18 Best Things to Do in Libya


Libya is a large African coun­try with access to the Mediter­ranean Sea. This is a ter­ri­to­ry of wide plains and vast deserts, among which pic­turesque oases are scat­tered.


Who and why comes to Libya

Even the ancient Phoeni­cians laid trade routes through Libya, and dur­ing the Roman civ­i­liza­tion there were pros­per­ous provinces inhab­it­ed by mer­chants and mil­i­tary men. In the 11th cen­tu­ry, Libya was occu­pied by the Arab tribes, and lat­er by the Ottoman Empire. The coast of the Mediter­ranean Sea has become a haven for pirates for a long time. The coun­try was in the hands of the Ital­ians, the British and gained inde­pen­dence only in 1951. All these events have left their indeli­ble imprint on the face of the coun­try.

Despite its rich his­to­ry, Libya is far from pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions. Trav­el­ers are scared away by the unsta­ble sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try, which does not stop after the civ­il war in 2011 and the assas­si­na­tion of Muam­mar Gaddafi. But there is some­thing to see here.

Libya is famous for the mag­nif­i­cent cities of the ancient world. Adven­ture lovers come to explore archae­o­log­i­cal sites, admire Roman tem­ples, palaces, huge stone columns.

Tripoli — the cap­i­tal of Libya — has a devel­oped infra­struc­ture. The busi­ness dis­tricts are home to pres­ti­gious hotels, restau­rants and shops. For­eign­ers go to see the streets of the Old City, Mus­lim mosques, the Red Cas­tle Muse­um.

Beach tourism is poor­ly devel­oped in Libya. The coastal area is not equipped for div­ing or surf­ing.

Trav­el agen­cies offer excur­sions to the Sahara for active peo­ple, but you should only trav­el with a guide. There are no signs and mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the desert, but there are many scor­pi­ons and snakes — it is easy for one to get lost and die here.

Before trav­el­ing to Libya, be sure to get vac­ci­nat­ed and pre­pare a first aid kit with essen­tial med­i­cines. Alco­hol and pork dish­es are pro­hib­it­ed in the coun­try. Drink­ing alco­hol is pun­ish­able by jail time. The law also applies to for­eign­ers — remem­ber this.

Interesting places and ancient cities

Medina in Tripoli

medina v tripoli

In the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal there are quar­ters sur­round­ed by walls. This is the Old City of the Med­i­na, with nar­row east­ern streets free from car traf­fic. It is easy to get inside through the north­ern, south­ern and west­ern gates.

There are many mosques, foun­tains, his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments in the area. An exten­sive bazaar is con­sid­ered an impor­tant attrac­tion — there you can buy ele­gant jew­el­ry, home-made dish­es, clothes, food, spices.

Martyrs Square

ploshad muchenikov

Arriv­ing in Tripoli, it is worth going to the Mar­tyrs’ Square in the city cen­ter. It was found­ed by Ital­ian colonists at the begin­ning of the last cen­tu­ry for pub­lic meet­ings and cel­e­bra­tions. Today, the square is sur­round­ed by a large shop­ping cen­ter and finan­cial insti­tu­tions. In the mid­dle ris­es a beau­ti­ful foun­tain cre­at­ed by an Ital­ian archi­tect. Dur­ing its exis­tence, the square has had dif­fer­ent names. The last time it was renamed in hon­or of the mar­tyrs who died dur­ing the 2011 civ­il war.



On the heights of Jebel Akhdar lie the ruins of Cyrene. The city, found­ed by the Greeks, was the cen­ter of the cul­tur­al life of the region until the 4th cen­tu­ry. Lat­er, the Arabs came here and destroyed it. Archae­o­log­i­cal exca­va­tions are cur­rent­ly under­way on the ter­ri­to­ry of Cyrene.

Sci­en­tists man­aged to dis­cov­er the tem­ples of Apol­lo, Deme­ter and Zeus, which were hid­den under a lay­er of sand. Not far from the city is an ancient necrop­o­lis. Sar­copha­gi and wall paint­ings found there date back to 600 BC. The Cyrene Necrop­o­lis is list­ed by UNESCO as a World Her­itage Site.



Near the Mediter­ranean Gulf of Sirte, you can see the ancient city of Sabratha, found­ed by the Phoeni­cians in the 7th-6th cen­turies BC. It was a trad­ing cen­ter that flour­ished dur­ing the Roman Empire. Lat­er, the city suf­fered from the inva­sion of wild tribes and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, and in the VIII cen­tu­ry, peo­ple final­ly left this place.

Sara­bat is a his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ment of world impor­tance, where the tem­ples of Isis, Ser­apis, the ancient Roman the­ater and the Basil­i­ca of Emper­or Jus­tin­ian with mul­ti-col­ored mosaics have been pre­served.

Leptis Magna

leptis magna

The city, 130 km from Tripoli, was part of the pros­per­ous African province of Rome. In ancient times, there were wide avenues with mar­ble columns, mag­nif­i­cent tem­ples, baths, live­ly mar­kets and squares. Thanks to its beau­ti­ful lay­out, Lep­tis Magna was called Rome in Africa.

Now only ruins remain of the mag­nif­i­cent hous­es. Tourists can see frag­ments of the Roman the­ater, the arch of Sep­ti­m­ius Severus, the ear­ly Chris­t­ian basil­i­ca. Recent­ly, ten-meter col­ored mosaics of the 1st-2nd cen­turies depict­ing scenes from the life of glad­i­a­tors were dis­cov­ered in the exca­va­tion area.



The ancient Greek colony in Cyre­naica was formed in the VI cen­tu­ry BC. Ancient his­to­ri­ans describe it as the cen­tral har­bor of North Africa. It is believed that the city was the birth­place of the Greek math­e­mati­cian and astronomer Eratos­thenes, who was the first to cal­cu­late the size of the earth.

Due to the earth­quake of 365, the ancient part of Apol­lo­nia went under water. Archae­ol­o­gists have explored the flood­ed city and mapped its streets. On the tour you can explore the ancient the­ater on the seashore and the ruins of Byzan­tine church­es.



On the bor­der between Libya and Alge­ria, in a dry riverbed, the ancient Romans erect­ed a fortress, and the Byzan­tine monks brought Chris­tian­i­ty and built the first church­es in Africa. Today, the city of Ghadames cov­ers an area of ​​38 hectares. The old walled dis­tricts are part of the UNESCO World Her­itage Site. There are mul­ti-storey adobe hous­es show­ing how a per­son can adapt to life in a 50-degree heat.

Notable architecture

Tripolsky Cathedral

tripolski sobor

In 1923, a Catholic cathe­dral in the Romanesque style was erect­ed in the cap­i­tal of Libya. The build­ing has a paint­ed wide dome, a high bell tow­er with a point­ed roof, dec­o­rat­ed with Venet­ian pat­terns. The out­er walls are dec­o­rat­ed with arch­es and stuc­co. With the com­ing to pow­er of Gaddafi, the Tryp­il­lia Cathe­dral was closed and con­vert­ed into a Mus­lim mosque.

Gurgi Mosque

mechet gurgi

In Tryp­il­s­ka Med­i­na there is a Sun­ni mosque built by order of Mustafa Gur­gi in 1884. The white airy build­ing is dec­o­rat­ed with a high beau­ti­ful minaret and a large dome. The inte­ri­or halls are dec­o­rat­ed with grace­ful Ital­ian mar­ble columns. The floor is fin­ished with ceram­ic tiles and stone fig­urines, and the walls are paint­ed with orig­i­nal orna­ments. The mau­soleum of Mustafa Gur­gi and his fam­i­ly is installed in the mosque.

Arch of Marcus Aurelius in Tripoli

arca marka

At the entrance to the Med­i­na ris­es the Roman tri­umphal arch of Mar­cus Aure­lius. The huge quad­ran­gu­lar struc­ture is designed to com­mem­o­rate the vic­to­ry of the Romans over the Parthi­ans in 161–166. The walls of the arch are dec­o­rat­ed with images of Apol­lo, Min­er­va, myth­i­cal birds and ani­mals.

The four nich­es at the bot­tom are emp­ty. Sci­en­tists sug­gest that there were stat­ues of the emper­or and mil­i­tary lead­ers. For many years, the arch was par­tial­ly cov­ered with sand and is now in need of restora­tion.

Mosque Atik

mechet attic

In one of the oases of the Sahara you can find the old­est mosque in North Africa. The clay brick and lime­stone build­ing dates back to the 12th cen­tu­ry. The long struc­ture has unusu­al con­i­cal domes with small open­ings to pro­vide light and ven­ti­la­tion. Thick walls keep out the heat.

Inside there are columns and arch­es, next to the mihrab there is a niche for the min­bar. For many years the mosque was in a deplorable state. It was restored and opened to believ­ers only in 2006.

Museums of Libya

Red Castle Museum

musei krasnogo female

The Archae­o­log­i­cal Muse­um of Tripoli is a nation­al trea­sure of Libya. It is housed in a his­toric build­ing called the Red Cas­tle. The col­lec­tion was found­ed by Ital­ian colonists in 1919 and filled with exhibits brought from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try.

Nowa­days muse­um halls are equipped with inter­ac­tive pan­els and oth­er mod­ern equip­ment. Tourists have access to exhi­bi­tions that tell about the pre­his­toric era, the tra­di­tions of the indige­nous peo­ples of Libya, the ancient Roman and Islam­ic peri­ods, the Sec­ond World War, the strug­gle for inde­pen­dence.

Germa Museum

musei germi

The Archae­o­log­i­cal Muse­um in Fez­zan presents exhibits found dur­ing exca­va­tions of the ancient city of Ger­mas in the north­east­ern Sahara desert. The col­lec­tion includes col­ored Berber wall paint­ings, stat­ues of gods carved from stone, ceram­ics, weapons, frag­ments of tem­ples and columns. Of great inter­est are arti­facts and cult objects found in a necrop­o­lis near the city.

House-Museum of Karamanly

dom museum

The house in the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal once belonged to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Kara­man­li dynasty, who ruled in Tripoli and its envi­rons dur­ing the Ottoman rule. The two-storey man­sion in ori­en­tal style attracts atten­tion with large win­dows, ter­races, thin columns. In the court­yard there is a park with pavil­ions and a foun­tain. There is a muse­um on the ter­ri­to­ry of the palace, which stores exhibits relat­ed to the Kara­man­li dynasty.

natural attractions



In the south-west of Libya, between the sand dunes, there is a large oasis with salt lakes. The water in them is close in chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion to the brine of the Dead Sea. The mud of the largest lake Umm el-Ma has high heal­ing prop­er­ties.

The gen­tly slop­ing shore is over­grown with beau­ti­ful palm trees and cac­ti. Salt water, com­ing from an under­ground source, heats up slight­ly, and remains com­fort­able even in extreme heat.

Akaka mountains

akakskie gori

In the west of Libya, a 100 km long moun­tain range runs through the desert. The ter­ri­to­ry is includ­ed in the UNESCO World Her­itage List because of the rock paint­ings found here. The old­est of them dates back to the 12th mil­len­ni­um BC.

The paint­ings depict giraffes, hors­es, ostrich­es, ele­phants, camels, peo­ple. In addi­tion to rock paint­ings, tourists are attract­ed by the land­scape diver­si­ty of the nat­ur­al park. There are many gorges, deep ravines and rock for­ma­tions resem­bling mys­te­ri­ous fig­ures or huge arch­es.

Desert Murzuk

pustinia mursuk

West­ern Libya is cov­ered with a lay­er of sand. This is the Murzuk Desert, which is part of the Sahara. Its dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture is the dunes formed by strong winds. A large mass of yel­low-orange sand cre­ates giant lon­gi­tu­di­nal and trans­verse stripes. In some cas­es, sev­er­al arms are formed, con­verg­ing at one ver­tex. The wind is con­stant­ly blow­ing away grains of sand, so the dunes move slow­ly and change loca­tion.

There is no water and veg­e­ta­tion in the Murzuk desert, but 11 oil fields have been dis­cov­ered.

Libyan Sea

liviiskoe more

The Mediter­ranean Sea, stretch­ing from Sirte to Crete, was called the Libyan Sea by ancient car­tog­ra­phers. This name is some­times used today. The coastal zone is dom­i­nat­ed by a hot cli­mate, lit­tle green­ery and many spa­cious “wild” beach­es.

Only Mis­rat is more or less suit­able for relax­ing by the water. The third largest city in Libya, stretch­ing along the sea coast, has an air­port and sev­er­al gen­tly slop­ing beach­es.


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