What used to be, and still is, one of the most beautiful countries in the Middle East, after nearly 10 years of a bloody, unfortunate Civil War, Syria is, once again, opening its doors to the most intrepid and adventurous travelers who want to pay their respects and visit this fascinating country.
For all the information, don’t forget to read my Syria travel guide.
Capital – Damascus
Population – 18 million in 2019 (63rd).
Language – Arabic
Visas – Today, anyone who wants to get a visa to enter Syria needs to pre-arrange a tour with a valid tour operator. It sucks, but this is the situation. My friend Ayoub can arrange it for you (you could, for example, book a 1 or 2-day tour in Damascus). You can contact him via WhatsApp or Telegram +963 954 840 021 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safety – The war isn’t over yet but the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, as well as Latakia, Tartus and the Krak De Chevaliers Castle, are relatively safe to travel. However, you go there at your own risk. Do your own research prior to your departure.
Responsible tourism – Syria is a post-war zone where millions of people died. Traveling there requires a good dose of sensitivity and responsibility. This involves not taking selfies, not making jokes and be respectful. Syria isn’t a place to show off but to learn and become wiser.
Travel Insurance – Like in Iran, because of all the sanctions, most travel insurance companies don’t provide cover for travel in Syria and that includes World Nomads. The one which does, however, is IATI Insurance.
They have loads of different plans for all types of travelers and the best of it is that the readers of this blog can get an exclusive 5% discount.
Top 5 experiences in Syria:
- The Old City of Damascus – Absolutely outstanding and the best part is that it remains untouched.
- Syrian food – Mediterranean, Arab cuisine with loads of olive oil. Don’t miss their hummus and fatteh.
- Aleppo – Partially destroyed but life there goes on and it is still beautiful. Read my experience here.
- Homs – More than half of the city is destroyed and you should go there to pay your respects to the many Syrians who died.
- Krak de Chevaliers – A Medieval Castle in an Arabic country.
Accommodation – Since the crisis, the Government of Syria has introduced a dual pricing policy in all hotels, in which foreigners pay several times the local price. This has increased the rates substantially but you can still find many affordable options. If you go on a tour, the agency can find it for you.
Transportation – You can travel between cities and shared taxis (I took a bus to Aleppo and one to Homs) but, since booking a tour is required, the only way to go around is in a private car.