Iraqi Kurdistan Budget Tour

Apr 13-19
7 Days

From the most mind-blowing landscapes in the Middle East to breathtaking Christian monasteries and some of the oldest cities in the world, Iraqi Kurdistan is a particularly safe, autonomous region within Iraq that will definitely break all stereotypes you may have about any Middle Eastern destination of this kind.

In this EXPEDITION, we will explore beautiful remote mountains, discover Saddam Hussein’s legacy, visit endless historical, cultural, and religious sites and, of course, learn about the Kurdish culture.


April 13th to 19th, 2024


7 days

Lead by Oriol López

travelers who joined past expeditions say


Note that we always keep the itinerary flexible, and it may be subject to change, depending on the political situation.

Day 1 – Erbil arrival

Day 2 – Mar Mattai, Lalish, Duhok

Day 3 – Saddam Palace, Amedi, Barzan, Soran

Day 4 – Rawanduz & Sulimaniyah

Day 5 – Red Security Museum & Halabja

Day 6 – Erbil city tour

Day 7 – Departure

Day 1 – Erbil arrival

Day 1 is the arrival day into the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil.

We will greet and pick you up at the arrival terminal of Erbil International Airport, followed by checking into the hotel.

In the evening, we will give an introductory briefing on Kurdistan and the tour, and then we’ll go out for drinks and dinner.

Erbil, Kurdistan
Erbil main square

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.

Mar Mattai Monastery
Mar Mattai Monastery and a priest

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.

A Yazidi woman
A Yazidi woman in Lalish

Day 3 – Saddam Palace, Amedi, Barzan, Soran

After having a hearty breakfast at the iconic Peshmerga Café, 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.

Amedi, Kurdistan
Amedi, Kurdistan, from above

On the way, however, we will stop at one of the several abandoned palaces that Saddam Hussein had across Iraq. Today, the palace has become a Peshmerga base.

Saddam Hussein Palace
Saddam Hussein Palace, today a Peshmerga base

After lunch, we will drive through the most scenic road in all Iraq, stopping on the way in Barzan, a village and the epicentre of Kurdish nationalism.

Dinner and overnight in Soran.

The road to Soran

Day 4 – Rawanduz & Sulimaniyah

In the morning, 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 day exploring its natural wonders.

We will also drive through the Hamilton Road, an internationally famous road built in the 30s.

This is going to be a particularly long driving day, but a very scenic one.

Dinner and overnight in Rawanduz.

Rawandiz canyon
Rawandiz Canyon, this is Iraq

Day 5 – Red Security Museum + Halabja

In the morning, 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.

The museum summarizes all the atrocities Sadam Hussein committed against the Kurds and today, it also features an ISIS-related section.

Moreover, the museum’s courtyard contains tanks and a set of weaponry once owned by Saddam Hussein.

Then, we will head for Halabja, a small town in which Saddam Hussein organized a massive attack with the use of chemical weapons, killing thousands of people in a matter of seconds.

We will visit a sobering memorial and museum.

Dinner and overnight in Sulimaniyah.

Former Saddam Hussein’s tanks

Day 6 – Erbil city tour

Very early in the morning, we will drive to Erbil.

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.

Dinner and overnight in Erbil.

Kurdish people
A Kurdish man in Erbil old city

Day 7 – Departure

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.

What’s Included

Airport transfers

6 nights of accommodation (twin shared) in hotels mentioned in FAQ

Private transportation and driver around Kurdistan


English-speaking knowledgeable local guide

Entrance fees to all sites listed in the itinerary

Not Included

International flights

Visa fees (75 USD)

Lunch & dinner

Single supplement. Having your own private room costs €150


April 13th to 19th, 2024


7 days

Lead by Oriol López


Which hotels do we stay in?

These are the hotels where we always stay but note that once in a while, they might be subject to availability.

How does the room distribution work?

The price of the tour includes accommodation in a twin room.

If you are a solo traveler, you will be sharing the room with another like-minded traveler from the group.

We always try to group people of the same gender and age together but note that this can’t always be the case.

Moreover, in the hypothetical case there weren’t perfect pairs, one of the rooms would be a triple room.

If you want to have your own single room, you will have to pay an additional €150.

How to get a visa?

There is a visa on arrival available at Erbil International Airport.

It costs €60 or $75.

Note that this visa is only valid for the Kurdistan region, not for Federal Iraq.

What about the rest of nationalities, can they join?

If your passport is not on the lucky list, we can get you a Letter of Invitation, with which you’ll be able to apply at your nearest embassy.

How many people will attend this tour?

12 to 13 people maximum.

How to get to Erbil

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.

Lufthansa and Air France also fly to Erbil.

Is it safe?

Iraqi Kurdistan has been possible to visit for a long time, even before they introduced VOA for Federal Iraq, and the reason is that the region has always been relatively stable and safe.

How does payment work?

In order to secure your spot on the tour, we require a deposit.

All details will be shared upon booking your spot.

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.