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Africa > North Africa > Libya > Benghazi

Benghazi

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Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, with a population of 647.000.

Travel Warning WARNING: Benghazi is still very dangerous following an extended period of civil war and conflict. Travel within the nation's borders, especially to Benghazi remains extremely dangerous and therefore strongly discouraged for independent travellers. Parts of Libya may continue to suffer from armed engagements between disaffected individuals, foreign and local militias. These activities are likely to be sustained and to involve the use of deadly force. Normal civil services are not available and the nation's military infrastructure has suffered very serious damage from a sustained aerial bombing campaign and the use of heavy armaments by combative ground forces.

Please see the main article on Libya for further information.

(Information last updated Jun 2018)

Understand[edit]

The people of Benghazi are incredibly friendly. However, very few people speak any English and, because of the writing style (which is written right to left in Arabic), it can be almost impossible to recognize any public signs if you don’t know how to speak or read Arabic. Most things can, however, be sorted out with a bit of pointing and hand waving.

The dress code is not as liberal as in Tripoli, and women should keep themselves covered - not because there would be trouble, but just out of respect. However, locals do not expect non-Muslim visitors to thoroughly comply with their customs.

People in Tripoli like a good argument and may shout at one another, but this is not an indication of any trouble. Even if it sounds harsh to you, if you understand Arabic, you will find out it is generally nothing of any consequence.

If you travel on a tourist visa, you must get the hotel staff to have your passport stamped or visit the local police station to register where you are staying and get a stamp in your passport - otherwise, you will not find it easy to leave the country.

If you wish to drive out of the city and visit the ruins or other sites of interest, you can get a local guide, but you will need a permit from the local tourist office before you may leave the city.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Benina Airport (BEN IATA Arabic: مطار بنينة الدولي) (is located 20 km from city centre). The airport operations are seemingly chaotic, with handwritten boarding passes and luggage tags and very little information available. Benina International Airport (Q44553) on Wikidata Benina International Airport on Wikipedia

Delays are quite frequent and flights may be suspended, cancelled or delayed at any time.

The airport toilet facilities are awful, there are few, if any, public toilets, and most restaurants do not have them either, so you may have to wait until you get to the hotel or onto the aircraft.

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli, Misrata Domestic
EgyptAir Cairo International
Libyan Airlines Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis [all ops uncertain] International
Libyan Airlines [all ops uncertain] Domestic
Qatar Airways Doha International
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia International
[Tunisair Tunis International
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Ataturk International

Get around[edit]

Taxis[edit]

Taxis in Libya are interesting. They are either minibuses that travel round a predefined route or black and white cars (dead pandas) with taxi signs. Stick with the cars... Taxi travel is very cheap, but the vehicles are generally in a bad state of repair. Try to sit in the back as the journeys can be somewhat exciting when in the passenger seat, when drivers tend to turn across traffic lanes. Judging by the number of dents on the sides of the cars, the drivers do not always make this maneuver successfully.

Taxi vehicles often lack parts that Westerners tend to take for granted -- such as indicators, headlights, bumpers, working brakes and wheel nuts.

The taxi drivers are like most European taxi drivers. They enjoy sharing their opinions with you, even if you can't understand them - but, as with most of the people in Benghazi, they are friendly, and they do try to make you feel welcome.

See[edit]

  • 1 Benghazi Cathedral. Constructed during the 1930s in a neo-classical style, the Benghazi Cathedral used to be one of the largest churches in the whole of North Africa. It fell into disuse during the 1960s but has recently been renovated. Benghazi Cathedral (Q773980) on Wikidata Benghazi Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • Museum of the Crimes of the Dictator. This museum is the palace from which King Idris declared independence from Italy in 1951. In the front of it is anti-Gaddafi artwork and a piece of a plane that was destroyed in 19 March 2011 defending the new Libya, honouring the pilot that died flying it. [1]

Buy[edit]

Currency[edit]

Shops accept only local currency, which can be exchanged at the larger hotels in the mornings or after 3PM. Ask for Tibesti Hotel, a big hotel, with grass on the slopes around it. It has a bureau de change and two cashpoint machines, which accept Visa and Maestro/Cirrus.

Credit cards are not generally accepted, so nobody will say 'that will do nicely'. (very limited number of shops accept them)

Shopping[edit]

For those who are looking for famous brands, then go to Dubai Street, where most of the international brands, such as Benetton, Nike, Celio, Addidas, Puma, Max Mara, and many more are available.

As there are very few tourists in Benghazi, there is very little to buy other than normal goods. So, it's easy to get a fridge, an aircon unit, a mobile phone, Mars bars, or Coke, but very little to buy as a souvenir. A sheesh? Pipe is a good bet - these are about 18 Libyan dinars for a 24-inch high pipe. For traditional souvenirs, the best place will be Sok el Jered.

Eat[edit]

Anything. There is nothing that isn't acceptable to the western palate - the food can be quite spicy, although not excessively so.

Traditional Libyan fare appears to be couscous, kebabs, spicey potatoes, salads, and nothing that you wouldn't find in London.

There are a number of good restaurants. Although very basic by western standards, they do produce good meals. Round the back of the Tibesti Hotel there are some good Turkish restaurants; most of their food is very edible, and the prices are very reasonable.

Generally, service is very slow, so leave a good amount of time to have a meal. There are kebab takeaways if you are in a hurry, but in a hotel you can wait 30 minutes to get a waiter to take your order or bring you a menu. To save time it is often easier to pay for your meal/drinks as they are served, before saving the half-hour wait to get a bill.

The food is generally served a little cooler than you expect - it is generally warm rather than hot, and the chips are worth avoiding as they tend to be rubbery.

Drink[edit]

Alcohol is not allowed in Libya. The best things to drink are:

Coffee, although they do seem to want to give you Nescafe, as they think it's pretty cool; but just about everywhere you can get cappuccino or Arabian coffee, which are pretty good.

The mango juice is good and very thick.

Coke, Lilt, and 7Up cans are popular, as well as the lemon and mint teas.

Alcohol-free beer is widely available (Becks), as is 'Spitz', which tastes like campari or cough mixture. If you really want alcohol, wine is available from butcher's shops, but it's expensive (whisky is about USD 100 per bottle). It is said that the penalty for being caught drunk or with alcohol is to be driven back to your hotel room by the police. While this sounds safer than riding the local taxis, such approach is not recommended.

Smoking[edit]

A smoker's paradise. You can smoke anywhere you like. The "no smoking" signs in airports appear to be a guidance note rather than a command.

Hand-rolling tobacco is not available, but normal cigarettes are widely available and quite cheap, although slightly different than their western counterparts.

Duty free is somewhat limited, so it is best to buy on the way out rather than on the return journey; this obviously, does not apply to alcohol.

Sleep[edit]

Standards of maintenance are not always perfect and service can be slow, the rating system does not really correspond to international guidelines. Consider bringing your own towels.

Connect[edit]

Mobile Phones[edit]

Outgoing calls and texting work on most networks. However, it is worth buying a local sim card from one of the mobile phone shops. These are much cheaper (around 1/5th of the normal roaming charges), and they will accept incoming calls.

There is no GPRS. the 3G service has recently been started so you can send picture messaging.

Libya's phones are all unlocked, so the locals will not understand that the local sims will not work in all phones. Therefore, it is worth taking an unlocked phone or, when asking to buy a phone, hide yours, so they won't try to sell you a sim.

Sim cards are about USD5, and phones around USD50.

Internet access[edit]

As of yet there are internet cafes in the area, but ADSL and WiMax internet are now available.

Go next[edit]

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