Things to see and do
Admire the Abbasid Palace - a fine remnant of 13th century Baghdad, overlooking the Tigris River. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city representing a period when Baghdad was a centre of education as well as trade.
Arch of Ctesiphon
Sitting east of Baghdad along the Tigris River, the Arch of Ctesiphon is built of mud brick and is the most spectacular remnant of a city that was captured variously through the century by the Romans, Byzantine Empire, Parthians and Sassanians. It was a remarkable feat of engineering for its time.
An hour south of Baghdad is the historical site of Babylon and it's legendary Hanging Gardens. Dating back to 2300 BC, Babylon was a political and religious centre for successive empires.
After being a no-go area for some years, the famous city bazaars have started to come to life again. Head to the colourful bird market Souk al-Ghazal where pigeon fanciers, a popular pastime in Baghdad, buy birds, exchange tips and relax at local cafés.
Visit Basra, once called the Venice of the East, thanks to its canals lined with elegant 19th-century houses. Have a stroll on the lush island across from the Shatt Al-Arab Hotel where families picnic Basra remains the main seaport for large commercial ships and tankers as well as traditional dhows.
Erbil is the capital and seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government on Northern Iraq. Walk around sprawling citadel, you will be treading in the footsteps of Alexander the Great who defeated Darius III in the battle of Gaugamela here. The Erbil Museum marks this battle and houses a collection of Sumerian and Abbasid artifacts.
One of the few stone ruins in Iraq, Hatra is a beautiful, well preserved city and perhaps the most striking archaeological site in Iraq. Hatra was the capital of the first Arab Kingdom in Mesopatamia and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Iraqi National Museum
The Iraq National Museum re-opened with great fanfare in 2009 and is one of the top attractions in Baghdad. The wealth of archaeological artefacts brings the ancient world of the Babylon to life.
Marvel at the elaborate and ancient Kadhimimain Mosque in Baghdad - one of the most important in Iraq. This spectacular mosque has four gold-coated minarets and two domes and was built in 1515 AD.
Join the pilgrims travelling to Kerbala, 100 km south of Baghdad. It's the spiritual home of Shi'ia Muslims who make pilgrimages to the impressive mosque housing the shrine of Hussein.
Kurdish Mountain Resorts
The foothills and mountains ring every town in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the spring and summer they are cool and beautiful places to escape the heat and dust of the towns.
Mosul is the site of the ruined city of Nineveh and many pre-Islamic artifacts can be found in the Mosul Museum. Wander through the old city and explore mosques, churches and castles. The centre of town is famous for narrow streets of beautiful 19th century houses.
Najaf, 160 km south of Baghdad, is another of the Shi'ia holy cities and famous for the mosque of Al-Haidariya, crowned with a resplendent golden dome made of gold tiles and minarets each made of 40,000 gold tiles.
See Assyrian bas reliefs in Ninevah - the third capital of Assyria. Located on the Tigris River in the suburbs of modern Mosul, Nineveh was a centre of worship for the goddess Ishtar, an Assyrian capital and reached its height around 700 BC.
Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007 due to it's well preserved ruins and history, Samarra represented the power of the vast Abbasid Empire. The 9th century Great Mosque and minaret are some of the most impressive early Islamic ruins in Iraq.
The Green Zone
Don't miss visiting the ten acre fortified zone in the centre of Baghdad. Iraqi government ministries, Western Embassies and several ostentatious palaces, notably the Republican Palace, built by Saddam and his family are all in this heavily guarded area.
The Marshes are situated along the Shatt El-Arab waterway and are best explored by boat to experience the locals who live on man-made islands in beautiful dwellings woven in lattice-work from reeds.
Be in awe of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur - one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Iraq, with its earliest buildings dating back to 4000 BC. Archaeological excavations have revealed the remains of the well preserved Great Ziggurat.