Young Pioneer Tours

Iraq Tours 2024 and 2025

After many years of turmoil Young Pioneer Tours are pleased to announce our full program of Iraq Tours to the whole country, including both Federal Iraq, as well as Iraqi Kurdistan.

Before the country becomes a tourist hot-spot, now is the perfect time to visit this country with a recent and ancient past that is unlike any other. Now is the time to visit Iraq.

GROUP TOURS TO IRAQ 2024 – 2025

Our Iraq Tours are split into “mainland”, or Federal Iraq Tours, Whole Iraq Tours (Iraq and Kurdistan), as well as standalone tours to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Our group tours to Iraq are on fixed numbers and tend to fill up fast, so we recommend booking in advance.

Federal Iraq Tours

Southern Iraq Ultimate Tour March 10th-16th 2024 $2795

Southern Iraq Spring Tour May 10th-16th 2024 $2795

Southern Iraq Autumn Tour October 17th-23rd 2024 $2795

Whole Iraq (Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan Tours)

Whole Iraq Ultimate Tour – March 10th-22nd 2024 $3695

Whole Iraq Spring Tour – May 10th-22nd 2024 $3695

Whole Iraq Autumn Combo October 17th-29th 2024 $3695

Iraqi Kurdistan Tours

Iraqi Kurdistan Newroz Festival March 16th-22nd 2024 $1145

Iraqi Kurdistan Spring Tour May 16th-22nd 2024 $1145

Iraqi Kurdistan Autumn Tour – October 23rd-29th 2024 $1145

INDEPENDENT TOURS TO IRAQ

If a group tour does not fit your calendar, you require something more specific for yourself or group then YPT can arrange a bespoke Southern Iraq tour for you.

Prices genuinely depend on the number of people and what level of accommodation you require, but YPT can arrange everything you need for a perfect independent tour to Iraq.

Tours to Iraq can also be combined with trips to other places in the region, such as Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran, or Kuwait.

EXAMPLES OF INDEPENDENT TOURS TO IRAQ

We do not list all of our bespoke Iraq itineraries, but can offer some examples, such as the following which can be arranged into a personalized tour of Iraq:

Iraqi Cultural Tour – explore the bustling markets of Baghdad, the ancient cities of Kufa and Najaf, and meet with locals throughout the country as you understand this ancient and fascinating culture. 

Ancient Iraq Tour – take advantage of our independent tours which are truly unique catered to your requirements. We can arrange for you to see as many of Iraq’s 20,000 archaeological sites as your heart desires. 

Combined Kuwait Tour – we can arrange an itinerary from the North to the South of Iraq, where you experience crossing overland to Iraq’s neighbour, and once-enemy Kuwait. Just this year, Iraq and Kuwait have re-established relationships, and the border between Basra and Kuwait have reopened. Be one of the first tourists to cross between the two countries.

Culinary Tour of Iraq – As Iraq is home to the first known cookbook, dating from 1700 BC, the country is the literal cradle of culinary exploration. Its ancient cities and trade routes mean that flavours from around the world have become central to Iraqi cuisine. Therefore, why not try a culinary tour of Iraq?

Iraq Photography Tour – Newly opened to tourists after decades of war, this is the best time for photographers to come and explore this often-misunderstood country. Iraqis are known for their outstanding hospitality, and the country is generally open to photography and is excited to be presented in a new light. We can create a bespoke itinerary for all your media needs.

SAMPLE IRAQ TOUR ITINERARY

The following is our sample independent itinerary for Iraqi tours. This can be done in its entirety, adapted, or combined with other destinations, such as Kurdistan to create your perfect bespoke Iraqi tour.

Day 1 – Baghdad, Iraq

Morning

  • Arrive at your convenience into Baghdad – the capital city of Iraq which is well connected from many countries within the Middle East and most of Europe.
  • Transfer to Baghdad Hotel using registered Airport taxis that can be arranged at the airport.
  • The group will meet at the lobby of Baghdad hotel to discuss tour itinerary and to meet your fellow travellers and YPT guide.
  • Explore Firdos Square – named after the Persian word “paradise”, this was the very square where the Coalition forces toppled Saddam’s statue in 2003.
  • We begin the tour by visiting Al-Mutanabbi street located near the old quarter – this particular street is well known for bookselling and has often been referred to as the very heart of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community.
  • Visit the incredible and well renovated Al – Mustansariya School – this is commonly known as the oldest school in the world.
  • Walk through the adjoining Al Safafeer copper market. First opened in the 800s, it is the oldest continuously operated market in the world. A wonderful place for souvenirs and photography.
  • Visit the Iraq Museum which contains precious relics from the Mesopotamian, Persian and Islamic civilization. The museum was looted during and after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq but despite international efforts, only some of the stolen artefacts have been returned.

Afternoon

  • Lunch break in town to try local popular Iraqi dishes such as Kubba and Manti
  • Visit Tahir Square which translates to Liberation Square – it’s Baghdad’s largest and most central square which commemorates the 1958 establishment of the Republic of Iraq.
  • Al Shaheed Monument – the most iconic structure in Baghdad commemorating all the wars held in Iraq.
  • See the former Camp Al-Adala from the outside – where the execution of Saddam Hussein took place in 2006, and the execution of his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, most famously known as Chemical Ali. The camp is known these days as Camp Justice.
  • From outside the Green Zone, we’ll finish off today’s tour by seeing the Victory Arch – also known as the Hands of Victory or the Crossed Swords. Built to commemorate the Iran–Iraq War and approved by Saddam himself, this monument stands 40 meters high and is located on the very edge of the green zone.
  • Dinner in town and overnight at the high security “Baghdad Hotel” – complete with a swimming pool, gym and bar.

Day 2 – Baghdad – Ctesiphon – Agargouf Ziggurat – Karbala

Morning

  • This morning we head out straight after breakfast for the drive north to Ctesiphon. We pass through multiple checkpoints along the route driving by many villages recently destroyed during fighting against ISIS.
  • Arrive at the ancient city of Ctesiphon. These days all that’s left is the palace archway which is the largest single span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world.
  • Located opposite was a former panoramic Museum of Ctesiphon. During the war against ISIS the museum was used as a fortification. We’ll enter inside and up to the rooftop where you’ll find many bullet shells, bullet holes, and debris leftover from those days.

Afternoon

  • Continue 100km southwest of Baghdad to Iraq’s holiest city of Karbala – the shrines of Imam Husayn and Al Abbas are considered incredibly holy for Shi’ite Muslims, the same way as Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
  • Before arriving at Karbala we’ll stop at Abu Ghraib – not to be mistaken as the prison which is long gone, but it’s abandoned and ancient site of Agargouf Ziggurat.
  • In the evening, we’ll go out and explore the city and stop by the Al Abbas Mosque and Imam Husayn Shrine – tens of millions of Shi’ite Muslims visit this sacred site twice a year, rivalling Mecca and Mashhad by the number of pilgrims annually. At night, the shrines comes alive, and we’ll rub shoulders with thousands of Shia pilgrims who have come to pay their respect.
  • Dinner and overnight at Karbala.

Day 3 – Karbala – Babylon – Najaf

Morning

  • Breakfast at hotel and begin our drive to Babylon – once the largest and most important city in the world. Here we’ll tour the ancient ruins with our local expert and explore what’s left of the hanging gardens.

Afternoon

  • Lunch break on the way
  • Explore Saddam Hussain’s Palace – Perched right on top of Babylon, the dictator made sure he had the best view of the site. Here you’ll be able to walk through the abandoned palace and discover the looted remains of one of his many former palaces.
  • Continue driving to Najaf – the third holiest city in Shia Islam. We’ll take in its most important site – the Imam Ali shrine.
  • Dinner and overnight in Najaf

Day 4 – Najaf – Ur – Marshes – Basra

Morning

  • Breakfast at hotel and begin walking tour of Najaf, including Imam Ali’s house, the very spot where Imam Ali was killed, and the Kufa Mosque.
  • We’ll head to the UNESCO heritage site of the Wadi-e-salam cemetery, also known as the Valley of Peace. This is the largest cemetery in the world with over 6 million corpses. It attracts millions of pilgrims annually.
  • Drive south to visit the Moon Ziggurat of Ur, a neo-Sumerian construction first built over in the year 2000 BCE and which has gone through various restorations throughout history.

Afternoon

  • Visit to the Mesopotamian Marshes – we’ll take a bout trip through the maze of marshes stopping by local villages for lunch and tea. The marshes once engulfed the whole swathe of Southern Iraq with numerous floating villages. Today the receding waters have led most families to change their livelihoods but we’ll still see and experience the few that remain.
  • Continue driving onto Iraq’s southernmost city of Basra – most famous for its port.
  • Dinner and overnight in Basra

Day 5 – Basra – Baghdad

Morning

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Visit the Ashar and Shanashil Al Basra area to catch a glimpse of the old Basra: traditional style merchant houses with balconies leaning over the narrow streets.
  • Take a cruise across the Shatt Al Arab river to see some shipwrecks from the Iran-Iraq War from the 1980s as well as Sadam’s Yacht which at the time of being built in 1980 was the largest in the world.
  • Here we’ll also have another opportunity to see yet another Saddam Hussain’s palace in Basra.

Afternoon

  • After lunch in town we’ll begin our longest drive of the tour back north to Baghdad with plenty of rest stops along the way for refreshments, toilet breaks and photos.
  • Before arriving in Baghdad, we’ll visit the vast Basra British War Memorial – the memorial commemorates over 40,000 Commonwealth forces members who died during the Mesopotamian Campaign, from 1914 to 1921.
  • Arrive in Baghdad and check into your hotel room
  • Farewell dinner and overnight at Baghdad Hotel

Day 6 – Baghdad – Samarra – Mosul

Morning

  • We’ll begin making our way north of Iraq passing multiple checkpoints again passing many villages returning to life after the destruction ISIS had left behind.
  • Samarra is famous for its Minaret (also known as the Great Mosque of Samarra). We will climb the spiralling staircase all the way to the top for the 360 degree view. Not for the faint hearted!

Afternoon

  • Continue north and stopping for lunch on the way
  • Explore the UNESCO sites of Hatra – a religious and trading centre of the Parthian empire, it had once flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE. This city survived multiple invasions before being completely destroyed in 241 CE. Permission is only granted on the day and notice can be rather last minute.
  • Arrive in Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city and is considered one of the most culturally significant cities of the Arab world due to its strategic location. The city was captured by ISIS in 2014 and reclaimed again by the Iraqi forced in 2017. The city mostly remains in destruction by the locals are determined to rebuild and move on.
  • Head out for dinner and explore the nightlife of the city.
  • Overnight in Mosul Hotel

Day 7 – Mosul – Bakhdida – Erbil

Morning

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Explore the remains of the Al-Nuri Mosque – the most famous landmark of Mosul for its leaning minaret which earnt the city its nickname “the hunchback”.
  • Walk through the neighbouring streets and encounter some thousands of men who are working to restore the heritage of Mosul, as the entire area is under reconstruction following the massive destruction caused by ISIS.
  • We’ll explore the nearby church of Mar Toma, or St. Thomas. Believed to be situated at the site of the Apostle Thomas’s home in Mosul, this 7th century church is being carefully restored.
  • Visit the Al Tahira Church – it started construction in 1938 and is the largest church in Iraq.
  • Walk around the Bash Tapia Castle – built in the 12th century as one of seven castles within Mosul’s city wall. A missile fell near the castle on during the war against ISIS and damaged its walls.

Afternoon

  • We’ll have lunch before departing Mosul as we head for the Christian village of Bakhdida – this village was largely destroyed by ISIS, but has completely been restored.
  • Stop by the Church Square – Pope Francis held a mass on his historic visit to Iraq in March 2021 where he famously said “Terrorism and death never have the last word”
  • Whilst this village is full of many churches we’ll visit the one not to be missed – the Immaculate Church. Ridden with bullet holes.
  • Continue on and arrive in Erbil – the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
  • Tour concludes – YPT is able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights.

Tours to Iraqi Kurdistan

As well as our trips to mainland, or “Federal Iraq”, Young Pioneer Tours can also arrange travel to Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as the wider Kurdistan regions of Turkey, Iran and even Rojava in Syria.

Click the following link to check out our Kurdistan Tours.

Getting to Iraq

Getting to Iraq is now much easier than it used to be, with flights from hubs such as Istanbul now much more common.

Getting to Erbil and Kurdistan is even easier with regular flights from throughout Europe and beyond. YPT can also arrange entrance to the country through its various land borders. To discuss your options for travel to Iraq please get in touch.

IRAQ PHOTO GALLERY

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT IRAQ TOURS

Since Iraq has been closed to foreign tourists for decades because of conflict, few tour guides exist to help you plan your trip to the country. However, we have managed to curate the best team of cultural and local experts, ranging from experts on Iraqi history to local tour guides who know the hidden secrets of the country to help you explore all that it has to offer.

All of our local guides on our Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan tours speak English, or a translator is provided. For independent tours to Iraq, guides speaking other languages can be arranged. Additionally, all of our tours are curated by our expert YPT staff with years of experience in the region, and many of our tours are led by western YPT guides who also speak Arabic and specialize in the region.
Previously the Iraqi visa was almost impossible (and unadvisable) to get! However, times have changed! As part of the country’s plan to re-develop culturally and economically after years of conflict, Federal Iraq has introduced visa on arrival for passport holders from the UK, European Union, United States, China, Russia, Lebanon, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

YPT can also assist with the paperwork needed to apply for an Iraq visa in person at the nearest Iraq embassy if your country is not eligible for a visa on arrival.
For more information about the Iraqi Kurdistan visa, please explore our detailed Iraqi Kurdistan Page here.
Despite its unsafe past, Iraq is experiencing unparalleled stability today. There is a major emphasis on improving tourism and reducing terrorism and violence, and the government is invested in protecting foreigners and locals alike. We find both Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan to be safe for tourism, but we still observe any and all safety warnings that may arise. We always advice checking the advice of organizations such as the UKFCO before deciding to travel.
Yes, despite its history of infamous leaders and war, Iraq today is attempting to rebuild itself. It is developing a functioning democracy complete with religious tolerance and international cooperation, and traveling to Iraq is one of the most powerful ways that you can support the Iraqi people in their mission to rebuild and restore their country.
The currency of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan is The Iraqi Dinar. It is still very much a cash-based society, as card-based technology was only recently introduced. It is recommended that you bring new, crisp USD notes to exchange. Money changers are very easy to find, and we will stop to help you exchange notes to Iraqi dinars.
While there are a few ATMs in major cities in Iraq, they are often hard to come by and may not work with your international card. Additionally, money changers often offer slightly better exchange rates. It is recommended that you bring cash for your visit to Iraq.
While Iraq is a majority Muslim country, it is home to a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups, such as Christians, Kurdish Muslims, and Yazidis. Iraq is home to both Sunni and Shia Muslims, and this has caused considerable sectarian divide in the past. Today, you will find a range of different religious practices and levels of religiosity. In Shia holy cities such as Karbala and Najaf, people tend to be more conservative, while regions such as Iraqi Kurdistan are more liberal. However, overall, all of Iraq is still more conservative than many western countries.
Yes, Iraq is perfectly safe for female travelers!
In general, Iraq is more conservative regarding dress. Women and men alike should cover their knees and shoulders. It is okay for women to wear t shirts or tighter pants in most cities, and there is no need to cover your hair in public. However, the Islamic abaya and a full hijab is required in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. YPT will assist female travelers in purchasing these items before entering these cities.
Yes, alcohol can be purchased at liquor stores and in bars across Iraqi Kurdistan and in major Iraqi cities such as Baghdad. However, liquor is not permitted within the city walls of Karbala and Najaf.
While same-sex marriage is not legal in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, members of the LGBTQ community do exist throughout Iraq. Discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is more common in Federal Iraq than in Iraqi Kurdistan, but this is generally more prevalent for locals than foreign tourists.

It is not illegal for foreigners to be gay in Iraq, but public displays of affection, regardless of one’s sexuality, are very frowned upon. We advise all participants, whether homosexual or heterosexual, to restrain from public displays of affection out of respect for the culture.

LGBTQ travelers can safely travel in Iraq, and it is important that all travelers maintain common sense in restraining public displays of affection. You can always ask your YPT guide if you have any specific questions about what you can and cannot do in Iraq.
You can find both western and squat toilets in Iraq, it’s best to take toilet roll and hand sanitizers with you especially during long trips.
Yes, Iraqis are famous for their hospitality. It is not uncommon to be invited daily by strangers for dinner or tea at their home. Iraqis in general are very excited to see foreigners exploring their country, and you will likely even be asked to take photographs with locals to share with their family and friends. Iraqis may also ask for your phone number, and they may frequently be in contact with you.

It is important to note that many Iraqi women are very conservative, and they may be hesitant towards interacting with men outside of their families. However, female travelers are often very warmly welcomed by Iraqi men and women alike.

In Iraq, marriage is a very important part of a person’s life, so it is very likely that you will be asked if you are married, even by complete strangers. If you are unmarried, many men and women alike may suggest that you get married, even to one of their family members. You can always laugh it off, or you can also state that you are married to avoid unwanted proposals.
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