From the ancient Phoenician Wall and historic fishing harbour to buzzing beach clubs and craft beer breweries; here are the best things to do in Batroun, Lebanon.
Batroun, northern Lebanon’s buzzing coastal city, has a history spanning millennia. You can trace Batroun’s origins back to the Phoenician era, when the port played a significant role in early maritime trade routes connecting the Levant to the Mediterranean world, and you can even see the remnants of antiquity in the ruins of the Phoenician Wall.
From its Phoenician founding, possibly as long ago as the 14th century BC, Batroun has fallen under the dominion of empires as wide-ranging as the Romans and Ottomans, with each civilization that passed through leaving its mark on the architecture, history and culture of the present-day city. Batroun has always been a significant Maronite Christian centre, pilgrimage sites abound, and the city is home to mosques and other places of worship that represent Lebanon’s diverse multi-faith makeup.
But best of all; once you’ve taken in the historic sights, or hiked along coastal paths, you can just chill out at one of Batroun’s beach clubs, take a tour of the nearby wineries or sit back in the Colonel Brewery and enjoy some of the best craft beers in Lebanon. Keep reading, as I explore the best things to do in Batroun!
Table of Contents
The best things to do in Batroun
Lebanon is a country that continually surprised me. That sounds cliche, but when you all hear of in the news is conflict, war and corruption, it is surprising to find yourself at a beach club in Batroun, shooting back Arak with the locals until 4 am in the morning rather than being shot at.
Of all the places I visited on my three-week trip to Lebanon back in 2022, Batroun was the one that left me with the biggest hangover. In fact, I ended here twice, once on the way up Lebanon’s north coast from Beirut and once on the way back. Both times ended in late-night drinking, after plenty of sightseeing of course.
Because Batroun is Lebanon’s playground. It’s home to breweries and beach clubs, and given Lebanon’s ongoing financial crisis, a lack of job opportunities and massive hyperinflation, I found that many of Beirut’s residents have simply upped sticks and moved to the beaches of Batroun instead. When your currency is constantly deflating, why not party?
So, while you can easily tick off all the major sights in Batroun in a day or two, stick around for a few more days if you’re looking for a place to chill out or party. There’s no other place quite like it in Lebanon.
Read more: 23 Best Places to Visit in Lebanon
1. Dive into antiquity at the Phoenician Wall
Batroun’s Phoenician Wall is a monumental testament to the ancient city’s maritime legacy and defensive prowess. This historic sea wall, dating back over 2,500 years, was meticulously constructed by the Phoenicians, the renowned seafarers of antiquity, to shield Batroun from potential tidal waves and adversaries from the sea.
Stretching along the coast, the wall is predominantly made up of naturally-formed sandstone. Over time, the wall has faced the power of the Mediterranean Sea, yet it has endured, and seen countless civilization’s pass it by.
The presence of this ancient structure is a stark contrast to the modern vibes of Batroun and an ever-present reminder of the deep-rooted history of this coastal city. For those wandering the shores of Batroun, the Phoenician Wall serves as a tangible link to a bygone era, connecting them with the ancient world of the Phoenicians.
2. Stroll through the Old Souk
When you first arrive, stroll through the ancient streets of Batroun and explore its traditional souks. Admire the old architecture and soak up the cultural vibes in the traditional marketplaces that line the narrow alleyways and stone-paved streets that have seen Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman traders pass through.
Centuries-old stone buildings, adorned with arches and intricate wooden lattices, house an array of shops and market stalls throughout Batroun. Today, these shops offer a delightful fusion of the traditional and the contemporary. Alongside vendors selling age-old Lebanese crafts, spices, and local produce, you can find modern boutiques, art galleries and trendy cafes.
The aroma of freshly baked bread mingles with the scent of rich coffee and sheesha, while the distant hum of conversations in Arabic offers an authentic backdrop. Embrace it all, as you explore Batroun.
3. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Mar Estephan)
Located in the heart of Batroun, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as Mar Estephan, is an emblem of the city’s significant Christian heritage.
Constructed on ancient ruins, the cathedral’s architectural design is an amalgamation of various epochs, revealing Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Inside, stained glass windows allow soft light to filter in, casting an ethereal glow on the wooden pews and the ornate altar. Religious frescoes and icons adorn the walls, bearing witness to the deep-rooted faith of the Christian community in Batroun.
Apart from its architectural significance, the cathedral continues to play a pivotal role in Batroun’s social and religious occasions, hosting ceremonies and weddings for the Christian communities.
Read more: 12 Things to Do in Tripoli, Lebanon
4. Explore the Fishermen’s Harbour
The Fishermen’s Harbour is the place to dig deeper into Batroun’s maritime heritage. Located along the ancient shores, this port has been a hub of activity for centuries, reflecting the intertwined relationship between the people of Batroun and the Mediterranean Sea.
Wooden boats gently bob on the waters, their colours faded from years under the sun, while fishermen haul their day’s catch to the shore as they have done since the Phoenician era. Historic buildings, seawalls, restaurants and hotels all line the harbourfront, which is a fantastic part of the city for a morning or evening stroll.
5. Gorge on the freshest Seafood
Being a coastal city, Batroun offers delicious seafood. Dine at one of the many restaurants lining the coast or the Fishermen’s Harbour, and you can sample the freshest seafood in Batroun. Some of the stand-out restaurants to try include the following:
- Chez Maguy: An institution in Batroun, Chez Maguy offers a delightful dining experience right on the water’s edge. With its expansive menu of freshly-caught seafood and traditional Lebanese mezze, the restaurant is a testament to the flavours of the Mediterranean.
- Al Marsa Seafood Restaurant: Situated in the historic harbour area, Al Marsa blends tradition with contemporary tastes. Guests can indulge in a variety of seafood dishes while enjoying views of the picturesque harbour and Phoenician wall.
- Bistr’eau: This trendy spot offers a modern twist on classic seafood dishes. With its chic ambience and innovative menu, Bistr’eau attracts both locals and visitors looking for an upscale dining experience.
6. Chill on Batroun’s beaches
Why not relax on the pebble and sandy beaches of Batroun once you’ve hit up those historical sights? The Mediterranean coastline here is packed with different beach clubs, where you can hire loungers or just chill with a cold Almaza beer in comfort.
Some of the best beaches and beach clubs to visit in Batroun include:
- Bonita Bay Beach: One of the most popular beaches in Batroun, Bonita Bay is characterised by its crystal-clear waters and smooth pebble shores. This beach provides a tranquil escape, perfect for those looking to unwind.
- Pierre & Friends: This laid-back beach club is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. With its bohemian vibe, comfortable lounges and awesome sea views, it’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the Mediterranean breeze.
- White Beach: As the name suggests, this beach boasts white sandy shores and azure waters. It’s equipped with modern amenities and offers a range of water sports for adventure enthusiasts.
- Colonel Reef: Adjacent to the famous Colonel Brewery, this beach club offers a unique experience. Guests can revel in the sun, indulge in craft beers, and participate in beach volleyball and other activities.
7. Drink craft beers at the famed Colonel Brewery
Not only can you relax by the beach in Batroun, but you can also try out some of the best craft beers in Lebanon when you visit Colonel Brewery.
Arguably the most renowned microbrewery in Lebanon, Colonel Beer stands out not only for its diverse range of craft beers but also for its eco-friendly ethos. Located by the sea, the brewery often hosts events and live music, creating a dynamic atmosphere.
Their beach bar overlooking Colonel Reef beach offers visitors the chance to savour their beers with a sea view, and you can spend the whole day here swimming, drinking, paddleboarding, and more.
8. Visit the nearby wineries
If craft beer isn’t your thing, then perhaps we can tempt you with a wine tour instead. Batroun, with its fertile landscapes and favourable Mediterranean climate, has become a prominent wine-producing region in Lebanon.
Here are some of the best wineries near Batroun making exceptional wines, and offering tours and tastings:
- IXSIR Winery: IXSIR derives its name from the Arabic word for ‘elixir’. The winery combines sustainable practices with age-old traditions, producing wines that reflect the terroir’s richness. Their eco-friendly facility is a blend of modernity and tradition.
- Batroun Mountains: This family-owned winery prioritises organic farming techniques. Their range of wines, from crisp whites to robust reds, showcases the region’s diversity.
- Coteaux de Botrys: Situated in a 16th-century monastery, this winery marries ancient winemaking traditions with modern techniques, resulting in expressive wines that speak of their roots.
Read more: 15 Things to Do in Byblos, Lebanon
9. Recharge at Hilmi’s House of Lemonade
Hilmi’s House of Lemonade is not just a mere beverage spot; it’s an institution, and it’s home to the city’s iconic lemon drink. For decades, this establishment has been serving its legendary lemonade, drawing both locals and tourists to its doors, particularly in the hot summer months.
Founded by Hilmi Abdel Baki in the 1920s, the shop’s recipe is a well-guarded secret, passed down through generations. Combining freshly squeezed lemons from Batroun’s fertile orchards with a balanced blend of sweetness and subtle aromatics, the Hilmi lemonade is the epitome of refreshing authenticity.
The rustic ambience of the shop, with its vintage decor and photographs showcasing its storied past, transports visitors back in time. It represents more than just a drink; it’s a sip of tradition, community, and the enduring spirit of Batroun.
Read more: 10 Things to Do in Tyre (Sour), Lebanon
10. Delve into history at the EL-Mseilha Fort
El-Mseilha Fort, perched along the Nahr el-Jawz River near Batroun, is a testament to Lebanon’s layered history and its strategic significance over the centuries. This fortress, with its commanding position over the river’s narrow passage, served as a crucial checkpoint on the ancient route connecting Batroun to Tripoli, and onwards to Syria.
Believed to have been originally constructed during the Roman era, the fort underwent numerous modifications over the centuries. The existing structure owes much to the Crusader and Mamluk periods, for example. Its sturdy stone walls, towers, and arches evoke images of bygone eras, of soldiers on the lookout and caravans passing through.
Read more: 16 Things to Do in Saida (Sidon), Lebanon
11. Saydet El Nourieh (Our Lady of Light) Monastery
Saydet El Nourieh, or the Monastery of Our Lady of Light, is a revered religious site perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in northern Lebanon, near Batroun. This historic shrine has not only spiritual significance but also offers photo-worthy panoramic views of the coastline.
Legend has it that the monastery was established after sailors were guided safely to shore by a divine light emanating from the mountain. They discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary at the source of this light, and in gratitude, they built a chapel at the site.
Today, Saydet El Nourieh stands as a symbol of hope and divine guidance for many in Lebanon. Devotees and tourists alike are drawn by its serene atmosphere, historic significance and the story of miracles attributed to the sacred icon.
Read more: 20 Things to Do in Beirut, Lebanon
12. Embrace the nightlife in Batroun
Batroun, while rich in history, also boasts a lively nightlife that attracts locals from across Lebanon, and the few tourists that still visit. The city’s coastal setting provides a unique backdrop to nocturnal events, which primarily involve drinking lots of Arak, gorging on mezze and then dancing the night away before stumbling back home.
Establishments like Pierre & Friends provide a laid-back beachfront atmosphere, allowing you to sip on drinks to the sounds of waves crashing ashore. Other venues host live bands, DJs, and themed nights, and the city’s relatively small size means that most hotspots are within walking distance of each other, making bar-hopping an easy endeavour. And of course, there’s always Colonel Brewery to dip into.
13. Take a day trip from Batroun
With Batroun as your base, there are countless day trips to make along the coast, and into the nearby mountains of Lebanon. Here are some of the best day trips from Batroun:
- Byblos (Jbeil): Just a short drive south of Batroun lies Byblos, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Explore its ancient Phoenician ruins, medieval castle, and charming souks.
- The Cedars of God: Nestled in the mountains of Bsharri, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the last remaining cedars of Lebanon, ancient trees symbolic of the country’s identity.
- Qadisha Valley: A breathtaking gorge carved over millennia, this valley boasts monasteries, hermitages, and caves, bearing witness to Christian communities that have sought refuge there over centuries.
- Tripoli: North of Batroun, Tripoli offers an eclectic mix of Mamluk-era architecture, bustling souks, and the impressive Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles.
How to travel to Batroun
Batroun is easily accessible from most major Lebanese cities, with direct buses and shared taxis regularly from Beirut, Byblos and Tripoli. The nearest airport is in Beirut, and if you wanted to, you could arrange a private transfer from the airport direct to Batroun.
Once you’re in Batroun, it’s super easy to get around. Everything is effectively lined along the long coastline, with bars, clubs, and many guesthouses and villas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There’s not much in the way of public transport within Batroun itself, but it’s easy enough to walk or book local taxis to get around.
Best time to visit Batroun
The best time to visit Batroun, like much of Lebanon, largely depends on the kind of experience you seek. However, generally speaking:
- Spring (April to June): This is arguably the most favourable time to visit Batroun. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ideal for beach activities, sightseeing and enjoying outdoor events.
- Summer (July to September): Batroun, being a coastal city, attracts a lot of visitors during the summer months. The Mediterranean is invitingly warm, making it a prime time for beach activities and water sports. However, expect larger crowds, especially on weekends and during the Batroun Festival. Temperatures can also get quite high, so staying hydrated and using sunscreen is essential.
- Autumn (October to November): As temperatures cool down, the city experiences fewer tourists, making it a peaceful time for exploration. The landscape takes on a golden hue, and it’s also a great time to visit the local wineries for grape harvesting and wine tasting.
- Winter (December to March): While Batroun remains milder than inland areas, it can still get chilly. If you prefer a quieter experience, this might be a suitable time, though not all activities, especially water-based ones, will be available.
FAQ: Best things to do in Batroun
Here’s a short FAQ on the best things to do in Batroun, Lebanon:
Q1: What historical sites can I visit in Batroun?
A1: Batroun is rich in history. Key sites include the Phoenician Wall, the ruins of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and El-Mseilha Fort. Additionally, wandering through the Old Souks offers a glimpse into the city’s storied past.
Q2: I’ve heard Batroun has lovely beaches. Which ones are a must-visit?
A2: Indeed! Batroun boasts some pristine beaches. White Beach, Pierre & Friends, and Bonita Bay are among the popular choices. Many beaches also feature vibrant beach clubs for a lively experience.
Q3: Are there any local specialities I should try in Batroun?
A3: Absolutely! You can’t leave Batroun without trying its famous lemonade, especially from the iconic Hilmi House of Lemonade. Fresh seafood in the city’s restaurants is also a must.
Q4: I love wine. Are there wineries nearby?
A4: Yes, Batroun and its surrounding areas are home to several renowned wineries. IXSIR Winery and Batroun Mountains are notable options offering wine tastings and tours.
Q5: What water activities can I enjoy?
A5: Batroun’s coastline is perfect for a range of water sports, including surfing, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and diving.
Q6: Are there any annual events or festivals in Batroun?
A6: Yes, the Batroun Festival is a major annual event, usually held in the summer. It celebrates music, arts, and local culture, drawing visitors from across the country.
Q7: How can I experience Batroun’s nightlife?
A7: Batroun has a vibrant nightlife scene. From beachside bars to lively clubs and traditional pubs, there’s something for everyone. The Old Souks area becomes particularly lively in the evenings.
Q8: Any nature spots or landmarks I shouldn’t miss?
A8: If you’re willing to venture slightly outside the city, the Qadisha Valley and the Cedars of God are breathtaking natural sites.
Q9: Is Batroun suitable for family trips?
A9: Yes, Batroun is family-friendly. With its beaches, historical sites, and various activities, there’s something for everyone, from kids to adults.
Q10: Can I shop for local crafts or souvenirs in Batroun?
A10: Certainly! The Old Souks are dotted with shops selling traditional crafts, souvenirs, and local products. It’s a great place to buy handmade items, jewellery, and regional delicacies.
There you have it, the best things to do in Batroun. What’s top of your Batroun bucket list?