Capoeria in Hamra Street © Youssef Chaker
If Beirut is indeed the 'Paris of the East', then Hamra Street is surely its version of the Champs Elysées. Known as the 'centre of intellectual activity' in Lebanon during the 1970s, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Borzou Daragahi described the area of Hamra back then as 'a bastion of liberalism, [embracing] multiple religions and political views amid sectarian conflict'.
These days, Hamra remains a wonderfully cosmopolitan, open-minded area - full of shops, pavement cafes and trendy bars, and thick with tourists and students from nearby universities. The street houses five-star establishments and budget backpackers alike and so visitors to Beirut who want to experience 'authentic Lebanon', but who also don't want to miss out on the sybaritic comforts that really make a holiday abroad, would do well to make Hamra Street their home base.