taxis from beirut airport , to the city need to be bargained but dont pay more than 20.00 usd, after bargaining to central beirut, hamra area taxis are the best way to get around for tourists, and are about 10,000 leb. pd. or about 6.50 usd per trip in the city but ask before getting in as they will always try to overcharge tourists , service taxis are much cheaper but are hard to use for travellers and are mainly used by locals along with buses which are cheaper about 1,000 leb.pd. but you need to know the routes and mainly locals use them
We traveled "MEA airlines" from Athens - Greece to Beirut Hariri airport.
The ticket costs about 310 euro with return from Athens.
A suggestion to MEA airlines: when somebody travels with an infant you have to provide an extra safety belt. Its a good air-company, we fly with an air-bus A321, they departure was on-time, and they offered to my baby a nice teddy bear which the baby adore it.
I flew to Beirut on Middle East Airlines, arriving from Frankfurt and returning to Paris. In general, I found it a little tricky to get to and from Beirut, since few airlines fly there and almost no cities have daily connections (the most convenient was Paris). MEA was quite comfortable in business class, serving such a lovely Lebanese breakfast on my outbound flight that I was very sorry to be leaving!
Annoyingly, MEA does not have frequent-flyer partnerships with any of the airlines I have accounts with. You can earn miles with Air France, KLM, and Qatar Airways.
There is a great new map that you can buy that includes all the areas in and around Beirut called ZAWARIB Beirut. It is very detailed and accurate with good landmarks/places of business clearly marked so you can tell the Cervice where to take you (you need to give directions by landmarks, NOT streetnames). The map was written by an expatriate (pretty sure on this) who was tired of not being able to get accurate directions from locals. It costs 15000LL, or $10.00, but it really shows you everywhere you would ever want to go. I ended up studying all the possible routes from my house to my university so that I would know if the taxi was taking me for a ride or going the proper direction. I just love it! I found the Daily Star has an order page so you can get it in advance of your trip if you like, or just pick it up in any Beirut bookshop (there are plenty!)
A very common way of getting around Beirut...and actually a very cheap method of transportation - compared to Europe and the US - is the Service (pronounced as in french). It is a taxi cab that holds up to 4 passangers, each of which can be headed to a different location. However, usually a cab driver accepts to take those passengers who are headed to the same area or surroundings, or who have stops along the way to a particular destination.
In most locations in Beirut, you will not have a problem in stopping a Service (unlike NYC..where its an accomplishment :-P)...sometimes, too many of them stop and ask you if you wish to go some place, if you look like you're lost, or are standing/walking on the side of the street. However, to stop a service, you can wave to one that is passing by...wait for him to stop...tell him your destination, if he approves, you get into the car...if not, then you should wait for another.
Service fairs for most areas of central Beirut is 2000 L.L. (equivalent to 1.3 cents) - updated on April 2010..if several cabs pass by and refuse to take you to a particular place, then you can let them know that you are willing to pay more than the basic amount.
If you wish to take a whole service (which means that you wont be stopping at different places, or having other people share your cab), then this is called a Taxi.
You stop the car in the same manner as you did the service..but you say the words 'Taxi'. The driver will automatically understand, and your fare will be10,000 L.L. (= 6 USD) - updated on April 2010.
Note that, 'Services' MUST have RED license plates...and usually they are old mercedeces's.
Everyone tried to discourage us from hiring a car to get around Beirut and the rest of Lebanon, but as my husband has a lot of experience of driving in the Middle East, he thought he would give it a go. Time was also not on our side, as we only had 5 days to fit in a busy itinerary, so this too strengthened our resolve to hire a car.
We booked a Group A compact car (a Kia Picanto in our case which was very compact!!) through Budget on their website and also made arrangements by e-mail to have a sat nav (GPS) waiting for us too and picked the car up from Beirut Airport.
The cost was under $25 for the car per day with an extra cost for the sat nav per day of around $12 as I remember - expensive maybe, but for our peace of mind, it was worth it!
Driving in Lebanon, especially in Beirut is a bit crazy and should only be undertaken by experienced drivers with nerves of steel. Luckily we had no scrapes or accidents, but judging by the condition of most of the cars on the road, minor/major collisions are commonplace.
The GPS system came in really handy too!
We were 4 dults and had big suitcases..and needed a mini van.
very friendly driver and came to pick us up on time.
Tel & Fax : +961 1 353152
+ 961 1 340717
they work 24 hours.
they also have an 11 passenger van service.
hope this helps.
There are currently no ferry boats running between Cyprus and Lebanon. They stopped a few years ago. I actually took the ferry between them, but they have been stopped for a couple of years now. You can go to Syria though.
The link below shows all ferry services between Cyprus and other countries of the region. If they every re-instate the service, it would be listed here.
You can, however, fly between the 2 countries.
In Beirut the road traffic is very hectic and very dangerous, especially for those who don't know the local "rules" - if they exist. And if they exist, seems that no-one obeys them. The one who comes to a crossroads first, seems to have the right to pass it first - and the people seemed to race for this.
Most of the cars seemed to be somehow broken (at least lamps or bumpers); this is why I wouldn't suggest to rent a car and drive here. The driver-and-car package prices are not so expensive. Use your imagination; we also made friends already in the airplane with a lady sitting next to us asking questions, and finally she suggested us to call to his driver - to organize another reliable driver to us to pick us up from the Beirut airport.
Taxis are said to overcharge western customers (at least near big expensive hotels and airports).
Don't try to find your way alone if you don't know the city - I don't know the situation now in 2007 (was there 2004), but there were still some Palestinian camps and checkpoints in the southern part of the city near the airport. USE THE NEW MOTORWAY from the airport, not the smaller roads. Most probably nothing happens except you might have to pay to get through.
Our driver was very reliable, very timely, very friendly - so much that he started to talk how happy he is to drive some other people than always the same oil millionaires/sheiks from Arab countries. He told and showed us the most important sights. When we stopped for a beer he joined us when we asked and didn't stay in the car alone. Then we noticed we talked about very private issues - like friends. We really miss this guy.
If you're not driving yourself, you have several options for getting to places out of Beirut.
Buses and microbuses go all over the country and are cheap but you do need to check to see when the last bus goes for your return, it can be quite early in the day and, of course you are restricted by their timetables for any on-going travel you may want to do.
Service taxis serve lots of places, especially along the coast and inland to Baalbek. You can pick these longer haul services up at the bus stations.
Neither of these options are very satisfactory if you want to stop along the way to your ultimate destination or if you want to fit a lot in to your day. To do that, you really need to hire a car with a driver. The day we spent with one of our drivers, visiting the Chouffe and Beit ed-dine, was all the more pleasurable for his informed knowledge of the places we visited and his charming company.
Taxi services from the airport to Hamraa' (about 15 minutes journey) costs about 10USD. Never pay more than that even though they will first say that it is 40USD.
Places which requires 5 minutes journey: pay 2500-3000LL.
I never tried anything other than a taxi while travelling there. Journey by bus might be a cheaper alternative for backpackers.
I visited Beirut in 2004. That time there were flights available to and from Beirut; I combined mine to a holiday in Cyprus so it was only a half an hour flight one way.
That time there was practically no public transportation, and I didn't see any buses or trams. I was lucky enough to have earlier met a Cyprus lady who gave a hint worth gold: don't take the very expensive taxis but hire an own driver and a car instead; that's a local habit too. She gave us his driver's number so we could call and organize someone for us too.
After having arrived in Beirut airport a local man was waiting for us with his huge American car. He spoke good English. He drove us to our hotel and as it was late at night, we agreed the pick-up for the next day and agreed the hourly fee which was very acceptable. Now we didn't have to worry about taximeter ticking all the time if we wanted to stop for a beer or taking pictures or walk around.
When driving with him we noticed this is really not the place for renting a car. I've been driving to many mountains, dozens of countries in East and West Europe, US, even a right steered car; in many weird and dangerous roads or hectic cities but I definitely will quit Beirut. There seemed to be no traffic rules, or if there were, nobody obeyed them. Our driver said the fastest one is entitled to come to the crossroads first. The vast majority of the cars were damaged at least a little.
Our driver was so glad he had some change; not always the oil millionaires who only sit and do not talk to him. We made friends with our driver; he did not only drive but he started to show around places he thought might interest us.
This was also the one and only safe way to get a quick glimpse at the most poorest areas and at some Hizbollah streets. He knew where not to drive to avoid trouble and possible checkpoints.
There is no public transport system in Beirut and the only way to get round is by taxi. The taxis have no meters. You have to agree the fare before you get in the taxi. You should not pay any more than 10,000 Lebanese Pounds to go anywhere in Beirut. Be careful that you agree the fare in Lebanese Pounds or in US Dollars - dont just say Ten and leave it to the driver to decide. Taxis vary from very rundown to good condition and there are a lot of old Mercedes. Don't worry too much about the driving as the drivers generally get through the traffic without a problem, even if they ignore traffic lights, go the wrong way down one way streets, go across junctions without stopping. Not all taxis are fitted with seat belts. We did not see any traffic accidents which was amazing
In the past it was said that only a Lebanese could drive around in Lebanon - the reason being the complex geographic nature of the country. However, in the past few years the new network of roads connecting the Lebanese areas has been developed, and this has (kinda) simplified transportation. So, if you have the passion for adventure, and would like to go on a trip of discovery...rent a car and go on a personal discovery ride visiting narrow alleys of the old cities, and the beautiful mountain villages, meeting the friendly people and enjoying a whole lot of different stories.
Here I have listed several car rental companies (both international and local), where you can rent out a car for your short/long stay:
Amir Bachir St., Beirut
E-mail : email@example.com
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Ain El-Mraisseh, Beirut
Bir Hassan, Beirut
Tel: +961-1- 826476
To move around Lebanon i think that the best is to rent a car. We tried to find a small car and we asked all companies at the airport, we found a toyota Yaris at Hala car rental. All other companies they had left only luxury cars. Hala promised us a child safety seat to deliver it at the airport office 8 hours later and promised us a better price because we had to drive back. Notice - we didn t ask for a better price for the child-seat, they propose it just because we had to go back to the airport in the evening to take the safety child seat. 5 days later when we went back to deliver the car, they didnt remember what they promised so we pay 20 more dollars. So be carreful with Hala rent a car.
In the other way i believe that a car is a best solution to drive around.