Lebanon has had its fair share of troubles. It looks worn and weary in places, the government has not invested in protecting sites of interest, but even with its very basic tourism infrastructure it offers plenty of hidden gems. Since public transport is far from comprehensive, I hired a car to get around.
A few hours from Beirut, Baalbek is one of the most impressive ancient sites, dating back to the Roman ages. If you go in the daytime in july when it's 39C, you will have the whole place to yourself and you'll see some fairly big lizards in the ruins. In the nearby town of the same name, there's one of the most elaborate Shiaa mosque.
Beirut is a city of contrast. Parts of it look like Paris, while other parts are more like Baghdad, bearing scars of the civil war. There's a lot of reconstruction happening, and for a country that has the Al Arez tree on its flag, there are almost no trees to be seen. There's the Corniche, a long promenade along the coast. Hamra is the best base, it's filled with shops/eateries and the only place busy every night. For the nightlife, head to Gammayzeh.
About an hour from Beirut is Byblos, a small city that has been continuously inhabited since 5000 BC. There's a castle and archeological site, a souk and a harbour full of restaurants. The restaurants there will inflict a lot of pain on your wallet.
Near Chtaura, I attended a Lebanese wedding. All the tables had shishas, and every 3rd word in each song was "habibi".
Lebanese people are some of the worse drivers in the world. They ignore the most basic rules of the roads: no signals, no mirrors, will stop anytime/anywhere, one way streets are two ways etc. My rental car got hit by a van on the side, luckily I found a local guy who fixed and repainted it for $50 - I spent half a day at a police station, half the day in a garage. "You have to treat every car you see like a baby that you're holding in your arms" is apparently how to drive in Lebanon.
Lebanese food might be tasty but it can be lethal too. I had a bad case of food poisoning in Beirut. It was either from the chicken, the popcorn, or both. I was down with diarrohea for three days, passed out at the airport and again on the plane during the flight back. Gonna stay away from Lebanese food for a while.