Libya Travel Guide

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Travel to Libya is ill-advised at the moment due to the ongoing civil war. And that’s a shame, because this beautiful land has much to offer the intrepid traveller.

One of the largest countries in African, Libya boasts a stunning Mediterranean coastline, gorgeous desert landscapes and no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These ancient sites are a reminder that Libya’s history has always been tumultuous: before Gaddafi’s regime and the ensuing civil war, the country endured Greek, Roman and Italian rule.

But Libya has more to offer than war stories. From the mystical desert town of Ghadames to the stunning Sahara Desert, this is a land of empty beaches, ancient mountain trails and shimmering oases. It is a land where sand dunes stretch to the heavens, palm trees reflect in desert lakes and prehistoric rock carvings decorate the dramatic Akakus Mountains.

Rural Libya is characterised by neatly cultivated olive groves, fat lemons dangling from trees and remote Berber settlements. In the cities, merchants sell wares in rose-scented souks, flogging silver, spices, henna, hijabs and Tuareg scarves. The smell of spicy lentil soup and Benghazi seafood hangs deliciously in the air.

The population of Libya is mostly of Arab and Berber descent. Berbers make up about 10% of inhabitants and live in more remote areas. The rest of the population lives largely in coastal cities like Tripoli and Benghazi, although recent fighting has forced many to flee.

Libyan hospitality is legendary and its people love showing travellers around. But tourism faltered after the Arab Spring and has been paralyzed by the ensuing Civil War. At the time of writing, tourist visas were not being issued and most tour companies have closed their doors – many guides now work as fixers for war reporters instead.

It’s impossible to say how current events will pan out, but, like many travellers, we hope the doors to Libya will swing open again soon.

When to Go

The most popular months for tourists to visit Libya are in the spring and autumn.

Libya’s climate is mostly dry and desert-like. The northern regions do enjoy a more Mediterranean climate with mild winters, and hot dry summers. During the spring and autumn it suffers from the sirocco or ‘gibli’ winds. There are often dust storms and sand storms.

In the Libyan Desert rain may fall as little as every 5-10 years, and there are a few oases. The temperatures are also extreme with cold chilly nights, but daytime temperatures will soar to 57C (136F).

Top Tips

  • Alcohol consumption is illegal in Libya and it is enforced by law.
  • There is no train service in Libya, but transport between cities is easy by bus.
  • Visit the Sahara desert in the evening for the most amazing sunset colors.