Lebanon means different things to different people. A contested hotbed for numerous succeeding empires, a kaleidoscopic patchwork of snow-capped peaks, sparkling Mediterranean coast and verdant valleys, a war-maimed, politically fragile state, a realm of culinary delights, or the central stage for the Middle East's transformation from a radically Islamic, misconcepted, and thus terror-inspiring entity into a more friendly, cosmopolitan tourist hotspot are only a few of myriad images that the very mention of Lebanon evokes.
Whatever lens you happen to view Lebanon through, multiple vistas will nudge their way into your trip. Phoenician tombs, Crusader castles, Roman temples, and Mamlouk mosques honeycomb the cities and ruins of Baalbeck, Byblos and Tyre, and if it you manage to turn a blind eye to the heaps of trash that you may stumble upon here and there, a curious dive into the past is guaranteed. Old parts of Beirut may still feature flaking walls punctured with bullet holes, but it's modern face is marked by marvelous Mediterranean flare, romantic French-like cafes, world-class designer boutiques and exuberant nightlife. Tripoli may have an image problem following the 2007 turmoil between Palestinian militants and the Lebanese army, but nowhere else in the Middle East do pastries taste so sweet and the historic quarters feel so authentic as here.
Outside the tourist hubs, there's, too, plenty to occupy your itinerary. Hike the 350-plus km Lebanon Mountain Trail, ski the well-groomed slopes of Faraya Mzaar, or hit the picture-postcard road to the Anti-Lebanon mountains and marvel at the UNESCO protected Cedars of God. Lebanon has everything any traveler would look for ranking it among the world's top tourist destinations.