Essential Pre-travel Tips for Your Journey to Syria is a comprehensive resource that offers valuable information and actionable advice for our guests who are planning to travel to Syria. This guide aims to assist our guests in making well-informed decisions and ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.
Location: Syria lies at the heart of the Middle East, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Syria truly stands out as a unique destination with its deep-rooted history, varied cultures, bustling traditional markets, awe-inspiring places of worship, biblical cities, ancient castles, breathtaking landscapes, delectable cuisine, and above all, vibrant and friendly people.
Is it safe to travel to Syria? At Nawafir Tours, the safety and well-being of our guests are our top priorities. We are fully committed to delivering a travel experience that is not only enjoyable but also secure. Our team takes great care in planning sightseeing tours and excursions, ensuring that we include only safe and secure cities and sites.
To guarantee the safety of our guests, we maintain regular communication with local authorities and have a strong network of contacts. This allows us to stay informed about the current situation on the ground. If we receive any indication that a particular location or site may pose a risk, we take immediate action to adjust our itinerary and make alternative arrangements.
You can have peace of mind knowing that at Nawafir Tours, we are unwavering in our dedication to providing a travel experience that is both secure and enjoyable. Your safety and well-being are at the forefront of everything we do.
How to travel to Syria? Generally, most guests arrive at Beirut Int’l Airport and then travel overland to Syria. Beirut Int’l Airport serves as the easiest and most popular entry point, cost-wise and logistics-wise. The duration of the journey from Beirut Int’l Airport to Damascus usually takes around three to four hours, depending on the traffic and visa procedures at the border crossing.
Another option is to travel through Amman Int’l Airport, Jordan to reach Syria. The duration of the journey from Amman Int’l Airport to Damascus usually takes around four to five hours, depending on the traffic and visa procedures at the border crossing.
You can also arrive to Damascus through Damascus Int’l Airport, where both Syrian Airlines and Cham Wings Airlines currently operate flights to Damascus from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Moscow, Cairo, Kuwait, Baghdad, Erbil and Beirut.
How to get a tourist visa to Syria: Visa to Syria is the most important issue to ask about when you plan to travel to Syria. Obtaining a visa for Syria is relatively straightforward process based on nationality. As your host/sponsor, Nawafir Tours handles the application for your security clearance and entry visa approval. Accordingly, You will need to provide a scanned copy of your passport’s information pages, with a minimum validity of six months. Upon arrival at the designated border crossing, you will get the 15-day visa as a stamp in your passport rather than a sticker, and pay in cash the visa fees as per below.
What is the best time to travel? Syria enjoys a moderate Mediterranean climate. The ideal times to travel are during spring (March to May) and early autumn (September to November). During these periods, the weather is sunny, warm, and clear, with daytime temperatures reaching around 25°C. Winter (December to February) can be chilly and rainy, with occasional snowfall, while summer (June to August) is hot, dry and clear, with sporadic temperatures exceeding 40°C.
What is the recommended dress code? Syrians generally dress in a conservative manner, although many also wear Western-style clothing. It is best to observe and follow the dressing cues of others around you, as you would in any place. Men typically wear long pants, although shorts are becoming more popular in larger cities, along with a t-shirt or shirt. Women should dress loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing that covers their bodies, including their shoulders, knees, and necklines. When visiting mosques, women should also cover their hair (Abayas are provided at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus).
What are the prevailing social norms? In Syrian culture, shaking hands is generally considered a suitable form of greeting when meeting someone for the first time or in more formal settings. However, it’s important to be aware that some individuals, particularly those who hold more conservative views or adhere to certain religious practices, may prefer not to engage in physical contact.
If shaking hands is not appropriate or preferred, you can offer a warm smile and a slight nod as a gesture of greeting. Placing your right hand over your heart is another respectful alternative that conveys goodwill and acknowledges the person you are greeting.
When visiting a Syrian home, it is considered thoughtful to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation. This could be something simple like sweets or a small souvenir from your home country. It is a gesture of goodwill and shows respect for the hospitality extended to you.
In addition to greetings and gift-giving, there are certain customs to keep in mind when entering a mosque or a Syrian house. It is customary and respectful to remove your shoes before entering these places. This practice helps keep the area clean and demonstrates cultural sensitivity. Furthermore, when sitting, it is important to avoid postures that expose the soles of your shoes, as this is considered impolite in Syrian culture.
What currency should I bring? The official currency in Syria is the Syrian pound (S.P). The primary currency used for exchanging into Syrian pounds is the US dollar. Euro is less commonly accepted. So, it is advisable to carry extra US dollars in cash, as ATMs are not operational due to restrictions. When changing money at a government bank at the border and within the cities, please seek assistance from your local guide.
How much should I budget? While Syria is not considered expensive by global standards, the country has experienced unexpected inflation and devaluation of the Syrian pound, leading to increased prices.
While you have the freedom to set your own spending limits, the following price ranges provide a general indication of what to expect. Please note that only Syrian pounds are accepted for day-to-day transactions.
|Meal in casual restaurants||US$ 10 – US$ 15|
|Meal in upscale restaurants||US$ 15 – US$ 20|
|Popular Syrian street food like Shawarma sandwich||US$ 2|
|Popular Syrian street food like Falafel sandwich||US$ 1|
|Local soft drink (coke)||US$ 1|
|Local beer||US$ 2 – US$ 3|
|Within-city taxi fare||US$ 2 – US$ 3|
|Traditional public bathhouse (Hammam)||US$ 10 – US$ 15|
The cost of souvenirs can vary significantly, both between cities and within the same market (souq). Do not hesitate to let your local guide to negotiate the best deal on your behalf.
What about tipping? It is strongly advised to consider providing a gratuity to your local guide and driver upon concluding the tour, as they are independent contractors who work seasonally. However, the decision to give a tip and the specific amount are entirely at your discretion, based upon your level of satisfaction with their services.
When dining at restaurants, it is customary to leave a gratuity. Typically, tips at restaurants fall within the range of 10 to 15 percent of the total bill, depending on your level of contentment with the experience.
Portage at hotels is typically included as part of our offer.
How is WiFi? All hotels provide free WiFi, although the quality of service may vary, and the standards may not be as high. Additionally, your local guide can assist you in purchasing a prepaid SIM card at the border crossing or upon arrival, allowing you to access the internet while on the move. Syria has extensive mobile coverage, although occasional weak signals may occur due to prolonged power outages.
How is electricity? Syria faces a severe shortage of electricity supply, and rationing is in place throughout the country. Consequently, the supply of electricity can be inconsistent, and unexpected power outages may occur, especially during hot summers and cold winters.
The electrical voltage in Syria is 220 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. Electrical outlets typically have two rounded prongs.
What About Syrian cuisine? Syrian cuisine stands out among the already exceptional Middle Eastern culinary traditions. Undoubtedly, Syrian cuisine is truly remarkable, renowned for its complexity, subtlety, diversity, and rich heritage within the region. While each city in Syria boasts its own distinct regional dishes, there are several must-try culinary delights, including Yabraq, Kibbeh, Mahshi, Molokhia, Shish Barak, Koussa Blaban, Baba ghanoush, Kebab Halabi, Muhammara, Shawarma, Falafel, etc.
Syrian sweets and desserts are equally renowned for their exquisite flavors. When in Syria, be sure to indulge in delightful treats such as: Baklava, Basbousa, Kunafa, Barazek, etc.
What about vegetarian food? Vegetarian travellers will find ample options in Syria, thanks to the abundance of fresh produce available. However, it is advisable to inform your local guide about any specific dietary requirements you may have
What about alcohol? Syria is known for its relatively moderate social customs and traditions, and it is generally not considered a conservative country in terms of social practices. As such, alcohol is readily available in most hotels and restaurants in major cities throughout the country.
In cities like Damascus, Aleppo, and other urban centers, you can find a range of establishments that offer alcoholic beverages. Many hotels have their own bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a variety of drinks. Additionally, numerous restaurants, cafes, and lounges in major cities serve alcohol as part of their offerings.
Old Damascus, in particular, is renowned for its vibrant nightlife scene. It boasts a diverse array of bars, clubs, and drink stands where both locals and tourists can gather and enjoy a lively atmosphere. This area offers opportunities to socialize, unwind, and experience the local nightlife culture.
However, it’s important to note that while alcohol is available and socially accepted in many areas, it is still advisable to be respectful of the local customs and traditions. It’s always a good practice to consume alcohol responsibly and be mindful of the cultural sensitivities and norms of the places you visit.
What about smoking? Smoking, both cigarettes and water pipes (Shisha), is prevalent among both men and women in Syria. It is generally permitted to smoke in restaurants, cafes, and public areas.
However, it is recommended to exercise consideration and ask for permission before smoking in public areas, as a gesture of respect for those around you. While smoking is generally allowed, it’s always a good practice to check with your accommodation for any specific guidelines or restrictions regarding smoking.
It’s worth noting that smoking restrictions may be in place in government buildings and public transportation, so it is advisable to be mindful of these regulations and adhere to any designated smoking areas or restrictions that may be in effect.
What is the weekly holiday of historical sites? Both Damascus National Museum and Azem Palace are closed on Fridays. Aleppo National Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
It is important to note that as a result of the earthquake that hit northern Syria in February 2023, access to Aleppo Citadel, Saladin Castle, and Marqeb Castle is currently prohibited. Further, the Aleppo Grand Mosque is temporarily closed for renovation, and a reopening date has not yet been confirmed.
When souks/bazaars are closed? Souks/bazaars are closed on Fridays, except in Christian areas, they close on Sundays.
Are there additional travel services available in Lebanon and Jordan? Nawafir Tours also specializes in providing travel services in both Lebanon and Jordan if you’re interested in extending your journey to include Lebanon or Jordan alongside your visit to Syria.