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Damascus tours and excursions

Damascus tours

Driving and bus tours

The bigger hotels are connected to travel agents that can set up a guided tour of Damascus by private taxi or a group tour by bus. Good travel agents like Silk Road Travel, Adonis Travel and Jasmin Tours organise day tours of the city including the National Museum, the Azem Palace, the Umayyad Mosque, Saladin's tomb, Straight Street, the Christian Quarter, shopping in the Hamidiyyeh Souk, and a drive to Qassioun Mountain in the evening. They can also organise private tours to Palmyra, Aleppo or a village in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains by air-conditioned car.

Tel: (011) 223 0500 ; (011) 513 4850 ; (011) 231 7597.
Website: http://www.silkroad-tours.com

Damascus excursions

Sednaya and Maaloula

A small Christian settlement in the hills 27km (17 miles) north of Damascus, Sednaya is believed to be the place where Noah planted the first vine after the Flood. The sixth-century Convent of Our Lady draws thousands of pilgrims to its miraculous icon of the Virgin, believed to be painted from life by St Luke. A taxi-ride (25km/15.5 miles) through the spectacular Anti-Lebanon Mountains takes you to one of the most picturesque villages in the country and another Christian enclave, Maaloula. Here too there are several churches and it is one of the few places in the world where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.

Palmyra

A three-hour bus ride northeast of Damascus, in the middle of the desert, is the ancient Roman settlement of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The modern town of Tadmor has hotels, restaurants and the Archaeological Museum with ceramics, sculpture and jewellery found on the site. The ancient town requires at least a day to visit, with the Temple of Bel, the Great Colonnade, theatre, agora and forum. Further out are several spectacular tombs and the Arab castle of Qalaat ibn Maan has spectacular views over the city.
 

Featured Hotels

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Four Seasons Hotel Damascus

The Four Seasons Hotel is the top hotel in town, and with 23 storeys it has become a landmark on the Damascus skyline. Set in a landscaped park, opposite the National Museum, it is only a short walk from the old city. The rooms are sumptuously decorated and have great views over Damascus and the Barada River.

Cham Palace

The Cham Palace, located right in the heart of the city, is one of the oldest luxury hotels in Damascus. The rooms command great views over the city and Mount Qassioun and the lobby is a popular meeting point for Syrian businessmen. The hotel has five good restaurants, including the Étoile d'Or, the city's only revolving restaurant, on the top floor.

Omayad Hotel Damascus

Centrally located, Omayad Hote Damascus is a popular four-star business hotel in Damascus. The hotel has a grand lobby and spacious soundproofed rooms with air conditioning, satellite TV and a free Wi-Fi internet connection.

Sultan Hotel

For many years now the best budget option in Damascus, the Sultan is popular with travellers for its excellent location near the old city, its friendly and helpful staff and the basic, but clean rooms with an unchanged motel-style1960s décor. It is advisable to book ahead.

Beit al-Mamlouka

Damascus's first boutique hotel is in a grand 17th-century city house, built around a central courtyard with fragrant citrus trees and a fountain. The eight luxurious bedrooms are each decorated in a particular style reflecting a period of history and using traditional Syrian furniture and crafts.

Beit Rumman

Beit Rumman is a recent addition to Damascus's burgeoning boutique hotel scene. Located in Bab Touma, Beit Rumman is a converted, 17th-century house complete with its own cellar and courtyard. It offers six bedrooms, each uniquely decorated.