Latakia, a seaside city northwest of Damascus and 140 mi/225 km southwest of Aleppo, rates a stop for those traveling along Syria's Mediterranean coast or for those traveling by ferry to Cyprus or by bus to Turkey.

Though there's a small museum housing Ugarit pottery (labeled in Arabic), most visitors spend their time just a short drive north on Blue Beach (though the water tends toward the dirty side). Many of the better beaches in the area charge admission.

Nearby Sahyun, a huge Crusades-era castle, is spectacular and contains the ruined remains of Byzantine and Arab buildings. Although Latakia is Syria's major port, one day there should suffice.

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