The nightclub scene is still undeveloped in Tripoli, but late-night restaurants, buzzing tearooms, lively conversation and the chance to sample a traditional nargileh or water pipe offer their own compensations to travellers looking for an authentic North African experience.
After sunset, the busiest part of the town is the Medina, where locals flock to the numerous street cafes to drink either ‘mocktails’ or a traditional ink-black tea served with mint or peanuts. By late evening though, the streets are largely quiet.
Music is an integral part of life in Tripoli and whether it’s the sound of a 1960’s jukebox or the mass accordion-playing that traditionally serenades eve-of-wedding celebrations, melody and harmony are ubiquitous throughout the city.
Although there are no official theatre venues, small theatrical groups use bars, clubs and even the streets to perform and even though their productions are invariably in Arabic, their extravagant body language and passion-filled speeches offer a unique experience for Westerners. The city boasts a number of cinemas too, showing anything from the latest Bollywood blockbuster to archaic Spaghetti Westerns, but don’t expect English subtitles to come as standard.
If you travel to Tripoli in the summer, you’ll doubtless be immersed in preparations for the annual Tripoli Arts and Music Festival that attracts national and international stars to the city each July and August and is very well supported by the locals.