Eco-friendly travel guide to Baghdad advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Baghdad, Iraq.
- Air quality: 2 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 3 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 2 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2.5 / 5
- Safety: 2.65 / 5
- Accommodation: US$20 - $800
- Budget per day: US$30 - $1000
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
There is a lot to do and see in the Arab world, and one of the notable places to go there is Baghdad. It is the capital city of Iraq, and despite its smaller size, holds a huge population. Indeed, the past of this Iraqi city is vast and splendid, full of old-school architecture, culture, and lifestyle. Owing to this, many people interested in history and world cultural heritage wish to go to this influential part of the Muslim world.
Because of the growing problem of pollution and the threat to environment, it is necessary to emphasis on the importance of responsible and eco friendly travel. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind a a responsible tourist:
- Choosing the right transport method: A major part of your travel experience is discovering every nook and cranny of the city. While you will have transport options like private cars and taxis at your disposal you need to know that not only do they contribute to more congestion and traffic pollution but also emit harmful gases into the environment. So, choose options like walking, cycling, electronic and public transportation in general.
- Trying local food: A huge part of the local culture is the traditional food that is offered at the local traditional restaurants and by street food vendors. Instead of just sticking to international fast food franchises that contribute to so much waste being produced in the world, you should try the local options. Not only will it help the local economy but also will directly help the families whose sole source of earning are these small food businesses.
- Do not throw waste: As an eco-friendly traveler, you need to promote green as much as possible in the city to motivate not only fellow tourists but local people. When you visit any tourists attractions especially city parks, make sure you do not throw any food wrapper and do not just stop at that but if you see any trash, pick it up and throw it in the dustbin. It might look like a very small thing to do but has a huge impact on people watching especially the children present in the park since they learn and mimic the behaviour of other people around them.
- Plan ahead: You should book your flights and travel plans well before you begin your journey to this city. Check to see which flights would connect you to the city and prepare the required forms. Also, get in contact with your home embassy when you reach there.
- Respect the local culture: Consider the culture of the place, which is mostly steeped into their traditional beliefs. So, understand the customs of the land, and treat the people you meet respectfully.
- Green Hotel: During this trip, you should book the place where you would stay before getting there. It is best to stay in a green hotel to reduce the carbon footprint and preserve the environment.
- Carry the essentials: Things like identity proof, water, etc., and wear clothing items appropriate for the weather and community. Also, make sure that the masks or other clothing items you wear are made of breathable fabric.
- Security: You should travel carefully, and getting a protection detail with you when traveling throughout Baghdad is important. Mostly, the authorities do provide armed security if you are there for any business reason.
- Be aware of the security protocols: In case drones are traveling overhead, it is best to stay calm and not point-and-stare. This area is heavily monitored, and although recovering, the security measures are very strict. So, do not behave in a nervous or any such manner that would cause suspicion.
- Have cash on you: Most of the places here only accept cash as the correct payment. Therefore, it is better to get the money you have converted into 'dinar' before leaving the airport.
Air Quality and Pollution
When going to another place, the air quality there is important for one to consider. Unfortunately, due to the high level of pollution that occurs in the city of Baghdad, the levels are not good. As for the main pollutants, that is mainly PM2.5.
- PM 2.5- 72 µg/m³
- Air Pollution Level- Unhealthy
So, you should take masks or scarves with you for added protection. Also, if you have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems, consulting your doctor beforehand is a must.
Respect the Culture
In terms of the culture in Baghdad, you would notice a lit bit of both: hardcore traditionalism and modernity. However, in general, the traditions of their land and society are important to the locals. So, they focus on it quite religiously and adhere to their regular community rules.
The people here are not rude, but they keep to themselves. They are very respectful of others, although you may notice some people who are not too welcoming because they are not used to a lot of foreign people. Yet, that is a major part of their lifestyle and beliefs, and most locals have a quiet and calm disposition.
In terms of culture, though, another factor worth mentioning is their love for knowledge and arts. Indeed, literature and music are quite well-liked, and the people here do enjoy different artistic mediums. So, you would notice a lot of artistic influence here, and Baghdad respects the arts of many kinds. You would surely find much to like at this spot.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Today, many people from different parts of the world want to visit Baghdad. The main reason behind this is that it is a beautiful city which has many culturally vibrant attractions. A lot of these places are inside the Green Zone; so, you can travel around them quite securely. If you want to know which places you should add to your itinerary, the following are some good starting points.
- Martyr Monument - As the name suggests, this monument is made to honor the martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the Iran-Iraq war period. You will get to know about their contribution in these trying times and other valuable information regarding this historic period. Try not to miss it because you may not get this opportunity again.
- Al Yassin Mosque - It is a shrine and a mosque where you will get the tombs of some prominent Imams in Iraqi history. This place is a must-visit for everyone who enjoys learning more about historical figures and moments. Also, while you would get to know more about the tombs, it is the calming atmosphere here that you would treasure more.
- Buratha Mosque - This is a christian monastery turned into a mosque that has also been the site of a triple suicide bombing in 2006. It is a must visit for all the history buffs.
- Baghdad Zoo - For all the animal lovers out there, this spot is a must-see; especially when traveling with children. You will get to see thousands of wild animals here, and enjoy the natural surroundings too. They have certain attractions here that many of the visitors, both local and otherwise, enjoy immensely. So, to help your child have an unforgettable experience, take them and your family here.
- Baghdad Sharif - You can refer to this place as a 'dargah' where you can go and pray for the things you desire. By doing this, one day your wishes will come true, as many of the locals believe. Indeed, whoever visits here enjoys its lovely atmosphere and the serene feeling they get there. If you want to get in touch with your spiritual self then this place should be on top of your list.
- Umm al-Qura Mosque - This mosque is great and it has one of the best architectures in the city of Baghdad. Certainly, it would leave you awestruck and you can learn more about its history. So, for the best experience of touring this city, do visit this mosque.
- Baghdad Monument - The construction of this monument started in the year 1979 and lasted till 1982. During this period, it was made to protect Iraq from the invaders who belonged to the rival countries. And the most interesting thing is that here, you will find some genuine historic manuscripts maintained with care. Thus, if you are an enthusiast of the study of history in general, this would captivate your attention.
- Abbasid Palace - There is not a wide variety of facts known about this place. Not unless you go there and see the historic monument for yourself. Certainly, it would give you a better idea about the rich history of this land. So, when you visit the place, you will definitely find something very extraordinary to adore about the trip.
- Abu Hanifa Mosque - The best time to come to this mosque is during the evening period. Indeed, the prayers and devotional songs at that time become a point of attraction for everyone. Soothing and soul-touching, you would feel an intense sense of peace when you hear the music.
- Babylon Mall - Last but not least, one place you should add to your list is visiting this shopping mall. Here, you would find many types of fashion-wear available at reasonable prices. So, roam around this area with your companions and splurge on some much-needed retail therapy.
Besides the top attractions every traveler must visit as mentioned earlier, there is more to exploring the city of Baghdad. There are city parks, museums, landmarks and more that would complete your overall tour.
- Al-Zawraa- It is an amusement park where you can enjoy some fun rides with your family and friends. And, there are many open spaces to play outdoor games. It is definitely worth visiting especially if you have children accompanying you on the trip. You will create lots of beautiful memories at this giant amusement park. It will also give you a chance to interact with the locals.
- Baghdad Island Park- If you want to have a family picnic then this is the most suitable place. Gather your loved ones and spend a good time amidst beautiful scenery. It would certainly make the overall experience more heart-warming and happy.
- Al-Salam- This park is awesome, and the ambiance is calm and ecologically balanced. So, the majority of the tourists come here to spend a comfortable time and feel relaxed. Therefore, give it a chance too when you travel to Baghdad.
The Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq is the first national Park in the country and is a five hour car ride from Baghdad. There are no other national parks so you will have to make a trip down to the Southern part of the city.
- Tahrir Beach- For a lot of travelers, beaches are a wonderful recreational spot and something they look forward to on a vacation. While there are no sea beaches in Baghdad, this area on the banks of the Tigris River sure makes up for it. Therefore, to have a fun-filled and adventurous experience, go to this area and enjoy the cool atmosphere.
- Tahrir Square- Internationally known as liberation square, this is the biggest central square of the city. For all the art and history lovers there is a freedom monument known as the Nasb Ul Hurriyah to look at. This is one of the most important landmarks of the city and holds significant political importance as well.
- Al-Mutanabbi Statue- This is the statue of a famous ruler who helped free the country of Iraq. You will notice that the locals go to this spot frequently, and you should try visiting it too. Surely, it would aid you in understanding the history of this land and its prominent figures.
- Baghdadi Museum- In this museum, you will get to see many wonderful arts and artifacts of the 19th century. There are wax statutes and set ups that give you an insight into Iraqi history. The employees are very helpful and will give you a tour as well. It is also cheaper than visiting The Iraq Museum.
- The Iraq Museum- To know more about historical facts like how the war between Iraq and the other regions happened, visit this museum. Certainly, a lot of information, artifacts, are put on display here. For any history lover, this is one destination that is definitely worth visiting in Baghdad.
Food is a very important part to consider when it comes to experiencing the culture and lifestyle of a place. And when traveling, having a good culinary experience is a need for many.
The cuisine in this Iraqi city is mouth-watering, and there is a lot of variety available as well. Plus, beef is one of the most favorite food items in this culture. You would get to enjoy a ton of flavorful and aromatic dishes made of it. And in terms of vegetarian dishes, the city is not lacking either.
Certainly, in Arab culture, food is a form of endearment and hospitality, and the locals want their guests to have a full feast. So, it is only obvious that the types of delicacies you would find here would be comforting, healthy, and in abundance. Overall, you would have a fulfilling gastronomic experience in Baghdad.
Traditional Local Restaurants
Traditional restaurants that sell the staple foods of one's culture are common in most cities. And that is the case for Baghdad as well. Indeed, there are a lot of good restaurants in this part of Iraq that provide mouthwatering meals.
From the breakfast dishes like ‘kahi’ to appetizers like ‘kibbeh’, each dish would make you feel happy and wish for more. Thus, whether they are non-vegetarian dishes or vegetarian items, the traditional restaurants serve heaven on a plate.
Some of the best places in Baghdad for traditional food are mentioned below.
- Samad Restoran
- Saj Al-Reef
Vegetarian and Vegan
Vegetarian food is not that uncommon in Baghdad, and many places present amazing dishes made of the freshest produce. They create the absolute best dishes that are filling and make the person feel happily sated. In fact, a lot of these restaurants sell mouth-watering vegetarian dishes, like the ever-favorite hummus or ‘kleicha’.
However, while you would find places to depend on for vegetarian food, there are not many vegan places available. It is not highly popular in this city, although there is one restaurant open. So, if you follow a vegan diet, you should give this place a try.
The following are the best restaurants that sell plant-based food in the city of Baghdad.
- Coral Beach Restaurant
- Saj Alreef Baghdad
- Samad Restaurant
When you are out on a trip to a new city, their street food is one concern that you would surely have. Certainly, as you are walking around the city of Baghdad, chances are that you would crave something to eat. If that is a concern for you, you would have a mixed experience in this city.
Indeed, some places do sell food near the street, and you can buy them for a taste. However, you would not find street food stalls at every corner of this city, and it is better to enter the regular restaurants. Some of them are not huge food places and do provide affordable items to customers. Consequently, you would enjoy your food trek well enough in Baghdad.
The following names are areas you can go to for a street food experience in Baghdad.
- Pizza Cone
With a plate of steaming hot food or after having a full meal, you would want something to drink alongside it. In Baghdad, though, the answer to your wishes is water or some flavored beverages like juices. Alcohol, on the other hand, is not that common and most restaurants do not serve these to customers. At the top-scale hotels though, there are exceptions.
Some stores do sell alcoholic beverages, but it is not openly advertised. Earlier, beer was available in this city too, although that is not the case in more recent periods.
In the city of Baghdad, the condition of the tap water is not at its safest. Indeed, a lot of impurities are present in the freshwater of this city, which mainly comes from the Tigris river. Owing to this, there are a lot of water treatment areas in the city of Baghdad. So, for safety, bottled water is your best bet.
If you are in the city of Baghdad and want to go to a cafe with someone, there are some areas available. However, most of them do not sell items made of organic products.
If you are in the mood for something strong and alcoholic, Baghdad is probably not a best friend for you. Indeed, there are strict rules against it in this Muslim city, and so, finding stores that sell them is not very easy. Overall, though, there is one brewery in this city, and some travelers do visit it. The name of it is mentioned below.
- Eastern Brewery Co.
In terms of activities, you would have much to see and do if you are interested in art and culture. Indeed, the Iraqi people treasure these factors very well, and there are many museums and theatres that one can go to. Plus, you can take tours to the religious sites, like the Haydar Khana Mosque.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options available for those who enjoy outdoor sports or nature hikes. However, some time-specific festivals do occur in the city. You can visit them for a good touring time or fun moments.
- Baghdad International Flower Festival
- Baghdad International Film Festival
Yoga and Retreats
For a relaxing time, many travelers choose to join spiritual retreats or yoga retreats. However, in Baghdad, such retreats are not available specifically for foreigners to take part in. Yet, many of the high-quality hotels have separate areas for relaxation and such classes. If you are interested in them when you are staying at such hotels, you can try them out.
In the city of Baghdad, you would not find a huge amount of choices when it comes to places to live in. There are some hotels and lodgings that the government would provide for you if you are there for work purposes. However, getting the chance to live anywhere of choice is not very high. In fact, the few hotels you would find need a lot of payment, so money-saving options would take more research.
For a safe travel experience, you would want to live in a hotel that has the best amenities. And for healthy traveling for you and the land around you, the green hotels are good options. However, there are not any specifically 'eco-friendly' hotels in Baghdad.
You would find some, though, who provide clean and safe service to their customers. And they give added amenities like free WiFi, non-smoking rooms, etc. And these big-budget hotels have well-maintained garden areas too, that you can go to for relaxation. If these things are requirements for you, the following places are suitable options.
- Babylon Warwick Hotel
- Royal Tulip Al Rasheed Baghdad
Hostels and Guest Houses
If you are traveling light and want to live in a budget-friendly place too, hotels are not the best options. Hostels, however, would work well enough for you. In Baghdad, that is not available in high amounts though. If you are studying at a college, they would provide a hostel area for students to stay. One example of it is given below.
- Bahrain Medical College Hostel
For longer-period stays, renting an apartment in the city you are going to is better. As for Baghdad, the opportunity for this is low, unless it is pre-booked. Many of the employees who travel to this city for a job do so after discussions with their government. In this case, they provide options for living arrangements in the area beforehand.
For people who wish to have a freer and low-budget touring experience, many of them try couchsurfing. Here, you would make arrangements with locals in the city to stay at their home, for money. Some websites offer these options, and you should research them properly before choosing one.
You would not notice many camping grounds in the city of Baghdad, for recreational purposes. There are some like Camp Liberty and Camp Nama that are mainly military installments or bases.
How to Get There
When considering a trip to Baghdad, it is important for one to understand the travel provisions they are allowed first. Taking the right route is the best course of action, and understanding the laws of the land even more so. In this concern, it is important to mention that traveling to Baghdad is allowed via some particular methods.
Indeed, one can go to this city by air, rail, or even car. However, the place has many strict regulations and travel restrictions. So, it is best for the ones interested to properly consider the pros and cons of their chosen mode of travel. By far, the safest route available is the one through the airport. The security in this situation is the best compared to others.
There are some particular ways of traveling to Baghdad via the air. For this type of travel, the main airline that operates is Iraqi Airways. Indeed, it is the best option for international flights, mainly to Europe and from there. However, there are only some particular routes that the airline uses for any trip. As for domestic flights, that too is allowed on this airline. In fact, it is more predominant compared to international ones. Not to mention, people from other Iraqi countries can reach Baghdad easily.
As for other airlines, yes, they are available. Namely, ones like FlyBaghdad, Turkish Airlines, and Austrian Airlines. The latter two are more commonly used for international direct flights from European countries. For example, people looking to travel to Baghdad can reach Vienna and get one such flight, which is available weekly. Furthermore, if you work with an NGO, they have chartered planes of their own.
The main reason why this is the best-preferred travel plan is because of the security measures at the airport. Indeed, whether one is entering the area or getting out of the terminal, they have to undergo strict scrutiny. So, you would feel much safer at the airport, which is the Baghdad International Airport. However, you may notice canceled flights during periods of unrest or heavy sandstorms.
When you are moving to Baghdad, you can opt to take a bus from other Iraqi cities too. However, the journey takes hours of one's day or more, and that can get uncomfortable. Most Iraqi cities do allow bus travel into Baghdad, like Ankara and Istanbul. How soon you reach it, though, depends on the buses and their schedules, road, conditions, speed, etc. As for the main point where all the buses reach the answer is the bus terminal named Al-Alawi.
The main point of entry using the train system in Baghdad is the Baghdad Central Station. Indeed, every train entering or exiting from this city meets at this place, situated on Qahira Street. As for which railways you can take, there are three possible routes.
Firstly, you can take a train ride from Fallujah twice each day or nightly trains from Basra. Another option is also possible from Karbala; however, the timings for this is not the most reliable.
For many travelers, spending a lot of money on travel expenses is not the best alternative. This applies especially to those who are touring on a low budget. So, for them, the best and more pocket-friendly method is hitchhiking with someone already driving into a city. However, for entering Baghdad, this is not the most recommended method for you. Of course, if you choose it, you have to take proper precautions. And also, maintain caution.
In terms of moving into Baghdad from nearby cities or from further away cities, car travel is easier. Indeed, many major roads reach the destination. If they are in good condition, you can hire a car or use your own to take a trip to Baghdad.
Two prominent highways that you can access are Highway 1 from Mosul or Freeway 1 from Basra. The latter is more popular. And since Baghdad is situated in the middle of Iraq, more or less all highways pass through it.
However, you should take extreme precautions when using this mode of travel if you are unfamiliar with the land. Even those who know the area travel carefully. So, it is better you consider all other options first.
In the context of touring Baghdad, after considering the modes of transport into it, you need to think about the ones inside the city too. After all, when you want to tour around the various attractions, you cannot walk to every place from your hotel or another living area. So, get to know what options are available for people and then decide which one you are most comfortable with.
Of course, keep in mind that the city of Baghdad is divided into two parts. One of them is the Green Zone, which is more protected and restricted. So, on the way into Baghdad, try to stay somewhere within the area. First, you would need governmental permission though.
As for what transport you can take from the airport, there are options available. Mainly, this includes either pre-booked cars or taxis.
The roads inside the city of Baghdad are narrower and more intricate than open and properly sectioned. So, you can walk around many parts of this place quite easily. However, this is limited to only some particular sections overall, mainly around the area of the old city. And even then, you should walk around vigilantly and maintain respectful behavior, too.
For a lot of people, walking is not the best manner of traveling, no matter which city they are in. And for the health and ecologically conscious, motor vehicles are also not the best option. Thus, the preferred alternative for them is cycling, which you can use in Baghdad. Indeed, a lot of the locals move around on bicycles and you can try them too. However, some road areas may have rougher patches, and you should navigate carefully.
Most types of vehicles that work in Baghdad are taxis and rented cars. Indeed, many people even use armored vehicles to travel throughout the city. Taxis are without a doubt the main means of transport in the area, and cost-saving as well. The taxi drivers do not charge a huge amount for their services at all.
However, in terms of protecting the environment, it is not the best option due to the intense gas emissions. Electric vehicles are the better alternatives in this concern, and luckily, the government did make an initiative to implement it. Namely, it partnered with Toyota Iraq to produce and use Hybrid Electric Vehicles more frequently. Yet, this is not highly common in this city yet.
In most cities, having a public bus system is very important for traveling throughout the area. One such system is present in the city of Baghdad as well. However, the system is flawed, and the routes very haphazard and not well-maintained. So, this is not a popular means of transport in this area.
Tram, Train and Subway
For intercity travel, it is important to consider the subway and tram lines too. They are generally cheaper, safer, and less polluting. In Baghdad, though, neither is highly popular. While there is a tram line in Baghdad that connects to a Kamazene mosque close to Shalchiyah, no subway is available. However, there are reports that the system will open there soon, beginning in 2021.
While eating, staying, and roaming factors are important to consider for a trip, you have to think similarly about shopping too. After all, if taking care of the environment is important for you, you need to shop accordingly. For one thing, you need to lessen the amount of plastic you buy and shop mainly from places that sell reused goods. Especially the local shops are good choices. There are some such areas you can go to in Baghdad, but the options for vendors is not high in this city. Some of the best places to shop, though, are mentioned below.
- Clothiers Square
- Rashid Street
- Muntanser Street
There are a lot of good markets in Baghdad where you can buy fresh produce from. However, most of them do not have specific names and farmers sell their items to the customers. However, a lot of the stores import the goods too, which is not ideal if you want to use genuine local products.
If you are looking to buy local items at low prices in Baghdad, you should try going to the flea markets. There are not many, however, but the most popular one is the Baghdad flea market.
The European House (البيت الاوربي) flea market on Imam Musa is another place you can go to for affordable items.
Second Hand Stores
Antique stores and second-hand stores do exist in the city of Baghdad. Accordingly, if that is something you are interested in buying, you would get options for it. However, the number of such markets are not as high as most other cities. Some of the places you can go to for second hand or antique items are mentioned below.
- Al-Mdallal market
- Souq Al-Mdallal market
There are many stores in Baghdad that sell fashionable clothes, whether it is pricey or affordable. In fact, the Baghdad Mall is one of the main areas you can go to for some of the most beautiful clothes and styles. And, many of the local tailors and designers do create fashionable options too. However, in the concern of genuine eco-friendly fashion, there are not a lot of options available.
There is a very low number of recycling centers or bins spread all around the city of Baghdad. So, in this matter, you would not notice a lot of progress in the area. However, it is a point of concern for the Iraqi government and it intends to right the situation in the future.
In terms of waste management, Iraq has started taking certain important steps forward in some cities. However, unfortunately, Baghdad is not one of the best areas in this concern at the moment. In fact, the amount of solid municipal waste grows more with time and seasons, and the previously-felt war unrest did not help. So, in terms of protecting the environment from pollution, the city of Baghdad has to perform much better than now.
Work and Study Abroad
Many people looking to travel to another city do so with the plan to settle there permanently. In this scenario, they have to consider work and study related options there, depending on their qualifications. For the students, there are some programs available, but few can get in. And mostly, these are applicable to the US students.
As for work, you would notice options for employment in this city. Also, working for the army and getting stationed here is common. However, you cannot simply travel to the city and try to look for work. Indeed, jobs are allowed to only those who travel there, after contacting their own governments for such. Also, the Non-profit organization employees go there if their branch assigns them to the area.
For younger people wishing to enter an exchange program, there is that availability in Baghdad. However, not a lot of schools give out such programs, so the options are very limited. Firstly, you can join the Global Rescue initiative for evacuation services, field rescue, or medical advisory roles. Also, the option of EF 12 World-Class Destinations is available for interested people.
A lot of families hire travelers who are not from the land as babysitters, tutors, or nannies. Mostly, the host families take care of these au pairs and in return, the au pairs take care of their child. Especially if the person knows another language, the families employ them to help their children learn the foreign language too.
If you are traveling to Baghdad and do not wish to settle there permanently but still work, these options are available. However, it is not best for everyone as many families do not hire au pairs here. Usually, the more liberal and busy couples who work for the government or other big positions hire them.
You can search for employment opportunities on the internet, but only trust the verified and proper websites.
There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that carry out work for the society and environment in different cities. That is the case for Baghdad too, which, up until recently, had a very volatile history. Currently, many people choose to volunteer in helping the area, its people, and the city conditions. So, if you are interested in joining such plans, you can do so. The protective services here do provide security to the volunteers, and you would have an overall valuable learning experience.