North Lebanon Gay Travel
wolfyy’s North Lebanon gay travel guide to hotels & where to stay, things to do, local gay life & safety tips.
The Gay Travel Experience: North Lebanon
My visit to Lebanon was honestly one of the most unique gay travel experiences of my life. I learned an incredible amount about Lebanon’s gay life and was able to meet the sweetest gay locals.
Without a doubt, I recommend gay travelers go to Lebanon. But understandably, as a destination with a relatively conservative culture, it’s not for everyone.
Lebanon has its share of troubles, both past and present. But the breathtaking countryside, vibrant seaside towns, and wonderful culture make the journey worth it.
My visit to Lebanon wasn’t without issues either. Electricity rationing and fuel shortages at the time added some complexity. Luckily Saleh knew exactly how to navigate these issues so we could enjoy all that Lebanon could offer.
But Isn’t Lebanon Dangerous?
This is the exact question that just about everyone asks me after hearing that I visited Lebanon. It makes sense too, given the Lebanese Civil War spanned from 1975 to 1990 and was then followed by the South Lebanon Conflict through the early 2000s.
Lebanon today is much safer to visit. The majority of North Lebanon is completely safe for tourists. (South Lebanon is a different story). There are only a couple of areas in the north that tourists should avoid.
Areas to Avoid in Lebanon
Travelers should stay away from all Hezbollah areas of operations. These include the Bourj El Brajneh municipality south of Beirut, the north Lebanon regions of Baalbek and Hermel, the South Governorate region, and the Nabatieh Governorate region.
Being Gay in Lebanon: What’s it Like?
For locals, being gay in Lebanon is not easy. I talked with quite a few Lebanese locals and learned a lot from their stories.
Most gay people in Lebanon keep their sexual orientation very private. They typically only tell their closest friends. But why? Well, the typical answer is that younger LGBT individuals do not want their parents or anyone who is religiously conservative, to know that they’re gay.
Many LGBT individuals fear rejection by their families or the community in general. There’s an enormous pressure to maintain a sort of “double life.”
Is Lebanon Gay Friendly?
As a gay man, traveling to Lebanon is generally safe. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the country is gay friendly.
Lebanon is more progressive than other places in the Middle East, but LGBT rights and freedom of expression are quite suppressed.
The New York Times published an article in 2018, of which the title starts with “Lebanon is known as gay friendly”. This is definitely a stretch, and in my opinion, misleading. For locals, gay life in Lebanon isn’t the easiest. Travelers also need to follow a couple of simple rules.
The people of Lebanon are quite religious and the country has large populations of both Maronite Christians and Muslims. Conservative religious beliefs tend to suppress the LGBT community in Lebanon.
Most importantly, public affection between two men in Lebanon is not a good idea. Gay travelers should restrict any sort of public affection to places and establishments that are known to be gay friendly.
North Lebanon: Hotels & Where to Stay
In Batroun, consider Casa de Thoum, a fabulous five-star guesthouse with great views of the water. Casa de Thoum is relatively new, but already highly reviewed for cleanliness, attention to detail, a fantastic pool, and delicious food.
Another Batroun hotel option is Blue Marlin Beach House. Their rooms and suites reflect the architectural history of the town, providing one of the most authentic experiences you can find.
All of Blue Marlin’s rooms and suites are directly on the water, many with views of the sea. They have gorgeously large windows, high ceilings, and come with private terraces. My friend Saleh highly recommends this place!
Hotels in Byblos
Monoberge Hotel has a fantastic location next to the heart of Byblos. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk from popular nightlife spots. Rooms here are pretty standard, and affordable too.
Eddé Sands Hotel & Wellness Resort is a popular oceanfront hotel in Byblos. This hotel is perfect if you love direct access to the beach and lots of space to lounge.
They offer a range of different styles of accommodations including private villas, bungalows, and suites.
Countryside Hotels in Lebanon
Prefer a hotel in the mountains? There are plenty of luxurious hotel and villa options further inland.
Villages such as Hasroun, Deir Al-Ahmar, and Zahlé are fantastic places to stay for easier access to Lebanon’s countryside, which also comes with cooler temperatures!
Villa Chamoun Guesthouse is one of the best hotels in northern Lebanon. Experience ultimate luxury in this 1960’s style renovated original Lebanese family home. They have a beautiful amazing pool, peaceful terraces, culinary experiences, and a rooftop massage area.
North Lebanon Gay Travel Experiences
Batroun is filled with history. I loved walking around the Old Souk area, exploring the sandstone buildings. The rocky waterfront area is also stunning, especially at sunset.
You can access this area by crossing the small footbridge toward the west side of the Fisherman’s Port. Check out the awesome historic salt pans carved into the rock.
One of the easiest ways to quickly explore the town of Batroun is a tour with an official tour led by the Batroun Municipality. You can contact the Batroun Times Instagram account to set up a local tour.
They’ll drive you around in a small private buggy to all the most important stops. Our tour guide was super friendly, patient, and definitely knowledgeable.
If you don’t take a tour, at least stop by Batroun’s St. Stephen Catholic Cathedral (كاتدرائية مار إسطفان), which is a marvelously grand Greek Orthodox church. Much of the church’s architectural detail has been well-preserved and was so beautiful to see.
Grab some delicious sweets at Koko’s Bakery in the Batroun Old Souk area. They make these amazing chocolate-filled pastries. My Lebanese friend Elie loves this place and after trying their desserts, I do too!
Hilmi’s House of Lemonade is the perfect spot to beat the heat during summer. Located in the center of Batroun, Hilmi’s sells freshly made iced lemonade as well as other fresh beverages and snacks.
Later on, grab dinner or drinks at Barrio 67. They’re a trendy restaurant in the heart of Batroun with the best ambiance around. They’ve got plenty of outdoor seating, too.
One of the most iconic things to do in Byblos during the day is exploring the ancient Byblos Citadel. Seeing the surrounding ruins from the top level of the castle was awesome. It’s an easy activity right in the middle of the city that’ll take an hour at most.
BARITALIA Kitchen & Bar is a chic restaurant in central Byblos perfect for a late afternoon lunch, dinner or cocktails. They have two beautiful bars, one indoor and one outside on the street. Seating is indoor-outdoor as well.
Experience an unforgettable sunset at Our Lady of Lebanon, located in the Harissa neighborhood outside of Jounieh. This Virgin Mary statue, the surrounding plaza, and the views of Jounieh below are absolutely stunning.
If you’re visiting in Summer, spend an afternoon at the fabulous Rocca Marina beach club. Rocca Marina is extremely popular for its terraced pools with great views of the shore and sea.
You can order food from your lounge chair, dive off the floating dock or take pictures by the pool. It’s divine!
I had an amazing time joining some Lebanese gay locals at Palms Beach House in Jounieh. They play a perfect mix of Lebanese and international and American hits.
Palms is a good spot for dinner as well. Later in the evening, there’s more of an outdoor club feel, as people get rowdier and start dancing.
This place is pretty special to me too, since I started and ended my Lebanon gay travel adventure with nights here!
North Lebanon is home to an enormous community of Maronite Christians. Around Mount Lebanon, there are dozens of historical Maronite monasteries impressively built into the mountainside.
One of the most famous is the Mar Lichaa Monastery (Deir Mar Elisha). Free to enter, walk through the monastery’s exhibits to learn about the priests that lived there along with the rest of the structure’s history. It’s quite impressive!
I also loved the peaceful hike down to the Monastery of St. Simon. This monastery is fascinating. A long, narrow path leads toward the entrance, where you can climb up a ladder staircase and into the tiny rooms. The views of the valley below from inside are spectacular.
Hike Kadisha Valley
Down in the lush Kadisha Valley, water cascades off of steep rock walls all along the Abou Ali River. A day trip here is absolutely magical and I can’t recommend it enough.
Many of these beautiful enclaves are only known to locals. The trails and waterfalls aren’t necessarily marked on any map applications. If you want to see the same spot I did, here are the exact location coordinates.
You’ll need to drive down some steep roadways to the valley, which begin near the Mar Lichaa Monastery, mentioned above.
The Cedars of God & La Jetée
The Cedars are iconic and symbolic of the country’s timeless resilience. Wandering the fragrant pathways under the canopies of Lebanon’s ancient cedar trees is a magical experience.
The cedar forest is in the Ariz neighborhood, about a two-hour drive from central Beirut. You can’t miss a visit to this famous attraction!
Near the entrance to the Cedars, there are a bunch of souvenir stands. If you’re looking for a gift, you can get a custom engraving done on a small piece of pre-carved cedar. I got one of these for my partner as a little memento!
Don’t miss a stop at La Jetée if you’re going to the Cedars area. This landmark is an absolutely stunning lookout point with a view directly into the center of the valley.
You can see the various Lebanese villages on either side of the valley. This was definitely one of the best places I visited while in Lebanon.
Kadisha Grotto Bsharri
Exploring inside the Kadisha Grotto was truly a mesmerizing experience. Even during the heat of summer, it’s so cold in the grotto that you’re able to see your breath!
This grotto atop the Kadisha Valley is an immense source of fresh water, which you can follow along the pathway once inside.
Mineral formations known as stalactites (which grow upward) and stalagmites (which grow downward) are everywhere!
As you go further inside the grotto the darkness will make it difficult to see. Bring a powerful mini flashlight with you. Your phone’s flashlight probably won’t be bright enough to see deep into the caves.
To get there, park across from Hotel L’Aiglon and start the short hike along the newly rebuilt walkway along the mountainside. The views are fantastic.
Get a Lebanese Fade
Lebanese men notoriously groom themselves very well. Look around and you’ll see men with immaculate haircuts and carefully styled beards.
Go get a haircut from one of the barbers in Lebanon at the Bob Shallouf Hair and Beauty Center. My friend Saleh and I got haircuts here and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. They also offer a range of other services.
Drive to Baalbek
The Baalbek Roman Ruins are honestly some of the most impressive ruins I have ever seen. I’ll never forget wandering through the temples and taking photos with my friend Saleh while the city’s afternoon prayer calls echoed in the air.
Baalbek is also a unique place to visit in Lebanon because it’s one of the two main regions inhabited by Shia Muslims. Similar to the Lebanese city of Tripoli, it’s an entirely different experience.
For safety, travelers should only visit the Baalbek region as part of a tour with a local or as part of a tour. If you don’t know anyone who can show you around, definitely book a day trip tour to Baalbek.
Lebanon Gay Travel Tips
Skip the Speedo
At beaches and beach clubs in Lebanon, men tend to wear conservative swimsuits. You won’t see anyone in swim briefs or Speedos. Make sure to wear traditional swim shorts.
Does Grindr Work in Lebanon?
But, you can still use the app with the help of a VPN. A robust service like NordVPN will do the trick. I use this app myself, which makes it possible to download and use restricted apps and websites.
You’ll notice a majority of the profiles on Grindr in Lebanon will not show face pictures. Those on the app tend to be very discreet and cautious.
People in Lebanon speak Lebanese Arabic, which is a version of North Levantine Arabic. The language has an enormous French influence, resulting from the French Mandate for Lebanon after World War I.
The Lebanese use “merci” to say thank you, so if you don’t want to immediately stand out as a tourist, say thank you in French!
You’ll surely see the word “Liban” during your trip, which might linguistically confuse some travelers. But, this is simply the French word for Lebanon, a relic of historical French influence.
Bank notes still use the word Liban and it’s common in other titles/names.
Get Travel Insurance
Purchasing travel insurance coverage is always a good idea, especially when visiting places that might be risky or outside your comfort zone.
Trip insurance can come in handy in many ways, like protecting you against canceled flights, sickness, and more. World Nomads and Travelex are both popular and reputable companies that make it easy to get a quote.
Gay Rights in Lebanon
LGBT people in Lebanon unfortunately have essentially zero legal protections. There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against gay people for any reason.
Interestingly, Lebanon doesn’t have any laws that explicitly prohibit or permit homosexuality or homosexual activity. This has not prevented prosecution of the Lebanon gay community, done via interpretation of other laws in place.
In 2017, a Lebanese judge actually questioned these interpretations, stating that gay people in Lebanon have the “right to human and intimate relationships.”
A year later, a Lebanese court ruled that homosexual activity is not illegal, which moves the country one step closer to the official legalization of same-sex sexual activity.
LGBT Resources in Lebanon
Everyone should know about Helem, the first LGBT+ rights organization in the Arab world. They were actually founded in Lebanon, too.
Helem offers various services to the LGBT+ community including mental health support, legal aid, and other types of social support. In 2022, Helem is planning to open the first specialized shelter in Lebanon for queer individuals facing hardship.