Welcome to an enchanting voyage through Syria! As fellow travelers, we’ve crafted this comprehensive Syria travel guide to ensure your journey is seamless and enriching. From hidden gems to practical tips, immerse yourself in the heart of Syria’s beauty and history.
Fast Facts About Syria
- Climate: Syria experiences a Mediterranean climate, which means mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. If you’re a sun worshipper, the summer highs of 90-100°F (32-38°C) will be your jam. Prefer milder temps? Opt for spring and fall, with temperatures around 60-75°F (15-24°C).
- Local Currency: Get ready to use Syrian Pounds (SYP), but keep in mind that credit cards might not be widely accepted. Cash is king here, so be prepared with a mix of bills for smoother transactions.
- Power Voltage: Charging your gadgets? Voltage is generally 220V, and the sockets are Type C, E, and L. An adapter will be your best travel buddy!
- Language: While Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken in touristy spots. A few basic Arabic phrases, though, can go a long way in impressing locals.
- Religion: The majority follow Islam, with a mix of Sunni and Shia traditions. Respect local customs and religious practices, especially during prayer times.
- Safety: Your safety is our priority. Check travel advisories before planning, and be aware of local guidelines. Syrian locals are incredibly warm, but like anywhere, be vigilant in crowded areas.
- Cultural Etiquette: Modesty is key when it comes to dressing. Public displays of affection should be kept private. Accept tea or coffee when offered, as it’s a sign of hospitality.
- Tipping: Tipping isn’t mandatory, but a small gratuity for good service is appreciated. Around 10% is a sweet spot.
Best Time to Visit Syria: Seasons and Festivals
- Spring (March to May): Nature’s canvas comes alive with blooming flowers, making it perfect for outdoor exploration. Spring is also festival season, with the Aleppo International Music Festival in April.
- Summer (June to August): Long, sunny days are tailor-made for sightseeing and bazaars. The famed Damascus International Fair in August is a must-see, showcasing Syria’s rich culture.
- Fall (September to November): Comfortable temperatures continue, and the Eid al-Adha festival in September is a celebration of unity and giving.
- Winter (December to February): Cooler weather offers a unique perspective on historic sites, and Christmas is celebrated in various cities.
- Festivals: Mark your calendar for the Damascus International Film Festival in November, showcasing global cinematic gems. Eid al-Fitr, ending Ramadan, is a joyful spectacle with feasting and festivities.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Syria
- Palmyra: Ancient Marvels Unveiled: Step into history at Palmyra’s archaeological site, where majestic ruins transport you to a bygone era. Wander through the grand colonnades and marvel at the Palmyra Tetrapylon’s architectural splendor.
- Krak des Chevaliers: Castle of Legends: Explore the medieval fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Perched atop a hill, it offers panoramic views and a glimpse into the crusader era.
- Umayyad Mosque: Architectural Elegance: Admire the Umayyad Mosque’s stunning mosaic-covered interiors. The towering minaret and serene courtyard are perfect spots for reflection.
- Souq al-Hamidiyya: Shopper’s Paradise: Dive into the vibrant bazaars of Souq al-Hamidiyya in Damascus. From spices to textiles, this bustling market is a sensory delight.
- Apamea: Stroll Through History: Walk along the colossal Roman colonnade in Apamea. The Great Colonnade stretches for over a mile, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of the Roman Empire.
- Cuisine Exploration: Savor Syrian Delicacies: Indulge your taste buds in a culinary adventure. Try delectable dishes like kibbeh, falafel, and baklava at local eateries.
- Ebla: Ancient Kingdom Rediscovered: Delve into the ruins of Ebla, an archaeological treasure trove. Discover cuneiform tablets and get a glimpse of early civilization.
The Best Ways To Get Around Syria
- Public Transportation: Efficient and Affordable: Opt for buses and shared taxis for budget-friendly travel between cities. Reliable and inexpensive, they connect major destinations.
- Taxis: Door-to-Door Convenience: Taxis, both private and shared, are widely available. Negotiate fares beforehand for a smooth ride.
- Domestic Flights: Quick City Hopping: If time is of the essence, consider domestic flights. Syria’s airports link major cities, offering convenience and speed.
- Trains: Scenic Journeys: Experience the charm of train travel. Syria’s rail network connects cities like Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs, treating you to scenic views along the way.
- Walking and Biking: Explore Up Close: Many cities have walkable neighborhoods, perfect for leisurely strolls or bike rides. Immerse yourself in local life and discover hidden gems.
Accommodation Tips: Syria
- Boutique Guesthouses: Immerse yourself in local charm by staying in boutique guesthouses. These cozy accommodations offer a personalized touch and insights from friendly hosts.
- Budget-Friendly Hotels: Syria has a range of budget-friendly hotels that provide comfort without breaking the bank. Look for options with basic amenities and convenient locations.
- Traditional Riads: Experience the cultural essence by staying in a traditional riad. These charming courtyard homes offer a taste of local architecture and hospitality.
- Hostel Haven: For the budget-conscious traveler, hostels are a great choice. They provide a vibrant atmosphere and a chance to connect with fellow travelers.
Syria Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
- Free Museums: Dive into Syria’s history without spending a dime! Museums like the National Museum of Damascus offer free entry on specific days or during certain hours.
- Local Markets: Explore local markets for budget-friendly shopping. Haggle and pick up unique souvenirs, spices, and textiles at a fraction of the cost.
- Street Food Adventures: Savor the flavors of Syria on a budget by indulging in street food. From savory falafels to sweet pastries, the streets are a culinary adventure.
- Public Transportation: Save on travel costs by using public transportation. Buses and shared taxis are not only affordable but also a chance to experience local life.
- Cultural Experiences: Attend free local events and festivals to immerse yourself in Syrian culture. Check local event listings and join in the festivities.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Syria
- Kebab Feast: Sink your teeth into succulent kebabs, a staple of Syrian cuisine. Grilled to perfection, they come in various meats and flavors.
- Mezze Medley: Indulge in a mezze spread, featuring a variety of small dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, and stuffed grape leaves. It’s a flavorful journey on one plate.
- Mouthwatering Sweets: Treat your sweet tooth to Syrian delights like baklava and ma’amoul. These delicate pastries are made with love and are a true indulgence.
- Damascus Rose Tea: Sip on fragrant Damascus rose tea, a signature beverage. Its soothing aroma and delicate taste provide a calming respite.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Syria Home
- Spices and Herbs: Capture the essence of Syrian cuisine by bringing home aromatic spices like sumac, za’atar, and Aleppo pepper.
- Artisanal Crafts: Support local artisans by purchasing handcrafted ceramics, rugs, and textiles. These treasures tell the story of Syrian craftsmanship.
- Traditional Instruments: If you’re a music enthusiast, consider bringing back a traditional instrument like an oud. It’s a unique way to remember your Syrian journey.
- Decorative Lanterns: Add a touch of Middle Eastern ambiance to your space with intricately designed lanterns. They serve as a beautiful reminder of your travels.
- Olive Oil Soaps: Pamper yourself with Aleppo’s famed olive oil soaps, known for their natural ingredients and skin-loving properties.