Tyre (Arabic: Sour صُوْر) is the fourth-largest city in Lebanon. It is particularly noteworthy for its stunning and clean beaches (unlike those at Sidon) as well as some of the finest examples of Roman architecture in the world. Situated on a peninsula, it is the largest city in the south of the country after Sidon.
Tyre is the base of the UNIFIL headquarters which operates in the south of the country, and monitors the border region between Lebanon, Israel and the occupied territories and Syria. Don't be surprised to see UN troops out and about in this town, which is generally very safe for visitors.
The cheapest way of getting into Tyre is by private bus. Large, air-conditioned buses go from Cola Junction, Beirut, throughout the day for approximately US$4 and take about 2½ hr.
Privately run minibuses also go frequently throughout the day and late into the evening from Cola Junction, Beirut and from the bus station in Sidon. They take a variety of routes and will often stop and start throughout the journey to let passengers on and off.
Minibuses that go via the coastal roads are much slower (Beirut to Tyre can take 3-4 hr), but some minibuses will take the motorway route (2½ hr from Beirut, about 1hr from Sidon). Prices are usually 2–3,000 Lebanese lira from Beirut.
Do check when you get on board how much the price is as tourists will often be charged more than locals. If you're not sure how much the fare should be, try speaking to someone on the bus - many people speak English and you will very likely find someone to help you out.
By private taxi
There are two ways to get to Tyre via taxi - the first is a simple private hire (US$80-90 from Beirut, per car), or the 'service' option where you can share with other people who are travelling in a similar direction (US$10 would be reasonable from Beirut to Tyre). The journey will take approximately 2½ hr from Beirut, depending on any stops that have to be made.
A number of military checkpoints operate on the roads between Beirut, Sidon and Tyre. There are also occasionally other checkpoints which are run by Hezbollah soldiers. If you bus or taxi is asked to stop, make sure you have your passport to hand, and take off any sunglasses or hats to ensure proper identification. Generally you will be waved through without any further problems. Do not be alarmed if you are asked why you are travelling.
Without a doubt the best way to get around Tyre is on foot. The beachfront and main roads are all within 5-10 min walk from each other. The Al Bass Archaeological site is slightly further away and a taxi may be the easiest option to get there.
Taxis are pretty cheap and some are even comfortable to travel in. Some are the registered yellow taxis that operate throughout the country, but many are private cars, often in varying states of repair (from virtually new to over 40 years old in some cases). A rough rule of thumb is that a short ride in a 'service' - or shared taxi - will cost approximately 2,000LL, with longer journeys costing up to 5,000LL. Always check the price before entering the taxi, and check whether it is a taxi (and therefore private and more expensive) or a service (which will stop to pick up other passengers on the way, and is much cheaper).
Traffic is typical Lebanese - if you want to go, you must go regardless of the 'western' way of thinking in the traffic. This means that drivers frequently won't give way unless they absolutely have to, and lanes and road signage are frequently ignored. Of course, do ask your driver to slow down if you don't feel safe.
Although frequently eclipsed by the grandeur of Beirut and the bustling souq of Sidon, Tyre is a beautiful and enjoyable city in its own right. However its small size and distinctive position in the deep south of the country mean that most tourists never get this far. The city's main draw is the astonishing ruins of old Tyre, including the world's best-preserved Roman Hippodrome, have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984. Enjoying the beautiful beaches and excellent local cuisine is also a favorite pastime for both locals and visitors.
- 1 Al-Bass Tyre necropolis. The impressive site is huge and also encapsulates a large Necropolis (with several hundred well-preserved sarcophagi), an intact Roman road and aqueduct, and a monumental arch. Situated next to the Al Bass Palestinian Refugee Camp, it is a 10-min car ride from the beach.
- 2 Tyre Hippodrome. By far the most famous attraction, boasting the largest and best-preserved example of a Roman Hippodrome.
- Hot Spring Ruins. Situated in the Christian district, is another impressive feat of Roman architecture which escaped destruction during recent Israeli bombing campaigns.
- 3 Tyre lighthouse. Situated on the north-western tip of the peninsula is a beautiful and quiet spot, perfect for watching the sun go down.
- Al Gamal. This is a rocky beach at the southwestern tip of the peninsula where the ruins of an old Phoenician port can be seen. There is a number of hut restaurants on the rocks where you can enjoy the sun and food. Swimming is delightful in the clear water and there is a spot that seems like an ancient swimming pool carved in rock, 1 m deep and some 30 x 20 m in size.
The souq situated next to the Christian district, is a lively and atmospheric marketplace. Although it does not have the splendour of the large and tourist-driven souq in Sidon, it offers good prices on everything from souvenirs to fresh fish caught that morning.
The beach is known throughout Lebanon as being the cleanest and most beautiful in Lebanon, with families from around the country flocking there in the summer. During the summer months (May–September) there are a large number of beach cafes which operate from the huts. Prices can be expensive, but it is a perfect spot for sunbathing and enjoying the impressive waves. During the summer, the sea is warm enough to swim in at night, making it a special place. Moreover, you can rent a fishing boat (FLOkA) and take a tour around the seaside of Tyre or you can navigate to the rocky islands (ZEERRE) where you can find amazing spots for diving. Also renting a jetski can be fun, you can find dealers everywhere around the see.
The Christian district at the Western tip of the peninsula is a higgledy-piggledy area with thin roads and lovely hidden shops. It's worth spending some time walking around this nice little enclave, though do remember that these are peoples' homes and that you shouldn't enter any open doors unless invited.
- Le Phenicien: fish and seafood, excellent cuisine, beer, wine liquors
- Skandars: Lebanese and international cuisine, beer, wine liquors
- Al Nabeel's Cake Shop: famous Lebanese speciality cake shop, wonderful and kind staff and some of the most amazing cakes you will ever eat
- The Resthouse: Lebanese and international cuisine, beer, wine liquors
- Al Fanar: Lebanese and international cuisine, beer, wine liquors
- Tyros: Fish, Lebanese and international cuisine, beer, wine liquors
- Baquettos: Fast food
- Rest Cafe, port area,al mina (beside caritas), ☏ . 16. Appetisers, fresh fish and seafood, super cuisine, beer, wine liquors
Next to the port you can find several minimarkets who could sell all kind of alcohols.
In summer you can experience one of the best sensations by taking a beer and a narghile on the beach at AL Jamal sea side or at the sandy side next to rest house hotel where you can find several hut restaurants in addition to the amazing bar in the rest house beach. At night you can take a drink at ALbadawe cafe, Nocean, Fanar, Skandar, Tyros and several restaurant found on the corniche side.
Perhaps the best-known place for visitors to stay is the Resthouse hotel on the beach. The beach and the pool is exclusively only to the hotel's guests although others can use them too by paying a small fee - this fee is mostly to keep 'unwanted people' off the premises. At the beach you can order drinks, narghile, rent a sun chair or perhaps attend a diving course.
- 1 Rest House Tyr Hotel & Resort, ☏ . From US$120 per night.
- 2 Al Fanar Resort, ☏ . A good place to stay in. US$50-60 per night.
- 3 Artizan Hotel, Rue Senegal. Second floor bed and breakfast and is popular with locals and visitors alike. The reasonable rates and air conditioned rooms, combined with beautiful views onto the Mediterranean, make it one of the best value places to stay in the city. From US$40.
The main pickup point for minibuses to Sidon and Beirut is the bustling Al Bass roundabout, just outside the Al Bass Palestinian Refugee Camp. A number of touts operate in this area and will try to get you on their minibus before you go on another. Be assertive with them - ask their destination and the price in advance. Keep a hold of your luggage - a common trick is for them to grab your luggage and stow it on the minibus before you get a chance to complain. However, don't worry too much - the negotiation is all part of the fun.