Zahle, the capital of the Bekaa Governate and the third-largest city in Lebanon after Beirut and Tripoli, has earned several nicknames, among which The bride of the Bekaa, and The City of Wine and Poetry.
Zahle is a very attractive city known for its pleasant climate, numerous riverside restaurants, authentic Lebanese food, and hospitable people.
This beautiful city has a lot to offer, so you wouldn't want to miss any of its natural and man-made gifts. Here's how to make the most of your visit to Zahle:
#1 Wine tasting tours
Well, it is the city of wine so this is a must. There are several wineries in the area that are just absolutely beautiful. They all offer wine tasting tours, so you get to see the architectural and natural wonders while drinking some delicious wine.
One of the oldest is Chateau Ksara that was founded in 1857. It is the ideal place for wine and history lovers and photographers. Others would be Coteaux Du Liban, which is a small modern-family owned winery, Domaine des Tourelles Winery, and Domaine Wardy.
#2 Enjoy the view from Our Lady of Zahle and Bekaa
This shrine/church has been overlooking Zahle and the Bekaa valley for years. The ten-meter high statue of the Virgin Mary that rests on a 54-meter high tower is the work of the Italian artist Pierrot.
An elevator takes you up that tower so you can enjoy the majestic scenery of the red-roofed city and panoramic views of the valley. It is famous for being the number one destination for many tourists and visitors.
#3 Enjoy the outdoors in one of the city's beautiful parks
The public parks in Zahle are perfect for hanging out, reading, jogging, relaxing, all while enjoying the greenery and the fresh air. Park Zahle (or Skaff Park) is worth visiting because of its beautiful surroundings and view, and all the activities that you can do there.
This park has a jogging track, a playing area for kids of all ages, a basketball court, a water fountain, benches that overlook the city, and 24/7 security. It is also a place that hosts many events and concerts.
Memshiye Park is another site where you can enjoy nature and art. It houses a collection of marble tables with mosaic depictions of several sites in Lebanon, a small pond with waterlilies, and several sculptures representing famous locals.
The park is centered by a memorial statue of Said Akel, one of Lebanon's most famous poets who left an ineffaceable imprint in the country's culture.
#4 Walk and shop in Zahle's boulevard
You can get some shopping done while having a walk-in Zahle's Boulevard and along the long Souk. These shops are diverse and you are guaranteed to find everything you are looking for within a single walk.
All in the same street, and right next to each other, there are shops that sell clothes, jewelry, home appliances, toys, etc. They also meet all tastes, from high class to everyday stuff.
#5 Have fun at one of the city's most iconic places
This is simply Zahle's iconic place. The Berdawni promenade, or Wadi el Arayech as some call it, is a whole other experience; a 300 m promenade along the river that is the city's most remarkable attraction.
You can have a walk alongside the Berdawni river, or have some traditional Lebanese food, Meza, and Arak. You'll also walk past various cafes, ice cream shops, playrooms, and trees while enjoying the relaxing sound of water.
The entertaining options are suitable for both kids and adults, so it is definitely a place where you and your family and friends can have lots of fun.
#6 Enjoy the city's cuisines!
In Zahle, all kinds of cuisines are present, so you wouldn't have to worry about finding your favorite; whether it's Chinese, Italian, Lebanese, or even if you just want fast food. You just listen to what your belly wants and then pick a restaurant.
People usually come for a meal by the river at one of the Berdawni restaurants or a Lebanese meal at one of the many traditional Lebanese restaurants in the city.
#7 The nightlife is a must to experience
Zahle's nightlife is very underrated. Fact is, Zahle is a lively place to go for great clubbing and events, as well as romantic dinners and happy friends' nights. The clubs and their programs are diverse and different.
You can always find a classic Lebanese Dabke party at Masa night club, the Massabki hotel, Tree Light, Al Moakkar, and other places.
You can also have a rooftop party in Isanity Lounge Pub, relax in a bar like Chapter II, In08, Castle Black with its Game of Thrones bar, or get warm and cozy next to a bonfire with your glass of wine at Serenity.
#8 Explore its architecture and history
Zahle is a bride with a long history in Bekaa. The city was burned down in 1777 and in 1791. It was burned down again and plundered in 1860.
Later, the city began to regain its prosperity and became the internal "port" of the Beqaa and Syria and the center of agriculture and trade between Beirut and Damascus, Mosul and Baghdad.
Among the historical buildings to check out: The Government House or Serail that dates back to 1885, and The Kadri Hotel which was built in 1906 then appropriated by the Ottoman army in 1914 and used as their headquarters and as a hospital during World War I.
The Geha House, a typical 17th-century house, is another landmark worth visiting. It has an old underground that leads to the church of St. Elias.
Zahle also prides itself on its beautiful houses of typical Lebanese architecture. A walk in the city will get you to admire them, and take great photos.
#9 Discover the uniqueness of the place
Remember to keep your eyes wide open because some of the things you'll come across in this city you won't find them anywhere else.
While walking or driving around, you are bound to see a senior lady making Saj bread, an old man selling books and magazines in his old car, or a seller pushing a decorated trolley of Kaak or cotton candy.
It's not only the people but also the old stores and streets, as well as the fine-looking churches and hotels. Zahle is also full of unique little things, so make sure not to miss them.
#10 Go hiking or off-roading
I mean, what better place to go on such adventures? Zahle is full of mountains and hills, and Qaa El Rim is one of the best and most famous hiking trails in Lebanon.
The view of the city and the valley from up there is breath-taking. You don't even have to look twice to decide to hit the road to Zahle trails. This region is perfect for such activities, you just have to be prepared and stay safe.
Zahle is one of the Lebanese regions that are a must to visit and discover. It is diverse, special, and traditional enough to capture anybody's heart.
There is just so much to do and so many natural scenes to admire, so you sure won't regret giving it a shot. Plus, its citizens are the funniest, and most welcoming people you'll ever encounter. Most importantly, this city will make you appreciate the amazing country you live in: our beautiful Lebanon.