The Jeita Grotto in Lebanon is a system of two separate, but interconnected, karstic limestone caves.

© Florian Kriechbaumer/Shutterstock

Jeita Grotto


One of the Middle East's greatest natural wonders, the stunning Jeita Grotto cave system extends around 6km into the mountains 18km, northeast of Beirut. The simply extraordinary upper cavern, accessed via a cable car from the ticket office, has strategically positioned coloured lights that showcase the stalactites and stalagmites in all their crystalline glory. The flooded lower caves, reached via a tacky toy train, are explored by rowing boat and are closed when the flood levels rise too high.

Discovered in 1836 and opened as a tourist attraction in 1969, the caves were used as an ammunition store during the civil war, despite the flooding from the Nahr El Kalb (or Dog River) for which they form the source.

Bear in mind that there’s no photography allowed: you can stow your camera in lockers at the mouth of the caverns. The ticket price includes the toy train and cable-car rides, grotto entrance and a 20-minute video presentation about the caves (screened at different times of the day in English, French and Arabic). Allow 90 minutes for your visit. There's also a tourist office here.

To get to the grotto, take a minibus (LL1500) or LCC bus 6 (LL1500) from Dawra and ask the driver to drop you at the Jeita turn-off on the Beirut–Jounieh Hwy. From here, negotiate a return price with a waiting taxi for the 5km journey (around US$15 to US$20, according to demand), and make sure to figure in waiting time. Alternatively, a return taxi trip from Beirut should cost around US$60 including waiting time.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lebanon attractions

1. Jounieh Téléférique

3.12 MILES

Dubbed the Terrorifique by those who are nervous of heights, this cable car runs from the waterfront road steeply upwards some 650 vertical metres to the…

2. Aïshti Foundation

3.93 MILES

The Aïshti Foundation is a combination of seemingly strange bedfellows. On one hand, it’s a high-end mall aimed at people who have a few grand to spend on…

3. Deir El Qalaa

6.95 MILES

Built over the remains of a Roman temple, this 18th-century Maronite monastery was extensively damaged during the civil war but has been fully restored. A…

4. Sursock Palace

7.95 MILES

One of the last remaining Beirut manor houses from the Ottoman era, Sursock Palace stands behind high gates across from the Sursock Museum (the Sursock…

5. Sursock Museum

8.03 MILES

This privately owned contemporary-art museum is housed in a 1912 mansion located in one of Achrafiyeh's most attractive streets. After a major facelift…

6. Planet Discovery

8.45 MILES

This activity centre and interactive science museum in the Souks shopping arcades is aimed at young children and offers a science museum that's very hands…

7. Al Omari Mosque

8.47 MILES

Built in the 12th century as the Church of John the Baptist of the Knights Hospitaller, this attractive building was converted into a mosque in 1291. It…

8. Mohammed Al Amin Mosque


Now the city's major landmark, this huge, striking amber-coloured blue-domed mosque near Martyrs Sq was opened in 2008 and has four minarets standing 65m…