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Is Damascus Safe?

Damascus, the capital of war-torn Syria, remains an extremely high-risk destination for travelers. The city has witnessed intense urban warfare, leaving many areas heavily damaged or uninhabitable. Terrorist attacks, kidnappings, and violent crime pose grave threats, while basic services and medical facilities are severely compromised. Travel to Damascus should be avoided entirely unless absolutely essential.

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Safety & Security

Damascus, the capital of Syria, has been grappling with significant safety concerns due to the ongoing civil war and political instability. Here's an overview of the risks travelers should be aware of:

  • Violent Crime and Terrorism: The risk of terrorist attacks, bombings, and violent clashes between armed groups remains high, particularly in major cities like Damascus. Travelers could inadvertently find themselves in the vicinity of such incidents.

  • Civil Unrest: Protests, demonstrations, and civil unrest can occur without warning, posing risks of violence, disruptions, and potential detainment or injury.

  • Petty Crime: While not as severe as the risks mentioned above, petty crimes like pickpocketing and theft can still occur, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots.

  • Scams and Disputes: Travelers should exercise caution when engaging with locals, as there have been reports of scams, disputes, and harassment targeting foreigners.

  • Political Tension: The political situation in Syria remains volatile, and tensions between various factions and foreign powers could escalate unexpectedly, potentially affecting travelers.

It's crucial for travelers to exercise extreme caution, closely monitor travel advisories, and avoid all but essential travel to Damascus and other areas of Syria until the security situation stabilizes significantly.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Damascus in Syria should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. The healthcare system in the country has been severely impacted by the ongoing conflict, leading to shortages of medical supplies and personnel.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Additional vaccines may be recommended based on individual risk factors.

  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are present in some areas. Use insect repellent and consider antimalarial medication if recommended.

  • Air Pollution: Air quality in major cities like Damascus can be poor, posing risks for respiratory issues. Those with pre-existing conditions should take extra precautions.

  • Medical Facilities: Access to adequate medical care may be limited, especially in conflict zones. Travelers should carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and consider purchasing travel health insurance.

  • Mental Health: The ongoing conflict and unstable situation can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Travelers should prioritize their mental well-being and seek support if needed.

Natural Disasters

Damascus, the capital of Syria, is situated in a region prone to natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and droughts. Here's an overview of the potential risks:

  • Earthquakes: Syria lies along the Dead Sea Transform Fault, making it susceptible to seismic activity. Damascus has experienced several devastating earthquakes throughout history, with the most recent major quake occurring in 1995, causing significant damage and loss of life.

  • Droughts: Syria has faced prolonged droughts in recent years, exacerbated by climate change. These droughts have led to water shortages, crop failures, and economic hardship, particularly in rural areas.

  • Dust Storms: The region is also prone to dust storms, which can disrupt transportation and pose health risks, especially for those with respiratory conditions.

While the risk of natural disasters cannot be eliminated entirely, travelers can take precautions:

  • Stay Informed: Monitor local news and weather reports for any potential threats or advisories.
  • Earthquake Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with earthquake safety procedures and identify safe areas in your accommodation.
  • Water Conservation: Be mindful of water usage during droughts and follow local guidelines.
  • Respiratory Protection: Carry appropriate protective gear, such as masks, during dust storms or periods of poor air quality.

It's essential to stay vigilant and heed any warnings or evacuation orders issued by local authorities in the event of a natural disaster.


Transportation in Damascus, Syria, is generally unsafe and unreliable for travelers. The ongoing civil war has severely impacted the infrastructure and security situation.

  • Public Transportation is limited and often disrupted due to security concerns, making it an unreliable option for travelers.
  • Road Safety is a significant concern due to poor road conditions, lack of maintenance, and the risk of roadside attacks or checkpoints manned by armed groups.
  • Taxis are available but can be risky, as drivers may be affiliated with armed groups or involved in criminal activities.
  • Rental Cars are generally not recommended due to the high risk of carjackings, roadblocks, and the potential for getting caught in crossfire or explosions.

Travelers are strongly advised to exercise extreme caution and consider alternative destinations if possible. If travel to Damascus is essential, it is recommended to rely on trusted local contacts or professional security services for transportation arrangements.

Cultural Norms

Damascus, the capital of Syria, is a city steeped in rich cultural heritage and traditions. As a traveler, it's essential to respect the local customs and religious practices to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Code: Modest clothing is expected, especially when visiting religious sites. Women should cover their arms, legs, and hair. Men should avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts.

  • Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during this period out of respect.

  • Religious Sites: When visiting mosques or other religious sites, remove your shoes, dress modestly, and follow the instructions provided by the staff. Women may be required to cover their heads with a scarf.

  • Greetings: Greet people with a polite nod or a handshake, avoiding physical contact between genders unless initiated by the local person.

  • Photography: Be mindful when taking photographs, especially of people, religious sites, or government buildings. Always ask for permission before capturing someone's image.

  • Hospitality: Syrians are known for their warm hospitality. Accepting offers of food, drinks, or invitations to homes is considered a sign of respect and appreciation for their culture.

  • Language: While Arabic is the primary language, learning a few basic phrases in Arabic or using a translation app can go a long way in showing respect and facilitating communication.

Respecting the local culture and customs in Damascus will not only enhance your travel experience but also foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich Syrian heritage.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Damascus, Syria are limited and may not meet the standards expected by travelers from Western countries. The ongoing conflict has severely impacted the availability and reliability of emergency services across the country.

  • Medical Facilities: Most hospitals and clinics in Damascus have been damaged or are operating with limited resources. Travelers are advised to carry comprehensive medical insurance and be prepared for potential medical evacuations.

  • Fire and Rescue Services: The capacity of fire and rescue services in Damascus has been significantly reduced due to the conflict. Response times may be delayed, and resources may be limited.

  • Law Enforcement: The Syrian government maintains control over law enforcement in Damascus, but their ability to respond to emergencies involving foreigners may be limited. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid areas of active conflict.

  • Tourist-Specific Services: There are no dedicated emergency services specifically for tourists in Damascus. Travelers are advised to contact their respective embassies or consulates in case of emergencies.

It is crucial for travelers to exercise extreme caution and be prepared for potential emergencies while visiting Damascus. Carrying comprehensive travel insurance and having contingency plans in place is highly recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Damascus safe for tourists?

Damascus in Syria is currently considered unsafe for tourists due to the ongoing civil war and high risk of terrorism, kidnapping, and violence. The U.S. Department of State advises against all travel to Syria. Tourists should reconsider plans and avoid the country until the situation stabilizes.

Is Damascus safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travel to Damascus in Syria is strongly discouraged due to the extremely high risks of violence, terrorism, and kidnapping. Women face additional risks of sexual assault, harassment, and strict cultural norms that restrict their freedom of movement and dress.

Is Damascus safe for families?

Damascus in Syria is not recommended for family travel due to the ongoing civil war, high risk of terrorism, and lack of basic services. The unstable security situation, potential for violence, and limited access to medical care make it an unsuitable destination for families with children.

Is Damascus LGBTQ+ friendly?

Syria is not LGBTQ+-friendly. Same-sex relations are illegal and punishable by imprisonment. The LGBTQ+ community faces widespread discrimination, harassment, and violence. Travelers should exercise extreme caution and discretion to avoid potential legal issues and personal harm.

Do you need a visa to go to Damascus?

A visa is required for most foreign nationals to enter Syria. However, due to the ongoing civil war and travel advisories, visa services have been suspended or significantly limited. Travelers should check with their respective government for the latest updates on entry requirements and restrictions.

Can you drink tap water in Damascus?

Due to the ongoing conflict, tap water in Damascus is not considered safe to drink. Water infrastructure has been severely damaged, leading to potential contamination. Travelers should drink bottled or purified water and avoid consuming uncooked foods washed with tap water.

What is the currency in Damascus?

The official currency in Damascus, Syria, is the Syrian Pound (SYP). However, due to the ongoing conflict and economic instability, foreign currencies like the U.S. Dollar and Euro are widely accepted, especially in major cities.

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