Another country hit by war, Syria once was one of the highlights of the Middle East. Now it is nigh impossible to visit, even if you should wish to. That said, you can travel there if you really, really want to. Most of Damascus, or at least the parts you would be interested in as a tourist, are safe enough (if you are willing to risk the chance of a terrorist attack), and the coastal regions have also, for the most part, been spared the ravages of war. With a bit of determination you might even be able to visit the ruins of Palmyra, minus its most treasured highlights, thanks to ISIS (aka ISIL or Daesh).
The question is if this is the right time for such a venture. And whether you will be granted a visa to enter the country from the Syrian regime. And if so, whether you will be allowed to visit these sights. Most importantly even if you manage to take all those hurdles, you will be entering what is probably the most dangerous country on earth! Suicide bombings are a constant threat even in areas that have seen no fighting. Finally keep in mind that by going you will be supporting the regime of Assad, something that might make you think twice.
Should calm be return then certainly you should go. For Damascus with its ancient sites, for what is left of Palmyra (and with some luck they will be able to restore some of the damage caused by ISIS), for Crac des Chevaliers one of the most outstanding Crusader Forts in the region, for Aleppo’s famous bazaar (should it be restored), for the Mediterranean shoreline, and for the people.
Fingers crossed this dream will happen sooner rather than later.
Highlights from Syria
- Old Damascus has lots to offer, from souqs, to the fabulous Ummayad Mosque
- The ruins of Palmyra were and hopefully one day will be again, Syria’s prime tourist attraction
- Climb up Crac des Chevaliers and pretend to be a knight of the Crusade
- Aleppo’s bazaar used to be famous, now there is nothing much left of it, maybe it will be restored
- See the norias (gigantic waterwheels) of Hama
- Stroll around the citadel of Bosra
- Visit Maaloula with its blue houses and ancient monasteries
- Go to the beaches of Latakia or Tartus
- Wander around the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, a collection of long abandoned villages from the late antiquity to Byzantine times
- Take in the Qalat Saladin (Fortress of Saladin)
Hints and Tips for Syria
- Once again, while you might be able to get in, it really isn’t the wisest thing in the world to be doing!