Lebanese Lira

How Much It Costs To Travel In Lebanon

Derek Lebanon, Travel Costs 40 Comments

Costs To Travel In Lebanon - Lebanese Lira

In comparison to neighboring Syria, Lebanon is an expensive country to travel around. This is not only due to the higher prices, but also due to the availability of excellent restaurants, endless cafes and bars that never fail in enticing travelers to stop in for just one more drink. And that’s not to mention the French bakeries serving delicious cakes! You can basically find anything you want in Beirut and as a result, travelers tend to spend a bit more.

The ultra-budget travelers among us could possibly survive in Lebanon for about $25 USD per day, but this would require you to once again sleep on rooftops and eat little more than Middle Eastern sandwiches. And on this budget, you’re mode of transportation will have to be your own feet, with perhaps the occasional shared taxi thrown in.

For those interested in a little more comfort and activity, be prepared to spend around $50 USD per day for a private budget hotel room, more frequent sit down meals, taxi rides and a daily cup of coffee from one of Beirut’s interesting cafes.

And if you decide to test out Beirut’s famous nightlife, you could easily double your daily expenses just from dishing out money for the entrance fee to a nightclub and paying for one beer!

The current exchange rate is approximately: $1 USD = 1500 Lebanese Lira (LL)
(US Dollars are widely accepted as well)

Here’s a more detailed look at the costs to travel in Lebanon:

Costs To Travel In Lebanon - Lebanon visa

VISAS

Obtaining a visa at the border is quite straightforward for about 100 different nationalities, all of which are offered a free one-month visa upon arrival. In addition, these visas can easily be extended for up to three months if needed. Most other nationalities can also receive a visa at the border although they may have to pay for it. According to the sign in the immigration office, the fees range from $10 USD – $50 USD depending on the length of your stay.

ACCOMMODATION

Budget accommodation in Lebanon is quite basic. Don’t expect spotless bathrooms, outstanding service or much organization for the money you spend. The lack of decent budget hotels was actually quite surprising in Beirut as there really isn’t even an actual hostel-type operation. Instead, there are about five cheap hotels that offered little more than a thin mattress to lay your head.

Costs To Travel In Lebanon - Hotel Al-Shabaa, Beirut

Here’s what to expect in terms of costs:

Rooftop: Mattresses, blankets and pillows provided – approx. 15000 LL ($10 USD)

Dorm Room: Usually 3-5 beds per dorm – approx. 15000 – 25000 LL ($10 – $17 USD)

Single Room: Either with shared/private bathroom – approx. 45000 LL ($30 USD)

Double Room: With private bathroom – approx. 60000 – 90000 LL ($40 – $60 USD)

Most hotels do not include breakfast, although they may throw in some complimentary tea and coffee if you’re lucky.

FOOD

Dining in Lebanon proved to be more tricky than I would have imagined. Budget options, such as shawarma and falafel stands, while not plentiful, are scattered around, while more expensive cafes and restaurants are much easier to find. Here’s what to expect…

Falafel sandwiches and chicken shawarmas – 2500 – 6000 LL ($1.66 – $4 USD)

Lebanese Fast Food (manakeesh, hummos, kebabs) – 4000 – 7500 LL ($2.66 – $5 USD)

Bakery items (mini-pizzas & pastries) – 1500 – 4500 LL ($1 – $3 USD)

Salads (try out Brisk on Hamra Street!) – 4000 – 7500 LL ($3 – $5 USD)

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you will have endless options, especially in Beirut where you can find not only traditional Lebanese cuisine, but Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French, Chinese, Indian and more. And if you’re really looking to splurge, you’ll have no problem finding a restaurant where $200 USD will barely cover a dinner for two!

Mid-range Lebanese restaurant – 12000 – 16500 LL per person

Hip pizza cafe – 20000 – 30000 LL per person

Non-Lebanese ethnic cuisine – 20,000+ LL per person

Upscale meal in downtown Beirut – 60,000+ LL per person for meal with wine

In Lebanon, especially in Beirut, vegetarians will have no problem at all finding good food. There are plenty of mid-range cafes and restaurants offering salads, vegetarian soups and other vegetable dishes on their menus. In Beirut, simply head to Hamra Street or the Gemnayze neighborhood for the best options.

TRANSPORTATION

Costs To Travel In Lebanon - Lebanon Taxi

Getting around Lebanon is quite easy, with frequent bus and shared minivans running between most major destinations. And given Lebanon’s small size, you’ll almost never have to take a journey of more than 2 hours. For most journeys of about an hour, buses cost around 1500 LL per person and shared minivans cost around 3000 LL per person.

For destinations such as small towns and villages located in the mountains, there may not be regular bus or minivan service and as a result, the only way to reach these places (such as Beit Eddin, the Cedar Forest and Mleeta) are by actual taxi. The best idea is to take a public bus to the closest major town and negotiate a taxi from there as booking a taxi from Beirut for long day trips tends to be quite expensive. For example, you can expect to pay around $10 per hour to hire a taxi from the town of Saida in order to visit some of the interesting areas of Southern Lebanon.

In most towns and cities (including Beirut), walking is definitely the best way to get around, although when you do get tired, you can always flag down a servis (shared taxi) which will take you to your destination for around 2000 LL while picking up and dropping off other passengers along the way. There are also plenty of public buses in Beirut that will eventually get you to where you need to go for a very cheap fare.

*The four hour overland journey between Beirut and Damascus can be done either by bus for 500 Syrian Pounds ($11 USD) or by share taxi for 800 Syrian Pounds ($17 USD). Simply show up at the bus station in Damascus or Beirut (Charles Helou Station) and you’ll have no problem finding the ticket offices or share taxis. Actually, the drivers will find you quite quickly! You don’t need to make reservations ahead of time and transportation runs throughout the day.

ENTRANCE FEES

Costs To Travel In Lebanon - BeitEdinn, Lebanon

There isn’t much consistency to the entrance fees in Lebanon and you can expect to pay anywhere from 2000 LL to 12000 LL in order to enter any ruins site, museum, palace, caves, Cedar forest, castle, etc. All sites will accept payment in either Lebanese Lira or in US Dollars.

INTERNET

For those who need to spend a decent amount of time working or blogging or just checking emails, you’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars in Beirut that offer Wi-Fi. Just sit down, order a drink for around 5000 LL and nobody will bother you. However, the speeds and strength of the connections definitely vary from barely existent to quite decent, so sometimes it may be difficult to really get anything accomplished. The two best places I found were Saifi Urban Gardens in Gemnayze, which is a quaint and quiet outdoor cafe that serves cheap food and drinks, and Brisk, a cafe on Hamra Street that offers freshly prepared, ultra-healthy salads and sandwiches for 4000 – 7500 LL and whose friendly staff don’t mind at all if you spend a few hours using their Wi-Fi.

Actual internet cafes aren’t as common in Beirut as I expected, with the two most popular and reliable cafes located on Bliss Road right in front of the American University of Beirut. An hour of fast internet costs 3000 LL at each.

Outside of Beirut, most towns will have at least one decent internet cafe but available Wi-Fi signals become quite rare.

WORK OPPORTUNITIES

Earning money in Lebanon is definitely a possibility and I met a handful of travelers who had found some sort of work here. While many were teaching English (and earning about $10-$15 USD per hour), others were working at cafes, bars or even making their way as yoga or meditation instructors.

Wages are not nearly as high as you would think given all of the wealth that is present in Beirut, so Lebanon might not be the best of places for travelers looking to reboot their bank account. But if you’re less concerned about the amount of money you earn and more interested in the cultural experience, then any job you could find in Beirut would surely prove to be most rewarding.

Of course, I was only in Lebanon for a short time and didn’t really search for work opportunities, so I’m sure that there are other possibilities out there that I simply didn’t discover. (If anyone knows of any, please let us know in the comments!)

FINAL TIPS:

  • It didn’t appear that cheating foreigners is too common a practice in Lebanon although there were a handful of times, mostly when taking shared minivans, where it was clear that the driver was trying to charge me a higher rate than the locals.
  • When hailing a taxi in Beirut or other cities, you have two options. If you tell the driver ‘Servis’ and he accepts, then you simply pay 2000 LL and the driver has the right to pick up other passengers. However, if the driver tells you ‘Taxi’, then he is offering you a private ride which will cost as much as 12000 LL. You can always refuse and keep on hailing taxis until you find a taxi willing to take you on a Servis basis.
  • If you plan to stay for an extended time, it may be more cost-effective to rent a short-term apartment in Beirut for a month or two and then explore the rest of the country using Beirut as a base. You will find good, cheap apartments for rent (usually a private room in a shared flat) being advertised in many cafes, especially the one at the Saifi Urban Gardens mentioned above.
  • Most cafes, restaurants and shops accept credit cards, although budget hotels generally do not.
  • Many ATMs allow you to withdraw Lebanese Lira or US Dollars and some even offer Euros.

If I’ve left something out or if you have any questions about the cost of traveling in Lebanon that I failed to answer, please leave a comment below or send me an email!

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Comments 40

  1. Mak87

    Hi Ymor

    We are planning a trip to Lebanon later this year. To travel around comfortably, once accommodation is paid for Would a budget of $100 per day for food and nightlife be enough for a comfortable trip?

  2. Ymor

    Hello everyone,
    I’m lebanese, and I would like to answer a few of your questions.

    First of all, regarding the safety.. just stay in beirut, metn, jbeil, batroun, chouf… basically draw a circle around beirut, and that’s the safe zone in lebanon. Anything near the borders is not that safe, especially for travellers.
    In addition to that, while in lebanon,try not to get in an argument with the locals. And if you see two people fighting, just stay back, do not get involved. Other than the occasional street fighting , lebanon is safe, and the people will try to help you as much as possible. When lebanese hear a foreign accent, they will try to do their best to help you and welcome you. They are friendly people, as long as you don’t offend them. So you’re safe.
    To avoid offending them, just don’t speak about religion nor politics, and u should be fine.

    All lebanese speak arabic, the older generation speaks also french (not all of them) and few speak english, and the younger speaks both french and english ( not all of them). And we have a gd amount of Armenians who also speak Armenian.

    As for the prices, just add like 1-5$ for each item, and you’ll have your new price list. ( Not sure if applicable to hotels and hostels. I have no idea of their prices. )

    Fun fact: Lebanese people love their bellies and the nightlife, and that’s why it tends to be expensive for food and clubs. However, nature is not rly their thing, so places with nature, history, archaeology tend not to be that expensive. I would recommend taanayel, baakline river, balou balaa, and of course jeeta grotto… also the batroun area.

    If you need any more information, I’ ll be happy to help.

  3. Triprr girl

    Hi Earl,
    I’m planning on heading in that direction eventually and was wondering if you could speak a little about the safety in Lebanon? Thanks a bunch in advance for your help!

    1. Wandering Earl

      It’s been a few years since I was there so I can’t speak for the security situation at the moment. But from what I read, it might not be a good time to go there these days at all.

    2. Jack

      Trippr girl, I can speak a bit on the safety not through personal experience, but based on a good bit of research I’ve started as part of a plan to move to Lebanon as soon as I can afford to make the trip. From what I’ve read, it seems that it is not Lebanon that is markedly unsafe, but Syria and Israel (the border countries) that you really must avoid; near the borders is sketchy with some shelling and extremist activity as well. However, Beirut seems to be just as safe as any major city in the world at this point. Small towns and rural areas seem relatively safe as well. Key word is SEEM, as I have to fact check all of this with Lebanese friends and relatives in the next week or two before my plans can continue (if you’re serious about traveling to Lebanon I can share firsthand safety info as I get it).
      All in all it would seem that if you do wish to travel to Lebanon and any other Middle Eastern countries, you must do it as soon as possible and as smart as possible, because it’s only a matter of time before the whole beautiful and culturally rich area becomes inaccessible to travelers. I hope this helps 🙂

      Great article, Earl! I hope this information has held up over the last few years, because if so it’s feasible for me to move to Beirut. Seems like there would be plenty of internet access for work, cheap vegan food options, and easily found long term accommodation.

      1. Jordan

        Hi Jack,

        I’m heading out to Lebanon on the 6th of July. If you have had an update on the safety situation it would be great to get another person perspective.

        I have a friend who lived there for two years and said it was a Tense place to be at times, but i think he was out closer to the Syrian border.

        Either way your advise would be welcome.

        Thanks, Jordan

        1. Jack

          Jordan,
          My family travels there frequently and still haven’t seen any problems. There most definitely is a lot of tension on the border with Syria and for that reason the border cities like Tripoli are to be avoided. Furthermore there’s a good bit of tension between Lebanon and Israel so avoid border cities with Israel as well. Beyond that, just don’t travel there alone and be smart and respectful like you would anywhere else. I hope you have a great experience in Lebanon!

  4. Nic G.

    Hey Earl! I’m planning on visiting Beirut for a couple of days in June and would like to know how I can get to those rooftop accommodations! They sound really great and I would love to experience them! 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nic – You can find those rooftops at the very budget hotels in the Ashrafieh neighborhood. With that said, I can also recommend the very nice Saifi Urban Gardens guesthouse in the same area, probably the best budget place to stay in town!

  5. Keith

    Great info, watching No Reservations on youtube now – Anthony Bourdain. Any issues with your gear (theft) on the roof from the lockers?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Keith – No issues at all. You can keep your stuff locked up and nobody will touch it. Hotels such as these don’t want to risk losing all of their business (all it takes is one person mentioning that their stuff was stolen on line for reservations to disappear) just to steal some stuff.

  6. farhana

    hello there. thanks for the tips! Could u please kindly list me the 5 budget hotels in beirut? I am quite surprised there isnt any hostels when i golgled around. thank u so much for ur help! 🙂

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  9. Audrey

    I was really happy to see here that there are advertisements at cafes for short-term apartment rentals. Dan and I have been toying around with the idea of using Beirut as one of our “work breaks” for a couple of months, perhaps in 2011. Do you have any memory of what an average monthly cost would be? Would you recommend visiting Beirut in November or earlier/later? I’ve heard the summer can be brutally hot.

    Sorry for all these practical questions, but your posts from Syria and Lebanon have got the wanderlust for the Middel East started!

    1. Earl

      Hey Audrey – I think Beirut would be a great work break base for some time. And the prices I saw advertised ranged from $250 – $400 USD per month, although if I remember correctly, the cheaper options were basically a room in a shared house. However, these ‘shared houses’ are typically massive multi-level buildings with several common rooms, a good kitchen and plenty of privacy. But in the $350 or more range, it seemed as if you could get your own place. The key is to pick the neighborhood carefully as some might not be as safe and others might be so far away from the city center that it would cost quite a lot for transportation.

      As for the time of year, I personally love super-hot weather, but I did hear a lot of people complain that it was ‘too hot’ during the summer. I myself cannot imagine such a thing 🙂 November was quite ideal, with temperatures of about 25 during the day, although this year was apparently warmer than normal at that time of year. And I did just hear that it has been snowing in Lebanon the past couple of days, so December doesn’t seem like the best time to be there!

    1. Earl

      Hey Joshy – I was only in Lebanon for 13 days, but I know that this kind of information can be useful and so I tried my best to get a good grasp on the travel costs involved!

    1. Earl

      Hey Forest – It is a bit more pricey but still reasonable for budget travelers, especially if you spend more time outside of Beirut (and all of its expensive temptations).

  10. Natalie

    I am really surprised at the cost of accommodation. For some reason I thought it would be cheap. Would be interested to know re working if working visa are required. They are really stamping down on that in Turkey.

    1. Earl

      Hey Natalie – From what I gathered, working visas are required to work here and some people I met had no problems obtaining one and others had quite a bit of difficulty. But it’s definitely possible and the biggest factor seemed to be persistence, as is the case when dealing with red tape in any part of the world!

    1. Earl

      Hey Henway – That should be an excellent trip. Hopefully you still have some family living there that can show you around and give you an entirely different perspective!

  11. Randall

    Sounds a little expensive but they say the food is great!
    I’ve heard you talk about sleeping on rooftops in your posts. Are you serious? Sounds like an adventure to me.

    From what I have heard it seems like an American friendly place.

    Thanks for the great travel tips..

    1. Earl

      Hey Randall – Yes, definitely serious about sleeping on the roofs. It’s actually quite common in both Syria and Lebanon and as one might expect, it is by far the cheapest option. Sometimes it’s just a mattress and other times it’s a proper bed, but if you don’t mind sleeping outside, it’s an excellent option for the budget traveler!

      And Lebanon is definitely American friendly…not nearly as much as Syria, but you shouldn’t have any problems at all.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jennifer – Visas are quite easy to obtain…just show up at the border and that’s it. There was no problem at all and it took about 20 seconds to pass through immigration. English is widely spoken in Lebanon so language wasn’t a problem, but Arabic and French (especially with older Lebanese) do come in useful as well…

    1. Earl

      Hey Jill – It’s funny, I wondered the same thing and at the place I stayed there was no outlet on the roof. However, generally people just hung out in the lobby (which had outlets) and only went to the roof just before they wanted to go to sleep. And the night it did rain, the hallways of the hotel were full of mattresses…people even slept in the hotel’s kitchen!

  12. Penny

    I guess the amount of money you end up spending in Lebanon depends on what kind of traveler you are. If you are more into the sights, you can get by cheap. If you take it in through food and accommodations, probably not as cheap.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ayngelina – It does seem to surprise most people that Lebanon is a more expensive destination to visit. But as long as you don’t go out every night and don’t mind eating falafel, you can definitely manage to keep expenses somewhat low.

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  15. Lisa E

    Nice job on this….wish I’d seen it before I went to Beirut. I struggled a bit there and ended up going to one of the crappy places for $15 a night and then leaving it for something better. For some reason–even though I had travel guides, etc.–I just wasn’t in reality. I was also rushing a bit.

    I did much better (really enjoyed myself) when I went up to the Qadisha Valley. Anyway, great info–will refer to it next time I go!

    1. Earl

      Hey Lisa – I wish I had some more detailed info before my visit as well, especially since I arrived just before Eid, which as a side note, is perhaps the busiest time of the year for accommodation. Luckily I found a decent budget place but I could see how it would be tempting to just pay more for a better hotel and forget about your travel budget for a few nights!

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