Perched atop the stunning Qadisha Valley, Bsharre is one of those idyllic mountain villages that looks like it’s come straight out of storybook. There are traditional red-roofed houses, panoramic views, cedar trees, and great restaurants dotted throughout the area, not to mention great skiing in the winter. The town of Bcharre itself, and the Wadi Qadisha, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sights, and after spending a day in this pristine mountain town, it’s not hard to see why.
By car: Take the northern coastal highway to Batroun and follow the signs up into the mountains, past Chekka, Amioun and Kousba, until you reach Bcharre.
By bus: Buses leave from Dora every hour or so and cost around 7,000 LBP, with the exception of Sundays when they do not run. Getting back to Beirut from Bcharre is just as easy. Since the town is small, it’s likely the bus will pass by your hotel. If not, just ask where it stops and wait at the next bus stop.
WHAT TO DO
Khalil Gibran Museum
Bcharre is the hometown of the famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), the third best-selling poet of all time, following only Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. Though he spent much of his life in the United States, a lot of Gibran’s poetry and artwork reflects his upbringing in Lebanon’s mountains. The museum itself is a 19th century monastery that was cut straight into the rock, giving it an extra mountainous feel. It was Gibran’s dying wish to be buried in the monastery and have it converted into a museum. The museum consists mostly of Gibran’s paintings, snippets of his original poetry, and even his coffin.
Entrance Fee: 5,000 LBP
Hours: 10 am – 5 pm. Closed Mondays.
Contact: 06 671137, gibrankahlilgibran.org
Cedars of God
A short car ride away from Bcharre are the Cedars of God, a beautiful reserve holding the ancient and epic trees Lebanon is famous for. Outside the reserve you’ll see several souvenir shops and small snack shops, where you can stock up on your cedar goods before entering the reserve. The Cedars of God themselves are majestic. These mammoth trees have been around longer than any living thing and their subdued magnificence exude an spiritual aura. Take your time walking around the reserve and allow the timelessness of these Biblical trees to really sink in. Entrance to the Cedars of God is donation-based and all proceeds go to maintaining the reserve.
Hours: Open 10 am – 6 pm daily
The Qadisha Valley is the kind of place you might expect to see on the cover of National Geographic. This magnificent valley cuts into the land and is surrounded by soaring, pine-covered mountains on both sides. Add in centuries of history and the Qadisha Valley is an absolute must-visit for everyone in Lebanon.
In the valley, there are three main things to do: eat, visit the monasteries, and hike. To enjoy its culinary pleasures, drive into the valley to Abou Joseph Restaurant (03 147278), just 15 minutes from Bcharre for a lovely lunch of traditional mezze along the river. From there you can hike on the path leading deeper into the valley and simply turn back whenever you get tired. For a more arduous hike, there are trails leading from Qadisha to Ehden that span 16km of the Qadisha Valley.
Qadisha is also home to various hermitages, monasteries, monastic caves, and several monks. Historically, the Qadisha Valley served as a refuge for Christians and relics from those early days of Christianity remain hidden within it. If you want to visit the monasteries, the Monastery of Mar Elisha and Deir Mar Semaan, a hermitage founded in 1112, are both beautiful and relatively easy to get to. Just ask around Bcharre for specific directions.
Skiing & Snowboarding
If you visit Bcharre in the winter, don’t miss the chance to ski some of Lebanon’s highest and most stunning peaks. The Cedars Resort opens from November to April, depending on the snow conditions, and is a gorgeous spot to spend a day skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just enjoying the snow. The Cedars Resort is a 15 minute drive from Bcharre, and equipment rentals are available for purchase at the base of the mountains. A lift ticket costs 45,000 LBP on weekdays and 60,000 LBP on weekends.
WHERE TO EAT
Abou Joseph is located in the Qadisha Valley and is easily one of the most scenic places you can go for Lebanese mezze. The décor is simple, with plastic chairs and tables, but the soaring mountains above and the river gushing are all the ambiance you need. The food comes in large portions and is reasonably priced, especially given its prime location.
Contact: 03 277898
Located between the Cedars of God and Bcharre, this small outdoor restaurant sits on top of the Qadisha Valley and boasts one of the most expansive views of the area that Lebanon has to offer. Enjoy your tasty Lebanese mezze while watching the sun go down over this ancient valley. Because all its outdoor location, Cedars Heaven is only open in the summer months.
Contact: 03 743760
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Chbat is the most luxurious hotel in Bcharre, with suites overlooking the valley, a rooftop pool, and an upscale restaurant. The hotel’s amenities are all modern and the views in the valley-facing rooms are spectacular.
Contact: 06 672672, hotelchbat.net
Tiger House is a favorite among budget travelers in the area due to its extremely low prices and convenience. Though you shouldn’t go expecting much in terms of luxury, Tiger House is a good place to spend the night in the mountains and use as a base while you navigate the surrounding area. They offer private rooms or dormitory style rooms, and the bus from Beirut passes right in front.
Contact: 03 087126