Getting in and out
At this current time you are very limited in how you can get in and out of Libya. At the moment the main way to get in is by flying into Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport. The main airports that fly to Tripoli are: Tunis, Istanbul, Cairo and now Rome.
The most reliable of the airlines that fly in is Libyan wings, which we can help you book. There are also flights available sometimes on Egypt air and Air Tunis, the latter however has a reputation for not being reliable.
There are talks at opening Libya’s land border with Algeria, however it is unclear if this will be available for tourists so for now this is not an option.
See and do
Libya has arguably some of the best preserved and largest sites of Roman ruins in the entire world. The sites of Leptis Magna and Sabratha are true highlights and are set with the backdrop of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. In addition to this, many people come to Libya to see the desert landscapes and lifestyles. This is best viewed in places such as Ghadames which is located in the Sahara on the border with Algeria.
Tripoli itself is also an amazing city to visit as it has a combination of North African, Arab and Italian colonial influences that give the city a unique identity and culture.
Previous travel to Libya on the business visa meant you had to abide by strict rules and were basically bound to your hotel when you weren’t being escorted around. The situation now is vastly different, however certain obvious restrictions do apply.
While touring around you will be escorted by a policeman from the tourism police, who is basically there to make sure no one tries to mess with you. We have never felt like this would happen in Libya, but nonetheless they will be there for your safety. This means if there is something that you would like to go see/do you must run it by your tourist policeman.
It should also be noted that, once you agree to an itinerary in Libya there can’t be any deviation from the program. Your permissions you are granted are not able to be changed once your visa is issued. This may change in future, but for now once you agree, you are stuck doing that.
Officially in Libya there is a dress code for men and women, which means wearing conservative clothing. For men, you must wear shorts below the knee and women must also be dressed conservatively. The reality of this is very different.
You can pretty much wear what you want as a man with shorts and t-shirts not being an issue. Libyans themselves will rarely wear shorts in public (even in the middle of summer) so you might standout when touring around Tripoli, but this is just because of fashion, not rules. When visiting places like Sabratha or Leptis Magna you will barely see anyone else, so a relaxed dress code is no issue.
For women, nearly all Libyan women will be wearing headscarves. This is a recent development since the revolution, and you will still occasionally see a woman with her hair out. Again, there is no official stance on headscarves for women, however you may feel more comfortable wearing one loosely draped around your head as all other women will be like this, but this is up to you and just do what makes you feel comfortable.
If you travel with us to Libya during the colder months, you won’t even really need to think about the dress code as it will be cool and so you will probably be wearing a jacket and long pants.
Topics of discussion
Libya’s recent history will definitely be top of your mind when you’re on the ground learning about this awesome country. It is definitely okay to ask your guide questions about the revolution and how life was under Ghaddafi. Just be aware like any kind of political situation there will be people on either side and you may come across several opinions about this topic.
It would be unwise to talk loudly about Ghaddafi in public as you don’t know who might be listening or who might hear incorrectly. You don’t want to put your guide in a position where they express their opinion and it upsets people around you. In saying that, when you’re in a private setting, such as driving to and from places, feel free to ask any questions you might have!
Many Libyans are very aware of what is happening in the outside world and have lived abroad so it is always interesting to hear their perspective on how everything is unfolding in their country.
The dominant religion in Libya is Islam, with approximately 94% of the population following the Sunni branch of Islam and around another 4-5% Ibadi Islam. There is also a very small percentage of Christians, which are mainly Coptic Orthodox, also known as the church of Egypt.
The main source of legislation in Libya is Sharia law, as Islam has been designated as the state religion. Sharia also however allows for others to practice Christianity and Judaism. Since 1945 however nearly all of the Jewish Libyans have left. Despite religious freedoms however, non-Muslims face greater discrimination and potential violence (however this doesn’t apply to tourists).
Surveys have shown an increasing trend amongst younger Libyans to be increasingly non-religious. As of 2018, 25% of young Libyans said that they were non-religious, however they still identified as Muslims.
Libya also had one of the longest living Jewish populations, which dated back to the 4 th century BCE. However, during World War II the Italian fascist government begin to deport Jewish people. After the war, several pogroms and riots led to Jewish people fleeing Libya. The last living Jewish person in Libya died in 2002. Currently there are no known Jewish people living in the country.
The population of Libya is primarily of Arab origin, with Arabs making up 92% of the population and Berbers making up 5%. Unofficial estimates put this number higher at around 10% or roughly 600,000 Berbers.
Among the Berber populations are Berber minority populations that differ throughout the country and include groups such as: Zuwarah, Sefra, Ghat, Ghadamis, Murzuk and Tuareg. Libya has more than 140 tribes and clans throughout the country and is considered one of the most tribal countries in the world.
Prior to the revolution, there were also around 2 million Egyptians living in the country as workers. Since the turmoil however most of them have left, with around 500,000 remaining.
Libya also has around 8,000 refugees living in the country, which are mainly from other African countries such as Chad and Niger.
You can absolutely take photos in Libya! However there are some restrictions. Just like with most places, you cannot photograph the military, which includes the few checkpoints that you will see throughout the city and driving in between towns.
At tourist sites you are pretty much unrestricted, and you can take as many photos as you like. Local Libyans if they get the courage to speak to you will often ask to take photos with you.
Big lenses and serious photography equipment may be questioned at the border so smaller cameras are definitely preferred. Drones are illegal to bring into Libya and will be confiscated at the border if found.