Syria for Christmas (Round 2)

Dec 23-30
8 Days

The first time I ever went to Syria was actually during Christmas, in 2018.

The peculiarity of that Christmas was that it was the first time since the beginning of the war in 2011, that the festivity was celebrated in the streets of Damascus.

Home to a large Christian population, the souqs and the old city of Damascus were absolutely packed, and the Christian district was beautifully decorated with lights, while the Muslim community wanted to also be part of the event.

It was beautiful, something unseen in the Middle East, and that’s why I decided to schedule one tour to experience the magic of Syria during Christmas.


December 23rd to 30th, 2025


8 days

Tour leader to be confirmed

travelers who joined us say


For security reasons, the order of the itinerary will differ, and the actual itinerary will be shared a few days before the beginning of the trip.

Day 1 – Arrival in Damascus (from Beirut)

Day 2 – Damascus Old City

Day 3 – Maaloula & Mar Musa

Day 4 – Full day in Aleppo

Day 5 – Hama, Krak de Chevaliers & Homs

Day 6 – Palmyra

Day 7 – Day trip to Bosra

Day 8 – New Damascus and departure

Day 1 – Beirut and Damascus

  • The tour will start at 8am in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, from where we will drive towards the Syrian border and Damascus.
  • The whole journey takes around 5 hours, with border crossing included.
  • 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.

Day 3 – Maaloula and Mar Musa (overnight in Aleppo)

  • 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.

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.
  • 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 – Hama & Krak des Chevaliers (overnight in Homs)

  • Aleppo to Krak de Chevaliers is a 4-hour ride, so we will break the journey in Hama, a pretty photogenic town, famous for its water wheels, all over the city.
  • After a 1-hour visit, we will continue our way to Krak des Chevaliers, once described by Lawrence of Arabia as the most wholly admirable castle in the world, absolutely gorgeous and surrounded by lush green hills.
  • We will have lunch in a restaurant with stunning castle views. After lunch, we will visit the Medieval fortress and then we will head 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 6 – 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.
  • 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.

Day 7 – Bosra

  • On our 7th 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.

Day 8 – Damascus and Beirut transfer

  • After breakfast, we will visit the remaining touristic places in Damascus, including the new part of town, as well as do any necessary shopping.
  • Transfer to Beirut and end of the tour.

Gallery of Photos


Transfer to and from Beirut

7 nights of accommodation (twin shared)

Security clearance (needed for the visa)

Private transportation and driver around Syria

Breakfast and lunch

Special permit for Palmyra & Bosra

English-speaking knowledgeable Syrian guide

International tour leader

Entrance fees to the places listed in the itinerary

Not Included

International flights to Beirut

Visa fees


Alcoholic drinks or any extra drink

Single supplement. Having your own private room costs 300€

Travel insurance


December 23rd to 30th, 2025


8 days

Tour leader to be confirmed


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?

For security reasons, the name of the hotels we stay will only be shared upon booking your spot. 

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 wanted to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €300.

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 Beirut, and transfer to and from Damascus is included in the price.

What’s the best way to reach Beirut?

Beirut International Airport (BEY) 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.