Gay Beirut: travel guide to the best gay bars, hotels and hammams

Stefan Arestis

Lebanon is one of the most liberal, progressive and gay friendly places in the Arab world. This is saying a lot for a country where homosexuality is still a crime. However, by comparison to its Arab neighbours, Beirut has the best (albeit quite underground) gay scene, including one of the largest gay clubs in the Middle East called POSH.

We visited Beirut from Cyprus to celebrate Stefan's birthday over a long weekend and absolutely loved the food, the people and of course the many gay parties. This is our gay guide to Beirut featuring the best gay bars and clubs, events, gay friendly hotels and best things to do.

Don't forget…

Gay dating apps such as Grindr are blocked on mobile networks in Lebanon. Before heading off, make sure you get a VPN which will not only secure your internet connection wherever you are but also keep your online activities private and allow you to surf the Net anonymously.

Gay rights in Lebanon

Lebanon doesn't have the best track record with regards to LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality is illegal, there are no anti-discrimination laws, there is absolutely zero recognition of same-sex partnerships and the LGBTQ community are banned from openly serving in the Lebanese army.

On the plus side, proactive steps are being taken by judges and some politicians to decriminalise homosexuality and it was declassified as an illness in 2013. In addition, the right to change legal gender was introduced in 2016. From our experience travelling in the Middle East, Lebanon definitely ranks as one of the most gay friendly Arab countries, but remember, this is an extremely conservative region of the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

Landing in Beirut soon?

There isn't any public transport system to get from Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport to the city, so we definitely recommend organising a private airport transfer instead of trying to find a cab. Your driver will be waiting to take you straight to your hotel in comfort and without any stress.

Is Beirut safe for gay travellers?

A word of warning to gay travellers to Beirut, although Lebanon is more progressive than places like Iran, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is still a largely Islamic influenced country where homosexuality remains illegal.

Therefore, be careful with public displays of affection and avoid posting anything online that is LGBTQ related before/during your trip to prevent any problems at the airport immigration. Also, avoid having an Israeli stamp in your passport as Lebanon has an outright ban on anything related to Israel/Israelis. Be sure to check out our article about gay life in Lebanon for more practical safety tips.

Exploring the streets of gay Beirut
Exploring the streets of downtown Beirut

Gay friendly hotels in Beirut

As a rule of thumb, the large international hotel brands are likely to be gay friendly, wherever they are in the world because they usually abide by a strict set of international standards. Despite this, we strongly advise emailing/calling ahead first to double-check they are ok to host gay travellers and will let you book a double bed.

In Beirut, you'll want to stay in the centre around Hamra, which is where most of the touristic sites are. These are the gay friendly hotels in Beirut that we tried and welcomed us a gay couple.

01

InterContinental Le Vendôme Beirut

Balcony view from Le Vendome gay friendly hotel in Beirut

Why we love it


  • Luxurious 5-star hotel
  • Located right on the beach
  • Complimentary access to the Phoenicia Spa
  • Gorgeous rooftop restaurant

We stayed at Le Vendôme as a birthday treat splurge for Stefan. It's absolutely gorgeous and the perfect choice for couples. It's located right by the beachfront on the Corniche.

We definitely recommend splashing out on a room with sea views, there's nothing more romantic than watching the sun go down over the Meditteranean with your lover.

If you're staying at Le Vendôme then you can also take advantage of free access to the nearby Phoenicia Spa, which offers a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a range of treatments. There's an incredible rooftop restaurant Le Vendôme, which is open 24 hours a day and features stunning views. They serve international cuisine, English style afternoon teas, and even fine cigars to go with your nightcap!

For us, the icing on the cake was the staff. They are extremely friendly, helpful and very welcoming. The hotel is also an excellent base to visit the Pigeon Rocks in the nearby Raouche neighbourhood and for a stroll in the Zaitunay Bay marina, both of which are walking distance away.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

02

Four Seasons Hotel Beirut

Gay travellers to Beirut will be welcomed and pampered at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel Beirut

Why we love it


  • Excellent location overlooking Zaytounay Bay
  • Incredible views from all rooms
  • Delicious on-site restaurants and rooftop bar
  • Luxurious spa and swimming pool

The Four Seasons is a very gay friendly brand, and the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut is a stunning choice for luxurious accommodation!

Overlooking the marina at Zaytounay Bay, you'll be treated to amazing views over the city or ocean from the floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies. The rooftop swimming pool is a real highlight, with 360° views of the sea, mountains and city to enjoy while you do some laps.

The hotel also has a lovely spa for relaxation and pampering. You can choose from massages, beauty treatments and specialised packages, like the ones specifically for men. There's also a sauna and steam rooms, as well as the gym outfitted with modern equipment to keep fit during your stay. All the rooms come with deep soaking bathtubs, so you won't even need to leave in order to really relax.

There are several gourmet restaurants at the hotel, like The Grill for traditional Lebanese and western dishes or Arabesque, the laid-back outdoor terrace. We especially love Level 26, the rooftop bar and restaurant which you can read more about in our restaurant section! The hotel is also within walking distance to plenty of other dining and shopping options, so do get out and explore.

03

InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut

The intercontinental Phoenicia Beirut is a stunning gay friendly luxury hotel

Why we love it


  • Stunning 5-star hotel
  • Swimming pools and luxurious spa
  • Multiple excellent restaurants and bars on-site
  • Very welcoming to LGBTQ guests

The Phoenicia is one of the best 5-star luxury hotels of Beirut. It's the sister hotel of Le Vendôme, and you can use the facilities of one if staying at the other.

The Phoenicia has an excellent spa, indoor pool, outdoor pool and large fitness centre to burn off all those kanafeh calories.

There are also lots of gorgeous fine art pieces on display throughout the hotel, so keep an eye out.

The Phoenicia welcomes LGBTQ travellers and even made a point of it by including a lesbian moment in their Define Love campaign video for Valentine's Day (watch the video from 0:54 seconds). The incredible Phoenicia spa is a haven for pampering and relaxation, with couple's treatments available for a touch of extra romance! There's also a sauna, hot tub and solarium.

The Phoenicia has a variety of high-end restaurants and bars which are worth visiting even if you're not staying here. The Cascade Lounge and Bar is the perfect spot for a cocktail beside the indoor fountain while you listen to live piano music. You can dine on Italian cuisine at Rossini, international dishes at Eau de Vie and traditional Lebanese at Mosaic.

03

Casi Cielo Bed and Breakfast

Staying at the gay owned Casi Cielo bed and breakfast near Beirut will treat you to stunning views of Mount Lebanon like this!

Why we love it


  • Gay friendly bed and breakfast
  • Be surrounded by nature an views
  • Cosy wood-burning stoves in rooms
  • Complimentary gourmet breakfast

Casi Cielo is a gay friendly guesthouse located in Lassa, around 1-hour drive from downtown Beirut.

It's the perfect place to stay to get a feel for the Mount Lebanon mountain area and also to get a flavour of local life.

The Lebanese hosts are not only extremely personable, they also offer fun group activities like cooking classes, biking and hiking.

The rooms are cute and cosy, with wood-burning stoves to cuddle up in front of at night. A full gourmet country-style breakfast is served every morning in the common room, and this is included in your room rate. They even provide complimentary cheese and wine in the evening, which is a lovely way to socialise with your hosts.

Even though this is a budget accommodation option the rooms are impeccably cleaned and you'll have your own private bathroom as well. In the warmer months, the garden is a delightful spot to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you want to stay somewhere close to Beirut but still be surrounded by nature and quiet, then this is a wonderful choice.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

04

Talal Hotel

For budget travellers, the Talal Hotel is an excellent gay friendly option in Beirut

Why we love it


  • Excellent budget choice
  • Cross between a hotel and hostel
  • 2 communal kitchens for cooking in
  • Very friendly and helpful staff

Talal Hotel is actually a mix of a hotel and a hostel, so you can book a single bed or private rooms with up to three beds in them. The bathrooms are also a mix of private and shared, while all areas are always impeccably clean.

It's located close to downtown Beirut, within walking distance to some of the most famous sights like Saifi Village, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George and the Al-Omari Grand Mosque.

The staff at Talal Hotel are very helpful and accommodating, especially the lovely owner Mr Zahir. They'll help you figure out where to catch local transport and even carry luggage up the stairs. This is not going to be a luxury experience, but it's one of the best and cleanest hostel-style accommodations you're ever likely to find.

There are two communal kitchens for cooking your own meals to keep costs down. Free tea and coffee are available whenever you like, while you're also close to plenty of places to get food if you don't feel like cooking for yourself. While the upstairs rooms require a bit of a hike (there's no lift) they do also have great views of the Mediterranean.

Gay bars in Beirut

As homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon, places are careful not to advertise themselves as being openly “gay bars“, preferring “gay friendly” or “gay owned” instead. This is to prevent having any problems with the police. These are the main gay bars in Beirut that are thriving despite the anti-gay laws:

Bardo

Bardo is one of the oldest and famous gay bars of Beirut. It's popular with twinks (and their fans) especially at the “Powerpuff Queens” party every Thursday. Generally, it doesn't get busy until after 11pm but if you come beforehand it's a lot quieter, which makes it great for a few cocktails, especially during the week when they have 2 for 1 happy hour offers. Bardo is open every day until 2am and is located in downtown Beirut on Mexico Street, just off Hamra Street.

Kahwet Al Franj

Whilst the twinks of Beirut go to Bardo, the older gay boys come to Franj. For us this was our favourite gay hangout in Beirut. We found it to be so welcoming and quickly made friends here. It's more a restobar where you come to drink coffee, play cards with your friends and smoke shisha. They also have some of the best food we've tried in Beirut, especially the kebbeh pumpkin. Franj is open until 2am everyday and is located at Corniche Al Naher in the Bourj Hammoud (Armenian quarter).

Madame Om

Madame Om is a cosy gay friendly resto/bar named after the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum. It's a popular spot for cocktails and was the base for Beirut Pride 2018 (before the police cancelled it). Friday is Bazaar Night, where a mix of Arabic, French and English dance music is played. Madame Om is open every until 2am and is located at Rue Pasteur, Gemmayze.

Cafe Younes

This is a Bohemian gay friendly cafe in the heart of Beirut just off Hamra Street, perfect for people watching. They do excellent coffee, especially Lebanese coffee infused with Cardamon. Cafe Younes is open every day until early evening and is located on Nehmeh Jafet Street near where it meet Hamra Street.

Cloud 59 beach bar

Cloud 59 is a lesbian owned beach bar/restaurant located in Tyre, a seaside resort town around 1 hour drive south from Beirut. Although it's outside the capital city, we include it because this is one of the most popular gay friendly beaches in Lebanon where the Beirut gay boys like to hang out on weekends. The beach bar serves food and refreshing cocktails, which you can enjoy right on the sand or while relaxing in a hammock.

Exploring the gay bars of Beirut
A gay night out with our friends in Beirut

Gay clubs in Beirut

There are a handful of gay clubs in Beirut, but as with the bars, there are no “official” advertised gay clubs in order to prevent police interference and harassment. Also, absolutely no same-sex contact is allowed in the gay clubs of Beirut. If you try to embrace or kiss your same-sex partner, the bouncers will come over to warn you to stop; the owners work hard to keep their licence and prevent problems with the authorities.

These are the main gay clubs in Beirut to check out:

POSH

POSH is a gorgeous rooftop club located in Bourj Hammoud (the Armenian quarter). It's not only the largest gay club in Beirut, but also the largest in all the Arab countries. On Friday and Sunday evenings it has mainly Arabic music. Saturday is the big night with both Arabic and Western pop music. Security is extremely strict here because they are careful not to get into trouble with the police. Therefore use of phones for photos are not allowed and a strict “no kissing” policy is enforced! At the end of the night when leaving POSH, make sure you get a wristband for discounted entry on the gay after party, which is usually Ego. POSH club is located at Bourj Hammoud Seaside Road behind Gallery Vanlian and is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11pm till late.

Ego party at Projekt Beirut

This is one of the best gay after-parties in Beirut. Most people go to POSH first, then head here at around 3am and party into the early hours. It gets very busy, especially on weekends. Music is mainly electro and house. Overall, however, we found the crowd at Ego to be less friendly than at POSH. Ego is located at Projekt Jal El Dib, Seaside Road and is open on Friday and Saturday evening until around 6am.

B018

B018 is pronounced B dix-huit locally. It is one of the most notorious clubs of Beirut that prevailed during the Civil War years in a chalet where customers had to use the code “B 018” to enter (named after the chalet's location 18 km north of Beirut). Today B018 is located at a different location but has retained the same name. Officially B018 is a straight club, but it attracts a large LGBTQ crowd. B018 is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from late until 8am the next morning.

Gay street art mural in Beirut
One of the homoerotic street art murals in Beirut near Sassine Square

Gay events in Beirut

Given the lack of legal protection for the gay community in Lebanon, there is nonetheless a handful of active LGBTQ organisations who organise several gay events in Beirut throughout the year. The main gay events are Beirut Pride in late September and the weekly gay events organised by HELEM. We've also included a few other interesting non-gay specific events that you may want to check out:

Helem Community Center weekly gay events

Helem (which means dream in Arabic) was the first LGBTQ organisation in Lebanon and has been going strong since 2004. Every week they organise a range of events for the gay community like lunches, storytelling nights, movie nights, a queer book club, craft activities, workshops on hobbies like photography and lots more. Make sure you check their Facebook page to see what's on and drop by when you're in Beirut!

Beirut Fashion Week (April)

Lebanon is known as the leader of the fashion industry in the Arab world and the entire Middle East so it's not surprising that Beirut hosts an internationally recognised fashion week event. Beirut Fashion Week is one of the biggest international events in all of the Arab countries, not just in Lebanon! It has grown massively in popularity over the years and also includes the Beirut Fashion Awards.

Beirut Design Week (June)

Similarly to fashion week, Beirut Design Week is one of the largest design festivals in the Middle East, going strong since 2012. Beirut Design Week provides a space for artists from around the world to network, although anyone who's interested can attend the events on the program, like film screenings, panel discussions, exhibitions and even workshops for activities like learning how to embroider with local women.

Baalbeck International Festival (July)

One of the most famous cultural events in Lebanon which was first established in 1956. It involves theatre, classical/pop music and opera, attracting tourists from all around the world to the Roman Acropolis location in Baalbek. The festival puts particular emphasis on showcasing world-renowned artists with Lebanese roots such as Ibrahim Maalouf and Matthieu Chedid.

Beirut Pride (Sept/Oct):

Lebanon was the first country in the Arab world to plan a Pride event in 2017. For the most part, it went ahead, but police harassment and Islamic violence meant that much of it was stopped. In 2018, the founder, Hadi Damien was arrested and only released on condition that he agreed to cancel it. The 2019 Pride is scheduled to go ahead without any problems fingers crossed!

Beirut Marathon (November)

The Beirut marathon has the theme of unity at its core and the day-long event includes a race for politicians from any party. The main 42km marathon goes all around the city including Hamra and the Gemmayzeh neighbourhood before finishing at Martyr’s Square. More than 47,800 runners from around the world compete in the marathon, while tens of thousands of spectators line the streets.

 

Gay hammams in Beirut

As homosexuality is technically illegal in Lebanon, you will be hard-pressed to find an official gay sauna in Beirut, particularly since the raid of the Hammam Al-Agha in 2014 when 40 people were arrested. 

These are the gay hammams in Beirut where you may find discreet cruising:

Al Bakawat Hammam

The new name for the re-opened Al-Agha Hammam. It is open 24 hours a day (except on Mondays when it's only open 9am to 10pm). It usually attracts a large gay clientele, but also many local escort boys looking to top up their income. Entry is around $20. Bakawat is located in the Hamra neighbourhood behind the Bristol Hotel.

Shahrazad Hamman

Famous for being one of the hottest gay cruising areas of Beirut, but be careful as online reviews seem to suggest it has deteriorated recently. It includes a large day room where you can sit, talk, drink and smoke shisha. Shahrazad is located along Al Massaken Street in the Burj Hammoud neighbourhood near the Municipal Stadium. It is open daily from 2pm until around 2am and entry costs around $20.

Exploring the gay hammams of Beirut
What happens in the gay hammams of Beirut stays in the hammams!

Our favourite restaurants in Beirut

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, so you can definitely sample traditional Lebanese cuisine with the freshest Middle Eastern herbs, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Since the city is located on a peninsula of the Mediterranean, you'll have ample chances to dine on fresh seafood as well. These were our favourite places to eat in Beirut:

Gustav Innovation Sucrée

Gustav Innovation Sucrée is a delicious and gay friendly pastry shop in Beirut you have to check out!

Gustav Innovation Sucrée is one of the most highly rated pastry shops in Lebanon, which you absolutely need to check out. It's extremely gay friendly and another popular gem for the LGBTQ community in Beirut – you'll see lots of rainbow cakes on offer here. Their most famous cake varieties are the pomegranate tart and various chocolate cake varieties. They also bake delicious cookies, croissants, cake balls, and even incredible made-to-order cakes for birthdays or other celebrations. So leave the calorie counter at home and come check out Gustav!


Level 26

Level 26 is a truly romantic rooftop lounge and bar on top of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut, perfect for sunset cocktails!

Located on top of the Four Seasons Hotel, Level 26 is one of the best rooftop lounge bars in Beirut. We celebrated Stefan's birthday here with a sunset cocktail overlooking the Mediterranean followed by a romantic dinner of Japanese and Asian inspired cuisine. This is a very popular spot to see and be seen in Beirut, especially on weekends, so make sure to book a table if you're planning on visiting then. We also recommend checking it out on Sunday evenings when they have live music and canapes at sunset.


Basterma Mano

Basterma Mano is home to the best shawarma and other mouthwatering sandwiches in Beirut

This is our favourite place in Beirut for shawarma. They are really good, especially the “Basterma pastrami” or “soujouk” spicy sausage shawarma. As well as the delicious sandwiches you can also buy authentic Armenian sausages or a burger and fries. Just go easy on the heavier meats otherwise you'll have heavy garlicky burps and breath all night! Basterma Mano is located in Bourj Hammoud (the Armenian Quarter) of Beirut. Service is quick and the staff are very friendly here too!


L'abeille D'or

The slightly odd-looking but very delicious knefeh bread from L'abeille D'or

L'abeille D'or is a famous chain cafe/bakery in Lebanon, which means “Golden Bee” in French. We love it because they do one of the best “kanafeh” dishes we've tried. Kanafeh is a Lebanese breakfast dish containing melted cheese and semolina dough that has been soaked in syrup and is then served on Lebanese bread. They also bake traditional baklawa, petit fours, karabij and nammoura. There are lots of branches throughout the city, so no matter where you're staying you can easily try some of their delicious Lebanese treats.


t-marbouta

For traditional Lebanese food in a cute and cosy location, head to t-marbouta in Beirut

Located right in the heart of the busy Hamra Street, t-marbouta serves big portions of traditional Lebanese food. Everything is absolutely delicious and very fresh, especially dishes like the beef khishkhash with pilaf rice, or the homemade hummous and tabouleh. We loved the leafy interior courtyard that gets filled up with locals and travellers, while the staff are very helpful in explaining the menu or making suggestions. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, perfect for sharing big mezze platters with friends.


Things to do in Beirut

It's not all about the food here, although a lot of it is! Along with the delicious different culinary discoveries, there are also many not-to-miss touristic highlights in Beirut:

Wander down Hamra Street

Hamra Street is one of the busiest spots in Beirut for shopping, people-watching and dining
Magicman678 [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons | cropped from original

The famous artery of Beirut with tight narrow roads lined with cafes and shops is Hamra Street. It's always buzzing with life here, which makes it the perfect place for people-watching at one of the cool cafes or restaurants, with shisha to hand and some local mezze. With the many boutique shops and theatres, Hamra Street is sort of Beirut's answer to Paris's Champs Elysées. There's also an open-air bazaar at the end of the street selling jewellery, organic food, soaps, second-hand books and more.


See the Pigeon Rocks of Raouche

One of the most well-known sights in Beirut are the Pigeon Rocks located just off the coast of the city

The Pigeon Rocks (sometimes called Raouche Rocks) are one of the iconic landscape images of Beirut, located in the Raouche neighbourhood by the sea. They are two rock formations which, according to Ancient Greek mythology, are the remains of the sea monster that Perseus killed to save Andromeda. The sea monster is now a rock because Perseus used Medusa’s head on the monster to turn it into stone. The best time to see them in all their glory is at sunset. You can view and take photos from the seaside promenade or maybe during dinner at Al Falamanki restaurant which overlooks the rock formation.


Stroll along the Corniche

The Corniche in Beirut is a waterside promenade lined with shops, cafes and restaurants - perfect for a run or just a relaxing wander
Luciana [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons | cropped from original

The Corniche is a 4.8 km (3 miles) seaside promenade lined with palm trees featuring both sea and mountain views. We love coming here for morning runs and then stopping at one of the coffee shops or restaurants for a lazy brunch. You can follow the Corniche all the way to the Pigeon Rocks (see above) or just stroll along to see local fishermen bringing in their catch and coffee sellers rapping their cups together like castanets. You can also rent bicycles to explore the area by cycling, which is a very relaxing way to see the entire promenade.


Visit Zaitunay Bay Marina

The Zaitunay Bay Marina in Beirut is a beautiful spot for drinks and fine dining beside all the luxury yachts moored in the water

Zaitunay Bay is Beirut's tranquil marina which is lined with lots of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. It's an exclusive and luxurious spot to come for dinner and drinks or as a brief respite from the hectic traffic of the big city. The Level 26 Bar and Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel (which we mentioned in the restaurant section) looks out over this marina, so you have the perfect view for dreaming about the luxury yacht you might one day own yourself! For something even more romantic and special, treat yourself to a sunset cruise on one of the yachts to see the city from the water.


Go food crazy!

Joining a cooking class in a wonderful way to meet locals and learn how to make authentic Lebanese cuisine in Beirut

As we said, this is the city to go food crazy! Other dishes we recommend looking out for include “manoushe” (a cheese pie breakfast dish), “foul” (fava bean based breakfast dish), “fatteh” (chickpeas, yoghurt and bread based dish), “tabbouleh” (salad with parsley, tomatoes, onions, cracked wheat, lemon and olive oil) and “fattoush” (salad with pomegranate molasses). We had a lovely time during a cooking class in a local family's home where we learned how to make the best Lebanese dishes, then enjoyed them with wine and good conversation.


Explore some Lebanese wineries

While you're in Beirut make sure you spend some time exploring the wineries in the nearby Beqaa Valley

Close to Beirut is the fertile Beqaa Valley, Lebanon's most important farming region and home to the country's most famous wineries. The valley's climate is excellent for growing grapes, which is why wine-making has been a Lebanese tradition for the last 6,000 years! If you don't have a car you could join a tour to three of the best wineries in the valley, including Chateau Ksara, the country’s oldest winery. You'll get a chance to taste red, rosé, chocolate and white wines, all while learning about the history of wine-making in Lebanon.


Go on a day trip to Baalbek

The ancient Roman temples at Baalbek in Lebanon are a fascinating spot to get a glimpse into Lebanon's history

The city of Baalbek is one of the most famous cities in Lebanon and home to some of the most well-preserved Roman temples in the world. Taking a day trip to Baalbek to see the Temples of Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus is a fascinating way to learn more about Lebanon's ancient history. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, there are also two small and interesting museums on the site. The ruins are also the venue for the Baalbeck International Festival which we mentioned in the events section.


See the sights at night

Beirut is an exciting and vibrant city to explore at night

We've already talked about the best bars and clubs to visit during a night out in Beirut, but there's actually plenty more fun stuff to do once the sun goes down! If you don't feel like braving it on your own you could join a nighttime tour of the city to easily visit some of the most beautiful spots while they're all lit up in the dark. The Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque (pictured) looks particularly stunning at night, after visiting it you can do some shopping in the bustling souks and also stop by Martyrs’ Square a tribute to martyrs executed by the Ottoman rule.


Check out the National Museum of Beirut

Learn about Lebanon's history while viewing archaeological artefacts in the National Museum of Beirut

One of Beirut's major cultural institutions is the incredible National Museum of Beirut. The museum showcases archaeological artefacts from prehistory to the Ottoman era and is the main museum of archaeology in Lebanon. Don't miss seeing the famous Phoenician gilded bronze figurines which were found buried near the Obelisk Temple at Byblos. If you're particularly interested in Beirut and Lebanon's history, you can visit the museum as part of a historical walking tour. You'll also get to hear about the city's past, from it's settlement more than 5,000 years ago to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and recent events.


Go hiking in the cedars forest

The cedars forest of the Chouf Mountains in Lebanon are a wonderful area to get out of the city and go hiking in a beautiful natural area

The cedars forests in the Al Shouf Nature Reserve are the perfect spot to get out of the city and spend some time hiking in the fresh air. Lebanon's cedar forests are the oldest documented forests in the world, even featuring prominently in The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world. If you spend some time in the Al Shouf reserve you might get to see a variety of animals and birds like the Griffon vulture, Caracal (a type of wild cat), wolves, jackals or even golden eagles. Located on the slopes of Barouk Mountain, hiking here will also reward you with panoramic views over the Bekaa valley and Mount Lebanon.


Tips to prepare your trip

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Beirut. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: You will most likely be travelling to Beirut by plane, which means you will land at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport. There is no public transport system from the airport to the Beirut city centre, so you will need to get a taxi, uber or (our personal choice) a private airport transfer. Luckily, the airport is very close to the city, so the trip is short and affordable. Check out our full guide to getting to the Beirut city centre from the airport as well.


Visa requirements: Nearly all travellers to Lebanon will require a tourist visa to enter, although for many nationalities it is free, so long as you can show you have a return ticket and passport validity for at least six months after arrival. Do be aware that if you have a visa stamp from Israel in your passport you will likely be refused entry to Lebanon, so if you're planning on ever visiting Israel, make sure you go to Lebanon first! Check your personal visa requirements for Lebanon here.


Getting around: Public transport is kind of confusing and chaotic in Beirut, while walking can also be hectic due to the lack of pedestrian footpaths in many areas. We found Uber to be a good way to get around the city, but you can also use this guide for more info on the buses, taxis etc.


Power Plugs: Lebanon uses a range of type A, B, C, D and G power plugs. Since there's no guarantee which power plug type you might find in each building, we definitely recommend bringing a universal power adaptor with you!


Travel insurance: We never travel without travel insurance and always recommend others do the same when visiting Lebanon. You just never know when something like cancelled flights, illness or other unforeseen things will cause you to fork out a wad of cash. We love WorldNomads Travel Insurance because their cover is very comprehensive and it's easy to make an online claim if you need to.


Safety and Security: While travel insurance is helpful for getting reimbursed, sometimes you need help immediately. We use CloseCircle's ‘virtual bodyguard' app whenever we travel, as it provides everything from security alerts to emergency evacuation, at the touch of a button on your phone! Read more about CloseCircle and other ways we stay safe while travelling.


Vaccinations: All travellers to Lebanon should be up to date with routine vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox etc. It's also recommended that you get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, along with Hepatitis B and rabies, depending on where you will be/what you will be doing. Cases of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) have also been seen in Lebanon, so take care to wash hands thoroughly after contact with animals and avoid sick animals. Keep up to date with vaccination requirements for Lebanon on the CDC here.


Currency: The currency used in Beirut and the rest of Lebanon is the Lebanese Pound, which is officially abbreviated to LBP but more often written as LL. $1 (US) converts to around LL1,513, €1 to about LL1,653 and £1 is worth about LL1,860. When written in Arabic (perhaps on a menu), the Lebanese pound symbol looks a bit like this: ل.ل.


Tipping culture: Tipping is widespread through Lebanon, so you should always tip around 10% of your bill (or 15 for really excellent service) at restaurants, cafes and bars. Read more detailed advice about tipping in Lebanon here.


Internet access: While the internet is famously slow in Lebanon, you will be able to do things like email and even stream Netflix. Nearly all cafes in Beirut offer free, decent WiFi so you can get some work done. If you think you'll be needing a lot of bandwidth then you might like to bring a portable WiFi device with you.


Online privacy: Gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff are blocked in Lebanon but if you use a VPN service like ExpressVPN then you will be able to use the internet securely and keep your online activities private. We love using ExpressVPN as it's both an affordable and reliable way to get online safely.


Accommodation: For more accommodation options in Beirut, make sure you check out Booking.com, our favourite site to find places to stay. They have many choices, often provide free cancellation and their 24/7 online customer service is excellent.


Sightseeing and adventure: We also use GetYourGuide to find fun things to see and do in Beirut or anywhere else we're travelling to. It's so easy to book activities online, the customer support is wonderful and there are always lots of options to choose from.


When to visit: During summer Beirut gets very hot and busy, so we recommend visiting during spring (April-May) or autumn (September-November). The weather will still be warm and pleasant, plus there won't be as many crowds.


Should you boycott Lebanon?

We are always criticised for writing about places that have anti-gay laws. On the one hand, we quite understand the reason why. However, we strongly feel that this is not a productive way forward.

We feel it is more powerful to go over to places like Lebanon and be a positive, visible representation of the LGBTQ community. Visibility is the main thing that the local LGBTQ community is striving to achieve, so by boycotting them we are simply assisting the homophobic government to achieve their objectives!

We believe it is more productive to get out there and support local gay friendly businesses to help them thrive rather than boycotting them altogether. For this reason, we strongly feel that you should not boycott Lebanon.

It goes without saying that you should take extra care, in particular, avoid overt public displays of affection and invest in a VPN so you can browse online anonymously. Also, be careful of who you meet on Grindr.

Exploring gay Beirut together
Exploring the streets of Beirut together

Gay map of Beirut

We've made this map for you which shows all the best gay friendly places in Beirut that we've mentioned in this guide. Use it to help plan your own fabulous trip to Lebanon's exciting capital city!

A map of our favourite gay places to stay, eat, drink and explore in Beirut

For more inspiration:

Like this post? Pin it

Gay Beirut a complete guide for travellers to Lebanon

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, an activity or your insurance, we’ll earn a small commission. There is never an extra cost to you for using these links and it helps us keep the site going.

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

18 thoughts on “Gay Beirut: travel guide to the best gay bars, hotels and hammams”

  1. Bonjours
    Et surtout merci pour tout c’est renseignements je viens à beyrouth du 17 au 28 septembre si vous avez plus d’informations je suis preneur
    Merci 😊

  2. Dear Stefan and Sebby,
    From one world traveller to another, I love your article! I am travelling to Lebanon ( first trip in 2007) and will visit the places you mention. My first trip to Lebanon was under my Lebanese friend’s hospitable hand, as I did and went everywhere he took me. This time I am more independent and will see how much Beirut has changed.
    Wishing I can rendezvous with you and Sebby in a fun and exciting location somewhere in the world!

    February 2020 I will be in Cape Verde for Carnival- ( Mindelo ) – want to meet there??

    • It’s partly blocked apparently since the new laws came into effect earlier this year. But we advocate it more to be anonymous as the authorities heavily regulated the internet in Lebanon sadly.

  3. good written review
    however, i don’t think you need to email/call hotels to ask about gay stuff. workers here might not be very open minded about such matters despite abiding by the international hotel standards… who cares, you book a room it fits you both and that is it.
    i booked several times for my str8 friends. we slept on one bed .. it was for us a way cheaper 🙂

    in lebanon i guess you can live a fully safe gay life as long as you dont do things in public or be involved much in big orgies / drug stuff parties

    also you must be cautious from meeting poor lebanese young men/ refugees . sometimes they pretend to be studs and ends up threatening / stealing you

    indeed a good review

  4. That is an awesome guide! I am glad you enjoyed your stay.

    However, apps like scruff and grindr are not blocked in lebanon, well not yet, hopefully Never. VPN is optional in the country and will always be useful.

  5. Hello guys,
    I love that you loved your stay.

    You were very authentic with your review, Lebanon is truely the gem of the Arab World.

    However, it is totally safe to browse whatever you want on the internet without being traced nor pursued.

    • Overall we found that but with the problems we had with General Security at the airport when leaving, we wonder if we would have benefited from browsing anonymously.

  6. Though I come from an Italian family I was born and live in São Paulo which is the second largest Lebanese settlement in the world, after Paris. Yet, I grew up among them due to my mother’s selling business. Needless to say I love the food, the deserts, the ethnical kind and the only missing point is… I don’t speak a word of Arabic.
    I always desired to go to Lebanon and will most probably do it next June (2019).
    Would like to keep in touch for updates and suggestions from you or from any proper site. Could you direct me to? Best regards from Brazil.

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