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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Syrian Arab Republic > Damascus

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Local time Damascus

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Travel to Damascus

Flying to Damascus

There are currently no international flights to Damascus.

Travel by road

Syria has an 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. You can also obtain an International Driving Permit from these organisations, which is obligatory for holders of licences which do not use the Latin alphabet.

Emergency breakdown services

There is no emergency breakdown service in Syria.

Routes

Owing to the outbreak of war in Syria, we are unable to update the information on this page. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Syria.

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. 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

Owing to the outbreak of war in Syria, we are unable to update the information on this page. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Syria.

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 by boat

Due to the war, 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).

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.