While the Beitiddine Palace may be an impressive structure to gaze upon during the festival, paying a visit to this palace before dusk is a beautiful journey through time and Lebanese decadence.

Not too far from Beitiddine Palace is the enchanting historical village of Deir El Qamar, or “the Monastery of the Moon”. Its narrow streets and red tile-roofed stone houses characterize the village.

Another picturesque historical village is Moukhtara, invested heavily in renovating the town according to Lebanese tradition. The visit is complete only with a stop at the Joumblatt Family Palace, where all are welcome to enter and marvel at its ornate antique furnishings and 300-year old architecture. To satisfy any hunger pangs, the famous restaurant Chalalat Nabeh Merched in village serves Lebanese cuisine for lunch and dinner next to a cascading waterfall.

The nearby Chouf Cedar Reserve is a deep wood that is home to a quarter of Lebanon’s majestic cedar trees, some of which date back to biblical times. Hiking of all levels is available, and a wide variety of flowers, plants, trees, and animals can be sighted with the help of a professional guide from the reserve or from the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT).

To spend a night in luxury, the Mir Amine Palace is a historical boutique hotel just a five minute drive away from Beitiddine Palace. For a more rustic yet equally as charming overnight stay, the Beit El Hana guesthouse, in the village of Maasser el Chouf, which lies quietly at the edge of the cedar forest, offers opportunities for meeting other nature lovers, savoring organic meals, and being completely overtaken by the tranquility of nature.

Off the beaten path

CULTURE
Visit the Silk Musuem in Bsous that documents Lebanon’s fascinating silk trade. The Marie Baz Wax Museum showcases characters from Lebanese history in a wing of Fakreddine’s 17th century palace. In the quaint village of Maasser, visit an old olive press and winery, and pause to take in the village architecture. Call ahead to organize yoga classes, guided treks, photography workshops, stargazing, and more at Beit El Hana.

NATURE & ADVENTURE
Hike in the Chouf Cedar Nature Reserve, which scientists around the world have designated a biosphere of rare species of flora and fauna. Official entrances are in Barouk, Maasser and Niha. A fantastic grotto at the site of Niha is a hidden gem that can be reached safely with a guide from the reserve after a high adrenaline walk along the mountainside.

TASTE
Try the local korban bread available in bakeries only on Sunday, and sample fresh cedar honey at a small outlet that sells natural products at the entrance of the Chouf Cedar Reserve.

SHOP
The Chouf is famous for intricate needlework crafts, medicinal herbs, and essential oils, all of which can be purchased in local shops, especially in Maasser.

STAY
In Maasser, the Beit El Hana guesthouse is quaint, clean, and perfect for couples, while the St. Michel Auberge is ideal for families and youth groups. Other options include La Bastide, a modest guesthouse in Deir El Qamar with a view on the Chouf Mountain, and the Ashkar House in Khreibeh.

WINE AND DINE
At the Mir Amine Palace, As-Saray is a fine Lebanese restaurant with magical panoramas. Al Midane in Deir el Qamar offers French fare with a twist. For lunch or a snack, discover why Italian pizza kitchen New Garbatella in Baakline has such a strong local following.

*Information extracted and summarised from Lebanon Traveler Magazine- Issue 0; For full Article please click here