Visiting Libya is not on everyone’s bucket list and we understand why. When we told people we were travelling to Libya soon, they were either stunned or had admitted they know very little about the country. The first things that come to mind were words such as civil war, dictatorship and instability. Sadly if you have heard about Libya, it definitely was not on the travel channel.

Visiting Libya

Visiting Libya as a tourist is simply not a thing. In fact, there is no tourist visa and I personally think it would be one of the least visited countries in the world in the past years if we had any access to the data.

There are 193 countries in the world according to the UN and travel to Libya is as off the beaten path as it gets.

The Bumpy Journey to Libya

Everything about visiting Libya was a challenge. Back in 2019 when we spent most of the year exploring the African continent, we quickly realised that Libya will be a difficult one to visit.

There were no tourist visas offered, the only option was to obtain a business visa. To make it even harder, we found out that some of the visas (Yemen and Afghanistan) in our passports might be a problem for clearing immigration. 

We decided to come back to Libya on our new passports. But, in order to receive the visa, you must first get an invitation letter issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Libya.

Sadly, we were denied the first time around, apparently because we were two women.

I guess two women visiting Libya on business might have raised some eyebrows. Who knows.

We tried again with the support of a different company and this time we got it. All we needed to do was drive to the embassy in Australia to get the visa as we didn’t have the time to wait for it in the mail.

Again there were some issues with nationality, but with some smooth-talking, we managed to secure it.

Then the pandemic began and in March 2020 we found ourselves on a friend’s sofa in London awaiting the news if we can fly into Libya. 

The text came in: Do not come, borders have closed. We had 9 countries remaining to visit every country in the world.

Fast forward 20 months later which we spent in Australia doing a whole lap of OZ and the possibility of a visit to Libya has resurfaced.

We could finally leave Australia and we applied for our visa again. And a few weeks later, here we are in Libya. 

Visiting Libya - Our country 187

Visiting Libya in 2021 – We finally made it! Our country 187

Arriving in Tripoli

Surprisingly we were not nervous before boarding the plane to Tripoli. Somehow in the time of Covid-19 literally anything can happen and you need to be able to adapt.

For the few who are visiting Libya, daily flights from Tunis are the best option.

Arriving at Tripoli Airport was smooth, and luckily we were not questioned about our business visa, our local agent on the ground seemed to believe it was because we wore headscarves.

Hijab is not compulsory in Libya. The only country in the world where the hijab has to be worn by law is Iran.

However, since all women wear one in Libya as well as in Somalia, and Saudi Arabia, we wore it most of the time. 

Visiting Libya - airport

Tripoli is the capital city located on the Meditteranean Sea. The water is beautifully blue and you could imagine tourists visiting Libya on package holidays like the neighboring countries.

But the coast was not really developed.

I asked our guide why the coast is so undeveloped. The coastal area which would be considered prime real estate in Europe, Australia, and many other parts of the world is used for parking or left vacant in Libya, even within the city of Tripoli.

He agreed and told me that nobody thinks much about it. Fishing doesn’t seem to be a thriving industry either.

Sadly in the past, Libya went through famine but never did take the opportunity of the abundance of fish in the sea he told us.

Tripoli for us felt like other cities we have seen. A mixture of North Africa (Tunis and Cairo) with some elements of Beirut. There were some unfinished buildings as a lot of development has stopped after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011.

We stayed at Victoria Hotel in the downtown area with views over the city and the sea.

Amazing views at sunrise and sunset. 

Visiting Libya - Tripoli

The highlight of Tripoli was definitely the old Medina. There is some restoration in progress, new tiles are being laid and it will bring back its old charm.

Some parts of it were already completed and it looked great. The souks were buzzing with curious shop owners, welcoming us in. I am sure two blondes are a rare sight here as are any foreign visitors. 

It was such a joy to explore the souks, each one of them dedicated to different trade or product. We learned more about traditional clothes and other trades unique to Tripoli.

We even found a souvenir shop with some trinkets and plates, most of them were authentic handicrafts. There were many other treasures and quite frankly we could spend a day wandering around here.