Introduction (All text © 2003 Lonely Planet Publications. All rights reserved)

Despite the country's demonisation in Western mass media, most travellers who have visited Libya report having a grand old time. The Libyan people enjoy a well-earned reputation for kindness and hospitality toward visitors, and, unlike most North African destinations, the country's streets and souqs are free of the hassles of touts and their hard sell. Even Libya's controversial leader, Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi, has of late been keen to renew ties with the outside world and is styling himself as a unifier and pacifier.

And Libya's not all date palms and deserts, either. For a country that's been all but swallowed by the Sahara, you'll be surprised to see how pleasantly Mediterranean it can be...provided you stick to the northern coastal area. There you'll learn that Tripoli is as urbane as any place in Africa and a good deal more than most, while the Jebel Akhdar region to the east is a lot closer to verdant Crete than it is to crunchy and crumbling. Of course, if shifting sand dunes and camel trains are your thing, Libya's got desert for days, and a quick jaunt down into the Fezzan will take you boldly where nomad has gone before. From ancient Greek and Roman ruins to modern art and oil money, Libya's a world unto itself (though with the lifting in 1999 of UN sanctions, things are looking up, and out).

While security in Libya is generally good, tensions in the Middle East remain high. Travellers should keep abreast of international events that might have repercussions in Libya, and avoid political gatherings and demonstrations whenever possible. Travel with a guide or in groups is recommended in remote areas.

...more infos (click)