Latakia (اللاذقية) is a major port in Syria - population 550,000.
Welcome sign on the Lattakia Train Station
Lattakia is a city extending back to Ancient Greek times, and continues to be an important commercial port for Syria today. The city itself consists largely of white stucco highrises and streets lined with palm trees, and the most popular beaches are along the coast to the north of the city. Lattakia is home to one of Syria's largest universities, Tishreen University, and the city tends to be relatively socially progressive and liberal (by Syrian standards), with a mixed population of Christian, Alawi, and Sunni inhabitants.
Frequent, air conditioned, inexpensive buses connect Lattakia with Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs, and Tartous. The bus station, located next to the train station on the southern end of the city, has departures throughout the day to each of these cities. Travel time from Lattakia to Damascus is 4-5 hours.
Much of Lattakia is accessable by taxi, and there is little other public transportation to speak of. One can walk along the corniche, although it is otherwise not a very walkable city, due to distances between points in the city (beach, downtown, resort hotels, Ugarit, etc).
Pay no more than S£50 to use taxis for getting around Latakia.
Lattakia region is known for its diversity of landscapes, from the green mountains to the sandy beaches, with many important archeological sites like the Saladin Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006) and the ruins of Ugarit close enough to see on a day trip from Lattakia.
Qala'at Saladin, or Saladin Castle In the mountains east of Lattakia - A castle built on a headland overlooking a valley, the builders cut a huge channel at the rear of the castle to separate it from the rest of the headland, but left a column of rock in the middle to rest the drawbridge on. Forethought! The castle is not well served by public transportation, but tour operators in Lattakia can arrange a car and driver to the castle, which is at least an hour's drive via a winding mountain road from the Lattakia city center.
Ruins of Ugarit The ancient Phoenician city which lays claim to developing one of the first written alphabets in the world. Located about 20km north of Lattakia, it can be reached by an organized tour from a hotel in the city, or, for those who are confident in their bargaining skills, can be reached by taxi, but it is important to arrange for joey to come pick you up in the taxi to wait (for a fee), since the road near the Ugarit entrance is not heavily trafficked by taxis for the return trip.
View of the beach from Al Siwar Restaurant
Beaches All locals have their own favorite; the free public beach at the bottom of the cliff below Al Siwar Restaurant is neither particularly clean nor safe due to the debris in the sand. The resort hotels in the north (Le Meridien, Cote d'Azur Cham) allow non-guests to use their beaches for a charge. Further north, the beaches at Ras ibn Hani and the black-sand beach at Ras al Bassit are nice, but difficult to get to without one's own transportation.
There are a few routes to run on with views of the sea and near green parks. However, carefully watch your step. There are too many obstructions along the way: holes, loose rock, gravel, construction, and garbage bags. Even cars share the side-walk.
Loop run around Latakia Sports Complex, . See the link for the GPS track and video of the route. Quiet run around the sports complex completely on side walks off road. During the winter months, the area was mostly deserted of cars and people, save a few runners, walkers, and soccer players. The traffic is heavier in the summer. The complex is about 8km away from the center of Latakia. There is a geocache inside the complex. (N35.5539760,E35.7531140)
There are a few caches in Syria and some in Latakia. Check for availability on geocaching.com
There are several neighberhood parks suitable for children to play on structures and in open spaces. List with map, descriptions, locations, and pictures is on waymarking.com
Al Siwar, (On the corniche). Probably the best-known restaurant among locals, with a beautiful view of the sea. Thus, one of the more expensive options in Lattakia, but still moderately priced. Serves good Syrian mezze and kebabs, as well as fish.
View Restaurant, on the southern corniche.
Safwan Hotel, al kornish al gharbi, facing city hall, ☎ 00963 933 376900 (firstname.lastname@example.org). run by a TINTIN fan Mohammad Ziadeh & his family,one of the friendliest budget hotels in town, hospitable & open minded owner Mohammad Ziadeh, 22 different roooms & a popular roof dormitory
Hotel an-Nour, Sharia 14 Ramadan, ☎ 423 980 (fax: 468340). Simple, clean hotel, rooms overlook main street. TV and Fridge, owner can organise trips in the locality
Le Meridien, (About 10km north of the city center), ☎ (963)(41)428736 (fax: (963)(41)428732), . The most expensive option in the city, but with a superior private beach and full amenities of a Le Meridien hotel
Cote d'Azur Cham Hotel, (About 10km north of the city center), (email@example.com), . A large (3,000 bed) Syrian-run hotel that rivals the Le Meridien in price and somewhat in service. Private beach in one of the better areas on the Lattakia coastline.
Saladin Hotel and Hostel, Yousef Alazma Street (located down a narrow alley north of Al-Ajan Mosque, the second building on the left. Across from Alattar shop, a small grociery store. It's best to ask locals for directions), ☎ +963 932354441 (firstname.lastname@example.org). checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Double and triple bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. All rooms include an air-con, TV, and digital receiver. Dorm beds available for between 200 and 250 SYP. from US$6 pp/night.