The rose-gold ancient ruins of Palmyra (known in Arabic as Tadmor) are one of the premier ancient sites in the Middle East, and for many travellers, the standout highlight of any visit to Syria. Rising out of the desert of central Syria, flanked by an expansive oasis, and just three hours from Damascus, Palmyra must rank high on your list of must-sees. Some travellers come on a day trip from Damascus, but sunrise and sunset are the most beautiful times here and we recommend an overnight stay as a minimum, preferably two.
Modern Palmyra is a typical tourist town along well-worn Middle Eastern trails. Expect camera shops selling memory cards, carpet shops, souvenir shops selling Crusader helmets and restaurants with faux-Bedouin decor. And as it is entirely reliant on tourism, expect fierce competition and some hassle from hotels, restaurants, guides and hawkers when it reopens.