The Roman ruins of Palmyra rise majestically from Syria’s desert, the featureless plains suddenly populated by an army of pink granite classical columns. The ruins cover a massive area, and a tour here – virtually empty except for you – is an incredible experience, one of the Middle East’s most dazzling and memorable moments. Get your cultural fix by going for the full classical antiquity experience: strike up conversation while passing around the olives in the agora courtyard, hub of ancient civic life. Then promenade the Great Colonnade, Palmyra’s 1km-long thoroughfare, cosseted with columns and bookended by magnificent temples. After that, go camera-crazy – preferably in the atmospheric pink dawn light – at the splendid tetrapylon.