Hey, this article is part of our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Lebanon.
Formerly nicknamed "the Champs Elysées of Beirut", this legendary district is characterized by its almost permanent animation, including theaters, cafes but also bookstores. There reigns a cosmopolitan and very commercial atmosphere.
Originally, before 1975, the neighborhood was one of the most renowned in Beirut. It was one of the high places of life and celebration of the Lebanese capital. Cinema halls, trendy cafes, games rooms, hotels and furnished apartments occupied by the wealthy social classes, Hamra was located between the festive cabarets of the Zeitouné district, the discotheques and tourist hotels of Ayn al-Mreissé and the restaurants of Raouche, which overlooked the sea. Not to mention the premium boutiques that occupied the main shopping street: ready-to-wear, silverware, jewelry, art galleries and bookstores.
At the time of the golden age of Lebanon, we came across intellectuals, artists, politicians, tourists, journalists and fashionable actors in Hamra. It was in a way the place of the success of a capitalist and more or less Western economy.
In the meantime, the war has passed by. And more recently, the district has taken on new life, and it is mainly the banks that have taken up residence there. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hamra became a financial centre, before once again becoming a new center for leisure and entertainment.
Hotels, fast food restaurants, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, the Hamra district seems to be rediscovering its pre-war DNA. Let's be clear: the atmosphere is no longer the same as in the 1970s. Nevertheless, Beirutis are once again strolling there, between strolling, drinking and window shopping.
Besides, the first thing you notice when you walk around Hamra are the shops. It is a shopping district, mixing jewelery and fashion.
It is also in Hamra that you can enjoy good Lebanese street food: chawarmas, falafels and other "man'ouchés".
A unique moment of tasting not to be missed during your visit to Beirut. Served on a plate or in a sandwich, the chicken (or beef) shawarma is a delicious local specialty that has many fans.
Marinated in spices (cardamom and cinnamon), the beef shawarma is placed in a piece of hot and fresh Lebanese bread, with a little garlic paste and pickle. A flavor you will find hard to forget!
A variety of cooked dishes, skewers, grilled meats, juices, ice cream, pastries and manoushe (typical Lebanese breakfast), are also offered in the best fast food outlets in the area.
Always synonymous with a certain form of commercial consumerism, Hamra Street is – as we said before – known for its daytime art of strolling. Located in the western part of Beirut, the Hamra district has a festive atmosphere where nightclubs, pubs and cafes are a place of refuge for many visitors. It is one of the places known to live the Lebanese "Nightlife" of modern times, in a slightly Anglo-Saxon tone, although this district is in competition with Mar Mikhael.
Hamra has also not lost its cosmopolitan aspect. There is the sublime AUB, the American University of Beirut, the legendary Souk and Tayeb, a sort of street food market that has become cult in Beirut, modern coworking spaces alongside old listed buildings, while admiring the street food that adorns some of the walls. of area.