LAS - ISU
$670 - $1896
Located in Iraq’s Kurdish region, Sulaymaniyah is known for its mild climate, friendly locals and delicious food – not to mention its wealth of historic sights.
One of the city’s greatest attractions is the chance to immerse yourself safely in a completely unique and hospitable culture. Drink tea with locals in atmospheric local tea shops, relax in the city’s many leafy parks and haggle with merchants in the bustling bazaar.
Another huge attraction is Kurdish food. It may be little known in western countries, but Kurdish cuisine represents a gorgeous fusion of meat, spices and health vegetables. Try delicacies like Yavrax (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat) or Kurdish kebabs with yoghurt garnish.
Sulaymaniyah is also a fine destination for history fans. Visit the Mosque of Slemani, where you can also find a fascinating museum dedicated to the modern era of Iraqi history, and you will also have the opportunity to wander around a ruined prison. There is also a beautiful and haunting memorial to Kurdish victims of the Iraqi army, which is not to be missed.
Outside the city, visitors will find unspoilt hiking country where you can stumble upon ancient Zoroastrian temples, the stunning waterfalls of Gali Ali Bag or the caves at Chemi Rezan, which contained some of the earliest evidence of human culture. See thousand-year old arched bridges, swim in hill-top lakes and visit towns built into mountainsides like Amedi.
Sulaymaniyah is also a great jumping off place for day trips to the Kurdish capital, Erbil with its extraordinary Citadel, museums and vibrant markets. But the city itself is welcoming enough to suit all travellers. Safe, friendly, in beautiful surroundings – Sulaymaniyah is a little known jewel that is ready to welcome tourists from across the world.
Sulaymaniyah is known for being relatively cool (by Iraqi standards). Expect summer temperatures to be pretty high between June and August, when sightseeing may be gruelling, but the rest of the year is pleasant and ideal for experiencing the best of Kurdish culture. Try April for the chance to attend the city’s unique Film Festival, or February and March for bargain accommodations.
Taxis are the most popular way to navigate the city of Sulaymaniyah, and renting a car will not generally be possible. However, downtown is easy to walk around, and there will be cycle-powered cabs on offer as well. For travel to cities like Erbil, buses are the best option, although tours can be arranged with minibus owners as well.