Brimming with hidden gems, Lebanon’s southernmost city of Tyre is those places that never fails to impress.
Like all of Lebanon’s coastal cities, Tyre has seen a myriad of passing armies, conquerors, civilizations and eras. Tyre was a prosperous Phoenician city that was responsible for the founding of Mediterranean colonies, such as Carthage and Cadiz. The city’s production of purple dye, coveted by European nobility, made the city a hub of commerce for centuries.
Tyre is situated 83km south of Beirut. Follow the highway south from the capital, past Saida, until you reach Tyre. The road is well signposted.
What to Do
Tyre’s Hippodrome is a sprawling spectacle of ancient Roman grandeur. The Hippodrome once held up to 40,000 people, who sat along the stadium stands to cheer on chariot races and possibly even gladiator games. The ruins are remarkably well preserved and you can climb up the stadium seating and wander through ancient archways and a Roman street. What’s most impressive about the Hippodrome is not its size in height but rather how large the complex is. The Hippodrome ruins are the size of numerous football fields, making exploration of the site an adventure in itself.
Al Mina Ruins
Just a five-minute drive from the Hippodrome are the seaside Al Mina Roman ruins. The bulk of the Al Mina ruins are a series of columns, just on the seafront, that make for a breathtaking sight and great pictures. The ruins were constructed in the 3rd century and led down to the now-submerged ancient harbor.
Tyre Port and Christian Quarter
Tyre’s Port is a beautiful site to see, especially if you can catch it around sunset. The picturesque harbor is speckled with fishing boats and the briny smell of the ocean lingers around the seaside area.
Located right next to the port, Tyre’s Christian Quarter is its most photogenic, and most photographed area. With its cobblestone streets, colorful houses and flowers spilling out of balconies, the Christian Quarter is like Lebanon’s own version of a Greek island, without the crowds. Though the Christian Quarter is small, it is well worth a visit just to meander the narrow streets and appreciate the simple beauty of a blue shuttered windows and pink doors sitting right on the sparkling Mediterranean water.
Tyre Public Beach
If you are visiting Tyre during the summer months, a trip to the public beach is an absolute must. With its stunningly clear blue water and expansive sandy beach, Tyre’s public beach is one of the cleanest in Lebanon, and is almost reminiscent of a Caribbean island. Unlike the beaches in Lebanon’s north, Tyre’s beach is made of a fine sand that makes for a perfect day on the shore. When you get too hot lying out in the sun, just swim into the refreshing water that the Mediterranean is famous for.
Where to Eat
Located right on the harbor, Le Phenicien is one of Tyre’s most popular upscale restaurants. Like most restaurants in Tyre, they specialize in fresh seafood and fish, so make sure to take advantage. Though Le Phenicien is one the pricier side, it is well worth it for their great service, tasty food, and upscale décor.
Just beside Le Phenicien is the smaller, slightly shabbier but equally charming Restaurant Tony, a great option for a fresh meal of seafood. Tony, the owner of this small white and blue decorated restaurant, will greet you warmly and fry you up the latest catch. The restaurant has a small but picturesque terrace to enjoy your meal on while you look out over Tyre’s colorful port.
If you want to eat your lunch right on the water, nothing beats Captain Bob’s. During the summer months, the restaurant builds a wooden patio over the ocean, sets up some plastic chairs and tables, and serves up shisha, delicious mezze and, of course, fish.
Where to Sleep
Easily one of Lebanon’s most charming boutique hotels, Dar Alma is situated in the lovely Christian Quarter, right on the seafront. The hotel exudes a nautical atmosphere, from its blue and white décor to the ocean facing restaurant and private swimming spot. Most impressive of all is the ancient ruin that sits in the ocean right in front of the property. After a night in the laid-back and picturesque Dar Alma Hotel, the city—and all your worries—will seem miles away.
EL Boutique Hotel
This 14-room hotel used to be a women’s jail and then became a watchmaker’s shop. Today, it is one of Tyre’s newest and most luxurious boutique properties, boasting a seafront location and spectacular rooftop bar.
Al-Yasmine Guest House
Located in Tyre, Al-Yasmine boasts 20 charming rooms as well as a variety of activities for the family, including swimming, tennis, pony and horseback riding, trampoline and swings, paddle boats in the pool and trekking in the surrounding orchards.
This eight-room boutique hotel was carefully restored as a beautiful encounter between a Moroccan riad and a traditional Lebanese home. Its exquisite interiors reflect Tyre’s unique heritage as a prominent Phoenician city.
Les Ateliers de Tyr
This sustainable development project aims to preserve the ancient crafts of Tyre. Guests can stay in family units or twin/double rooms and get involved in activities such as screen printing, recycled glass blowing, blowpipe glass blowing, glass painting and pottery.