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15+ Most Recommended Things To Do In Iraq

Iraq is the cradle of an ancient civilization where the Sumerians flourished for a long period of time. Islamic architecture dominates its cities and towns as the country has been a breeding ground for the religion for centuries. Today, it is gradually drawing the attention of world travellers who come here to admire its beauties. Take a look at its ancient monuments or explore the history of human civilization at its age-old ruined sites. Take a look at these top things to do in Iraq, the esteemed neighbour of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Top Things To Do In Iraq

1. Travel across Time at the Citadel of Erbil

top things to do in Iraq - Citadel of Erbil

What if we say the Citadel of Erbil in Iraq has been in existence since prehistoric times? Yes! This wondrous beauty has a history of thousands of years and that’s one of the reasons this ancient wonder must not be ignored by anyone who visits the country. The Citadel of Erbil is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a rough oval shape and is located atop a mound. Step into its ancient rustic compound and transport back in time. The place is quite charming for history lovers.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts

Location: Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Timings: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm

Pro Tip: While purchasing things at the markets here, do haggle over prices.


2. Explore the Islamic Architecture of Karbala

Karbala is one of the major cities in Iraq and is dotted with a number of historical and religious landmarks. And that’s the reason, the tourism industry in the city has boomed extraordinarily. The presence of shrines, religiously-significant streams and ancient ruins has made it one of the holiest places for Shia Muslims. The most important sites to visit here are the Al-Abbas Mosque, Euphrates, Ruins of Mujada and Imam Husayn Shrine.

Recommended For: Explorers, History Lovers

Entry Fee: Free

Ideal Timings: 08:00 am to 08:00 pm

Pro Tip: If you are looking forward to relishing some great dishes in Karbala, then head towards its downtown region. You would find the best restaurants and cafes there.


3. Sail across Mesopotamian Marshes

top things to do in Iraq - Mesopotamia marshes

A rich aquatic landscape spread across thousands of square kms, Mesopotamian Marshes make for a great place to spot the diverse wildlife of Iraq. Sail down in a boat as it is the best way to enjoy and explore the natural beauty of the country. Come across local settlements in and around the marshes and learn about their culture and lifestyle as well. Cruising these Marshes is probably one of the most unique things to do in Iraq.

Recommended For: Offbeat Travellers, Photographers

Average Cost: $20 – $25 for booking a small boat

Pro Tip: Visit it with a guide as the place is rarely visited by common tourists.


4. Be in Awe of the Great Babylon Ishtar Gate

top things to do in Iraq - Ishtar Gate

Ishtar Gate is one of the most magnificent places to visit in the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq. The gate served as one of the major entry points to the inner parts of the city. Though today the gate does take you to those grand structures built in the past, it certainly charms you with its wonderful design. Made of glazed bricks painted in blue, Ishtar Gate looks extremely photogenic.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Photographers

Location: Hillah, Iraq

Timings: 08:00 am to 11:30 pm | 09:00 am to 07:30 pm on Sundays


5. Visit the Historic Ziggurat of Ur

Another place in Iraq that would take you back to the times of Mesopotamia is the historic Ziggurat of Ur. This massive structure was built thousands of years ago before the Common Era. And that’s the reason it has been successful in attracting an audience from across the world. Watch this mud-brick gigantic structure looking like a step pyramid and capture its enigmatic beauty.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Explorers

Location: Nasiriyah, Iraq

Timings: 06:00 am to 06:00 pm


6. Learn the Significance of Lalish Temple

Though Iraq is a Muslim nation and is dotted with thousands of Islamic structures, it houses a number of places of other faiths such as temples and churches. Lalish Temple located in Ninawa is one of them. It is one of the most significant sites amongst Yazidis as they are expected to do a 6-day pilgrimage to the temple once in their lifetime. Nestled in the midst of a mountain valley, the place offers serenity along with scenery.

Recommended For: Explorers, Offbeat Travellers

Location: Ninawa, Iraq

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: Anytime

Pro Tip: Come wearing socks as it is not allowed to enter the temple with shoes on.


7. Visit the National Museum of Iraq

top things to do in Iraq - National Museum of Iraq

There cannot be a better place than the National Museum of Iraq to watch the history of the country summarised in various blocks. One of the most popular places in Baghdad, the National Museum has a wonderful collection of artefacts from the civilization of Mesopotamia, Persian and Babylon. From the Mask of Warka to the statue of Entemena, everything is going to leave you awestruck.

Recommended For: History Lovers

Location: Baghdad, Iraq

Entry Fee: $2 per person

Timings: 08:00 am to 02:00 pm (Closed on Fridays and Saturdays)

Pro Tip: You can also attend the virtual tour of the museum on its official website.


8. Explore the Divinity of Imam Ali Holy Shrine

Imam Ali Shrine in Iraq is one of the holiest places in the country as the place houses the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of Muhammad and the first-ever Shi’ite Imam after the prophet himself. Shia Muslims from around the world visit this historic place to seek the blessings of the Almighty God. Millions of pilgrims visit the shrine to pay respects to Imam Ali every year.

Recommended For: Culture Explorers

Location: Najaf, Iraq

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: Open 24 Hours

Pro Tip: The stores near the shrine are great for souvenir shopping.


9. Relax at Sami Abdulrahman Park

top things to do in Iraq - Sami abdulrahman Park

How about a relaxing afternoon or an evening while staying close to nature and peace? If you are in for it, then the gorgeous Sami Abdulrahman Park in Erbil must be your destination. The park is blessed with a lot of greenery and an ever-dazzling lake where one can indulge in boating. At the time of dawn and dusk, the place looks exceptionally colourful. The park is spread over an area of about 2 sq km and also houses flower gardens and restaurants.

Recommended For: Families, Couples, Photographers

Location: Erbil, Iraq

Entry Fee: No entrance fee ($0.50 – $1.50 for boating)

Timings: 05:00 am to 11:00 pm

Pro Tip: If you are a looking for a picnic spot in Erbil, then this park is your destination.


10. Frame Spiral Minaret of the Mosque of Samarra

top things to do in Iraq - Great Mosque of Samarra

You won’t be able to take your eyes off from the striking spiral minaret of the Great Mosque while in the city of Samarra. The spectacular structure gives you amazing sight. Built during the 19th century, the mosque is a significant part of the Samarra archaeological city and is extremely popular amongst history lovers. Visit it on a weekend and capture this fascinating marvel standing at a height of more than 170 feet.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Photographers

Location: Samarra, Iraq

Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (Open 24 Hours on Tuesdays)


11. Feel Sorry and Amazed at Al-Shaheed Monument

Also called the Marty’s Memorial, the Al-Shaheed Monument in the capital city of Baghdad is a modern marvel that looks like a split onion reflecting turquoise colour. It is built on an elevated platform in the midst of a beautiful lake. The structure pays tribute to all the soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq War. There is an eternal flame burning in the middle of the domes. Do visit it and frame its world-class beauty on your camera.

Recommended For: Photographers, Children

Location: Baghdad, Iraq

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: 08:00 am to 03:00 pm (Closed on Fridays and Saturdays)

Pro Tip: Do visit the museum under the monument where you would find the names of all the soldiers martyred in the war.


12. Spend a Weekend at Duhok

Sitting in the lap of lush green valleys, Duhok is a Kurdish town offering quite a variety of attractions. As it is located in the close proximity of Turkish border, it is easy accessible. The town has its richness lying in its simplicity. You have beautiful markets to explore and fabulous cafes and restaurants to crash at. It is also popular for Halamata Cave, an archaeological site with relief carvings. So, make a visit and spend peaceful time amid its welcoming vibes.

Recommended For: Offbeat Travellers, Nature Lovers

Location: Duhok Governorate, Iraq

Timings: Anytime


13. Check out the Ruins of Dur-Kurigalzu

top things to do in Iraq - Dur-Kurigalzu

Established by a Kassite king of Babylon at the conflux of Tigris and Diyala rivers about 3500 years ago, Dur-Kurigalzu is a city in its ruins today. It was once home to a royal palace, a ziggurat, a few temples and a local settlement. However, at present, the Ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu standing at a height of about 171 feet is the prime attraction here. If you are looking for a place that could speak the legends of Iraq straight into your ears, then this is the perfect destination for you. The kind of stonework you are going to witness here is truly spectacular.

Recommended For: Offbeat Travellers, History Lovers

Location: Baghdad Governorate, Iraq

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: Anytime

Pro Tip: Visit it early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the scorching heat of the summers.


14. Learn about the Temple of Hatra

top things to do in Iraq - Temple of Hatra

Hatra was an ancient city in Iraq of which one can still find ruins in its temples and other structures. The ruins here take you back in time and leave you surprised with the significance they still hold. Though the place once demonstrated a mix of Arab, Mesopotamian and Parthian cultures, it is merely a no man’s land today. Visit it and catch glimpses of its stone pillars, arches, reliefs and statues that still look into visitors’ eyes and speak their glorious past. The Temple of Hatra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Recommended For: History Lovers


15. Sharpen your Haggling Skills at Baghdad Markets

top things to do in Iraq - Baghdad Market

Baghdad is known for its beautiful age-old markets that have been there for centuries. Stroll down the busy streets of these chaotic and vibrant bazaars and shop great souvenirs for yourself. Watch colours oozing from every corner of these markets as you buy things. Shorja Market and Al-Ghazil Market offer you a wide range of items including clothing, handicrafts, fruits and more. Hence, they must not be missed out on while in Baghdad. Do not forget to sharpen your haggling skills before stepping into these markets.

Recommended For: Shopaholics

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm


16. Visit the Arch of Ctesiphon

Located by the sparkling Tigris River, the Arch of Ctesiphon is an ancient wonder that still whispers the legends and tales of the past. Built of mud brick and erected in the 6th century, this fascinating structure speaks a lot through its ruined rugged walls. Looking at its gigantic structure one can easily figure out that it was an engineering marvel from the early Medieval Period. Today, the site attracts thousands of tourists from all over the country and beyond.

Recommended For: History Lovers, Explorers, Photographers

Location: Salman Pak, Iraq

Entry Fee: Free

Timings: Open 24 Hours

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