Considerable parts of this fascinating country - its ancient Mesopotamia a cradle of civilization - are again safe for visitors, such as the Kurdish area up north; elsewhere, even Baghdad and the ruins of Babylon are also doable, but escorted rather than independently. And always monitor the changing situation.

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Top 50 attractions in Iraq

Most people these days associate Iraq with war and dictatorship, but the tourism industry here has been slowly building back, and there are some amazing sights to be seen. This video gives a quick taste of 50 of them, well worth a look!

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  • Kurdistan continues to develop, touristically speaking, and now comes word that a new hiking trail has opened in the region to help visitors experience another side of Iraq:
    Kurdistan opens up an incredible 200 km trekking route
    The region has all the elements of the perfect hike: great natural beauty, layers of history, existing trail networks, a rich, deep culture, and an…
  • Kurdistan up north continues to be Iraq's strongest region, touristically speaking, attracting more than six million visitors last year - it even has mountain resorts with skiing in winter and fresh, outdoorsy appeal the rest of the year:
  • has a great roundup of top bucket-listers in this country - check it out:
  • Wow, near a Kurdistan town less than an hour north of Mosul archaeologists have recently unearthed more than a dozen huge bas relief carved rock panels carved into the walls of an old irrigation canal and dating back some 2,700-years to ancient Assyria. The government plans to turn this into a tourist attraction, nicely adding to the awesome archaeological allure of Iraqi antiquity:
    Major 'Archaeological Park' Sets Iraq to Tourism Prosperity | Al Bawaba
    Authorities in northern Iraq on Sunday unveiled an "archaeological park" of 2,700-year-old carvings from the rule of the Assyrians, including showing…
  • After years of war and turmoil, much of Iraq is safe and rewarding to visit, and I recently took note of this female travel blogger's take on top sights in capital Baghdad:
    Top 5 Baghdad Tourist Attractions That You Should Not Miss
    Federal Iraq welcomes tourists again
  • Some 3½ hours south of Baghdad, the Ziggurat of Ur is Iraq's answer to Egypt's Pyramid of Giza. As the capital of Mesopotamia, it was the center of civilization around 4,000 years ago, and is now open to visitors:
    Iraq's answer to the pyramids
    Egypt may have the Pyramids of Giza, but Iraq has the Ziggurat of Ur – an incredibly well-preserved engineering achievement that towers over the ruin…
  • This amazing country - once a cradle of civilisation in places like Babylon - has of course been through a lot of trauma in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and now it's finally starting to recover a bit of a tourism industry, with 107,000 visitors in 2021. Read more about it here:
    In a 'dangerous' land: tourists trickle back to Iraq
    An American tourist poses for a holiday snap in Iraq, in front of the blue-brick Ishtar Gate that was rebuilt at the ancient site of Babylon under di…
  • I had done several Iraq travel pieces for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and culture division of Bloomberg News.....on Babylon, Baghdad and Suleymania and Erbil and Halabja in Kurdistan......all amazing places to see, but yes, southern Iraq, where Baghdad and Babylon are, a little hard to visit though there are tour groups to both.....Kurdistan is easy, no visa necessary for entry beforehand, you get it when you land (arduous process for Southern Iraq) Anyway, this is all the cradle of civilization...........

  • Kurdistan is so much different as said before by Shannon than the rest of Iraq.  There are still insurgent / terrorist groups active in Baghdad, Mosul and other regions.  Having worked there for 4.5 years, I would NOT recommend traveling there "indie" style because you open yourself up to many negative factors.  There have been group tours and its quit possible there were behind the scene negotiations to leave the group alone.  However; thats no guarantee.  So, unless you dream of being held hostage, I would avoid it until the situation gets better there.

  • Good tip, Mike. Hopefully Hinterland will join us on here. In any case, I'm sure we'll be talking a lot of security issues. Another deadly bombing in one of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods this week, for example -- tragic, for sure, but from a tourism standpoint it's an area unlikely to see any tourists. Also, has tourism in Ahmed Awa, in the Kurdish zone, suffered noticeably since those 3 American hikers were lured across the Iranian border and jailed? What would be the best way, when visiting that area, to avoid such a possibility if the border area is apparently as unclear as it is?
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