28/09/2010 09:37 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Libya's Winter Sun Is A Step Closer

If you're looking for a sunny weekend away, Libya might not top your list – but with new bmi flights to capital Tripoli, there are plenty of reasons to head off the beaten track.

chiara & Petomarmitta, Flickr

The cosmopolitan city has always been at the centre of trade routes through history so there's Mediterranean, Arab and Islamic influences as well as Roman ruins and the medina dating from Ottoman times.

History buffs will love the Greek city of Cyrene, plus you're rarely far from the desert, with the Sahara making up around 90% of the country, if you fancy exploring oases, sand seas, prehistoric rock art and even extinct volcanoes. November and the months of February to April are usually the best times to visit, as you miss the worst of the sweltering summer heat.

But one of the main draws to the country is the ruins of Leptis Magna, some of the best preserved Roman city remains in the world after being buried under sand for centuries – and one which there'll be far more chance of you having all to yourself, as there are far fewer tourists in the country than its North African neighbours.

One reason for this is that you need to get a visa before travelling to the country, which means a visit to the Libyan People's Bureau in London. Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months and if you've previously been to Israel, it won't be accepted.

All travellers also need an Arabic transcript of their passport's details page – go to the FCO's website for more information and up-to-date details on safety. If you're travelling with a tour company, they may be able to arrange the visas for you.

Quick facts: The new daily flights with bmi start on December 1 and are available to book now. Prices from London Heathrow to Tripoli cost from £265 return including fees and taxes. The 12-day Libya Explorer tour from Imaginative Traveller costs from £1,600 excluding flights.