The Damascus Guide – What to eat sleep drink and do in 2023

Damascus Guide

Surviving a brutal civil war that had ISIS close enough to be bombing, it is fair to say Damascus has been through the wars. Yet despite this the resurgence of the city has followed that of the country itself, with it again staking its claim as the cultural hub of the country. This is the Damascus Guide.

Getting to Damascus

As the capital city pretty much all roads lead to Damascus. If you come in as a tourists you will most likely come over land from Lebanon, with it taking about 4 hours from Beirut to Damascus by car.

Other land routes include via Jordan, which also take in the rebel held city of Busra. It is also possible to get ti rebel held areas of the country, such as Rojava from Damascus, `although specula permission will be required.

There is an international airport in Damascus, as well as Aleppo, but both ere erectly bombed by Israel. Flying into then city though is still very much possible.

The Damascus Guide – Essential things to see

There really is amigo amount of things to do in Damascus from sampling the nightlife, to museums, parks, football matches to even a night at the opera. The Baathist policy of the country leans heavily on culture, much like other socialist states.

Must see things in Damascus

  • Damascus Umayyad Mosque
  • Al Azem Pause
  • Saladin Mausoleum
  • Damascus Centre
  • National Museum of Damascus

Off the beaten track things to see and do in Damascus

So, while we’ve covered the must see and must do things in Damascus at Young Pioneer Tours we also like to get a bit off the beaten track.

Here’s our list of obscure and interesting things to do in Damascus

Visit Kim Il Sung Square – OK, this is very YPT specific, but obviously we like things named after the North Korean leader. Kim Il Sung Park is though actually a really nice place  to hang out for the day.

Watch a football match in Damascus – Syria have a great local football league, as well a strong national team. It is possible to visit the stadium in Damascus to watch football, as well as buy a Syria short throughout Damascus.

Watch the Syrian Wind OrchestraNot only a great night out, but also living proof of the cultural of Damascus

October War Panorama – Another North Korea, well after all we are Young Pioneer Tours. This is a museum built by the DPRK for Syria.

See the latest bomb site in Damascus – No matter what is thrown at Syria they still carry on and this includes air strikes from Israel and the United States. These regularly happen in Damascus and this means they can be seen.

Damascus Guide to Nightlife – Eating

The best food drinks and hotels are all found around the Old Town of Damascus, much of which is pedestrianized. The range in cuisine is obviously huge, as are the range of drinks, but for us it is all about drinking Arak!

Here’ some of of our favorite restaurants in Damascus

Naranj Restaurant – Located in the heart of the Old Town in Damascus and therefore near all the nightlife. Some of the best Syrian food that you can get, as well as super aged Arak.

Chevalier Restaurant – One of the oldest and well known restaurants in Old Damascus. Simple, but to the point menu.

Al Sediq – A little heard to find, but once you do it is worth it. Old style building with traditional ambience and another simple but to the point menu.

Aura By Dina – Newest and dare we say most hipster place in Damascus. Nice old and new fusion menu.

Street Food Damascus

I’ll undoubtedly do a proper street food on my street food blog, but the street food in Damascus is absolutely epic. I won’t detail exact restaurants, or street food stalls in Damascus, but instead detail must try street food dishes

  • Shawarma in Damascus is epic and everywhere, and like everything else popularity tells the tale, so if there is a due this is where you want to be. The easiest of Syrian street foods and an absolute savior for a quick snack.
  • Falafel in Damascus once agin is everywhere, is vegetarian friendly and is probably the cheapest and easiest of Damascus street snacks
  • Hamburgers in Damascus – There might be no KFC, or McDonalds, but Syrians od like a burger. Have a lot in common with a Serbian burke
  • Damascus ice-cream – Perhaps it is the proximity to Italy., but Damascus has great street ice-cream,, as well as chocolates, candy and more Middle-Eastern style snacks.
  • Street drinking in Damascus – In what would be more fitting for Ibiza guys come out and literally open shacks that make cocktails, sell drinks and generally create a party atmosphere on the streets of Damascus.

Drinking in Damascus

Drinking in Old Damascus is fabulous, with there being something quite literally for everyone. There’s fancy restaurants, dive bars, trendy bars, street bars and even girly bars – although don’t exactly expect Riverside Phnom Penh here.

Best Bar in Damascus – Barber Shop – I won’t go too hell for leather on this one, because we have an article for it, but I will say great cocktails and an even better toilet….

Copper Cocktail Bar. – Usually has a slick young crowd and would you guess it great cocktails, costs more than other places, but heck they have better drinks

Abu George Bar – THE Irish bar in Damascus, need I say more? Great place for sports of course.

The Piano Bar – Slightly more upscale place for the cool cats of Damascus

Ahla Talleh – Actually a restaurant, but gets extra points and kudos for the array of Arak, the locally made anise liquor to warrant a shout out in the best bars of Damascus.

Damascus Guide to Hotels

Damascus has enough hotels to fit any budget essentially, but there are a lot of differences between top and bottom. Sadly the cheaper hotels are not that much cheaper, but are infinitely worse.

At the top end there are no Hiltons, or brands which makes the best value places being in the boutique hotel section. In this sense one of my favorite hotels in the world is in Old Damascus!

Beit Al-Mamlouka hotel’ – Great owners, fabulous rooms and a really cozy boutique setting. Perhaps the best hotel we staying in for the whole of Syria. Apparently this hotel dates back to the 17th century….

Sheraton Damascus – Not actually sure if this is a real Sheraton, or not, but looks the part and is in a great part of town.

Al Wali Hotel – Have not stayed here, not have been in. Looks the part and is known as the best value hotel in Damascus by many.

Of course there are lots of other place stop stay, and not just in the old town, but these three hotels in Old Damascus should it all budgets and all have a great strategic location.

And that is the YPT Guide to Damascus, the gateway to your adventure in Syria. And of course the best way to see the country is with us, so check out one of our Syrian Group Tours.