Winter is the time to snuggle up with a good book next to the fireplace, but when the sun peeks through the clouds, experience an exhilarating outdoor adventure by cycling along the coast from Beirut to Batroun
Step 1 Get a bike
If you don’t own a bike, you can always rent one. You can either go to Cyclo Sport in Gemayze that rents bikes by the hour, with special rates for 12 and 24-hour rentals or Beirut by Bike located in Biel that also offers similar options. Sundays are ideal for bike trips since the roads are less congested. Wear a sporty outfit, and athermal jacket to stay warm. And of course, a helmet and gloves for safety. If you do fall, your hands are usually first to touch to ground and you need to protect them.
Step 2 Have breakfast
Fady Taha, Owner and trainer at Lebanon Xtreme Leisure says, “As you are in for a long ride (around 55 kilometers) it is best to have something light yet energizing. Have some carbs, oats and milk just make sure it is not too heavy. Have breakfast at least one hour before you move. Pack dried fruits for the ride. Of course you need water to keep hydrated. Gatorade or something similar will do as well. To avoid cramps, have some bananas before you leave”. For more advice
+961 3 956767
Step 3 Get pedaling
The first stretch leads you from you departure point to the Forum of Beirut at Karantina, so whether you are renting or have a bike, let’s set off from the entrance of BIEL. Once you get to Karantina, you can leave the busy highway and get onto the coastal road. Go past the Forum towards Burj Hammoud, where you can cross the highway under the bridge along the Beirut River. If you don’t want to go on the highway, an alternative route is to start at Paul on the corner of Gouraud Street, cycle right down the street till you hit Mar Mikhail, past Lebanon Electricity till you reach the crossroad of Bourj Hammound. From here, you can easily get to the sea road. You should now be on the coastal road, which is hopefully less crowded. Be careful though! Always stay on the side of the road at all times.
Step 4 Karantina to Dbayeh
The next leg will take you from Karantina to Dbayeh. The sea road will eventually run perpendicular to the highway. This is when your quiet ride will become noisier, but don’t fret. Take a water break once you reach the Dbayeh Corniche. Relax your muscles while admiring Beirut’s skyline. Enjoy your triumph and get ready to move again.
Step 5 Dbayeh to Jounieh
Now you will head for Jounieh along the coast until you reach Naher el Kaleb (Dog River). You will have to go over the bridge to cross the river, then under the highway to get back to your main trail, closer to the coast. If you have time, take a look at the historic wall where invading armies have marked their passage, finally ending with the seal declaring Lebanon’s independence on the 22nd of November 1943. Keep on pedaling, past Kaslik and its residential buildings till you reach central Jounieh and the old city. Take a well-deserved break in one of the many restaurants. Have a snack and some juice for energy.
Step 6 Jounieh to Jbeil
You are half way there, and now that you’re all rested, it’s time to hit the road towards Jbeil. After you’ve crossed Jounieh’s old town, pass by the Telepherique and Maameltein area until you reach the Casino du Liban. As you continue towards Tabarja, you will notice an inclination in the road, meaning you will need extra effort to pedal for about half a kilometer. It will be all worth it, once you reach the top. The scenery will change and you will ease on down into the coastal villages, with their historic houses and red roofs. Jbeil is a wonderful coastal city and worth spending some time in. Grab lunch at the old souk or next to the port.
Step 7 Jbeil to Batroun
You still have about 12 to 16 kilometers of cycling before you reach your final destination, but this is the best stretch of the whole trip. There are no inclinations and greenery surrounds you. Once you get to Batroun, reward yourself with a cold beer at Pierre and Friends or try their famous fresh lemonade.
Step 8 Returning home
You have two options: either by bike or by car. If you wish to pedal home, make sure to leave as early as possible, since it tends to get dark fairly early in winter. Your bike should have reflectors and you
Hady Kahale, a cycling enthusiast describes the ride from Dbayeh to Batroun as 43 kilometers of pure pleasure. “It is a sporty, mainly easy ride full of treasures to see along the way,” he points out.
Kahale’s Cardinal Rule
Leave the Beirut Dbayeh stretch for stunt riders, fans of loud horns and fuel tanks in dire need of a paint job. Park the car in Dbayeh and take advantage of the calmness of the coastal road from there on.
Jounieh and its olds souk, with its many Sunday morning charms including the smell of fresh ground coffee. Conquering Tabarja hill and the energizing feeling you get from knowing it is the one and only uphill section of the ride.
Then once you pass Safra, the treasure box is opened. Fidar, forgotten by time but proud of its marine past and present. Jbeil, with its millennial charm, a detour of the port is a must. Amchit with Furn el Sabaya, well worth a stop for its exquisite mankousheh and signature mouwaraqa sweet.
After Camping Amchit take the small road by the side of the sea and you will find yourself in surreal surroundings, an area completely abandoned over the surf. Marvels of architecture, bridges built by the Australian and British Corps after WWII that you pass time and time again without ever noticing. The beautiful costal houses of the Monsef area hiding behind their walls of bougainvillea.
On arrival at Batroun
Reward yourself with a thirst quenching lemonade from Le Garage. For those who can continue towards Rachana following the trail of northern wines and pay a well-deserved visit to one of the wineries, with their Botrys grapes from ancient Greece. If you are not in the mood for wine then take a liberating dive in the azure sea followed by a laid back meal at the charming Jamal restaurant with its Beiruti clientele or at Chez Maguy’s delightful so called shack. End the day by watching the sunset over the Phoenician wall or from the terrace of the Lady of the Sea Church. Yes, I guess it is true what they say there is nothing to see or do in Lebanon, that is if you don’t make the effort to do so…
Where to rent your bike
Opening hours: Daily from 10 AM to 9 PM
Contact information: Gemayzeh +961 1 446792
Nahr +961 1 581787
Beirut by Bike
Opening Hours: Daily from 7 AM to 12 AM
Contact information: Biel and Ain El Mreisseh
+961 3 435524 / +961 71 435524
Where to overnight
Batroun Village Club +961 6 744333
San Stephano Resort +961 6 740366
Sawary Resor +961 6 642100
Restaurants on the way
Specializing in seafood, chez Sami is a must visit for fish aficionados.
+961 9 910520
Locanda a la Granda
Located in the old souk, Locanda a la Granda offers unique fusion dishes such as their strawberry labneh.
+961 9 944333
At Pepe Abed you don’t come just for the mezze or views, you come to checkout the wall of fame. During Beirut’s golden era, Pepe hosted stars from Valentino to Brigitte Bardot.
+961 9 540213
Serves grilled fish fresh from the sea along with succulent Lebanese mezze. Setting, music and view are recommended. +961 6 740095
Limonade Tony Daou
Made the old fashioned way, the lemons are not pressed but rubbed against each other to make this famous lemonade. Add some sugar and a touch of orange blossom water and you get a delicious satisfying drink.
+ 961 6 741564
Maguy’s doesn’t promise to offer you anything more than exactly what it is: a small home on the coast turned restaurant that serves the catch of the day, with no frills or fuss.
+961 3 439147
Pierre and Friends
Pierre and Friends is the ideal place to relax and share a drink with friends, while listening to the soothing sounds of the waves, crashing on the nearby rocks.
+961 3 352930
Since 1988 this family owned beach has welcomed visitors from around the world. Located on the untouched
shores of Batroun, the White Beach family will see to your every need.
+961 6 742404