- For other places with the same name, see Tripoli (disambiguation).
Tripoli (Arabic: طرابلس Ṭarābulus) is the capital, largest city, principal harbour and biggest commercial and manufacturing centre of the North African country of Libya. Tripoli is located in the north-west of Libya and is situated on the Mediterranean Sea. The city has a population of some 1.68 million people.
Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BCE by the Phoenicians, who named their settlement Oea—due to the city's long history, there are multiple sites of archaeological significance in the city and in its surroundings, not least from the period under the Roman Empire.
Tripoli's prevailing climate is typical Mediterranean, with hot dry summers, cool winters, and some modest rainfall.
Visas will be needed, and those can be attained via embassies and/ or consulates. Roughly $50-$150, you will need to obtain the visa prior to arrival and be prepared for getting your hands on lots of information, best to ring first for the latest requirements as they change regularly. Make sure you have an official Arabic translation of your personal details in your passport otherwise immigration will turn you away once you have landed and send you home again.
Leaving Libya requires the right stamps in your passport. Your hotel is required to present your passport to the authorities where a postage like stamp is pasted on to your visa. Make sure you confirm this with the hotel prior to checking out or else you are liable for a fine or worse when clearing immigration.
Make use of the business class lounge at Tripoli Airport (LYD 20 charge if you are not a first/business traveller)where the toilet facilities in the are clean while the same cannot be said for the ones in the general lounge.
Tripoli has an international airport appropriately named Tripoli International Airport. It is operated by the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau of Libya and is the nation's largest airport. Located in the town of Ben Ghashir 34km south of the city centre, Tripoli International is a hub for Libyan Airlines. They are many well-known international carriers flying to the Libyan capital such as British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Emirates, Alitalia, etc. They are currently building a new airport adjacent to the old one.
There is no train network operating in Libya yet, although Libya is planning to introduce such a service between the east and west of the country. This is currently in the planning stages and a Chinese contractor has already been brought on board.
Tourists travelling to Tripoli used to make their way there by road from Tunisia which is nearer than the other border from Egypt, the journey takes approx three hours drive from the border with Tunisia. This journey should only be completed in daylight hours as its very dangerous at night, many sheep, camels, cows, and of course shepherds roam the roads in evening and are hard to spot. There have been reported incidents of bandits operating on this route and it is therefor advisable to make others aware of travel plans.
From Malta. Before sanctions were lifted in 1999 and 2003, this was the preferred method for getting into Tripoli. The only alternative was flying to Tunisia and driving to Tripoli.
The best way to see Tripoli is to walk, there are plenty of great guides out there (books) to help you out and also you may come across some half-useful Libyan versions. The people are friendly and very inquisitive. But be aware if you're a westerner, or stick out like a sore thumb compared to a local. Don't walk around at night alone. Taxis are also useful but can be pricey for westerners.
The Assaraya al-Hamra (the Red Castle), a vast palace complex with numerous courtyards, dominates the city skyline and is located on the outskirts of the medina. There are some classical statues and fountains from the Ottoman period scattered around the castle.
The Gurgi and Karamanli mosques, with their intricate decorations and tilework, are examples of the artistic skills of local craftsmen. Just outside the Gurgi mosque is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, the only surviving Roman monument in the city. More and more palaces (especially from the Karamanli period) are also being restored and opened to the public. The basic street plan of the medina was laid down in the Roman period when the walls were constructed as protection against attacks from the interior of Tripolitania, and are considered well planned, possibly better than modern street plans. In the 8th century a wall on the sea-facing side of the city was added.
Three gates provided access to the old town: Bab Zanata in the west, Bab Hawara in the southeast and Bab Al-Bahr in the north wall.
The city walls are still standing and can be climbed for good views of the city. The Bazaar is also known for its traditional ware; fine jewellery and clothes can be found in the local markets. The Jamahiriya Museum, a fine modern facility located in the Red Castle, is Libya's national museum. It houses many artefacts from the country's Roman and Greek periods, including treasures from the World Heritage sites at Leptis Magna and Sabratha, as well as politically motivated displays such as the Volkswagen Beetle car driven by Gadaffi in the 1960s.
- People Palace
- Green Square.
If you want to escape from the pressures of today's modern life, Tripoli is the place to go. There are wonderful beaches within driving distance, and the Old City and the Museum are good for hours of exploration. Adventurous types might try the nightclub on the 3rd floor of the 3rd building in the downtown tower complex. Like any proper nightclub it only opens at 11pm. A non alcoholic beer will set you back a small fortune, and, like in Italy and Paris, there is a charge to sit at a table.
If you want to keep fit, and if you can afford it, then go to the Corinthian hotel which has swimming pool, gym etc. If you are staying there, it is included in the price, but if not then the minimum membership is for 3 months at a price of 700 LD, then 6 months for 1200 LD.
There is also another gym called the Ein Zara Physiotherapy Centre which offers massage and all the basic fitness equipment for a far cheaper price of basic 75 LD/month or about 130 LD /month including massage. There is also a rumour of a gym in the Imad Complex (the 5 towers - downtown commercial area).
Most jobs for expats in Libya are in the oil and gas industry although there are major plans for development of practically every part of the Libyan infrastructure. This includes rebuilding roads, airports, a new railway system, towers and offices in the commercial district, and tourist projects near Tripoli and the Egyptian border.
Because of the perception that Libya offers very little compared to other Middle Eastern countries (and which is mainly true ....at the moment), and the fact that rates are generally better elsewhere such as Qatar or UAE, very few expats actually come to Libya and construction and engineering companies are desperate to attract people with experience.
Libya is changing rapidly though and there are already plans for the usual big shopping malls and big brand shops and supermarkets to open in Tripoli. As a note, the government generally owns the land, not individuals, so when the government agencies want to clear a patch of ground in the city and build something, they go right ahead and do it. You might wake up one morning to find a block of houses has been cleared nearby.
Doing business in Libya can be frustrating and there are many false leads. There are many stories of outside companies not being paid the full amount they are due for a project, especially the final invoice. Libyans are generally well educated and many can speak reasonable English. However, they still have a long way to go when it comes to the commercial aspects of business. Beware of the bidding process for example, if you submit you technical bid for a project and which receives the best score, and then have the best price to go with it, don't celebrate just yet. All too often, the client will now ask you again for you to come back again with your "best price". If there is a Libyan company competing against you, they may already have it wrapped up. Libya is embarking on an economic diversification project. However, they have learned from the mistakes of Dubai, and western expats will not find it to be a place they can abuse, and act in a manner that insults the local religion and culture.
There are some big brand shops present in Tripoli, Marks and Spencer, Mango, H & M (although might not be genuine) but they are coming slowly. Prices are similar in comparison to the UK.
Clothes The best clothing shops are generally near Green Square and running up towards the former cathedral. Bargains can be found here including shoes and the usual knitwear which appears to good quality. Also in Gargarish and Benashour area there are many of nice shops there.
Furniture Gargarish Road running towardds Hay Andulas is easily the location to go for any furniture or office equipment, printing supplies etc.
Electronics The best electronics shops are also on Gargarish Road but for computer equipment head to the Fatah Tower in the downtown commercial district where there a couple of shops, in addition to the computer shops in Aldahrah
The quality of food in Tripoli is good and it is generally inexpensive by western standards. Do not expect a huge variety, the cuisine is mostly Arabic. The chances of getting food poisoning is slim but beware of the fish, if you do however feel inclined to sample the fruits of the sea, just take one look at the cleanliness of the harbor and the beaches. There is an Oriental restaurant in the Corinthea hotel and another one in Gargash. Brush up on your Arabic; waiting staff speak little English and getting one of them to serve you at your table can be a challenge.
$5 for a takeaway meal, $20 in a good reastaurant, and $40 at a fancy restaurant in the Corinthea hotel.
Several new cafe shops and bistros opened up in Tripoli. Mostly located in the Gergaresh strip all the way to Seyaheya. Just to name a few of the most popular venues; 02,W Cafe, Veranda, Caracalla, Cacao, Halaweyat Sharkiya and Caffe Casa. Most of these cafes are also restaurants and serve a variety of dishes both western and middle eastern. All are of the afforable range and are very popular amongst the foreigns of the city of Tripoli.
Alcohol is forbidden in Libya. It is not available in any restaurants or hotels except black market which may be much pricier than you thought. Fines if caught are hefty.
- Nouzha Hotel Abu Gfifa Street (Benashour), +218 21 3601237. Has 14 well kept rooms. Its size makes it more of a guest house and it seems to be very popular with longer stay foreign workers who prefer a homely touch.
- Corinthia's Bab Africa, (downtown Tripoli) . Tripoli's premier hotel, referred to locally by the chain name (not the hotel name), also a main meeting point for many foreigners and Tripoli elite. It has a number of good quality restaurants as well as a gymnasium, indoor pool and sauna.
- Thobacts Hotel, is probably the second or third best hotel in Tripoli. Granted there is a big difference between it and the Corinthia but it is a fraction of the price. It has been renovated and the staff are very friendly and speak good english. Wifi is not great but at the time of writing this they are looking to upgrade. If you are on business this can be frustrating but for the leisure traveller it should not cause you a problem.
Women may choose to dress modestly - long sleeves, and long skirts or pants are considered most appropriate when shopping or sightseeing. If you look also slightly Libyan on a national holiday or festival, there have been incidents where the fashion police (yes they are there in Libya) have taken a disliking to you wearing shorts vests whilst out in public, but in stress only in the above circumstances.
- Roman Ruins of Sabratha and Leptis Magna are worth visiting. Sabratha is towards west of Tarabulus and Leptis is to the east.
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