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!!
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.
Where to Stay in Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq
There are LOTS of budget hotels in and around the town centre, especially near the Bazaar. We opted for the cheap Parlaman Hotel which is actually at the far entrance to the Bazaar itself. It was cosy and cheap and the wi-fi worked. Rooms weren’t the cleanest though, and no breakfast. Overall ok though!
10 Things to see and do in Dohuk, Kurdistan, Iraq
I’ll cover Dohuk only in this post and highlight what I deemed to be the top 10 things to see and do in Dohuk itself. We also visited the mountains towns of Sulav and Amadiya, but I will write about them separately, you can see my post on exploring Amadiya here.
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 up above. I ended up walking almost the whole way along it. That was probably too much – it needs a bit of work done to it, but it’s pleasant enough.
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.
The valley spreads far and wide and the views are worth it.
3. Dohuk Waterfalls
First of all – these waterfalls are FAKE. They are not natural at all. We caught them out one morning while walking past they had turned one of them off!! However this doesn’t stop the locals going and enjoying them and you’ll want to get your photo taken anyway as you walk past.
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. Admiring 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. It’s all a bit secretive but that made the experience even better!
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.
8. Dohuk Grand Mosque
Well I can’t leave a Mosque out – we’re in an Islamic state here. 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.
A nicer Mosque towers high on the edge of town…
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.
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. It’s basically a fun fair and this type of thing is becoming cool in Iraq these days.
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 – but its 100% guys doing it – as a foreigner you’d probably be the only girl there smoking.
Dohuk is worth checking out everyone! Don’t forget to read my post on getting an Iraqi Kurdistan Visa on arrival at Erbil International Airport.
Here are some great other sites to check out if you want to visit Iraqi Kurdistan: