Tripoli City Tour
With your likely entry point into the country being Tripoli, be sure to stop for a city tour. Due to recent troubles, this is the quietest capital city I've seen on the African continent, but there are definitely still some worthwhile points of interest. I'd recommend checking out Marcus Aurelius Arch, Martyrs' Square, Tripoli Castle, Al-Majidya Mosque, and the Ottoman Clock Tower.
Being a self confessed coffee snob, I admit I had low expectations for the coffee standard, but I was completely wrong. Perhaps it's the Italian roots that remain, but wow Libya offers great coffee. From the small coffee stands in the souks, to the new hip and trendy establishments, you're guaranteed great coffee. I tried several different coffee shops and would recommend "Cafe Latte" as they have some great food options too!
A 2 hour drive east of Tripoli and you'll reach the stunning archaeological site of Leptis Magna. The site has links to both the Carthaginian Empire and then Roman Libya. Definitely some of the best preserved Roman sites I've seen in the Mediterranean region. If Libya as a whole was a more stable place, I'm sure tourism would be booming in this area. There's large arches, impressive entrances, crumbling columns, and detailed mosaics.
Villa of Silin Located close to the ruins of Leptis Magna is Villa of Silin. It's a private villa that now belongs to a wealth Libyan family, but this hasn't always been the case. The villa originally dates back to the byzantine period, with the original owner rumoured to be a rich merchant from the nearby Berber Leptis Magna, which was one of the biggest commercial centres back in the day. The location on the Mediterranean Sea is perfect and mosaic tiles on the floors and ceilings are absolutely stunning!
Sabratha 1 hour 30 mins west of Tripoli and you'll reach the archaeological site of Sabratha. During years of conflict in Libya, this site has been "off limits" for lengthy periods of time, so receives a tenth of the number of tourists when compared with Leptis Magna. This site was originally founded by the Carthaginians as a trading post. There's a natural harbour due to the location on the Mediterranean Sea, with detailed temple columns around the entire site. You'll see the remains of baths, temples, and fountains, as well as the absolute highlight being the theatre.
After covering every country across North Africa, I've seen some of the best sunsets in Libya. With the capital Tripoli being located directly on the Mediterranean, you'll get some stunning sunsets bounce of the ocean. The only downside is there's no purpose built promenade/boardwalk, but head to the waterfront for sunset and you'll know exactly what I mean.
Help Local Businesses
In the new Covid era we now live in, local businesses are struggling more than ever. Even more so in Libya when you think of years of conflict. In the winding alleyways of Tripoli, you'll find plenty of souks lined with shops selling local good. Everything from clothing, scarfs, spices, and shisha equipment. Unlike other African countries, the sellers aren't pushy, so browse and see what you find. After all, not everyone makes it to Libya, so it's a very cool country to pick up a souvenir.
Okay, so my choice of hotel was out of my hands this time round as it was arranged by my local fixer, but what a winner it was. I would definitely recommend Victoria Hotel. Decent area, spacious rooms, high speed internet, and a great rooftop restaurant. The hotel was pretty busy during my stay as seems like a popular spot for locals to dine.
Local Libyan cuisine is very similar to Lebanese/Arabic and there's some decent restaurants scattered around the city. Sadly, you'll also see many that have closed down too. I decided on Beirut Restaurant, as it offers great Lebanese cuisine at affordable prices. You can check the menu in advance on their facebook page here.
One thing you definitely need is a reliable contact to make your Libya trip happen. You'll need support from day one, starting with the visa process. I can fully recommend Abubaker at Smalos. He's your man from start to finish! Very prompt to respond and provided a professional service, including assistance with the Libyan Wings flights to Tripoli. Abubaker was waiting upon arrival at Tripoli Airport to handle the difficult questions that immigration officials hit you with. You can reach him via Whatsapp on +218 91 363 3082.