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North Lebanon Gay Travel

North Lebanon gay travel guide to hotels & places to visit, plus Lebanon gay life and safety tips.

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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 gay life and was able to meet the sweetest gay locals.

Lebanon gay travel

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.

traveling north Lebanon
Lebanon gay travel
traveling north Lebanon

If you’re thinking of making a trip to Beirut or exploring northern Lebanon, it’s way easier to have a local by your side. And the Lebanese are definitely known for their hospitality! I can’t thank my wonderful Lebanese friend Saleh enough for showing me the country.

Amazing places in Lebanon

Lebanon undoubtedly has its troubles, both past and present. But the breathtaking countryside, vibrant seaside towns and wonderful culture make the journey worth it.

travel Lebanon during fuel and economic crisis
travel Lebanon during fuel and economic crisis
Amazing places in Lebanon

My visit to Lebanon wasn’t without issues either. Fuel shortages and electricity rationing added some complexity. Luckily Saleh knew exactly how to navigate these issues so we could enjoy all of what 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 1975 to 1990 and was then followed by the South Lebanon Conflict through the early 2000’s.

Lebanon safety
staying safe in Lebanon
Lebanon safety

But as we make our way beyond 2020, Lebanon 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.

staying safe in Lebanon

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.

LGBT Lebanese local
Lebanon gay safety
LGBT Lebanese local

Most gay people in Lebanon keep their sexual orientation very private. They typically only tell their closest friends. But why? Well, the answer is typically because younger LGBT individuals do not want their parents or anyone who is religiously conservative, to know that they’re gay.

Lebanon gay safety

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 LGBT Friendly?

As a gay man, traveling to Lebanon is generally safe. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the country is gay friendly. 

LGBT friendly Lebanon
LGBT friendly Lebanon
maronite village in Lebanon

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 with a title starting with “Lebanon is known as gay friendly”. This is definitely a stretch, and in my opinion, misleading. For locals, Lebanon gay life isn’t the easiest. Travelers also need to follow a couple (albeit simple) rules.
maronite village in Lebanon

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. 

Lebanon gay public affection rules
Lebanon gay public affection rules

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

Some of the most popular areas to stay in northern Lebanon include the towns of Byblos, Batroun and Jounieh. These are all situated along the Mediterranean coast and are very popular with both locals and tourists.

Casa de Thoum

Batroun Hotels

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.

Lebanon guesthouse
Casa de Thoum
Lebanon guesthouse

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!

gay traveler in Byblos

Hotels in Byblos

Monoberge 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.

Byblos Hotel
Byblos Hotel
gay traveler in Byblos

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 style 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. 

Hasroun

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!

Hasroun

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

Visit Batroun

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.

Batroun 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.

Batroun sunset
Batroun tour

One of the easiest ways to quickly explore the town of Batroun is a tour with an official tour with the Batroun Municipality. 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.

Batroun tour

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.

kokos bakery batroun

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! See more on the Koko’s Facebook page.

kokos bakery batroun
Hilmis Lemonade Batroun

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.

Hilmis Lemonade Batroun

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.

Visit Byblos

Byblos is an incredible city to visit. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world! Wander the polished rock pathways and pass by the Old Souq any time of day.

gay travelers Lebanon

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.

Byblos bars
Byblos bars
gay travelers Lebanon

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.

Visit Jounieh

Experience an unforgettable sunset at Our Lady of Lebanon, located in the Harissa neighborhood outside of Jounieh. This Virgin Mary statue, surrounding plaza and views of Jounieh below are absolutely stunning.

Our Lady of Lebanon Harissa

You can also get to Our Lady of Lebanon via the Lebanon Teleferique Cable Car station in Jounieh.

Our Lady of Lebanon Harissa
Rocca Marina Beach Club

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.

Rocca Marina Beach Club

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.

Lebanese beer
Lebanese beer
Palms Jounieh

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.

Palms Jounieh

This place is pretty special to me too, since I started and ended my Lebanon gay travel adventure with nights here!

Explore Monasteries

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.

famous Lebanese Monastery

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!

St Simon Monastery
famous Lebanese Monastery
St Simon Monastery

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.

traveler at Kadisha Waterfalls

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.

traveler at Kadisha Waterfalls
Kadisha Valley waterfall trails
Kadisha Valley waterfall trails

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

Wander the fragrant pathways under the canopies of Lebanon’s ancient cedar trees. The Cedars are iconic and symbolic of the country’s timeless resilience.

Cedars of God Ariz Lebanon

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!

La Jetée Ariz
Cedars of God Ariz Lebanon
La Jetée Ariz

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!

gay travelers hiking Kadisha
gay travelers hiking Kadisha
Kadisha Grotto

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!

Kadisha Grotto

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.

Tom Shallouf barber hair salon
Tom Shallouf barber hair salon
haircut in Lebanon

Go get a haircut by 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.

haircut in Lebanon

Drive to Baalbek

For the most adventurous travelers, consider a day trip to the city of 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 Roman Ruins
Baalbek Roman Ruins
Baalbek tour ruins

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.

Baalbek tour ruins

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

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.

Lebanese man swimming
Lebanese man swimming
how to use Grindr in Lebanon

Does Grindr Work in Lebanon?

Grindr in Lebanon is officially banned, which is unfortunate from a gay rights perspective. 

But, you still use the app with the help of a VPN app. A robust service like NordVPN will do the trick.

how to use Grindr in Lebanon

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.

Language Tips

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.

Lebanon tourist tips
Lebanese food
Lebanon tourist tips

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!

Lebanese food

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.

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.

being gay in lebanon
Lebanon LGBT rights
being gay in lebanon

In 2017, a Lebanese judge actually questioned these interpretations, stating that the gay people in Lebanon “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.

Lebanon LGBT rights

LGBT Resources in Lebanon

Everyone should know about Helem, the first LGBT+ rights organization of 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.

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