region of desert, semi-desert and steppe of the Middle East; in parts of Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia
Asia > Middle East > Syria > Syrian Desert

Travel Warning WARNING: Many governments advise against all travel to Syria. Large parts of the Southeastern Desert are not controlled by the government. Terrorist attacks, kidnapping and fighting between rival armies are common. Consular services are generally not available.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 07 Jan 2024)

The Syrian Desert, or Southeastern Desert, is a vast and sparsely populated region in southeastern Syria. It is the basin of the river Euphrates. It consists of the districts Ar-Raqqa (Arabic: ‏الرقة), Al-Hassakeh (Arabic:الحسكة; Syrian Aramaic: ܓܨܪܛܐ; Kurdish: Hesiça), Deir az-Zur (Arabic: دير الزور) and parts of the provinces of Muḥafaẓat Ḥimṣ (Arabic: ‏مُحافظة حمص), Muḥāfaẓat Ḥamāh (Arabic: ‏محافظة حماة) and Rif Dimashq (Arabic: ریف دمشق).

Understand edit

Large and sparsely populated, the Syrian Desert is home to numerous ruins of former civilizations. Cities are clustered along the Euphrates River with Deir-az-Zur being the largest.

Cities edit

Map of Syrian Desert
  • 1 Deir-az-Zur — a desert town on the Euphrates River bank
  • 2 Raqqa — Midsized city along the Euphrates, best known for serving as the headquarters of ISIS between 2014 and 2017.
  • 3 Mayadin

Other destinations edit

In the province of Al-Hassakeh there are a lot of ancient sites that show up unexpected in the desert.

  • 1 Palmyra — magnificent ruins of a Roman city, in the middle of the desert. It can be considered the main attraction in Syria. Large parts this irreplaceable heritage were deliberately blown up by ISIS during armed conflict in 2015.
  • 2 Dura-Europos   — Ruins of a Hellenistic, Parthian and Roman border city built on an escarpment 90 metres (300 feet) above the right bank of the Euphrates River.
  • 3 Mari   — Remains of an ancient Semitic city.
  • 4 Resafa   — Archaeological site of the Byzantine city of Sergiopolis
  • 5 Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi   — A castle (qasr) in the middle of the Syrian Desert, built by the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 728-29 CE.
  • 6 Citadel of al-Rahba   — Ruins of a medieval Arab–Islamic fortress
  • 7 Halabiye   — Ruins of ancient city known as Zenobia

Understand edit

Be sure to practice desert safety if traveling to the Southeastern Desert (and war zone safety until the situation improves).

Get in edit

The border with Iraq is open, almost all traffic goes through the 1 Al-Qa'im border crossing  .

Get around edit

See edit

Do edit

Eat edit

Drink edit

Stay safe edit

See the warning in Syria.

Go next edit

This region travel guide to Syrian Desert is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!