• Libya,
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  • Libya
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Libya

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

At the crossroads of large caravan roads, Libya offers immense desert expanses to people who love vast, open spaces. The Libyan Sahara, with its multiple facets, is a beautiful desert. Travel to Libya and meet the great civilisations of ancient history. Five cities classified World Heritage Sites revealing a Roman theatre, ancient caravan tracks and Greek city among other treasures. Libya is a destination you should hurry to discover before everyone else finds out about it.

Security: The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Tripoli, Zuwara, Az Zawiya, al Khums, Zlitan and Misrata, and to the coastal towns from Ras Lanuf to the Egyptian Border, with the exception of Benghazi. The FCO advise against all travel to all other parts of Libya, including Benghazi. Simarly avoid large crowds in urban areas as protests can easily become dangerous.

On 11 September, an explosion occurred at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Benghazi. A number of people are reported to have been injured. There was also an attempted attack on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli which failed. The FCO advises against travel in the areas around the Ministry.

There is a high threat from terrorism including kidnapping. This threat is increased due to a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali. Visitors should uhold a higher level of caution following the recent political tension. See full official advice.

Our Editorial team's advice

You'll need a week to visit the listed historical sites, which include the ancient cities of Leptis Magna and Sabratah and the ancient caravan capital of Ghadames, 435 miles from Tripoli. To add on a visit on camelback or a great trek in the desert, you'll obviously need more time (an additional 15-20 days). Generally speaking, though, it is rather rare that these two types of visits are combined; visitors often choose one or the other. Basically, you'll just have to go to Libya more than once! There is no better place than the desert to gaze at the stars at night: find a map of the sky to have fun recognising them and maybe even listen to some of your favourite music at the same time.

pros

  • +Very rich archaeological heritage with a string of ancient cities classified by Unesco.
  • +A very beautiful sand desert with magnificent dunes and cave paintings that you can discover on a camel's back.

cons

  • -The tourism infrastructure is not massively developed.

Food

Libyan cuisine, which features the use of olive oil, is similar to Tunisian cuisine but less refined. Common dishes are couscous and the very spicy hacida, which is a sort of stew made with meat, lentils and harissa. Libyans eat a lot of rice and pasta, which is symbolic of the Italian presence in the country. A salad similar to niçoise salad is served with most dishes. Dates, honey and almonds are used in most of the desserts, which are always very sweet. If you are looking for European dishes, head to the touristy hotels in Tripoli.

Souvenirs

Jewels are a source of pride for the Libyans. At weddings, Libyan brides are literally covered in jewels, which are mostly made of gold but include silver imitations. You may also be seduced by the colourful Tunisian-style pottery and traditional garments: djellabas, sarouels, tunics, etc. The shops are open from 8:00am to 4:00pm every day except for Thursday afternoons and Fridays.