Within Erbil one will concentrate their visit around the area of the towering Citadel, though much is currently closed due to restoration, including the Kurdish Textile Museum. At the base of the Citadel is the Qaysari Bazaar which is worthy of a wander, even if only to meet with the local people. There is a very old and famous tea house in the north-eastern portion of the Bazaar, near to the suit sellers. It is solely a male domain so single females may not feel that comfortable. There are numerous parks and public areas in the city that are popular at dusk and on weekends (the weekend is on a Friday and Saturday in Kurdistan).
Nearby to Erbil is the Hamilton Road (so nicknamed after the road’s engineer, New Zealander, Sir Archibald Milne Hamilton) or as the Kurdish call it, the Haji Omran Road. The scenery is spectacular, and one could easily spend days travelling around that area. However, transport along that road is a bit patchy, and hiring a car and driver is expensive.
Sulamaniyah is the cultural capital of the region, and it contains the sobering Amna Suraka, a memorial to the Kurdish victims of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Guidebooks recommend a visit to the Selmani Museum, but it was closed during my visit with staff informing me that it could be shut for up to two years whilst renovations are being undertaken. The 1.5 kilometre line of stalls that comprise the Grand Bazaar is also worthy of a look.
The undoubted highlight of a visit to Iraq is the extraordinary hospitality; it even exceeds the usual high level that is the norm within the Middle East. The greatest joy in visiting the Kurdistan is to walk or sit and wait for the conversations to come you way.
My blogs on Kurdistan: