Downtown Beirut is the central district of Beirut, with its outdoor cafes restaurants and high end designer stores. The inner area around Nejmeh Square is pedestrian-only. Ashrafieh is to its east, while Hamra, Ras Beirut, Manara and Rawcheh to its west. The Beirut Marina (the Cornich starting point) is only a short walk away. Some people complain that the area is over-priced, and that it caters more to tourists from the Persian Gulf than to the locals.
Getting to downtown from other parts of Beirut or one of the bus stations is easy. Hop in any taxi/service and ask for either "Downtown" or "Solidere".
- 1 Nejmeh Square. The renovated central square, with the famous clock tower built during the French Mandate.
- 2 Martyr's Square. Synonymous with political demonstrations, Martyr's Square has a very rich history, from its establishment as a memorial to those executed during Ottoman rule, to serving as the demarcation line during the civil war. It is home to a bullet-holed martyr's statue. Occasionally out-door art exhibitions are featured here.
- Solidere District. The French Mandate historic city center, which was destroyed during the civil war, then renovated and transformed into a chic high-end shopping and cafe quarter.
- 3 Saifi Village, Quartier des Arts. This is a newer neighborhood just east of downtown with traditional architecture and shops featuring design oriented products such as fashion, decor, and furniture. On Saturdays, the Souk el Tayeb, farmer's market is a great place to buy local, organic produce.
- 4 Gibran Khalil Gibran Garden. A tribute to the noted Lebanese writer and poet, this park space is often the site of civic demonstrations, as its close to the UN house and other government buildings.
Museums and galleries
- Planet Discovery, Omar El Daouk Street, ☏ . M-Th 09:00-15:00, F Sa 10:00-19:00. Children's science museum.
- 5 Robert Mouawad Museum, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Army road, Zokak el Blat, Private historic art museum that includes ancient books, pottery, carpets, religious icons, antiques, jewelry.
- Aida Cherfan Gallery (Fine Art), 62, Hussein el Ahdab Street, Nejmeh Square Sector.11, Downtown Beirut, ☏ , , email@example.com. M-Sa 11:00-20:00.
- Galerie Epreuve D'Artiste, Quartier des Arts, Saifi Village, Downtown Beirut (east of Nejmeh Square), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roman and Byzantine structures
- Roman Berytus Columns - A line of five columns, discovered in 1963. These columns, found to the left of St. George Maronite Cathedral, were once part of the grand colonnade of Roman Berytus.
- Roman Exedra - Discovered west of the St. Georges Maronite Cathedral, this semi-circular cultural building was moved in 1963 to Blvd. Charles Helou near the Eastern entrance to the modern port.
- 6 Roman Baths. Behind Bank Street are remains of the Roman Bath which once served the city’s population. It was discovered in 1968-69, and underwent a thorough cleaning and further excavation in 1995-1997.
- Roman Basilica Colonnade - Found in the 1940s between Nejmeh Square and the Great Mosque, this five column colonnade is part of the Roman Basilica. The columns were later erected across from the National Museum on Damascus Street.
- Byzantine floor mosaics These mosaics came from a Byzantine church of the 5th century AD. They were moved from Khalde South of Beirut to a site near the National Museum in the 1950s.
Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman structures
- Medieval Wall - An excavated wall dating from Crusader and Mamluke times can be seen North of Weygand Street along the old Patriarch Howayyek Street.
- Crusader Castle - A large Crusader land castle once stood near the present port area. Excavations in 1995 revealed a large well-preserved section of the foundation wall complete with Roman column drums used as bondstones or reinforcement.
- 7 Grand Serail (Government Palace). Constructed in 1853 as an Ottoman military barracks, this building was the headquarters of the French governor during the French Mandate. After Lebanon’s Independence, it became the site of affairs for the prime minister. Adjacent to it is the Hamidiyyeh Clock Tower. Just a place to walk by.
- Ottoman Military Hospital - Just in front of the Grand Serail, this large building was constructed in 1860 as a military hospital. From the French Mandate Period until the 1960s it served as Law Courts. Completely renovated, it now houses the Council for Development and Reconstruction.
- Ottoman Clock Tower - Located near the Grand Serail, this tower was built in 1897 and restored in 1994.
- 8 Cathedral of Saint Georges. Until the civil war in Lebanon this Greek-Orthodox church, built in 1767, was the oldest functioning church in Beirut. The decorations on its walls were lost during the war. The cathedral has been restored.
- 9 Cathedral of Saint Elias. This mid-19th-century Greek-Catholic church with its vaulted interior was once decorated with a marble iconostasis.
- The Saint Louis Church of the Capucins. Inaugurated in 1863, this church served the foreign community of the Latin rite in Beirut.
- The Evangelical Church. Church built in 1867 by a group of Evangelical Anglo-American missionaries.
- 10 The Maronite Cathedral of St. George. Emir Bechir Street, Downtown Beirut. Built in 1888, the style of this church is neo-classical. The cathedral was completely restored in 2000.
- 11 Al Omari Mosque. Built as the Crusader Cathedral of St. John (1113-1150 AD), it was transformed into the city’s Grand Mosque by the Mamlukes in 1291.
- Zawiyat Ibn Al-Arraq. Built in 1517 by Mohammed Ibn Al-Arrak Addimashqi as an Islamic law school, it continued as an Islamic sanctuary into late Ottoman times. It was rediscovered during the post-war clean-up process in 1991.
- 12 Emir Assaf Mosque (Bab-Es-Saray Mosque). This was built by Emir Mansour ‘Assaf (1572–1580) on the site of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Savior. Located opposite the Municipality Building.
- Amir Munzer Mosque. The Amir Munzer Mosque was built in 1620 on an earlier structure. Also called Nafoura (fountain) Mosque, there are eight Roman columns in its courtyard.
- 13 Majidiyyeh Mosque. This mosque was constructed in the mid-19th century and named after the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Majid I (1839–1861).
- 14 Mohammad AlAmin Mosque. Beirut's goliath blue mosque, with lots of minarets, built only in 2008. Maybe in a token symbol of friendship, this and the Saint Georges Maronite Cathedral sit side by side.
Other historic religious buildings
- 15 Maghen Abraham Synagogue. Built in 1925, this is the main synagogue of Beirut.
- Downtown Beirut Official Site (Downtown Beirut Lenanon), Beirut. Information about Beirut.
- The Music Hall, Center. One of the most happening nightlife spots in Beirut. Playing jazz, pop, ethnic, belcanto.
- 1 Souks de Beirut. A huge mall in downtown featuring high-end international brand stores such as H&M, Diesel, and Dolce & Gabbana. There you can also find shops of some of the best watchmakers including Rolex, Omega, Officine Panerai and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The architecture of the mall is stunning and it's mostly outdoors.
- ABC Beauté, Bab Idriss, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-19:00. Offering a wide range of international cosmetics and perfume brands, nail bar, professional hairdressers and stylists.
- Al Rifai (just off of the Place de L'Etoile). A store selling nuts and speciality Lebanese sweets.
- 2 The Virgin Megastore, ☏ . A four story haven for books, music, movies, and electronics. International and local music/movies are on sale.
- Rooly Booly.
- Achrafieh, ☏ . Toyshop
- Iris (on top of the an-Nahar building). Rooftop bar, overlooking downtown and the mountains.
- Taboo (opposite the Harriri Mosque). A popular club.
- I-Bar (next door to Taboo). An upstairs bar with many events.
- Citrus/Pure (above Taboo, but expect to pay a lot of money there.).
Julips. Cassis. Zooka. Vintage. In the street behind Iris
- [dead link] Al Nazih Pension, Bld. 3, Rue 62 Chanty, Secteur 29, Gemmayze (on the NE (seaside) corner of Martyrs' Square and Charles Hellou Avenue), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. A budget option. The hotel is situated two minutes' walk from Downtown and also very close to the Charles Hellou bus station. All rooms have satellite TV and A/C. Dorm beds are US$17, single room $30, double rooms are between 35 and $50. They also have a four-bed room for $70. Expect the owner to charge you for toilet paper and use of internet. No kitchen and no discount available for longer stay.
- [dead link] Saifi Urban Gardens, Pasteur Street (Behind "Coral" gas station and "Loge", Gemayze), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. An excellent budget and value for money option in Beirut. The hostel is a part of an Arabic language school and is involved in a series of artistic and educational activities. Dorm beds 18, 16, $12 (daily rate for a day stay/ for a week stay, for a month stay), single $41, double $45. Internet, breakfast and drinking mineral water are included in the price.
- Talal's New Hotel, Charles Helou st., Beirut (Beirut Port area, opposite Valli & Valli), ☏ was a favorite for backpackers and budget travelers but now it is an option to avoid. Reports of staff aggression and violence have been reported. The hygiene of the place is very poor.
- [dead link] Etoile Suites Hotel, Hussain Al Ahdab street (near the Lebanese parliament and facing Beirut municipality building), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. US$300.
- Markazia Monroe Suites (5 stars), Syria Street . Solidere (Just across the street from St. Georges Marina, near downtown nightlife.), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel, Ain El Mreysseh (a few minutes from the sea in Beirut's downtown district), ☏ , email@example.com.
- Le Gray (just opened near the Virgin Megastore). Striving to be the best hotel in Beirut.
- 3 Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Minet El Hosn, ☏ .
- Grand Hyatt.
- Costa Coffee, just off of Nejmeh Square, offers free Wifi to customers. There is also a Starbucks close by.