When my husband and I decided to spend a few days in Beirut over New Year, we had no idea what to do. Going to Lebanon was a bit of an impulsive decision and we had no idea what to do in Beirut.
When we started to research the city – only days before our flight, we discovered that this beautiful city has so much to offer!
If you love going to museums like I do, you will not be disappointed in Beirut. The city itself is a unique blend o Eastern and Western cultures and this is perfectly portrayed in its museums.
Beirut is full of museums to visit if you want to discover, learn or relearn the history and culture of the country. From prehistory to modern art, there’s a museum for everyone!
The National Museum
Since 1942, the National Museum of Beirut lets you discover the history of Lebanon through archaeological discoveries that cover the prehistoric age, the Bronze and Iron ages and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Mamluk eras.
It houses an extraordinary collection of funerary steles, sarcophagi and other archaeological masterpieces (mosaics, jewelry, coins, ceramics, woodwork, weapons, statues …) from several archaeological excavation sites from all parts of Lebanon.
The centerpiece of this museum is undoubtedly the Sarcophagus of Ahiram, the King of Byblos, whose inscriptions bear witness to the invention of the alphabet by the Phoenicians. At the upper floor you can find more than a thousand archaeological objects going from Prehistory to the time of the Mamluks. In the main hall stands a colossal Egyptian-inspired statue discovered in Byblos, surrounded by a multitude of busts of children and other statuettes formerly offered in ex-voto to the healing God Echmoun whose temple stands on the shores of Sidon ( Saida).The museum also offers an audiovisual projection and a souvenir shop.
9 AM to 5 PM
Closed on Sundays
The Archaeological Museum of AUB
Founded in 1868, the American University Museum is one of the oldest museums in the Middle East. It has an important collection of objects from 7 countries Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran, belonging to periods stretching from Paleolithic to Islamic times. The Museum was renovated in 1999 and reopened to the public in 2006.
The museum is part of the Hamra campus of the American University of Beirut.
In itself, the American University in Beirut is worth a visit. This old and beautiful campus lies on the edge of Hamra and is in walking distance of the beach.
It boasts many beautiful walkways and paths on which you can sit to watch the sea or cuddle the many cats that wander the campus. In order to get access to the campus you need to go to the security office where they will ask you for your passport in order to get access. This is standard procedure and you will get it back without any problems.
9 AM to 5 PM
Closed on Sundays
Guided tours available on request.
Museum of Minerals
mim is a private museum that exhibits about 1,400 minerals representing more than 300 different species from more than 60 countries. This collection, built in 1997 by Mr. Salim Edde, includes pieces from various old and recent famous collections as well as the main contemporary mining discoveries.
It is today considered one of the most important private collections in the world by the variety and the quality of the minerals that it presents. All these minerals are wonders of nature that have been formed without any human intervention, but only through the effects of temperature, pressure, the incredibly complex action of water and especially time.
10 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 6PM
Closed on Mondays
Less than 12 years: Free
13-18 years : 2000 L.P.
Students : 3000 L.P.
Adults : 6000 L.P.
The Nicolas Sursock Museum
The Sursock Museum is considered one of the most important museums of modern art in Lebanon. Since 1961, more than 100 temporary exhibitions of contemporary art including those of the Autumn, have taken place there. The permanent exhibition of the museum includes a collection of pieces of Islamic art.
Even when you’re not the biggest fan of modern art, this museum should be on your to-do list when visiting Lebanon and Beirut in particular. It boasts a wide spectrum of beautifully designed rooms that can wow any visitor!
10 AM to 6 PM
Thursday: 12 PM to 9 PM
Beit Beirut is a breathtaking museum about the history of Beirut, especially highlighting the life and culture in Beirut during the civil war.
This beautiful and imposing building that is still, until this day, the icon of the Lebanese cival war.
The facade of the building is peppered with bullet holes and inside the exhebition teaches you about the daily life during the civil war.
Definitely one of the most important museums to visit when in Beirut.
8 AM to 8 PM
How to get around Beirut
Getting around Beirut and getting to the museums can be pretty hard when you rely on taxi’s. We always took a Careem or an Uber because we did not want to be ripped off and we definitely did not want to negotiate over every single taxi trip.
Staying in Beirut
When we traveled to Beirut, we stayed in an Airbnb. We paid about £20/ $25 a night. Our room was quite basic but literally in the centre of Hamra which is one of the best places to stay in Beirut!