Skip to Content

The Best Time to Visit Iraq in 2023 | When to Go

The Best Time to Visit Iraq in 2023 | When to Go

Known as the “land between two rivers,” Iraq is a Middle East country different from everything you may have experienced so far. There’s no way to describe it — you can only see it firsthand.

But with the tenuous stability in the region over the past few decades, one may wonder, “When is the best time to visit Iraq?” both in regard to safety and seasonality. Is going there a good idea at all?

We completely get it, which is why we carried out the necessary research on your behalf. Let’s discover the best time to visit Iraq together, along with some breathtaking holy sites and other useful pieces of information to ensure a smooth stay.

Should You Visit Iraq in 2023?

Beautiful colors of the blue and yellow Imam Ali Shrine clock pictured from high above looking down on the historical part of the city of Najaf in Iraq, taken during the best time to visit


Many have written extensively about why you should not visit Iraq safety-wise, but the reasons why one should head there are just as important.

First and foremost, Iraq is known as the “cradle of civilization,” as it was home to Mesopotamian people who created the world’s first urban centers.

The country is also home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ashur, Babylon, Hatra, Ashwar, Erbil Citadel, and Samarra Archaeological City.

It has plenty of holy places, namely Kaaba, Karbala, The Imam Husayn Shrine, Yassin Mosque, Imam Ali Mosque, The Great Mosque of Samarra, The Great Mosque of Kufa, The Al-Abbas Shrine, The Al-Sahlah Mosque, Rabban Hormizd Monastery, and many others.

Iraqi cuisine is yet another relevant reason. Our food recommendations include: Dolma, Sfiha, Tabbouleh, Falafel, Kubba, Masgouf, Iraqi kebabs, Quzi, and Maklhama.

Expect top-notch hospitality. People are polite and kind; they’ll also wish to know more about you — why you’re here, how long you’re staying, what places you’re visiting, and so on.

Also, many see this as a chance to work on their English language skills, so be patient with them if their English is not the best.

Iraq can grant you many first-time travel adventures, such as sleeping in Iraqi marshes (a once-in-a-lifetime experience), marveling at the spiraling minaret of Samarra, heading to Gomi Felaw and soaking in the mountain view, and wandering Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, where you can mingle with other tourists.

There are so many reasons why Iraq is worth seeing, and if you feel like they outweigh the reasons not to head there, read on. Now, let’s move on to the best seasons to visit Iraq.

Overall Best Time to Visit Iraq

Raqanduz mountain area looking toward the Korek Mountain resort pictured during the best time to visit Iraq

Darbaz Dara/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Iraq is in spring (March–May). This is when the weather is mild — the snow has melted, and the boiling temperatures are yet to arrive with the summer months.

Also, the landscape is as lush as it can be, and spring has some lovely celebrations, allowing visitors to get insight into Iraqi culture and ways of celebrating.

One such instance is Baghdad’s International Festival of Flowers (March), celebrating the beginning of spring. March visitors should also take note of Nowruz (March), celebrated by the Kurds in Iraq.

Then, there’s the Assyrian New Year (April), marked by a plethora of festive events ranging from parades with colorful costumes to random dances in the parks.

A recently introduced public holiday, Iraq Day of Tolerance and Coexistence (March), promotes the peaceful integration of all Christians in Iraq.

One of the most significant Muslim public holidays also occurs around this time, Eid al-Fitr, and it marks “the feast of breaking the feast,” with the feast being Ramadan.

These three months have temperatures between lows of 50°F and highs of 97°F.

Cheapest Time to Visit Iraq

If you’re on a budget, consider heading to Iraq in December. It’s arguably the country’s least expensive month.

This is when budget travelers find the best flight prices and reduced accommodation rates. December is known for its Iraq Victory Day celebration.

Commemorating Iraq’s victory over The Islamic State, Iraq Victory Day is one of the most important Iraqi public holidays. Christmas Day celebrations happen at the end of December, although not in full swing as foreigners are used to in the West.

You can find religious services in local churches. This month has average temperatures varying between lows of 43°F and highs of 62°F.

Least Busy Time to Visit Iraq

Photo of a gorgeous shrine pictured during the least busy time to visit Iraq, featuring several people mulling about

Karbala, iraq – April 14, 2014: photo of imam Hussain shrine in karbala/Mohammed_Al_Ali/Shutterstock

Wish to avoid the peak holidays, busy crowds, and crowded streets? Head to Iraq in the fall (September–November).

That said, Iraq isn’t a mainstream tourist destination, which means it’s never as busy as a European capital, for example.

September sees the celebration of Mawlid. Honoring the day prophet Muhammad was born, Mawlid features food-sharing, lectures about the prophet’s life, prayer services, marches, and poetry of the prophet.

Then, in October, there’s National Iraqi Day. Marking the country’s independence from Britain, Iraqi National Day is celebrated with civilian and military parades, political leaders giving speeches, and plenty of local festivities.

If you’re a movie buff, put the Babylon International Festival (October) on your cultural Iraqi agenda.

Held annually, the Babylon International Festival includes musicals, workshops, stage performances, and folkloric activities. Fall temperatures in Iraq vary between 50°F and 104°F.

Worst Time to Visit Iraq

Weather-wise, the worst time to visit Iraq is arguably in summer (June–August). This period sees hot temperatures ranging from a minimum of 75°F and a maximum of 111°F.

Sandstorms are more common during summer, too. To cool off, we suggest attending one of the many summer festivities, such as the Iraq Short Film Festival.

Founded in 2005, this festival includes films made for and by Iraqis. July visitors can also join The Islamic New Year celebrations. Also known as the Hijri New Year, this festivity marks the start of the new lunar year.

To add some cultural vibes to your Iraqi itinerary, consider Ashura. Accompanied by a plethora of rituals and traditions, Ashura is a must for those wanting to witness an authentic cultural celebration.

Things to Consider

Two people in a boat driving down the river in Chibayish Iraq, pictured during the best time to visit the country

Chibayish, Iraq – 11-13-2021: Daily life in the Mesopotamian Marshes/Felix Friebe/Shutterstock

Learning about the best time to visit Iraq is just the beginning of your adventure — here are other travel tips to ensure that you have an awesome as well as safe stay:

  • Traveling to Iraq during Ramadan can be tricky — finding food may be almost impossible, and tourists headed to the holy shrines may be faced with large crowds. Being denied entry is also possible.
  • If you decide to go off the beaten path, never do so alone.
  • Women are advised to have a head scarf and loose clothing not accentuating their silhouette.
  • Taking guided tours isn’t mandatory, but if it makes you feel safer, by all means, go for it.
  • US cards don’t work with Iraqi ATMs. Whether other foreign cards work is not certain, as there are mixed reviews and conflicting recommendations. Expect to deal in cash, so bring enough to be on the safe side.
  • Make sure to always inquire about prices well in advance. This includes taxi rides, hotels, and restaurants.
  • Get used to Taroof — the back-and-fourth cultural custom used when giving/receiving gifts. Basically, if you order tea and wish to pay for it, the person will refuse payment, and then you have to insist on it. You’ll get the hang of it after a few times.
  • Public transportation includes taxis that leave only once they’re full or minibusses.
  • Many popular sites close around 3 p.m., so get an early start in the day if possible. On the other hand, most markets come alive at night — our top recommendation includes the Baghdad Book Market.
  • Be flexible with your itinerary — even if an area seems absolutely safe before you visit, things may change overnight after your arrival. After all, it’s a volatile region, so remain vigilant.
  • If you rent a car, make sure you obtain an International Driver’s License before you come.
  • Most restaurants don’t have an English menu — chances are, you’ll find yourself pointing to a meal you see other people having.
  • Don’t be surprised at the number of checkpoints you may come across during your stay. Make sure to always carry your passport with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Several people in the middle of the old city of Erbil gathered around the historic Citadel and Bazaar

Erbil, Iraq – March 22, 2018: City park with fountains in the center of the old city of Erbil, around it is lined with arcades, a bazaar and the historic Citadel. Traffic jam in the city center/Klara Bakalarova/Shutterstock

What are 5 interesting facts about Iraq?

1. In Arabic, the word “Iraq” means fertile and deep-rooted. However, today Iraq is a country facing drought and water scarcity issues.
2. Iraq shares borders with six countries: Turkey, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Jordan.
3. The country’s flag features the Takbir, a phrase meaning “Allah is the greatest” in Arabic.
4. The black cat superstition is said to have its origins in Iraq.
5. Nadia Murad, a human rights activist, is the country’s only Nobel Prize winner.

Is it safe to visit Iraq in 2023?

Unfortunately, most governments across the world advise against traveling to Iraq. Common threats include civil unrest, kidnapping, terrorism, organized crime, and armed robbery.

Do I need a visa for Iraq?

Yes, US residents to Iraq should obtain a visa either prior to their arrival at an Iraqi Consulate/Embassy or on arrival. Different passport holders need to abide by different visa rules, so make sure to check what applies to you specifically.

Is Iraq cheap or expensive?

If you go on a three-day solo trip to Iraq’s capital city, Baghdad, you’ll need $535. Those traveling with a partner should set aside $905, and if you’re going as a family of four, set aside $1,175.

Hotel prices in the city center vary from $115 to $280 ($140 per night on average). It’s suggested that you should plan around $65 per day per person for eating at restaurants and public transportation expenses.

Finally, note that these prices are relevant at the time we’re writing this article and we always recommend that you look for the latest budget data available prior to your departure to Iraq.

What is the safest city in Iraq?

Erbil is the safest city in Iraq, largely thanks to its big expat population. Besides Erbil, all cities in the Kurdistan region are said to be relatively safe compared to the rest of the country.

So, What Is the Best Time to Visit Iraq?

👍 Best Time to VisitMarch to May
💲 Cheapest Time to VisitDecember
🗓️ Least Busy Time to VisitSeptember to November
👎 Worst Time to VisitJune to August

All in all, weather-wise, the best time to visit Iraq is during the country’s spring period (March–May). It’s still hot, but the temperatures are much more bearable than in some other periods of the year.

The cheapest time to head to Iraq is in December. It’s ideal for money-aware folks on the lookout for affordable airfare tickets and cheaper accommodation options.

The least busy time to visit Iraq is in the fall (September–November). Not only will you get to enjoy more sleepy streets, but also pleasant temperatures.

Also, to avoid large crowds or busy sites, avoid heading to Iraq during major public holidays such as Ramadan, for instance.

Climate-wise, the worst time to find yourself in Iraq is during the summer months, anytime from June through August.

It’s like an oven out there, and the temperatures are too high for your stay to be enjoyable. All in all, Iraq sure does sound like an adventure of a lifetime, and it can very well be — just make sure to pick dates with bearable temperatures and plan your itinerary accordingly.

And if the safety factor is an issue for you right now, check out some of the other amazing countries waiting to be discovered. Happy travels!