14 Best Things To Do In Tripoli, Lebanon

Things to do in Tripoli
| 5 min read

Tripoli might not be among the first cities you would think of visiting in Lebanon. Although an urban center in the northern part of the country, it has had a politically and economically marginalized history, impacted in more recent years by civil unrest and global crises. A trip to this city is definitely not for the casual tourist. However, if you wish to discover what made this city the jewel of the Mamluk empire in the 13th century and delve deep into its past, Tripoli might make an interesting stop along your Lebanon excursion. Check out old souks and stop over at hammams as you navigate through the city’s ancient high-rises, set in the foothills of the Lebanese mountains. Get a true taste of Lebanese soul food at off-the-beaten spots. While still bearing the scars of its past, let Tripoli show you there is more to it than meets the eye. Read on for the best things to do in Tripoli, Lebanon.

1. Walk through Tripoli Citadel's ancient halls

Crusader castle at Tripoli, Lebanon
Source: Photo by Flickr user Caroline Jones used under CC BY 2.0

Once known as The Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Tripoli Citadel stands as a great historical landmark commemorating its medieval roots as well as showcasing Tripoli’s rich history. Enjoy the amazing views of the city from the citadel as you walk through its ancient walls. Thanks to centuries of restorative work by Ottoman officials, you can see how much the structure has changed throughout the years. There is also a small museum that you can check out on the premises.

Tripoli Citadel

Address: CRMV+9R6, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

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2. Meditate in peace at Taynal Mosque

Taynal Mosque2009a
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ankara used under CC BY-SA 3.0

What was once a Crusader Church now stands as one of the oldest mosques in Tripoli. Built in 1336, Taynal Mosque offers a place of prayer for devout Muslims. The unique trait of this mosque is the various Catholic and Roman designs that adorn the interior, including the original Byzantine and Roman columns that help support the structure.

Experience a wonderful mix of over seven centuries of historical and religious designs as you walk through the halls. There is also a large outdoor garden where you can meditate in peace.

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3. Shop at the historical Souq Al Haraj

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Located in the Hadeed District, Souq Al Haraj is a 14th-century Mamluk bazaar featuring high vaulted ceilings and original black granite shafts that were renovated by the crusaders, mamluks, and ottomans.

Experience 14th-century architecture and design as you walk through the halls and browse through the wares of the various shops around it. The shops sell a variety of goods, from clothing to food, so there are plenty of options to browse. There is also an old-style cafe where you can relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

Souq Al Haraj

Address: CRPW+RGR, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

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4. Check out the souks at Khan Al-Khayyatin

Khan al-Khayyatin
Source: Photo by Flickr user Varun Shiv Kapur used under CC BY 2.0

Khan Al-Khayyatin is an intriguing attraction as its origins are shrouded in mystery while being such an integral part of the city. Contrary to contemporary khan designs, the structure is more of a closed street than the traditional courtyard and square rectangular structure designs of most khans structures. Several shops have been set up around this historical structure over the centuries, with most of them being clothing shops and tailors.

If you’re looking to shop in Tripoli, this is one of the best places to check out.

Khan Al-Khayyatin

Address: Tripoli, Lebanon

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5. Explore Palm Islands Nature Reserve

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by ‎Palm Islands Nature Reserve محمية جزر النخل الطبيعية‎ on Sunday, August 28, 2016

If you are a nature lover, then a day trip to Palm Islands Nature Reserve is for you. Spot endangered green turtles (Chelona Mydas), rare monk seals, a wide variety of migratory birds and explore this UNESCO protected area. Via a scenic ferry boat ride from the coastal town of Al Mina in Tripoli, you will not only behold the vast plethora of flora and fauna in this nature reserve, but also swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. The Palm Islands are officially open for tourism in the summer months of July until September. Come October to June, the islands are limited to visitors for educational or official purposes only, in order to resume their conservation program.

Palm Islands Nature Reserve

Address: Palm Islands Nature Reserve, off-shore Al Mina, Tripoli, Lebanon

Website: Palm Islands Nature Reserve

Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

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6. Shop at Souk Al-Harajb

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bertramz used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Built during the Medieval era, Souk Al Harajb stands as a fascinating symbol of Tripoli’s history. This old market is mapped with high-vaulted ceilings, beautiful archways, winding alleys, and a galore of traditional craftsmanship. Take time to discern the hand-woven items, exotic herbs and spices, intricate scarves, local vegetables and fruits, artisan soaps, antiques, and gold jewelry. If you find yourself left with a bit of cash in your pocket, you will still be able to enjoy the delicious and filling treats everywhere in the Souk at a very low price.

Souk Al-Harajb

Address: Souk Al-Harajb, near Rachid Karameh Avenue, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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7. Visit the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Giles

Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles 2009
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peripitus used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Having lived through the Crusades, the Mamluks and the Ottomans, this timeworn citadel will beckon you through three imposing picture-worthy gateways, each built in honor of its founding empires. Within its thick walls, arched high ceilings, and deep galleys, are important relics like the 800-year-old sarcophagi. These stone coffins are mostly laid in the Citadel’s octagonal mausoleum, which is also known as the Fatimid Cemetery. While this ancient fortress retains its hold as a Lebanese military base now, it nevertheless provides a breathtaking contrast to the bustling city of Tripoli.

Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Giles

Address: El Amir Fakhreddine, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

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8. Treat your foodie soul at Akra Restaurant

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Akra Restaurant on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This well-loved restaurant, off the beaten track, promises to rev up your day with Tripoli’s culinary offerings, like foul, tahina, fatteh, hummus, other chickpea dishes, and unlimited fresh baked bread. What is likewise notable is the overall guest satisfaction that this true local eatery provides, including its cozy ambiance, wonderful staff, and a very good price for real Tripolitan food. This gastronomical stop at Akra is certainly not to be missed.

Akra Restaurant

Address: Al Koura Square Mohammad El Husseini Street, Tripoli 1300 Lebanon

Opening hours: 3am - 2:30pm (daily)

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9. Marvel at the Ottoman and Mamluk hammams of Tripoli

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Amid astounding bathing structures, all dedicated to the body’s cleansing rituals, one can’t help but marvel at the Ottoman and Mamluk Hammams in Tripoli. Out of about 12 recorded hammams in Tripoli, 4 have endured over 800 years. Scattered all around Tripoli, Hammam Ezzedine, Hammam Al Nouri, Hammam Al Abed and Hammam Al Jadid hail the beauty of the human body and the importance of its cleanliness. Through the hammams’ ingenious domes and intricately adorned structures, you will be left inspired to erect your own lavish bathing area where you could hold your own cleansing ritual. Fortunately, Hammam Al Abed is still open, in which only men can bathe.

Hammam Al Abed

Address: Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 8:30am - 11:30pm (daily)

Price: 17 USD

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10. Check out the Ottoman Clock Tower in Al Tal Square

Tripoli - Lebanon
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ali youssef used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are keen on uncovering more of Tripoli’s history, then walk through Al Tal square and admire the Ottoman Clocktower. Established at the end of the 19th century, Al Tal Square houses its widely photographed structure, also known as the Sultan Abdulhamid Clocktower. History states that the 30-meter (or 98-foot) clock tower was an homage to the Tripolitans, by Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1906, during his 30th anniversary as a sultan. The Ottoman’s architectural design is seen on the clocktower’s solid clay structure, the beautifully etched glass windows that are molded into sinewy arches, and imposing minarets shooting to the sky from the rooftop.

Ottoman Clock Tower

Address: Al Tal Square, Abdul Hamid Karami St. corner Mohammed El Hussein St., Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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11. Discover the jewel in the city - The Mansouri Great Mosque

Mansouri Great Mosque in Tripoli
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rabih omeiri used under CC BY-SA 4.0

At the foot of the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Giles, you will discover the jewel in the city - The Mansouri Great Mosque. Known as the oldest mosque in Tripoli, the Mansouri Great Mosque stands as a Mamluk jewel, built in honor of Sultan Mansur Qalawun, who in 1289 conquered Tripoli from the Crusaders. The Sultan’s sons, soon after, found a ruined church and built this great mosque around it. As it now holds the Madrasah Qartawiyyah, the Islamic center, you will be able to sense the cultural, architectural, and historical aspects of Tripoli in one great place.

The Mansouri Great Mosque

Address: Fadel Saadoun, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 5am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

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12. Spend a relaxing afternoon at Corniche Al Mina

Tripoli, Lebanon (Mina) a3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mahmoudalrawi used under CC BY-SA 3.0

When you need to wind down from your fun-filled Tripoli tour, the best way is to spend a relaxing afternoon at the Corniche in Mina. The 4.5 km (2.8 mi) long waterfront offers a scenic experience where you can sit at a cafe and observe life at Al Mina go by. Or stroll along the boulevard and pause at the breakwater to watch the sunset. If you want to do some water adventure like fishing or island hopping to islands like the Palm Islands Nature Reserve, you may just as well do so from Corniche Al Mina.

Corniche Al Mina

Address: Tripoli District, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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13. Wander around the marvelous Rachid Karami International Fair Center

Tripoli Lebanon Fair
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user RomanDeckert used under CC BY-SA 4.0

An avant-garde vision of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the RKIF was created as the main economic and cultural venue of Lebanon at the end of the 20th century. Here, you will simply marvel at the majestic yet functional installations of Niemeyer. It boasts a modern rendition of the Ottoman Pavilion, the illusion of a spiraling disc through the Space Museum, the big-domed Experimental Museum, the great big Arch, and more. Visit this marvelous landmark during the day so that you can take many beautiful pictures to share with your loved ones.

Rachid Karami International Fair

Address: El Maarad Street, Tripoli, Lebanon

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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14. Admire the pottery in Mina

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Look for the community of pottery artisans in Al Mina and gaze with wonder at their potteries. Al Mina’s potters render the art of pottery through a mixture of clay molded in a heated kiln and finished with ancient Lebanese motifs like zigzags and spirals. Both artist and viewer acquire enhanced creativity and pride for the timeless heritage of earthenware, stoneware, or porcelain. This functional art deserves to be sustained to inspire the generation of millennials to continue crafting with their bare hands, as well as to harness a skill that may come in handy. So, why not try this unique experience in Tripoli and mold your own pottery!

Pottery in Al Mina

Address: Al Mina, Tripoli, Lebanon

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A fascinating city

Clearly, there is something about old cities like Tripoli that never ceases to pique one’s curiosity. It may be the integrity and beauty behind the ancient landmarks’ architecture or the timeless handcrafts. It may also be the scrumptious delicacies in popular restaurants or the enticing aromas in the old souks and alfresco cafes. Perhaps it is the strategic landscape that connects the city’s important areas or the modest and resolute character of the locals. For a destination off the beaten track, consider Tripoli.

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