How to get to Beirut City Center from the Airport (and Back)?
Ryanair flies from some European cities, we flew FlyDubai. They all land to the same place – i.e. there are not more than one terminals.
The airport is south from Beirut and is not served by any public transport. So your only bet is to either hire a taxi in advance or haggle with the ones outside. We opted for the first option, ordered Allo Taxi in advance, before we arrived to Lebanon, and paid 20$ as we didn’t have a local mobile number and the airport didn’t have reliable WiFi. That’s a rip-off for a 15 min ride, but the options are limited and they as well cost more or less around this. Their service was good, they met us with a sign at the airport and their cars are good.
If you try to take one of the taxis parked outside, they will try to get double or triple of this price. So be aware and don’t pay more than 20$, which is a more or less fixed price.
There is also an option to get an Uber. They are technically banned from the airport, but they still manage to get in. But the main issue with this is that many mobile operators don’t provide roaming in Lebanon and you would have to get an expensive sim card at the airport. So, we got Uber on the way back from Beirut to the airport. It costs about 13-14$ from/to the airport from Hamra.
In and Around Beirut
The public transport is mainly not very organized around the country, but you can get to most places by buses or mini-buses. Be aware, they drive like crazy, speeding, over-taking other cars and so on. You don’t need theme parks with roller coasters in this country, the mini-buses provide all the adrenaline.
In Beirut itself, there are small buses and they are very cheap. But there is another quite cheap option, you can get a shared taxi, paying 2000 Lebanese Lira (or Lebanese pound) per person to go anywhere in Beirut. The catch here is that you need to tell the taxi driver “Servis” before getting into the car and make sure that he (we didn’t encounter any female taxi drivers in Lebanon) agrees. Otherwise, he will want to charge full price. Never pay more than 2000 for the Servis. We used this option quite often inside Beirut – to and from Bus stations to go out of the city, as well as between the districts.
There is one exception to this: On your way to Charles Helou, they do not accept servis or even if they do, they expect you to pay double. So if you need to go there, make sure to find somewhere that is close enough to walk to the stop yet without paying double price per person.
Traveling to South
To travel to Southern parts of the country – to Sidon (Saida) and Tyre (Sour), you should go to Cola intersection, a place, where mini-buses stop. The drivers are constantly shouting “Saida, Saida”. It takes about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the speed to get to Sidon, where you will find mini-buses going to Tyre (Sour). It’s another 1 hour or so to get to Tyre from here. Each section costs 5000. On the way back from Tyre to Beirut, there are often direct mini-buses stopping at Sidon.
Going to Baalbek
To travel to Baalbek, also go to Cola intersection and ask the drivers. As we found out, there are no direct mini-buses (or maybe we couldn’t find them), so you should go to Chtoura, where you will change to another mini-bus going to Baalbek. The mini-buses stop very close to the archeological site. This will cost 5000+2000 or 3000 liras.
Traveling to North
Travelling North to Byblos, Batoun and Tripoli is possible from Charles Helou station (pronounce it in French, otherwise, no one will understand). There are big buses all the way to Tripoli, stopping at several spots, including at Batoun, the white beach area, Byblos, etc. The price is 5000, wherever you are going. There are also smaller buses, which are slower, but have many more stops across the coast.
Going to Jeitta Grotto and to Jounieh
Travelling to Jeitta Grotto is somewhat more complicated. You can take one of the mini-buses from Cola or buses from Charles Helou going north, get off at Nasr El Kalb and take an Uber or taxi from there, as no public transport goes up the Grotto. It was too much hassle, so we ordered Uber, which delivered us there from Beirut for 16 $. From the Grotto to Jounieh teleferic Uber was 8$. If you are skipping the Jeitta, then you can get a bus or mini-bus directly to Jounieh.
And The Rest – What We Missed
We decided not to go to Bsharri and to the forests, as it was impossible by public transport. Your only choice are the tours, which would be about 100$ per person.
Beiteddin and Mousa castle also can’t be reached by public transport, so Uber would be an okay option, rather than more expensive tours.
Another tip, to get from any of the small coastal towns – like Byblos or Batroun – to Beirut or to another town, you have to go to the main highway and wait at any spot where buses can stop.