BEITEDDINE, DEIR EL QAMAR
BEITEDDINE & DEIR EL QAMAR
The Shouf is one of the best preserved and historically rich areas in the country. With picturesque villages, lush mountains and the largest cedar reserve in Lebanon, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty this incredible region has to offer.
Depending on which village you want to start your trip from, the Shouf is around an hour’s journey from Beirut. A good starting point is the charming village of Deir El Qamar.
By car: Follow the southern coastal highway towards Saida. Just before Damour, exit the highway towards Beiteddine, and follow the signs.
By public transport: Take a van from Jisr el Cola towards the Shouf, and get off at the village of Kafr Him. From there, take a service or taxi to the main square in Deir El Qamar, but note finding taxis may prove difficult. The van and service cost 2,000 LBP each. The taxi costs around 10,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO Deir El Qamar
With red-tiled roofs, winding streets, and traditional stone houses, the village of Deir El Qamar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) epitomizes idyllic mountain charm. It also highlights the religious diversity in Lebanon, with a mosque, a church and a synagogue all taking residence in its main square. Enjoy a stroll around the village, starting in the historic main square, where jousting tournaments took place during the Crusades.
Just 20 minutes from Deir El Qamar, sits Beiteddine Palace, one of Lebanon’s Ottoman treasures. The palace offers a stunning and well-preserved example of 19th century architecture.
Walking through the palace complex, visitors will immediately notice the wealth and detail of its construction. Each room features mosaic stonework, cedar wood engraving and spacious areas. The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm, but is closed on Mondays. 05 500077
Shouf Cedar Reserve
The Shouf Cedar Reserve holds over 20% of the country’s cedar trees, some of which date back 2,000 years.
Hike in forest or rent a mountain bike from the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (05 241171) at the entrance and cycle along the trail. 05 350250, shoufcedar.org
WHERE TO EAT Al-midane Restaurant
Located in a sunny courtyard facing Deir El Qamar’s main square, the Al-midane Restaurant (03 763768) specializes in Lebanese mezze and local food. Decorated in a traditional style, the restaurant lends itself perfectly to an extended lunch.
Mir Amin Palace
For upscale dining in a beautiful palace, head to Mir Amin Palace (05 501315, miraminpalace.com). This complex, which looks out over the Beiteddine Palace and surrounding mountains, was the residence of the youngest son of Emir Bashir II Chehab. Today, the palace is a gorgeous hotel and restaurant.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Beit El Qamar
Surrounded by vegetable gardens and colorful terraces, Beit El Qamar is an adorable little hotel that will make you feel right at home in the Shouf. Their locally sourced breakfast overlooking the Shouf mountains is worth a visit alone. 05 511722/03 661411, soukeltayeb.com/ beit-el-qamar
Five minutes from Beiteddine sits Bouyouti, an elegant guesthouse perfect for a luxurious overnight stay in the Shouf. Bouyouti is a cluster of upscale houses, combining ample space with a warm and elegant atmosphere. 03 310200, bouyouti.com
Deir Al Oumara
With a beautiful central courtyard for its restaurants, and 11 spacious rooms, Deir Al Oumara is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and the perfect boutique hotel for an overnight stay. 05 511557, deiraloumara.com