Top 10 Things To Do In Erbil, Iraq

things to do in erbil
William
William
Published

Most people don’t know that you can visit Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and engage in fun recreational activities. Contrary to what many people think, this city is a tourist destination like any other. It’s not only the most populated town in the region but also endowed with unique attractions. A stroll around it exposes you to popular places of interest like Erbil Citadel, Sami Abdul Rahman Park, Syriac Heritage Museum, and Mudhafaria Minaret. In these sites, you’re at liberty to engage in fun leisure activities like swimming, shopping, and food tours. What’s more, the Kurdish influence portrayed in the food and music and the welcoming nature of the locals adds to the city’s charm. Thus, a tour of the region shouldn’t be boring and unpleasant. Read on below to find out about the top things to do in Erbil, Iraq, for unforgettable memories.

1. Visit the historic Erbil Citadel

Erbil Citadel
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rawen pasha used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This citadel is a must-visit in Erbil. It’s a historic fortified settlement that became a UNESCO world heritage site in June 2014. In addition, it’s one of the oldest human-inhabited settlements in the world. There’s so much life around the citadel: you’ll see people playing music, children running around playfully, and other locals and tourists drinking tea and smoking shisha, making it a site worth exploring. You will also enjoy spectacular views of the city from the location.

Erbil Citadel

Address: Erbil, Iraq

Website: Erbil Citadel

Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)

2. Enjoy a cup of tea at Machko Chai Khana

Masala Chai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Miansari66 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Since its founding in 1940, Machko Chai Khana has grown from a simple teahouse to a gathering place for leisure and drinking. Therefore, if you want to enjoy tea in a cafe where you interact with the locals, this is the place to be. Inside, it’s plastered with photographs of prominent people who’ve visited and drunk tea at the establishment. You’ll also find tourists and locals of all ages at this popular joint. Besides that, it’s nestled a few steps away from the southern wall of Erbil Citadel.

Machko Chai Khana

Address: Qalat, Erbil, Iraq

Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)

3. Travel back in time at the Kurdish Textile Museum

Carpets in the Kurdish Textile and Cultural Museum, Citadel of Erbil, Hawler
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Osama Shukir Muha... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Established in 2014, this museum is dedicated to local textile products like rags and clothes. A walk inside gives you a glimpse of how Kurdish people produced textiles in ancient times. On display, also, are old Kurdish artifacts like carpets and household items like kettles. By visiting the museum, you will get to learn about the Kurdish culture in a special and fun way.

Kurdish Textile Museum

Address: Erbil, Iraq

Website: Kurdish Textile Museum

Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 9am - 6pm; (closed on Fri)

4. Relax and unwind at Korek Mountain Resort & Spa

Stay in this establishment and enjoy modern comforts you won’t find anywhere else in Erbil. And if you’re looking for a quiet and tranquil location with spectacular views of Mount Korek, this property is for you. The resort also boasts with the longest car cable in the region. The car cable takes you to Mount Korek and back, giving you panoramic views of the region. To add to the facility’s charm, during winter, skiing takes place around the resort.


Korek Mountain Resort

Address: Rawanduz, Erbil

5. Shop till you drop at Family Mall

Shopping Mall - Erbil - Iraq
Source: Photo by Flickr user Adam Jones used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Family Mall was opened in December 2010 and it has over 130 shops to cater to your shopping needs. Although its anchor tenant is Carrefour, there are other international brands like Mango, LC Waikiki, Timberland, and Bossini, that have pitched tent in the mall. Moreover, it’s conveniently located at the heart of Erbil, making it easily accessible. And if you want to sample local and international cuisines, there’s a wide selection of eateries like KFC, tucked in the expansive establishment.

Family Mall

Address: 100m Street أربيل Kurdistan Region، Iraq

Website: Family Mall

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 11pm; Sat & Sun: 11am - 12am

6. Admire the stunning Jalil Khayat Mosque

Jalil Khayat Mosque
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sarchia Khursheed used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Located in the center of Erbil is this beautiful mosque that shows the passion and professionalism that went into designing it. It’s among the largest mosques in the region, accommodating more than 2,000 worshippers. As it’s a famous landmark, take a picture around it for remembrance. Even from the outside, you are able to admire its architecture and beautiful decorations. Besides, the mosque is strategically located on a highway, so it is easy to access.

Jalil Khayat Mosque

Address: Erbil, Iraq

Opening hours: 12am - 7:10pm (daily)

7. Stroll around Erbil Main Square

Erbil mail square
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ask Gudmundsen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Erbil Main Square is a nice spot to relax and unwind as you enjoy Erbil’s sun. It’s a well-maintained square with lush green grass and water fountains, making it an ideal location to take a picture. Both locals and tourists frequent this spot to engage in fun recreational activities like shopping and sampling local foods. Food joints all around the square serve tastefully prepared dishes like meatballs, flatbread, and spiced chicken at pocket-friendly prices. As tea is a favorite local drink for many locals, it is also sold in these joints. This spot is also ideal for people looking to socialize with the locals.

8. Tour the Syriac Heritage Museum

Georgian Folk Art Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mostafameraji used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Take a tour inside this wonderful museum that’s out to showcase the Syriac way of life. It was opened in October 2015 and is stocked with ancient Syriac artifacts like books, scripts, carvings, clothes, and household items. Most of the items on display are from Iraqi Christian homes, so this museum preserves their history. The staff of the museum is welcoming and knowledgable, and they go out of their way to make sure your visit is both fun and informative at the same time.

Syriac Heritage Museum

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9am - 8pm (closed on Fri & Sat)

Price: Free

9. Learn about local history at Erbil Civilization Museum

Erbil Civilization Museum, Iraqi Kurdistan
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Osama Shukir Muha... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Learn local history and create fun memories in this archeological museum. It’s the second-largest museum in the region in terms of content and collections. The establishment tells stories of past generations through their remaining works. Though small, it’s stocked with unique and thought-provoking artifacts like pots, carvings, and skulls. Furthermore, the museum is an ideal spot for people looking to learn about the history of Mesopotamia.

Erbil Civilization Museum

Address: Kirkuk Road, Erbil, Iraq

Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 8am - 2pm (closed on Fri)

10. Stroll around Sakura Park

Minar Park, Erbil, Iraq
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joaoleitao used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Walk around this park and enjoy its sophisticated design. The park represents the good relations between the Japanese and Kurdish people. Not only is it clean and well maintained, but it also has flowers and well-cut grass, making it an ideal spot to take pictures and videos. Apart from that, you get to see the city from a different angle and enjoy the cool breeze in the park. There are weddings that take place here, so you might be lucky to witness a couple tying the knot.

Sakura Park

Address: Erbil, Iraq

Website: Sakura Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Captivating Erbil

In every travel destination, there’s always something for you to engage in. In Erbil, for example, indulge in the above recreational activities and make unforgettable memories. How else will you explore the city’s endowments if you don’t get out of your comfort zone?

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

William believes that we should strive to make the world a better place. He's passionate about landscapes, the ocean, and people. When not traveling, he enjoys swimming, hiking, and planning for...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Iraq
Good things are meant to be shared!