Travel to Damascus

Flying to Damascus

Airlines offering flights to Damascus from the UK include bmi, Syrian Air, Emirates, Air France and Iberia. Cheap flights to Damascus are hard to get so book well ahead. Flights to Damascus take about five hours from London.

Flight times

From London - 5 hours.

Travel by road

Summary:

Syria has a good and extensive road network and Damascus is at the heart of it. Traffic drives on the right and speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in built-up areas, 70kph (43mph) outside built-up areas and 110kph (68mph) on motorways. The roads in and around Damascus are generally quite reasonable, but when heading off into the backblocks you will find that most signposting is in Arabic only. To drive in Syria, a customs certificate must be produced; it is obtainable from automobile and touring clubs. An International Driving Permit can also be obtained from these organisations, which is obligatory for holders of licences which do not use the Latin alphabet.

Emergency breakdown service:

There is no emergency breakdown service in Syria.

Routes:

The M1 highway connects Damascus northwards with Aleppo via Hama and Homs, and southwards with Amman in Jordan. From Aleppo the E5 runs to Istanbul via Ankara and Iskenderun in Turkey. Highway 1 connects Damascus with Beirut, but sections of the highway are being reworked. Highway 2 goes to the Iraqi border, and intersects with the road to Palmyra.

Coaches:

The most efficient and cheapest way to travel is by luxury intercity bus. The main bus station is Garaj Baramkeh, just northeast of Martyr's Square where the state-run Karnak buses run to all places south of Damascus, including Bosra, as well as to Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Riyadh. It is advised to buy your tickets 24 hours in advance directly from the bus station, as buses tend to be fully booked.

The other bus station is Garaj Harasta, or Garaj Pullman, on the Damascus-Homs Road, 5km (3 miles) northeast of the city centre, from where the luxury Pullman coaches and other companies leave to all destinations north of the city, including Aleppo, Lattakia, Palmyra and Turkey. Both stations also have a terminal for service taxis and microbuses serving the same destinations.

Travel by rail

Services:

Damascus has two main stations: the historic Hejaz Railway Station on Sharia Port Said (which has been under restoration since 2004) and the modern Kadem Railway Station, 3km (2 miles) south of the city centre. Microbuses for Kadem station leave from the central depot next to the National Museum, and taxis are relatively cheap (although you’ll have to haggle furiously for a fair price). Trains services are as slow as they are unreliable and not often used.

Operators:

Syrian Railways (CFS) runs domestic services from Damascus to Aleppo, Latakia and Tartous, as well as international services with a weekly train from Damascus to Tehran, and the weekly Toros Express via Aleppo, Gaziantep in southern Turkey to Haydarpasha station on the Asian side of Istanbul. A slow twice-weekly narrow-gauge train links Damascus with Amman in Jordan, running over part of the famous Hejaz Railway (http://nabataea.net/hejazad.html), the line attacked by TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and the Arabs during the Arab Revolt in 1917.

Travel over water

Summary:

Due to the unrest in the region, and diminished demand in recent years, there are currently no ferry services between Syria's main port of Latakia, the nearest port to Damascus, and Alexandria (Egypt), Beirut (Lebanon) or Bodrum (Turkey).

Nevertheless, the port is used by luxury cruise ships operating in the Mediterranean. Boarding a cruise ship from Latakia, however, is a trying and often impossible task. Government officials may request stamps from the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and your embassy, depending on their mood.




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