Eco-friendly travel guide to Iraq advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel 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 Iraq, Middle East, Asia.
- Air quality: 2.5 / 5
- Bus connections: 2 / 5
- Train connections: 2 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 1 / 5
- National parks: 2 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3.5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2 / 5
- Safety: 1 / 5
- Accommodation: US$49- $80
- Budget per day: US$20 - $50
- 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 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
Iraq is a country situated in western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Saudi Arabia to the south, Kuwait to the southeast and Jordan to the southwest. The largest city and capital of Iraq are Baghdad. The currency of Iraq is the dinar. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.
The religion followed by the people of Iraq is Islam. Barham Salih is the president of Iraq. Adil Abdul Mahdi is the prime minister of Iraq. The kingdom of Iraq was found on 3rd October 1932. The total area of Iraq is 437,072 square kilometers. The density of Iraq is 82.7/km square. Iraq mainly consists of desert but it has two major rivers that are Euphrates and Tigris.
While exploring different places and the general idea of tourism is great, it is also harmful for the environment because of the way tourists travel today. It is of utmost importance to be a responsible traveller especially when we are at the verge of a climate disaster.
- Eco Friendly Accommodation: Try to book an eco friendly hotel or accommodation. They use eco-friendly measures to reduce the pollution and waste of the city. This is one of the great ways to contribute towards the city to keep it safe and clean.
- Shop local: Buy souvenirs from the local markets rather than going to the shopping malls where they sell internationally branded things. This will not only help you to save a lot of money but you will be supporting a lot of local people who are dependent on their small businesses to earn a livelihood.
- 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.
- Use Local Transport: Whether you are a local or a tourist to get to know the area even better while on foot or cycle with the local guides or the multiple tours conducted by the hotel you are staying in or you can book such tours on online sites. Not using a car or a bus will reduce your carbon footprint.
Air Quality and Pollution
In accordance with the World Health Organization's guidelines, the air quality in Iraq is considered unsafe. The most recent data indicates the country's annual mean concentration of PM2. 5 is 62 µg/m3 which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3.
Respect the Culture
Iraq has a very unique and vibrant culture. You will see a mix of Arab and Kurdish culture in Iraq. Iraqi households are usually multigenerational, with up to four generations living together. However, the concept of family often extends to include all possible related kin that can be traced in their lineage. Therefore, Iraqis may refer to hundreds of people as being members of their family. For Kurdish Iraqis, social organisation is more community orientated than family orientated. Nevertheless, across broad Iraqi culture, family is seen as the basic unit of society and a unified singularity. It is important to greet an Iraqi formally and respectfully when meeting them for the first time. Some of the norms and protocols that you can follow in order to show respect towards local culture include:
- Stand to greet a woman when she enters the room, and everyone should stand when an elderly person both arrives and departs.
- Do not make physical contact with local women. Muslim men and women generally prefer not to make physical contact with members of the opposite gender. Therefore, when greeting an Iraqi of the opposite gender, it is best practice to simply greet them verbally with a nod of the head and wait to see if their feel comfortable to extend their hand as well. It may also be appropriate to greet someone of the same gender verbally with a respectful nod and smile if you perceive they are unaccustomed to being touched.
- Greet properly. Greetings between men usually involve a handshake with the right hand. Iraqi men tend to shake hands gently, but hold the hand for a long time as they exchange verbal greetings. This hand holding may feel uncomfortable to Westerners; however, avoid retracting your hand before an Iraqi is finished greeting you.
- Do not ask rude or offensive questions. It is okay to be curious about the local culture and their lifestyle but it is not okay to be rude or make derogatory remarks about their beliefs or their lifestyle. Be polite when you want to know about something.
Top 10 Places to Visit
This country is one that is covered in natural beauty, such as the winding waterways of the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It is often known as the Cradle of Civilization and this is a reference to its ancient Mesopotamian cities that are famed for their innovations in science, writing, literature, medicine, theology and law.
- Erbil -This is the capital of the Kurdistan region in Iraq. It is also one of the largest cities in Iraq. If you are fond of history and old architecture then you will fall in love with Erbil. The city is an amalgamation of old world charm with a modern touch. Erbil has been ruled by such empires as those of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medians, and Achaemenids and later the Sassanid Persians, Greeks, Parthians, Arabs, and Ottomans. If you visit the Erbil museums you will learn so much about the history of this city. You can also use the cable cars to get an aerial view of the city and visit some of its massive city parks. Football (soccer) is the main sport played in Erbil, and there is a football stadium. Other team sports include volleyball and basketball. Swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling alleys, a water park, an ice-skating rink, a climbing wall, and a track for go-karts can be found in the city.
- Ur - The capital city of the ancient civilisation of Sumer and of of four ancient Sumerian cities in the modern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar known today as Tal Al Muqayer, Ur emerged as an important urban centre of southern Mesopotamia which saw the earliest forms of writing and the invention of the wheel over 5000 years ago. Ur was mentioned in the bible as the birthplace of Prophet Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ur has one of the oldest pyramids in the worlds known as the Ziggurat of Ur, a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian moon god Nannar. It’s burnt brick facade and monumental staircase were partially restore in 1980’s. Originally a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Arabian gulf, the city now lies well inland due to the shifting of the coastline.
* Baghdad- Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and one of the largest cities in the Arab world, and compared to its large population it has a small area of just 673 square kilometres. Located along the Tigris, near the ruins of the Akkadian city of Babylon and the ancient Iranian capital of Ctesiphon, Baghdad was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual centre of the Muslim world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, including the House of Wisdom, as well as hosting a multi-ethnic and multi-religious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the Centre of Learning. It goes without saying that the city of Baghdad has suffered in recent times due to incessant bombing and attacks by insurgent groups. At a touristic level, the city faces serious difficulties due to extreme police control and military presence. If you’re courageous enough to visit Baghdad, you can go to the Museum of Baghdad, the Al-Faw Palace (Water Palace), the famous Firdos Square and the Swords of Qadisiyah aka the Victory Arch, though to enter the Green Zone of the city you will need to get a special permit, but there is hope that one day soon people will be able to visit this city once more.
*Basra - Basra is a major port city in Iraq and is located on the western bank of Shatt Al- Arab. Just like Ur Basra also has a vast and interesting history. It is a city that holds great importance for Muslims because Basra is considered to be the place where Prophet Muhammad’s widow, Hazrat Aisha had an encounter with Ali, the Prophet’s son in law who was also the fourth caliph. Apart from the history, Basra has always been of great economical importance for the country. It is considered to be the reason behind the growth of Iraq‘a petroleum industry. When you are in Basra you can roam around the streets, shop for fresh produce and raw materials from the local vendors who have their stalls all over the streets. This will also give you some perspective about eco friendly living. You will see how important the small businesses are not only for the economy but also to improve the climate conditions and for reducing our carbon footprint.
- Karbala - The city, best known as the location of the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE, or the shrines of Imam Husayn and Abbas, is considered a holy city for Shi'ite Muslims, in the same way as Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. It is also said to be the spot that the archangel Gabriel prescribed as one of the most sacred places on earth. Shia Muslims commemorate the deaths of these imams on the 10th day of the Islamic calendar’s first month. The influx of visitor is massive. They pray, they mourn the death of the imams and the feeling is beyond words. You can’t put it in words. There are kitchens set up for the visitors to provide free food. The sense of community, the sense of grief and the whole vibe is something you will never be able to forget.
- Hatra -Hatra is considered to be the city where East and West met. It was once a thriving city state in the northern Iraqi desert. In the 20th century, an excavation team found a Greek temple in the city with marble columns built in ionic style are exactly like the ones built in Greece. Camel caravans passed through here for a period of several hundred years before and after Christ. The Silk Road in Hatra was a busy trade route that connected the Chinese Han and Roman Empires. Discoveries like the temple unveiled a different side of Hatra. The imposing carvings depict camels which represent and wealth. Eastern and western civilisations met here and created a form of art that is a combination of Greek Hellenism and Eastern style from art.As a result, this place is known as one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the entire country. Here you will get to glimpse wonders of the Parthian age at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, although in recent years some of this area has been destroyed and it remains to be seen how much of Hatra is still intact.
- Babylon - Babylon was the capital city of the ancient Babylonian empire, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the Mesopotamian area in antiquity. Situated on the banks of the Euphrates River, this archaeological site is one of the highlights when you visit Iraq. The name Babylon conjured up images of ancient empires, hanging gardens, and epic battles between Alexander the Great and Persian kings. The ancient site of Babylon conjures up these great images of the ancient world and its many achievements. However, it’s a very humble looking site, it’s mud brick and simple construction technology. It’s beautiful in so many ways. It’s a long, particularly beautiful bend of Euphrates lined with palm trees which can be very green and lush at certain times of the year. People still live adjacent to the ruins which is the most fascinating part of the city today. It is one of the most visited sites in Iraq so you can always come here for a picnic or just take a walk and learn about it’s history.
* Dohuk - Dohuk is located in northern Iraq along the Tigris River. Most of its population are Kurds and Assyrian Christians. The landscape surrounding the city is quite mountainous and beautiful. It sits in a small dusty valley in northern Iraq and is just a short bus journey from the Turkish border. This means that this is one of the easiest places to visit in Iraq and perhaps for this reason it also has a reputation for being one of the friendliest and most welcoming. The town has a wealth of cafes and tea-houses and as this is the home of the University of Dohuk there is a strong university town atmosphere here. There are babbling waterfalls located nearby as well as colourful Kurdish marketplaces where you can buy local products like spices and carpets.
* Ctesiphon - Ctesiphon was an ancient city, located on the eastern bank of the Tigris, and about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of present-day Baghdad. Ctesiphon served as the royal capital of the Iranian Empire in the Parthian and Sasanian eras for over eight hundred years. Ctesiphon developed into a rich commercial metropolis, merging with the surrounding cities along both shores of the river, including the Hellenistic city of Seleucia. Ctesiphon and its environs were therefore sometimes referred to as "The Cities". In the late sixth and early seventh century, it was listed as the largest city in the world by some accounts. You can see the famous Arch of Ctesiphon here.
* Dur-Kurigalzu - Dur-Kurigalzu was a city in southern Mesopotamia, near the confluence of the Tigris and Diyala rivers, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of the centre of Baghdad. It was founded by a Kassite king of Babylon, Kurigalzu I, sometime in the 14th century BC, and was abandoned after the fall of the Kassite dynasty. The home of the Kassite kings of old who built the Ziggurat in the 14th century still can be found here in the form of striking stonework and mud-brick walls that rise into high towers above the desert and this would also have been used as a marker for camel caravans en route to Baghdad.
The country's attractions include breathtaking mountains, vibrant cities and numerous archaeological sites, not to mention a warm and hospitable population.
- Sami Abdulrahman Park - Sami Abdulrahman Park is a park in Erbil. One of the best city parks in Erbil with lush green trees, ponds, lakes children play area and cafes located right around the park. It is the ideal place to go for boating, a family picnic, morning walk, or just to get away from the heat and grab a bite to eat. The best part is that it is located close to the airport so if you are staying close by you will not have to travel a lot just to visit the park. Local transport options are easily available so you will not have to hire a private car or rent one.
* Shaandar Park - One of the finest parks in Erbil, Shanadar Park offers a green get away from the busy streets and the crowds. Relax and unwind in the quiet park on the shaded benches, or go to one of the restaurants and cafes for a refreshing drink and meal. Enjoy the maintained gardens featuring a variety of plant species, and the small, clean lake in the middle. Head to the onsite art gallery, where you can learn about the local artists and admire their works.
* Al-Zawraa Park - A family attraction, Zawraa Park which offers a Ferris wheel in addition to a zoo. The green area makes a good spot for engaging in some recreational activities before or after visiting the amusement park. In addition, go to the zoo and see wild animals, such as tigers, lions, and different kinds of birds. The policy secures the park and checks your bags. While taking a stroll around the park, you can enjoy artistically arranged flowers.
* Minare Park - Without a doubt the most architectural of Erbil’s green spaces, Minare Park, close to the city centre, offers up an eclectic fare of circular terraces, Etruscan columns and cascading fountains. The park is a popular destination for the city’s youth and young families taking in the cool evening air. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the park is the 13th-century minaret from which the park takes its name. Built during the reign of Muzzaffar al-Din Kokbari (brother-in-law to the crusader-battling Saladin), the ornate brick minaret is all that remains of the city’s medieval growth beyond the confines of the raised citadel.
* Azadi Park - Clean, calm, green these three words describe this park perfectly. The biggest park in Dohuk comprises gardens, parks, restaurant and cafeterias. If you want to take a break from the hustle-bustle of city life, this is the place for you to visit.
Halgurd Sakran National Park - Halgurd Sakran National Park (HSNP) is the first National Park in the mountains of Iraq. HSNP is situated in Erbil Province, 170-kilometre (110 mi) north-east of the capital city of Erbil and located on the border triangle of Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
HSNP is the largest protected mountain area in Kurdistan. It is expected to cover a significant area of the Sakran Mountain Range, a part of the Zagros Mountains, which is famous for the spectacular and impressive rock formation, beautiful valleys and mountain meadows with a multitude of wild flora and fauna.
Halgurd and Sakran Mountains are part of one of the most unspoiled areas in Kurdistan; the high elevations ensure that snow covers some parts of the summits of the highest peaks all year round. Preliminary approach for delineation and zoning of the envisaged Halgurd Sakran National Park in mountain areas around the city of Choman, identified using modern technology.
Iraq has 36 miles (58 km) of coastline along the northern end of the Persian Gulf, giving it a tiny sliver of the territorial sea. Followed by Jordan, it is thus the Middle Eastern state with the least access to the sea and offshore sovereignty.
But yes, there is a unique one that needs a special mention. Tahrir Beach. In December 2019, for the first time in years, Baghdad had a beach, and its masters were the people, not the government. In a chaotic, crowded city, this riverbank beach built by youth protesters — nicknamed Tahrir Beach — has become a rare public place where young people can relax. They play volleyball and soccer, or dance to music in the sand. Teenagers bring water pipes and pass them around as they gossip. At night, there is fish on the barbecue.
Nowadays Iraq is going through tough times – but its past has been splendid. Here evolved worlds first empires and cities, here formed agriculture, irrigation, and writing. Here are the names of some of the famous landmarks which are not only praiseworthy but hold special places in their history as well as culture.
* Erbil Citadel - The Erbil Citadel, locally called Qelat, is an occupied mound, and the historical city centre of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The citadel has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 21 June 2014. The 7,000-year-old citadel of Erbil has an illustrious history and can be compared to other greats like Cadiz and Byblos.
* Imam Hussein’s Shrine - The Imam Husayn Shrine or the Place of Imam Husayn ibn Ali is the mosque and burial site of Husayn ibn Ali, the third Imam of Islam, in the city of Karbala. The boundary wall of the shrine surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. The gates open into a courtyard separated into smaller rooms or precincts with many "Iwans" along the walls. The grave of Husayn is enclosed within a metal-mesh like structure, found directly beneath the golden dome.
* Lalish Temple - Lalish Temple considered the main temple of the Ayzidi religion, which is known in Arabic sources as Yazidis. Yezidis visit it from all over the world, and it is a unique spot where silence and calm, fresh air, greenery, trees and domes above the heights that extend on both sides of the holy valley, are distributed among them pictures and scenes talking and conveying to us various stories and each story has a historical and religious background related to the Yazidi religion. Lalish Temple, which includes the tomb of Sheikh Uday bin Musafir al-Hakari, is a rectangular building, with a lawn surrounded by seven pillars built of stone at a height of five meters where each column represents one of the seven angels in Yezidi religion holiness, and not far from the entrance there is a pool of water called Nasir Din pool - A guardian of Yazidis.
* Jalil Khayat Mosque - The Jalil Khayat Mosque, is a Sunni Islamic mosque in Erbil. The mosque was begun by Jalil Khayat who died in 2005, and the mosque was completed in 2007 by his sons in memory of their father. The mosque's style resembles the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It has been cited as one of the most beautiful mosque interiors. Alkhayat construction company states that 'The mosque building relies on Islamic architecture and al-Abbasi design except the domes', which are an Ottoman design.
* Imam Ali Shrine - The Sanctuary of Imam 'Ali also known as the Mosque of 'Ali located in Najaf, is a mosque housing the tomb of 'Alī ibn Abī Tālib, the cousin of Muhammad and the first Imam after him, and the fourth Sunni Rashid Caliph. According to Shi'ite belief, buried next to Ali within this mosque are the remains of Adam and Nuh (Noah). Each year millions of pilgrims visit the Shrine and pay tribute to Imam Ali. The mosque is well known for its big dome. Near its big door are two minarets. The big dome is covered in 7777 brick slabs painted in gold, there are also turquoise mosaics that cover the side and back walls. The entrance to the shrine is through three main monumental portals on the eastern, northern and southern sides, called the Main or Clock Portal, al-Tusi Portal and the Qibla Portal respectively. There are two additional monumental portals, the Portal of Muslim Ibn 'Aqil, north of the Clock Gate, and the al-'Amara, or al-Faraj Portal, at the southwestern corner. A courtyard surrounds the inner shrine, while the inner shrine is linked on the west to the Al-Ra's Mosque. The inner shrine is a large cube with chamfered edges, topped by an onion-shaped dome.
* Lake Dukan - Lake Dukan is located close to the city of Ranya, and is a reservoir on the Little Zab created by the construction of the Dukan Dam. The Dukan Dam was built between 1954 and 1959 as a multi-purpose dam to provide water storage, irrigation and hydroelectricity. The lake has a very wonderful nature around. The nature of the Kurdistan region is very mountainous that makes it a perfect place for scenic beauty and adventures.
* The Al-Abbas Shrine - The Al-Abbas Shrine is the mausoleum of Abbas ibn Ali and a mosque, located near the Imam Husayn Mosque in Karbala, Iraq. Abbas was the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the half-brother of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. He was Husayn's flag-bearer in the Battle of Karbala and chief of his caravans. The shrine is especially revered by the Shia who visit it every year, in the month of Muharram rather than various other times of the year. Beginning in 2012, the Al-Abbas mosque has undergone extensive renovations intended to improve the ability of the shrine to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who visit each year. The renovations include rebuilding the wall surrounding the shrine and turning it into a multi-story building housing museums, offices, and additional prayer halls. As well, the dome and minaret have been re-gilded, and the shrine's courtyard has been covered with a roof.
* The Great Mosque of Kufa - It is located in Kufa, Iraq and is one of the earliest and holiest surviving mosques in the world. The mosque, built in the 7th century, was home to Ali ibn Abi Talib. The mosque contains nine sanctuaries and four traditional locations. As to its design, experts recognized similarities to the design of the palaces of pre-Islamic Persia. It has four minarets and is accessible through five gates: Gate of the Threshold, Gate of Kinda, Gate of al-Anmat, Gate of the Snake, and Gate of Hani ibn Urwa. The Great Mosque of Kufa has previously undergone sporadic renovations. The renovation included decorations with gold and silver, the Mihrab being made with a gold zari, and the whole interior is surrounded by the verse of the Quran. In addition, the courtyard is covered in white marble from Makrana, India.
There are more than fifteen museums in Iraq. Here are the names of the speciality museums which need to be mentioned separately.
* The Iraq Museum - The Iraq Museum is the national museum of Iraq, a museum located in Baghdad, Iraq. It is sometimes mistakenly called the National Museum of Iraq. The Iraq Museum contains precious relics from the Mesopotamian, Babylonian and Persian civilization. It was looted during and after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Despite international efforts, only some of the stolen artefacts were returned. After being closed for many years while being refurbished, and rarely open for public viewing, the museum was officially reopened in February 2015.
* The Kurdish textile museum - The Kurdish Textile Museum is a museum devoted to textiles produced in Iraqi Kurdistan. It was established in 2004 and is located in a renovated mansion in the southeast quarter of the Citadel of Erbil. It is a beautifully curated space with vibrant examples of exquisite rugs and other textiles from different periods of Kurdish history. There is an excellent translation in English, with interesting details about the symbolism and traditions woven into the pieces.
* Amna Suraka - It was actually a prison that has been converted into a museum. The horrific history of the Kurdish people during Bah atis regime is the main highlight here. A must-visit while you are in Sulaymaniah.
* Erbil Civilization Museum - It is an archaeological museum which is located within the city of Hawler, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. It is the second-largest museum in Iraqi Kurdistan, after the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Sulaymaniyah Governorate in terms of contents and collections. It houses artefacts that date back from the pre-historic period to the late Abbasid period.
Iraqi cuisine or Mesopotamian cuisine has its origins from Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, ancient Persians, Mesopotamian Arabs, and the other ethnic groups of the region.
Here are some of the Iraqi dishes that you must try -
* Masgouf - Masgouf is a Mesopotamian dish consisting of seasoned, grilled carp; it is often considered the national dish of Iraq. This is a slow-grilled fish famous because of the Iraqi way of grilling it standing sideways and letting the fish cook in the flames and smoke from the side. Once finished, a generous amount of delicious sumac spice, fresh pomegranate seeds, and lemon are poured on top.
* Quzi - Also spelt as qoozi or ghoozi, is a rice-based dish, is considered one of Iraq’s national dishes and was introduced into Turkey by Syrian immigrants. Taking almost an entire day to slow roast, the lamb is stuffed with aromatic and spiced rice, vegetables, and nuts, this dish is always one of the most- loved dishes at any Iraqi festive event or family gathering.
* Tepsi Baytinjan - It is a popular Iraqi casserole dish consisting of aubergine, which is sliced and fried before placing in a baking dish, accompanied with meatballs, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Potato slices are placed on top of the mixture, and the dish is baked.
* Margat Albamiya - This classic is one of the most common staples in any Iraqi household. A mixture of perfectly baked okra and tender lamb or beef in a spiced tomato-based stew, the textures, and flavors of this dish can only be described as absolutely perfect.
* Margat Qeema - A famous Iraqi dish served a lot during religious holidays or when a mosque is serving food, this is a gravy-based dish made from finely minced meat, lentils, lime zest, and numerous other spices all eaten with a side of warm rice.
* Tashreeb - Tashreeb is the name given to any dish with broth-soaked bread topped with meat or vegetables. This is because the word tashree; in Arabic means to soak, making it a very fitting name! It is a very rustic Iraqi concept that started out as a dish made by the poor who were able to put whatever they had to hand in the stew and then serve it over bread in order to make it filling. Nowadays, it has become a staple in many Iraqi and Middle Eastern households.
* Bagilla Bil Dihin - Bagila bil Dihin means beans with fat. In reality, it’s just Fried Eggs over Broad Beans over soaked pita bread and topped with hot oil. Bagila is the Iraqi word for beans, broad beans or lava beans to be exact.
* Makhlama - Another Iraqi breakfast dish but less heavy than tashreeb is makhlama, which is basically a large skillet of fried eggs, tomatoes, onions, and spices. The key is to have all the flavours blend together in one pan, which you then eat by scooping it up with pieces of warm and fresh Iraqi bread.
* Kubba Bil Burghur - While many other Middle Eastern countries have variants of kibbeh–a mixture of burghul cracked wheat, minced meat, onions, and spices–the Iraqi version is a region-wide favourite. Known also as kubbah mosul because of the popularity of it in the Iraqi city of Mosul, this dish is a layered pocket of kubbah with different stuffings inside—from nuts to cheese to rice with minced meat, there is no shortage of creativity when it comes to Iraqi kubbah!
* Dolma - Although variants of dolma can be found across the Middle East, the Iraqi version of this is truly one of the best. Iraqis use boiled chard wrapped into finger-length stuffings of minced meat, rice, nuts, and spices all covered with lemon zest.
* Arak - A clear, colourless, unsweetened aniseed-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink. Arak is usually not consumed straight but is mixed in approximately 1/3 of Arak to 2/3 water, and ice is then added.
* Beer - It originated in ancient Assyria and Babylon over 6,000 years ago.
* Coffee - Iraqi coffee has a strong and bitter taste, a popular beverage in Iraq.
* Sharbat - A chilled, sweet drink prepared from fruit juice or flower petals.
* Shinēna - It is a cold beverage of yogurt mixed with cold water, sometimes with a pinch of salt or dried mint added.
* Tea - Tea also known as chai, is widely consumed throughout the day, especially in the mornings, after meals, and during social settings. It is prepared in a special way involving boiling tea in hot water, then placing it over a second tea pot with boiling water to let the tea infuse. Iraqi tea is renowned for being considerably stronger, richer and sweeter than those found in neighbouring countries, and is usually brewed with cardamom (heil).
Iraq’s drinking water quality is mixed and often poor. It would be better if you carry a bottle and refill it from the eateries you stop by. They mostly use filtered water.
- Admire the Al-Al-Kadhimiya Mosque
- Be amazed by the Islamic architecture of Karbala
- Be in awe of the ancient city of Ur
- Cruise through the Marshes
- Explore Iraq’s past at the National Museum
- Explore the pretty canals of Basra
- Explore the ruins of Babylon
- Haggle in the Baghdad Bazaar
- Relax in the Kurdish Mountains
- Visit the green zoo
- Wander the early Islamic ruins of Samarra
There are plenty of hotels hostels, guest houses in prime locations in Iraq. Nowadays, most opt for online bookings; don’t forget to read the reviews on them.
Unfortunately, Iraq has only one green hotel - Erbil Rotana Hotel. It is strategically located close to the business and diplomatic area of the city. Ten minutes drive from Erbil International Airport and fifteen minutes to the city centre, the historical Citadel, bazaars and malls.
There are other hotels in Iraq, though not eco-friendly. Some of the topmost hotels are -
- Divan Erbil
- Grand Millennium Sulaimani Hotel
- Ramada By Wyndham Erbil Gulan Street
- Erbil Arjaan
Hostels and Guest Houses
Hostels and guest houses come with a lesser budget as well as it helps the locals to earn extra. Iraq offers a plethora of budget-friendly hostels and guest houses. There are multiple sites via which you can book hostels and guest houses in Iraq.
If you want to stay longer and want your privacy, renting apartments can be a good option for you. You may come across many tourists with whom you can enjoy the daily lives of Iraq. On different online sites, locals advertise their apartment, location, and connectivity with the transport modes. Read the reviews on them before renting one.
Couchsurfers share their homes, cities, and lives in profound, meaningful ways, making travel anywhere in the world a truly social experience. It is the best way to experience Iraq like a local. Reach out to over hosts in Iraq to discover unique places to stay, and locals to stay with. Use Couchsurfing to find accommodation in Iraq, meet locals and travellers, and more. You will find many hosts if you want to couch-surf in Iraq. There are multiple online sites such as www.couchsurfing.com which help tourists to take this option of staying. Still, if you want to opt for this option, extra precaution is necessary, especially for the females. Do not hesitate to ask for the details and the references of the host.
If you want to go camping, these are our recommendation,
- GIC Iraq office and camp
- Edgo Camp Rumaila Basra
|Al Jazira |
The land north and northwest of Baghdad, between and around the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
|Baghdad Belts |
The belts sets of suburbs, towns, and cities radiating out from the center of Baghdad.
|Iraqi Desert |
The vast, empty wasteland in the west and southwest of the country.
|Iraqi Kurdistan |
Home to the Kurdish people, and largely under the administration of what the people there believe to be a separate national government, this is the safest region of Iraq for travel.
|Lower Mesopotamia |
The Cradle of Civilization itself, home to major Shia cities and holy sites, such as Karbala, Najaf, Basra and Nasiriya, as well as legendary ruins of ancient civilizations, including Babylon and Sumerian Ur.
Iraq has 126 cities. Each row includes a city’s latitude, longitude, governorate and other variables of interest. This is a subset of all 21,735 places in Iraq. The biggest cities in Iraq are -
- Baghdad (بغداد)
- Erbil (ھەولێر)
- Ar Rutba (الرطبة)
- Basra (البَصرة)
- Dahuk (دهوك)
- Fallujah (الفلّوجة)
- Karbala (كربلاء)
- Kirkuk (كركوك)
- Mosul (موصل)
- Sulaimaniyah (سليمانى)
Getting There and Moving Around
Before knowing how to get in Iraq, there are some visa restrictions that should be known -
- Travellers who have visited Iraq will be denied ESTA clearance for the United States of America and will therefore be required to obtain a visa from their nearest embassy or consulate.
- Australian travellers should note that it is an offence for Australians to enter or remain in the Iraqi district of Mosul in Nineveh Province without a valid reason. The Mosul district has been listed as a declared region under the Criminal Code (1995), where the Australian Government considers that a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in a hostile activity. Breaking this law carries heavy consequences, with a jail sentence of maximum of 10 years. More information regarding this can be found on the Australian National Security website Citizens of Turkey are allowed visa-free access only if arriving at the Baghdad International Airport from Turkey. They can, in addition, obtain a visa on arrival at the Al Najaf International Airport.
Citizens of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia can obtain a visa on arrival at the Basra and Al Najaf International Airports. If you fly into Iraq without an entry or working visa you risk getting it. The main rule is, except for the nationals mentioned above, you have to get a visa in advance.
However, according to the MFA website, a so-called urgent visa can be issued on arrival if, and only if, your circumstances made it impossible for you to get a visa in advance and you can convince the immigration officer of this. It is not known whether this facility is limited to certain ports of entry. Obtaining a travel visa to Iraq is complicated and time-consuming. You can obtain an application at the Embassy of Iraq. However, all applications are vetted in Baghdad. Even if you do obtain a visa, you may still be refused entry into Iraq once you arrive.
Kurdish region is much more stable and considered safe for foreign travellers. Flights into the Kurdish region in northern Iraq arrive at Erbil International Airport. International carriers include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways which flies to Doha. The Kurdish Region, being relatively safer than the rest of Iraq, has seen enormous growth and investment since 2003, making Erbil a convenience destination for business in the region.
It is possible to enter Iraq from Jordan by taking a bus from Amman. Other countries may have bus service to Iraq. Third-party nationals can also gain entry into Iraq for work purposes; these buses usually depart from Kuwait. From Turkey, long-distance buses go to Dohuk and Erbil, stopping in Malatya, Batman, Diyarbakir and other towns on the way. From Iran, regular buses leave Suleymaniyeh from Tehran. There is also a once-weekly bus from Kermanshah. Otherwise a shared taxi hop from Kermanshah changing vehicles in Sanandaj, Marivan, the Iran-Iraq border (you can expect a friendly but extensive questioning up to several hours here), and the first village after the border. With an early start from Kermanshah, you can arrive in Sulaymaniyah in the early afternoon.
In Kurdistan, public transport is rare although regular buses do link Zakho and Dohuk and cost about 2 USD. From Dohuk, shared taxis leave all day for Erbil and other cities. The road from Dohuk to Erbil goes south near Mosul, but does not leave Kurdish territory and is thus safe, although perhaps too close for comfort. Shared Taxis might be the safest way to travel in Iraqi Kurdistan, as the drivers are not interested in leaving the province either.
Now in 2019 there are only two working railway lines in the whole of Iraq: the 650km/400miles 12-10 hour’s overnight train on the line between Baghdad and Basra, the two biggest cities in the country.
Except for the autonomous Kurdistan region, Iraq is a dangerous place. It would probably be very risky to hitch there. We highly recommend to NOT hitchhike in the rest of Iraq (regions south of Kurdistan) at the moment.
Highways in Iraq are in good condition, nevertheless, it is recommended to use air-travel for long-distance trips.
The concept of sustainable shopping is new to the world. People are trying to change their lifestyles and adopting eco-friendly practices that support the local community. As a responsible tourist, you must buy souvenirs and antiques from the local markets of Iraq.
The National Solid Waste Management Plan (NSWMP) for Iraq was developed in 2007 by a collaboration of international waste management specialists. The plan contains the recommendations for development and which explains the background for decisions. The plan states that Iraq will build 33 engineered landfills with the capacity of 600 million m3 in all of the 18 governorates in Iraq by 2027. In addition to constructing landfills, the plan also focuses on the collection and transportation, disposable, recycling and reuses systems. Environment education was also taken into consideration to ensure the provision of an educational system that supports the participation of both communities and individuals in waste management in Iraq. Besides Iraqi national waste management plan, the Iraqi ministry of the environment started in 2008 its own comprehensive development program which is part of the ministry of environment efforts to improve the environmental situation in Iraq
Iraq generates around 31,000 tons of solid waste every day with per capita waste generation exceeding 1.4 kg per day. Baghdad alone produces more than 1.5 million tons of solid wastes each year. The rapid increase in waste generation is putting tremendous strain on Iraqi waste handling infrastructure which has been heavily damaged after decades of conflict and mismanagement. In the absence of modern and efficient waste handling and waste disposal infrastructure, most of the wastes are disposed of in unregulated landfills across Iraq, with little or no concern for both human health and the environment. Spontaneous fires, groundwater contamination, surface water pollution and large-scale greenhouse gas emissions have been the hallmarks of Iraqi landfills.
Work and Study Abroad
Iraq’s education system, like the country as a whole, remains crippled by the dislocation of people and the destruction of critical infrastructure due to years of crippling economic sanctions and a series of devastating wars, which continue to affect the country until today. Warfare has caused the interruption of studies at higher education institutions and affected teachers and faculty, many of whom are deliberately targeted in the country’s sectarian conflict between Shiites and Sunnis. The flight of professors and other members of the country’s intellectual elite has resulted in a massive brain drain and the deterioration of educational quality. Universities are chronically understaffed and senior lecturers are being replaced with poorly trained junior faculty. Given these circumstances, Iraq has in recent years nevertheless made considerable progress.
As mentioned above, there aren’t any exchange student programs in Iraq.
There are many Au Pair jobs available in Iraq. To have a good salary or a likeable job you have to submit your resume to online portals. They provide jobs like, child care, old age home jobs, etc. But again, seeing the current situation in Iraq, it’s highly recommended to be very careful while taking an au pair job.
Iraq sometimes gets overlooked in the volunteer world due to its tenuous security situation. As a volunteer in Iraq, you’ll have the opportunity to help in a wide variety of areas, such as human rights, construction, education, gender equality, humanitarian aid, and community development.