Kurdistan Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Kurdistan? Check out our comprehensive travel guide to explore the best places to visit, things to do, local culture and customs, safety and health tips, and transportation options.

Introduction to Kurdistan

Kurdistan is a region located in the heart of the Middle East, straddling the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. This fascinating land is home to diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and ancient history. Whether you’re interested in exploring picturesque mountains, hiking through dramatic gorges, or immersing in local culture and traditions, Kurdistan has something to offer for everyone.

In this travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey to the best places to visit, things to do, local culture and customs, safety and health tips, and transportation options so that you can make the most of your trip to Kurdistan.

List of Places to Visit in Kurdistan

Kurdistan is a vast region, and there are numerous places to explore. Here are some of the top must-visit destinations that you should add to your itinerary:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • The Erbil Citadel: This ancient fortress is located in the heart of Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers stunning views of the city.

  • The Kurdish Textile Museum: This unique museum in Erbil showcases the vibrant Kurdish heritage and culture through traditional garments, textiles, jewelry, and handicrafts.

  • The Lalish Temple: This sacred site is one of the holiest places for the Yazidi people, a Kurdish minority group. It’s located in a beautiful valley near Mosul and is an excellent example of the rich religious diversity in Kurdistan.

Natural Attractions of Kurdistan: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Zagros Mountains: This stunning mountain range stretches across Kurdistan, Iran, and southern Turkey, with some of the best hiking and trekking opportunities.

  • Ranya Gorge: Located in northeastern Kurdistan, this dramatic canyon is ideal for hiking and rock climbing.

  • Dukan Lake: This beautiful lake is dotted with charming resorts, and it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the scenery.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kurdistan

Kurdistan is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with several hiking and biking trails. Here are a few popular routes:

  • Choman to Darbandikhan: This spectacular trek crosses the rugged mountains, gorges, and valleys, offering breathtaking views along the way.

  • The Hamilton Road: This 80 km road connects the villages of Barzan and Rawanduz, offering cyclists a challenging but rewarding route.

  • The Bradost Mountains: This beautiful range located in northern Kurdistan is perfect for hiking and mountaineering, with several trails of varying difficulty.

Best Things to Do in Kurdistan: Activities and Tours

Besides hiking and exploring outdoor wonders, Kurdistan has a lot of activities and tours to offer. Here are some options:

  • Cooking classes: Kurdish cuisine is delicious but underrated. Take a cooking class to learn how to prepare local dishes such as dolma, kebab, and biryani.

  • Cultural tours: Discover the rich history and traditions of Kurdistan by visiting ancient sites, museums, and cultural centers.

  • Visit a local bazaar: The bustling bazaars of Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, and Duhok offer an immersive shopping experience, with traditional handicrafts, spices, and textiles.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kurdistan

If you have a week to explore Kurdistan, here is a sample itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival in Erbil, visit the Erbil Citadel, and enjoy traditional Kurdish cuisine at one of the local restaurants.

Day 2: Head to Lalish temple, and explore the charming villages, gorges, and valleys of northern Kurdistan.

Day 3: Trekking in the stunning Bradost Mountains and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.

Day 4: Visit the iconic Dukan Lake, surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes, and relax at one of the charming resorts.

Day 5: Visit the Halabja Memorial Museum to learn about the tragic events of the 1988 chemical attacks and the Kurdish liberation struggle.

Day 6: Explore the vibrant city of Sulaymaniyah, visit the Kurdish Textile Museum, and stroll through the bustling bazaar.

Day 7: Departure from Kurdistan.

Food and Drink Scene of Kurdistan

No visit to Kurdistan is complete without indulging in the local cuisine, which is a blend of Middle Eastern, Iranian, and Turkish influences. Here are some must-try dishes:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Dolma: Stuffed vegetables with rice, meat, and spices.

  • Kebab: Grilled meat skewers, usually served with rice and salad.

  • Biryani: Spiced rice usually served with lamb, chicken, or beef.

  • Kubba: A popular Kurdish appetizer made from bulgur wheat or rice and filled with meat, onions, and spices.

Local Beverages

  • Tea: Kurdish tea is sweetened and flavored with cardamom or herbs such as mint and sage.

  • Sharbat: A refreshing drink made from fruit syrups and served with ice and soda water.

Where to Stay in Kurdistan: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Kurdistan offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences.

  • Hotels: A variety of international and local hotel chains operate in Kurdistan’s major cities and tourist destinations, offering comfortable amenities and services.

  • Hostels: Budget-friendly hostels are an excellent option for solo travelers or groups looking for more social accommodation.

  • Guesthouses: For a more immersive local experience, consider staying at a guesthouse, where you can interact with locals and learn more about their way of life.

What to Buy in Kurdistan: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Kurdistan boasts a rich cultural heritage, and there are many souvenirs and local products to choose from, including:

  • Handicrafts: Kurdish handicrafts such as carpets, pottery, jewelry, and textiles make excellent souvenirs.

  • Spices: The local spice markets offer a wide range of aromatic spices and herbs, perfect for adding flavor to your cooking.

Local Culture and Customs of Kurdistan

Kurdistan has a rich cultural heritage that is deeply rooted in its history, religion, and art. When visiting Kurdistan, it’s essential to respect local customs, such as dressing modestly, removing shoes before entering a home or mosque, and refraining from alcohol in public places.

Best Time to Visit Kurdistan

The best time to visit Kurdistan is from April to June and from September to November when the weather is mild and pleasant. During the summer months, temperatures can reach up to 40°C, which can be uncomfortable for outdoor activities.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kurdistan

Here are some essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Kurdistan:


  • Dress modestly.

  • Learn some Kurdish words and phrases.

  • Take off your shoes before entering a home or mosque.


  • Drink alcohol in public places.

  • Take pictures of people without their permission.

  • Disrespect local customs and traditions.

Safety and Health

Kurdistan is relatively safe for travelers, but it’s always important to exercise caution and take necessary precautions. Here are some tips:

Safety in Kurdistan

  • Avoid travel to areas near the borders with Iran, Iraq, Syria or Turkey, as tensions are high in these areas.

  • Keep your valuables in a secure place.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.

Health in Kurdistan

  • Make sure you’re up to date on routine vaccinations.

  • Drink bottled or boiled water and avoid tap water.

  • Use sunscreen and wear a hat, especially during the summer months.

Getting to Kurdistan: Transportation Options and Logistics

Kurdistan is easily accessible by land, sea, and air. Here are some options:

Airports Near Kurdistan

  • Erbil International Airport: Served by several major airlines, it’s the primary gateway to Kurdistan.

  • Sulaymaniyah International Airport: Located in the south, it’s the second-largest airport in Kurdistan.

Bus Stations Near Kurdistan

  • Duhok Bus Station: Located in the northwest corner of Kurdistan, it’s a major hub for local and regional bus services.

  • Erbil Bus Station: Located just outside Erbil, it’s a busy transportation hub for travelers.

Other Options

  • Taxis: Taxis and minivans are readily available in Kurdistan, and they’re an affordable and convenient mode of transportation.

  • Car rental: Renting a car is a popular option for tourists who want to explore Kurdistan at their own pace.

How to Get Around in Kurdistan

Kurdistan has a well-developed transportation network, including buses, taxis, and minibusses. However, a rental car gives you more flexibility to explore the region independently.

Where to Go Next from Kurdistan: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Kurdistan is surrounded by several interesting destinations that you can explore. Here are some options:

  • Iran: Kurdistan shares a border with Iran, offering easy access to the historic cities of Tabriz, Tehran, and Isfahan.

  • Turkey: The Turco-Kurdish border is open to tourists, and you can easily cross into southeast Turkey, home to some of Turkey’s most stunning landscapes and ancient sites.


Kurdistan is a fascinating and relatively undiscovered destination that offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. With this comprehensive travel guide, you can make the most of your trip to Kurdistan, discovering the best places to visit, things to do, local culture and customs, safety and health tips, and transportation options.