Nour Farra-Haddad gives her family-friendly tourism tips around Tannourine and Douma. Spend a leisurely day trip in either, or enjoy a weekend taking in the two neighboring towns at once
Tannourine, located in the Batroun region, is a rocky and mountainous area with sharp slopes and a deep valley, famed in the Fairouz song “Aala Hadir El Bosta.” 75km from Beirut, at an altitude of 1500m, Tannourine village (tannourinevillage.com) shares its name with a cedar forest of some 60,000 trees, the second largest reserve in Lebanon. Tannourine hosts numerous archeological sites dating from the Roman-era onwards and is well known for its ancient monasteries.
Tranquility at The Monastery of Saint Anthony the Great. Rooms under renovation, dormitories available (06 500220, Houb, Tannourine) or green sleeping at Eco Dalida, Cedar Forest (Ecolodge 71 679055, 03 679055.)
Eat at Eco-Dalida Lodge at the entrance of Tannourine Forest (03 679005) and Lebanese mezze on the riverside terraces of Wadi el Deir restaurant (06 520918; 03 523563) Tannourine Tahta).
WHAT TO SEE
Take local guides Georges Sarkis Harb (03 679055) or Challita Tanios Harb (03 223428) for a local perspective on the area. The Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve (arztannourine.org) is unmissable. The stunning mountainous landscape, with cedars seemingly defying gravity and growing on vertical slopes, is impressive. Tannourine hosts a remarkably large number of archeological sites dating from the Roman-era onwards.
Douma is full of traditional red-roof houses, and sits 1050m above sea level. The town has been inhabited since at least the time of the Romans, in 317AD. The majority of the housing was built between 1881 and 1914, the golden age of life of Douma, financed by money sent from emigrants. Its ground is rich and welcomes cultures such as olive trees and grapevines.
Try the mythical round-shaped, Hotel Douma (06 520202, 03 611406, hoteldouma.com), Mar Yaacoub El Hosn Convent (06 740030, 03 723755) or sleep under the stars at Camping Douma (03-697738.)
Don’t miss out on tasting Zahlawi ice cream in the old souks, Hotel Douma organize great brunches on Sundays during the summer season.
Travel a little further and stop at Chalalat Nahr el Joz restaurant in Kfarhelda (03 289970) for delicious Lebanese mezze with a waterfall view.
WHAT TO SEE
Stop by Kamel Farm (03 749286; kamelfarms.com) in Douma, a family business specializing in agriculture and organic farming selling products certified by LibanCert, and guaranteed without pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics and other chemicals.
Douma Village and its old streets are also worth an afternoon’s exploration. See remains from different eras of Greeks and Romans and the Ottomans. This village is a living architectural museum of the Ottoman era, with a gated old souk and terracotta roof-tiled houses.