Cultural Hot Spots in Iraq's Duhok Kurdistan


Duhok/Dohuk in Kurdistan in Iraq is an odd kind of town. You’ve never been in one like it before and you’ll never be in one like it again. In fact, the nearest comparison I can make to Dohuk is with a town called Vank in Nagorno Karabakh.

Basically Dohuk wants to be cool. It really wants to be. But it has a lot of barriers to overcome. Slowly but surely this town is becoming a decent spot for travellers. Even though you won’t linger long (we stayed 2 nights), it’s definitely worth a trip if you’re touring Northern Iraq. And one more thing – don’t be confused by the spelling of the town in this post – it’s sometimes Dohuk, sometimes Duhok!!

backpacking in duhok

Top 10 things to see and do in Duhok Kurdistan Iraq.

Getting to Dohuk

Most travellers will come overland from either Zakho, Mosul or Erbil. Realistically Mosul is in the “dangerous” part of Iraq so you’ll more than likely be arriving from Zakho or Erbil. A friend reckons there are decent bus networks available if you look around, but we couldn’t find many (and they are few and far between) so we stuck to sharing taxis with the locals. Safer, faster and easier to sort out, if slightly dearer. The main Garaj (taxi/transport station) is near Cinema Street and the Bazaar in the town centre.

10 Things to see and do in Dohuk, Kurdistan, Iraq

duhok iraqi kurdistan

Central Duhok in Iraq’s Kurdistan Province.

1. The Corniche Promenade

Running long and windingly through the city, and right out to Dohuk Dam, this trendy and smart looking promenade makes a fresh and relaxing walk. Students hang around to study, old men chat, kids mess around and the big city carries on regardless.

corniche walking duhok kurdistan

2. Dohuk Valley and Dam

This might just be your highlight from Dohuk. Walk out of town and you will see a massive dam which has been built against completely immaculate and scenic countryside. The walk takes you up a hill past a proud Kurdistan flag and then there it is – the Dohuk Dam.

duhok dam valleys kurdistan

Top 10 things to see and do in Duhok Kurdistan Iraq – the immense valleys at Duhok Dam. The valley spreads far and wide and the views are worth it.

3. Dohuk Waterfalls

waterfalls in duhok kurdistan

4. Dohuk Bazaar

It seems that every city or town of any decent size in Iran, Iraq and Turkey has a bazaar. Dohuk’s is colourful and has all the usual stuff – fruit and veg stalls, drinks, clothes, nik baks, electronics etc.

5. Admire the Views – Azadi Viewpoint/Rasan/Sindore Street

Azadi Viewpoint is a custom built viewpoint over the city. In honest, there are better places for views though like the walk to the Dohuk Dam along Sindore Street and the Rasan Hotel.

6. Rasan Hotel 8th Floor Bar

Alcohol in bars is not easy to find in Dohuk, predictably Ask around and you might be lucky to find an off the wall merchant selling beer unofficially in the back. But enter the posh Rasan Hotel which has an almost “secret bar” on its 8th floor. This is where I enjoyed my first beer in Iraq (a Corona). The bar has a great view over the city – probably one of the best views you’ll get. The owner also showed me the secret stash in the beer fridge. The Iraqis and Kurds that were drinking there had to do so with the lights out.

7. Dohuk Art Gallery

We couldn’t get inside the days we were there but this place has a load of Kurdish Art which for sure will be unique and interesting, finding a museum in Iraq is hard at the best of times – their first museum opened in 2003.

art gallery kurdistan iraq

Duhok Art Gallery in Kurdistan, Iraq

8. Dohuk Grand Mosque

The old Grand Mosque in the Bazaar is hardly the prettiest you’ll ever see, but its minaret spikes out rightly from the old poky lanes of the Bazaar and the call to prayer rings round town.

mosque duhok kurdistan iraq

A nicer Mosque towers high on the edge of town…

duhok mosque kurdistan

9. Church of St. Ith Llaha

There are Christians and Armenians in this region too so the Church of St. Ith Llaha is worth checking out.

duhok church of st ilt laha

10. Dream City

Not quite the dream you imagined, but between Dream City and the park near Dohuk Dam we have the reason this is similar to Vank. This is a theme park full of rides and a few food outlets.

duhok night view

The view of Duhok by night.

So you’ll not be short of things to do in Dohuk. There are also a load of cool restaurants including Omara Restaurant Dohuk and many in and around the bazaar. Smoking shish is a common pastime too on the streets typically only by men however.

islamic centre kurdistan iraq

An Islamic Centre in Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq.



Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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