Shopping in Libya is as unique as the country’s other offerings, with most handicrafts linked to the Berber tribes and including traditional flat-weave, kilim, rugs, carpets, cushions as well as distinctive Tuareg jewelry, pottery, carved boxes and knives with beautiful silver-inlaid handles and scabbards. Libya’s tourist industry is still underdeveloped, meaning that all the crafts on display are genuinely made in the traditional manner rather than aimed at indiscriminate souvenir-hunters. Bartering is acceptable, but is done in a more restrained, courteous manner than in many North African and Arab souqs.
Libya’s markets display a fine choice of traditional crafts and are fascinating places to wander. Tripoli’s main souq in the old medina is the largest, with a craft section as you enter as well as countless little stores in its main area. Unlike in most North African countries, you be left to browse in peace and only approached if it’s obvious you’d like to make a purchase. Stall owners are courteous and friendly, with no hard-sell techniques. Outside the capital, Ghadames is a unique place for Tuareg crafts, while the stores at Lepis Magna are well worth a visit.
Other favorite, good value reminders of your vacation are antiques and gold jewelry, with gold sold by the weight and costing far less than in the US and Europe. Decorated leather boots, shoes or sandals are a great buy although expensive, and the lovely Berber wall-hangings are unusual home décor items. The museum shops are good for carefully-crafted copies of ancient artifacts, while Tripoli’s upscale hotels have souvenir shops selling quality crafts at higher prices.