Tripoli is often described as “al-fayha’,” meaning “the fragrant one” due to the orange tree groves that once surrounded it. Unfortunately, with the urban expansion of the city, these are ever diminishing. Nevertheless, the city is only a drive away from many natural attractions.
Anfe or Enfe peninsula is about 15 km far from Tripoli. The Enfe peninsula once housed the Crusader castle of Nephin, of which only the foundations remain on a rocky plateau right on the shore. It was also the residence of the Counts of Tripoli. There are a few other sites worth visiting: the Byzantine church of Saydet al Rih (Our Lady of the Wind), the monastery of the Watchman (Deir el Natour) dating from the Crusaders period, and the Romanesque church of St. Catherine. One can also simply wander around the fishing docks, visit the remains of the Sea Fortress, and walk along the length of the bay where the salt marshes add a typically pretty note to the landscape.
Wadi Kadisha and Wadi Qannubin
Wadi Kadisha and Wadi Qannubin is a valley about 18 km from Tripoli. Follow Abou Ali River into the mountains to discover the sacred source of Qadisha, (“Holy” in Aramaic), and its valley, sometimes called the Holy Valley. One can visit monasteries such as St. Anthony of Qozhaya, the Qannubin Monastery, Our Lady of Hawka and Mar Sarkis, all carved deep into the sides of the rocky hills of an abyssal valley that has provided a safe haven for Christians since the 4th century.
About 15 km from Tripoli, Balamand was formerly a monastery founded by Cistercian monks in 1157 and was successively known as Belmont, Bellimonte Ultra Mare, and Bellus-Mons. In the 17th century, the monastery came under the authority of the local Orthodox Church. It is situated on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the west. To its east lie the renowned Koura Olive Groves. You can visit the Monastery as well as the famous campus of the Balamand University.
About 30 km from Tripoli, Batroun was successively Assyrian, Roman, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman, and its port retains, in spite of major earthquakes, many remains of these passing empires.
The Church of Our Lady of the Sea, built on the ruins of a Byzantine Church, faces a small spring that lies at the base of the still standing Phoenician wall. You can visit the Roman Theater, the old marketplace, Saint Stephan’s Cathedral and the prince’s seat Rock. Batroun is a very nice place to enjoy the day, with its small streets lined by old houses, its diverse restaurants and bars. But no matter what you do there; don’t miss its famous lemonade and a stroll on one of its beaches.
The Corniche is a long sidewalk by the seaside where one can enjoy a drink, a shisha and a nice walk. From there, one can walk around in the old city of El Mina.
The Palm Islands
The Palm Islands Off Tripoli’s coast we can find a strand of small islands that constitute the only surviving string of islands of the country. UNESCO declared two of these islands a protected natural reserve in 1992 as they are a haven for endangered loggerhead turtles and an important bird area. To get to the Islands, you can hire a small boat from the Corniche. From there, one can enjoy bird watching, hiking, guided interpretive tours; snorkeling, swimming, diving and photography.