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Attawfeek Hotel
Attawfeek Hotel - dream vacation

Aldhra qes ben sada Street, behind Jahomrya BankTripoli

Awal Hotel
Awal Hotel - dream vacation

Shari al-Masira al-KubraTripoli

Zumit Hotel
Zumit Hotel - dream vacation

Marcos Orioles Arc SquareTripoli

Plasma Hotel
Plasma Hotel - dream vacation

Omar Almokhtar street no. 428Tripoli

Thobacts Hotel
Thobacts Hotel - dream vacation

424 Omar Al Mokhtar StreetTripoli

Libya (Arabic: ?????? L?by?) is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa and a part of the Arab world. Although the country is rich in history and culture and has great tourism potential, the country has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since the 1960s. Since the 2010s, the country has been in a state of flux and is rather dangerous to travel to.

However, under less extreme circumstances, this vast country has a lot to offer to the adventurous, thrill-seeking traveller, from deserts to historical ruins from various historical periods. Libya is a difficult country to get around, but the rewards for the persistent visitor are unforgettable.

If you do decide to visit, know that there's a lot to do and see in Libya; in fact, you might be showered with a lot of hospitality and care, even if you unintentionally make a few cultural blunders.



  • Tripoli — the capital and largest city of Libya. The travellers main entry point.
  • 2 Benghazi — the largest city of Cyrenaica and the second largest of the country
  • 3 Ghadamis — an oasis town, the old part of which is inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List, on the border with Algeria near the southern tip of Tunisia
  • 4 Sabha — an oasis city in the southwest approximately 640 km (400 mi) south of Tripoli
  • 5 Shahhat— Ancient city of Cyrene, a World Heritage site, is nearby
  • 6 Surt — on the south coast of the Gulf of Sidra, halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi. Also the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's former ruler.
  • 7 Tobruk — harbour town with World War II cemeteries
  • 8 Zuwara — a port city in the northwest not far from the Tunisian border
  • 9 Misrata — a business-oriented city that is Libya's commercial hub

Other destinations

  • 1 Gaberoun — small former Bedouin village on a wonderful oasis, around 150 km west of Sabha
  • 2 Ghat — an ancient settlement in the south west with prehistoric rock paintings and very challenging desert trekking
  • Green Mountain
  • 3 Leptis Magna — extensive Roman ruins
  • Nafusa mountains
  • The Archaeological Site of Sabratha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Mediterranean coast in northwestern Libya.



Ancient history

Archaeological evidence indicates that from as early as 8,000 BC, the coastal plain of Ancient Libya was inhabited by a Neolithic people, the Berbers, who were skilled in the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of crops. Later, the area known in modern times as Libya was also occupied by a series of other peoples, with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Persian Empire, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turks and Byzantines ruling all or part of the area.

Italian colonial era

From 1912 to 1927, the territory of Libya was known as Italian North Africa. From 1927 to 1934, the territory was split into two colonies, Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania, run by Italian governors. During the Italian colonial period, between 20% and 50% of the Libyan population died in the struggle for independence, and some 150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting roughly one-fifth of the total population.

In 1934, Italy adopted the name "Libya" (used by the Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the name of the colony (made up of the three provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan). King Idris I, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two world wars. Following Allied victories against the Italians and Germans, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration, from 1943 to 1951, while the French controlled Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal of some aspects of foreign control in 1947. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.

Libya under Muammar al-Gaddafi (1969-2011)

On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by then 27-year-old army officer Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris. Gaddafi was at the time only a captain and his co-conspirators were all junior officers. With the assistance of the headquarters army personnel, the group seized the Libyan military headquarters and the radio broadcasting station with only 48 rounds of revolver ammunition. Revolutionary officers then abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic.

The Gaddafi regime made a host of reforms, directing funds toward providing education, health care and housing for all, passing laws of equality of the sexes, criminalising child marriage and insisting on wage parity, although it also brutally put down all signs of dissent and promoted a cult of personality. Per capita income in the country rose to the fifth highest in Africa. Gaddafi engaged in support of, as he put it, "anti-imperialist and anti-colonial movements". During the 1980s and 1990s, Libya supported rebel movements such as ANC, PLO and the Polisario.

In early 2011 the authority of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government was challenged by protesters, leading to a civil war, where NATO-led forces intervened with airstrikes, military training and material support to the rebels.

On 20 October 2011 Muammar Gaddafi was killed by elements of the National Transition Council following his capture on a roadside in his hometown of Sirte. On 23 October the liberation of Libya was pronounced by the National Transition Council.

After Gaddafi

After 2011, Libya soon entered a civil war due to the disputes between the several armed groups that gained power during the insurrection. In September 2012, an attack of the Ansar al-Shariah extremist group on the U.S. embassy resulted in the death of the American ambassador and other public officers. In April 2016, U.S. president Barack Obama said that failing to prepare Libya for the aftermath of the ousting of Gaddafi was "the worst mistake of his presidency".

Libya remains deeply politically and economically unstable. Until March 2021, there were two rival governments: the Government of National Accord (internationally recognised), based in Tripoli, which controlled most of the West of the country, and the Council of Representatives, based in Tobruk, which controlled most of the east. These two governments, however, had limited control over the territory, a large part of it being effectively ruled by tribal warlords and extremist groups such as ISIS and Ansar al-Shariah.

A ceasefire took effect in October 2020, and the Government of National Unity assumed power from the rival governments. The main groups agreed to elections being held on 24 Dec 2021, but the elections have been delayed, as of May 2022 to the end of 2022.

There are hundreds of thousands of displaced people and food shortages are commonplace. Slavery has also made a return since the ousting of Gaddafi, with numerous slave markets now operating openly in various parts of the country.


Islam is the dominant religion in the country, practiced by approximately 97% of the population. Most Libyans are Sunni Muslims.

Christianity is the second largest religion in the country, practiced by approximately 2.7% of the population. Most Christians are followers of the Coptic Church.

Buddhism is practiced by 0.3% of the population and it is believed that Libya has the largest Buddhist population in North Africa.

At some point in history, Libya was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world and it is believed that Judaism came to Libya sometime during 300-400 BC. During World War II and the Gaddafi years, many Libyan Jews fled the country in search of a better life elsewhere.


Within Libya as many as five different climatic zones have been recognised, but the dominant climatic influences are Mediterranean and Saharan. In most of the coastal lowland, the climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is scanty. The weather is cooler in the highlands, and frosts occur at maximum elevations. In the desert interior the climate has very hot summers and extreme diurnal temperature ranges.

Get in

Entry requirements

Libya is not some country you can just show up to and get in. Everyone, except citizens Jordan and Tunisia, requires a visa to enter the country.

Libyan immigration requirements are notoriously perplexing and they often change without warning.

Visitors travelling to Libya for tourism are required to convert $1,000, or equivalent, in freely convertible cash or debit the amount from a valid credit card upon arrival. Failure to do so will result in you being denied entry. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule:

  1. Those travelling as part of a guided tour.
  2. Those holding proof that they have been sponsored by someone.

Citizens of Israel, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan and Syria are not allowed to enter the country, and there are many reasons for this.

  • The Libyan government appears to be convinced that Bangladeshi citizens regularly abuse Libyan immigration rules just so that they can emigrate to Europe from Libya.
  • The Libyan government appears to be convinced that Sudan and Syria are involved in "undermining" Libya’s security and sovereignty.
  • The Libyan government appears to be convinced that Iranian, Yemeni, and Pakistani, citizens often join Islamic terror groups.
  • Due to the Arab-League boycott of Israel, citizens of Israel and those who have visited Israel are forbidden from entering the country.

Requirements for US citizens

US citizens are required to be sponsored by a Libyan company before coming to Libya. In addition, if US citizens are travelling with family members, they must travel together at all times.

By plane

Ever since the civil war began, air operations have become quite unreliable as airports are repeatedly closed and opened again depending on the level of violence in the area.

  • Tripoli International Airport (TIP IATA). Tripoli International Airport (Arabic: ???? ?????? ???????), is the nation's largest airport and is in the town of Ben Ghashir. The airport is closed and non-operational. (updated Jun 2022)
  • 2 Mitiga International Airport (MJI IATA), ? +218 21 350 3405, contact@mitiga-airport.ly. An international airport serving Tripoli. Has flights going to countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey. (updated Jun 2022)
  • 3 Misrata Airport (MRA IATA), airportmisurata6@gmail.com. An international airport serving Misrata. Has flights going to countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey. (updated Jun 2022)

The Benina International Airport, (BEN IATA), (Arabic: ???? ????? ??????) is in the town of Benina, 19 km east of Benghazi (open as of Nov 2020).

Libya has several other airports, but many of them may remain closed:

  • Bayda, La Abraq Airport—(LAQ IATA)
  • Ghadames, Ghadames Airport—(LTD IATA)
  • Ghat, Ghat Airport—(GHT IATA)
  • Al Jawf, Kufra Airport—(AKF IATA)
  • Sabha, Sabha Airport—(SEB IATA)
  • Sirte, Gardabya Airport—(SRX IATA)
  • Tobruk, Tobruk Airport—(TOB IATA)
  • Ubari, Ubari Airport—(QUB IATA)

By train

There have been no operational railways in Libya since 1965.

By car

For travel to Libya overland, there are bus and "shared taxi" (accommodating 6 people in a station wagon) services from such places as Tunis, Alexandria, Cairo and Djerba.

There are accounts of people having done the trip in their own 4x4s or using their own dirt bikes and campervans. There are very few border posts open to travel into the country with a foreign car: Ras Jdayr (from Tunisia) and Bay of As Sallum (from Egypt). At the border, you must buy a temporary licence including a number plate.

By bus

There are bus services from Tunisia and Egypt.

Previous scheduled services may take an extended time to restore, please ensure your travel is through a stable area before boarding any service.

By boat

There are ferries connecting the Libyan city of Tripoli with Malta and Sfax, Tunisia.

Previous scheduled services may take an extended time to restore, please check before ticketing for any service.

Get around

By plane

Due to the immense size of the country, the terrible state of the roads, and the poor security situation, the only way to get around the country quickly is by plane. This is not to say that it's entirely safe, but it's still a better alternative to travelling overland.

By train

There have been no operational railways in Libya since 1965.

By road

Prior to the civil war many visitors undertook the trip in their own 4x4s or using their own dirt bikes and campervans. It would seem that they encountered considerable hospitality once in the country. It was not uncommon to see convoys of European campervans on Libya's highways prior to the civil war. Please make serious and detailed enquiries prior to undertaking any trip by road into Libya to determine if the area you will be travelling through is safe and if fuel and other services are available. Travel such as this is not recommended.

Some self-drive car rental services are available in the large cities but the rates were typically high and the cars unreliable. Avis and Europcar provide rental cars. Around the major cities, driving can be an "education", although driving standards are not as bad as in other countries in the region.

The recommended method of transport for tourists around major towns is taxis. There are also many shared taxis and buses. The small black and white taxis (or death pandas) tend to be safer (more cautious drivers) but learn the term "Shweyah-Shweyah", Libyan for slow-down, and ask them to keep off Al-Sareyah (the motorway from Souq-Al-Thataltha to Janzour)! A taxi driver will routinely try it on with tourists. Will always try to charge 10 dinars for a fare around town. Negotiate the price first. If you find a good taxi driver with a good car, it doesn't hurt to build up a relationship and get their mobile number. Taxis from the airport can be more expensive as the airport is a long way from town. The Corinthia Hotel runs a shuttle from the airport to the hotel.

Longer journeys such as Tripoli to Benghazi will take about 14 hours by bus. The buses make stops for meals and the very important tea (shahee) breaks along the way. A faster method is to take the "shared taxis" but some of the drivers tend to be more reckless in order to cut the travel time. Services such as inter-city bus services have been seriously disrupted or halted due to the civil unrest and armed conflict. Travel by long distance bus services in Libya is not recommended.

If travelling by road in post liberation Libya very high levels of situational awareness should be practised at all times. Fuel supplies and vehicle repair services may be disrupted and some roads and bridges may be damaged. Armed groups and dis-affected individuals, armed militias and detachments of foreign military and military contractors are active throughout Libya. The opportunity to inadvertently become involved in a violent confrontation or robbery is much higher than in many other countries in the region and caution should be exercised. If in doubt stop and take cover or if possible immediately depart the area to a safer location.


See also: Arabic phrasebook

The official language of Libya is Arabic .

The local vernacular is Libyan Arabic. It has extensive borrowings from languages such as Italian, Turkish, and Berber. For instance, the word for traffic light is "semaforo" and the word for petrol is "benzina". Know that Modern Standard Arabic is rarely spoken in everyday conversations. However, most Libyans are knowledgeable in MSA, so if you wish to improve your Arabic skills, you shouldn't have any problems. You're not expected to know the local dialect, but if you make an attempt to learn a few words of the local vernacular, you will impress the locals!

English is the most widely taught foreign language in Libyan schools and it is widely used in commerce. You should not have problems getting around using only English, but the downside of speaking English is that you'll immediately be identified as an outsider and may attract unwanted attention from some undesirable people (e.g. criminals, corrupt officials). Outside of Tripoli, however, English is probably rarely used.

Although Libya was once an Italian colony, the use of Italian has diminished drastically since independence. Very few people (apart from the elderly, the well-educated, members of the Italian community, and businesspeople) nowadays speak Italian.


Libya's colourful capital Tripoli makes for a great start to explore the country, as it still has its traditional walled medina to explore, as well as the interesting Red Castle Museum, with expositions on all parts of the region's history. Despite the development as a tourist destination, this remains a quintessentially North-African place, with a range of beautiful mosques and impressive fountains and statues to remind of its historic role in the great Ottoman Empire. Some 130 km from the capital is Leptis Magna ('Arabic: ???????), once a prominent city of the Roman Empire. Its ruins are located in Al Khums, on the coast where the Wadi Lebda meets the sea. The site is one of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. Another must-see is Cyrene, an ancient colony founded in 630 BC as a settlement of Greeks from the Greek island of Theraand. It was then a Roman city in the time of Sulla (c. 85 BC) and now an archaeological site near the village of present-day Shahhat and Albayda.

The vast Sahara makes for some excellent natural experiences, complete with picture-perfect oases like Ubari. The Unesco listed town of Ghadames was once a Phoenician trade town, and the ruins of its ancient theatre, church and temples are a major attraction today. For stunning landscapes, try the Acacus Mountains, a desert mountain range with sand dunes and impressive ravines. The varied cave paintings of animals and men that were found here have earned the area recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site too.




The Libyan currency is the Libyan dinar, denoted by the symbol "?.?" or "LD" (ISO code: LYD). The dinar is subdivided into 1000 dirham. Banknotes are issued in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 dinar denominations. Coins are issued in 50, 100 dirhams, ¼, and ½ dinar denominations.

The Libyan dinar is commonly called jni in the (western Libyan Dialect) or jneh in the eastern Libyan dialect. These terms are derived from the "guinea", a former unit of currency in the UK. The word dirham is not used in everyday speech. Garsh is used instead to refer to 10 dirhams.

ATM cards are widely used in Tripoli more other areas and most big name stores and some coffee lounges accept major cards. Check that your card is going to work before leaving major centres as previous networks and ATM facilities may be damaged or missing.


The Libyan economy during the Gaddafi era depended primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contributed about 95% of export earnings, about one-quarter of GDP, and 60% of public sector wages. Substantial revenues from the energy sector, coupled with a small population, gave Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya officials made progress on economic reforms in last four years of their administration as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and as Libya announced that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction in December 2003. Almost all US unilateral sanctions against Libya were lifted in April 2004, helping Libya attract more foreign direct investment, mostly in the energy sector. Libya applied for World Trade Organization membership, reduced some subsidies and announced plans for some privatisation of state-owned companies. The former Libyan government invested heavily in African projects including large scale telecommunications and other major international infrastructure and development programs. Sanctions were re-applied in 2001.

In 2011 actions by domestic insurgents and foreign military forces effectively closed down the normal functions of civil administration during the civil war period.


See also: North African cuisine

In Tripoli, it is surprisingly hard to find a traditional Libyan restaurant. Most serve western-style cuisine, with a few Moroccan and Lebanese restaurants thrown in. There are also good Turkish restaurants, and some of the best coffee and gelato outside of Italy. There are some wonderful Libyan dishes you should taste in case you are fortunate enough to be invited to a Libyan dinner party or wedding (be prepared to be overfed!)

A favourite café for the local expatriate community is the fish restaurant in the souq. For the equivalent of a few US dollars, you can enjoy a great seafood couscous. A local speciality is the stuffed calamari.

Also recommend Al-Saraya: Food OK, but its attraction is its position, right in Martyr's Square (Gaddafi name: Green Square). Another good seafood restaurant is Al-Morgan, next to the Algiers Mosque, near 1st of September Street.

There are flashy looking big fast-food outlets in Tripoli. These are not quite the multinationals, but a close copy of them. They are springing up in the Gargaresh Road area, a big shopping area in the western suburbs of Tripoli.

Try one of the best local catch fish named "werata" grilled or baked with local herbs and spices.


Tea is the most common drink in Libya. Green tea and "red" tea are served almost everywhere from small cups, usually sweetened. Mint is sometimes mixed in with the tea, especially after meals.

Coffee is traditionally served Turkish style: strong, from small cups, no cream. Most coffee shops in the larger cities have espresso machines that will make espresso, cappuccino, and such. Quality varies, so ask locals for the best one around.

Alcohol is banned in Libya, though it is readily available through a local black market (anything from whisky to beer to wine). Penalties for unlawful purchase can be quite stiff.


Major cities have a range of accommodations available, from shabby hotels to 4-star establishments. Prices vary accordingly.

In Tripoli, there are a couple of international-standard hotels: the Radisson Blu opened in 2009/2010 and offer excellent accommodations and services, while the older Corinthia Hotel, is located adjacent to the old city (The Medina or "Al Souq Al Qadeem"). Other hotels are Bab-Al-Bahr, Al-Kabir, and El-Mahari.

Manara Hotel, a tidy 4-star hotel in Jabal Akhdir, east of Benghazi, is next to the ancient Greek ruins of Appolonia Port.

While it seems to be diminishing with the arrival of more tourists every year, Libyans have a strong tradition of taking travellers into their own homes and lavishing hospitality on them. This is certainly true in smaller towns and villages.

There are several good hotels in Tripoli's Dhahra area, near the church like Marhaba hotel.

Youth Hostels, associated with the IYH Federation (HI), are available. Please contact the Libyan Youth Hostel Association, ? +218 21 4445171.


Learn more about Libya's UNESCO World Heritage Sites[1].


Finding a job in Libya is not an easy endeavour, even for Libyan nationals themselves. There are not enough jobs for everyone (Libya's unemployment is between 20-30%) and this forces many Libyans to work abroad in other countries. As is the case in every other country, you must have a work permit if you want to work in the country.

Although the government welcomes investment and help, excessive bureaucracy, high levels of corruption, and political instability mean that many are often reluctant to take up work opportunities in the country. Also, without any knowledge of Arabic, adapting to life in Libya may become a bit challenging. Keep all this in mind if you wish to work in Libya.

Libyan authorities take abuse of Libyan immigration laws very seriously; in 2015, the country outright banned Bangladeshi citizens from entering the country because many Bangladeshi citizens (reportedly) came to the country just to illegally migrate to Europe.

If you have a background in construction, you might be able to find a job in the country's construction sector and be a part of the country's rebuilding efforts. For a country that has been ravaged by open warfare for a decade, much of the country's infrastructure is in desperate need of repair.

Some international organisations, such as the United Nations, are situated in Tripoli. If you have a background in politics or international relations, working in the country won't be such a bad idea. In addition, the country is a great place to further develop your Arabic language skills and make a difference in a country torn apart by years of conflict and instability.

Stay safe

Although Libya has great tourism potential, bear in mind that Libya isn't your typical holiday destination.

Thanks to years of warfare and civil conflict, the security situation in Libya is fragile and unpredictable. Although some have been brave enough to enter and leave the country without any difficulties, anything can happen in this politically unstable nation. You should not travel to Libya if you are not prepared to deal with highly unpredictable situations. Libya isn't for everyone, even for the bravest of travellers.

Political unrest

Although the Second Libyan Civil War has ended, the political situation in the country is far from stable. Libya has been, for the past few years, a politically troubled country and one of the world's most unstable countries.

Presidential elections have been repeatedly postponed, and it is widely believed that the first ever presidential election may heighten existing tensions throughout the country. What exactly will happen is open to interpretation.

During your stay, it is strongly recommended that you regularly monitor local media.

Extreme weather

Perhaps the biggest danger you will deal with apart from political instability is the extreme weather. Libya is a very hot country and temperatures can rise as high as 50 degrees Celsius. Be sure to hydrate often and wear appropriate clothing to deal with the heat.

Road safety

Driving by the majority of Libyans is wild and much of the country's road network is poorly developed and maintained. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence. Traffic laws are rarely enforced and the country has a high road accident rate.

Since much of Libya is covered in vast deserts, wind-blown sand can reduce visibility without warning. In addition, highway signs are normally in Arabic, and roadside assistance is limited. If you don't have any knowledge of Arabic and have no experience with driving in North Africa, it would be better to not drive in Libya at all.


See also: Travel in developing countries

Years of warfare and instability has caused Libya's crime levels to skyrocket significantly. The threat of kidnapping is quite high, and as a foreign visitor, you may be seen as an easy crime victim by criminals.

As obvious as it may sound, avoid flashing objects like cameras, mobile phones, laptops, and the like; this could get someone to think you are an easy crime target. In the unlikely event you are robbed, do not fight back, or else you might end up being dragged into a violent fight.

If you are the victim of a crime, do not expect any kind of reliable assistance; the Libyan justice system is corrupt, fragmented, and horribly inefficient. In addition, law enforcement is primarily outsourced to militia groups. Regular and irregular detention of foreigners occurs regularly in all parts of Libya. Your embassy will most likely not be of help if you are the victim of a crime, which is as good as saying you're taking a big risk by coming to Libya.


As obvious as it sounds, no part of Libya should be considered entirely safe; the potential for violent incidents, either targeted or random, exists anywhere at any time, and many governments advise that terrorists are likely to conduct attacks in Libya.

Dual nationals

If you are thought to be a Libyan national – such as having a Libyan father – your foreign nationality will be ignored by the authorities. If you are arrested, your embassy will have little ability to assist you or intervene on your behalf.

Women travellers

If you are married to a Libyan, you are subject to Libyan marital laws: your children cannot leave the country unless your (former) husband gives permission. This may make it impossible for you to leave the country with your children if you decide to divorce your Libyan husband.

If you had the misfortune of being married to an abusive spouse and are not prepared to deal with the prospect of never seeing your children again, encourage them to not go in the first place.

LGBT travellers

As is the case throughout the Arab world and the Middle East, homosexuality is frowned upon by the vast majority of Libyans. Open display of such orientations may result in open contempt and possible violence. In 2012, a Libyan delegate to the United Nations sparked global outrage for making a homophobic comment.

Under current laws, same-sex activity is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and there are no laws and policies in place that protect the rights of members of the LGBT community. This law, in practice, is rarely enforced because militias may choose to execute LGBT people.


Libya has strict rules about taking pictures. For example, photographing or filming military/law enforcement personnel or installations is a quick way to get into trouble.

Stay healthy

Prior to the civil war, Libya had an excellent health care system. Now, the country is experiencing a major healthcare crisis. Even if you have travel health insurance it may not be valid in the country. It's advisable to check in advance with your insurer.


Much of what is considered good manners in the Arab world is applicable to Libya.

Libyans are indirect communicators. They are tempered by the need to save face and protect their honour and they will avoid saying anything that could be construed as judgemental or negative. One's point is expressed in a roundabout way.

Never beckon a Libyan person directly, even if they've done something wrong in your opinion. Libyans in general are non-confrontational by nature and can be rather sensitive to strong, harsh comments. Under Libyan law, if you are thought to have defamed someone or violated the honour or reputation of someone, you can be taken to court. What exactly counts as "defamation" and "violating someone's honour" is open-ended and subjective, but simply put, refrain from making strong comments about people, even if your perspective happens to be true.

Respect for elders is important in Libya. You are expected to act politely around someone older than you, and it would be seen as rude manners if you attempt to challenge someone older than you. It's commonly expected for the senior-most person to make decisions in the business world. If you come across someone who is older than you, give up your seat on public transportation for them. If you're waiting for a taxi, allow someone older to take your spot. If you're in a business meeting, stand up to greet the senior person. If you've been invited to a Libyan home, greet the elders first.

Libyans take relationships very seriously and they view them as long-term commitments. In the business world, Libyans prefer to do business with those they know and respect and look for long-term relationships.

Always use your right hand when shaking hands, bringing something to someone, and so on. The left hand is considered unclean in Libya. It would be considered impolite to use your left hand to offer something to someone, and it would be seen as awkward to eat with your left hand.

The pace of life in Libya is quite slow. Building relationships and getting things done require you to demonstrate sincere interest as Libyans try to do things in a measured, careful manner. Do not express frustration at this or try to rush things; it can be seen as insulting.

Home etiquette

  • Libyans are not known for being punctual, which can be very surprising to visitors from countries where punctuality is highly valued. Lateness does not imply rudeness or a lack of interest; people have a casual approach to time.
  • If you've been invited to a Libyan home, you will often be showered with tea, coffee, and snacks. Refusing any of these would offend your hosts and it could get them to think that you do not appreciate them or their hospitality.
  • You'll often be encouraged by your hosts to take second helpings ad infinitum. If so, take it as a form of respect as it may leave a good impression on your hosts.
  • Utensils are not used when eating. People tend to eat with their right hands. As is the case in many Muslim-majority countries, the left hand is considered unclean.

Things to avoid


  • It is illegal to criticise the country, the state flag, and/or the state emblem. Doing so is punishable by up to three years of imprisonment. You do not have to praise the country excessively; just be polite. You should also know that it is also a crime to criticise another country's flag and/or state emblem on Libyan soil.
  • Criticism of the government is unacceptable in any way, shape, or form. Under current Libyan laws, you can be arrested for "insulting" or "disparaging the dignity of" public officials. You never know who you might be talking to. For similar reasons, don't engage in political discussions with people who bring up politics. Again, what exactly constitutes as "insulting" and "disparaging someone's dignity" is open-ended and subjective, but simply put, be careful with divulging your opinions on the country's political situation. Those who have left Libya may be more open to having a political discussion.
  • As is the case throughout the Arab world, the Israel-Palestine conflict can be a dicey and highly emotive topic for some people. Unless you have a heart for prolonged discussions, avoid discussions on Israel.
  • Avoid having a discussion on Muammar Gaddafi. In some circles, people feel that there was more stability under his rule and may be offended by negative comments about him or his regime.


  • Islam is the dominant religion in Libya and it plays an important role in the lives of many. During Ramadan, you should refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and chewing in public. Not doing so would be seen as extremely disrespectful.
  • It is illegal to criticise or speak badly about Islam. Doing so is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment.
  • It is illegal to proselytize any religion other than Islam. This includes possessing religious literature. Doing so is punishable by law.


Embassies and consular services. Many foreign missions in Libya remain closed or have very limited consular services available due to the civil war hostilities, others were damaged or closed and have not yet restored services, or the question of diplomatic recognition during transitional administration remains unresolved.

The Venezuelan embassy in Tripoli was ransacked and looted by rebel forces and others including the UK embassy were also damaged.

If requiring assistance from your nation's consular representatives, it may be possible to seek them out in a country adjoining Libya or from a partnered nation if a citizen of an EU state. Australia refers their citizens to the Australian embassy in Rome, while Canada and the United States of America refer their citizens to their embassies in Tunis.

Embassies and other foreign missions and provisional offices are in Tripoli, some additional representation may be found in Benghazi

AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Benghazi (see Advisory)

There is a heightened risk of terrorism throughout Libya, including in Benghazi. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Benghazi saw an increase in attacks in July and August 2013. On August 6, 2013, a car explosion killed the vehicle’s owner. Five people were wounded in a bomb blast at a police station on August 2, 2013. On July 29, 2013, several explosions were reported in the downtown area, killing one person. The previous day, two explosions targeted court houses, resulting in significant damage and injuring more than 40 people.

Other major attacks in Benghazi include: A car bomb caused severe damage to the building housing the joint honorary consulates of Finland and Sweden, private commercial offices and a number of apartments on October 11, 2013. No casualties were reported. On September 11, 2013, a powerful car bomb exploded near the Foreign Ministry building, injuring several people. On May 13, 2013, a car bomb exploded at the Al Jallah hospital, killing several people and injuring many others. The U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three diplomats were killed following an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. A British Embassy convoy was hit by a grenade on June 11, 2012, injuring one person. An IED exploded at the gate of the U.S. Consulate on June 6, 2012. On May 22, 2012 a grenade attack targeted the International Red Cross offices and an explosion hit a column of UN vehicles on 10 April, 2012. These events highlight that the situation continues to be unstable and problematic.

Bani Walid (see Advisory)

Clashes, which include indiscriminate shelling, between pro-government militia and Gaddafi loyalists were reported in Bani Walid in October 2012. Exercise extreme caution and avoid affected areas.

Regions of Sabha and Kufra (see Advisory)

Ongoing clashes between various armed groups have been reported in the regions of Sabha and Kufra.


There is a heightened risk of terrorism throughout Libya. In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.

Libyan security forces discovered a car laden with explosives near a hotel in Tripoli on July 29, 2013. The embassy compound of the United Arab Emirates was the target of an attack on July 25, 2013. An explosion occurred close to the Corinthia hotel and Tripoli Towers, near the British and Canadian embassies, on July 23, 2013. No injuries were reported following these attacks. On April 23, 2013, an explosion occurred in the Hay Al Andalus Area of Tripoli, in front of the French Embassy, injuring two people. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness, exercise caution, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.

Civil unrest and demonstrations

The political situation remains fragile and could change rapidly. Violence broke out in Tripoli on November 15, 2013 when a Misratan militia based in Tripoli opened fire on protesters demonstrating the presence of militias in the city. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was seized from his residence at the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli on October 10, 2013 and released a few hours later. Intermittent clashes have been occurring between armed groups in and around Tripoli since June 25, 2013. In May 2013, armed groups seized control of several government buildings in the capital. These groups continue to pose a security risk.

Since the beginning of the Libyan revolution in February 2011, falling rounds from celebratory gunfire have caused fatalities and injuries. Despite a reduction in these types of incidents, you should remain indoors in the event of any celebratory gunfire.

There have been significant spontaneous demonstrations throughout Libya following the assassination of a political activist on July 26, 2013.Follow the security situation closely through local media reports, take appropriate steps to increase your personal security and limit your movements to daylight hours. Avoid public gatherings and all demonstrations, as they may become violent without warning.


There is a general threat of kidnapping in Libya. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.

Border areas

You may face heightened risks at the border areas with Niger, Chad, Sudan and Algeria due to the presence of armed groups and the threat of banditry. Borders may close on short notice.

With the exception of the official land border crossings to Tunisia and Egypt, visitors and residents are not permitted to travel in the interior or to border areas without an officially sanctioned guide or specific permission from the Libyan authorities.


Demining operations are ongoing in the south of the country; however, significant quantities of unmarked landmines remain. The risk of encountering unexploded ordnance and indiscriminately laid landmines is high in all areas where fighting occurred. Exercise caution in these areas.


Flights may be cancelled on short notice. Check the status of your flight prior to travelling to the airport and avoid travelling after dark.

The road system is extensive, but many roads in the south are unpaved and there are only sand tracks in the desert. Avoid road travel in the southeast region due to the possibility of landmines. Traffic is heavy on the main east-west coastal highway, close to the principal cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.

The rate of vehicle accidents is high. Poor driving skills, excessive speeds, and traffic violations pose risks. Rental cars are available but expensive.

In the event of an accident, remain calm and contact the local police. Local authorities may detain motorists involved in an accident until the court case is settled, if the accident resulted in loss of life or heavy damage.

There have been recent incidents of vehicle ambush and carjacking resulting in injuries.

Use luxury, air-conditioned buses for intercity travel.

Taxis are available. Negotiate fares prior to departure.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in North Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in North Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in North Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.



There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in North Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are limited. Some medicines are in short supply.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal or restricted activities

Do not criticize the country, its leadership or religion. Harsh penalties may be imposed.

Homosexual activity and sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal.

Do not photograph military sites or personnel.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect detention or other penalties.


Firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications and currency are subject to strict customs regulations.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. However, Canadians of Libyan origin are the exception, since they run the risk of seizure of their Canadian passport, long interrogations and problems leaving the country if they are deemed in violation of this law. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Child custody

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for a Canadian woman, even if she is a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through a court decision, unless she decides to stay in Libya. Regardless of parental marital status, children of Libyan fathers acquire Libyan citizenship at birth, and must enter and leave Libya on Libyan passports. Canadian mothers require their husband’s permission to take their Libyan children outside the country.

Dress and behaviour

Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Business disputes

Your passport might be confiscated in a business dispute.


The economy is primarily cashed-based. The currency, the Libyan dinar (LYD), is non-convertible outside the country. Only U.S. dollars, euros, British pounds, Swiss francs and Tunisian dinars can be converted into dinars. U.S. dollars can be exchanged at official exchange counters or banks. Adhere to the rules regarding currency declarations and exchange rates. Automated banking machines are not readily available.


The rainy season extends from November to March.

Temperatures can reach 40°C between June and September. The desert area can be extremely hot during the day with cool nights. Follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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