stroll along the beautiful garden full of olive trees, and head to the courtyard for a pleasant view of the beach.
5. Byblos Wax Museum
Take a short tour of the Byblos Wax Museum to learn more about the city. This small museum depicts life scenes from the Phoenician area up to the present. It also contains wax figures of important Lebanese figures, including that of Jesus Christ in his true skin tone!
Exploring the museum will only take around 15 minutes, so you can squeeze it in your city itinerary.
6. Byblos Harbor
Byblos has a small harbor perfect for an afternoon of strolling. This picturesque area is full of colorful fishing boats, charming waterfront restaurants where you can indulge in seafood and local dishes, as well as relaxing activities such as fishing and touring in a little boat. It’s also home to the famous Byblos Sur Mer hotel.
7. Swim at the beaches
For the water babies, one of the best things to do in Byblos is enjoy its gorgeous beaches! There are two public beaches you can visit for free, including the main public beach called Byblos Beach.
There are also plenty of beach resorts with nice amenities where you can go for a swim, enjoy a friendly or romantic date, or sip and lounge during sunset. Some of the notable ones include the Edde Sands, Pierre & Friends, and Blue Beachfront Bar.
8. Indulge in Lebanese cuisine
Whether it’s your first time visiting the country or you’re simply craving for delicious food, one of the best things to do in Byblos is eating Lebanese cuisine!
Start your meal with mezze, which includes hummus (chickpea dip), tabbouleh (parsley and bulgur salad), baba ghanoush (smoky eggplant dip), falafel (deep-fried chickpea balls), and stuffed grape leaves. Have your fill of fattoush salad, shawarma, kibbe, and more. Since Byblos is a coastal city, there is also abundant seafood that you can try!
Some of the best restaurants in Byblos offering traditional Lebanese cuisine include Bab El-Mina (near the fishing port), Feniqia, Beit Faris, and Sultan Ibrahim.
9. Enjoy the night life
It’s fun to explore Byblos by day, but wait until you experience its night life! You can find plenty of sunset bars and pubs to chill and hang out along the coastal area and the old town as well.
Travel Tips to Enjoy Byblos
How many days do you need to visit Byblos? The main tourist center in Byblos is small and although it is a fascinating coastal city, 1-2 days is enough. Choose to stay longer if you’re interested in a beach vacation or in cultural immersion.
Where to stay in Byblos? There are numerous beachfront hotels and resorts in Byblos. You can also stay in guesthouses for a cheaper and more authentic experience.
Whether you’re passionate about visiting historical sites or simply want an interesting day trip from Beirut, the coastal city of Byblos is a great place to visit. There are plenty of things to do in Byblos that will interest you, from its heritage sites to charming streets, restaurants, and cafes.
Do you have other suggestions or tips when visiting Byblos? Let us know in the comment section below!
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).