How to get there
With the end of the sanctions imposed on Libya after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, international air service is resuming. One of the best connections for Bostonians is probably British Air, which has direct flights from London to Tripoli six days a week. Lowest round-trip airfare from Boston to Tripoli at press time was $2,632 on Alitalia, with stopovers in Milan and Paris.
Visas are not simple to get, as Libya requires that the personal data of your passport be translated into Arabic and ''officially" affixed to your passport, which US consular officials are unwilling to do. There is wiggle room about what ''officially" means, but be prepared to spend time figuring this one out. Travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports should make doubly sure before embarking that Libyan authorities will allow them to enter.
Libyan embassies can supply a list of government-licensed tour agencies through which advance arrangements can be made; they may also be able to assist in the visa-application process. Contact the Embassy of Libya in New York (212-752-5775) or Ottawa (613-230-0919).
Where to stay
Hotels in the $100-$200 a night range in Tripoli are easily located in advance of travel, especially if you work through a travel agency, but these prices are high for what you get. Smaller, newly opening, private hotels are a better option. One that is clean, modern, and pleasant, for about $35 a night, is:
The Aldefaya Hotel
Outside Tripoli, you really have to have a tour agency guide arrange lodging, and there is not much to choose from. Tell the guide you want to stay in a restored house in the old city of Ghadames.
Where to eat
Genuine Libyan cuisine is hard to find, but worth seeking out.
In Tripoli's walled city
Try the rishta, a unique, super-thin Libyan pasta; glaya, which is pieces of lamb liver in a rich, tangy sauce; and osban, a sausage of rice, lamb, liver, curry, and onions. All of the above, plus a soft drink (liquor is not legal in Libya, and they mean it) costs $6.89, plus tip. If people don't recognize the name Al Burawi, try saying Al Borai.
A short drive to the Al-anduls area on the west side of Tripoli, near the former Beach Hotel
Good seafood is surprisingly difficult to locate given the impressive bounty of the local fish market, but Al-Sheraa is first class. Fish soup with bulghur wheat, creative mezze, perfect grilling, and french fries all are super, but a meal like that will cost about $25. The small restaurants near the fish market are probably worth trying.
Rotisserie-roasted chicken shops are the local equivalent of burger joints. The chicken is fresh and tasty.