Libya

Sand dunes in the desert.

Best known for oil, Libya actually has so much more to offer. Shop in the old souk markets in Tripoli. Compare the calm of Roman ruins at Leptis Magna with the bustle of Libya's second city, Benghazi. Explore the vast Sahara Desert, stopping at lush oases along the way or swim at deserted Mediterranean beaches. There's prehistoric rock art to see in the desert mountains.

Background

Recent years have seen this long-isolated oil-rich country, independent since 1951, begin to open up to visitors. In Libya, attractions don't come much bigger than the Sahara Desert. A range of surprisingly green mountains separates the desert from the Mediterranean coastal strip. In the west, dense groves of orange and olive trees line coastal valleys. Be among the first to come and enjoy the contrasts. The beaches and grand Italian colonial streets of Tripoli seem a world away from the simple mountain Berber villages.

Urban

Start on the Mediterranean coast in historic Tripoli, Libya's capital. Further to the east, Benghazi is the country's second largest city. This bustling port is an important commercial centre. Base yourself here to visit the Greek ruins in Cyrene, or venture into the desert at Kufra. On the edge of the Nafusa Mountains, Nalut offers ancient desert architecture and expansive Sahara views. Don't miss the desert oasis town of Ghadames, with its covered streets and mud-brick buildings.

Rural

With the exception of Libya's coastal strip, the Sahara Desert covers most of the country. Climb huge sand dunes and explore fertile green oases. Gaze in awe at 10,000-year-old rock paintings in Jebel Acacus. You'll be amazed to see water in the desert - the Dawada Lakes are no mirage. The famed Roman ruins at Leptis Magna are well worth a visit. With 1100 miles of Mediterranean coastline, there are plenty of sandy beaches to choose from - the region between Sabratha and Abu-Kammash is a good place to start.

Fast Facts - Libya

Language
Arabic, English, Italian
Currency
Libyan dinar
GMT
GMT +2
Electricity
127/220V AC, 50Hz, two-pin European-style (round pins) or three-pin South African style (two smaller round pins above one large) plugs are standard

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