With the support of the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, we experienced 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 55km) 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 call 03 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 Beirut Waterfront. Once you get to Karantina, you can leave the busy highway and get onto the coastal road. Go past the Forum towards Bourj 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 Hammoud. 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 Nahr el Kalb (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 in 1943. Keep on pedaling past Kaslik and its residential buildings until 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 Byblos
You are half way there and now that you’re all rested it’s time to hit the road towards Byblos. 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. Byblos 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 16kms 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 the town’s famous lemonade.
Jounieh and its olds souk, with its many Sunday morning charms including the smell of freshly 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. Byblos, with its millennial charm, a detour of the port is a must. Amchit with Furn el Sabaya, well worth a stop for its exquisite manouche 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 World War Two that you pass time and time again without ever noticing. The beautiful coastal houses of the Monsef area hiding behind their walls of bougainvillea.
Arriving in Batroun
Reward yourself with a thirst-quenching lemonade. 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 the delightful yet simple Chez Maguy. End the day by watching the sunset over the Phoenician wall or from the terrace of the Lady of the Sea Church.
Where to rent your bike
Opening hours: Daily from 10 AM to 9 PM
Gemmayze 01 446792
Nahr 01 581787
Beirut by Bike
Opening hours: Daily from 7 AM to 12 AM
Beirut Waterfront and Ain el Mreisseh
03 435524, 71 435524
Where to sleep
Batroun Village Club 06 744333
San Stephano Resort 06 740366
Sawary Resort 06 642100
Restaurants on the way
Specializing in seafood, Chez Sami is a must visit for fish aficionados.
Locanda a la Granda
Located in the old souk, Locanda a la Granda offers unique fusion dishes such as their strawberry labne.
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.
Serves grilled fish fresh from the sea along with succulent Lebanese mezze. Setting, music and view are recommended.
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 deliciously satisfying drink.
This charming home turned restaurant serves the catch of the day with no frills or fuss.
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.
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.