Tripoli comprises two main areas: the city proper, which includes modern Tripoli and the Old City; and Al Mina, the rather enchanting port suburb, 3km west along the seafront. The geographical centre of town is Saahat At Tall, a large square by the clock tower.
The old city sprawls east of Saahat At Tall, while the modern centre is west of the square, along Rue Fouad Chehab.
Tripoli's major sight is its Crusader fortress, but visitors should be sure not to miss the compact and wonderfully atmospheric Old City to the citadel's northwest. Dating from the Mamluk era (14th and 15th centuries), this is a sizeable maze of narrow alleys, colourful souqs, hammams, khans, mosques and madrasas (schools for study of the Quran). It’s a lively and fascinating place where craftspeople, including tailors, jewellers, soap makers and coppersmiths, continue to work as they have done for centuries. The Souq Al Sayyaghin (the gold souq), Souq Al Attarin (for perfumes and spices), the medieval Souq Al Haraj and Souq An Nahhassin (the brass souq) are highlights.
Women should dress modestly in the Old City, and check with the custodian before entering mosques.
Offshore from Al Mina is a string of tiny islets that the city is very proud of. From the corniche, boat trips head out to sail around them; you can also charter a water taxi. If you prefer to stay on land, you can hire bikes on the corniche, too.
The characterful waterside district of Al Mina, 3km from the centre, is the best place to base yourself, with a couple of excellent choices. There are no decent accommodation options in the Old City.
Tripoli’s eating options include an excellent and authentic street-food scene in the Old City, where vendors sell sweet corn, falafel, pastries and other delights. Rue Riad Al Solh has a plethora of budget fast-food joints. If you want to drink alcohol with your meal, head to the restaurants in Al Mina.
The local speciality is haliwat al jibn, a super-sweet confection made from curd cheese and served with syrup.
A string of restaurants along the corniche and bar-eateries on Rue Labban are the main eating strips in the Al Mina port district.
Drinking & Nightlife
The Old City is a sober place with appealingly straight-up cafes for smoking shisha. Rue Labban in the Al Mina district is the hub of Tripoli bars, with a handful of inviting places run by the local Christian community.