We will design the perfect itinerary based on your needs
To see if you are eligible for the visa on arrival
Sample itinerary for our Iraqi Kurdistan tours
Here’s the standard 8-day tour we offer on most of our expeditions.
Day 1 – Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan
Our tour guide will meet you at the arrival terminal of Erbil International Airport. For that, you should share your flight itinerary with us in advance.
Before starting the tour, our local guide will give us an introductory explanation about this Middle Eastern region.
Erbil is a 7,000-year-old city, one of the oldest in the world, filled with historical sites and inhabited by some of the most hospitable people in the Middle East, the Kurds.
For sightseeing, this is my favorite capital in the Middle East.
During our visit, we will visit the Old Citadel, the bazaar, Jalil Khayat mosque and, in the evening, we can all go for drinks to the Christian district of Ankawa.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Erbil.
Day 2 – Mar Mattai, Lalish, and Duhok
Early in the morning, we will head for the historical Christian monastery of Mar Mattai, located only 20km from Mosul, and very close to the former front line against ISIS.
Then, we will go to Lalish, the holiest place for Yazidis, a religious group who mainly live across the Middle East, the Caucasus, Turkey, and Russia but Iraq has the largest population.
We will visit their temple and meet the Yazidi community.
We will finish our day in Dohuk, one of Kurdistan’s main cities.
Dinner and overnight in Dohuk.
Day 3 – Saddam Hussein’s Palace and Amedi
After visiting Dohuk, we will drive to Amedi, my favorite town in Iraqi Kurdistan, built on the top of a flat mountain, with incredible views of the valley.
It’s a 5,000-old historical village and believed to be the home of the Three Wise Man, who made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to see Jesus Christ after his birth.
On the way, we will stop at one of the several abandoned palaces that Saddam Hussein had across Iraq.
After lunch, we will visit one of the most beautiful natural places in the region, Gali Sherana, a set of natural pools where we can certainly have a swim, depending on the weather.
In the evening, we will go back to Erbil and stay there overnight.
Day 4 – Sulaymaniyah
In the morning, we will drive towards Sulaymaniyah, the most Westernized and modern city in all of Kurdistan, where we will visit the Red Security Museum, aka Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors, located in what used to be the headquarters of Saddam’s regime.
After lunch, we will visit the different bazaars and mosques of Sulaimaniyah.
We will finish our day over a few beers at the top of Mount Goyzha, from where you have magnificent views of the entire city.
Day 5 – Halabja and Iranian border
We will wake up early in the morning to drive towards Halabja, a small town in which Saddam Hussein organized a massive attack with the use of chemical weapons, which killed thousands of people in a matter of seconds.
We will visit a sobering memorial and museum.
After Halabja, we will visit Byara, a traditional Kurdish-stepped village located right at the border with Iran.
Dinner and overnight in Erbil.
Day 6 – Akre for Nowruz
Surrounded by beautiful nature and composed of a good-looking old city and houses, Aqrah (or Akre) is the most photogenic town in Iraqi Kurdistan.
We will spend the morning exploring its windy alleys and then, we will have the rare chance to experience the celebration of Nowruz, where every year, hundreds of thousands of people gather over bonfires and fireworks.
We will also witness the hundreds of Kurds, wearing traditional clothes and climbing down the mountain with torches, a visual spectacle.
At night, we will head back to Erbil.
Day 7 – Rawanduz and Hamilton Road
On this day, we will head for Rawanduz: jaw-dropping canyons, pretty meadows, deep gorges and traditional Kurdish villages.
Rawanduz is a small town surrounded by the finest and most beautiful landscapes in the region and we will spend the whole afternoon exploring its natural wonders.
We will also drive through the Hamilton Road, an internationally famous road built in the 30s.
If we have the time, we will also spend some time with Kurdish Nomads.
Dinner and overnight in Erbil.
Day 8 – Back home and transfer
After enjoying breakfast altogether, we will take care of your transfer to Erbil International Airport.
If your flight is later in the afternoon or evening, no problem, we can spend the day together hanging out in Erbil Old Town.
Join a tour in Iraqi Kurdistan: FAQ
How to get a visa?
Most nationalities can get a visa on arrival, for which you pay 75USD.
Which nationalities can join this tour?
Citizens of the European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, UK
How to get there
Erbil has an international airport with loads of connections. If you are coming from anywhere in Europe, the best is to come via Istanbul (either Pegasus or Turkish Airlines), and those coming from the American continent, also have the option of coming via Doha or Dubai.
Is it safe?
It’s important to separate Iraqi Kurdistan from the rest of Iraq.
While Federal Iraq has always been a stable region, Kurdistan has always been particularly safe.
Do you recommend a specific travel insurance?
Either you are joining one of our trips, or you are traveling by yourself, you might want to look for proper travel insurance. Against the Compass has been a partner with IATI for several years already, recommending it to all readers, as well as covering all Joan Torres’ personal trips.
We like it because It covers all the countries where the FCDO advises against all travel, it offers budget plans and covers all sorts of adventure activities.
Against the Compass readers can benefit from a 5% discount.