Kurdistan is an ethno-cultural region within parts of several connected countries. It's basically the part of the world where the Kurds come from, but is not a country or nation.

The parts are mainly in three countries, eastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northeastern Iraq, as well as a smaller part in northeastern Syria.

For an intrepid traveller, or a Kurdish person for that matter, is it possible to cross all the national borders between these countries to visit a broad cross-section of Kurdistan?

(I'm not asking about the obvious safety issues so please don't submit answers about safety instead of addressing the possibilities involving border crossing.)

  • 1
    Are you specifically asking about land crossings? Otherwise there are direct flights between Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey and Iran, leaving Syria as the only potential problem?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 6 '15 at 12:14
  • Yes I was going to say "overland" but the sentences were already getting pretty long. But if the flights are direct from a Kurdistan part of one country to a Kurdistan part of another country that's probably relevant too. At least in cases where land borders are closed. Flying to a non-Kurdistan part of one of the other countries isn't really the same thing at all though. Feb 6 '15 at 12:17
  • 1
    Well, from a quick look it seems that you can fly Istanbul-Batman-Istanbul-Erbil-Tehran-Urmia to cover everything except for Syria.
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 6 '15 at 12:20
  • Yes but Istanbul and Tehran at least are not "directly". I'd have to look up the others. Obviously you can physically travel from anywhere to anywhere by some more or less convoluted route ... Feb 6 '15 at 12:27
  • 2
    Worth a look: Wikipedia's Land border crossings of Turkey
    – mouviciel
    Feb 6 '15 at 14:03

It's possible, although I would not necessary recommend it in the current climate. First, a map courtesy of the CIA:

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Start from Diyarbakir, Turkey, in the Turkish area of Kurdistan. Cross into Iraqi Kurdistan via the Ibrahim Khalil checkpoint, firmly in Kurdish hands, and the town of Zakho. Detour to Faysh Khabur at Syria's northeastern tippy-top if you absolutely must plant your flag in Syrian Kurdistan, then continue to Iran via Erbil (Irbil), which has direct buses to Urmia ("Orumiyeh" on the CIA map) via the Haji Omran checkpoint. Ta-dah, you've now covered all three (or four) countries.


I'm not sure if you are asking about Visa requirements or things like that. However I can say for Iranian citizens (including Kurdish people) there are no visa requirements for travelling across those countries (Turkey, Iraq, Syria). I know the same rules apply for Turkish passports.

Actually there are many public transports (bus, train, airplane) which give frequent service, specially between Iran-Turkey (mainly routed in Tehran-Istanbul-Tehran direction) although buses and trains pass from Kurdish parts of Turkey (around Van). I remember there were fewer buses giving service to Syria and Iraq (not quite sure if still they operate though).

  • Visa requirements would depend on each combination of citizenship of traveller and state containing a bit of Kurdish area, so could be too broad for a question here. I'm asking if enough borders have crossings which are open so that somebody with relevant paperwork could visit all the parts by direct travel. Feb 7 '15 at 16:31
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    From what I know between Iran and Turkey there are couple of borders which are always open and you could pass with your own car if you have the paperwork. Between Iran and Iraq there are borders with more limits however still you could probably pass if you have the paperwork. In Turkey-Syria and Turkey-Iraq borders things are messed up nowadays and I think Turkey is controlling a lot more than before by even closing the borders. As an example look up for: Kobani in Google.
    – hatef
    Feb 7 '15 at 19:24

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