Aleppo (حلب) is the second largest city in Syria - population 1.7 million.
The people of Aleppo were possibly the most friendly people that I have met in my travels. Regular folk on the street will offer you a chair if you seem tired and then offer you some water or tea.
Aleppo is a fairly conservative city. Dress appropriately to avoid any problems and to avoid standing out too much. Men should wear regular shirts and long pants and women should not wear anything that is too revealing. If you follow that simple dress code you should not have any problems. Headscarves are not necessary unless you want to enter a mosque but even then grey cover-all robes are available at no extra charge.
There were no hostile feelings towards Americans however you could find yourself in trouble if you speak against the Syrian government too much. Your best bet is to avoid political conversations all together just to avoid any possible problems.
Friday is a holy day and most shops and historic sites are closed so plan accordingly for this.
Stealing is looked down upon and thus is not very common. Crime is generally low and you should feel safe to walk around in any part of the city at any time day or night. But as in any city, its a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings, particuarly in the suk.
Meals are a bit later than in the U.S. but similar to the times in some European countries. Lunch is from 1 to 3 and dinner around 8pm. Syrians take a siesta in the middle of the day, from about 3 to 6, but this means that the night life is very active. You can return to the markets and public squares that you visited during the day and by 10pm they will be bustling with people selling food and treats and drinks. It is a like a street fair every night.
Aleppo is a beautiful and historic city that anyone who is considering a trip to the Middle East should go see.
You will need a visa to enter into Syria and this should be done before you arrive. How you get the visa varies by country so check with a travel agent or consult. Also remember there is an airport departure fee so reserve a small amount so that you can actually leave the country.
If going by land, and you are planning to get a visa on the border, bring US Dollars or other hard currency as you must exchange them into Syrian pounds in the official exchange office at the border. There are no facilities for credit/debit cards. Travellers cheques are also not accepted.
Taxis are everywhere, probably more taxis than people. They are easy to take and very affordable but just make sure it is a licensed taxi.
Vans: There are van services that drive around and you can hop on and off whenever the van slows down enough to get out. I'm not sure of the cost though.
Rental Cars: Hertz and other rental car agencies are available in Aleppo but the driving can be very hectic and if you are not accustomed to driving in a place with few rules and almost no regard for street signs you should probably not attempt to drive on your own.
The citadel: It sits on a hill in the center of the city and is visable from almost anywhere. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, but the current structure dates from the 13th century. There are tours daily. It costs 150 SP to enter or 10 SP with a student card, as of November 2007. Once inside, there are no signs or explanations of the site so a guidebook is handy. There is a cafe inside the Citadel.
The Souq: There are multiple souqs in the city including a covered section. All of the shopping you could want to do from gold and silver, boxes, clothing, fabric and soaps can be found in the various souqs. Bargaining is encouraged and if you know Arabic it will get you a much better price.
Saint Simeon's basilica (Qalaat Sam'aan): Located 30 miles outside of Aleppo this is an old church that was dedicated to the famous hermit, St Simeon the Stylite. This church was built around the pillar on which Simeon lived and prayed and became a major centre of pilgrimage. There are guided tours. The grounds are beautiful and it is nice to get away from the city for a day. The best way to get there is to hire a taxi in Aleppo to go the whole way, or more economically to take a microbus to the nearest town and bargain with the driver to take you the extra 2km to the church.
The Great Mosque: There are many mosques in the city but this is the largest and most ornate.
Walk around the city at least a few times to really get a feel for what it is like. It is a vibrant and lively place that will continually surprise you. Any amount of time spent walking around the city will reveal another historical site or point of interest. Check out the Christian section of the city to see a different part of Aleppo. If you want to shop for clothes, al-Telal street is bustling nearly every night with crowds checking out the shops and street stands piled high with every type of clothing imaginable.
Gold: Although the prices are as high as they have ever been, gold is still a worthwhile purchase here. There is a special gold pattern called the Aleppo weave or chain that is made only in Aleppo. All gold is sold by weight and is 22 karot.
Boxes: Aleppo is also famous for its intricate inlay work that can be found in boxes of all shapes and sizes. These boxes are beautiful and can be found at almost all of the shops in the souq. A great, affordable gift to take home.
Wraps/Tablecloths: There are many nice wraps that can be worn as shawls or used as tablecloths that are also available everywhere in the souks. Another good gift.
Sweets: Pistachios are everywhere in Aleppo and accordingly there are many different kinds of sweets made from the pistachio. These usually come in a decorative box and are yet another good gift.
Coffee and spices: It is impossible to walk through the souq without being caught up in the scent of freshly ground coffee and spices like cumin. You can also buy very ornate pots to make your coffee in.
Soap: One of the most famous Aleppine products is its olive oil soap. Many factories produce this using traditional techniques. The price varies from about 70SP per kilo to as much as 200SP or more depending on the proportion of olive and laurel oil.
Common Syrian street food like falafels and shwarma are excellent and available throughout the city. In the souks you will also find tiny restaurants with a few stools serving up dishes like Fuul (pronounced “fool”), a bean soup served with fresh bread, onions and mint. If you are really adventurous, look for the men frying curry-flavoured pancakes near the entrance to the souk. The pancakes are wrapped in bread and topped with hot sauce. Also try and buy some of the freshly made pita bread that is sold everywhere as it is delicious.
For breakfast, a fresh glass of juice (40 SP for a large glass of mixed juice, 50 SP for takeaway) and cheese sandwich (15 SP) can be had from the juice stands near the clock tower. Many cafes also serve great ice cream for a treat.
If you are tired after a day of wandering around the souk, try one of the cafes near the base of the citadel. They offer light snacks and drinks, including a wide range of coffees and refreshing glasses of minted lemonade.
Travellers on a strict budget should be prepared to eat very similar meals everyday as there is not a lot of variety in the diet at the cheaper end of the range.
There are plenty of good restaurants around and meals are very affordable. The best restaurants are in the Christian Quarter (El Jedeide) district.
- Beit Sissy . A particularly good choice. It has a beautiful courtyard and their shish kebab in cherry sauce is out of this world!
Yasmeen House. In the Christian Quarter, this restaurant may be a little hard to find but once inside you can dine in a lovely covered courtyard. The menu is extensive with plenty of mezze, salads and meat dishes and offers some variety from the standard street fare. Alcoholic drinks are available.
Sheraton Hotel. It may seem wrong to come to Syria and head for the Sheraton but they do offer an excellent buffet breakfast for 600 SP which, if you're willing to splurge, makes a nice change from the typical Syrian fare and will set you up well for a day of exploring. They also do a fine cup of coffee.
- Kaser Al Wali(Kaser Al Wali), Al-Jdaideh, Aleppo(Zoukak Al-Arbaeen, Al-Jdaideh, Aleppo - Syrian Arab Republic), ☎ 00963 21 4461389(email@example.com, fax: 00963 21 3322336), . Kaser Al-Wali, a new offspring of Wanes Restaurants, invites you to take a step back in time to enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere and the reminiscent of the old town of Aleppo. Kaser Al-Wali was launched in 2005 in a 300-year old mansion where you will truly enjoy a unique dining experience in a historic atmosphere.
Alcohol is permitted but not widely available. You can find stores selling liquor on a few streets near the clocktower. Try Zaki al-Arsuzi (across from Al Kommeh restaurant) and Jbrail Dalal streets. Restaurants and hotels that cater to Westerners will generally serve alcoholic beverages.
There is one local beer, called Al-Sharq, while the Damascus brew Barada may also be found. Neither are exactly lethal - 3.7% and 3.4% respectively.
A wide range of other beers from the Middle East and Europe can also be found, usually about 50 SP for a large can, along with wines from Syria, Lebanon and France, starting at 150 SP a bottle.
Arak is a local aniseed liquor which can be found at some small shops.
Al-Gawaher – perhaps the best backpacker spot in Aleppo. Rooms have satellite TV and both en suite and shared bathrooms are very clean. Many have balconies and others overlook a common area, where travellers often meet to chat. The rooftop gives great views over the city and is another nice spot to spend the evening. Staff are friendly and English is spoken. Tours can be arranged to the Dead Cities, Apamea and other sites. The only possible downside is that staff are late risers and so getting breakfast can be a problem. Rooms cost 350 SP for a single, 500 SP for a double and 700 SP for a double with bathroom as of November 2007. Breakfast is not included.
Hotel Green Star – Around the corner from the Al-Gawaher, it also has a nice roof terrace but the atmosphere is not nearly as lively. The rooms come with sinks and fans but are a bit dark overall and cleanliness leaves to be desired. There are no TVs in the rooms but a shared one in a lounge. Try and get one on the top floor that opens onto the roof terrace. Staff speak a little English. A double with shared bathroom goes for 600 SP as of November 2007 and 350 SP for a bed in a 3 bed "dorm" as of Oct 07. Breakfast is not included.
Tourist Hotel - Well known for having sparkling clean bathrooms, perhaps the cleanest in all of Syria according to some reports.
Hotel Somar – It's nothing fancy but rooms here are clean with satellite TV, bathrooms and a little shared courtyard. The price is a bit expensive, however, compared to the budget hotels, which offer rooms of a similar standard. A double with en suite bathroom is 1200 SP as of November 2007. Breakfast is not included.
- Ramsis Hotel, ☎ Tel: 00963 21 2111102 - Fax: 00963 21 2216700 - Web: www.ramsishotel.com(firstname.lastname@example.org), . Very centrally located close to the citadel and old Christian quarter, one minute away from the museum. Ramsis Hotel is a three-star, deluxe hotel, The hotel is accommodated with very comfortable and well-furnished 28 rooms and 8 suites, a street side cafeteria (Down Town Cafe), an open terrace restaurant ( The Green Roof ), a gift shop, a news-stand and internet access .
• Dry cleaning
• Internet connection
• Room service
• Shoe shine
• Shuttle services
• Air conditioning
• AM/FM Clock Radio
• Satellite television
• Free internet connection
• Safe in room
• Hair dryer
• Bathroom scale
- Baron Hotel. A colonial throwback whose former guests include Agatha Christie (who wrote much of Murder on the Orient Express here), T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Ariabia), Ataturk and Teddy Rosevelt. The Hotel is rather run down, but this only adds to its charm. Many rooms have recently been renovated and are in a reasonable shape. If you cannot afford to stay here, it is definitely worth the effort to pop into the bar to have a drink and marvel a showpiece at a bygone era.
- Sheraton, ☎ 00963 21 212 1111(fax: 00963 21 212 1136), . Very centrally located close to the citadel and old Christian quarter. Has a pool and several restaurants.$140 for a standard room with king bed..
- Beit Wakil, (From Jdeideh Square, walk down the street into the old city and turn right at the first alley, called Sissi Street), ☎ 00963 21 2117083(email@example.com, fax: 00963 21 2117082), . a great small boutique hotel in the Christian quarter. Renovated old building with a nice courtyard. The restaurant is very good but a bit touristic.$121 for a double..
- Dallal House, Al Jdaidah, Al-Telal Entrance, P. O. Box: 8812 Aleppo, Syria(Raheb Bouhaira Str.,Al Jdaidah, Al-Telal Entrance), ☎ 00963 21 2121155(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 00963 21 2119433), . Dallal House was built in 1826. Formerly, it was an old church and a monastery and now it is converted to a hotel.
- ISIS Hotel, City Center(Al-Jalla Club, Alazizieh, Aleppo, Syria), ☎ 00963 21 2126345(email@example.com, fax: 00963 21 2126348), . ISIS Hotel offers comfortable and contemporary "Life Style", ideal for tourists, family and businesspeople. It is classified under the A Category standards of four stars.
Park hotel: Telephone +963212233283 Fax: +963212233250 website: www.parkhotelsyria.com
two minutes away from the Train station , located in the middle of the city Center " Baghdad Station Street"
Park hotel offers many facilities .its unique location makes any place you want to go , near . It's only ten minutes walk to get the city center . 5 minutes by car to the old souks . the facilities are also available in the hotel itself and with its special services which makes the staying easier and more comfortable: 1- Free WiFi internet access in all around the hotel with high speed line 2- Laundry and pressing service 3- Airport pick-up and drop-off service. and above of all these , the averaged rate of the hotel which makes everyone able to afford and stay there . Image:Www.parkhotelsyria.com
The closest internet cafe to most of the budget hotels is the Concord, which is on the top floor of an ice cream parlor and cafe by the same name. It charges 100 SP an hour, however, which is outrageous for Aleppo and Syria and general. If you wander around the new Christian quarter of al-Aziziyeh you can find many internet cafes like Area 51, Montana and Kool Net which charge only 50 SP an hour for high speed access. You can also buy discount cards for chunks of time.
This page was last edited at 17:44, on 12 March 2009 by Samara Samara. Based on work by ptudor, firstname.lastname@example.org, Espen Antonsen, Friedel Grant and Nathan J, Wikitravel user(s) Andrewsyria and Morph, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.