Akre is an old and historical city located in Iraqi Kurdistan. Find here how to get there and where to stay and discover what to do, the best tourist activities and the places to see.
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Visit Old Akre
The current old town, created in 580 BC. J-C is undoubtedly one of the pearls of Iraqi Kurdistan. These old houses superimposed on top of each other on the mountainside are breathtakingly beautiful. Akre was once a mixed city of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Today, besides Islam and the many mosques, you can still find some scattered churches because a Christian minority still resides there.
Some attractions of the old town
- The Ottoman Fort that you will not be able to miss when you arrive at the main square of Akre.
- The bazaar located just before the fort.
- The great mosque nestled in the heart of the Akre Valley which you can also access from the bazaar.
- The breathtaking view of the entirety of Akre from the heights of the old city. You will be able to see the old town on one side and the modern one on the other from this point, which will give you an idea of the rather dazzling development of what Akre was at its origin. This viewpoint is at the end of the road that runs along the old Ottoman Fort.
Spending time in the main square of Old Akre is also one of the most fun things to do. The people have the time and are friendly, you can quickly chain the chai tours without seeing the time pass.
Take the time to meet the locals peoples
Akre has a reputation for being a very hospitable city and I quickly saw that. People are kind enough to defy all competition. Making friends in the city is a breeze and you might find yourself more than once at a homestay or with a cup of tea in your hands. The video I made at the end of the article will serve as support for my statements.
Hiking in the mountains
The mountains of Akre are breathtaking and endless. There are so many places to see. You can already start climbing out of the old town towards the mountains. You will discover a much more rural life filled with huts, cattle and shepherds on their donkeys.
One could almost imagine having traveled several tens of kilometers in just a few of them. I was lucky enough to have gone with a friend around Akre to discover different points of view and I can assure you that there is plenty to do around.
If you decide to camp in the mountains set back from the city, make sure before there are no mines. I saw more than a dozen in one afternoon. You will not miss them, they are indicated by scrap rods and a skull at the end.
Outside the cold season, the landscapes are green and the rivers are numerous, but in winter, the mountains have a dry and arid face. Both are pretty to see.
● Note that the mountain ” Kale” has many remains and ruins of ancient Christian dwellings. You can even find a cellar in perfect condition. I learned about this place after leaving, but having seen some pictures, I recommend it. The view of the old town is beautiful from the top. It is also here that an important Kurdish festival takes place, which you can read about in the following section.
The best time to visit Akre
According to your preferences, because as mentioned above, the landscapes are green from spring and become dry during the cool season. The best time to visit the city of Akre is in April since the climate is perfect and the Kurds celebrate the national day of Kurdistan on March 21, called “Newroz”.
Kurds dress in their traditional outfits and climb the mountain with hundreds of torches after the sun has set. This event is known to be breathtaking, especially in the mountains of Akre and more precisely on Mount Sari Kalê.
How to get to Akre from Erbil?
You have several options. You can go to the transport square which is the departure to all the connections of Iraqi Kurdistan at this point:
Or you can simply go behind Erbil’s Christian quarter, Ankawa, to join the road that leads to Akre and wait for public transport:
The taxi fare in the city of Erbil costs between 3,000 IQD and 4,000 IQD. The ride to Akre costs around IQD 6,000, or $4. The shortest route starts from Ankawa and passes through Rovia.
Where to stay in Akre?
You must know that there are no hotels in the old town, I searched quite long and there is definitely nothing. You will have to stay in the modern city. You will easily find a hotel around $20 and $30 (on average). I stayed in the Laween Hotel for several nights, at 30,000 IQD a night, about $20 (after negotiation).
Tips before visiting Akre
The city of Akre has more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is not so few and yet, there are no ATMs. I found myself without cash on the spot and had to go back to Erbil and then come back. The locals use a lot of dollars as a reserve of money, which prevents them from having too many wads of dinars.
You can exchange your dollars very easily here or stock up in Erbil before coming. This advice should serve you for other destinations because only very large cities have distributors.
Travel to Akre by a vlog
And here is a vlog I made in Akre. It does not include the whole duration of my stay obviously but it represents only one day that I spent in the city, you could make a good opinion by watching it since I explore the mountains and frequent the locals.