Set in the heart of the Batroun Mountains, Douma bears all the hallmarks of a traditional Lebanese village, with its quaint houses, noise-free streets and charming souk.
Douma is located around 80km from Beirut, a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive. Take the highway north towards Tripoli, exiting at Amchit. Continue towards Lehfed, then Mayfouk and follow the directions to Douma.
WHAT TO DO
The old souk of Douma is picture perfect, so be sure to keep your camera handy. You can enjoy a stroll around the quaint stores and pick up some local specialties, including halawa, olive oil and homemade jams. Close to the souk, there’s an incredible piece of history in the form of a sarcophagus. Dating back to the fourth century, the
sarcophagus is inscribed in Greek.
Hiking and Trekking
At over 1,000m above sea level, Douma offers breathtaking views and great hiking opportunities. Visitors can explore the nearby village of Bechaaleh, where there are olive trees dating back thousands of years. Another popular hiking trail is from Douma to the Baatara gorge in Balou Balaa. At 250m deep, the Baatara sinkhole was carved by water 160 million years ago and boasts three natural bridges inside it. The highlight is the waterfall, which can be observed during winter and spring.
Less than a 10-minute drive from Douma lies the village of Assia, where the tradition of pottery-making is still alive. Visit Sana Jabbour (03 630626), a local artisan, to learn more about the craft and discover the unique items her family has been making for generations.
WHERE TO EAT
Established in 1969, Esclapio (06 520520) is a popular spot for indulging in Lebanese mezze and a glass of arak. Located in the heart of Douma, the restaurant offers an exceptional view as well as a lively entertainment program at the weekend.
Doumanian Coffee Shop
You won’t be able to miss this charming coffee shop nestled in Douma’s old souk. Adorned with ornaments and novelties, pop in for a refreshing drink or a bite to eat. The Doumanian Coffee Shop (71 186622) serves a variety of Lebanese specialties such as foul and balila, beid balade w awarma bel fekhara, kaake and saj.
Istirahit el Moukhtara
Run by the delightful Jamal Chalhoub, Istirahit el Moukhtara (71 224446) is a simple bakery just off the main street of Douma. Indulge in tasty awarma, kishk andsaj, which Jamal will prepare and serve with a smile.
WHERE TO STAY
Overlooking the village, Hotel Douma offers 40 comfortable rooms and suites. There are also a number of on-site facilities, including a children’s play area and a tennis court. The hotel can also arrange local guides for those
interested in exploring the countryside.
06 520202, hoteldouma.com
My Stone Cellar
Just minutes away from the souk lies My Stone Cellar at ISHAC Residence, a stone cellar guesthouse set in a 1903 heritage house. Offering four exceptional vaulted cellar rooms, it’s a wonderful choice for those seeking something a little different.
71 283485, mystonecellar.com
Part of the Souk el Tayeb family, Beit Douma is an old Lebanese house dating back to the 19th century. With incredible views over the mountain, the property offers six charming guest rooms.
06 520702, soukeltayeb.com
Text and photos by Peter Ghanime