Iraq's recent history may have been turbulent, but the country on the land that may have played host to the Garden of Eden, the story of Gilgamesh, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was once a vibrant tourist destination, and parts of it are becoming so again.
It’s an amazing destination for history buffs. The rich heritage of the region has been influenced by societies including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Ancient Persians, as well as more modern people, has created a unique culture. The best time to visit is during the spring or autumn; at other times, you might find the climate too hot and dry, with the mercury pushing 40°C during the summer months.
You may want to start your journey in the port city of Basra rather than Baghdad, where international flights land regularly. The Basra International Hotel or famous five-star Mnawi Basha Hotel make excellent bases for venturing into Basra's attractions, such as Sinbad Island, Sayab's House of Ruins, the Basra Sports City and Sayyed Ali al-Musawi Mosque. Weather-wise, it's one of the hottest cities in the world, so be prepared. A strong Islamic presence exists in most parts of the country, so be sure to dress modestly.
Another up-and-coming tourist destination is Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region that bills itself as The Other Iraq and is administered by a separate prime minster and parliament. Capital city Erbil features incredible restaurants, great shopping – both in malls and more traditional bazaars – and construction as far as the eye can see. Dohuk, another travellers’ paradise, is bolstered by a flourishing art scene centred around the Dohuk Art Gallery, the domed Church of St Ith Llaha, and Corniche Promenade, one of the best people-watching spots in the entire country.