The nation of Libya is located on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and borders Algeria and Egypt. In the current climate of the country—characterized by civil unrest, crime, and terrorism—people visiting should consider the issued travel warnings that qualify any trip to Libya as extreme and high-risked. With its myriad of attractions, however, many travelers are hoping to visit this country safely to enjoy all there is to see and do.
The capital city of Libya, Tripoli, boasts an ancient and rich culture influenced by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, and more. It’s filled with famous sites like As-Saraya al-Hamra, a 7th century CE citadel that’s filled with courtyards and alleys to explore. Tripoli’s National Museum is a must for anyone interested in the country’s history. Other must-visit attractions include the Old City, various souks, and Green Square. Travelers will enjoy the city’s wide array of teahouses, restaurants, and shops.
Located just 40 miles from the capital, Sabratha is an ancient coast site that was founded by Phoenicians. An old trading post, Sabratha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s most popular ancient sites. Sabratha once featured an amphitheater, temples, and mosaic tile artistry. Archaeologists have also discovered Roman baths and an ancient Christian basilica at the site. There’s a local museum nearby where many of Sabratha’s statues and bas reliefs are on display.
Leptis Magna is one of Libya’s most prestigious ancient sites. Founded by the Phoenicians during the 1st millennium BCE, the site is full of ruins of temples and fortification walls. There are also Roman basilicas, throngs of crumbling columns and arches, and even the remains of an ancient theatre. As some parts of Leptis Magna have yet to be excavated by archaeologists, more discoveries about this old coastal city may be on the horizon.
A major port town of North Africa, the city of Benghazi has been a place of civil unrest during the country’s recent past. Benghazi is located on the Gulf of Sidra and remains an important hub for Libya’s economy and culture. Some of the city’s most well-known sites and attractions include its Italian Quarter, Al Manar Royal Palace, Al Buduzeera Park, and the National Library of Libya. The city’s winding labyrinth of streets is sure to attract visitors with its Arab, Ottoman, and Italian influences.
Located in northwest Libya, Ghadames is a Berber oasis town dubbed “the pearl of the desert.” Ghadames is situated near the borders of Tunisia and Algeria and is nearly 290 miles from the capital city of Tripoli. The town is well known for its white-washed homes and buildings, as well as its palm-fringed roads. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for the beauty of its terraces, fruit trees, and spring water pool.
The Acacus Mountains, known in Libya as Tadrart Acacus, are famous for their ancient rock art. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near the border with Algeria. The rock art includes cave paintings that date between 12,000 BCE and 100 CE. They are mainly of interest to historians and climate scientists, as they depict climate changes that occurred during that period. The paintings also show ostriches, elephants, and even people performing activities of daily life.
Though a remote location, Waw an Namus is one of Libya’s most extraordinary natural attractions. This ancient volcanic site is located in South-Central Libya near the oasis towns of Rebiana and Al Kufrah. Scientists date it back to the Pleistocene or Holocene eras and measure its caldera to nearly two miles in length. There are lakes with otherworldly blue and green hues located in the caldera that contrast with the surrounding desert landscapes.
Located near the border with Egypt, Tobruk is a bustling port city on the Mediterranean. An ancient Greek city, Tobruk featured as an important stop on coastal caravan routes. Some of the fiercest battles of WWII in Libya took place near Tobruk. Present-day attractions of Tobruk include its port, beaches, mosques, souks, and cafes.
Misrata is Libya’s third-largest city and is located on the Mediterranean coast. Surrounded by picturesque Saharan dunes, Misrata is known for its beautiful beaches, mosques, and distinctive architecture. Home to the University of Misrata, the city features an array of old-town streets, public gardens, and souks filled with traditional handicrafts.
Located near the present-day city of Shahhat, Cyrene was an ancient Greek city on the Mediterranean coast. Of all the old Greek cities in the area, Cyrene is the oldest and features ruins of temples and fortifications. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cyrene is located near the ancient port of Apollonia, also worth a visit, and the lush Jebel Akhdar Uplands.