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Syria Travel Guide

Syria, a land imbued with the echoes of ancient civilizations, invites you to explore its rich heritage of history, culture, and natural beauty. This country, cradling some of the oldest cities in the world, offers a unique window into the past, where every stone tells a story. From the bustling souks of Damascus to the majestic ruins of Palmyra, Syria is a testament to the resilience and richness of human history.

Unfortunately, since the war started in 2011, Syria can't offer satisfactory safety conditions, and is not suitable for travel. In any case, the timeless allure of Syria's cultural heritage and landscapes continues to captivate the hearts of history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Journey with us through the highlights of Syria, a land of profound historical significance and natural splendor, and learn more about this fascinating country, until we are able to visit it again.

10 Handpicked Highlights of Syria

Ancient City of Damascus

The ancient city of Damascus, often hailed as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is a living museum of civilizations. Its historical significance is evident in landmarks like the Umayyad Mosque, one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, and the Azem Palace, a stunning example of 18th-century Damascene architecture.

The city’s old souks, such as Souk Al-Hamidiyah, offer a bustling array of traditional crafts and foods, enveloped in the rich aromas of spices and the sounds of everyday life. Damascus is not just a historical site; it is a vibrant hub where the past and present coexist, offering visitors a profound glimpse into the heart of Syrian culture and history.

Palmyra’s Ruins

Palmyra, once a vital caravan city linking the Roman Empire with Eastern trade routes, stands majestically amidst the Syrian desert. The city’s unique blend of Graeco-Roman and Persian architectural influences is evident in the remarkable ruins that dot its landscape, including the majestic Temple of Bel and the imposing colonnades that line its ancient streets.

The site is especially magical during sunrise or sunset when the golden hues of the sun accentuate the beauty of its ruins, creating a surreal and contemplative atmosphere. Palmyra’s rich history, which saw it flourish under the rule of the enigmatic Queen Zenobia, adds a layer of intrigue and grandeur to this ancient site, unfortunately severely damaged by Islamic State militants in 2015.


Aleppo’s Citadel

The Citadel of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a testament to the city’s long and turbulent history. Perched atop a massive mound, the Citadel dominates the cityscape and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Its imposing entrance, massive gates, and well-preserved structures are a showcase of Islamic military architecture.

Within the city, the ancient souks of Aleppo, now partially damaged, once served as a bustling trade center, teeming with rich fabrics, spices, and traditional crafts. The city’s diverse cultural heritage is evident in its numerous mosques, churches, and synagogues, making it a fascinating destination for those interested in the confluence of cultures.

Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers, hailed as the epitome of Crusader castles, is a stunning example of medieval military architecture. Perched on a hilltop within the lush Syrian countryside, it offers breathtaking views and a strategic vantage point that was crucial during the Crusades. The castle’s formidable walls, ramparts, and well-preserved living quarters provide a vivid glimpse into the life of knights and soldiers in the medieval era.

Its significance lies not only in its military history but also in its role as a cultural and administrative center during the Crusades, making it a site of both historical and architectural importance.

Krak des Chevaliers
Krak des Chevaliers

Ugarit Ancient City

The ancient port city of Ugarit is a groundbreaking archaeological site, primarily known for the discovery of one of the world’s earliest known alphabets. Unearthed tablets showcasing this early form of writing offer invaluable insights into the Bronze Age civilizations. The ruins of Ugarit reveal an advanced urban layout with temples, palaces, and libraries, indicating a highly sophisticated society.

The city’s strategic location on the Mediterranean coast facilitated its rise as a significant trade and cultural center, where artifacts from as far as Mesopotamia and Egypt have been found, highlighting its role in the ancient trade networks.

Saladin’s Castle

Saladin’s Castle, also known as Sahyun or Qal’at Salah El-Din, represents a pivotal period in Syrian history, where the legendary figure Saladin played a key role. This fortress, strategically located in the Latakia mountains, overlooks the surrounding valleys, offering a commanding view that was crucial for defense.

The castle’s complex network of walls, towers, and gates exemplifies the military architectural advancements of its time. Its historical significance is heightened by the fact that it was a focal point during the Crusades, serving as a bridge between different cultures and epochs.

The Dead Cities

The Dead Cities, or Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, are a group of abandoned settlements dating back to the 4th to 6th centuries. These villages, scattered across the Aleppo countryside, provide a unique insight into rural life in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period. The well-preserved ruins, including churches, monasteries, and homes, showcase the skillful use of stone construction and the adaptation to the rural environment.

Exploring these quiet, hauntingly beautiful landscapes offers a unique opportunity to wander through a forgotten chapter of history, imagining the lives of those who once inhabited these now-silent stones.


Apamea’s Roman Ruins

Apamea, once a flourishing Roman and Byzantine city, is renowned for its grand colonnaded street, stretching over a mile and lined with hundreds of columns. This ancient thoroughfare, along with the city’s extensive ruins of temples, theatres, and public baths, provides a striking example of Roman urban planning and architecture.

The city’s strategic location on the Orontes River made it an important commercial and military hub. Today, wandering through Apamea’s ruins, one can sense the city’s former grandeur and imagine the bustling life of this once-great center of commerce and culture.

Bosra Amphitheater

Bosra, an ancient city in southern Syria, is home to one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world. This magnificent amphitheater, built from black basalt, could seat up to 15,000 spectators and was a central part of social and cultural life in Roman Bosra.

The city’s rich history encompasses Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras, with numerous ruins reflecting this layered past. Exploring Bosra is like walking through different periods of history, each represented by the diverse architectural styles and historical relics scattered throughout the city.


The Water Wheels of Hama

The city of Hama is famous for its Norias, ancient water wheels dating back to the Byzantine era. These impressive wooden structures, some reaching heights of over 20 meters, were historically used to lift water from the Orontes River for irrigation purposes. The Norias of Hama, still standing today, are not only an example of early engineering prowess but also a symbol of the city’s heritage.

The rhythmic sound of the turning wheels and the serene riverside setting provide a picturesque and peaceful experience, offering a glimpse into the ingenuity and traditions of Syria’s past.

Syria's Geography & Landscapes

Syria’s geography is characterized by its diversity, encompassing mountains, deserts, plains, and a stretch of Mediterranean coastline. This varied landscape has played a significant role in the country’s rich history and cultural development. Here’s an overview of the main geographic regions:

  • Coastal Region: Along the Mediterranean, this region features a moderate climate with beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, and ancient port cities like Latakia and Tartus.
  • Mountain Ranges: The western part of Syria is dominated by the Alawite and the Coastal mountain ranges, offering stunning landscapes and cooler climates.
  • Eastern Plateau: This area transitions into the Syrian Desert, characterized by its arid climate and sparse vegetation, leading to Iraq and Jordan.
  • Northeastern Region: Bordering Turkey, this region is marked by the Euphrates River, vital for agriculture, and features rolling plains and fertile lands.
  • Central Syria: Home to cities like Homs and Hama, this region features a mix of agricultural lands and desert landscapes.
  • Southern Region: Near the border with Jordan, it includes the Druze Mountain and the ancient city of Bosra, with its unique basalt architecture. 

Best Time To Go To Syria

Syria experiences a Mediterranean climate along the coast, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, while the interior regions have a more arid climate. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons:

  • Spring (March to May): The landscape blooms, and the weather is generally mild and pleasant. It’s an ideal time for sightseeing and exploring the historical sites.
  • Summer (June to August): Temperatures can be extremely hot, especially in the desert areas and the interior. Coastal regions are more temperate but still quite warm.
  • Autumn (September to November): Similar to spring, this season offers comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds, making it a good time for outdoor activities and exploring the countryside.
  • Winter (December to February): Winters can be cold, especially in the mountains and the interior. Coastal areas experience milder weather but with more rainfall.

The best time to visit Syria would typically be during the spring and autumn months when the weather is more conducive to exploring the rich cultural and natural landscapes of the country. However, it’s important to note that current circumstances might affect the feasibility and safety of travel to Syria. 

Mosque in Damascus
Mosque in Damascus

Traveling in Syria

Staying Safe

Traveling in Syria currently involves significant risks due to ongoing conflicts and instability. It’s crucial to stay informed and cautious and again, you should not consider Syria as a travel destination right now. If you were to go, here are some safety tips:

  • Check Travel Advisories: Always consult your government’s travel advisories before planning any trip to Syria.
  • Avoid Conflict Zones: Stay clear of areas with active conflict or high political tensions.
  • Secure Proper Documentation: Ensure you have all required visas and permits, and keep copies of your important documents.
  • Hire a Local Guide: A knowledgeable local guide can provide invaluable assistance in navigating safely.
  • Stay Informed Locally: Keep abreast of the local news and developments that could affect your safety.
  • Respect Local Customs and Laws: Be sensitive to cultural norms, especially in religious and conservative areas.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Attention: Dress modestly and avoid displaying valuables or large amounts of cash.
  • Health Precautions: Ensure you have necessary vaccinations and a supply of personal medicines. Consider health insurance that covers emergency evacuation.
  • Emergency Contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities and your embassy.
  • Be Vigilant: Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid crowded places.

Getting to & Around Syria 

Transportation options in Syria are limited and may be unreliable due to the current situation:

  • Airports: Damascus International Airport is the main gateway, but flights are limited.
  • Airlines: Syrian Air is the national carrier, with limited international connections.
  • Road Travel: Road conditions and safety vary. It’s advisable to use private transportation or hire a car with a local driver.
  • Buses and Coaches: There are internal bus services, but routes and schedules may be affected by regional conditions.
  • Rail Travel: Train services are limited and often not recommended due to safety concerns.


Accommodation options in Syria vary, with availability and standards affected by the ongoing situation:

  • Hotels: Available in major cities like Damascus and Aleppo, ranging from basic to more comfortable options.
  • Guesthouses and Boutique Hotels: Offer a more authentic experience, especially in historical areas.
  • Prices: Can vary widely depending on location and amenities. It’s advisable to book in advance and confirm current operational status.
  • Safety and Comfort: Given the current situation, standards of comfort and safety may not match those found in more stable regions.

It’s important to approach any travel plans to Syria with caution, prioritizing safety and staying informed about the current situation.

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