Iraqi Kurdistan for Nowruz

Mar 17-23
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.

It’s a unique, exclusive itinerary only offered by Against the Compass.

But most importantly, this tour will take place during Nowruz, the Kurdish/Persian New Year, which is celebrated in the city of Akre and attended by hundreds of thousands of Kurdish people, quite a unique experience.


March 17th to 23rd, 2025


7 days

Tour leader to be confirmed

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 – Arrival in Erbil

Day 2 – Lalish, Mar Mattai and Duhok

Day 3 – Amedi, Soran

Day 4 – Rawanduz & Nowruz in Akre

Day 5 – Sulimaniyah

Day 6 – Erbil city tour

Day 7 – Departure

Day 1 – Arrival in Erbil

  • 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, in order to arrange the pickup.
  • Briefing and welcome drinks and or dinner at the Christian district of Ankawa.
  • 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 – Amedi, 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.
  • 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.

Day 4 – Rawanduz and Nowruz in Akre, back to Erbil

  • In the morning, we will head for Rawanduz: jaw-dropping canyons, fairy 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.
  • Then, we will head for Akre, the most photogenic town in Iraqi Kurdistan, 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 5 – 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 Sulaymaniyah.
  • 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.
  • Dinner and overnight in Sulimaniyah.

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.

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.

Gallery of photos

What’s Included

Airport transfer to Erbil International Airport

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

Private transportation and driver around Kurdistan


English-speaking knowledgeable local guide

International tour leader

Entrance fees to all sites listed in the itinerary

Not Included

International flights

Visa fees

Lunch & dinner

Single supplement. Having your own private room costs €150


March 17th to 23rd, 2025


7 days

Tour leader to be confirmed


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?

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 same gender and age together but note that this won’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?

Most nationalities can get a visa on arrival, for which you pay 75 USD.

Which nationalities can join this tour?

Pretty much all Western nationalities can join.

How to get there

Easy. 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?

Yes, the whole of Iraq is nowadays one of the safest countries in the Middle East.

How many people will attend this tour?

We will be a group of maximum 12-13 people.

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.

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.

Get a quote here to claim your discount

What about the cancellation policy?

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions.