Beirut is arguably the greatest city known to humanity but sometimes it can become a bit pricey, especially with the reality of low salaries and high rent prices. Around the middle of the month, it's all too common to find yourself staying at home, avoiding social interaction, to ensure your money lasts.
But really, there is no need to shun all social activity just because you're running low on cash. Beirut offers a lot of free and very affordable activities. You just have to get creative.
Here's a list of 18 free or really cheap activities to keep you entertained until you get your next paycheck to blow in less than a month.
1. Get lost in Ashrafieh
Grab a close friend and just start wandering all the tiny side streets and thoroughfares that make up this vibrant neighborhood of Beirut. You'll stumble across all types of quaint cafes, shops and galleries. Just note that when we say get lost, we're serious. It's easy to do, so make sure you keep a good bearing of your surroundings to find your way home.
2. Take an evening stroll on the corniche
Beirut's famous corniche can be an idyllic romantic spot for lovers or just a casual place for groups of fiends to hang out. You can even sip an affordable cup of tea or coffee, complements of the numerous street vendors, as you enjoy the sunset .
3. Go for a jog in Horsh Beirut
This newly reopened massive green space is the perfect place to go for a weekend jog to clear your head. For the time being, it's only open on Saturdays but the plan is to extend the park's hours in the near future.
4. Drink on the street in Mar Mikhael
Every night of the week Mar Mkhael comes alive as Beirut's party crowd gets off work and hits its favorite pubs. Although the bars in Mar Mkhael can sometimes be pricey, you can enjoy the hipster atmosphere but buy a few beers at any corner shop and standing outside your favorite joints, mingling with all the people that bought overpriced drinks inside.
5. Explore abandoned buildings at night
Relics of the civil war, abandoned and gutted buildings are scattered throughout many of Beirut's neighborhoods. If you're bored in the evenings and a little adventurous, these buildings can provide a bit of excitement. Just be careful and don't enter any buildings that look like they'd come crashing down around you.
6. Dress classy, walk in Zaitunay Bay and take pictures
Zaitunay Bay might be Beirut's most posh area but that doesn't mean its off limits to those of us on a budget. Just don your fancy clothes and head on over for a leisurely stroll. Bring your cameras and check in on Facebook, so you can feel like a million bucks, at least temporarily.
7. Picnic in the René Moawad Garden in Sanayeh
One of the most picturesque and leisurely spots in Beirut, the René Moawad Garden serves as the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing picnic on the grass with your friends or family. But remember, don't litter and pick-up your trash.
8. Walk through Souk al Ahad
You can find virtually anything you want at Souk Al Ahad. Although the name translates to Sunday Market, the outdoor bazaar is open both Saturday and Sunday. Even if you don't want to spend money, it's fun to see all the wares for sale. And if you want to just grab an affordable snack or any other cheap items, this is the place to hit up.
9. Attend outdoor movie screenings or film festivals
During the summer in Downtown Beirut, Gemmayzeh and other areas of the city there are regular outdoor film festivals. From European films to local short films, these festivals are a great way to spend an evening with friends. Keep your eyes on your Facebook events and be sure not to miss the date.
10. Enjoy summer street festivals
It seems like every street, neighborhood, nook and cranny of Beirut decided to host its own festival this year. Featuring local artisans, food and live music, these regular events are a great way to add a dose of excitement to your weekend.
11. Buy DVDs for $1 and have a movie day with friends
One of the great things about Beirut is that you can get any movie for about $1. Sometimes you can even get DVDs of films that haven't been released yet. Sure, the quality isn't always perfect but gathering a group of friends and getting two or three DVDs for a lazy day is always fun.
12. Take the bus north and go to the beach in Batroun
Okay, so this one isn't exactly in Beirut, but if you catch the bus going north from the Charles Helou station, it will drop you by Batroun for less than $2. Then you can easily head over to one of Batroun's free beaches (Pierre & Friends or Ô-Glacée) and enjoy a relaxing day in the Mediterranean's crystal blue waters.
13. Hang out on the rocks along the corniche or by Raouche
Go for a swim or just relax and tan along the shoreline. Maybe an old fisherman will even let you try his rod for a bit. You can even bring an arguile to share with friends as you pass the time.
14. Visit Luna Park and ride the ferris wheel
For just a couple dollars, you can enjoy an excellent view of Beirut and the Mediterranean when you ride the ferris wheel at Luna Park before Raouche. Bring a romantic interest and enjoy the sunset together. It will definitely be memorable.
15. Walk down Bliss or Hamra streets and eat street food
Feel like grabbing a quick and cheap snack? Bliss Street in Hamra is the place to go. Reward your sweet tooth with ice cream and crepes. Or snag a shawarma or mana'eesh to satisfy your hunger.
16. Go shopping in Bourj Hammoud and Dora
Shopping is never free, but Bourj Hammoud and Dora are definitely some of the most affordable places to do so. Everything you'd ever need or desire can be found here, everything. Even if you don't want to spend any money, its always fun to look.
17. Enjoy the Beirut Art Center's latest exhibitions
The city's contemporary art hub is a great place to spend a couple hours touring the latest exhibitions and getting your culture on. Even if you're not a true art lover, you can always pretend for an afternoon. You might even find a new appreciation for it.
18. Take shots at Tequila in Gemmayzeh or Bodo in Hamra
After a long day, Tequila in Gemmayzeh and Bodo in Hamra are some of the cheapest pubs in Beirut for taking shots. Get your buzz on quick and for a budget at these drinking joints. Just make sure you know your limit.