Deir-ez-Zor is a rarely-reached destination in Syria.
As a tourist and one on a bicycle to boot you’ll attract a bit of attention. Locals are friendly and the city has the atmosphere of a frontier town with its dusty streets, wedged between the desert and the lush banks of the Euphrates river. There are no great ruins here but the suspension bridge over the Euphrates is famous and the museum is surprisingly well thought out and insightful.
Sleeping: There are not many hotels and even fewer where foreign tourists and particularly women would feel comfortable.
Hotel Al-Jamia Al-Arabia is perhaps the only decent budget options in town. A double room with shared toilets is 500 SP, not including breakfast. The owner speaks excellent English and is very willing to share knowledge about the city and area. He’ll draw you a map to anything you need. The frienly welcome helps make up for the slightly shabby decor. The hotel could do with a lick of paint but is essentially clean. Some rooms have balconies overlooking the main street.
If you fancy a touch of luxury, there is a Cham Palace.
Self-catering: Shops selling dried goods like pasta and tuna as well as dairy products and preserves such as olives and pickles are everywhere you look.
Just down the road from Hotel Al-Jamia Al-Arabia, where the main square is, a road runs towards the Euphrates. It’s lined with stalls selling meat, produce and baked goods.
On the main street there is a small shop selling the usual selection of wine, beer, arak and other alcoholic drinks. You can find it halfway between the main square and the Commercial Bank of Syria, on the left hand side if you are walking towards the bank and museum.
Eating out: Deir-ez-Zor is blessed with many simple but excellent kebab restaurants. Meat is finely chopped and mixed with onions and spices, cooked over charcoal and served with grilled tomatoes, salad, garnishes and ayran (a drink of diluted yogurt). The price is set by the weight of the meat. The going rate was 500 SP a kilogram in December 2007 and half a kilogram is enough for two people.
The usual fare of roast chicken, falafels and shwarma is also widely available.
What to see:
- Don’t miss the museum, which offers information on both the area and Syrian history overall. Admission costs 150 SP for adults and the museum is open from 9am, every day except Tuesday.
- About a ten minute walk from the town centre is the Euphrates river and the suspension bridge over the water. Not much to look at but there are some cafes by the water.
Staying connected: Internet can be found at a number of locations in town including Zoom Internet Services, on a side street off the main drag. It is the first side street to your left before the post office, as you are walking away from the main square and towards the museum. The cost is 50 SP an hour.