The Fastest Way to Travel to Iraq
Did you know that’s it’s possible to travel to Iraq even without a visa? The northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan is visa free for citizens of the EU, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan & Brazil amongst others. If you arrive at Erbil or Sulaymaniyah international airports you are automatically given 15 days free passage on arrival.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a fully autonomous area with its own police, army, government and border control. It’s long been a bubble of peace and serenity in a long troubled region.
If you arrive in Kurdistan however, you cannot travel onto southern Iraq without an Iraqi visa. More info on that below.
Travel to Iraqi Kurdistan
There’s plenty to do in Iraqi Kurdistan alone. The region is overflowing with stunning mountain scenery, a fascinating history and rich culture. The Kurds are spread across modern Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The closest thing they have to an independent nation lies in the boundaries of northern Iraq. In 2017 they voted in favor of independence from Iraq. The result was not legally binding however, and let to some bloodshed with the Iraqi federal government.
A typical Iraqi Kurdistan tour will begin in the capital of Erbil, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, Erbil is a fascinating mix of Christian and Islamic flavor. From Erbil move onto Lalish, the holiest site for the Yazidi people. Visit the tiny temple and show your respects to the people who were routinely butchered during the years of ISIS occupation in Iraq.
Western Kurdistan around the city of Duhok is also home to multiple Christian communities, visit these areas to learn more about the diversity of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Travel through the central Korek mountains and travel along the famed Hamilton Road which once linked Iraq and Iran. The route carved through the thick mountain face was considered an engineering marvel at the time.
Travel all the way east to Sulaymaniyah to sample the vibrant central souks and welcoming locals. See also the memorial at Halabjal dedicated to those who lost their lives when Saddam Hussain gassed the town in the late 1980s.
If you are going to consider some form of travel to Iraq then why not jump into the heart of the country and travel to Baghdad.
As one of the most important Arab cities in history, Baghdad is oozing with history. Southern Iraq in general can now be considered safe, three years after the fall of the ISIS threat. Rocky Road Travel have conducted numerous tours to Baghdad since 2018. Using the capital city as your base, hit the road north to Samarra and the iconic minaret. Further south hit up the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala before making your way to ancient Babylon and the Mesopotamian Marshlands. Continue along to Basra or make your way back to Baghdad via the archeological sites at Ur and Abu Gharib.
Iraq Visa Application
The Iraq visa process can be a tricky affair but if you travel to Iraq with Rocky Road Travel then we will make this a relatively straightforward process.
Iraq has recently announced a visa on arrival scheme for citizens of the EU, UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. If you don’t belong to one of these countries then once you join our scheduled group tours to Iraq, we will apply for a letter of invitation on your behalf. Once issued you will then need to bring this to your nearest Iraqi embassy to apply for the visa. The whole process can take up to one month so apply early. Contact us for more information on travelling to Iraq.