Full Syria in 13 days

Sep 15-27
13 Days
2390

Syria is the most outstanding country in the Middle East.

Yummy, Mediterranean food; world-class Roman ruins and monuments; culturally diverse; lively, jaw-dropping old cities and the kindest people ever, not to mention that as a former top tourist destination, you can still find a pretty good tourist infrastructure.

I personally love Syria, and it’s no coincidence that this has always been our top destination, where we’ve organized over 20 group expeditions.

In Against the Compass, we always strive to offer the best traveling experience, trying to improve year after year based on our travelers’ feedback.

In fact, one of the comments we received is that many of our clients wished that our trips to Syria were longer, because people love this country, plus there is so much more to see and that’s why, for the first time ever, we decided to launch a 13-day Syria expedition, where we will visit almost each and every place in Syria which as of today, foreign travelers can actually visit.

Join us in Syria on this very unique expedition.

BOOK NOW

September 15th to 27th, 2024

2390€

13 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda

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Itinerary

Note that we always keep the itinerary flexible, and it may be subject to change, depending on the political situation.

Day 1 – Amman and Damascus

The tour will start at 8am in Amman, the capital of Jordan, from where we will drive towards the Syrian border and Damascus.

The whole journey takes around 5 hours, with border crossing included.

Once in Damascus, we will check in at our hotel, followed by a traditional lunch and a stroll around the old city.

Nightlife in Damascus is particularly vibrant, especially in the Christian district during the weekend, an area filled with bars and restaurants, where we can all go for dinner and a few drinks.

Day 2 – Full day in Damascus

With more than 5000 years of history, Damascus might easily be the oldest capital in the world, a city absolutely packed with historical sites, as well as lively souks and bazaars.

We will spend the entire day exploring the city’s most well-kept secrets, as well as landmarks such as the Umayyad Mosque (where Yahya is buried, John the Baptist for Christians) and Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, one of the most important shrines for Shia people.

As always, we will be visiting the city at our own pace, with plenty of time for photography and local interactions.

Overnight in Damascus.

Damascus Bazaar
Damascus Bazaar, with Jupiter temple being part of it

Day 3 – Maaloula and Mar Musa

On day 3, we will drive towards Aleppo, first stopping in Maaloula, one of the most important Christian towns in the Middle East, and one of the very few places in the world where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Once occupied by Al-Nusra, Maaloula was largely destroyed due to the recent war, but its most important churches and monasteries have been rebuilt, and we will visit two of them, where we might get the chance to meet nuns who were kidnapped and held as hostages for three months.

After Maaloula, we will also stop in Mar Musa, a mindblowing, skyscraper-shaped, 6th-century monastery raised in the middle of rocky mountains.

We should arrive in Aleppo in the evening. Free time for dinner and drinks.

Overnight in Aleppo.

Mar Musa
Mar Musa

Day 4 – Full day in Aleppo

Once the most populated city in Syria, and one of the most prominent cities in the Middle East, Aleppo was one of the most affected cities by the Syrian war.

Aleppo Citadela
Aleppo Citadel

Life, however, is coming back to Aleppo, visible in the ongoing reconstruction and all the people who are slowly returning to their beautiful home city.

During our visit, we will visit the Citadel of Aleppo – the last Syrian Army stronghold – as well as the historical souk and vibrant Christian district, which remained pretty untouched by the war, and is today filled with absolutely delicious restaurants serving Lebanese wine.

Overnight in Aleppo.

Day 5 – Saladin Castle and Latakia

On day 5 of the tour, we will have an early start, where we will be driving towards the Mediterranean coast of Syria.

Our first stop is going to be the Castle of Saladin, Sahyun Castle in Arabic.

Personally, I find this castle to be even more impressive than Krak de Chevalier, especially because of its location, surrounded by the beautiful nature that characterizes this part of the Mediterranean coast, and green all year long.

The history of this stronghold is long: the Phoenicians had already fortified the place, Alexander the Great seized it, as well as the Byzantines a few centuries later.

It is the Crusaders who, in the 12th century, gave the castle its current shape. At the time, it was called “Château de Saône” (named after a crusader). Its current name was only awarded in 1957, commemorating Saladin’s seizure of the place in 1188.

In Latakia, we’ll be strolling the promenade and then look for some delicious local seafood.

Overnight in Latakia.

Day 6 – Kessab and the Turkish border

Kessab is located right on the Turkish border, in the most beautiful area in the whole country, surrounded by gorgeous nature located very close to the coastline, the reason why until before the war, many Syrians, especially from Aleppo province, used to come here on their holidays.

Upon arrival, we will do a small hike, while checking out some of its gorgeous view points.

Then, we will get very close to the Turkish border, where we will have a chance to see the separation wall between both countries, which goes all the way into the sea.

Lunch in Kessab with a view of the mentioned border and after lunch, we’ll go to Tartus.

Evening and overnight in Tartus.

Syria - Turkish border
Syria – Turkish border

Day 7 – Arwad Island & Safita

Arwad is the only inhabited island in all of Syria, located a few kilometers from Syria mainland, today a fishing town with a predominantly Sunni Muslim population, but originally a Phoenician town whose foundations date back to the 2nd millennium BC.

We’ll jump on a boat and visit the island and since the weather will probably be warm, we’ll also stop in the middle of the Mediterranean for a swim.

Lunch in in either Tartus or Safita, which is 30 kilometers away only. Safita is a Greek Orthodox town home to a Crusader fortress and also hiking opportunities.

Overnight in Safita.

Tartus, Syria
Tartus, Syria

Day 8 – Krak de Chevaliers & Homs

After breakfast, we will head for Krak de Chevaliers, once described by Lawrence of Arabia as the most wholly admirable castle in the world, absolutely gorgeous and surrounded by lush green hills.

After the visit, we will have an early lunch in a restaurant with stunning castle views, followed by our journey to Homs.

Homs was, by far, the city most affected by the Syrian war, today mostly composed of destroyed buildings and rubble. Honestly, there’s not much left to see in Homs nowadays but we will do a quick visit.

Overnight in Homs.

Day 9 – Palmyra

Once one of the most important Roman cities, Palmyra is rich in both ancient and contemporary history, since the archaeological site was taken by ISIS on two separate occasions during the war. ISIS blew up the most important temple but the site is huge and most of its structures are still standing.

Palmyra
Palmyra

For visiting Palmyra, we do need to arrange a special permit.

After having a picnic lunch inside the ruins, we will head back to Damascus.

Overnight in Damascus.

Palmyra museum
Palmyra museum was destroyed by ISIS

Day 10 – Free time in Damascus & Sayyidah Zaynab

It’s been a long, hectic week, so we’d like to give you some free time to explore the Old City of Damascus, strolling the different bazaars while doing some shopping.

We’ll meet again at lunchtime and then, we’ll head for Sayyidah Zaynab, a city located outside of Damascus home to one of the most important shrines for Shia pilgrims, with a similar vibe to Karbala and Najaf in Iraq, or Mashhad in Iran.

Overnight in Damascus.

Day 11 – Day trip to Bosra

On our 11th day, we will visit the southern part of Syria on a day trip to Busra, an ancient city home to one of the most admirable Roman amphitheaters in the whole world, as well as other important monuments.

In Bosra, the local Syrians are culturally different, similar to Bedouins.

We will have lunch in a traditional Bedouin tent, with locals from Bosra.

After lunch back to Damascus.

Overnight in Damascus.

Bosra theater
Bosra theater

Day 12 – Day trip to Golan Heights

On day 12 of this tour, we will head to Golan Heights, a lush green area in Syria that is partly occupied by Israel, making it one of the most offbeat destinations in Syria, which are accessible.

Our first visit will be to Quneitra, a partially destroyed city once occupied by Israel and today, a city within the boundaries of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, right next to the Israeli-occupied area.

The nature in Golan Heights is particularly green, and we will enjoy it all together around a lake named Breqa.

On the way back to Damascus, we will visit a historical church located next to the UN base.

Overnight in Damascus.

Day 13 – New Damascus and Amman transfer

After breakfast, we will visit the remaining touristic places in Damascus, including the new part of town, the National Museum, Damascene Sword and the Artisan’s market.

Transfer to Amman and end of the tour.

Included

Transfer to and from Amman

12 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in hotels mentioned in FAQ

Security clearance (needed for the visa)

Private transportation and driver around Syria

Breakfast and lunch

Special permit for Palmyra, Golan Heights & Bosra

English-speaking knowledgeable Syrian guide

International tour leader

Entrance fees to the places listed in the itinerary

Not Included

International flights to Amman

Visa fees

Dinner

Alcoholic drinks or any extra drink

Single supplement. Having your own private room costs 545€

Travel insurance

BOOK NOW

September 15th to 27th, 2024

2390€

13 days

Lead by Leti Lagarda

FAQ

Why join Against the Compass in Syria?

Here’s our honest opinion on why you should travel to Syria with Against the Compass.

Which hotels do we stay in?

These are the hotels where we always stay but note that once in a while, they might be subject to availability.

How does the room distribution work?

Price of the tour includes accommodation in a twin room.

If you are a solo traveler, you will be sharing the room with another like-minded traveler from the group.

We always try to group people of the same gender and age together but note that this won’t always be the case. Moreover, in the hypothetical case there weren’t perfect pairs, one of the rooms would be a triple room.

If you want to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €545.

How to get a visa?

In order to come to Syria, you must first obtain a security clearance (Letter of Invitation). We will take care of that, so you don’t need to visit the embassy.

Where does the trip start from?

The trip starts and ends in Amman (Jordan), and transfer to and from Damascus is included in the price.

Why aren’t tours starting from Beirut anymore?

Prior to the Israeli & Gaza war in October 2023, all our tours to Syria started in Beirut but due to the ongoing conflict, some airlines stopped flying into Lebanon and that’s why, just to be on the safe side, we decided that all our trips will start from Amman instead, at least for now.

However, if you want to come from Beirut, we can easily arrange private transportation for you, no problem.

What’s the best way to reach Amman?

The international airport in Amman is called Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA), which has plenty of connections with anywhere in the Middle East and Europe.

If coming from Europe, common stopovers include Istanbul (either Pegasus or Turkish), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), or Paris (Air France).

If coming from the American continent or Australia, Doha (Qatar Airways) or Dubai (Emirates) are also worth checking.

What’s the minimum amount of participants needed?

All our trips to Syria have a guaranteed departure.

How much does the visa cost?

These are the latest visa fees updated in 2024.

Price varies depending on nationality:

The visa fee is paid at the border, to the respective authorities.

Which nationalities can join this tour?

All nationalities, including US passport holders.

However, note that for US citizens, the visa process takes up to 4-5 weeks, and that there’s a small chance of being rejected.

If you are a US citizen and your visa was rejected, you’d be fully refunded.

As per the rest of the nationalities, the visa is 100% guaranteed.

Is it safe?

As of today, the areas which are controlled by the Government (the ones we visit) are relatively safe. 

Foreign tourists visit those places every day and so far, nothing has ever happened. 

However, it’s important for you to be aware of all risks involved by reading the travel advice from your Government, something like the FCDO advice. 

For more information: Is Syria safe?

How many people will attend this tour?

We limit our tours to a maximum of 12-13 people.

How does payment work?

In order to secure your spot on the tour, we require a deposit.

All details will be shared upon booking your spot.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, if you want to join any of our expeditions, you must purchase travel insurance, this is non-negotiable, and it must be with IATI

Why do we have to book it with IATI?

Against the Compass has been a partner with IATI for a very long time. We know their CEO, the marketing team and we do a lot of collaborations together so in the unlikely case something happened, we’d know what to do.

Moreover, IATI Insurance covers all the countries where the FCDO advises against all travel.

You may also benefit from a 5% discount if purchasing it from the below link.

Get a quote here to claim your discount

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.