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Is Syria Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Guide

Is Syria Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Guide

It’s a beautiful country with diverse landscapes, ancient cities, amazing landmarks, and a rich culture. But is Syria safe to visit?

We’ll explain the factors that affect Syria’s safety in this complete guide. 

Rich in history dating back to ancient times and considered the cradle of civilization, Syria is a fascinating place to visit and on the bucket list of many world travelers. 

Art, architecture, culture, distinct flavors and cuisine, and a long-spanning, hard-fought history make Syria truly immersive for interested travelers. 

Situated on the Mediterranean Sea, the fertile grounds of Syria are where some of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlements and archaeological sites can be found, like in Damascus and Aleppo.

Amazingly preserved ruins dot the landscape amid beautiful scenery that spans from mountains and plains to pristine beaches with turquoise waters. 

Visiting Syria might include wandering through the souks (markets) to shop for handmade goods, soaking in hammans (bathhouses), strolling through ancient ruins and villages, and visiting impressive medieval citadels, castles, churches, and mosques.

Notable sights are the medieval-era Citadel of Damascus in the Old Town and Krak des Chevaliers castle, Bab Tuma, the Umayyad and Al-Omari mosques, the sprawling 8.1-mile Al-Madina Souk, and the standing remains of the Dead Cities. 

When you’ve worked up an appetite after exploring the many sights and wonders Syria has to offer, you’ll be greeted with delicious Middle Eastern options like halloumi and eggplant fetteh (flatbread), falafel, baba ghanoush, and grilled kebabs. 

It’s true that this country offers a lot in the way of natural beauty and diverse landscapes, history, culture, and sightseeing. But the ongoing civil war here might leave you wondering – is Syria safe to visit?

Let’s take a look at the safety considerations and recommendations for visiting Syria right now. 

Is Syria Safe to Visit?

Umayyad Mosque in Syria shown at dusk with birds in flight for a section answering is Syria safe to visit?

mahmod 5cy/Shutterstock

Syria’s ongoing civil war with armed conflict (including air strikes, bombings, and chemical weapons) and a sharp increase in crime has made it unsafe to visit for the time being. 

The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Syria, stating “Do not travel to Syria due to terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and risk of unjust detention.”

Syria’s chaotic and violent civil war led the U.S. Embassy to suspend operations in February 2012, making the possibility of a visit even more dangerous for U.S. citizens with no emergency services provided since that time.

Most parts of Syria are affected by the violence and high levels of crime due to the ongoing conflict. The U.S. government states that “No part of Syria is safe from violence.”

It’s important to understand that visiting Syria can put travelers at serious risk of injury or death – it’s just not safe to do right now. 

Terrorists and armed militia groups in the country are known to target U.S. citizens, Westerners, minors, the elderly, physically or mentally disabled travelers, journalists, humanitarian workers, and areas popular with tourists. 

Syria is considered unsafe to visit right now due to an elevated risk of the following:

  • Acts of terrorism
  • Air strikes and shelling
  • Kidnapping by armed groups and militias
  • Unjust detention and arrests
  • Chemical warfare against civilians
  • Infrastructure (water, power, etc.) destruction
  • Torture and “extrajudicial killings”
  • Assassinations

It’s very possible that travelers arriving to Syria from the U.S. or other Western countries may be targeted by terrorist or armed groups in the country and detained or arrested unjustly, kidnapped, injured, or killed. 

To date, the U.S. estimates that over 500,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war with many thousands more being injured, kidnapped, or detained. 

Terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda are known to operate in Syria. The current authoritarian regime, the Syrian Arab Republic and Socialist Ba’ath Party, continue to engage in armed conflicts with the Syrian opposition parties. 

Crime in Syria

Aleppo cityscape from an aerial viewpoint with mosque dome in view for a piece answering if Syria is a safe place to visit

OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock

It’s hard to get an accurate look at the crime rate and criminal statistics in Syria today because the U.S. Embassy has suspended their operations in the country since 2012. 

Still, it’s clear that crime is skyrocketing in Syria amid the civil war conflict. Statistics from the Criminal Security Department in Damascus show 7,500+ crimes in the country’s regime-controlled areas over a 9-month period including 366 murders and 3,663 robberies. 

Statistics from the CSD in Damascus showed over 4,270 criminal arrests were made in the capital of Syria in 2018. The consensus is that these numbers are actually much higher and only represent a fraction of actual arrests and detentions. 

Note that these statistics don’t cover the areas controlled by armed terrorist groups or militias, which are primarily the areas where the most violent crimes are committed.

Widespread Armed Conflict

Tank shells, RPGs, hand grenades, small and medium firearms, chemical weapons (including mustard gas and chlorine gas), sophisticated bombs, IEDs, and more have been used in Syria’s violent crimes. 

In recent years, Syria has only become more dangerous and now ranks as the 3rd most dangerous country in the world with a Global Peace Index score of 3.356 – only Yemen and Afghanistan are deemed more dangerous. 

Damascus, the capital and largest city in Syria, is where a lot of the violent crime occurs. It’s been named one of the most dangerous cities in the Middle East, along with the second-largest Syrian city of Aleppo.

It’s impossible to predict when violent crime will happen or intensify in Syria, through it does tend to follow international intervention in the civil conflict, border conflicts, and other major events in the area. 

Concept of Syrian conflict with bullets placed on a map of the country for an article exploring is Syria safe to visit?

Szymon Kaczmarczyk/Shutterstock

U.S. and Western Citizens Targeted

Many civilian, government, and armed groups are at risk for violence in Syria at any given time, but risk may be even higher for U.S. citizens and Westerners.

The current regime and armed terrorist groups appear to hold anti-Western and anti-U.S. beliefs that may fuel violence against travelers from these areas. 

Kidnapping, unjust detention, torture, terrorist acts at sites frequented by U.S. and Western tourists, murder, and prevention of access to sanitary conditions in detainment are all possibilities for Westerners who travel to Syria. 

Chemical Warfare

Even chemical warfare using nerve gas, chlorine gas, and mustard gas has been documented in Syria throughout the ongoing civil war conflict. 

A Syrian Foreign Minister first revealed the country’s possession of chemical weapons in 2012, which the U.S. soon confirmed to be a stockpile of nerve gas and mustard gas. 

By the end of 2012, the first use of chemical weapons – Agent 15 – in the Syrian conflict had been documented with 7 people killed in Homs. 

Today, estimates indicate that over 1,000 people have been killed with the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Most of these incidents occurred in Damascus. 

Kidnapping and Unjust Detention

There have been many cases of kidnapping and unjust detention since the start of the Syrian civil war. Civilians, people believed to be working with either side of the conflict, U.S. and Western citizens, journalists, and humanitarians are often targeted.

With more than 100,000 people missing from Syria since 2011, it’s clear that these crimes are committed often and sometimes in mass kidnapping or detention events. 

There are some positive outcomes, like writer Peter Theo Curtis, who was kidnapped by an al-Qaeda offshoot group and finally freed after 2 years in Syria.

But many of the stories are haunting, like the kidnapped Marine combat veteran and freelance journalist from Texas, Austin Tice. He’s still missing and the Syrian government denies any involvement in his disappearance. 

Avoiding Bad Areas

Destruction of buildings in Homs, Syria shown on an empty street to indicate the unsafe areas to avoid in Syria


If you’re still thinking about visiting Syria and want to know the worst areas for crime (and which areas to avoid), you should understand that no part of Syria is truly safe right now. 

Every part of the country has an elevated crime and terrorism risk due to the ongoing armed conflict. However, if you’re looking for the worst areas in the country, there are some higher-crime areas that stand out. 

  • Damascus
  • Idlib
  • Aleppo
  • Hamah
  • Dara
  • Homs
  • Dayr al-Zawr
  • Land borders and nearby towns
  • Al-Jazira 
  • Areas of Northern Syria
  • Areas of Southern Syria 

These regions, towns, and areas tend to be riskier to visit due to elevated crime and terrorist incidents. For example, Syria’s borders are often targeted by air strikes and shelling, leading to returned fire and armed conflict. 

Northern Syria is under opposition control and is frequently the site of bombings, sniper killings, airstrikes, and attacks. Southern Syria, while under government control, is targeted by opposition often and very unsafe. 

Chemical warfare, bombings, mass kidnappings, and killings have all happened in these dangerous areas of Syria. To reiterate the words of the U.S. Department of State, no part of Syria is safe right now. 

Opposition-held towns and regions are also at a much higher risk of attacks and violent crime. Whether it’s the Syrian government or the armed militia groups, the end result is the same and equally risky for U.S. citizens and Westerners. 

Things to Consider

Marqab Castle near Latakia in Syria with beautiful green landscape surrounding for an article asking is Syria safe to visit?

mohammad alzain/Shutterstock

If you’re set on traveling to Syria in the future, you’re doing so at great personal risk. Here are some tips shared by the U.S. Department of State for travelers who must enter Syria during the ongoing civil war. 

  • Consider postponing or canceling. If you’re traveling to Syria for work or humanitarian efforts, you should consider postponing or cancelling your trip until conditions are safer. With such elevated crime and violence risk here, it’s not a safe place to visit for any reason right now. 
  • Let someone know your complete itinerary. Syria isn’t the place to take a solo trip where you pop in and out of touch with family and friends – you’ll need to share your full itinerary and schedule set times to communicate with people back home to keep them aware of your whereabouts and safety. 
  • Get your affairs in order. It’s painful to think about, but having a will drafted and in place along with other documentation like assigning power of attorney and insurance beneficiaries is a must if you’re planning to visit a dangerous country like Syria. 
  • Enroll in STEP. The U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) will keep you alerted in the event of emergencies or elevated risks. It also enables the government to quickly track you down if something goes wrong while you’re there.
  • Establish multiple methods of communication. Your cell phone, a satellite phone or messaging device, email, and SOS devices are smart communication ideas anytime you’re planning to visit a country that’s unsafe. Make sure your contacts back home know how to contact you with more than one method and that you have all the important numbers saved and written somewhere safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Mount Herman shown in Golan Heights on the border with Lebanon for a piece answering is Syria safe to visit?

John Theodor/Shutterstock

Have a few more questions about whether or not Syria is safe to visit? Check out the FAQs below to learn more about Syria’s current conditions and what you should know about the country’s safety. 

Can US citizens visit Syria?

While there are reports of US citizens being issued Visas on Arrival (VOAs) in Syria when they book through a tour group or company, the US Department of State strongly advises against visiting Syria at this time.

Armed conflict, terrorism, kidnapping, and killings are all devastatingly common with Syria’s ongoing civil war. US citizens are often targeted in these attacks, making it very dangerous to visit the country.

Is Syria still at war?

Syria’s civil war is still going on and has been continually ramping up since the Arab Spring protests of 2011. Estimates show somewhere between 470K-610K deaths in the war so far, making it the 2nd-deadliest war in the 21st century.

While the Syrian government has regained control of some parts of the country, those areas are still regularly attacked by opposition groups and opposition-controlled zones are rife with violence.

Why should I visit Syria?

Syria, when it’s not in a violent civil war, is a beautiful country with rich history spanning back to ancient times. It’s known as the cradle of civilization and some of the world’s oldest settlements are located here.

Impressive castles, fortresses, cathedrals, mosques, and ruins stand proud in Syria among its beautiful mountainous landscape with plains and beaches. The Middle Eastern food is incredible, too!

What is Syria like in 2023?

In 2023, the Syrian conflict has weakened as the official government has regained control of many parts of the country.

Opposition forces still attack those areas and continue to rule areas in the North, South, and East.

How many US troops are in Syria 2023?

There are at least 900 US troops in Syria at all times. The troops are there to fight against ISIS control of Syrian regions and additional special forces numbers may not be included in that number.

Find a Better Option to Visit

Unfortunately, Syria is not safe to visit right now. The ongoing civil war with armed conflict, increased violent crime, and terrorism makes this a very dangerous place for people to travel to. 

That’s a shame, because Syria’s amazing history as the cradle of civilization and one of the oldest countries in the world is so much more impactful when you can see the ruins, the mosques, the cathedrals, the castles, and the villages in person. 

With details and statistics on the current levels of violence and crime in Syria in mind, you’ll definitely want to postpone your trip to this ancient and beautiful country indefinitely.

But if you get the chance to go one day when conditions are safer, this is a must-visit place!