A melting pot of many cultures, Beirut is home to a great diversity of languages, nationalities and religions. This provides many contrasts in the streets, where churches and mosques sit side by side, and ancient houses survive beside modern towers.
Numerous hotels provide good accommodations, and the many restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines. The city never sleeps. Night life gets started at around 10pm to continue into the wee hours. Monot and Gimmayze Streets, both in Ashrafieh, are centers of the scene; Hamra Street is another busy area. The Casino du Liban in Jounieh, with luxurious gaming rooms, is another favorite.
As far as the gay scene is concerned, more than one reviewer has described Beirut as the “Provincetown of the Middle East.” A bit of hyperbole, perhaps, for a country like Lebanon where homosexuality is still illegal. But in the Arab world it would be hard to find another place where gays enjoy this much freedom.
That’s not to say that you’ll see men walking hand in hand down Hamra Street. In public, locals say, you still have to be discreet. But gay people can hang out together in chic cafes, dine at trendy restaurants, or dance the night away at hip clubs without fear of being harassed by the police. No wonder Beirut has become a magnet for men from all over the Middle East, and more recently from Europe and beyond as well.
Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport is about 20 minutes from downtown. When discussing the fare with taxi drivers, don’t offer to pay more than $20.
Beirut is a compact city, so walking is the best way to see the sights. If you’re going farther, taxis are abundant. For area bus services see the website of the Lebanese Commuting Company, known as the LCC
Currency and Money
Lebanese lira are the currency, but many places accept US dollars and euros. ATMs are found in the center. Let your home bank know your travel plans to avoid credit card hassles, and ask if they have a local partner bank that can save on ATM withdrawal fees.
Media & resources
LebTour LGBT travel guide has good tips on where to stay and what do in gay Beirut, surrounding countryside, and other cities in Lebanon. They also offer tours to the nearby Arab nations of Jordan and Syria. Their online guide lists local gay businesses and cruising (AYOR) areas at beaches, marinas and cinemas.
paper.li has online LGBT news and information for Lebanon and the Arab diaspora, updated weekly.
The guys with Bear Arabia are also very helpful; they've coordinated trips for bear groups coming from Europe and elsewhere for several years.
The Empire Metropolis at Centre Sofil is a gay-friendly art house cinema with international screenings and events.
TimeOut Beirut has a good general guide to city restaurants, places to stay, and sights to see.
For some local bars and other listings see our Gay Beirut maps & listings tab. Our Arab-language Beirut map has pins as close to locations as possible, but help from a friendly local (BearArabia or LebTours perhaps) might be handy before you wander the streets for the first time. Taxis remain the best option for door-to-door service.
In July 2012 police raided the Plaza Cinema, a cruisy sex scene, after a local TV host (said to be closet-gay by locals) denounced the "prostitution and debauchery" taking place there. The cinema was closed down and 36 men were arrested. See the story on Joe Maalouf at GayInBeirut, and check with locals before taking risks when cruising.
Off our map, to the north of Beirut near Ghazir, 50 km from the airport, the Casino du Liban offers elaborate Vegas style entertainment, gaming tables and slot machines, and fine dining.