From Beirut's Charles Helou station, you can either take a bus (all destinations are written in Arabic. Ask around for the "Trablos Express"), share a taxi with others or hire your own taxi (you'll pay for 4 people). It is also possible to take a minibus from Beirut's Cola station or Daoura station.
The 1 Port of Tripoli is mainly for freight and not very friendly for passengers, but has Lebanon's only scheduled passenger ferry, run by Med Star.
- 2 Med Star, Aazmi Street, first floor, firstname.lastname@example.org. The ferry makes the journey between Tripoli and Tasucu, ca. 100 km west of Mersin in Turkey around three times a week. The ticket can be bought at the company's office in the city in Aazmi Street in the first floor that can be accessed via the door on the left side of the building. (The marker for a Medstar office at Nur Square in Google Maps might simply be wrong.) It can be paid in dollar notes that have to be fresh ones of the new edition. As of December 2022, the price for a one way journey for one person at the office is $200, not $230 as indicated by the company's default WhatsApp message. The departure times are not scheduled, but also the times announced on short notice are not reliable. The ship leaves once the capacity for trucks is used up. So the ship might only leave another day even if it is announced to leave at the same day. At the port, a small office of Med Star collects the passengers' passports and takes care of the getting the exit stamp from Lebanese border control. The passports are handed back to the passengers on the ship. The ship is mainly used for tracks and barely by tourists. The passengers who are mainly truck drivers are provided meals on the ship. One way journey $200.
As other cities in Lebanon, Tripoli has an abundance of shared "service" taxis, which is basically every car with a red numberplate. You may share one with others in the direction you are heading. Any trip within central Tripoli will cost 1,000 LL. If going a bit further you might be asked to pay "double service" which is 2,000 LL. If asking for a "Taxi" and not "service" the driver will think you want the car for yourself and will charge you the price of four passengers.
The Old City is mainly a Mamluk city. The urban form of Mamluk Tripoli was dictated mainly by climate, site configuration, defense, and urban aesthetics. The layout of major thoroughfares was set according to prevailing winds and topography. The city had no fortifications, but heavy building construction characterized by compact urban forms, narrow and winding streets for difficult city penetration. Residential areas were bridged over streets at strategic points for surveillance and defense. The city also included many loopholes and narrow slits at street junctions. There are old souqs (markets) and khans (caravanserai), hammams (Turkish baths), citadels, great Mamluk mosques and madrassas. A vibrant area of the city, visitors will find an agglomeration of jewelers, perfumers, tanners, soap-makers and tailors within the narrow streets. The city is known for its production of soap, copper and brass trays, engraved wooden boxes, furniture, and sweets.
Palm Islands Nature Reserve
Located about a 30 minute boat ride off the coast of Tripoli, the Palm Islands Reserve is composed of three small islands. Established as a national nature reserve in 1992, the site is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International. It is also an important egg-laying site for endangered sea turtles.
- 1 Citadel of Raymond de Saint Gilles. A massive and impressive fortress, 140m long and 70m wide, which began as a much smaller fort and encampment used by Raymond and the Crusaders to lay siege to Tripoli beginning in 1101. Following the reconquest of Tripoli by the Mamluks in 1289, the fortress was destroyed. In 1308, Esendemir al-Kurji, then governor of Tripoli, constructed a citadel to house troops on this site. Under Ottoman rule, significant restoration work and additions were made to the citadel. The present state of the citadel is largely the result of work undertaken by Mustafa Barbar Agha, governor of Tripoli at the beginning of the 19th century. As of end of December 2022 the citadel houses a small military base. The entrance is guarded by military and tanks, nevertheless open to visitors. LL5000.
- 2 Mu'allaq Mosque. Its name means “the Hanging Mosque,” named so because of its location on the second floor. It was established in the 16th century by the Ottoman governor of Tripoli, Mahmud ibn Lufti, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours.
- 3 Mansouri Great Mosque (المسجد المنصوري الكبير). Built between 1294 and 1315, the mosque is named after Al Mansouri Qala’un who liberated Tripoli from the Crusaders in 1289. This was the first monument built in the new Mamluk Tripoli. The mosque was erected on the site of a former Crusader church, St. Mary’s of the Tower. Outside of these elements, it is a traditional Mamluk-style mosque. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours.
- 4 Al-Attar Mosque (مسجد العطار). Named after a prosperous perfume merchant, Badr al Din ibn al Attar, who donated money for the construction of the mosque in the mid-14th century. Located in the souk area of Tripoli, the Al Attar Mosque is one of the most important mosques in the city. Its sandstone minaret is a distinguished landmark of Mamluk Tripoli. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours.
- 5 Taynal Mosque. The second most important mosque in Tripoli after the Great Mosque. It was constructed in 1336 under the patronage of Amir Taynal, the governor of Mamluk Tripoli. This beautiful example of Islamic religious architecture is noteworthy for its large size, lavish decoration and architectural peculiarities (elements of a Crusader church incorporated into the mosque architecture). Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours.
- 6 Al Burtasiyat Madrassa-Mosque. This is one of the most beautiful mosques and Islamic schools, or madrassas, from Tripoli’s Mamluk period. Designed by an Andalusian architect, Prince Issa Bin Omar Al Bertasi Al Kerdi had the mosque and school constructed in the early 14th century. It is in the Bab El Hadid area of Tripoli on the west bank of the river. The mosque is a 5 minute walk from the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
- 7 Mosque of Sayedi Abel El Wahid. The smallest of the Mamluk mosques in Tripoli, this mosque is located east of the Al Aatarien Souk (market). Characterized by its short minaret, it was built by Abed El Wahid El Maknasi in 1305. The shrine of Abed El Salam El Meshishi is located to the right of the mosque. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours.
- 8 Soap Khan (Khan as-Saboun). It was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century by Yusuf al-Saifi, pasha of Tripoli . Originally it was intended to serve as a military barracks to garrison Ottoman troops and it was purposely built in the center of the city to enable the pasha to control any uprising. It is a large imposing rectangular structure with two story arcaded corridors running around a fountain courtyard. The outer walls had a number of loopholes and arrow slits for defense purposes. In front of the building was an arched portal, flanked by stone benches for the pasha’s guards. A white marble plaque commemorates the building of this splendid military barracks of Tripoli. During the battle of Anjar, Yusuf Pasha was taken prisoner. When Tripoli fell to Fakhr-ed-Din, the Ottoman garrison fled to join his routed forces in Syria. The army of Fakhr-ed-Din occupied the barracks briefly but in the years that followed the building stood empty and useless. To the inhabitants of Tripoli this seemed to be a great waste so a petition was sent to Deir al-Qamar, the residence of Fakhr-ed-Din, with the request to turn the building into a soap factory and warehouse. From that day until the present time the Ottoman barracks have served as Tripoli’s flourishing Soap Khan or Khãn as-Sáboun.
- 9 Tailor's Khan (Khan al-Khayyatin). In the neighborhood of the Ezzedin baths there are two fourteenth century Mamluk khans facing each other. The Tailor’ khan which adjoins the baths on the north., built in 1341. Its street stalls and storehouses until this day house the dry goods merchants and tailors of modern Tripoli. The Tailor’ khan is a sixty- yard long passageway with tall graceful arches on each side and ten transverse arches open to the sky. At the entrance an engaged Corinthian column is built in the brown sandstone wall and may be a Crusader Church pilaster with a re-used marble capital. There are other Roman granite column sections built into the walls in the vicinity.
- 10 Lion Tower (برج السبع). Small fortress dating back to the end of the fifteenth century and is attributed to Mameluke Sultan Qaitbay.
- 11 Rachid Karami International Fair. Partially finished fairgrounds, designed by Oscar Niemeyer (architect of Brasilia). They were built for a World's Fair, but the civil war stopped the construction work in 1975. In 2023 the place was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Every Sunday afternoon families will gather to the shoreline of Tripoli where the road meets the ocean and they walk on the sidewalk provided while the sun goes down. They'll be vendors with food, and bike rentals for those who want to ride. Its a peaceful and relaxing time, where some will sit at the cafe's smoke hookah and watch the sunset. Its a must for a sweet finish at the end of your day.
For outdoor activities, go to the beaches of Tripoli like: Miramar, Al Naoura, Palma Touristic Center and Las Perlas.
- El Mina old town: Inhabited since the 14th century B.C., El Mina was ruled sequentially by Persians, Alexander the Great's successors, the Romans, Mamluke Muslims, Turkish Ottomans, and the French. As a result, the old town is filled with history, including mosques and churches, a Caravan Serail, a Mamluk Fortress, and souk (traditional marketplaces).
- Palm island reserves: If you are enchanted by marine ecology, be sure to spend some time in the Palm Islands Reserve, comprising three uninhabited islands located approximately 5km northwest of El Mina. This Mediterranean marine ecosystem provides a perfect breeding ground for the endangered Green and Loggerhead Turtles, a nesting place for over 300 species of migratory birds (including many rare and endangered species), and a home for the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal.
- Zambo carnival:Each year on the weekend preceding Clean Monday (usually between March and April), hundreds of locals organize and participate in lively musical parades wearing outfits and masks. The origin of this old tradition is unknown but some people link it to local Greek families (Greek Mardi Gras). More information: El Mina tourism center [dead link]
- The Souks The most incredible items can be found in the souk, from books to imitation shoes (Adidas, Nike). There are stalls upon stalls of pure kitsch and others of real taste and quality. One street have shops specializing in Islamic clothing, chador-like dresses and other traditional non-western clothing can be found. In contrast, just around the corner you may find shops selling sexy lingerie.
Suddenly you find yourself in Souk el Sayagheen, the gold and silver market. It's quite magical to look down this dark little street where the shops cast enough light for the jewellery hanging outside in curtains of gold and silver to glitter softly. or maybe "Khan Essaboun! The soap market, where you can buy aromatic & therapeutic, as well as decorated soaps.
Tripoli is famous all over Lebanon for its sticky oriental sweets. Many Beiruties visit Tripoli en group on Sunday mornings to have breakfast at "Hallab". Confusingly to tourists, many sweet houses in Tripoli carry the name "Hallab" in one way or another. This is either because they are legitimate descendants of the famous nineteenth century sweets maker of the same name, or simple free riders trying to profit from the name's reputation. Two however stand out: Rafaat Hallab 1881, and Abdel Rahman Al Hallab. A visit to either will satisfy the most demanding of sweet teeth.
In the beautiful, wide and trees-planted ElMina Road, you can find many cafes and restaurants to satisfy your hunger.
- Seafood Sandwich Shop, El Mina foreshore (It has little dolphins jumping on either side of the name - that is in Arabic). Don't miss the seafood sandwiches in El Mina; there's spicy-fish, crab, crayfish, and more! Next to a corner-shop with Pepsi signage. There are a few swarma restaurants in a row by the waterfront next to the port. Try the one that is packed with people waiting - there's a reason for that. There are a few casual seafood restaurants further along.
- Homos & Foul (Homs and beans). One of the famous breakfast dishes in Tripoli is Homs and beans, you will find many old and new style restaurant, on the main streets and inside the old areas of the city.
Tripoli Has the best coffee shops street in all of Lebanon (Mina Road). With more than 100 coffee shops and restaurants on both sidewalks. For bars and pubs, Mina neighborhood would be the best place for a glass of wine or a pint of beer with smooth Jazz music.
- Cava Mino: the first pub in Mina and the only place for Jazz and good music in the area. The pub has a great ambiance (a nice outdoor space during summer). A poetry night is hosted once a month. The owners and staff are very friendly, and it has been a very popular place for locals as well as tourists. The menu offers a tasty collection of appetizers.
- Gosha: A pub and restaurant specialized in cocktails
- ASkale restaurant(Snack-bar):A leading restaurant offering delicious meals, friendly staff and cozy environment, located in the heart of El Mina old town, the newly renovated Laban street.
- 1 Quality Inn Tripoli Hotel (Next to the International fair), ☏ .
- Via Mina Pension
- 2 Al Koura Hotel, Al Tall Street (off Tall St, 2 blocks South-East of the Clock Tower), ☏ , fax: . A family-owned pension in the center of Tripoli. The friendly owners speak French. Clean and modern. Breakfast, Wi-Fi included. Dorm LL30 000, private from L50 000.
- 3 Pension Haddad (Near Hotel Al Koura). Located in a historical building near the main square. Dorm $10, single $15.
- Hotel Al Ahram (From clock tower walk around the flags to the other side). Dorm $7.50.
- 4 Miramar Beach Resort (Along Old Beirut Road), ☏ . Resort hotel along the coast, a few kilometers south of the city.
Due to the spillover of the civil war in Syria, the situation in Lebanon, including Tripoli, has deteriorated. Most of governments around the world have issued travel warnings to Lebanon. While the situation has improved since then, it is suggested to plan carefully and visit with a local guide. Some turbulent neighborhoods, including the Jabal Mohsen and Bab-al-Tabbaneh neighborhoods, are not safe.
- Ehden is beautiful town at the top of the northern mountains of Lebanon some 30 km away from Tripoli. Popular during summer and a main destination to sample Lebanese cuisine.
- Batroun is home to lots of historic churches, both Catholic and Greek Orthodox. The town is also a major beach resort with a vibrant nightlife. About 22 km from Tripoli.