Lebanon left a nostalgic impression on me and it’s mainly because of Batroun, a laid back beach town an hour north of Beirut. There, I spent my days in a beach wrap, riding bikes, sipping freshly squeezed lemonade, learning about the local culture and consuming copious amounts of delicious, fresh seafood. I would paddle board just before sunset and then grab microbrew on the beach. There’s a party any day of the week, you just have to look for it. For some more wholesome activities, yoga was available at the apartment I stayed at as well as paint & wine night with a famous artist. I’ve compiled the Ultimate Travel Guide with 22 things to do in Batroun as a starting point. The rest, you’ll easily discover once you arrive. Through the friendly people you’ll meet, the recommendations they’ll give you and possibly even an invite in to their homes.
Batroûn is the safest town in Lebanon. Even through history in the past 2000 years, the sea met with the high mountains hid Batroun from strife in times of war with neighbors. It’s especially safe for solo female travelers today and I experienced no catcalling there, even walking alone at night. You can literally walk around in your beach gear throughout your time spent here as it’s rather liberal and educated. Though the lives of people are still enriched in tradition and family life. The religion (which is oftentimes tied with identity in the Middle-East) of Batroûn are consisted of Maronite, Melkite, Greek Orthodox Christians and a small percentage of Muslims.
You can call Batroûn a bubble of sorts. Very little found in the guidebooks compared to its more popular neighboring Lebanese destinations such as Beirut, Byblos, Tripoli or Tyre. Everyone in Batroûn knows each other with a population of only 45,000 people. With pristine aqua blue waters and white pebble beach, there’s no wonder why the Lebanese people love coming on their days off. Batroûn is known to have some of Lebanon’s best day beach clubs. But it’s also rich in history with some of the first civilizations residing along the shores as witnessed along the Old Phoenician Walls. Drive through the mountains of Batroûn and discover ancient churches, wine taste and explore Lebanon’s most popular Brewery on the water.
22 Things to Do in Batroûn
Biking Tour with Routes
Take a Biking Tour on your first day in Batroûn to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. Hire Routes, ran by friendly local Anthony Badaoui. Check their calendar to see scheduled biking tours or hire them for a private/personalized tour.
Explore Batroûn Old Souk
The Old Souk is where old traditions remain. The elder folks display produces to sell each morning, with authentic delicious eateries around every corner. Pop in any shop where the locals are and you won’t go wrong.
Note: this isn’t the traditional busy souk found in other Middle-Eastern countries.
Spend an Afternoon at Colonel Brewery
Colonel Beer is Lebanon’s most popular Microbrewery. Though there are other popular brands such as Almaza and 961, Colonel Beer is constantly ranked #1 in various Beer awards in Lebanon and around the world. Schedule a tour of the brewery and then lounge at one of the lawn chairs. When the sun heats up, scroll on down to Colonel Reef, the small beach attached to the brewery for some windsurfing, paddleboarding or kayaking. Or just lay out on a beach towel, watch the sunset and dance under the moonlight. They also serve a full bar besides beer, including some Lebanese Wine.
This is also a fun spot to go to for casual dinner as they serve up popular bar food such as burgers, wings, salads and some Lebanese bites. As long as the vibe is good, the parties continue past midnight from Thursday to Saturdays (especially in the summer time!). Colonel Brewery also hosts many community events such as Karaoke nights, Water sport competitions, Yoga Classes and more.
Read more: https://www.bohemianvagabond.com/batroun-surf-beach-bar/
Grab a Glass of Lemonade ranked by the Guiness Book of World Records!
Lemonade is a popular drink in Batroûn due to it’s hearty supplies of lemon and warm weather. Hilmi House of Lemonade and Jallab is the most popular spot just steps away from St. Estephan Cathedral. In 2012, Batroûn entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest cup of lemonade with a capacity of 5,543 liters. There are also other Lemonade shops around Batroun so you really can’t go wrong anywhere you taste it!
Batroûn International Festival
If you happen to visit in July or August, try to time it during the Batroûn International Festival. It’s an especially vibrant time. Started in 2009, the festival hosts local and international artists, music and movies at various places in town. Included in 2018 festival was:
- Batroûn Bike Festival
- Beer, Wine & Seafood Festival
- Windsurf Challenge
- Mediterranean Festival
Learn More: http://www.batrounfestival.org
Take a Yoga Class at DarmaJi
DarmaJi is the IT Yoga Studio in Batroun, located literally 5 steps away from Bahsa Beach. Besides daily yoga classes, they offer salsa lessons, meditation classes and have a full health and smoothie bar. It’s a relaxing hangout spot when you need a break from the bars and beaches.
Bohemian decorated apartments are also for rent. Or just book a bed in a shared apartment for some tranquility whether you’re a Yoga aficionado or not. It’s a clean, beautiful bed and breakfast option during your time here. Yoga class packs and packages are available if you’re staying longer.
Eat Delicious Seafood and Local Lebanese Specialties
You can guess by now that Batroûn would have amazingly fresh seafood considering it’s location along the water. Many restaurants have freshly caught seafood on display upon entering so that you can personally choose your meal.
- Chez Maguy opened it’s door 28 years ago by the passionate Maguy who loves to share her home-cooked meal to the world. Situated on the sea cliff, it has a feel of a cozy family atmosphere with a colorful interior design, while enjoying the sea breeze.
- Pierre & Friends, a beachside vibrant bar, has an adjacent restaurant that offers a fun, hip party atmosphere with Lebanese dishes and seafood options.
- Colonel Brewery serves up gastronomic bar food such as juicy burgers, BBQ’d fish and small bar bites. Especially try the breakfast at Colonel Brewery (pictured above). The Eggs are cooked in a traditional clay pan which gives it an aromatic, smokier flavor.
- Arnaoon Village is a traditional restaurant opened for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Located in a hilltop village on the mountains of Batroûn.
- Jammal Restaurant serves the fish catch of the day on a table in the water.
Read 10 Foods to try in Lebanese Cuisine: https://www.bohemianvagabond.com/top-10-foods-try-lebanese-cuisine
Party Your Ass Off at the Beach Day Clubs or Chill Beach Bars
Different bars & beach parties are happening every night of the week. Ask locals where the spots are, they will happily tell you.
- Located down the steps from the main road into a rocky beachside cliff, Pierre & Friends may be the most popular spot among locals and visitors. The beach bar easily turns into a dance party at night. But then again that is the case in any bar, club or even house parties you go to in Lebanon.
- Ô’Glacée is a classic Batrouni cozy beach bar with a pool where you can lounge at.
- For an upscale Beach Club experience, head to Orchid Beach Lounge. From floating Jacuzzis overlooking the sea, to private sundecks and an infinity pool, serving up an eclectic cuisine from fine Chefs. Individual sun beds are available at a day or hourly cost surrounding the infinity pool. For the ultimate VIP experience in Batroûn, Jacuzzi Huts are available with a private sundeck and dining experience.
- For a super chill, warm, un-pretentious bar where you’ll feel like home, visit the Designer’s Bar. Just across the street from Barracuda Bar (opposite sea side). Say hello to the Alsatour brothers who are the owners: Charo and Roro. Here, you’ll get the best cocktails, made from love as well as delicious bar food.
- Colonel Brewery not only has a brewery and a beach far that’s fully stocked, they have regular events happening every week. Concerts, festivals, holiday themed events and more.
- Skippers Pub is a small, pub-like casual bar to grab drinks off the road of downtown Batroûn. There are oftentimes live music playing, such as Reggae the night I was there.
Wine Taste around Batroûn’s Wineries (all located in the Mountains)
- Aurora Winery is situated in a quaint village named Rachkidde with only 15 houses that trace back to the 17th century. This is where I spent a Sunday sunset sipping Rosé during one of their summer soirées. They offer weekend wine tours and tastings.
- Ixsir is located in the mountain of Batroûn on a 17th century traditional Lebanese house along a contemporary winery, rated by CNN As one of the greenest buildings in the world. “IXSIR’s vineyards culminate at an altitude of 1,800 metres, making them the highest in the Northern Hemisphere.”
- Atibaia Winery
- Batroun Mountains offers not only wine but also the traditional Arab liquorish drink, Arak. Their vineyards are located in the mountains in six different towns on altitudes from 400 to 1500 meters above sea level.
- Sept Winery has a “fervent mission to reconnect with nature and to celebrate Lebanese grapes and soil, Sept aims to become an ambassador of Lebanon’s heritage and an inspiring model of biodynamic agriculture in the region and the world.”
- Coteaux de Botrys
Surf, Paddleboard, Kayak, Windsurf..
Every water sport you can think of, you can do here. Colonel Reef offers a Windsurfing school where you can rent gear or hire a teacher for instruction. As mentioned before, there’s no reason to change out of your beach gear during your stay in Batroûn! Many other resorts and small shops also offer rentals, day tours and lessons.
Rent a Boat or Sailboat
Along the Port of Batroun are boats you can rent. Or hire a boat with a driver/skipper. Batroun Sailing is a good option.
Hire a Sailboat: https://www.facebook.com/batrounsailing
Lounge at One of the Public Beaches
- Bahsa Beach is the most popular public beach with a few restaurants and a beach trail to jog or ride your bike through.
- White Beach is also a popular spot with a restaurant good for families to lounge at.
- Joining Beach is situated by steep cliff-like rocks and small caves that is recommended more for water bouldering. There is a small beach though that’s not the main draw. Sea turtles are sometimes found along with other saline. It is recommended that you bring water shoes to get in and out of the water.
Hike the Mountains of Batroûn
Pack your hiking boots as there are various hiking trails as well as rock climbing opportunities along the rocky hills and mountain. Along the way, you’ll come across beautiful old churches and small villages.
Ski during the Winter Season in Mount Batroûn
You can surf or engage in water activities any time of the year. In the winter time, one can easily go from surfing in the morning to skiing just half an hour up the mountains.
Wine & Paint Night with Famous Artist Foaud Tomb
Fouad Tomb is a famous artist in Lebanon who also runs an art school named Arts & Renaissance. Though his main art studio is in Jounieh (just 30 minutes south), he and his wife May also host events in Batroûn as well. Visit their website for a calendar of events. Or e-mail them directly to see if there are any happenings during your stay. Private group events can be scheduled too. Not only will you enjoy basic instruction on landscape painting with acrylic paint, you’ll also get a chance to taste some hand selected Lebanese wine and great music!
Read more: https://www.bohemianvagabond.com/paint-and-wine-night-in-lebanon Website: http://www.arts-renaissance.com
Old Phoenician Wall
The Old Phoenician Wall has roots to the earliest cities in the region. The sea wall was originally a natural structure composed of petrified sand dunes. It is reported that the Phoenicians used this wall as protection against invaders and sea storms.
Lebanese Diaspora Village
There’s no better place to learn about the diversity of Lebanese History & Culture than a short visit to the Diaspora Village. 10 old houses were purchased by the government to be remodeled and opened for museums, shops and exhibits. The purpose of this project is to recognize and honor the diversity between those living in Lebanon as well as the expatriates around the World. This includes houses of Canada, Russian, Mexican, American, Austrian, Brazilian and the United Arab Emirates.
St. Estephan Cathedral, a Batroûn Landmark
As the largest and most popular church in Batroûn, St. Estephan Church is a major landmark. Everyone knows this location so it’s an easy point to meet friends.
“Our Lady of the Sea” (Saydet al Bahr)
Our Lady of the Sea is located in the western part of town in Al Saydeh “The Lady Quarter”. Within the spacious courtyard, there is a small Greek Orthodox church with vaulted ceiling and stone walls. The church was built on the water’s edge overlooking the remains of the Old Phoenician Wall and over the ruins of a Byzantine Church in the 19th century. Though the church is a centerpiece, visitors go for the picturesque terrace with an arched belvedere frame with sea views.
El-Mseilha Fort (Batroûn Fort)
Located in the mountains of Batroûn, El-Mseilha fort is a medieval fortification. The site has been occupied since Roman times though the buildings of the current castles are dated from 13th to 17th century. Some historians believe that it was built to block the route from it’s neighboring city of Tripoli against crusaders. Others say it was built as recent as 400 years ago.
Port of Batroûn
The Port is a happening spot where boats of all sizes take off throughout the day. Rent a small boat or gaze at the number of beautiful yachts lined up. A few seafood restaurants sits along the port as well.
Stay at Beit Al Batroun: a Traditional Bed & Breakfast
Beit Al Batroun is a traditional Bed & Breakfast offers a boutique countryside retreat since 2013. 5 double bedrooms are available at this chic, exclusive B&B, ran by Colette Kahil and her French Bulldog. Besides the eclectic interior design, Colette built the B&B with upcycled materials collected throughout the country which includes the doors, beams, tiles and restores vintage pieces.with breakfast buffets included every morning from local produce. Dinner and cocktails are served on the terrace with the perfect touch of Mediterranean breeze. You could easily stay cozy’d up here for days. Hotel rooms are priced at $190-220 per night which includes breakfast.
After you’re done with the other tourist spots in Lebanon, such as the vibrant nightlife in Beirut, the fascinating Jeita Grotto Caves, Teleferique cable car in Harissa up to “Lady in the Sky“, ancient roman ruins of Baalbek, trust me, you’ll want to spend your remaining days relaxing along the sandy warm coast of Batroûn. You’ll likely not want to leave once you arrive in this quieter, authentic town, away from all the noise. I encourage you to spend at least 4 days to a week here bathing in the Mediterranean-kissed sunshine and sea.
How to Get to Batroûn
The distance is 53 kilometers between Beirut to Batroûn which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on traffic. There is only one major road that goes that way which is Route 51m.
- Uber (or Taxi): I took an Uber from Beirut with prices ranging from $37-$60. If the pricing estimate shows as $60, I would just check every few minutes and see if prices go down.
- Bus: There are regular busses that run from Beirut or any of the major cities to Batroûn. From Beirut, go to the Charles Helou Bus Station and hop on the bus to Tripoli for 5,000 LBP (about $3.50). Ask your driver upfront to let you disembark in Batroûn, approximately 10 minutes after Byblos.
- Hitchhike: I know that sounds a bit crazy. But the Lebanese people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. It’s quite common in the Middle East to hitchhike from friends of friends or even strangers. Ask around if anyone is headed north from Beirut. Even if they are just going to Jounieh or Byblos, you can catch a taxi from there as it’s only 20-30 minutes away (and you save half the taxi fare!). Once in Batroûn, there will be plenty of people driving back to Beirut daily and you ask to hop in for a ride. (And of course offer some gas money!)
The only major airport is Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY). If you are going directly to Batroûn from the airport, then you can schedule an uber or taxi from there. Though I highly recommend you spend a few days exploring the vibrant city of Beirut!
For a Travel Guide on Lebanon, read my full published article in ARE Magazine.