Iraq Winter Tour

Dec 4, 2023
Dec 11, 2023
8 days


Iraq is no stranger to conflict and is often synonymous with being extremely dangerous to travel to. Recently though, the situation in the Republic of Iraq (also known as Southern Iraq, or Iraq Proper) has improved dramatically. This country is filled with history, both ancient and modern, and now is the best time to see Iraq leave behind its dark past.

We will begin the tour in the centre of Mesopotamia, in one of the world’s oldest and (previously feared) cities, Baghdad. We will then explore the scared cities of Najaf and Karbala, before heading back in time to ancient Babylon and the massive Ziggurat of Ur.

Venturing further south we continue to the famous UNESCO site of the Mesopotamian marshes to experience an Iraq like you never knew existed. We then end in Basra or return to Baghdad, depending on your travel plans.

View the full itinerary

This tour can be done on its own, or if you'd like to see more of the Middle East while you're here, it can be done in conjunction with our Saudi Arabia Rock the Kasbah Tour on our Saudia Arabia and Iraq Winter Combo Tour .

If you like the look of this tour but the dates don't work for you, or you'd like to do part of the tour, please get in touch and let us know. All our tours are able to be split into smaller sections, we're always scheduling new tours and your dates might work for one of them, or we can always organise an independent tour.


Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels (breakfast included)

Transport as per itinerary, beginning in Baghdad and ending in Basra

Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary

SAIGA guide and local guides

Lunch in the marshes




Visa fee if required (many nationalities visa free)

Meals other than those stipulated

Transport to Baghdad at the beginning and Basra at the end of the tour

Accommodation and any other services before or after the tour

Personal expenses such as souvenirs or any optional activities

Any COVID related expenses


Explore the streets of Iraq’s ancient and vibrant capital, Baghdad

See the wonders of Babylon and the Ziggurat of Ur

Cruise the southern marshes and visit Basra

Day 1Mon Dec 4
  • Today we’ll be exploring Baghdad and getting familiar with Iraq. We’ll begin the morning by visiting the National Museum.
  • We’ll then pay a visit to Al-Mustansariya School, which used to be the most important university in the Islamic world.
  • No trip to Baghdad is complete without a visit to the famous Almutanabi Street, also known as Book Street. This is where we will also pop in for a tea at the iconic Shabandar Café.
  • After a refreshment we will then check out the super cool copper market.
  • In the afternoon, we will see some of Baghdad’s most impressive monuments such as the Al Shaheed monument (the big blue half domes that you’ve no doubt seen plenty of photos of), Liberation Square and the Save the Iraqi Culture monument.
  • In the evening we’ll have dinner at one of Baghdad’s charming and delicious restaurants.
  • Overnight in Baghdad.
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Day 2Tue Dec 5
Baghdad, Samarra, Baghdad
  • We begin the day with a road trip to visit the majestic Great Mosque of Samarra with its spiral minaret.  The minaret is a UNESCO world heritage site and this used to be one of the largest mosques in the world during its time as the former capital of the Abbasid empire.
  • We then head to the Virgin Palace with its huge pool. The size of this palace will give you an idea of how important this city once was in the 9 th century.
  • We then pay a visit to the Al-Askari shrine which was built in 944 CE and is still one of the most important Shia shrines in the world.
  • Return to Baghdad for a free evening.
  • Overnight in Baghdad.
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Day 3Wed Dec 6
Baghdad, Babylon, Karbala
  • We hit the road again this morning, this time headed for Karbala!
  • On the route we will visit the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, which has now been heavily reconstructed.
  • We will also visit one of the infamous palaces of Saddam Hussein. There are several of these palaces across the country, all of which are in varying degrees of disrepair, and this is likely to be a highlight for most of you.
  • We will then visit the legendary city of Babylon. It is certainly impressive to walk the same streets that the rulers of one of the most prominent ancient empires once did, and where Alexander the Great died.
  • We will get the chance to walk through a reconstruction of the glorious Ishtar Gate – constructed of vibrant blue tiles and adorned with depictions of fantastic animals.
  • We will then proceed to Karbala, one of the most important holy cities for Shia Muslims. This is also the site of one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, where every year hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims come to mark the holy day of Ashura.
  • Overnight in Karbala.
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Day 4Thu Dec 7
Karbala, Al Kifl, Kufa, Najaf
  • In the morning we head out in the direction of Najaf, another one of Islam’s most holy cities.
  • On the way we will stop off in Al Kilf, which holds an important and unique pilgrimage site, the tomb of Ezekial. This spot is important for both Muslims and Jewish peoples. It has a Jewish shrine enclosed in a mosque which can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
  • We then continue on to Najaf where we visit the Shrine of Imam Ali who was the cousin of the prophet Mohammed. Here we’ll learn about the split between Shia and Sunni Muslim history. Some people believe Noah and Adam from the Bible are also buried here.
  • In the evening we will explore the old souks of Najaf and enjoy some of the city’s great food.
  • Overnight in Najaf.
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Day 5Fri Dec 8
Najaf, Ur, Nasiriya
  • We continue our journey into the ancient world where we will visit one of the world’s oldest city states, Ur. This city is said to date back to 3800 BCE and was once one of the most important cities of the ancient world.
  • Here we will visit the gigantic Ziggurat or Ur, which is a giant stone temple built in honour of their moon God, Nanna.
  • In the afternoon, we will head to Nasiriya where you’ll have a chance to explore at your own pace.
  • Overnight in Nasiriya.
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Day 6Sat Dec 9
Nasiriya, Marshes, Basra
  • Now we make our way somewhere really special – to Iraq’s amazing marshlands. We will spend the day navigating the wetlands by canoe, exploring the amazing and incredibly unique culture and ecosystem that exists here.
  • Here we will meet the Ma’dan people, otherwise known as the ‘marsh Arabs’. The Ma’dan have lived the same way in the marshes for 1000s of years and maintain the same way of life today.
  • The marshlands here are said to be the inspirations for the garden of Eden because of its amazing beauty.
  • Afterwards, we continue on to Basra, where we will have dinner.
  • Overnight in Basra.
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Day 7Sun Dec 10
  • Today we will explore Basra, the second largest city in Iraq.
  • We’ll begin by exploring the beautiful old houses of Basra from the 16 th and 17 th centuries. These houses are now crumbling and falling apart but show the once former glory of the city.
  • Later in the afternoon, we will head to the magnificent Shatt al-Arab river for a sunset boat ride.
  • We will then head out for dinner and drinks for our last night in Iraq.
  • Overnight in Basra.
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Day 8Mon Dec 11
Basra, End of Tour, (Optional return to Baghdad)
  • Today is the end of the tour. There are flights directly out of Basra to some Middle Eastern destinations, or you might like to stay and explore some more of Basra by yourself. Please let us know if you need help with any of that.
  • Optional extension: return to Baghdad - $100
    • If you'd like to join us for this, we'll drive all the way back to Baghdad today, stopping along the way for photos and food/drink breaks. It will take roughly 7 hours, and we'll arrive back in the capital in the evening.
    • If you'd like to spend the night let us know and we can either arrange it for you or give you some pointers.
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