Getting Around Libya
There are no direct flights to Tripoli from the UK or the USA. You can fly to Istanbul, from where Afriqiyah Airways (www.afriqiyah.aero) flies to Tripoli or fly to Tunis and catch a connecting flight with Libyan Airlines (libyanairlines.aero). Tripoli International Airport is located about 26km (16 miles) from the city centre.
Note that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Libya.
From Tripoli to Benghazi is a 10 to 12-hour drive, depending on traffic and the speed at which you are comfortable travelling. There are some coaches that ply this route, although most Libyans prefer to fly rather than spend all day on the road. If you do travel by coach, expect plenty of cigarette and coffee stops, checkpoints and passport checks.
Side of the roadright
The main through-road hugs the coastline, linking Tripoli and Benghazi. Road conditions are generally excellent in major towns and along the coast; unfortunately, this means that many drivers like to show off on the roads and travel much faster than is acceptable by UK standards. Signposts are mostly in Arabic script, with some English signs in Tripoli, Benghazi and near ancient sites.
Off-road driving is best done with a 4-wheel drive vehicle and in organised tour groups. In the desert regions, particularly in the Eastern Desert and Great Sand Sea south of Al Jaghbub, you can rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a driver for desert trips, including trips as far south as the Sudanese border.
Drivers should watch out for wind-blown sand deposits and wild animals, which can cause hazards on the roads. By far the greatest hazard is dangerous driving. Drivers should be well-prepared with fuel, water and food if travelling into remote areas.
Car hire is available from local firms based in Tripoli airport and city, in Benghazi and other towns. The best bet is to check with your hotel, who can help organise transport. You can hire a car as an individual or – a safer idea, especially if you are not used to Libyan roads – one that comes with a driver.
Taxis, the easiest way to get around, are plentiful and reasonably priced. Long-distance taxi fares can be quite expensive and should be agreed in advance.
Most Libyans do not cycle outside of small towns. Ask at your hotel for bike hire, but do not expect to find a big cycling culture.
There are a few bus services, mainly luxury, air-conditioned coaches between Tripoli and Benghazi and other major urban areas. A minibus service operates from Benghazi to Tobruk.
Police enforcement of traffic signs and laws is rare.
There is no reliable nationwide breakdown service for non-Libyans.
An International Driving Permit is valid for three months. After this time, you must obtain a Libyan licence.
Travellers visiting the desert regions require permission (a desert pass) from the Libyan authorities in advance. Tour operators can usually obtain these. Oil companies provide passes for their employees.
Towns and cities
There are a few public buses in Libyan towns. An overcrowded microbus system operates in Tripoli and Benghazi along certain routes.