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For other places with the same name, see Damascus (disambiguation).

Damascus (دمشق Dimaşk) is the capital of Syria and its second largest city after Aleppo. Damascus was the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate during the Islamic Golden Age. It is entitled the City of Jasmine and is a major cultural centre in the Levant and the Arab world. The city is home to about 2.5 million people (2022), and the metropolitan area to 5 million.


The Eastern Gate at the end of the Via Recta

Established between 10,000 to 8,000 BCE, Damascus is credited with being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The world heritage listed old-walled city, in particular, feels very ancient and largely consists of a maze of narrow alleys, punctuated by enigmatic doors that lead into pleasing, verdant courtyards and blank-faced houses. The old city still has an authentic medieval feel to it, although this was quickly vanishing due to the increasing tourist traffic as the city continued to be highlighted as an attraction. Life, however, goes on in the old-walled city, which is still the religious and social centre of the city.

Due to the Syrian Civil War which began in 2011, many services in the city, including transportation, accommodation and consular services, have been severely disrupted. Power interruptions are frequent, the Syrian pound currency has been subject to hyperinflation (to the point where prices listed here are meaningless) and the war is not far from mind even during the brief moments when life goes on normally. Many have left the country, been drafted into military service or killed in action.

Large parts of the article describes the situation before the war. Travel to most of Damascus is still considered very unsafe.

Get in


By plane

Caution Note: Damascus International Airport is frequently targeted by Israeli airstrikes. Flights often have to be cancelled at short notice.

As of 2024, flights to Damascus are very limited. SyrianAir and FlyBaghdad offers flights from Abu Dhabi, Amman, Baghdad, Dubai, Doha and Kuwait City several times per week, and some flights from Moscow, Yerevan and Tehran. There are domestic flights from Al-Qamishli as well.

Only taxi companies are allowed to pickup customers from the airport. Taxi fares may vary depending on your bargaining skills. There are also buses departing to and from Baramkeh bus station in the centre of town (airport buses are the only ones which serve this bus station now - all other services have moved to the new out of town Soumaria bus station). There are departures every half an hour, 24 hours a day. At the airport, come out of the terminal and turn right - you will find the bus at the end of the building. There is a small ticket office. The bus will drop you a bit far from the Old City, but there many taxis around to get you there. Make sure to ask for the meter.

  • 1 Damascus International Airport (مَطَار دِمَشْق الدَّوْلِيّ). DAM  IATA. The airport is relatively well-equipped with most standard services. The tax-free assortment is limited, but prices are very low, especially on perfume. You might find better bargains on goods such as Lebanese wine, arak (an unsweetened, aniseed-flavored, alcoholic beverage) and similar items before departing the airport. Getting Syrian pounds at Damascus International Airport might be tricky, as the change counters only accept US dollars. There are two ATMs in the main lobby that accept credit cards and foreign debit cards, but they tend to be unreliable. Your best bet is to bring a small amount of US dollars with you into Syria, and change it at the airport until you can withdraw from Damascus ATMs. Damascus International Airport (Q570873) on Wikidata Damascus International Airport on Wikipedia

By train


As of early 2024, all long-distance train services to Damascus are still suspended, including the once-weekly sleeper trains from Istanbul and Tehran. The historic Hejaz station in the city centre remains closed and future services will depart and arrive at from Al-Qadam railway station south of the city centre.

  • 2 Al-Qadam railway station.

By car


Service Taxis are available to Amman and Irbid in Jordan. Depending on the political situation, these also service Beirut and other points in Lebanon, as well as points in Iraq. Since the closure of the more central Baramkeh Station, these service taxis leave from Soumaria (pronounced like the girls' names "Sue Maria"), which is a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride from central Damascus, along Autostrade Mezzeh. The bus number 15 and 21 will take you to Soumaria station from the bus stop next to Matry's place.

By bus


Damascus is well served by buses internally in the country. There are two bus stations: the western bus station serves destinations west and south (including Amman and Beirut), while the northern bus station serves destinations north (including Aleppo).

Regular buses to Damascus leave Amman, Jordan, the trip including crossing the border takes about 4 hours and cost approximately 6-9 Jordanian dinars.

Hatay Turizm from Antakya, Turkey, has regular buses to the city. You can board on these in Istanbul as well. Normally, you will have to reserve a seat one day or more in advance, and although prices may vary, you can get a bus ticket for 80 Turkish lira.

When arriving into Damascus by bus, make sure to move away from the bus terminal to find a taxi to the city centre. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying several times the going rate, as cars posing as taxis operate next to the terminal. This is normally a two-man operation, with one person trying to distract you, while the driver puts your bags into the boot (trunk) of the "taxi" and locks it.

Upon arrival at the western bus station, city bus #15 will take you to Al-Marjeh Square in Souq Sarouja/Old Town (where you can find many hotels).

Get around


At rush hours (10:00-16:00), the best way of transport is on foot. Smoking is absolutely forbidden on all public transport.

By foot


A very good idea is to go on foot especially for a sightseeing, and it's the only way to get around in Old Damascus. Walking in the new city however, should be reserved to the nicer areas of Maliki and Abu-Rumaneh, as the new city tends to be pollution clogged. The driving culture in Damascus is not the safest, so beware as a pedestrian, especially in the new city. Cars will not hesitate to come extremely close to pedestrians or other cars in order to pass.

By car


It isn't a very good idea to rent a car in Damascus. There is almost always a traffic jam, especially in summer, and parking tends to be difficult too; although that isn't the situation in suburbs.

By bus


Micro buses, also known as servees, are one of the main sources of transportation in Damascus. You can go from one place to another in Damascus with one or at most two journeys. When on the bus, give any passenger a coin and they will pass it to the driver and return the change. Remember to tell that passenger how many people you are paying for, whether you are in a group, or that you are paying "for one" ("waahid") if you are alone. The route is written (in Arabic only) on the roof sign. Micro buses do not generally have fixed stops except at very busy points, just beckon to the driver and they will stop near you (Al yameen, andak iza samaht).

There are also many city buses. One useful bus is #15, which runs from Al-Marjeh Square (Souq Sarouja\Old Town) to the Western Bus Station, which serves Beirut and Amman.

By taxi

Taxi on a street in Damascus

Taxis are plentiful in Damascus, making them a great mode of transportation. The taxis of Star Taxi, a private company, are more expensive than normal taxis, but they are also more comfortable and safer. You can call their headquarters and they will send the nearest taxi to your door. Taxis with the Damascus Governorate logo on the side and a number on the roof sign are normally equipped with a meter, and it is best to use only these when hailing a taxi on the street. You should normally leave a tip as well as the fare on the meter. At night, taxi drivers do not usually use the meter, so you may be best off negotiating the price before you get in. A service taxi to Amman or Beirut takes around 4 hours and run 24 hours. Do not hesitate to take them; they are clean vehicles with air conditioning.


The Souq al-Hamidiyya.
The Temple of Jupiter.

The Souq al-Hamidiyya, a broad street packed with tiny shops, is entered through columns from a Roman temple built on a site that had been occupied by an even older temple. The souqs themselves smell of cumin and other distinctive spices and you can find passages dedicated to everything from leather and copper goods to inlaid boxes and silk scarves.

At the end of Souq al-Hamidiyya stands the great Umayyad mosque; this building with three minarets is an architectural wonder. It was an Assyrian temple, then a Roman temple to Jupiter, a church when Rome converted to Christianity, then a mosque and a church together, and finally a mosque until now. All the symbols are still pretty much there and some Christian drawings can still be very clearly seen on the walls inside. The mosque contains the grave of John the Baptist (prophet Yahya to Muslims) inside the main lounge. Muslims also believe that this is the site where Jesus will descent back to Earth on his Second Coming. Women are asked to be to cover their hair, arms and legs. Abayas(full-body covers) are provided with the entrance ticket. It is one of the most sacred sites of Islam, and it welcomes foreign tourists, who are allowed to walk around the prayer area.

At the other end of Souq al-Hamidiyya is a fort-like section of the extant city wall that is the Citadel (but make sure to visit Aleppo's Citadel for a truly amazing experience).

Nearby, you can visit the Mausoleum of Salah al-Din, known in the west as Saladin, the chief anti-crusader. There's a great statue of him on horseback right next to the citadel, which will make you gasp. If you walk all the way around it, there are two dejected Frankish knights underneath the horse's slightly lifted tail. These two knights are identified by inscriptions as Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, and Reynald de Chatillon, lord of Kerak, an important fortress in the Holy Land. Both were captured during Salah al-Din's definitive victory at Hattin; Guy was imprisoned in Damascus and eventually released, but Reynald was executed as punishment for his many atrocities.

Old Damascus

  • 1 Temple of Jupiter. Roman temple, built in the 1st century BCE. Temple of Jupiter, Damascus (Q7698734) on Wikidata Temple of Jupiter, Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 2 Umayyad Mosque (الْجَامِع الْأُمَوِي). Umayyad Mosque (Q183562) on Wikidata Umayyad Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 3 Azm Palace. Built in 1749 includes a museum describing the life of royal families. Al-Azm Palace (Q793784) on Wikidata Azm Palace on Wikipedia
  • 4 Citadel of Damascus. Medieval fortified palace and citadel, now partly ruined. Citadel of Damascus (Q206246) on Wikidata Citadel of Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 5 Statue of Saladin (تمثال صلاح الدين الأيوبي). Unveiled in 1993, marking the 800th anniversary of Saladin's death. Statue of Saladin (Q7604501) on Wikidata Statue of Saladin on Wikipedia
  • 6 Khan As'ad Pasha. Largest caravanserai in the Old City of Damascus, built in 1758. Khan As'ad Pasha (Q1061557) on Wikidata Khan As'ad Pasha on Wikipedia
  • 7 Khan al-Harir (خَان الْحَرِير). Khan al-Harir (Damascus) (Q28929864) on Wikidata Khan al-Harir (Damascus) on Wikipedia
  • 8 Menarsha Synagogue. Menarsha Synagogue (Q106489698) on Wikidata Menarsha Synagogue on Wikipedia
  • 9 Elfrange Synagogue. Last remaining functioning synagogue in Damascus. Built in the 19th century, it was recently renovated. Elfrange Synagogue (Q106488987) on Wikidata Elfrange Synagogue on Wikipedia
  • 10 Saint Ananias House (كَنيسَةُ الْقِدِّيسِ حَنَانِيَا). Said to be the home Ananias of Damascus who baptized Saul, which came to be Paul the Apostle. Excavations have reveled a 5th or 6th century underground church. Saint Anania's House (Q1764351) on Wikidata Saint Ananias House on Wikipedia
  • 11 Cathedral of Saint George. Syriac Orthodox cathedral. Saint George Cathedral in Damascus (Q14829043) on Wikidata Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 12 Mausoleum of Saladin (Adjacent to the Umayyad Mosque). Resting place and grave of the medieval Muslim Ayyubid Sultan Saladin, built in 1196. Mausoleum of Saladin (Q257153) on Wikidata Mausoleum of Saladin on Wikipedia
  • 13 Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition (كَاتِدْرَائِيَّةُ سَيِّدَةِ النِّيَاحِ لِلرُّومِ الْمَلَكِيِّينَ فِي دِمَشْقَ). Melkite Greek Catholic cathedral. Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (Q15958561) on Wikidata Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition on Wikipedia
  • 14 Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus (الكَنِيسَة المَرْيَمِيَّة). Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus (Q6416473) on Wikidata Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 15 Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul (كَاتِدرَائِيَّة مَار بُولُس). Syriac Catholic cathedral (Q41566085) on Wikidata Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul on Wikipedia

The ancient city of Damascus had seven city gates, of which four remains to be seen. Most of the walls surrounding the old town have however disappeared.

  • 16 Bab al-Saghir (بَـاب الـصَّـغِـيْـر). Bab al-Saghir (Q4115966) on Wikidata Bab al-Saghir on Wikipedia
  • 17 Bab Tuma (بَابُ تُومَا). Meaning the Gate of Thomas, celebrating Saint Thomas the Apostle, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Bab Tuma (Q1021901) on Wikidata Bab Tuma on Wikipedia
  • 18 Bab Sharqi (بَابٌ شَرْقِيٌّ). The Eastern Gate, this is the only gate built during Roman times that still stands. Bab Sharqi (Q4837223) on Wikidata Bab Sharqi on Wikipedia
  • 19 Bab Kisan (بَابُ كِيسَانَ). Bab Kisan (Q4119844) on Wikidata Bab Kisan on Wikipedia

Other sights

  • 20 National Museum of Damascus (المتحف الوطني بدمشق), Shukri al-Quwatli St. National Museum in Damascus (Q617254) on Wikidata National Museum of Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 21 Sulaymaniyya Takiyya (التَّكِيَّة السُّلَيْمَانِيَّة). Sulaymaniyya Takiyya (Q715273) on Wikidata Sulaymaniyya Takiyya on Wikipedia
  • 22 Aqsab Mosque (جَامِع الْأَقْصَاب). Ayyubid-era mosque, completed in 1234. Aqsab Mosque (Q4117572) on Wikidata Aqsab Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 23 October War Panorama. Out in the suburbs but accessible by minibus or taxi. It's about US$7 to get in and well worth it. It was built with the help of the North Korean Government and the influence shows. There is an exhibit of military hardware outside. English-speaking guides are available. Many big galleries contain murals commemorating the life of former president Hafez al-Assad. Other exhibits include paintings, which represent the history of Syria with a mixture of Arab and Syrian nationalism. October War Panorama (Q55627273) on Wikidata October War Panorama on Wikipedia
  • 24 Hejaz railway station (محطة الحجاز). No longer an active railway station, this historic building remains an important landmark in the city. Since it clousure around 2008 there has been temporary exhibitions but its future remains unclear. Hejaz Railway Station (Q5701244) on Wikidata Hejaz Railway Station, Damascus on Wikipedia
  • 25 Damascene Sword Monument (نصب السيف الدمشقي). Widely considered as the symbol of the city, the monument is meant to be a reminder of "the victories, strength and achievements of the Syrian people". The Damascene Sword monument (Q16123060) on Wikidata
  • 26 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (ضريح الجندي المجهول). War memorial dedicated to the Syrian soldiers killed during battle. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Q2898923) on Wikidata Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Damascus) on Wikipedia


  • View the city from Mount Qasioun is a must-do activity in Damascus as it offers a panoramic view. The peak is accessible at any time, although the view is perhaps most spectacular at night when the whole city is lit up and the minarets of mosques are bathed in green light. The Umayyad Mosque in the old town is particularly impressive when viewed from the mountain. There is a wide range of food and refreshment available on the peak from stalls to fancy restaurants that serve good local cuisine and alcohol. Check the price before you get too comfortable though as it is a well-known scam for taxi drivers to take you to their 'favorite' cafe, where you'll end up paying a fortune for a cup of tea.
  • Visit a restaurant in old Damascus. There are many restaurants in the old quarter each with their own unique character, but perhaps the most famous (and touristy) is "Beit Jabri", although "Al-Khawali" is considered by many to be the best dining experience in the old city. Another restaurant in the old city, Narcissus Palace, located close to Maktab Anbar, would offer an enlightening experience. Every night, a singer and band play old Arabic music and create an amazing atmosphere in the restaurant. A good idea, when considering these restaurants, is to go for breakfast, and then go sightseeing. The breakfast is very cheap.
  • Relax at a Hooka cafe "Narjelah" Hooka cafes are popular in Damascus and are easy to find. When visiting the old city, you'll get a more cultural or traditional experience. You'll probably find a crowd of tea-drinking, backgammon-playing men all smoking hooka. In the modern city, most cafes cater to a younger crowd and are a big part of the night life offering a huge variety of flavored tobacco ranging from double apple which is the most common, to cappuccino. In almost every major restaurant, hookas are available, including the restaurants in the old city.
  • 1 Damascus Opera House. Damascus Opera House (Q2785247) on Wikidata Damascus Opera House on Wikipedia



Bathing in a hammam, i.e., a Turkish bath, is a great way of both soaking up the atmosphere of Old Damascus and to be rejuvenated after a long day. Two baths that are familiar with Western tourists are Nur-al-Din Bath and Bakri Bath. A visit to either includes towels, soap, scrub, a massage and a tea. The price is typically composed of bath entry, scrub, sauna, massage, and extras such as tea or soap. Nur-al-Din is for men only, Bakri might be able to accommodate women or mixed groups upon prior arrangement. Bakri Bath: for women each day except Friday 10:00-17:00.

  • Nur-al-Din Bath (between the Azem Palace and Straight Street).
  • Bakri Bath (first street on the right after entering the Old City at Bab Touma).





There are several institutions in Damascus that teach Arabic:

  • Language Institute at Damascus University [dead link] - The Language Institute fully immerse their students in Arabic; the course materials and all interaction between students and teachers are done in Arabic. Students are placed in beginning, intermediate or advanced courses based on a placement test.
  • Ma'had [dead link]- This state-run language academy is in the Mezze district of Damascus. It is the cheapest option, although the courses are not as good as those at Damascus University.
  • The British Council - While the classes may be expensive, they are mainly aimed toward diplomats and businessmen.
  • DSA - Damascus Language School for Standard Arabic[dead link]- The school provides basic courses for beginners and advanced courses also on certain topics as for journalists, physicians, diplomats, engineers, etc. Normal classes have maximum 4 students. Lessons with private teachers are even possible. Twice a year, there are certain courses for students available at half price. Teachers are well experienced in teaching foreigners. Basic courses start every Saturday.
  • Arabesk Studies in Damascus [formerly dead link] - The institute offers extensive classes in Arabic. Aide with living arrangement provided.
  • TikaTrip - Travels and Studies in Syria [dead link]- Providing private Arabic tutors as well as professional language teachers and all important services: starting with the pickup service at the airport, arranging accommodation and advices on how to tackle the bureaucratic procedures.

Tour Guide : You can get an English speaking guide by emailing :



Damascus offers some of the best shopping in the Middle East. Prices are cheap, and since very few stores depend on tourists for their income, most will leave you alone to browse until you are ready to buy. Small stores are found throughout the old city, although the Souq al-Hamidiyya, located along the Roman straight street, offers the highest density of shops. The souq is a fantastic experience, but be prepared for the crowds.

  • 1 Al-Hamidiyah Souq (سُوق ٱلْحَمِيدِيَّة). Al-Hamidiyah Souq (Q1338588) on Wikidata Al-Hamidiyah Souq on Wikipedia




Delicious pistachio ice cream served at Bakdash.

The famous vegetarian falafel sandwich, chicken shawarma, and manakeesh, bread filled with zatar, spinach, meat, pizza-style tomato and cheese or other fillings are widely available and cheap. Less common but still widely spread are places which sell foul (boiled fava beans with sauce) and hummus.

A typical Damascene dish is fatteh, made up of soaked bread, chickpeas and yogurt. Delicious and extremely filling, it is excellent on a cold winter's day. Try it with lamb or sheep's tongue, or plain with the typical garnish of a little pickle and nuts.

There is a foul restaurant on Souq Saroujah, the same street as hotel Al-Haramein and one at the bab touma square. Also in this "backpacker district" on Souq Sarouja is Mr Pizza serving good pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and fries.

Shawarma is, of course, popular in Damascus. It comes in different varieties, including chicken and beef. Station One (near the Noura Supermarket in Abu Rumaneh) is one of many restaurants that serve shawarma throughout the city.

In order to really experience local Syrian cuisine, be sure to visit a section of Damascus called Midan. It lies south of the old city and can easily be reached by walking south from the western entrance to Souq al-Hamadiyya or from Bab Saghir. There is a main street there called Jazmatiya which offers an unlimited amount of shawerma & falafel stands, butcher shops/restaurants and plenty of Syrian pastry shops which are clearly marked by 2.5-metre-high towers of sweets stacked on top of each other. Be sure to try Shawarma from "Anas," which makes some of the best sandwiches in Damascus. This main street is best to visit at night and doesn't close till around 03:00. The street is very safe and is always very busy.

Another unusual treat is a camel kebab, available tasty and fresh from the camel butchers outside Bab Saghir. As they typically advertise their wares by hanging a camel head and neck outside the premises, you're unlikely to miss them.

Fresh juice stalls are available all over the city. Orange juice (aasir beerdan) and other fruits are available. Many fruit stalls also have a range of dishes like hot dog, sojouq (Armenian sausage), liver (soda) and meat (kebab etc.). These may not always be the safest to eat.

Fruits and vegetables which are not peeled might cause infections, but are still very good. Select places that have a steady stream of customers.

The area around Martyr's square is polluted with pastry shops selling sweet, tasty and cheap baklava.

Do not try to eat in empty places, only crowded restaurants and food places are safe otherwise you may get food poisoning from Shawerma sandwiches or any other product (especially in summer) so beware!

  • 1 Bakdash (بكداش), Al-Hamidiyah St (Within Al-Hamidiyah Souq). The oldest ice cream parlor in the Middle East, open since 1885. They are most famous for the Booza, a pistachio-covered ice cream with an elastic texture made of mastic and sahlab. Bakdash (Q4849042) on Wikidata Bakdash (ice cream parlor) on Wikipedia


  • Al-Sehhi Restaurant, Sharia al-Abed, Central Damascus, +963 11 221-1555. This restaurant offers the basics in Middle Eastern cooking, including mezze and a variety of grilled meats. There is a separate family section for diners and women. Alcohol is not served, and credit cards are not accepted.
  • Il Forno Pizzeria, Najmeh Square (after Dar Salam School, First to the left, 3rd shop), +963113331427. This is a very cozy restaurant that serves pizza baked in wood-fired oven. The interior decoration is very charming and warm. The restaurant speciality is wood fired authentic Italian pizza, and serves salads, appetizers, pasta dishes and deserts as well. No alcohol. Also delivers. US$6–15.
  • Pizza Pasta, sharia medhat pasha, at the turn to Bab Kisan. This place serves descent pasta and good pizza, and also antipasto and alcohol. The service is often less than good, but it's worth for the food. No menu, just ask for whatever Italian dish you fancy and chances are they will have it.
  • Nadil, a little closer to bab sharqi than pizza pasta, this place serves typical Arabic meat dishes and very good broasted, and does it well and cheaply. Takeaway.
  • Beit Sitti, close to Beit Jabri in the old city (the street that runs parallel to the street of Al-Noufara down from the Ommayad mosque). Diverse range of food. Superb lemon and mint juice and it’s OK just to drink.
  • Inhouse Coffee, at the airport, in the bab touma shopping street on the way to Sahet Abbasin and in the shopping street of abu romanih (souq al-kheir, close to Benetton shopping centre). Has great coffee. Heavy with smart looking people and bluetooth in the air (in Syria, it’s an acceptable way to flirt).
  • Cafe Vienna, close to cham palace, follow the street towards Jisr-al-rais, turn right in the alley opposite of the Adidas store. Offer sandwiches on brown bread and apple strudel.
  • Vino Rosso, in bab touma walk up the stairs beside the police station and ask your way. You can have food fried at the table and they have French cheeses. Rather cheap, very cosy. Alcohol is served.
  • Chinese Restaurant, opposite of Cafe Narcissius close to Beit Jabri. Small restaurant serving Americanized Chinese food. Reasonably priced and good Chinese food, usually full of foreigners or Chinese students. The sweet and sour chicken and beef "hot pan" are highly recommended. Alcohol is served.
  • Fish place, bourj el-roos. This place is more or less male only, a little rough and does very good fish. Not cheap, but it’s Damascus, it’s fish and it’s good. The same place runs a good place for foul and hommous next by. Alcohol is served.
  • Spicy, at the abu-roumanih side of jisr al-abiad, first street to the left if your back is faced to the bridge. Daily dishes, "home-made" style Arabic food. Excellent. No alcohol.
  • Caffe Latte, a small, warmhearted cafe serving great coffee, muffins and pancakes. An escape from the hustle and bustle of Damascus. Located near the Italian hospital.


  • Scoozi. It’s close to Noura Supermarket in Abu Rumanneh, if you walk from jisr al-rais towards jebel qasioun it is on your right. Best pizza in Damascus, the rest of the dishes are excellent too. No alcohol.
  • Haretna (bab touma area, take the stairs beside the police station and follow the sign) serves excellent mezze. No alcohol during Ramadan.
  • Nadi al Sharq, close to hotel Four seasons, this is the best Indian in Damascus. They do an excellent set meal
  • Rotana Cafe, a theme cafe built at the end of Damascus Boulevard by the Four Seasons. It is part of the Rotana Audio Visuals company which is probably the most famous music records company in the Arabic world. The head of Rotana is Prince Walid bin Talal. The food is good, as well as the hookah The view from this cafe is great, Mount Kassyoun is visible and the rest of Beirut Street. There is also a souvenir shop and a music store located on the first level.
  • Cafe Trattoria is right by the United Colors of Benneton in Abu Rummaneh. It is a beautiful pavement cafe that offers Italian food, hookas, and western coffees, as well as the traditional Turkish Coffee.
  • Leila's Restaurant and Terrace, Souq al-Abbabiyya, Central Old City, +963 11 544-5900. Leila's Restaurant and Terrace has rooftop seating with a gorgeous view of Umayyad Mosque. The restaurant serves traditional Arabic cuisine. Alcohol is served, although noted listed on the menu so ask the waiter for availability.
  • 2 Beit Jabri Restaurant, 14 Sharia as-Sawwaf, Central Old City, +963 11 544-3200. A favorite with locals and tourists, and offers the Syrian classics. It is located in the courtyard of a beautiful Damascene house.
  • Arabesque Restaurant, Sharia al-Kineesa, Central Damascus, +963 11 543-3999. The restaurant offers a combination of Syrian and French classics. While alcohol is served, credit cards are not accepted. Arabesque is on the more elegant side, so semi-formal dress may be more appropriate.
  • Downtown, Sharia al-Amar Izzedin al-Jazzari, Central Damascus, +963 11 332-2321. This contemporary restaurant offers a wide array of sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit juices. French is more likely to be spoken than Arabic. The interior is filled with Scandinavian decor.



The coffee houses of Old Damascus were something to experience. Hours could dissolve over a cup of shay (tea) or ahwa (coffee) among the smoke of a nargileh (water pipe) . An-Naufara (which means 'The Fountain') was a wonderful place to do this, just east of the Umayyad Mosque. There was even a Hakawati (a traditional story teller) present at 19:00 most nights.

If you were craving a European coffee, you could have headed for Abu Rommeneh street and looked for the Bennetton clothing store. There were a number of fancy cafés in the area, including the Middle Eastern chain Inhouse Coffee, which is similar to Starbucks in its prices and atmosphere. Free Wi-Fi was offered at each location throughout the city.

Apart from that, many bars and nightclubs had been set up in Damascus. These were usually busy at night time, but they still provided nice alcoholic beverages and dances.

Clubs in Damascus that weren't all prostitutes (around Bab Sharqi): La Serai, La Vida Loca.

Many establishments have closed because of the war; as of mid-2016 there have been reports of businesses gradually returning to the Old City or Old Quarter of Damascus.

Old Town establishments which have reopened include:

  • La Marionnette Pub, الشهبندر مقابل وزارة التربية, +963 958 741 013.
  • 1 Pub Sharqi (شرقي), Al Qashla Avenue, +963 965 992 200.
  • 2 Havana Cafe (مَقْهًى الْهَافَانَا). Established in 1945, this café was for a long time the main meeting place of the cultural elite in Damascus. Havana Cafe (Q5683068) on Wikidata Havana Cafe on Wikipedia


Merjeh Square

Souq-Al-Saroujah is where you find the cluster of backpacker hotels. Martyr's Square or "Merjeh" in Arabic is the other place worth considering if you're on a tight budget, though many of the places double as brothels. However, at least the hotels below can be recommended. Women alone should avoid hotels at Merjeh Square, because it's the red light district of Damascus.

Most hotels in Damascus claiming to be 5 stars are actually closer to what Western travellers know as 2 stars. The Syrian government runs its own accreditation agency that gives highly suspect inflated ratings to hotels owned by Syrian chains and those that have paid "baksheesh" (bribes) to the authorities. Due to the American sanctions of Syria, credit cards linked to US banks will not be accepted (this is pretty much every credit card in the world).


  • Al-Rabie Hotel, Sharia bahsa, Souq saroujah (on an attractive side street about a 5-10 minute walk from the citadel), +963 11 231-8374, . It has an attractive courtyard, and clean rooms. Breakfast is included in the price. Some of the rooms that share a bath are a bit of a hike from the bath and shower rooms. No alcohol allowed on the premises. The design of the hotel is beautiful but staff can be very rude and don't expect to be made to feel welcome.
  • Hotel Al-Ghazal, Sharia souq saroujah (in souq Saroujah, at the street turning out towards Jisr-Al-Thawra, the revolution bridge), +963 11 231-3736, . Also known as Ghazal Hotel, this hotel is a newcomer in the Saroujah budget hotels. It has a very attractive, typical Damascus courtyard. For breakfast, they serve the usual range of teas and coffeea and good water pipe free of charge. You can bring alcohol to drink in the courtyard. Rooms and facilities are new. Several new, clean bathrooms with hot water and also a hostel portion in the same structure. There is safe for valuables. Owners are helpful and service-minded, but they speak less English than their competitors and don't arrange tours or otherwise on a regular basis (but could still probably help out if you ask). English spoken enough to arrange rooms, get/give directions and special circumstances. For foreign students of Arabic, the hotel staff are very accommodating and surprisingly insightful with the limited English they speak. If you are a light sleeper, you should avoid rooms close to the kitchen, bathrooms and reception area. The rooms facing onto the courtyard are peaceful. 9.
  • Al-Haramain Hotel, Sharia bahsa, Souq saroujah (next to the Al-Rabie Hotel), +963 11 231-9489. Some of the rooms on the upper floors lack heaters and can be very cold in the winter unless the door to the common space is left open. The courtyard is smaller than in Al-Rabie, but the staff is nice and friendly. Showers are in the basement. Helpful staff that can arrange tours and otherwise cater to tourist needs. No alcohol allowed on the premises. Reservations needed. Scam warning: their email has been hacked. If someone responds to your email asking for money up front,do not send it! Al Haramain is not a low budget hotel, so check prices before booking. Prices are more expensive than nearby hostels. Breakfast is always included in the price.
  • Sultan Hotel (almost opposite Hejaz Train Station). Check-out: 12:00. In a good location, 10–15 minutes' walk from the Old Town in one direction and the National Museum in the other. US$55 per night for a double room including breakfast, but most currencies are accepted..


The rope ladder to the Damascus Hostel
  • 1 Al-Madinah City Hotel, +963 963 11 2219375, fax: +963 112453817, .
  • [dead link] Al Majed Hotel, 29th May Street (above Yusef Al-'Azmeh Square, behind the Assufara (Ambassadors') Cinema), +963 11 232-3300, fax: +963 11 232-3304, . This family-run 60-room hotel remains a very popular, secure and central place to stay for travellers of all sorts, from businessmen to backpackers. The Al Majed Restaurant, open 24 hours, is on the top floor of the Hotel with a variety of dishes, from traditional Middle Eastern dishes to Continental cuisine.
  • [formerly dead link] Damascus Hostel (Al Abbara Street from Straight Street, or rope ladder on city walls 100 m from Bab Sharqi), +963 11 541-4115. This hostel has a unique location, with some rooms in a tower on the city wall. While the location is excellent and the rooms are decent. Laundry service with an automatic washer is available. Satellite television is available in the common area but there is no on-site Internet access. The website has both a printable map with directions and GPS coordinates.
  • [formerly dead link] Dana Residence, Qudssaya Suburb (around 10 km from Damascus centre), +963 11 323 56 61. Offers various-sized apartments, suitable for all numbers of persons. Each apartment has its own balcony with breath-taking views of the mountains. Prices start at $US50.
  • [dead link] Fallouh House, in the heart of The old city of Damascus-Bab Touma, +963 933 356955, . Has air conditioned rooms (singles, doubles) with satellite TV, telephone and mini-bar. You can ask for a car to pick you up from the airport. The courtyard contains fountain and is full of plants. Prices start at US$35.
  • [dead link] House of Damascus, . rents a rooms for students studying in Damascus in a beautiful, traditional Arabic house in the heart of the Old City of Damascus. The house includes seven bedrooms, two bathrooms, two kitchens, a beautiful courtyard and a rooftop terrace with a great view over Old Damascus. Each bedroom is furnished with a TV, bed, wardrobe, dresser and heater (air-con in some rooms). The kitchens are fully equipped (gas stove, microwave, kettle, oven etc.) and the modern bathrooms have hot water 24 hours a day. Washing machine, internet access (dial-up) and fixed telephone (landline) are also available.
  • Hotel Old Damascus, Bab Tuma Square near Haretna Restaurant, +963 11 541-4042. In the Old City, near the St. Thomas gate, on one of those two-metre-wide pedestrian-only streets that are so common in the older neighbourhoods. The Old Damascus has about a dozen rooms and used to be a typical Arab home of the sort common among prosperous merchants in the early 1900s. A Syrian-Arab family owns and operates the hotel.
  • [dead link] Orient Gate Hotel, opposite Venesia Hotel, beginning of Saroujah Entrance, Bahsa St. (within walking distance of the commercial markets and many restaurants), +963 11 231 6224, fax: +963 933 226 012, . The hotel has 25 air-conditioned rooms (doubles, twins, and triples) with satellite TV, telephone and mini-bar. Safe deposit box at the reception. Staff are available to assist guests 24 hours a day. Summer terrace looking out over Damascus city. Prices start at US$36.
  • [dead link] Sah al Naum Bed and Breakfast, Baghdad street, Ekeibeh neighbourhood, Amara, +963 11 231 0884, . Offers long- as well as short-term stays. The 400-year-old house has been renovated. The two-storey house prides has 27 furnished rooms restored in Ottoman decorative styles. With wireless internet access, laundry facilities and a fully equipped kitchen. The house has two open courtyards with view of Qasiun mountain. Starting from €45.


  • 2 [dead link] Beit Al Mamlouka, Bab Touma (in front of Hammam Bakri), +963 11 543 0445. Amazing little boutique hotel on a quiet alleyway, behind an unmarked doorway. The rooms and courtyard are part of a beautiful old Damascus house. US$150-300.
  • [dead link] Cham Hotel, +963 11 223-2300, fax: +963 11 221-2398, . Syria's national hotel chain, and one of the largest business-class hotels in the city.
  • 3 Four Seasons Hotel Damascus (فندق فور سيزنز دمشق), Shukri Al Quatli Street, +963 11 339-1000, fax: +963 11 339-0900. The Four Seasons, in the city centre, offers many services, such as spa, baby-sitting, and fitness facilities. This hotel houses the Al Halabi restaurant, which features the Aleppo cuisine of northern Syria. Four Seasons Hotel Damascus (Q5475500) on Wikidata Four Seasons Hotel Damascus on Wikipedia
  • Blue Tower Hotel, Hamra Street, +963 11 3340240, fax: +963 11 3342112, . Offers all the services of a four-star international hotel; Presidential suite, bathrooms are provided with jacuzzi, comfortable rooms equipped with the modern technology services; communication facilities including free high-speed internet (wireless in the lobby and wired in the rooms). Additional facilities include an international restaurant, bar and café.
  • Baik Bash hotel and restaurant, Straight Street, +963 11 5436007, fax: +963 11 5436008, . Offers all the services of a five-star hotel, double king-sized beds, modern equipment, terrace cafe, basement cinema cafe, reading lounges, restaurant, salon, VIP area, Wi-Fi.

Stay safe


See the Syria article for information on the security situation.

In rural and modern areas of Damascus, people have been known to be perfectly healthy, but to imitate beggars in order to get money. Often, they will attempt to con you by giving more money and have many tricks to do so. Exercise caution.

Also, for your safety, do not take advice or recommendations, especially about accommodation, doctors and dentists, from taxi drivers.

Damascus itself has not been an active war zone for several years now. Nonetheless, the political by-products of the war continue to negatively impact travellers. In particular, checkpoints are everywhere in the city and its environs, staffed by underpaid and notoriously corrupt soldiers and policemen. Especially if you are not Arab, Russian, or Iranian, you can expect to be repeatedly shaken down for bribes (ranging from food and cigarettes to cash). Do not get in these people's bad books under any circumstances; Syria is not a country where the rule of law applies. Nonetheless, Damascus is physically safe for tourists who are respectful and willing to "pay to play". Travelling with a guide at all times is strongly recommended, if only to make such interactions less stressful.



Most hotels can arrange international phone calls, but prices are very expensive. Most internet cafes are set up for VOIP, and offer a much cheaper alternative, although the price does reflect the quality of the connection.

Internet access is widely available, although the Syrian government censors traffic, which can cause some interesting quirks in connectivity.



Very few large banks will cash American Express Traveller Cheques in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria. ATMs and credit cards are not a reliable option.

ATMs are not always in operation. Change houses exist in many areas in Damascus, especially near the large souks. The euro, British pound, and American dollar can be changed at these shops, usually commission-free. Be sure to look up the current exchange rate before changing money so you do not get cheated. Many shops, especially in the old city), also change money. Though it is illegal, it is a handy option when you're already shopping in the old city and need to change some cash quickly. Just ask around the shopkeepers for a money changer and you will soon be directed to a store that does currency exchange.





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This city travel guide to Damascus is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.