Libya is a country in North Africa and the fourth largest in Africa. To the north, it borders the Mediterranean Sea. In the west, you will find its largest city and capital, Tripoli. Other large cities include Benghazi and Misrata. While the 679,363 square mile (1,759,541 square kilometer) region has a relatively small population, 90 percent of its residents inhabit just ten percent of the land, mostly along the Mediterranean.
Libya acquired its independence in 1951. Formerly a poor nation, it has become one of the continent’s wealthiest countries since the discovery of its oil reserves in 1959. Thanks to petroleum sales, the World Bank considers Libya as an “upper middle income economy.” For this reason, accommodations and goods can be expensive in this country.
Hotels and hostels are sparse in Libya. Hostels are most likely to be found near tourist attractions such as the ruins of the ancient city Sabratha along the coast. While the country does not attract large crowds of tourists, many individuals visit in order to see the ancient Tripoli region, the Mediterranean, as well as the beautiful architectures of each region.
For the most part, Libya’s accommodations are made up of luxury hotels. There are also a few family-run hotels and B&B’s which provide a more informal, traditional as well as organic experience of this unique country. The budget-minded traveler should look into staying in a family-owned hotel and sharing a room with fellow tourists. Most of the hotels are located in Tripoli, Al Bayda, Benghazi, Al Khums, Ghadamis, and Sabha.
There are numerous airports, including international options, in Libya. Once you have landed, you can get around via bus or car. There are no railways. Once you find a hostel or hotel to your liking, you easily can take day-trips to sightsee other locations by using buses to get from city to city and taxis to get around towns.
An interesting quality about Libya is the Greek, Italian, and many other influences it has acquired from invasions of ancient as well as modern times. Subsequently, there are traces of these foreign influences to be found in the country’s ruins, architecture and foods. For the most well-rounded experience of this exotic locale, be sure to spend a few days in various cities in order to experience all of the different facets of Libya.
Travelers come to see places such as the temple of Zeus, built in the ancient Greek-Roman city of Cyrene, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, located close to today’s city of Shahhat.
Tourists also enjoy another UNESCO World Heritage Site of an ancient Roman city, Leptis Magna in the current city of Al Khums. Here you can see some of the world’s most ornate ruins such as The Arch of Septimius Severus.
If you decide to stay in a hostel or hotel in Benghazi, you can admire the Al Manar Royal Palace in the center of the city. This beautiful structure served as the first campus of the University of Libya.
No itinerary within Libya is complete without a stop in the capital. Here you can admire the architectural beauty of Tripoli Cathedral, a Roman Catholic creation turned into a present-day mosque. There is also the extraordinarily beautiful Tripoli Palace, former residence of King Idris. Today, this magnificent building houses the public library. Another point of interest within the city is the Red Castle Museum, or Assaraya Alhamra Museum. Located in the Red Castle Fortress, it presents Libya’s past, from prehistoric times to its independence revolution.
Libya is a country of many flavors due to the many invasions from different peoples, as evidenced by the varying architectures. Not only do the buildings reflect the various influences, but also the cuisine combines the varying flavors of the former invaders. Libya’s main foods are olives, dates, grains and milk. Dishes include a lot of pastas, proof of the Italian influence. Teas, nuts and pastries make up the desserts. A favorite of the people is Khubs Bitun, a kind of tuna sandwich. Be sure to get a taste of this unique cuisine, either by dining in authentic eateries or by indulging in the home-cooked food in a B&B.
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