Traveling to Libya in Africa

Tripoli Old City
Bashar Shglila / Getty Images

Libya is a large desert country located in northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia. Unfortunately, there has been conflict in this country for many years, that culminated in a Civil War against the former dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Due to this political strife, as ​o f 2017, governments of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, and many more have issued a travel advisory strongly discouraging any travel to Libya.

Facts About Libya

Libya has a population of 6.293 million and is slightly larger than the state of Alaska, but smaller than Sudan. The capital city is Tripoli, and Arabic is the official language. Italian and English are also widely spoken in the major cities as well as the Berber dialects Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, and Tamasheq.

Most of Libya’s residents (around 97%,) identify with the official religion of Sunni Islam, and the currency is the Libyan Dinar (LYD). 

The spectacular Sahara Desert covers 90% of Libya, so it a very dry climate, and can get extremely hot during the summer months between June and September. Rainfall does occur, but mainly along the coast from March through April. Less than 2 percent of the national territory receives enough rainfall for settled agriculture.

Notable Cities in Libya

While again, visiting is not recommended at this time, below is a list of the most popular cities to see in Libya. Always keep an eye on travel warnings before booking your trip.

  • Leptis Magna was excavated in the 1920s, this World Heritage site is a magnificently preserved Roman city dating back to the 10 Century BC. You can get a glimpse of the public monuments, a harbor, a marketplace, and the residential districts that made up the ancient city.
  • Cyrene was originally founded by the Greeks in 630 BC, Cyrene later became an important Roman city and now a wonderful archaeological site for visitors to enjoy. Ancient Greek temples and statues are very well preserved and offer a unique glimpse into ancient Greece in Africa.
    • Ghadames is a real Saharan jewel. This ancient city contains white-washed walls and covered streets that work to keep walkers comfortably cool. Most of the residents have left the old town but return during the hot summer months to their original homes.
    • Tripoli is a modern city and the arrival point for most visitors. It has a very busy port and is the headquarters for most international businesses operating out of Libya. The medina (old city) and the excellent Jamahiriya Museum are highlights for visitors.
    • Benghazi is Libya's second city and more laid back than Tripoli. There are lots of decent shops, bazaars, cafes, and nearby beaches lend themselves to the vibe of this more casual city.
    • Gharyan and Nalut. Traditional Berber homes (similar to those in Southern Tunisia), can be found all over Nalut and Gharyan. Nalut has many traditional Berber Ksar with lots of Ghurfas (granaries) and interesting nooks and crannies, all built on an escarpment that offers great views. Gharyan has great examples of Troglodyte dwellings (stone caves) that carved out of the mountains, and are now uninhabited.
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