Two For The World

30 Incredible Things To Do In Iran: Highlights For The First Time Visitor

12 feb 2024 02 oct 2019 | dan & john.

It’s hard to know where to start when we’re asked about our favourite Iran highlights. The history here is older than human memory, the landscapes even more ancient, and the people are among the kindest we’ve ever met.

Iran is liberally scattered with places of outstanding cultural, historical, and architectural heritage that are world-renowned and UNESCO-recognised.

Prepare to be delighted by a people that are generous of heart, incredibly warm and welcoming, curious, and rightly proud of their long and epic story.

Things To Do In Iran - Varzaneh Salt Flats

Iran is a country you discover as much through its beautiful architecture and bustling bazaars as you do through its breathtaking landscapes. A place where tea can take a whole afternoon, and where your preconceptions will be continually challenged and rewritten.

It’s a tall order to try and limit the list of things to do in Iran to a single post, but we’ve made a start here with our round up of 30 places from north, south, central, and western Iran that left an indelible mark.

Whether you plan to travel independently as we did, or you’re searching for an Iran tour, we hope you find our line-up of favourite spots a useful starting point for your own journey of discovery in this ancient, unforgettable land.

Highlights of Tehran

Golestan palace: explore a residence fit for kings.

Golestan Palace, former palatial residence of the royal Qajar dynasty, is without doubt one of the top things to do in Tehran. Wandering through one of the capital’s oldest and most iconic precincts is a perfect introduction to Iranian arts and architecture.

Located in central Tehran, this beautiful complex lives up to its UNESCO World Heritage billing. Built and restored over the centuries following the Qajar family’s rise to power in the late 1700s, Golestan serves up richly carved archways, ornate tile work, delicate lattice windows, and Persian art galleries set amidst tranquil gardens.

The complex includes a number of halls and pavilions. For us though, the stand-outs were the opulent Takht-e Marmar marble throne terrace, the dazzling mirror hall (no photos allowed, alas), and simply wandering the peaceful gardens with their vibrant, colourful tiled walls.

The nearest metro station to Golestan Palace is Panzdah Khordad and entry cost us around IRR300,000 each. It does close at certain times of the year. Check opening times and prices at the  Golestan Palace website .

Tiled Walls At Golestan Palace - One Of The Top Things To Do In Tehran.

Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque – Mingle with Locals at this Popular Pilgrimage Site

It’s said that photogenic Imamzadeh Saleh is one of Tehran’s most attractive shrines. But it might just also be one of the friendliest.

We arrived here in time to watch the beautiful patterned turquoise tiles that cover the twin minarets and dome sparkling in the late afternoon sun, just as the marbled square in front of the mosque came to life with Tehrani families gathering to pray and meet friends.

With the imposing Alborz mountain range for a backdrop, this site is a real treat for photographers, especially as the sun sets and the mosque lights up. However it’s the friendly ambience of the complex that we’ll remember the most.

If you settle in to take in the surroundings, you’ll soon be a rewarded, as we were, with a trickle, and then a steady flow of lovely locals keen to say hello and find out what has drawn you to this beautiful sanctuary in the city’s north.

We highly recommend visiting Imamzadeh Saleh in the late afternoon and travelled there by metro to Tajrish station. Don’t miss the dazzling mirrored room. Ladies can borrow a chador at the entrance.

Iran Attractions - Twilight at Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque in Tehran

US Den of Espionage: Discover the Intrigue behind the former US Embassy

Anyone interested in US-Iran relations will be intrigued by a visit to the former US Embassy, site of the 1979-80 hostage crisis that lasted more than a year. While a visit might not be for everyone, the building, referred to locally as the US Den of Espionage, provides a window into what is claimed to be the apparatus of US spying activities in Iran.

For some, the free tour of the building might inspire memories of the film Argo. There’s an interesting collection of dated equipment, including encryption machines and shredders, while the colourful collection of murals will leave you in no uncertainty about sentiments surrounding the politics between the US and Iran.

As is often the case in Iran, our tour finished with tea and a chat with our hosts. As we found in many places on our Iran adventure, our discussions ranged broadly across life in Iran and outside, exploring our similarities and our differences.

Darvazeh Dowlat Metro Station is a short walk from the Den. Entry was around IRR200,000 each.

Things To See In Iran: The Intriguing US Den of Espionage in Tehran

Azadi Tower – Modern Tribute to An Ancient Culture

If you’ve seen pics of Tehran, there’s a fairly strong chance you’ve seen Azadi Tower. It’s one of Iran’s most iconic landmarks, and it goes without saying that you can’t visit Iran without at least one selfie in front of its marble-clad span.

Azadi Tower is a modern ode to Iran’s ancient past: it was created to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the first Persian Empire. Impressive from afar, the monument is even more striking up close, with beautiful turquoise tiles decorating the spaces between the marble.

This was our very last stop before leaving Iran, and while we didn’t have a chance to go inside for a peek at the museum underground or to take in the view from the top, it was a perfect finale to our month in this amazing country.

Azadi Tower is quite close to the airport so it makes for an easy first or last stop when you tour Iran. There are a couple of metro stations nearby; Meyran-e Azadi is the closest. It’s free to see the Tower from the square but if you want to go inside, there’s a fee.

travel highlights iran

Tabiat Bridge: Perfect for Sunset Views Over Tehran

Nothing shows the contemporary face of Iran quite like Tabiat Bridge. Designed by a local architect Leila Araghian, the 270-metre structure is young, vibrant, and modern, just like many of those that wander its very cool spans.

Taking a sunset stroll along the bridge is a great way to get to know Iran’s capital. You’ll meet plenty of locals, both young and old, and have the opportunity to marvel at city skyline and mountain views, all the while being grateful you’re nowhere near the tangled Tehrani traffic jams below.

We’d highly recommend spending an hour or two here to catch the relaxed cosmopolitan vibe, before wandering back to Shahid Haqqani metro station via pretty Taleghani Park. On the way, be sure to keep an eye out for the prettily illuminated Khorramshahr Mosque, a particularly photogenic site once the sun goes down.

If you’re coming from Shahid Haqqani station, wander across Tabiat Bridge and through the collection of restaurants on the other side for a bite if the timing’s right. There’s a skate park down there too that’s worth a stop and a watch.

What To Do In Iran: Mountain Views Over Tehran From Tabiat Bridge

Northern Iran Highlights

Bazaar of tabriz – immerse in the world’s largest covered bazaar.

One of the absolute highlights of Iran, and another of the country’s many UNESCO sites, this thousand-year-old Silk Road bazaar is a joy to get lost in.

And get lost you will. With more than 5,500 shops and around seven kilometres of beautifully vaulted caravanserai, interconnected through a tangle of passageways, the Bazar-e Tabriz is the world’s largest covered marketplace. It’s also one of the oldest.

While it would probably take days to see the whole thing, we made do with wandering the colourful spice markets and taking in exquisite Persian carpets at the dedicated carpet trading section, the ‘mozaffareih’, with its beautiful patterned brick ceilings.

Tabriz Bazaar is in the heart of Tabriz in East Azrbaijan Province. It’s open from early till late every day but Friday. 

Bonus Food Highlight:  Keep an eye out near the entrance of Tabriz Bazaar for guys cooking up a local street food specialty called Yeralma Yumurta: it’s potato and egg mashed together with salt, pepper and butter and wrapped in lavosh. Sooooo good (and less than a dollar for a filling snack)!

The Carpet Section of Tabriz Bazaar Is One Of The World Heritage Highlights Of Iran.

Blue Mosque, Tabriz: Glimpse A Past Splendour

We can only imagine how dazzling the Blue Mosque of Tabriz must have been in its heyday, before an 18th century earthquake devastated the intricate blue majolica tilework that once covered the building inside and out.

While ongoing restoration is in evidence, nature’s best efforts haven’t managed to snuff out the light of this 550-year-old work of art.

The tilework that remains is beautiful, and the peaceful ambience, not to mention the striking symmetry of the portico surrounding the mosque, make this a highlight of visiting Tabriz and a key stop on any Iran itinerary.

The Blue Mosque is also called the Goy Mosque and it’s near the centre of Tabriz, about a 20-minute walk from Tabriz Bazaar. It’s open every day and cost us IRR150,000 each for entry. 

Perfect Symmetry In The Porticoes Of The Blue Mosque, Tabriz

Kandovan – Wander A Village Of Cave Dwellings

If you’re staying in Tabriz for a couple of days, consider making the half-day trip to the quirky troglodyte village of Kandovan.

These strange cone houses in the foothills of Sahand, a sleeping volcano, are eroded remnants of violent eruptions in Sahand’s distant past. If you’ve been to Cappadoccia in Turkey, you’ll be familiar with the idea of chimney houses, but the similarities stop there and the two really can’t be compared.

Kandovan is definitely one of the more offbeat places to see in Iran. It’s intriguing though, and a wander through the streets is an opportunity to marvel at how people have managed to shape an ancient and otherworldly landscape of volcanic rock into a village of cozy homes complete with electricity and plumbing.

Unsurprisingly, Kandovan is a highly popular tourist destination so we made a point of timing our arrival for later in the day. While the tea houses in the new village below were closing for the day, we were able to enjoy a quiet meander without the masses, and were even invited to peek into the charming cave home of one family as we were passing by.

Kandovan is around 60km from Tabriz and took about an hour each way. We organised a taxi there and back through our accommodation, the cost of which included a couple of hours’ waiting time. There was also a car entry fee of IRR40,000 at the village.

Offbeat Places To See In Iran - Doorways Mark The Cave Houses Of Kandovan

Masuleh: Where Crossing The Street Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Even on a rainswept day on the edge of winter, the village of Masuleh in northwestern Iran is a captivating sight. For over a thousand years this chaotic, multi-layered tangle of clay covered houses has been hugging the misty slopes of the Alborz mountains.

It’s probably the kind of town where you really do need to get along with your neighbours, given that that one person’s roof is their neighbours’ front yard, while also doubling as a thoroughfare through the village.

Blissfully car free, Masuleh is a great place to take in the mountain air, enjoy unique architecture, or to just stop for tea with the friendly locals while taking in the views.

We’ve heard the town can get a little congested during the peak summer months, which is probably why many people recommend staying overnight to hike the surrounding mountains, or to just enjoy the quiet mountain ambience once the tourists leave. Masuleh is definitely on our list of Iran highlights requiring a return visit and a longer stay.

We visited Masuleh as part of a day trip from Rasht, also taking in Rudkhan Castle. We organised a taxi there and back through our accommodation.

Bonus Food Highlight:  If you have a chance, stop en route in Fuman and pick up some freshly baked Klucheh, a deliciously warming cookie filled with cinnamon and walnut. It’s found elsewhere in Iran but it’s a specialty here.

The Village Of Masuleh In Iran Climbs The Hillside in Northwestern Iran

Qal’eh Rudkhan – Fortress In The Sky

Set aside the flat, parched Iranian desert landscapes you envisaged before your visit, because you might just find yourself thinking you’ve sidestepped into Europe as you hike into the chilly, lush green mountainscape surrounding Rudkhan Castle.

Guarding Iran’s Caspian Sea frontier against Arab invaders for more than a millennium, this haunting, well-preserved fortress is set high in the Alborz mountains. It remains an imposing sight today, with 1,500 metres of battlements and more than 40 towers.

On a wet day (and in winter) it’s a slippery hike up and down the mountain (Dan can attest to the fact after sliding right off the path and down a muddy slope), so be sure to wear decent footwear and take some time to enjoy the teahouses on the way.

Rudkhan Castle is about 90 minutes drive from Rasht. Enjoy a whole day exploring the area or combine it with a visit to Masuleh like we did. Entry to the trail was IRR150,000.

Iran Attractions: Qal'eh Rudkhan Castle

Central Iran Highlights

Naqsh-e jahan square, esfahan – a vast world heritage gathering place.

Nowhere is the majesty of Iran captured better than Esfahan. It’s already said by many to be the most beautiful city in all of Iran, and there are few spots in Esfahan more beautiful than Naqsh-e Jahan Square.

One of the largest public squares in the world (close to 90,000 square metres!), and home to some of the most ornate mosques and palaces in Iran, Naqsh-e Jahan is a focal point for life in Esfahan. It was a place we were repeatedly drawn to during our exploration of the city.

This is the place to embark on grand bazaar explorations, drink tea in magical tea houses (check out the quirky cool Azadegan Tea House off the square), marvel at breathtaking royal and religious architecture (see our separate entries below), and be regaled with the poetry of Hafez and Ferdowsi by enthusiastic young locals keen to share their culture and love of words.

Naqsh-e Jahan is beautiful during the day, but it’s even more stunning at night when the lights come on.

Random fact: The sport of polo originated in Persia some two thousand years ago. Keep an eye out for the marble goalposts marking Naqsh-e Jahan’s own early 17th-century royal polo field.

Twilight Lights Up Naqshe-e Jahan Square.

Jameh Mosque, Esfahan – An Ancient, Ever Changing Wonder

Reached via a meander through backstreets and the bustle of the Grand Bazaar, Iran’s oldest (and biggest) congregational mosque is a standout experience in a city packed with highlights.

Work started here in the 9th-century, and today Jameh Mosque is a World Heritage time capsule of architectural styles and dazzling geometric designs spanning more than 1,200 years.

We were captivated by the mosque’s tranquil hypostyle halls, elaborate brickwork (don’t miss the breathtaking Taj al-Molk dome), sublime light, and intricate tile work. This is a highlight of Esfahan and shouldn’t be missed.

Jameh Mosque is about two kilometres’ walk from Naqsh-e Jahan. It’s open every day but closed between 11am-1.15pm, and entry cost us IRR200,000 each.

Iran Itinerary: Light Beams In Beautiful Jameh Mosque, Esfahan

Masjed-e Shah – Architectural Showcase & Peaceful Place Of Learning

Gracefully situated at the southern end of iconic Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Masjed-e Shah – the Shah Mosque – is yet another jewel in Esfahan’s crown and a must on any Iran tour.

Also known as the Royal or Imam mosque, this grand complex of intricate tiled mosaic passageways, niches, and vaulted chambers set around a large central courtyard and pool has been drawing visitors and pilgrims to Esfahan for more than 400 years.

While the 42-metre-high twin minarets and grand dome draw the eye the moment you enter the square, our own visit centred around appreciating the finer details, including the intricately designed entry portal, exquisite mihrab, beautifully crafted calligraphy, and the atmospheric main chamber.

Another real highlight for us was the opportunity to have a broad-ranging chat with a local mullah as part of the “friendly talks” program run by Madrasa Naseriyeh, a theological school located within the Masjed-e Shah complex.

Shah Mosque is open every day but closed between 11.30am-1pm, and Friday mornings. It cost us IRR200,000 each.

Vividly Tiles Vaulted Ceilings of Esfahan's Shah Mosque In Beautiful Iran.

Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah – Sanctuary of the Sublime

Yet another structure vying for attention in Naqsh-e Jahan square is the 400-year-old Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: a masterpiece in miniature, especially when the first and last light of day makes the golden dome glow.

You’ll feel the rising awe the moment you pass into the exquisite portal, entering a striking world of richly designed Safavid-era mosaics, finely carved decorative doorways, and sublime, shifting light.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll struggle to move on from the enchanting angled hallway, but when you eventually do, further reward awaits in the spectacularly tiled dome of the main prayer hall, with its beautiful latticed windows. Catch the light just right, and you’ll see the peacock at the dome’s heart, with its golden sunbeam tail. Photography is allowed, but be careful not to fall foul of the flash and tripod police; they’ll be watching.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is open every day but closed between 12.30-2pm. The entrance fee when we visited was IRR200,000.

Beautiful Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque at Night Is One of the Highlights of Iran.

Chehel Sotoun, Esfahan – The Palace of 40 Columns

Built as a pleasure pavilion and reception hall using the Achaemenid-inspired columned porch style, Chehel Sotoun is reached via a terrace that perfectly bridges the Persian love of gardens and interior splendour.

In fact, the ambient grounds here have ensured the pavilion’s inclusion in the country’s collective World Heritage Persian Gardens listing.

While it may be slightly overshadowed by some of Esfahan’s better–known attractions, the palace, with its 20 ribbed wooden pillars rising to meet the beautiful inlay work of the wooden ceiling above, is well worth seeking out. There are vivid frescoes inside and, on the day we visited, a fabulously-bearded musician was plucking tunes among the columns on a traditional Persian tar.

Chehel Sotun means ‘40 pillars’, so if you’re wondering where the other 20 pillars are hiding, be sure to take a stroll around the long pool in front of the pavilion. If the waters are calm, you’ll see the pillars reflected, effectively doubling the number.

The pavilion is a ten-minute stroll west of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. It’s open every day and we paid an entry fee of IRR200,000 each.

Gardens And Pavilion of 40 Columns, Esfahan.

Vank Cathedral – A Gilded, Frescoed Glory

With so many epic sights in Esfahan, it’s easy to understand how some visitors might not find their way to the Armenian quarter of Jolfa in the city’s south-west.

If time permits though, it’s absolutely worth making the stroll from the centre of Esfahan, across the striking Si O Seh Bridge over the Zayandeh River (see our separate entry below), to this pretty corner of the city.

Sixteen historic Armenian churches still stand in the quarter, the most important of which is the 350+ year old Vank Cathedral (the Church of St Joseph of Arimathea).

Approaching the modern-looking building (the outside was restored more recently), we were totally unprepared for what awaited inside. Not for the first time in Esfahan, we were completely mind-blown the moment we stepped through the doors. Every corner of wall and ceiling was covered in vivid, colourful paintings and gilded scenes from the Bible, a striking contrast alongside hand-painted tiles in the Iranian tradition.

The space inside Vank may be small; the impression it leaves is anything but.

Jolfa is also a great spot for people-watching in the evenings, so once you’ve extracted yourself from the churches, be sure to take a seat somewhere and watch the Armenian quarter come to life with young people gathering in the square and cafes to socialise. We also found the charming little Ani Café nearby, with excellent coffee and lovely staff.

Jolfa is around 4.5km from Naqsh-e Jahan Square and it took us around an hour to wander there. Vank Cathedral is open every day. Entry was IRR200,000 and we timed our arrival for late afternoon, and caught a beautiful sunset over the church.

Visit Iran - Brightly Painted and Gilded Frescoes Adorn The Interior Of Vank Cathedral, Jolfa

Si O Seh, Esfahan – The Bridge of 33 Arches

Elegant yet sturdy and more than four centuries old, Si O Seh is Esfahan’s picturesque, 33-span bridge. It’s especially photogenic at night, and the perfect place to end a day exploring this ancient city in central Iran.

Stretching almost 300-metres across the Zayandeh River (mostly a dry riverbed, as the water is usually drawn out upstream before reaching Esfahan), the bridge is a magic spot to hang out and people-watch, as local families take in the cooler evening air and groups of teenagers and young adults hang out among the spans. Keep an ear out for people singing under the arches.

We spent more than an hour here, wandering the archways, chatting with friendly locals, and pretty much snapping the bridge from every conceivable angle.

The Arches Of Si O Seh Bridge In Beautiful Iran Lit Up At Night.

Ghoortan Citadel – Ghost of the Past

It’s no mean feat to move on from Esfahan; there’s just so much to see. If anything can tempt you away though, let it be an adventure in the desert to the south-east, and a trip to the beautiful Iranian interior around Varzaneh.

If you’re taxi’ing to Varzaneh as we did, chances are you’ll have the opportunity to stop and visit the thousand-year-old mud-brick fortress of Ghoortan Citadel. It rises from the flat, dry landscape on the edge of the desert.

This is a haunting, profoundly ambient place. Ghoortan Citadel may be crumbling with age, but a handful of resilient families still live here. We found wandering the silent, ancient maze of mostly abandoned laneways, houses, and thick protective walls and towers to be a truly extraordinary experience.

Ghoortan Citadel is around an hour and a half by taxi from Esfahan. We arranged to include a visit to the citadel with our driver on our ride from Esfahan to Varzaneh.

Ghoortan-Citadel – One of the more quirky things to do In Iran

Desert of Varzaneh: Watch Sun Set from the Crest of a Giant Dune

Watching the day wind down atop a mountain of sand, looking out over the sunburnt desert of Varzaneh, is quite literally a high point on many an Iran itinerary, and for good reason!

This is one of the country’s more accessible deserts, and a popular gathering spot for families and young people as the heat of the day ebbs away in the late afternoon.

The dunes, among the highest in Iran, rise up suddenly from the flat, baked plains. Hiking the dunes is tougher than it might look, but once you get to the top you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views as the waves of sand are transformed into a burnt orange sea with the dropping sun.

We stopped at this beautiful spot after a memorable afternoon exploring the ancient, parched landscape of this region, where human history stretches back some 5,000 years. Afterwards, back at the base of the dunes, we snacked on watermelon and sipped tea as twilight fell over the desert. Magic.

We arranged our Iran desert tour through our guesthouse in Varzaneh, as part of a half day exploration of the highlights of the area. Trips vary, however we included in ours a stop at the photogenic Varzaneh salt lake and flats, sunset over the desert, and a spot of stargazing under brilliant, starry skies.

Tour Iran and visit the incredible desert dunes near Varzaneh

Stay in the desert-edge town of Varzaneh To make the most of a visit to the desert and salt flats, consider staying a couple of nights in the small desert-edge town of Varzaneh. This is a very quiet, low-key town, but the people are warm and welcoming, and a simple stroll here rewards with memorable scenes, like beautiful red roses blooming in dry, cracked garden beds; and ladies crossing the town’s arched bridge at sunset in billowing white chadors. This is the only place in Iran where the white chador is worn. You’ll also see fine examples of the country’s famous pigeon towers here, both restored and crumbling with age. These circular towers were widely used to collect pigeon poo for use as a fertiliser in the parched landscape, before the advent of chemical fertiliser. They’re often beautifully decorated, eye-catching structures.

Yazd: City of Wind Towers

There’s plenty to like about the ancient desert city of Yazd, a destination recognised as World Heritage for its ancient and traditional adobe buildings, and clever underground water systems. For us though, Yazd is a standout for these things and more: it was here that we had the best Dizi in Iran.

Yazd has been welcoming Silk Road travellers for more than 1,500 years, and the sheer depth of history here is palpable as you walk the narrow laneways lined with earthen houses and shops.

This is a city to wander, to soak up the desert atmosphere, to get hopelessly lost in, to shed your city slicker worries, and immerse yourself completely in Persian history, culture and food.

There are plenty of highlights, but standouts include the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, with its beautiful archway symmetry; the Ateshkadeh Zoroastrian Fire Temple (Yazd was once a hub for the oldest monotheistic religion in the world); and the spectacular Jameh Mosque, with its soaring entryway, stunning tilework, and 48-metre-high minarets. We found the mosque’s ancient qanat open when we visited, deep underground down a steep staircase. We spent a while here, chatting with the very friendly locals.

Don’t Miss: Saheb A Zaman Zurkahneh This unique, offbeat Iranian experience was a surprise highlight for us during our Yazd stay. Housed in a 440-year-old water reservoir, the zurkaneh is effectively a gym where men carry out an ancient tradition of exercises in sync using wooden clubs of different sizes. There are strict rules and customs for participants, and the performance plays out to traditional music. If it sounds unusual, it is, but that’s exactly what makes it a must-see. The practice takes place each evening except Friday and entry cost us IRR200,000 each.

The perfect end to a day exploring Yazd is to find a rooftop late in the day (Check out the Art Café), drink some tea, enjoy the skyline dotted with tiled domes and wind catchers (very clever ancient systems that capture wind, cool it and send it around the home below), and generally just marvel at one of the world’s most ancient cities.

Then locate a Dizi house and eat your fill of this singular Iranian dish of lamb, potato and chickpea stew. This is a performance meal, not only in how it’s prepared and presented, but in how it’s eaten. Soooo good. Our fave spot in Yazd for Dizi, and other tasty local food, was Tormeh & Toranj.

Unsurprisingly, and perhaps like many other travellers for thousands of years – we found it very hard to leave this charming, ancient desert oasis.

We arranged through our guesthouse in Varzaneh to travel to Yazd by taxi, a journey of around two-and-a-half hours.

Iran Highlights – wind towers in the desert city of Yazd

Kharanagh – Ancient Village Abandoned Not Forgotten

80 kilometres from Yazd, overlooking a peaceful scene of farms backed by dry, rugged mountains, is the captivating village of Kharanagh: totally ambient and, for all intents and purposes, totally abandoned.

Believed to have been settled by the Zoroastrians more than a thousand years ago, this intriguing town of winding passageways and mud brick houses is a treat to explore.

While there are plenty of signs the surrounding lands are actively farmed, we came across more animals than people on our exploration of the silent, crumbling town. Still, it wasn’t difficult to imagine a time when families filled the adobe rooms, the call to prayer rang out from the still-standing minaret, and life bustled within the narrow laneways.

As we parked up on a patchy rooftop and looked out over the ruins, we had the distinct feeling that, while ancient Kharanagh is slowly eroding away, it’s story will carry on long after it’s gone.

We visited Kharanagh on a daytrip from Yazd, taking in this site as well as the Zoroastrian Fire Temple at Chak Chak (see our entry below), and hulking Narin Castle in the city of Meybod. Travelling with two others, a taxi and driver for the day cost us around IRR 1.7 million, plus entry fees. Entry to Karanagh was IRR50,000 each.

Iran Travel Blog – visiting the ancient village of Kharanagh

Pir-e-Sabz (Chak Chak) Fire Temple – An Ancient Mountain Shrine

From the moment we started researching our Iran trip, we were intrigued by Zoroastrianism and the mysterious fire temples where this ancient Persian religion was practiced.

Yazd was a centre of Zoroastrianism (it still has a significant population of followers), and Chak Chak, a fire temple halfway up a sheer mountain, is an excellent place to get familiar with the world’s oldest monotheistic religion.

Legends swirl about this ancient place. One says the drops of spring water at Chak Chak are the mountain’s tears for the daughter of a Sassanid ruler, who was trapped here by the invading Arab army in the seventh century. Desperate, the princess prayed for help and the mountain opened up to offer her refuge.

The fire temple is located in a cavern at the top of more than 200 heart-pumping steps. Given its importance as a pilgrimage site, the temple itself is a surprisingly small and understated space centred around an eternal flame, and accessed through impressive bronze doors imprinted with the religion’s founder, Zoroaster.

The levels above and around the temple are rooms set aside for the thousands of pilgrims who make their way to the temple for a Zoroastrian festival in June each year (it’s closed to other visitors during the festival so check ahead if you’re travelling around this time).

For us, the visit was memorable for the simple, peaceful ambience of the fire temple and the rugged beauty of the surrounding landscape. Be sure to allow time to really take in the setting, and enjoy the stunning views from the high terraces.

We visited Chak Chak as part of a day trip from Yazd, also visiting Kharanagh (see our entry above) and the city of Meybod. Entry to Chak Chak was IRR50,000 each.

Iran Adventure – View towards Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple near Chak Chak

Southern Iran Highlights

Naqsh-e rustam – necropolis of legendary kings.

A journey into Southern Iran takes you deep into Persian history, to the ancient Achaemenid Empire and an age of celebrated Persian kings like Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes.

These are giants of human history, leaders that shaped the ancient world. They are, quite literally, the stuff of song and legend.

You can find this epic history carved into the cliff-face at Naqsh-e Rustam, the necropolis of Persia’s legendary kings Darius the Great, Xerxes the Great, Ataxerxes and Darius II.

We were rendered speechless as we stood facing these powerful and ancient mausoleums for four members of the dynasty that founded the first Persian Empire: their stories chiselled into the stone by real people in the distant past. For history buffs like us, travelling doesn’t get much better than this.

We incorporated our visit to Naqsh-e Rustam into our taxi ride from Yazd to Shiraz. Building it into our journey (which we shared with two others) was more time and cost effective for all of us, and meant we could dedicate more time the following day to exploring the ancient city of Persepolis. Entry to Naqsh-e Rustam was IRR 200,000 each.

Iran desert tour – Necropolis of Naqsh-e Rustam

Pasargadae – Monument to the Founder of the Persian Empire

Another of Iran’s impressive World Heritage sites, Pasargadae was once the capital of the Achaemenid Empire and lies on a large archaeological site around 90 minutes’ drive northeast of Shiraz.

If we’re honest, this highlight might be more for history nerds like us, since you need a fair amount of imagination (and energy) to bring the mostly ruined site to life as you wander the complex in the blazing desert sun.

For us, the stately tiered limestone tomb of Cyrus The Great, founder of the First Persian Empire, was the highlight of our visit, and provides a sense of the grandeur befitting the site. Cyrus, the second of his name, ruled from 559-530BC, conquering and expanding to create the world’s largest empire up to that point.

There’s some suggestion his mausoleum was restored in the year 324BC on the orders of Alexander the Great, who found the tomb already ransacked.

The rest of the site is made up of seemingly random ruins and stones which actually form up the floorplans of palaces, gardens and a citadel. There’s also an unusual tall building similar to one at Naqsh-e Rustam, evocatively called Solomon’s Prison. It was once thought to be a fire temple, among other things; no one’s really sure.

While it’s easy to visit Pasargadae and Naqsh-e Rustam along with Persepolis on a day trip from Shiraz, we decided to build in stops at Pasargadae and Naqsh-e Rustam on our journey from Yazd to Shiraz for the reasons outlined in our entry above. Entry to Pasargadae was IRR200,000 each.

Iran Highlights – the World Heritage site of Pasargadae

Persepolis – Ancient City of Kings

Almost certainly one of our favourite places to visit in Iran (and one of the longest-standing entries on Dan’s lifetime bucket list of ancient places), the World Heritage site of Persepolis stands as a timeless testament to the powerful past of the Persian Empire, and the deep foundations of Iran’s present.

Started by Darius the Great in the 6th century BC, Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It thrived for nearly 200 years, until Alexander the Great turned up with his army in 330BC. After sampling the luxuries of the palaces, he looted and burnt them down. Not one of his ‘great’ moments.

Two millennia on though, and despite the scattered masonry and ruins, there’s still plenty to see here, starting at Xerxes’ epic Gate of All Nations, surely the inspiration for the Sphinx Gate in ‘The Neverending Story’!

Persepolis is an absorbing complex of columned palaces, halls and cliff-carved tombs. Keep an eye out for the details around the site, like the double-sided bull capitals on the columns (and the ground in places, where they offer serious perspective on their size).

The beautiful wall reliefs on the Apadana Staircase are a showstopper, offering intricate details on the cultures coming to Persepolis from all over the region at the time. They look like they were carved yesterday, thanks to centuries buried in the desert sand.

If you can, don’t miss the opportunity to be at Persepolis for sunset. Watching the sun drop beyond the site, just as it has for more than 2,500 years, was a highlight for us (our banner pic for this post was taken at sunset at the Gate of All Nations).

Definitely go with a guide to get the most out of your tour, and make sure you ask for extra time to wander at leisure, and seek out the exquisite detail that makes this one of the world’s must-see ancient sites.

Persepolis is around 50km northeast of Shiraz. Entry was IRR200,000 each. We organised our excellent guide and driver through Mr Persepolis –  email us for more info . For security reasons, backpacks aren’t usually  allowed in and there’s a security check at the entrance. To be on the safe side, we’ve heard smaller, single strap shoulder bags are usually ok but check with your guide before going.

Persepolis – One of the unmissable things to do in Iran

Masjid Nasir ol-Molk – The Exquisite Pink Mosque of Shiraz

Probably one of the most photographed spots in all Iran, a visit to beautiful Nasir ol-Molk is equal parts wonder and exasperation, but should absolutely enjoy ‘must visit’ status on your Iran itinerary.

Every morning the ornately columned prayer hall of Shiraz’s Pink Mosque erupts into a riot of kaleidoscopic colour as the first light of day streams in through its stained glass windows.

Be there for opening and you may be rewarded with a few peaceful moments before the tour groups arrive, at which point photography etiquette disappears completely in a chaotic, oblivious swirl of people, all determined to capture the moment from every possible angle.

That’s the point we decided to find a spot out of the way at the side of the room and just enjoy the morning light dancing across the intricate painted tiles, carved pillars and beautiful hand-woven Persian carpets.

Be sure to wander to the other areas of the mosque too: the painted tilework in the archway opposite the prayer hall is delicate and beautiful.

Nasir ol-Molk is in the heart of Shiraz. Check the time of sunrise when you visit and the opening hours of the mosque. Entry was IRR 200,000 each.

The Pink Mosque of Shiraz is a must see on any Iran tour

Tomb of Hafez: A Love Letter To Iranian Poetry

Spend any time in Iran and you’ll quickly realise that poetry is a serious business here. It enjoys a central and time-honoured place in Iranian life and cultural identity.

While we may fall back on the snippets of Shakespeare we were forced to learn at school, the Iranians we met happily regaled us with beautiful verses from their favourite poets.

We’ve got fond memories of one young guy quoting us passages of Hafez – perhaps Iran’s most revered poet – in Esfahan’s main square, without any of the self-consciousness that might accompany such an act back home.

Hafez lived in Shiraz in the 14 th  century, and if you’re visiting the city, one of the best places to appreciate Iran’s love of poetry is at his resting place, the Tomb of Hafez. Families, couples and friends gather here in the pretty gardens, and you’ll find excerpts of his timeless poetry inscribed on the tomb and around the site.

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the Earth, ‘you owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that! It lights up the whole sky.” Hafez

We recommend visiting the tranquil gardens later in the day as the sun drops. Entry was IRR200,000 each.

No Iran itinerary would be complete without a visit to the tomb of Hafez

Bishapur and Shapur Cave: Where Empires Collide

If ancient empires get your engines running like they do ours, and if you have a spare day in Shiraz, then consider a day trip to Bishapur, two hours to the northwest of Shiraz. The drive from Shiraz to Bishapur is a delight in itself, passing through dramatic mountain and canyon country.

Bisahpur was the seat of Sassanian King Shapur I, who ruled the Persian Empire from around 240 to 270 AD. He went head to head with the Roman Empire, taking their cities, allegedly killing one Roman Emperor (Gordian III), signing a peace treaty with a second (Philip I), and taking a third prisoner (Valerian), along with his army.

These war stories are detailed in vast carvings along the wall of the Chogan Gorge, near the ancient city, itself built by Roman captives.

We found the detailed reliefs completely absorbing, and a good thing too, as it turned out the city ruins were unexpectedly closed on the day we visited.

Our awesome guide Cyrus instead found a path for us above the hill opposite the city, where we could look down on the ruins while he explained the history of the site. There’s still much to be excavated, but archaeologists have so far uncovered a palace, temple, monumental columns and beautiful mosaics.

From the hill above Bishapur, we made our way to the base of a huge escarpment, and began a sweaty, 90 minute climb to a cave hidden in the rockface above. There, overlooking a spectacular mountain-and-valley vista, the cave hosts a monumental statue of King Shapur I, carved from a single block of limestone.

Time, earthquakes, and poor restoration efforts have stolen some of the statue’s command, but it’s still a sight. Better yet, the vast, dark cave behind delivers outstanding acoustics, a fact we discovered when a single voice rang out from the dark in beautiful plaintive song, courtesy of the small group ahead of us.

We day tripped to Bishapur, Chogan Gorge and Shapur I Cave in the company of a Shiraz guide/driver that was recommended to us by other travellers.  Drop us a line  if you’d like the details of our guide, Cyrus. 

A climb to Shapur Cave is an Iran Adventure you won’t forget

Highlights of Western Iran

Shushtar historical hydraulic system – a marvel of ancient engineering.

The best way to appreciate the sheer scale and engineering smarts of Shushtar’s incredible World Heritage-listed historical hydraulic system is to grab a perch at a clifftop café, order some tea (and a water pipe if you’re into hubbly bubbly), and enjoy the view. It’s especially beautiful after dark when it’s all lit up.

The Sassanian-era structures you see today, said to have been built by the captive Roman emperor Valerian and his enslaved army, have been diverting water from the Karun River for irrigation and water mills since around the 3 rd  century. But the people here have been mastering the river and changing the face of this desert landscape to support farming and planting for far longer, since the time of Darius the Great.

In addition to the canals, bridges, mills and cascades you can see at the historical hydraulic complex (which is still operating today), there are sturdy, functioning weirs and dams along the river that showcase the ancient and lasting engineering skill of the Persians.

It’s worth getting down to street level at the hydraulic complex and taking a stroll through the system with the sound of water thundering in your ears while you get up close and personal with the ancient watermills that dot the site.

We travelled to Shushtar by bus from Shiraz, first making our way by overnight bus to the city of Ahvaz, then taking a taxi from the intercity bus station to Istgah Station, where we boarded a local bus to Shushtar. The total cost was around IRR 630,000 each. Entry to the historic hydraulic system was IRR 200,000 each.

Food Highlight:  If you’re staying in Shushtar, be sure to hit up Ferouzdizi for a delicious, beautifully presented meal of Iranian specialty, Dizi.

Be sure to visit the Shushtar hydraulic system on your Iran tour

Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat – The Temple Complex Defying Time

To visit Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat is to travel even further back into ancient Iran, to the period before the rise of the Persian Empire. This huge terraced, pyramid-like structure, dates from the time of the ancient Elamites.

Rising out of the desert like a vast, monolithic mirage, Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat has dominated the dusty landscape of Khuzestan province in southwest Iran for more than three millennia.

This ancient complex of tiered walls, squares, rooms and temples, yet another UNESCO gem, stands out from the crowd in a region teeming with World Heritage sites. More than a hundred meters long on each side, and originally five stories high, the well-preserved brick structure is thought to have once been capped with an über sacred Elamite temple.

We visited the ziggurat in the high heat of the mid-afternoon. With hindsight, we’d look to make it a later visit, both to avoid the heat and the glare. Still, Choqa Zanbil’s scale – in both size and history – make it an amazing sight at any time of day. Moreso when you discover the parched landscape in which it sits was once lush and green. Not easy to imagine.

Keep an eye out for the small details, like the line of bricks running around the entire structure covered in ancient cuneiform script. Also look out for the small footprint preserved in the clay by the sundial in the courtyard paving; how it got there is anyone’s guess but, surrounded as it is by enduring brick and pavement, it’s a compelling human link to a very distant past.

Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat is around 45 minutes’ drive from Shushtar. We highly recommend visiting the ziggurat – and other local attractions like the World Heritage ruins of Shush (Susa) – with a guide, to ensure you get the most out of this very ancient corner of Iran.  Drop us a line  if you’d like the details for our lovely guide, Mehran. Entry to the ziggurat cost us IRR200,000 each.

Tour Iran – incredible Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat

Have you visited Iran? What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear about your personal favourite things to do in Iran below, or ask us any questions you might have!

2 thoughts on “30 Incredible Things To Do In Iran: Highlights For The First Time Visitor”

Hormoz Island, gheshm island,Darak beach, Tehran country side like Fasham &lavasan

Thanks Melika

Great suggestions, wish we’d have had time to get to some of those spots.

Still, it’s always good to have a reason to go back.

All the best. John and Danielle

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Travel & Food, Itineraries & Guides, Hotel Reviews

The Perfect Itinerary for Iran – Essential Persia in 9 Days

December 2, 2019 by Bino 1 Comment

For a country of its size, Iran offers a plehora of things to see and do – especially if you love architecture as well as the great outdoors – that it’s probably hard to compartmentalize the country into a short one or two week stretch. Boasting some of the most beautiful cities, atmospheric desert towns, intricately constructed buildings as well as unreal landscapes, Iran is an eye-opening place and definitely has something for everyone.

The classic travel route for Iran is the one that stretches from Tehran to Shiraz, covering other cities such as Kashan, Esfahan and Yazd in between. Given that these cities are well connected, there’s little need to back track so you can either start in the north in Tehran or down south in Shiraz. This itinerary aims to show how you can cover these cities in Iran, starting from Tehran, but you can easily reverse this.

Table of Contents

Day 1 – Tehran (Azadi and Milad Towers, Golestan Palace, Grand Bazaar)

skyline of tehran

skyline of tehran

Tehran, the sprawling capital of Iran, is the largest city in Western Asia. For most travelers, the introduction to Iran, is one of congested roads and air pollution. If you happen to visit during a public holiday, it’s a totally different story and you’ll find highways almost empty.

azadi tower

azadi tower

Tehran has quite a number of sights worth visiting and you can easily get around by taxi or hired car. The city also has a metro and is a great alternative for getting around, especially considering the traffic jams. A must visit when in Tehran is the Azadi Tower , an architectural gem that was built to commemorate 2,500 years of the Persian empire. The tower is surrounded by a park which is encircled by a roundabout. It is possible to enter the tower for a fee but in my opinion, you’re better off admiring the curves from the park itself than to be inside the tower. 

milad tower

milad tower

Another tower you can check out is the Milad Tower , which offers fantastic views of the city as well as the Alborz Mountains in the distance. Compared to Azadi, Milad Tower is a thoroughly modern construct. 

Aside from Azadi Tower and Milad Tower, most of the other sights in Tehran are conveniently located near the stations of the original (red) metro line so it would be practical to group these places together. These attractions include: Saadabad Palace , the former US embassy in Iran , Golestan Palace as well as the Grand Bazaar . Depending on how much time you have left after visiting the towers, you can visit around 1 or 2 other sights along the red metro line before calling it a day. A personal recommendation for an afternoon visit would be the Golestan Palace . This used to be the royal palace when Iran was still a monarchy. Some of the rooms here, including the Mirror Hall, Brilliant Hall and Karim Khani Nook, showcase impressive Persian symmetrical designs. Note that you’d need to purchase separate tickets to enter some of these halls.

Tip: All over Iran, you will get looks walking around as a tourist. The overwhelming majority of these have no malice in them and are just indications of curiosity. A common gesture is to say hello back which in some cases, lead to conversations and even invitations for dinner. It is up to you whether to accept or not. I have accepted one such invitation and some travelers I spoke to did the same. But that doesn’t mean that Iran is scam-free. In a separate incident, a local offered to show me around town as a goodwill gesture and later tried to extort me money for it.

Directly outside the Golestan Palace is Tehran’s Grand Bazaar . You can practically find everything here, from spices to handicrafts, apparel and of course, carpets. While Tehran is still not a touristy place, it’s useful to haggle if you intend to bring a rug back home.

Day 2 – Tehran (Tajrish, Den of Espionage)

autumn colors in tajrish

autumn colors in tajrish

Your second day in Tehran can be spent venturing to the sights at the farther reaches of Tehran’s red metro line. A personal favorite spot is Tajrish , where the line ends. The air here is cooler and fresher, and the higher altitude makes for a refreshing change to the grit of downtown Tehran. In autumn, you can visit places such as the Saadabad Royal Complex for a burst of red and yellow foliage. Tajrish also serves as a gateway to the Darband and Tochal mountains, where one could ski during winter.

den of espionage, former us embassy in tehran

den of espionage, former us embassy in tehran

Further down near Taleghani Station is the former US Embassy in Iran, now called the Den of Espionage and converted into a museum. The site played a particular significance during Iran’s 1979 revolution when students held American diplomats hostage in the embassy for more than a year. The museum grounds offers a colorful throwback to diplomatic life from 40 years ago while the frontage has plenty of colorful anti-American murals, the most famous one depicting the Statue of Liberty with the face of a skull.

After having your fill of Tehran, you can catch a late afternoon or evening bus to the next destination – Kashan, which is around a 3-hour drive. There are plenty of departures each day from the bus terminals and there is no need to book in advance, with the exception of major holidays like Nowruz.

Day 3 – Kashan

travel highlights iran

rooftops of kashan

A relatively small town, Kashan, is a must visit especially for architecture lovers. The town has plenty of mansions that were built by rich merchant families and gardens offering a calming perspective to Iranian life – a wonderful contrast from the frenetic pace of Tehran.

travel highlights iran

historic houses in kashan

There are 4 old houses you need to visit in Kashan and these are the Boroujerdi House , Ameriha House , Tabatabaie House and the Abbasian House . All these houses boast of intricate facades but it is the Boroujerdi House which has the more stunning carvings and interiors of four while the Tabatabaie House is probably the biggest. Note that the Ameri House has been converted into a hotel as of late.

Located in the same area as the old houses is the Sultan Amir Ahmad Hammam , also known as Qasemi Hammam. Bathing was an elaborate ritual in old Persia and this is manifested in no small part in the elaborate design of the bathing pool. Covered in turquoise and gold tilework, floral patterns as well as utter symmetry that will delight architectural buffs, the bathhouse is an interesting place to visit even though it is no longer used. You can also check out the rooftop for a view of the hammam’s bulbous domes as well as the windcatchers from the mansions in the distance. 

agha bozorg mosque

agha bozorg mosque

On the way to the bazaar of Kashan, the 18th century Agha Bozorg Mosque is a recommended stop for its symmetrical design and layered courtyard that extends underground. 

abyaneh

Optional: If you have a half-day to spare in your Iran trip, an excursion to the village of Abyaneh is recommended. The town is known for its reddish hue which permeates all the buildings. Visiting here is all about soaking the charming ambiance and interacting with friendly villagers. There is no specific must-see here except for the panorama of the reddish village from afar. 

With the exception of Fin Garden , the bulk of Kashan’s tourist spots are within walking distance of each other so my suggestion is to visit the Fin Garden as a stop if you are going on a day trip or excursion to Abyaneh. Otherwise, you can hire a taxi or private car to get you there and back to town. Fin Garden is a typical example of a Persian style garden – characterized by a long water feature that leads to a central structure – and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 4 – Isfahan

Catch a morning bus to the city of Isfahan. From Kashan, the trip to Isfahan takes just a little under 3 hours.

sheikh lotfollah mosque

sheikh lotfollah mosque

Called half the world by Iranians, Isfahan is easily the most touristy city in Iran, and with good reason. Its humongous and spectacular public square – the Imam Square – is one of the highlights of any visit to Iran. Flanked by the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on one side and the Imam Mosque on the other, as well as well-manicured lawns and horse-drawn carriages going around, this public square is the second largest in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing. 

Located at the opposite side of the square, the Ali Qapu Palace is another place worth visiting. The highlight here is the music room which have deliberate and attractive holes on the walls to help with the acoustics.

chehel sotun palace

chehel sotun palace

Around a 5 to 10 minute walk to the west of the square is Chehel Sotoun , also called the Palace of 40 Columns. Located in the middle of a park, the interiors of this palace is marked by grand frescoes depicting ancient battles (the Battle of Chaldiran in particular) while the exterior has 20 columns supporting it. Despite only having 20 columns, the 40 columns in the name is brought about by the reflection from the elongated pool in front of the palace, which when reflected shows 40 columns.

Another palace to check out in the area, to the south of Chehel Sotoun, is Hasht Behesht . This is another palace surrounded by a park and is notable for its elaborate ceilings.

If you still have time after this, a walk back to Imam Square is highly suggested. The square takes on a different scene at nightfall, with families out and about and many of the buildings floodlit. The sound of the Islamic call to prayer with the square as backdrop is perhaps one of the most exotic moments one can experience in Iran.

Day 5 – Isfahan

There are plenty of things to see in Isfahan so 2 full days is just about the bare minimum. For the second day, you can check out the attractions farther out from the square – including the Jameh Mosque, Vank Cathedral as well as Sio-se-pol Bridge and Khaju Bridge. The bridges are best visited towards sunset when they’re lighted up so I would suggest starting at the Jameh Mosque.

The Jameh Mosque of Isfahan is the main mosque of the city and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right in 2012. It is the oldest mosque in Iran that still stands to the present day, dating back from the 8th century. Adjacent to the mosque is Isfahan’s own Grand Bazaar. While not as charming as the bazaar around Imam Square, the former presents a more authentic side to local life.

A nice change from the mosques is the Vank Cathedral , a church located in the neighborhood of Jolfa south of the river. The cathedral is a stunning mix of Islamic and Christian architecture, with all the hallmarks of Persian-style symmetry. From the outside, the church actually looks like a mosque with its bulbous dome but once you’re in, you’ll see frescoes depicting Biblical stories such as Adam & Eve as well as events from the life of Jesus Christ. The area surrounding Vank Cathedral in particular, is brimming with cafes, and is a nice place for an afternoon rest especially when it gets very hot.

khaju bridge

khaju bridge

As night falls, head over to check out the two beautiful bridges – Sio-se-pol as well as Khaju Bridge which are both lit up. Even during the dry months when you can barely see the river, these 17th century bridges still function to transport people between the north and south side of the city. 

Day 6 – Yazd

Many travelers tend to bypass Yazd in their Iran trip due to its slightly out-of-the way location from the main north to south route. To do that would be a mistake, in my opinion. Yazd is different from the other cities. There is a romantic, fairy-tale like quality to this town that brings to mind stories such as Aladdin. Think: maze-like alleyways made of clay, bumping into random mansions or historic houses turned hotels and being invited to rooftops to appreciate the windcatcher-dominated skyline of the old town.

amir chakmaq mosque

amir chakmaq mosque

Although there are quite a few sights in town, wandering and getting lost inside the old town is perhaps the biggest draw of the city. The most recognized building in town, the Amir Chakmaq Mosque , is worth a visit. The structure is noted for its arched alcoves which get lighted up at night. I visited twice – once during the day, and another time to appreciate it at night. Just next to the Amir Chakmaq complex is a zurkaneh or a house of strength. The Saheb-al-Zaman Zurkaneh (workouts occur Saturday to Thursday from 7 to 8PM) is the place to go to witness men working out using traditional wooden clubs – in sync to the tune of local music and trance-like chanting.

Another interesting place to visit in Yazd is the Atashkadeh or the Zoroastian fire temple. A nice break from Islamic architecture, this is the place to visit to understand more about one of the world’s oldest religions. The temple also contains what is said to be the oldest continuously burning flame.

Day 7 – Yazd

ceiling of dolatabad gardens

ceiling of dolatabad gardens

Your second day in Yazd can be spent visiting attractions you did not manage to cover the previous day. While there are still more to see in Yazd such as the Dowlatabad Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Water Museum for a fascinating peek of how water is distributed in this desert city and Yazd’s own Friday Mosque , I would recommend spending a couple of hours just getting lost in the old town. Perhaps you can stumble upon a nice-looking old house or two. Compared to the ones in Kashan, some of the traditional houses in Yazd have been converted into restaurants and cafes. It’s a highly atmospheric affair sipping on a cup of tea (or two) and downing a hot stew especially on a cold day.

The afternoon can be spent catching a bus to the next destination – Shiraz. The Yazd to Shiraz bus ride is the longest in this trip and takes over 5 hours. It will be well into the evening once you arrive in Shiraz.

Day 8 – Shiraz

There is probably no other city in Iran that conjures romantic images as much as the city of Shiraz. The city of poets as well as wine. This city is undoubtedly the premier city in the southern part of Iran and the well-developed infrastructure attests to this. Despite the city’s size, many of the sights are actually within walking distance from the main street – Zand Boulevard. 

arg of karim khan

arg of karim khan

Start your day at the Arg of Karim Khan , an 18th century brick citadel typical in the Middle East. Its location and traditional appearance near a busy roundabout in downtown Shiraz makes for an interesting contrast.

vakil mosque

vakil mosque

Turn right and walk through Vakil Bazaar where you can make a stop at the Vakil Mosque with its spectacular columns. Next, make your way to Lotf Ali Khan Zand Street which is parallel to Zand Boulevard. Your priority in the morning should be to visit Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque . Just another mosque you say? If you are active in social media, especially instagram, this is one place you must check out in Shiraz. Within walking distance from the mosque is the Narenjestan Garden , the first of many gardens you will encounter in Shiraz. The gardens and the house within the compound were built by the wealthy Qavam family in the 1800s. The gardens are known for its tile work depicting 3 figures from the Qajar Dynasty.

eram gardens

eram gardens

The rest of the day should be spent visiting sights that are further afield. The Eram Garden , is in my view, the most impressive among Iran’s gardens. The building fronting it, is painted in a soothing white and is decked with numerous paintings. From Narenjestan, allow around 15 minutes drive.

Day 9 – Persepolis

persepolis

Allow around half a day to venture out of Shiraz to visit the biblical city of Persepolis. One of the great wonders of the world, ranking up there with Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, the Forbidden City and Taj Mahal; this ancient city embodies Persian heritage so much so that the last Shah of Iran used it as a site for his coronation in the 1970s.

naqsh-e-rustam

naqsh-e-rustam

Although laying in ruins, there is still quite a bit of structure left to allow visitors to imagine what it must have looked like back in the day. Bas reliefs on the walls show how various civilizations paid tribute to the Persian empire, bringing gifts to the king. To reach Persepolis, you can book a private tour which includes a visit to Naqsh-e-Rustam as well. 

With a morning departure, you can expect to be back in Shiraz by earl afternoon, after which you can spend the rest of the day doing some last minute souvenir shopping or catching your flight out of Iran.

Tips for Visiting Iran

  • Many nationalities can obtain a visa-on-arrival for Iran, but there are cases where having a pre-arranged visa or visa authorization code makes sense such as for avoiding long waits at the airport for getting the visa. You can get a pre-arranged visa authorization code if you prefer to avoid that risk.
  • Iran is still mainly a cash society. You’ll find that your Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards don’t work. Euros and US Dollars work best for changing money. Many merchants even accept direct payment in these currencies over the ever-depreciating Iranian Rial.
  • Many merchants have the habit of quoting prices in tomans rather than Rial, which is the official currency. As a rule of thumb, 1 toman = 10 Rial.

Where to Stay in Iran

Tehran – Pretty much a budget option, Firouzeh Hotel has been a favorite among intrepid travelers particularly due to its very helpful receptionist/s who can give plenty of tips on Tehran. 

Kashan – One of the city’s tourist attractions, the Ameriha House, has been turned into a hotel called Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel and is currently the top-ranked hotel in Kashan. I personally stayed at the Ehsan House just a few blocks down the road. It’s clean, adequate and also presented in the Persian style, though with less character than its top-ranked rival.

Yazd – Hidden within the snaking alleys of the old town, Kohan Hotel is a charming option with its traditional courtyard typical of houses in Yazd as well as Persian style rooms. If the caretaker is feeling extra friendly, you might be invited up to the rooftop to check out the hotel’s windcatcher as well as admire the ones from the neighboring houses. 

Esfahan – For unabashed Persian splendor, the palatial Abbasi Hotel is generally considered the most luxurious hotel in Esfahan though newer boutique options such as Ghasr Monshi Hotel are taking market share away from the Abbasi.

Shiraz – Darbe Shazdeh is a beautiful boutique hotel located not far from Vakil Mosque. Some rooms come with glass stained windows similar to the ones in Nasir ol Molk Mosque. For a more budget option, Sasan Hotel is a reliable hotel just off Zand Boulevard

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Hi, my name is Bino and I started I Wander around 15 years ago with the aim of sharing about some of my personal journeys and experiences, hoping that the information may benefit readers like yourselves. Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. Alternatively, you can also email me at b i n o (at) iwandered.net. You can follow I Wander on Facebook , Telegram , or Instagram . Also, if you liked this article, please feel free to SHARE or RETWEET

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December 3, 2019 at 5:42 pm

I have been thinking of a trip to Iran for a while now and your post is a great starting point for a tour of the country. I wasn’t aware of the beautiful Kashan, thank you!

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What to do in Iran – a complete Iran itinerary

Fernanda in front of a mosque in Isfahan in Iran

Are you looking for an Iran itinerary for your trip to Iran ? Look no further! Check it out what to do in Iran in this complete guide, made after travelling for more than three months in two visits to this wonderful country, from north to south, east to west. We now share with you what are the best things to do in Iran !

The reflections in the Pink Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Those who have been following us for a while now (and if you are not, follow us on Youtube , Instagram and Facebook !) know that Iran is one of our top picks. And we don’t say that just to be controversial because of the way Iran is portrayed by the media – we genuinely love Iran !

And we know we are not alone in that! In fact, everyone we know who visited Iran, ended up with a very special experience. And if you have found us here, you are probably one step away from falling in love with them too!

So, to help you in your journey, we have written you this complete Iran travel itinerary , with all the cities to visit in Iran , including its best sights, activities and experiences to have.

fe holding pasargadae sign

Iran travel tips

But before you head to Iran, here you are a few travel tips you need to know:

Best time to travel to Iran

The best time to travel to Iran is during the mild temperatures of autumn (September to December) and spring (March to June). Summer is really too hot, particularly the south. And obviously winter is specially too cold, hard to enjoy the mountains and deserts.

Credit cards in Iran

Due to economic sanctions, companies such as MasterCard and Visa cannot operate over there, thus it is not possible to use your credit/debit cards in Iran. But – and there is always a but – you have two options: you can either calculate how much you will need for the whole trip and bring cash; or get an Iranian Tourist Card with a local travel agency .

How to book hotels and tours in Iran

Because of the sanctions, all online purchases are restricted. Therefore, you will hardly be able to book tours, flights, transportation and even a hotel before your trip to Iran . But worry you not as we are here to bring you solutions and not lay down problems. Currently, there are a few Iranian travel agencies offering such services. One of them is the 1st Quest , which the team we had the opportunity to meet during our last visit to Iran. They are a serious and efficient company from which where you can book online different types of activities and experiences in Iran. We surely recommend using their services and you can get in touch with us in case you have any doubts.

Iran travel visa

Almost all nationalities need a visa to travel in Iran . Most of them, though, can request it at the airport ( Visa on Arrival ), or online through the new Iranian E-Visa system. We highly recommend you to request the E-Visa prior to your arrival, as on our last trip to Iran, we decided to try the visa at the airport and were almost turned away at immigration.

Iran travel insurance

It is compulsory to have a travel insurance to visit Iran . If you already have one that covers worldwide, it is unlikely that it is valid in Iran, unless it explicit says it also covers Iran (you might want to call and check. In case they say they do cover Iran, ask for a written proof to show at immigration).

Otherwise, you can book a travel insurance to Iran at the airport, upon arrival. It costs around 14 euros, for 30 days. But, if you would like to have everything arranged beforehand and show the immigration officers you have done your research well, you can purchase your Iranian travel insurance for the same price or even cheaper through a local travel agency – and online – such as the insurance from 1st Quest .

Fe painted by the lights of the Pink Mosque

What to do in Iran – your complete Iran itinerary

Before we share with you all the must see places in Iran and the places in Iran to visit , here is a couple of heads up:

  • The cities on this Iran travel itinerary are in order of historical, cultural and tourist “importance/relevance”. Which means if you don’t have that much time in the country, you should prioritize the destinations mentioned at the beginning: Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd . These four cities comprise what is known as the “Classic Iran itinerary” , and can easily be done in less than two weeks.
  • Despite being a beautiful country with many things to do, the best of an Iran travel is simply to get lost, to walk about and talk to people. Allow yourself to accept all the invitations for picnics, dinners and barbecues and prepare yourself to experience the best hospitality in the world .

– Tehran

We recommend from two to three days to see Tehran’s top attractions.

Fernanda jumping in front of Azadi Monument like singing in the rain

Tehran is the capital of Iran , a chaotic yet vibrant city. A place full of history and art that cannot be left out of your Iran itinerary .

Tehran’s population is 9 million, making it the largest Iranian city . A curiosity is that this is one of the cities in the world with the largest number of urban parks, making it a perfect destination for countless strolls in the open.

We recommend spending two to three days in Tehran , depending on how flexible is your itinerary. If you want to spend longer time over there, rest assured you won’t have problems in finding things to do in Tehran .

Tehran tourist attractions

Overview of the city of Tehran with the sun setting colours and the tower standing out

  • Golestan Palace ;
  • National Museumb
  • Azadi Tower ;
  • Tabiat Bridge : also known as “Nature Bridge”, it was designed by a young Iranian woman and is a meeting point for couples and families. Try to visit it during late afternoon when the place is full and the weather is pleasant;
  • Valiasr Street : the longest street in the Middle East and a meeting place for young people at night;
  • Darband : a neighbourhood in the mountains that is full of restaurants and shops. This is also the beginning of a two-days trek up in the mountain that many people like to do (Iranians love nature);
  • Central Bazaar : we are not adept at shopping and therefore we do not find the place anything special. But, if you like this kind of activities, you cannot miss it Tehran’s Central Bazaar. The architecture is nice though;
  • Visit many parks : get lost at night and be invited to have a picnic with the families around. Seriously, just walk through the parks and wait for the invitation;
  • Bam-e Tehran : The place on top of the mountain, also known as the roof of Tehran, is an awesome place to watch the sunset colour grading the city of Tehran. In the area, you can do a zip line, bungee jump, skiing and enjoy some delicious food too.
  • Bonus : In the winter, it is possible to ski in Tehran. We did not try (we travelled both times in midsummer), but we heard that the tracks are the best in the Central Asia.

Where to stay in Tehran

the room of Hanna Boutique Hotel showing a sofa and a modern seat in the room with closed curtains and a tall vase

On our the last trip to Tehran, we made a very pleasant partnership with the best hotel in Tehran – according to us -, the Hannah Boutiqu e Hotel . Their rates are not the cheapest, but the place is really special.

Located right in the heart of the Iranian capital, it is housed in a historical house which was converted into a stylish accommodation by a famous Iranian couple of architects. Each room at the Hannah Boutique Hotel has a different decor and a totally artistic vibe. Breakfast is simply divine and, at evenings, you get the chance to meet like-minded Iranians who also goes over there – the Hanna Boutique is well known amongst Iranians. In fact, even if you are not staying at the Hanna Boutique, we definitely recommend you to have a meal at their restaurant.

If you are looking for something more affordable, the Hi Tehran Hostel was highly recommended by other travellers. They are situated in a very charming and cosy house and offer single or shared rooms.

– Isfahan (Esfahan)

We recommend from two to three days to see Isfahan’s top attractions

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan with many people and birds

Isfahan – also known as Esfahan – is probably the most beautiful city in Iran . It is like an open air museum, where you find some of the finest examples of the Persian and the Islamic architecture .

Isfahan was the capital of the Persian Empire between 1592 and 1722 and is known as “Half the World“ , an allusion for carrying half of all the beauties there are in the world. The city has amazing gardens, squares, mosques and bazaars to visit, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran .

Isfahan tourist attractions

  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square: also known as Imam Square, this UNESCO World Heritage Site literally means “ Image of the World ”. The Naqsh-e Jahan Square was built in the centre of the Persian Empire and aimed to represent the essence and grandeur of that time. In the same square, you find the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque , the Imperial Bazaar and the Palace of Ali Qapu . We recommend to visit them all, particularly the Ali Qapu Palace;
  • Jameh Mosque (Masjed-e Jāmé): a little away from the tourist centre of Isfahan and neglected by most travellers, this mosque is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Isfahan and is surely worth a visit;
  • Walk across the Si-o Se Pol Bridge ;
  • Visit the Khaju Bridge;
  • Stroll around Chahar bagh Abbasi;
  • Enjoy the Armenian Quarter of Jolfa , including the Vank Cathedral .

Where to stay in Isfahan

a mirror room inside Kianpur Historical House Hotel in Shiraz

We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel in Isfahan , the Kianpour Historical House . It is located inside an old palace from the Qajar Era (1789 to 1925). The reconstruction work of the hotel owner, a very talented Iranian architect called Mr. Kianpour, is impressive. By the way, if you decide to stay there too, make sure to ask him to show you the pictures of the palace before the renovation.

For travellers looking for a more affordable hotel in Isfahan , the Howzak House was very well recommended to us. Also located in a historical Iranian house , the Howzak offers individual rooms with shared bathrooms. It is also possible to take Persian cooking classes as well as other activities in there.

– Shiraz

We recommend three days to see Shiraz’s top attractions

Fe sitting in prayer position while the colourful lights of the Pink Mosque reflect upon her

One of the most important cities in Iran, Shiraz is an important cultural and intellectual hub, not to mention that the Shiraz wine was invented there!

Shiraz is the best starting point to visit the ancient capitals of the Persian Empire: Pasargadae and Persepolis ! By the way, don’t forget to stop by the Necropolis , which is on the way between the two capitals.

Shiraz tourist attractions

Iranian woman alone

  • Aramgah-e Shar-e Cheragh : a magnificent group of buildings, mausoleums and mosque. They provide a free guide in English. Ah, and women have to wear the shador , which is that garment that covers everything but the face. Don’t worry, they provide you with one at the entrance;
  • Aramgah-e Hzez : the tomb of the great Persian poet Hafez;
  • Eram Garden ;
  • Mosque Nasir-al-molk: the famous Pink Mosque , and one of the most beautiful places in Iran. Make sure to arrive before 8h30am to see the effect of the sun reflecting on the colourful glasses. And be ready for crowds!
  • Take a day tour to visit Persépolis, Pasargad and the Necropolis:  You can either find a driver/guide in Shiraz yourself – you will see many people offering the tour at Shiraz’s city centre – or you can find more tours here . PS: If you prefer to go yourself, we recommend to head to the main bus station and negotiate a deal with taxi drivers. Also, in Persepolis, we really recommend a guide too, which can negotiate a deal with someone at the entrance.

Where to stay in Shiraz

Fernanda sitting in the hall of Homayouni Historical House Hotel

In Shiraz, we stayed at the traditional Homayouni House and we loved it! The hotel is situated inside an old mansion at the city centre and represents some of the best Persian architectural style.

The house is super cosy and the staff are extremely kind. The rooms are individual and breakfast is served daily on the terrace, which includes fresh traditional bread prepared on site by a local woman.

– Yazd

We recommend two days to see Yazd’s top attractions

Tiago e Fernanda looking at the sun on top of the mountain in the silent temple in yazd, Iran

Yazd is located nearby the desert, so make sure to avoid the hottest seasons.

The city of Yazd has one of the largest Zoroastrian population in Iran and is the perfect place for learning more about the world’s first monotheistic religion . The Zoroastrian slogan is “ Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds ” (or پندار نیگ گفتار نیک کردار نیک). Inspiring, right? We like this Zoroastrian mantra so much that we even tattooed it on our arms.

Yazd tourist attractions

Woman walking in the distance view through a large passage way with a mountain in the background

  • Attend a presentation of Pahlevani, the Iranian wrestling training: This is a very old and traditional Persian type of martial art. In Yazd, we only managed to see competitors training, which is also cool. However, it was during the World Nomad Games , in Kyrgyzstan , that we managed to watch a real fight of Pahlevani.
  • Visit the Zoroastrian Atashkadeh Temple: over there, there is a flame said to be burning for over 1500 years (yes fifteen hundred, not a mistake that made you believe it could be five hundred, or even one hundred – fifteen!). The Zoroastrians have the four elements of nature as sacred, for that reason the never-to-cease-fire is housed inside a temple;
  • Getting lost in Yazd’s Old Town charming alleys;
  • Visiting the Jameh Mosque ;
  • Visiting the Towers of Silence .

See where to stay in Yazd . 

– Kashan

We recommend two to three days for Kashan one day to walk around Kashan; another one to visit the nearby city of Abyaneh; and a third one for a day trip to Manjarab desert.

Roof of the Borujerdi Historical House in Kashan, Iran

Kashan is a very historical Iranian city . Located only two hours away from Tehran, it is becoming more and more popular amongst local and international tourists in recent years. The best tourist activity in Kashan is to visit its traditional houses, which perfectly represent the Persian culture and architecture.

As locals explained to us, every traditional Iranian house must have three elements: light , colour and water ; and you find all of them at Kashan’s historical houses.

Kashan tourist attractions

Two locals on a roof of a house looking at the city of Kashan

  • Visiting Abbasian Historical House ;
  • Visiting the Historical House Sazvr ;
  • And also visiting Tabatabaei Historical House ;
  • Walking around Fin Garden ;
  • Visiting the underground city of Nushabad – A 1500-year-old subterranean city where ancient Persians took refuge in times of war;
  • Making a day trip to the traditional city of Abyaneh ;
  • Making a tour to the Manrajab Desert

TIP: You can book a tour which will cover the underground city of Nushabad, the Maranjab Desert and the Kashan Salt Lakes all together!

Where to stay in Kashan

The hall of Sarva Historical House

As we said, the city of Kashan is known for its traditional houses and there are many hotels housed inside these historical buildings. Choosing such type of accommodation is a great way of getting a better sense of this local treasure.

We stayed at the Sarva House , a very beautiful and charming boutique hotel located inside a traditional Iranian house. The Sarva House has only a few rooms, all en-suites, facing the central terrace. In addition to the space, which is very beautiful, they serve a delicious breakfast with many local dishes.

– Kerman and the Lut Desert

We recommend one day for exploring the city of Kerman, and three days for the Lut Desert Tour.

The Lut Lake in the Lut Desert in Iran

Kerman is not a very popular tourist destination for international travellers. However, it is one of the favourite activities amongst local tourists. An also historical city – it’s getting repetitive, isn’t it? -, Kerman has an interesting Central Bazaar, one of the oldest in the country, as well as some beautiful mosques and a few famous Iranian baths.

To be honest with you, we didn’t find the city of Kerman that interesting. But, the nearby Lut Desert is one of the best things in Iran  that will make your trip to this city worthwhile! The Lut Desert in Iran , also known as Dash-e Lut , is one of the most spectacular deserts we have ever visited.

We took a three-day tour with Ali, from the Azure Dome agency , and we cannot recommend him enough. During our three-day tour in the Lut Desert , we camped under the stars, climbed to the top of a mountain full of volcanic rocks, swam in an oasis, watched the sunrise on top of unique rock formations known as Kalut , and even witnessed the beautiful emerald green lakes that appeared in the dunes after the desert flooded ( check out this video! ).

For those interested in this Lut Desert tour, we leave here Ali’s Whatsapp number: +98 913 295 6978.

– Tabriz

We recommend one or two days to see Tabriz tourist attractions.

Black and white hall way outside a mosque in Iran

Tabriz has cultural traits more similar to Turkey than to Iran. The city is located in the north, near the Turkish border, being a great stopover for those visiting Armenia or Turkey. But before crossing the border to Turkey, check your government’s safety recommendation for the zone.

Tabriz tourist attractions

  • Visit Kandovan , the Iranian Cappadocia;
  • have a look at the Kabood Mosque ;
  • Visit the Centre Baazar : once again, if you like shopping.

Check the places of where to stay in Tabriz .

– Hormuz Island

We recommend one to two days to visit Hormuz Island.

Tiago and Fernanda in the rainbow cave in Hormuz Island, Iran

Known as the Rainbow Island , Hormuz is an Iranian island of exceptional beauty in the Persian Gulf.

The interesting thing about Hormuz island is that, as it is located quite far from other major urban centres, the atmosphere there is a lot more relaxed, level you even see women walking around without the hijab.

To arrive at Hormuz Island you must take a ferry from Bandar Abbas.

Hormuz tourist attractions

  • Red Beach and Silver Beach ,
  • the Rainbow Cave ,
  • the Rainbow Mountain ,
  • the Portuguese Castle
  • and Dr. Ahmad’s Museum .

See where to stay in Hormuz Island .

– Qeshm Island

We recommend one to two days to visit Qeshm Island.

the stars seen from the Star Valley in Qeshm

Located next to Hormuz, also in the Persian Gulf, Qeshm Island is a UNESCO Global Geopark. The island is super mystical and has several environmentally and culturally protected areas. We really recommend renting a car to explore it well! Otherwise, you can create your itinerary in Qeshm and then make a deal with a taxi driver accordingly.

Way into walls in the desert with many rock formations

Qeshm Island tourist attractions

  • The Salt Cave ;
  • Valley of the stars ;
  • Tandis Valley – statues valley;
  • Chahkooh Canyon ;
  • The Darre Shour Valley ;
  • The mangroove ;
  • Laft Town (Bander-e Laft) – cute little and very old village famous for its wind towers;
  • Hengam Island  –  a paradisiacal quiet and peaceful island to spend the day enjoying nature, possibly see dolphins migration and a beautiful sunset.

Special Tip: if you want to learn more about the Qeshm apparently mystical vibe, there is a cool Iranian cult movie called A Dragon Arrives .

See where to stay in Qeshm .

Kish Island

The Kish Island is a paradise at the Persian Golf. The rules at Kish are completely different than in Iran:

  • women can swim in the beach,
  • alcohol is not forbidden and,
  • you don’t need a visa to visit Kish Island.

We heard from other travellers that the island is one of the best spots for snorkelling and diving in the world.

See hotel options in Kish island .

– Hamedan

We recommend one to two days to visit Hamedan.

Inside Ali Sard Cave, the largest water cave in the world

Hamedan is a pretty city and very well maintained. There is the main square where many families camp over the weekend. If you have the opportunity, go camping in the square too – good luck finding a spot though – and meet other families. Get ready to be invited to picnics!

Hamedan tourist attractions

  • Ali Sadr Cave: The largest water cave in the world. It is 11km large and 5km to be explored by either foot or boat.
  • Visit the park where there are the Ganj Nameh, registrations carved on a rock for over 2000 years, during the Persian Empire.

Find your hotel in Hamedan here . 

– Masuleh Village

We recommend one to two days to visit Masuleh.

houses on top of houses in a mountain with fog in the background

Masuleh is a cute traditional village in North Iran that has an unique architecture. The roof of the houses works like stairs to walk from one side to another. Thus, you have to walk over people’s roofs when wandering about over there.

Masuleh is a notorious tourist destination amongst Iranians. It is full of market stalls, coffee shops to smoke shisha and restaurants. Definitely a place worth adding to your Iran travel itinerary if you have some extra time in the country.

– Rudkahn Castle

Tiago e Fernanda in front of the castle of iran

If you make it to Masuleh, don’t miss out on this II century castle. The way up to the Rudkhan Castle is very nice and there are many corners to explore. In addition, you will find many Iranians enjoying the nature, reciting poems or singing traditional local songs.

– Abadan

Alright, Abadan is not a must-see in Iran . However, this is the city that surprised us the most and we could not leave it out of our Iran itinerary .

Abadan is a Brazilian town in Iran !

Shop in Abadan with brazilian flags

There isn’t much to do over there, apart from the surreal adoration they have for Brazil. Well, after all, it is worth visiting, because in the end, the best of Iran is the people, and you will definitely see interesting ones in Abadan.

Moreover, the city was destroyed during the Iran-Iraq War . Actually, you can see Iraq just a few meters away on the other side of the river. It will be good to understand better this dark chapter of human history.

Anyway, if you are willing to go, this is a totally off-the-beaten-track destination in Iran for you to explore.

Tiago posing in front of a colourful wall in Shiraz, Iran

*The post Iran itinerary: The best things to do in Iran was originally written in June 2017, and updated in June 2020.

Eye-catching pictures Iran seems to be a fascinating destination that offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Thank you, Rojan! It is indeed a beautiful country to travel to

beautiful photographs and trip experiences up until now in the country of Iran… Thanks for the great Information.

Thank you, Babu!

Would really like to visi Iran Please send a detail itnary of all place and things to do in each place

Hello Maurice, I actually have a service for a tailored itinerary that we would be very pleased to show you how it works and the prices. Please reach us on [email protected] if that is a service that interest you and we would be glad to arrange a video call to start organising your trip to Iran. Safe travels,

Hi! Thank you for sharing your experience with all the interesting details about the most interesting places to visit, about accomodation andfalso or the opinions you left about the famous sites you viwited on you way from city to city. I am interested to know how did you organized your trip step by step. This can helpsme a lot especially to plan an itinerary during 30 days in Iran.

Best wishes Riadh oueslati

Hello Riadh, Thank you so much for stopping by. We are very glad you enjoyed reading our article. So, we have visited Iran a couple of times. In total, we spent almost 4 months travelling in Iran. All this time travelling around this amazing country gave us great information to make a detailed itinerary in the country. In addition to that, we have made many good friends in Iran, whom we every now and again get in touch, both to see how things are doing and to help us updating about the situation over there. If you are interested, we are more than happy to help you organising your itinerary as well. The borders are currently closed still, but services are back on. Best Wishes, Ti and Fe

Wow. That beautiful blue bridge and a gorgeous pink mosque, I would have been in heaven. I have not done a lot of research about Iran but it looks absolutely stunning. I saw in Morocco how much detail goes into a mosque and I am sure I would have loved to see that Iranian architecture up close.

Hi Cj, it is really beautiful indeed!! Unfortunately, quality information about Iran is quite difficult to find. However, going there and check it out by yourself won’t be a bad idea 😉

Iran is one place where I am dying to go. It has so much to offer. And that Pink Mosque in Shiraz picture you shared looks stunning. I really really wanna go.

Hi Archana, thank you! Iran was one country which was mandatory for our travel! 😉 Its culture, architecture, people and so on are just amazing! Let us know when you make it there!

Wow!!! Love the way you have portrayed Iran. Would love to visit the ancient sites of Necropolis, Pasargada and Persepolis. The pic of the bridge looks stunning.

Hey, thanks!! These three places you mentioned are so rich in culture! You would definitely love it!

Iran is on my bucket list. Looking through you photos and reading your review I’me even more determined to go. The Pink Mosque looks incredible. The light coming through those windows, just stunning.

Hi Claire. Thank you!! This lightning effect on the pink mosque is breathtaking! Let us know when you make it there. I’m sure the place won’t let you down 🙂

Wow didn’t know where Shiraz came from! Thanks for that fact as I am a Shiraz lover! 🙂 it looks beautiful and I can’t believe people just invite you to join them, it’s sooo cool!

Hi Carlin, right?!?! We were amazed too! By both of these facts. It is amazing how people invite you over on the streets! And we managed to drink homemade shiraz (which probably wasn’t really), but still, home made wine in Shiraz! Cheers

Great pictures. I have never considered going to Iran – until now… Your post has inspired me to step off the beaten track!

Awesome Raymond! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! It makes us really happy to have helped you open this door. Let us know if make it there, would love to hear! Thanks

Iran is such an upcoming country.Never heard of it and now 2 friends of mine are going in the next months. I am sure my friends will love your detailed post.

It always makes us happy to hear more people are travelling to Iran! Great! If they want to get in touch for some specifications, we would be really happy to help. Thank you

Thank you for sharing this, and from a female perspective too! I’m interested in visiting Iran, but a bit nervous as a woman, and non-Muslim. Is it strict there, or are people welcoming to travellers? I love the look of Ishafan and the Pink Mosque; I’ve seen it so many times now on Instagram!

Hello Lisa, thank you for your comment. The answer to your questions is YES and YES. It’s strict over there because they have a fundamentalist government. However, it does not reflect on its population entirely. So, people are really friendly and really welcoming to tourists. As we said, they stopped us on the streets to invite us over to their houses, or to have some tea together. You can pin it down on your list, you will love it 🙂 Thanks

I love this post! I’ve been seeing, reading and hearing quite a bit about Iran lately on social media. It looks amazing and I love the pictures in this post. I’m so adding it on my travel list!

Hi Bee! Yes, we have also seen about Iran more often now. It makes us really happy! We are really fond of the country 😉 I’m sure you will have an amazing experience over there! Thanks

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travel highlights iran

Golestan Palace complex Tehran, Iran

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Welcome to what could be the friendliest country on earth. Iran is the jewel in Islam's crown, combining glorious architecture with a warm-hearted welcome.

Attractions

Must-see attractions.

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Facade of Imam Mosque, aka Masjed-e Jadid-e Abbasi, or Shah Mosque, on Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square, Esfahan - Iran. April 21, 2017.

Masjed-e Jameh

The Jameh complex is a veritable museum of Islamic architecture while still functioning as a busy place of worship. Showcasing the best that nine…

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Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square

Hemmed on four sides by architectural gems and embracing the formal fountains and gardens at its centre, this wondrous space is a spectacle in its own…

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Bagh-e Naranjestan

Named after the bitter oranges that line the central courtyard, this is Shiraz’s smallest but most lovely garden. Enclosing the delightful Naranjestan-e…

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Apadana Staircase

The stairs, which are guarded by stone soldiers, are decorated by an exceptionally finely crafted frieze in three panels. Each panel is divided into…

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Soaring above the old city, this magnificent building is graced with a tiled entrance portal (one of the tallest in Iran), flanked by two 48m-high…

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Tabriz Bazaar

The magnificent, labyrinthine, Unesco-listed Tabriz bazaar covers some 7 sq km, with 24 caravanserais (sets of rooms arrranged around a courtyard) and 22…

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Bazar-e Bozorg

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Photo itinerary: two weeks in Iran

 I’m often asked for suggestions about Iran itineraries, so without further ado: here’s my suggested two week Iran travel itinerary. Includes tips on what to see, where to stay, how to get off the beaten track, and an interactive map. Updated in 2019 with new recommendations. 

Lost with Purpose is blocked in Iran (clearly the government loves me!). To access Lost With Purpose in Iran—and other blocked websites—you need to use a VPN. I use and recommend ExpressVPN . Read more about accessing internet in Iran freely with a VPN here .

From glorious Islamic architecture to bustling markets, unexplored islands to skiing and rock climbing, the fabric of Iran is a diverse and intricate tapestry. But all this splendor makes it difficult to decide where to go. So much to see, so little time!

Below you can find a two-week itinerary for Iran. It includes several major highlights of Iran but also gives you alternatives if you wish to mix it up. If you have more time and want to explore a different side of Iran, you can check out this off-the-beaten-track guide for Iran with more itinerary suggestions.

A note on prices:  Due to high levels of inflation, prices in Iran change all the time. The same goes for the exchange rate. However, because the exchange rate often changes in line with inflation, dollar and euro prices will mostly stay the same. I try to keep prices as up-to-date as possible, so please let us know if anything has changed.

A two week photo itinerary for Iran. Includes top places to visit in Iran, things to see in each city, where to stay, and travel times between destinations. Save this if you're considering travel to Iran!

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Lost With Purpose’s two-week Iran travel itinerary

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The Route Map - Lost With Purpose

Iran in two weeks

Days 1-3: tehran, days 5-6: kashan, days 7-9: esfahan, days 10-11: yazd.

  • Days 12-14: Shiraz

Alternative destinations

  • Alamut Valley
  • Kerman and the Kaluts
  • Hormuz Island

A quick note on money in Iran

Due to international sanctions, Iran is a cash-only economy for foreigners, even though almost all stores accept local debit and credit cards.

This means you’ll have to walk around with large wads of rials. If you don’t feel comfortable about this, check out Mah Card. Mah Card is a prepaid debit card specifically designed for travelers in Iran. Use the promo code LOSTWITHPURPOSE to get a 40% discount on Mah Card.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Fruit juice stall in Tehran, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Getting serious about fresh juice in Tehran

Tehran, the capital of Iran, is not the easiest of introductions. It’s busy, congested, polluted, and vast. Plenty of people will tell you to not waste your time, and beeline straight to more noteworthy places.

I disagree. Tehran has plenty to offer if you let it.

Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, for instance. The largest in the country, it is estimated that ⅓ of all goods sold in Iran flow through its narrow lanes at one time or another. It’s a sensory overload and can get super crowded in the middle of the day, but it’s a bazaar not to be missed. You can easily spend the better part of a day in and around the bazaar, and we recommend you do just that!

Once the bazaar becomes too much of a hassle, you can retreat to the relative calm of Tehran’s numerous parks. Let the greenery relax your mind for a bit before you’re inevitably barraged with requests for selfies!

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Stock traders in the Tehran Bazaar in Iran - Lost With Purpose

Traders at the stock market on the second floor of Tehran’s bazaar

Top things to see in Tehran

  • Grand Bazaar: Tehran’s most bustling bazaar. Head here early if you want a bit of relative peace and quiet. If dodging men with carts is more your style, brave the crowds of the afternoon. Don’t count on finding food here once evening sets in.
  • Golestan Palace: Tehran’s most famous attraction… and the most costly at $20 (likely more by now) to enter. A UNESCO world heritage site, it’s a former palace dating back to the Qajar era  featuring several bedazzled halls and rooms.
  • Borj-e Milad (Milad Tower): A towering outlook over Tehran’s city, and a good place to watch the sunset. Make sure the day is clear before paying to head up the tower!
  • Borj-e Azadi (Azadi Tower): Tehran’s iconic archway, popular with locals and foreigners alike.
  • Imam Khomeini Shrine: Mentioned it in my off the beaten track itinerary , this under-appreciated shrine is a great spot for a day trip. Budget travelers, don’t miss it — entrance is free!
  • Park-e Jamshidieh: A chill park in the foothills of northern Tehran. Bring picnic materials, or just sit and wait for some friendly Iranians to approach you for some conversation!
  • Darband:  A chill riverside area where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some riverside kebabs and hookah.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Park-e Shahr in central Tehran, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Park-e Shahr in central Tehran. Who says Tehran is all concrete and fumes?

Where to stay in Tehran

As you could expect from the capital, Tehran has plenty of hotels. Because the city is so big, I am reluctant to give recommendations. Instead, you can check out 1stQuest to find the perfect accommodation in Tehran .  Don’t forget to use the code LWP-QST for a 5% discount when using 1stQuest.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Traffic on the streets of Tehran - Lost With Purpose

Traffic on Tehran’s streets can get a little hectic…

Transportation times from Tehran

  • Bus to Qom: 1.5 hours
  • Train to Qom: 2 hours
  • Bus to Kashan: 3 hours
  • Train to Kashan: 4 hours

Finding the right bus in Tehran can be a real nightmare, as bus stations are crowded and chaotic. Save yourself some stress and book buses online with 1stQuest – use code LWP-QST for a 5% discount.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine in Qom, Iran

The Hazrat-e Masumeh Shrine in Qom by Fulvio Spada

The second holiest city in Iran, and an important city in the run-up to the revolution, Qom is a logical stopover on your way to Kashan or Esfahan, or as a day trip from Tehran. It’s a very pious city, due to its large theological institutes, and houses the magnificent shrine to the sister of Imam Reza.

If you don’t have the time to make it to holy Mashhad in the north, Qom is a good alternative as far as holy cities go.

Tip: While in Qom, be sure to dress extra conservatively—dark or somber clothes are best.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Men praying at Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine in Qom, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Men praying at the Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine by Franxx

Top things to see in Qom:

  • Hazrat-e Masumeh/Fatimah Masumeh Shrine:  Shrine to the sister of Imam Reza, Fatimah, and the second most holy place in Iran.
  • Jameh Mosque:  Another grand Friday mosque.
  • Qom Bazaar:  Historical covered bazaar, much less crowded than Tehran’s.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The Jamkaran Mosque in Qom, Iran

The Jamkaran Mosque by Fabien Dany

Where to stay in Qom

I recommend going to Qom as a day trip from Tehran. There’s no real reason to stay the night.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Conservative clothes in Qom, Iran

Men and women in conservative clothes by Ralf Schumacher

Transportation from Qom

  • To Tehran by bus:  1.5 hours
  • Bus to Kashan: 2 hours
  • To Esfahan by bus: 5.5 hours

A two week Iran travel itinerary - The Agha Bozorg mosque in Kashan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

The Agha Bozorg mosque

Many people consider Kashan one of the highlights of Iran, but I have to admit: I was disappointed by Kashan. Supposedly “hidden” from mass tourism, it actually overflows with tour groups. Sightseeing opportunities are numerous, but ticket costs quickly add up.

On the other hand, Kashan is en-route to other major destinations and a logical stopover going south. Its Old City is filled with the winding alleys and gorgeous old buildings, so if this is what you’re looking for, add Kashan to your Iran itinerary. Everyone’s experience is different, after all. 

A two week Iran travel itinerary - The roof of the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse - Lost With Purpose

Looking down on peons below from the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse

Top things to see in Kashan

  • Fin Gardens:  One of several UNESCO-listed Persian gardens.
  • Traditional houses: See how the wealthy merchants of Kashan lived in the numerous traditional houses. They’re $3 a piece to enter. You can buy a ticket for several houses + bathhouse at the ticket office of the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse.
  • Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse: Ornate vaulted ceilings decorate the inside. On the flip side is an alien dome-covered rooftop.

A two week Iran travel itinerary - The view from the roof of the Noghli Guesthouse in Kashan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Not too shabby: the view from the roof of Noghli Guesthouse

Where to stay in Kashan

Kashan’s budget options are limited, as most accommodations are in beautifully restored heritage homes. Some of these have dorms for $10 – 15 a bed. But with an increase in tourism, cheaper options are sure to pop up. Check out 1StQuest if the options below are not to your liking ( use code LWP-QST for a 5% discount).

  • Budget/mid-range:  Amir Kabir Hotel 
  • Mid-range: Kan-e Ehs an

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Skyline of Kashan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

The mountainous skyline of Kashan

Transportation from Kashan

Kashan is a great stop on your Iran itinerary if you’re going south from Tehran, as it’s right between Tehran and Esfahan. There are regular buses and several trains.

  • Bus to Esfahan: 3 hours
  • Train to Tehran: 4 hours

A two week Iran travel itinerary - The Si-o-seh pol bridge in Esfahan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

The 33 arches of Si-o-seh pol in Esfahan

Esfahan is one of the highlights of Iran. With its glorious mosques, grand bazaar, tasty food, and lovely people, it has something on offer for anyone.

Imam square, surrounded by Esfahan’s bazaar and perhaps the most exquisite mosques in the country, can easily take up a day or two. Esfahan is a place not to be rushed, so make sure to slow down, sit on the grass and treat yourself to a saffron ice cream or three.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Beryani near Jame Mosque in Esfahan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Tip: When in Esfahan, don’t forget to try  beryani , the local specialty made of minced mutton, herbs, and fresh bread.  Azam Beryani specializes in the dish. They have several locations, but we enjoyed the spot near the Jame Mosque the best. Don’t worry when you see the line—everyone in line is often too happy to let foreigners skip a few places.

Esfahan’s mosques are certainly its highlight, but the city offers so much more. It has several historic bridges, of which at least Si-o-seh pol is worth a visit. 

A two week Iran travel itinerary - The ceiling of the Sheikh Lotfallah mosque in Esfahan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Talk about ceilings! The ceiling of the Sheikh Lotfallah mosque in Imam Square.

Top things to see in Esfahan:

  • Imam Square:  Don’t forget to sit down in the grass and enjoy some saffron ice cream.
  • Shah Mosque:  This mosque has perhaps one of the most intricate archways in Iran. A must visit.
  • Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque:  One of my favorite mosques in Iran. Staring at the ceiling never gets old.
  • Historical bridges on the Zāyanderūd  river, notably Si-o-seh Pol:  Make sure to visit in the evening when the bridges are atmospherically lit up, and Iranians flock to enjoy the evening cool.
  • Vank Cathedral:  This Armenian cathedral has beautifully ornate frescoes, and rivals anything you’ll see in Armenia itself.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Entrance to the Shah mosque in Esfahan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Entrance to the epic Shah Mosque

Where to stay in Esfahan

Esfahan has plenty of options. From big luxury hotels to small homestay-like hostels. Prices are what you would expect from one of Iran’s most popular cities. We recommend booking ahead in the high season using 1stQuest ( use code LWP-QST for a 5% discount ).

  • Budget: Amir Kabir Hostel
  • Mid-range: Dibai House
  • Top end:  Piroozy Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Saffron ice cream in Esfahan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Saffron ice cream, the greatest culinary invention ever.

Transportation from Esfahan

You can go almost anywhere in Iran from Esfahan. Below you can find some travel information on the most popular routes for this Iran itinerary.

  • Bus to Yazd: 7-8 hours – I recommend an overnight VIP bus to save on time and accommodation
  • Train to Yazd: 3 hours
  • Bus to Tehran: 5 hours
  • Train to Tehran: 7.5 hours
  • Flight to Tehran: 1 hour
  • Bus to Shiraz:  6 – 7 hours

A two week photo itinerary for Iran. Includes top places to visit in Iran, things to see in each city, where to stay, and travel times between destinations. Save this if you're considering travel to Iran!

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Two week Iran travel itinerary - Mosque interior in Yazd, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Hazire mosque is near the central Jame Mosque.

Yazd is an exquisitely well preserved and restored town. It’s a quintessential Persian oasis town, with lovely people and ample photo ops. You can easily spend a day or two getting lost in its desert tinted alleys, or admiring the views while relaxing on one of its numerous rooftop cafes.

Yazd is a great place to stick around in, and if you have time we recommend staying a bit longer to visit some of the sights around Yazd. If not, two days is enough to visit the main sights and get a little bit lost.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Amir Chaghmagh mosque lit up at night - Lost With Purpose

Amir Chakhmagh lit up at night

Top things to see in Yazd:

  • Jameh Mosque: Beautiful Friday Mosque in the center of Yazd. Has a grand entrance hall. PRO TIP : visit in the evening, or take the back door, to save on the entry fee.
  • Amir Chakhmagh:  Don’t waste your money on the entrance fee, you can have the same view from the guesthouse rooftop next door.
  • Old town alleyways: One of the joys of Yazd is wandering its backstreets. With a bit of imagination, you’ll soon be transported back to the 17th century.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Pigeon tower of Meybod near Yazd, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Off the beaten track tip:  Don’t miss the haunting pigeon tower or sprawling Narin castle in nearby Meybod !

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Rooftop views from the best budget hostel in Yazd, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Enjoying the sick rooftop views from the budget-friendly Amir Chakhmagh hostel

Places to stay in Yazd

Yazd has plenty of accommodation. Most of the more upscale places are located around the side streets near the Jame Mosque and Bazaar. I only found one budget place 2016, which can be found next to Amir Chakhmagh, but as of 2019, several other places have opened.

  • Budget:  Yazd Friendly Hotel 
  • Mid-range:  Khane Dohad
  • Luxury:  Parsian Safaiyeh Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The traditional and iconic windcatchers (wind towers) of Yazd - Lost With Purpose

The traditional windcatchers of Yazd used to cool houses down below

Transportation from Yazd

  • Bus to Shiraz:  6 hours – Consider overnighting it.
  • Bus to Tehran: 9 – 10 hours
  • Plane to Tehran: 1 hour

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz - Lost With Purpose

The famous Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz

Days 12 – 14: Shiraz

Shirazis (people from Shiraz) have a reputation as being the warmest people in Iran, and it’s easy to see why! The city’s history is decorated by poetry, music, and wine, and its old interior is filled to the brim with yet more stunning architecture. Though the hard-line government has deprived the city of its Bacchanalian aspects, Shiraz is still a warm and welcoming place for everyone, and sure to impress.

From Shiraz, you can fly or take a bus back to Tehran. If you have some time left, check out our list of alternative destinations below, or leave the tourist trail with our off the beaten track guide .

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The Necropolis near Shiraz, Iran - Lost With Purpose

The tombs of the Necropolis

Top things to see in Shiraz:

  • Nasir al Mulk Mosque: perhaps the most photographed mosque in all of Iran, and for good reason.
  • Shah Cheragh shrine:  Shrine to Imam Reza’s brothers. Absolutely gorgeous. Dress appropriately and you might not need a mandatory guide.
  • Tomb of Hafez: Brimming with locals, it’s the tomb of one of Iran’s most exalted poets.
  • Tomb of Saadi:  Another mausoleum, this time of the great Persian poet Saadi
  • Vakil Mosque:  Yet another dazzling mosque, tucked away in the city’s bazaar.
  • Vakil Bazaar: Winding walkways promising to be filled with everything you never needed and more.
  • Persepolis and Necropolis:  For some  the  reason to visit Iran. The lasting remains of an ancient capital are a sight to behold. An easy day trip from Shiraz.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The Shah Cheragh shrine - Lost With Purpose

The Shah Cheragh shrine

Where to stay in Shiraz

Shiraz lacks reasonable budget options. However, most mid-range options are sharply priced for what you get and are close to most major sights and luxury hotels sometimes offer great discounts.

  • Budget/midrange:  Niayesh Boutique Hotel (offers dorm beds for $12), or check out the options on Homestay.com .
  • Luxury: Shiraz Grand Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Persian carpets in the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Persian carpets in the Vakil Bazaar

Transportation from Shiraz

If you find yourself in Shiraz during Nowruz and have to travel back to Tehran, we recommend flying, as flights to Tehran are cheap during Nowruz.

  • Plane to Tehran: 1.20 hours
  • Train to Tehran: 14 – 15 hours
  • Bus to Yazd: 7-8 hours –

A two week photo itinerary for Iran. Includes top places to visit in Iran, things to see in each city, where to stay, and travel times between destinations. Save this if you're considering travel to Iran!

Alternative Iran itinerary ideas

The route above covers classic Iran, and is perfect for first-time visitors, especially if you fly into Tehran. It covers genuine highlights, but it’s also a bit mainstream.

The following are some of my favorite places in Iran that are worth a visit, which is guaranteed to be less laden with tour groups. If you have only two weeks, you can fit in one of these destinations by cutting out Qom and/or Kashan .

If you have a bit more time, you can easily tack several of these on to your Iran itinerary. And if you need more inspiration to create a four-week itinerary for Iran, check out our off-the-beaten-track guide to Iran .

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The UNESCO-listed Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, Iran, the largest covered bazaar in the world - Lost With Purpose

The Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, the first-ever UNESCO-listed bazaar

Tabriz (2-3 days)

Probably my favorite big city in Iran. Tabrizis are extremely friendly , there’s plenty of interesting sights to be seen, and its UNESCO-listed bazaar is a shopper’s Valhalla. The city’s popularity is sure to pick up due to its close proximity to the Armenian border crossing , but for now, it’s blissfully devoid of mass tourism.

How to fit Tabriz into your itinerary:  If coming over the border from Armenia or Turkey, make Tabriz your first stop. If starting from Tehran , fly or take an overnight bus from there.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Sunset view of Tabriz, Iran skyline - Lost With Purpose

Sunset views over Tabriz from one of the many hills surrounding the city

Top things to see in Tabriz

  • Bazaar of Tabriz: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bazaar of Tabriz is phenomenal. It is one of the oldest bazaars in the region, and one of the largest covered bazaars in the world.
  • The Blue Mosque:  Dilapidated but still beautiful, this mosque was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1780. Restoration efforts are in place, but work is progressing slowly.
  • Shah Gölü park:  A large artificial lake surrounded by snack stalls, small eateries, and carnival rides. It’s a popular hangout spot for locals, especially in the evenings!
  • Kandovan:  Reminiscent of Cappadocia in Turkey, Kandovan is an easy day trip from Tabriz , and a must-visit if you’re in the region.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The cave city of Kandovan, Iran near Tabriz - Lost With Purpose

The cave city of Kandovan

Where to stay in Tabriz

Being a big city, Tabriz has a wide array of accommodation available.

  • Budget:  There are lots of budget hotels around the Darya Hotel . The Darya used to be cheaper, but being featured in the Lonely Planet has inevitably raised the prices to around $25 for a double.
  • Mid-range:  Tabriz Hotel
  • Luxury:   Kaya Laleh Park Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Hole in the wall cafe for breakfast in Tabriz, Iran - Lost With Purpose

A hole in the wall cafe serving delicious bread, cream and honey for breakfast in the bazaar

Transportation from Tabriz

Tabriz is a bit out of the way, but well worth the effort getting there.

  • Train to Tehran: 12 – 13 hours
  • Bus to Tehran: 8 – 9 hours

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Castles of the Assassins in the Alamut Valley - Lost With Purpose

Atop one of the Castles of the Assassins in the Alamut Valley

The Alamut Valley (2 days)

Home to the famous Alamut Castle of the Assassins , the otherworldly rock formations and fascinating history of the Alamut Valley is hard to forget. Best accessed from Qazvin, the Alamut valley offers anything from a day trip to multi-day hiking opportunities.

How to fit the Alamut Valley into your itinerary:  If coming over the border from Armenia or Turkey, you can stop here after Tabriz. Otherwise, head here from Tehran via bus or taxi.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Traditional Persian food in the Alamut Valley, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Delicious zereshk polow (chicken and rice with barberries) in a home at the base of the Alamut Castle

Top things to see in the Alamut Valley

  • Alamut Castle:  The ex-fortress of Hassan-e Sabbh. The fortress is no more, though it’s being restored, the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking.
  • Three canyons: I couldn’t tell you their names, but there are several canyons running alongside one of the roads into the valley. They feature surreal, bulbous rock formations known as “pudding rocks”. Can’t go wrong with a name like that!
  • Garmarud:  A small village in the mountains, and the starting point of many treks through the Alamut Valley.

Two week Iran travel Itinerary - Canyons in the Alamut Valley - Lost With Purpose

Where to stay in the Alamut Valley

You have two options if not hiking and camping—Qazvin, the nearest city, and Gazor Khan, a village at the base of the Alamut Castle mountain 2.5 hours from Qazvin.

  • Budget: Telighani Inn, Qazvin
  • Mid-range: Golestan Hotel in Gazor Khan
  • Luxury: Traditional Behrouzi Hotel , Qazvin

Two week Iran travel itinerary - A lake in the Alamut Valley, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Transportation times from Qazvin

  • Train to Tehran: 2 hours
  • Bus to Tehran: 3 – 4 hours
  • Bus to Rasht: 3 hours

A two week photo itinerary for Iran. Includes top places to visit in Iran, things to see in each city, where to stay, and travel times between destinations. Save this if you're considering travel to Iran!

The Shrine of Imam Reza by Costas Tavernarakis

Mashhad (2 days)

Mashhad is Iran’s holiest city, and it shows. The glittering minarets of the Shrine to Imam Reza rise above the city’s skyline, the streets are filled with pilgrims, and black is the color of choice for almost all women on the street. There’s not much to see in Mashhad aside from the shrine, but it’s worth it. It’s not every day you can see the resting place of one of the 12 imams, some of the holiest people in Shia Islam.

How to fit Mashhad into your itinerary: Mashhad is far away from literally everything in Iran. If you’re pressed for time, you need to fly there. If you have a bit more wiggle room, you can take an overnight train or bus from Tehran to Mashhad and back.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran

Photo by Costas Tavernarakis

Top things to see in Mashhad

  • Shrine to Imam Reza:  A sprawling, ornate masterpiece that needs to be seen to be believed. Girls will need to wear a chador, and no cameras are allowed inside.
  • Kang: A stepped village near Mashhad. Perfect for a day trip.
  • Torbat-e Jam:  Another small village with a beautiful mosque and mausoleum near the border of Afghanistan. Here’s how to get from Mashhad to Torbat-e Jam .

Two week Iran travel itinerary - A tomb in Torbat-e Jam near Mashhad, Iran - Lost With Purpose

A lively tomb in Torbat-e Jam

Where to stay in Mashhad

  • Budget:  Vali’s Homestay
  • Mid-range:  Javad Hotel
  • Luxury: Madinah Alireza Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Bus terminal in Mashhad, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Transportation from Mashhad

  • Train to Tehran: 10 – 11 hours
  • Bus to Tehran: 10 – 11 hours

Two week Iran travel Itinerary - Sunrise over the Kaluts desert near Kerman, Iran - Lost With Purpose

A still sunrise over the Kaluts desert

Kerman and the Kaluts (2 days)

Southern Kerman is quite a hike from anything else in Iran, but the Kaluts desert (also known as the Dasht-e Lut desert) makes the trip worth your while. The overwhelmingly stark silence of the desert is enough to calm even the most restless of minds, and the surreal “sandcastles” will transport you to another world entirely.

How to fit Kerman into your itinerary:  You can overnight bus to Kerman from Shiraz or Yazd. Alternatively, if you have the funds you can fly to Kerman’s airport from Tehran, Esfahan, or Shiraz.

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Rayen citadel near Kerman, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Rayen citadel makes for a nice day trip from Kerman

Top things to see in Kerman and the Kaluts

  • The Kaluts desert:  Of course!
  • Old caravanserai:  An abandoned caravanserai in Shahdad, a small desert town at the edge of the Kaluts.
  • Vakil traditional tea house:  An old tea house in a historic bath inside Kerman’s bazaar, often offering live music.
  • Rayen citadel: A restored ancient city, and a nice alternative to the destroyed Bam Citadel
  • Shazdeh Garden:  A beautiful Persian garden near Kerman

Two week Iran travel itinerary - Shahdad desert town near Kerman, Iran - Lost With Purpose

The town of Shahdad near the Kaluts

Where to stay in Kerman

  • Budget:  Omid Guesthouse
  • Mid-range:  Hotel Akhavan  – can help arrange desert tours to the Kaluts
  • Luxury:  Pars Hotel

Two week Iran travel itinerary - The Kaluts desert in Iran - Lost With Purpose

Transportation times from Kerman

  • Bus to Shiraz: 7 – 8 hours
  • Bus to Yazd: 5 – 6 hours
  • Plane to Tehran:  1.5 hours

Red water on the red beach in Hormuz, Iran - Lost with Purpose travel blog

The red beach on Hormuz Island

Hormuz Island (2-3 days)

Hormuz island is sometimes referred to as Rainbow Island, and it’s clear why. Its multicolored mountains and beaches will surely take your breath away.

Hormuz was relatively undiscovered until recently, but it’s becoming more popular with Iranian tourists and foreign travelers alike.

The island has a laid-back atmosphere and attracts Iranian hippy types and backpackers alike. Most people who visit Hormuz end up staying longer than they planned.

Top things to do on Hormuz Island

  • Red Beach: The red sand of the surrounding mountains gives the water at this beach an almost eerily red glow. One of the most popular destinations on the island.
  • Hole in the rock:  This hole in the rock makes for a great photo prop, and you can see many Iranians angling for just the right selfie.
  • Rainbow Valley:  Multicolored valley with a gorgeous view. Popular with Iranian buskers.
  • Salt cave:  A stunning salt cave surrounded by red mountains.

All of the above and more can be visited in a day hiring a motorbike or rickshaw ($1.80 an hour). But I recommend taking your time and leisurely exploring the island.

Rainbow valley Iran itinerary - Lost with Purpose travel blog

A view from the Rainbow Valley. Can you spot all the different colors?

Where to stay on Hormuz Island

Hormuz is small and has only one town. There used to be almost no accommodation, but with its increased popularity several places have now popped up.

  • Budget:  Camping – there are plenty of beaches to pitch your tent, and it’s possible to buy gas canisters on the island.
  • Budget: Saboora Hostel is a simple yet atmospheric hostel charging $7 per night.
  • Mid-range:  Sahel Rorkh is a regular 3-star hotel in Hormuz town.

Transportation to Hormuz

There are several ferries a day from/to Bandar Abbas, and two ferries from/two Qeshm. You can check the ferry schedule here . Both ferries take roughly one hour.

Resources for travel in Iran

  • 1stQuest – here you can book accommodation, buses, and flights for Iran using international payment methods. Use code LWP-QST for a 5% discount.
  • Lonely Planet: Iran – Because let’s face it, having a physical book is always best.
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance – The travel insurance we used while in Iran. Highly recommended!
  • Everything you need to know about taxis in Iran – A very thorough guide to not getting ripped off by taxi drivers in Iran.
  • Things to know before traveling Iran – Everything we think you should know before heading to Iran
  • How to access blocked sites in Iran – Don’t forget that the Iranian government censors the internet! Here’s how to get around their block.
  • Couchsurfing – Extremely popular in Iran (despite being illegal) and the best way to meet locals  and  save on accommodation
  • Iran rail – The unofficial page of the Iranian railways is super useful for train, bus, and ferry schedules.

And that concludes my two-week Iran itinerary. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

A two week photo itinerary for Iran. Includes top places to visit in Iran, things to see in each city, where to stay, and travel times between destinations. Save this if you're considering travel to Iran!

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Yay transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy or book something with our links, we’ll get a small commission  at no extra cost to you . Think of it as a way of saying thanks for making the itinerary 🙂

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Alex Reynolds

60 thoughts on “ photo itinerary: two weeks in iran ”.

Iran, is very good, is very nice

I’m visiting soon Iran, I found this article very useful, because I will be new up there. I’m very much interested to see mosques and historical places and land capes in Iran.

Looking for private or tour company for 14 day tour in Iran from 15 Oct for 2 persons. (One couple). English speaking. Please recommend with iternery and price. Thank you

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A first timer’s guide to Iran: A 3 week itinerary

Iran offers intrepid travellers a sensory avalanche filled with turquoise, saffron, sweet tea and a chorus of Welcome to Iran.

But planning a trip to Iran can be daunting. You may wonder how easy it is to get around on public transport and negotiate language barriers; how to experience traditional Iranian hospitality; and if you should stick to the cities or get off the beaten path and explore the natural landscapes.

The following itinerary will help you to plan your trip and figure out what is possible given the time you have in this fascinating country.

You can find more information on what you need to know before you go to Iran here .

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Day 1-2 Tehran

Tehran will most likely be your entry point into Iran – and it’s a good idea to start here. All the hostels are set up to help travellers get what they need for their trip such as SIM cards, exchanging money, setting up the Snapp taxi phone app, and helping you book buses or internal flights.

Tehran is not just a good starting point, but there’s also a few things to see and do, such as Golestan Place, Mt Tochal and Tabiat Bridge. You can get around easily in Tehran on the metro. Tickets cost only 10,000 Rials and can be bought from the ticket office at each station. Stations are announced and written in both Farsi and English.

Golestan Palace was once a royal residence and features beautiful gardens, brightly coloured decorative tiles adorning the inner walls, as well as a wealth of beautiful ornaments from across the world.

You can simply pay to enter the gardens, or pick to enter some or all of the museums housing ornaments, and also beautifully adorned themselves with chandeliers and mosaic mirrored walls.

You can also visit the nearby Masoudieh Palace .

3,964 metre Mt Tochal is a wintertime ski resort and summertime viewpoint. You can reach the summit from Tehran by taking the cable car up. To get to the cable car, you will need to take the metro to Tajrish (also home to a large bazaar) and then a shared taxi to the cable car.

On a clear day, Tabiat Bridge offers a beautiful view of the mountains surrounding Tehran. To get there, take the metro to Shahid Hemmat Station and then walk over to the Taleghani Forest Park and follow the signs to the bridge.

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Day 3-4 Kashan

Depending on the season or weather, you can then choose to head north to Dizin or go south to Kashan from Tehran. Buses run regularly to Kashan from Tehran’s South Bus Station near the Payane-e Jonub metro station.

Kashan is home to the beautiful 18 th century Agha Bozorg Mosque as well as several traditional houses turned into museums. It also features a beautiful old bazaar and the Fin Garden.

Kashan’s main sights can be explored in a day, but you may want to hang around an extra day to do a day trip to the Abyaneh village (also known as the red village owing to the colour of the clay used to construct the houses), or a sunrise or sunset tour to the nearby Maranjab Desert and the Namak Salt Lake.

I opted for the latter and the tour also included a visit to the a mud castle and nearby underground city in the town of Noush Abad, the Holy Shrine of Aran va Bidgol  and a caravanserai.

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Day 5-6 Isfahan

From Kashan, your next stop should be Isfahan – which was once among the biggest cities in the world during the times of the Silk Road. Buses run regularly between Kashan and Isfahan.

Most of the main sights in Isfahan are centred around the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, including the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, Shah Mosque and the bazaar.

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The bazaar runs around the perimeter of the square and you’ll likely roam for hours in the bazaar as you browse everything from carpets to copper tea cups.

Nearby the square is the Hasht Behesht Palace , which is adorned with a beautiful mosaic interior.

Isfahan is also well known for its beautiful bridges spanning the Zayandeh River – and it’s worth seeing Si-o-Se Pol Bridge and Khajoo Bridge both during the day and night.

Cross one of the bridges and head over to the Armenian Quarter of Isfahan, which was established in the 17 th century. Here you’ll find plenty of trendy shops and cafes, as well as the Vank Cathedral.

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Day 7-9 Yazd

There’s a lot to see in and around Yazd and it was my favourite city in Iran.

Not only does the city of Yazd feature beautiful alleyways and viewpoints, but there’s also plenty of easy day trips from Yazd.

Your first day in Yazd should be spent exploring the old town, visiting the Jameh Mosque , the many labyrinth bazaars, and roaming the covered old town streets. You can get a panoramic rooftop view of the old town from the tourist library or the multitude of rooftop cafes such as Yazd Arthouse.

About a 15 minute drive from Yazd town centre is the Towers of Silence . Followers of the Zoroastrian religion would carry their dead to the top of these towers for vultures and the sun to purify the body. These towers were once located far away from the inhabitants of Yazd, but eventually the population spread to encroach on the towers and the practice was abandoned and the Zoroastrians started to bury their dead.

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Information signs are written in Farsi and English throughout the complex.

Nearby Yazd lies several key attractions. About 30km past the Towers of Silence is the mud brick Saryazd Castle , a maze like castle which was once used to hide precious treasures such as jewels, as well as store grains. You’ll likely spend a few hours exploring the labyrinth, which was designed to make it hard for any thieves to find the treasures stored there.

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Many tourists to Yazd do the organised day trip to the Chak Chak village to see a Zoroastrian fire temple, Narin Castle in Meybod and the abandoned mud brick town of Kharanaq . This can also be done by getting a Snapp taxi (you can download the app on your phone and it works similar to Uber) from Yazd to Meybod and then negotiating with the taxi drivers to take you to Chaq Chaq and Kharanaq. I highly recommend the fascinating village of Kharanaq – but Narin Castle and Chak Chak can be skipped if you are time poor as they are similar to other sights you will likely come across in Iran.

Days 9-11 Kerman and the Kalut desert

From Yazd, take the bus to Kerman to see more castles and you can also take a tour out to the Kalut desert – described as the hottest place on Earth.

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Days 12-14 Shiraz and Persepolis

There’s a lot to see in Shiraz and it’s worth at least a full day to see the city and then a half day to see the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis.

Highlights in Shiraz include the Nasir-Al-Molk – better known as the Pink Mosque. It’s best to go here in the morning to see the sunlight projected in a colourful display inside the prayer hall through the stained glass windows. The mosque opens at 8am – but the best time to go is between 9-11am – but be ready for the crowds. When the mosque opens, you also get a nice reflection on the courtyard pond – and likely no one else will be out there!

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Other must see sights include the Karim Khan Citadel – the outside is far more spectacular than the inside so no need to go in; the Vakil Mosque , Vakil Bathhouse and the Vakil Bazaar , which are all conveniently located close to each other.

The Vakil Bazaar was one of the my favourite bazaars in Iran owing to it’s beautiful coloured vaulted ceilings.

It’s also worth a visit to the Shah-e Cheragh Holy Shrine in the late afternoon so you can see the mosque during the day and night. A guide is mandatory for tourists and will be provided on entry, and no cameras are allowed – only phone cameras. Women will be required to wear a chador, which you can get for free at the entrance.

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The ancient city of Persepolis is located about a 45 minute drive from Shiraz. You can opt to book a guided tour, or simply get a Snapp taxi to take you there. You can then negotiate a price for the return trip – expect to pay about 800,000 Rials (about €7).

Day 14 – Rasht, Masouleh and Rudkhan Castle

From Shiraz, you can fly back to Tehran with Iran Air or Mahan Air or take an overnight bus or train, then make your way over to Rasht, about a three hour drive to Rasht. Buses depart for Rasht from Tehran’s West Bus Station near Azadi Square.

While there’s not much to see in Rasht, it’s a good base to reach the picturesque highland town of Masouleh and the moody Rudkhan Castle.

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I did both as a day trip from Rasht. To get out there, I took a shared taxi to Fuman, about a 30 minute drive from Rasht, for 40,000 Rials. From Fuman, I bargained with a taxi driver to take me out to both Rudkhan Castle and Masouleh. The cost was 1,000,000 Rials which included waiting time at both stops.

No matter the weather, Rudkhan Castle is beautiful. Rasht receives a lot of rain, and while luckily it didn’t rain the particular day, the castle was shrouded in mist, but this added to its magic.

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Day 15-17 Alamut Valley

From Rasht, you can take a bus to Qazvin, and organise a tour to the Castles of the Assassins in the beautiful Alamut Valley .

The Castles of the Assassins date back to the 12 th century and were home to the followers of the infamous Hasan-e Sabbah. The Mongols fought for the castles for many years, with one of the Castles of the Assassins said to have held out from siege for 17 years – it was that well fortified. The castles were all infiltrated by 1256 and destroyed.

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The most popular castles to visit are Alamut Castle , which has a spectacular position on a mountain and offers panoramic views to a village below and the surrounding mountains – but unfortunately what remains of the castle is held up by scaffolding. Not much is left of Lambasar Castle located to the west of Alamut Castle, but again it’s location makes it worth the visit with its equally spectacular views of the valley and coloured mountains surrounding the castle.

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There’s many tour operators but I recommend Alamut Eagle Tours . My guide Farzad is from Qazvin, speaks English and offers a wealth of knowledge about the area. You can also include a tour of Qazvin to see the caravanserai, bazaar and local mosques, as well as a hike to a waterfall near Qazvin.

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Days 17-20 Dizin

Dizin Ski Resort is Iran’s largest and attracts people from all over the world.

From Qazvin, you can get to Dizin by catching a Tehran bound bus and asking to be dropped off at Karaj at the shared taxi stand bordering Chalus Road.

Depending on the time, you may be able to get a shared taxi or taxi up to Dizin. The price should be no more than 1,000,000 Rials.

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Make sure you stay at Dizin Joyja Hostel ! Abbas and Shoukoo are the most amazing hosts and will show you genuine Iranian hospitality.

The Dizin Ski Resort offers piste runs for all levels, and advanced skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of the good off piste runs.

If you’re visiting Dizin in the warmer months, there’s also hiking opportunities in the area.

Day 21 Tehran

You will likely finish your Iran trip in Tehran unless you are exiting Iran via the Armenian or Turkish borders.

Got more time? Consider visiting Tabriz and seeing the world’s largest covered bazaar. You can also do a day trip to the Colourful Mountains and Kandovan, which is similar to Turkey’s Cappadocia.

If you’re seeking waterfalls, head over to the Golestan province and explore the forests and villages of this province near the Turkmenistan border.

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Inspired By Maps

32 Top Things To Do In Iran: Modern Hospitality Meet Ancient Beauty

Posted on Last updated: December 15, 2023

Categories Iran

32 Top Things To Do In Iran: Modern Hospitality Meet Ancient Beauty

Expert travel storyteller Jordan Adkins, founder of InspiredByMaps.com, brings a decade of adventures across 101 countries and 450+ UNESCO sites into rich, off-the-beaten-path narratives, melding ecological expertise with genuine, seasoned travel insights. His full bio can be found here.

There is a reason that Iran is termed “the jewel in Islam’s crown” – like a prized jewel, it’s colorful, intricately beautiful and brings joy. Iran is one of the world’s oldest civilizations, combining fascinating history, incredible food and glorious foods with a warm welcome.

Following these places and things to do in Iran is guaranteed to make a memorable trip here for any ambitious traveler.

If you’re in any way interested in the past, you’ll find plenty to feast on here, from the captivating ruins of Persepolis to the ancient Elamite complex of Chogha Zanbil, history has never felt closed than when you’re exploring old Persia.

You can follow in the paths laid by Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan and wonder at how such beauty can still be felt in the modern age.

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Even if ruins are not your thing, there are masses to satisfy any lover of aesthetic beauty.

Iran is home to some truly exquisite architecture, with elegant tiled spires and minarets on mosques, delicate palaces and carefully landscapes gardens to stroll in. People in Iran place a premium on grace and sophistication, not only in their architecture but also in their manners.

You can expect to be welcomed with open arms and more invitations to tea or dinner than you know what to do with. It’s a wonderful opportunity to really get to the heart of the country, so make the most of these times to learn more about this rich and complex place.

You’ll find yourself inundated with suggestions of what to do, so to help you narrow it down, here are our suggestions of the best places to visit and things to do in Iran.

tehran iran points of interest | historical places in iran | best places to visit in iran | iran holiday destination

32 Top Things To Do In Iran: Modern Hospitality Meet Ancient Beauty 🇮🇷

Page Contents

Summit Mt Damavand, The Tallest Mountain In The Middle East

Marvel at the ancient ruins of persepolis, explore the fascinating streets of tehran, stroll through eye-catching design and architecture in kashan, experience the vastness of the kaluts / lut desert, be uplifted in mashhad, iran’s most holy city, get a taste of the ‘real’ iran in kerman, relax in the mountains of palangan with kurdish hospitality, see the unesco-listed mosques of ancient ardabil, unwind in the resorts of kish island, get cultural in shiraz, visit the shia pilgrimage sites of qom, wander the kandovan man-made cliff dwellings, find a true desert oases in garmeh, enjoy a feast for the eyes in gorgeous isfahan, go hiking in the mythical alamut valley, roam the oft overlooked ruins of pasargadae, explore iran’s largest iran, qeshm island, be impressed by the improbable mil-e radkan tower, learn the stories of yazd, get to know the nomads of the zagros in bavanat, explore the crumbling adobe mess of ghalat, see the otherworldly desert city of toudeshk, stray away from the beaten track in shushtar, escape to the red barrens of hormuz island, revel in the charming magic of masuleh, easily summit mt tochal with the tochal telecabin / sky lift, go through the gates of paradise to discover tabriz, explore susa, the oldest urban settlement in iran, try your hand at skiing in iran, marvel at aladaglar, the colored mountains of iran, see the wonder of restoration in quake-proof arg-e bam.

A majestic stratovolcano that climbs steeply from the Central Alborz mountain range, Mt Damavand is Asia’s highest volcano and the tallest mountain in the middle east .

Often referred to as the roof of Iran, Mt Damavand is 5,610 m tall and is still considered active – even though its last known eruption was 5350 BCE ± 200 years.

It is the second most prominent mountain in Asia after Mount Everest. It is located along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, around 66 kilometers (41 miles) northeast of the city of Tehran. And yet, despite its proximity to the capital, Mt Damavand does not even register on most travelers list of top places to visit in Iran. Don’t make the same mistake.

With its Fuju-esque profile, summiting Mt Damavand is not particularly difficult with 16 routes up. The most popular is the classic southern route, as is a gradually sloping walk-up — the most dangerous aspect is attitude sickness, which claims lives every year and the occasional belch of sulfuric fumes from the summit.

A guide is recommended for these reasons and is generally included if you arrange a three-day tour from Iran. The best time to summit is in August, though even then, the weather can change rapidly, so dress appropriately. There are huts along the way, but fill out and have no way of booking — which is again why an organized tour is recommended.

Most visitors return to Tehran on the same day as they summit, but you could consider staying in Abgarm village after which has several accommodation options located around hot springs.

Summit Mt Damavand - Things To Do In iran

One of the greatest ruins from the ancient world, no trip to Iran would be complete without marveling at Persepolis, and it’s many, many sights. Built by architects from all over the first Achaemenid Empire, the scale here defies belief, and you can wander for hours and hours and still be totally amazed.

Dating back to 515 BC, Persepolis may have been ruined for millennia. Still, it was not forgotten by the Persian and was the centerpiece of the extravagant 2,500 Year Celebration of the Persian Empire in 1971 under the last Shah of Iran. Be sure to stay for sunset and pick out a great spot of Mt Rahmat to watch the entire ruins and desert enveloped in a soft red glow.

Commonly visited from Shiraz, there are many options for tours to the inspiring Persepolis. Try to take one with a qualified guide to gain a deeper appreciation for the historical significance of this world heritage site.

Persepolis - Best Places To Visit In Iran

Set at the foot of a stunning mountain range, Iran’s traffic-clogged capital is chaotic, dynamic, and utterly enthralling.

It’s also the most liberal and secular place you can find in this staunchly Islamic country, so starting here is a good way to ease into the country. Not that it always feels relaxing, with over 8 million people living busy lives, but there are pockets of serenity in the garden or even the trails in the nearby foothills.

Spend some time here visiting the photogenic Grand Bazaar, or the many museums (we love the Museum of Contemporary Art). A must-see attraction is the UNESCO world heritage site of the extravagant Golestan Palace – expensive, it might be, but totally worth it.

Between the sightseeing, stop for coffee in Tehran’s liberal coffee shops and get a taste of the progressive elements behind the regime.

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In their hurry to get out of Tehran and on to the more famous Iran landmarks, many travelers skip by Kashan — this is a mistake.

Kashan is an alluring oasis city on the hem of the Great Dasht-e Kavir (a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau) and one of the most captivating places to visit in Iran. It possesses an assemblage of architectural spectacles, an evocative bazaar, and the divine UNESCO listed Fin Garden, the oldest existing garden in Iran.

To add to the appeal, Kashan has some Iran’s best traditional hotels, including the incredible Manouchehri House , offering nine renovated rooms around a magical central courtyard.

Kashan is also famed for its production of rose water, sold throughout the city. If you can time your visit in April, the climate is most palatable, and the entire city smells of roses from the surrounding fields or traditional workhouses around the city. It is said that Kashan is the city where the three wise men set off for Bethlehem.

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The trump card of the Kerman region, a trip out to the Lut Desert UNESCO Site to see the eerily barren wasteland, is an absolute must. Out here – nothing at all grows, and dramatic erosional features known as Kaluts are the main drawcard.

The Kaluts is best seen at sunrise or sunset due to the dramatically changing color; you just can’t visit Iran without making the trip out there. There are around 30 oasis deserts collected here, and man ruined tradition outposts now being reclaimed from by the stands of the sands.

Be careful in summer as the Lut Desert is one of the hottest and driest locations on Earth, and you do not want to be outside in peak hours, though. In winter, you will need a jacket.

Be sure to spend a few hours wandering around, climbing, and exploring this utterly unique natural phenomenon. Guided tours from Kerman are the easiest way to get out here, which take in the Kaluts along with other famous attractions out here: Mahan and Rayen. For the ultimate experience, organize to camp overnight in the desert under an enchanting sea of stars.

Lutz Desert Iran Travel Ideas

Iran’s second-biggest city and holiest, Mashhad has a population of 2.9 million and more than enough sights to keep you busy for days, if not weeks. Its most famous highlight is the elegant, colossal, and ever-evolving Haram Shrine Complex, which commemorates the martyrdom of Shiite Islam’s eighth Imam, Imam Reza in AD 818.

Imam Reza’s assassination is still mourned well over a millennium later with over 20 million pilgrims uniting here each year to pay their reverences. Even non-Muslim will find the entire experience of this very public outpouring of grief incredibly touching – and will likely feel compelling to visiting multiple times to experience the ever-changing atmosphere here. At sunset or during evening prayer is the most poignant opportunity to visit.

Some spaces are restricted to Muslims, though even those not here for prayer can catch glimpses of the holiest spaces from the entranceways.

Beyond the shrine, Mashhad has several important museums, a lively bazaar famous for its carpets, and the not-to-be-missed Hezardestan traditional Teahouse, with fabulous food and live music.

Visiting during No Ruz and major Muslim holidays is not the best ideal, with most accommodation sold out months in advance and transport links operating at full capacity. However, outside of this, Mashhad can be very affordable.

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We won’t lie to you – of all the beauty to be found in Iran, not much of it is in Kerman!

Nevertheless, its mix of different cultures – here, Persians live with more subcontinental Baluchi people – have created an interesting city with an ancient covered bazaar where you can learn more about what day-to-day life in Iran is like.

You can easily spend hours in the bazaar and once you’re finished there, head to Fath Abad Garden at sunset to enjoy the night lights. Coffee shops are fast becoming a part of daily life here, as well as in Tehran, so spend time here chatting to local students and liberals.

Aside from the attractions in the city, one of the best things to do in Iran is to get out into the Lut Desert around Kerman to see the natural wasteland, stunning in the fading or dawning light.

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Another picturesque mountain town in Iran, Palangan is a delightful genuine spot that has yet to see mass tourism like Masuleh or Kandovan — yet! It also has the distinction of being home to a majority-Kurdish community.

There isn’t much ‘to do’ here, except interacting with the warm locals who will be more than happy to proffer suggestions as to activities. Don’t be surprised when you are invited in for tea or dinner. Only around 800 people live here, and there is no official hotel — but some small rooms are rented out. Many tourists chose to come just for a day trip, which is currently the best option given the lack of facilities.

Palangan can be reached by private taxi from Kermanshah or Sanandaj, or by savari should you want the full experience.

The city of Ardabil hidden in the dry mountains of eastern Azerbaijan offers the UNESCO-listed Sheikh Safi-od-Din Mausoleum, snow-topped mountains, and a beautiful drive across a windswept plateau covered in snow during the winter month.

There are also plenty of historic bridges, a beautiful bazaar, and the famous Ardabil honeycomb and black havla. Both are a must for those with a sweet tooth. You should not miss out on visiting Shah Abbas Restaurant for a delicious traditional meal in an old bath-house or Cafe Cinema for delightful coffee with a distinctly Hollywood theme (complete with an Iron Throne from Game of Thrones!)

Ardabil can be visited on a (long) day trip from Tabriz, or you can stay overnight, though most of the sleeping options are rather dire. If you stay, Mt. Sabalan is nearby (Iran’s third highest mountain) and can be climbed in the summer months with ease. In the winter, there is the Alvares Ski resort nearby and the hot springs town of Sarein (also spelled Saryen or Sarein) to explore.

Ardabil - Top Places To Visit In Iran

Named the Pearl of the Persian Gulf, the Kish Island was supposed to be Iran’s answer to the resorts of Dubai or Kuwait City.

A 91.5-square-kilometer retreat island off the southern coast of Iran, Kish Island is a free trade zone with many malls, bizarre tourist attractions, and luxury resort hotels.

KISH has been Iran’s most hedonistic spot since it was set up by the Shah in the 1970s and developed as a place to shop, swim and stay with a relatively liberal atmosphere. By Iranian standards, don’t expect anything like Bali or Miami . Largely ignored by foreign tourists who generally come to Iran specifically for its different sights and culture, Kish is the chance to experience a different side of Iran.

There are healthy reefs offering some of the best scuba diving in Iran, a water park, and even an overwater hotel, Toranj Marine Hotel . Things can get expensive here, but you can still explore Kish Island on a budget thanks to a purpose-built 40-kilometer bike path that encircles the whole island.

Kish Island Iran Places To See

It might be a bit out of the way, but Shiraz is definitely a worthwhile place to experience while in Iran.

As you might have guessed from the name, the city was once famous for its namesake wine (no longer, alas) and was also the heart of Persian culture for 2000 years. In fact, many of the stunning buildings were built when it was the Iranian capital.

Sometimes known as the city of poets, travelers here will find the graves of Hafez and Sa’di, so can make pilgrimages to the resting places of these famous writers. Wonder at the rainbow colors in the Pink Mosque or wander the Citadel of Karim Kahn fortress in the city. The biggest draw for many tourists in Shiraz is the nearby ruins of Persepolis, the ancient city of the first Achaemenid Empire – stay until sunset where the fading glow brings a humbling stillness to something that has lasted so many years.

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Qom or Ghom is Iran’s second holiest city after Mashhad and is home to the magnanimous Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine and many of the hardline clerics who have ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution.

While many tourists seem to skip over Qom, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Iran if you want to understand the county’s current political and religious situation. Shiite scholars and pupils come from not only Iran but also around the world to study here, explore the significant array of religious bookshops, and pay reverence at the shrine. Compared to cosmopolitan Tehran, Qom is almost another world and conspicuously more pious.

You will need to dress conservatively and be mindful of your behavior – more so than in other more liberal areas of Iran. The shrine, the old bazaar, and the energetic main square are all worth visiting. Easily reachable on a day trip from Tehran, or as a stopover on route to Kerman, Qom is exceptionally busy on Fridays, and religious festivals, so plan accordingly.

And while you are here, do not miss the famous sohun confectionary delight, a traditional Persian saffron brittle toffee. It is famed around Iran and is sold in tins at many shops. Best enjoyed with a glass of tea, a tin makes an excellent gift to locals around Iran or friends back home.

Qom Iran Things To Do

Like something straight out of a fantasy novel, the bizarre troglodyte cliff dwellings of Kandovan are only an hour away from Tabriz.

One of the top sites you cannot miss in Iran, you should try to visit in the afternoon when the sun shines on the rock face and gives off a special glow. With plenty of shops and restaurants to explore, you might even be tempted to stay the night in the Kandovan Laleh Rocky Hotel – one of the world’s most unique hotels and build straight into the cliff face!

The village has an admission fee and plenty of hiking options in the surrounding hillsides. Crowds flock here in the morning, so consider a hiking trip in the morning and come back down in the afternoon when many tourists have left, and the light is softer.

The classic desert oasis you might imagine when you think of Persia, Garmeh is a  1500-year-old mud-brick village dotted with swaying date palms and centered around a small fresh-water spring filled with fish.

Hardly on the tourist trail in Iran, Garmeh has become a bit of a hidden gem thanks to some enterprising locals who organize camel treks, mountain-village visits, and hikes to hot springs in the area.

The only place we would ever consider staying is Ateshooni , one of the best homestays in Iran and exceeds the already high standards set by Iranian hospitality. A 300 years old house renovated to keep its ancient style, with traditional home-cooked food and comfortable dorms and private rooms.

Don’t miss the open-air cafe nearby, belonging to the owner’s brother, where you can try camel BBQ.

Situated on the edge of Iran’s central desert, you can get here by bus from Tehran, Esfahan or Yazd, with a 35-kilometer taxi connection from Khur – the nearest bus station.

Sometimes described as “a living museum”, Isfahan is the most popular tourist destination in Iran and once you get there you won’t be surprised. With towering mosaic minarets and domes, ancient Persian architecture, elegant bridges, and no less than three UNESCO world heritage sites in Isfahan , it feels like there’s the perfect picture around every corner.

The main UNESCO site is the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, an enormous expanse where locals stroll in the cooler evening and take in the fountain display; head here at dusk to enjoy the spectacle. There are numerous other museums, bazaars, and historic buildings to take in – and this is all before we even mention the mouth-watering food.

Oh, the food. Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew),  Tahdig (Crunchy Fried Rice), Kabab koobideh (Barbecued ground lamb with parsley and onion). The list is endless. It is nothing short of incredible, and Isfahan has them all for you to try.

Try everything once, is our motto!

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Snuggled in amongst jagged hills, canyons, and pinnacles of the legendary Alamut Valley remains the broken ruins of more than 50 ravaged fortresses that once formed the home base for the medieval world’s most dreaded religious cult. The Middle East is not known for its hiking, but the Alamut Valley could change that.

The most famous of which is the fabled Castles of the Assassin, where those who undertake the arduous trek are rewarded with a captivating history lesson. It was here that followers of Hasan-e Sabbah (1070–1124) shelters, a spiritual leader of Islam’s apostate Ismaili sect, known as ‘Assassins.’

The entire Alamut Valley area proposes a tantalizing invitation to travelers looking to hike, investigate, and reflect — with a mixture of treks to suit all athleticism levels.

For day trips, the best base in Qazvin, which is largely filled with Iranian tourists who come here for a pleasant weekend retreat in this impressive mountain-rimmed valley. For those wanting a less relaxation and more a ‘once-in-a-lifetime adventure,’ there is the trans-Alborz crossing to the Caspian hinterland – complete with a mule and views you’ll never forget.

The ancient ruins of Pasargadae – built by the armies of Cyrus the Great in 546 BC – is often overshadowed by Persepolis, but let us be clear: Pasargadae is worth a visit in its own right.

It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Status located smack-bang in the middle of a flat, arid plateau. Big sky and big ruins await you here, and while the ruins of this earlier era might not be as impressive as Persepolis – this is considered to be the home base of the first world empire to respect and include cultural diversity…Almost 2,500 years ago!

One of the top highlights of Iran, Pasargadae is best accessed on a day trip from Shiraz and can conveniently be combined with a trip to nearby Persepolis.

Shiraz Pasargadae UNESCO Site

With 1,330 square kilometers, Qeshm is not only the largest island in Iran but also the largest in the Persian Gulf.

The Iranian government recognized its potential for heavy industry due to an abundance of natural gas, creating a free-trade zone in the 1990s – but tourism does not seem to have been a priority.

This is somewhat confusing given the abundance of biologically diverse mangrove forests, beautiful beaches, and traditional Bandari villages here, a refreshing experience compared to the glistening skyscrapers across the Gulf in places like Doha.

The interior is sun-scorched and permeated with geologically significant features, including phenomenal canyons, caves and valleys, large parts of which are preserved as part of a UNESCO geopark. You’ll find the world’s longest water cave, Tirian, and the magical Valley of the Stars.

A paradise for nature lovers, there is also excellent bird-watching and opportunities to spot dolphins and turtle (either by snorkeling or scuba diving). Almost the antithesis of luxurious Kish, Qeshm remains refreshingly lively and persists in the age-old Bandari way of life. If an authentic, traditional island experience is top of your list of things to do in Iran – read: without luxurious hotels and brands, Qeshm Island will not disappoint.

Qeshm Island - Things To Do In Iran

A complicated astronomical tower developed by one of the most celebrated Persian scholars of the Islamic Golden Age, Radkan mounts some 30 meters (100 feet tall) in plains of northeastern Iran.

The brick tower baffled researchers and tourists for centuries, but it is now though Radkan was used to collect invaluable information about the stars’ movements in the sky. This was an age of remarkable scientific discovery, and the structure of Radkan was adopted to determine the beginning of seasons, the start of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and even leap years.

The solstices align perfectly to shine light through the doors of the structure, and the 12 walls correspond to the 12 months in a year. An unbelievable feat — and one of those monumental places in Iran that remind travelers of the advancements made in Persia while Europe was back in its dark ages.

Located around 9 kilometers off the Quchan-Mashhad Highway is the Radkan Village, with a scattering of ancient mud ruins and a former ice house. The Radkan tower is about 3 kilometers from here. Taxi’s wait at the turnoff to take you to Chenaran, or you can negotiate to visit the tower and then continue to central Mashhad.

You can stay at the gorgeous Radkan Arg Ecolodge if you fancy spending a little longer and seeing the tower against the starry night sky.

This desert city has history, intrigue, and atmosphere in spades and is definitely one of the best places to visit in Iran. Yazd is also one of the oldest cities on Earth, ensuring you’ll have you entranced from the moment you step foot into its legendary old town.

Here it’s not about hitting all the sites; instead, take it slow as you explore the tangled streets and lanes, perhaps heading up to a rooftop café for a break and a view of the city.

If you’ve been busy in Tehran or Isfahan, this is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life. Another highlight is the Old Town, a baked-mud labyrinth with hundreds of hidden gems; or, the Yazd Water Museum, one of the best things to do in Iran if you’re fascinated by engineering and how a desert city maintained its water supply.

In fact, even if that’s not your top interest, you’ll still find it interesting!

A city with no peer – Yazd and its historic laneways, ancient ruins, beautiful views, and burgeoning dining scene (all in an arid desert) deserves a spot on any Iran itinerary for this alone. Of course, there is a lot more to this sleepy city to justify at least a couple of days – and most travelers report extending after they arrive, in case you think you might.

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Don’t let the big cities of Iran fool you, around two million Iranians from numerous different ethnic groups still live a largely nomadic existence here. Qashqa’i and Bakhtiyari nomads are two such groups, moving around the Zagros Mountains with their goats in search of pasture each spring and autumn, before heading to the coast for winter.

Understandably there are many ways to experience this local wandering culture, but one of the best has to be by staying in the hills of Bavanat in Khamseh. Bavanat is a 20-kilometer long valley separating the Zagros Mountains for the arid deserts to the north and is famed for its walnut.

A homestay here operated by Abbas Barzegar has been developed to showcase the rural and nomadic life of the region to intrigued tourists with guided tours, home-cooked meals, and organized the camping in the hills with nomads. There are few indulgences, but why would you expect there to be? The views, delicious yogurt, and gracious locals are plenty reason enough to go.

A handy stopping point between Shiraz and Yazd, this is a one-of-a-kind place where you are guaranteed authentic experience, unique memories, and all profits returned to the community.

Ghalat (or Qalaat) is a scruffy adobe village on the edge of the mighty Zagros Mountains and slowly becoming one of Iran’s most popular tourism destinations, but not for its architecture. Instead, it is known locally as the ‘Amsterdam of Iran,’ which might give you an idea why so many young Iranian head here…

While drug cultivation may have taken off in Ghalat, the major drawcard for us was not the smell of weed in the air, but the mountain hiking, delicious food, and pictorial views.

Best avoided on the weekend when visitors from Shiraz make it a bit of a madhouse, you should also not miss the chance to visit Grandma’s House for some of the best food you will eat anywhere in Iran.

Ghalat Village - Top Places To Visit In iran

The deserts of Iran might be cold at night, but the welcome is always warm – especially in Toudesk-Cho.

Located almost in the dead center of Iran, Toudeshk-Cho, is the older part of the Toudeshk desert village with a population of just 400. It was an important stopover point on the traditional Silk Road but is now more famed for the authentic desert village experiences it offers to travelers on their way between Esfahan and Yazd.

For sci-fi fans, think an Iranian Tatooine with low mud-brick buildings, intriguing wind towers, and an interminable expanse of nothingness all around. Thankfully, the locals are far more hospitable here than Tatooine.

The Tak-Taku Guesthouse is the go-to place here, a charming courtyard house run by Mohammad and his family, who are happy to help organize unique experiences for you in the surrounding area. Eat and sleep the Iranian way, use their bikes, take a walking tour around town or visit the local hammam — an unusual attraction in Iran.

If you have the time and budget, the overnight camping expedition in the shifting dunes of the surrounding Varzaneh Desert are otherworldly and one of the best things to do in Iran. Otherwise, the sunset trip and camel-riding expeditions are also great options for those short of time.

If you’re anything like us, the idea of discovering somewhere that very few travelers have ever been before is intoxicating. Voila, Shushtar, the heart of early Persian culture but now an oasis seldom visited by outsiders. If the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (a hydraulic system dating back to 5 th century BC, the Pol-e Shadorvan Bridge, and the Susa ruins) don’t tempt you, the traditional food will!

A truly unique experience is the Lashka Bridge Dining experience, pavilions sticking out over the flowing river where you can sip tea and enjoy local meals. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Iran if you’re looking for an authentic experience. On the topic of food, you can also taste a range of pickled items, go on a food industry tour and sample Shushtar cookies, delicately spiced and more-ish.

Shushtar is also one of the best places in Iran to connect with locals as you are likely not even to see another tourist during your entire visit and Iranians will be eager to talk to the foreigners who have endeavored to explore their historic city.

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A small island and town off the southwest coast, Hormuz is one of the best places to visit in Iran for those who want to get really off the beaten track.

While Hormuz was an important city in medieval times, even being visited by Marco Polo around 1275, it has languished in the centuries since and today has a small population of around 6,000.

The only way to explore the island is will local guides who await you at the ferry terminal with motorcycles and rickshaws to show you the sights— there are virtually no cars here. The natural beauty of this island is reminiscent of the red hues common in Australia , and multi-colored salt formations cover much of the island. Most tours include stops around the desolate rocky landscape and to the beautiful beaches untouched by modernity.

You should also visit the ruins of a 16th century Portuguese Fort, the Fort of Our Lady of the Conception, one of the last surviving markers of Portuguese colonial rule in the Persian Gulf built to protect profitable trade routes back to Porto and Lisbon.

A speedboat trip of around 45 minutes connects Hormuz Island with Bandar Abbas on the mainland, and with Qeshm. This makes a day trip to Hormuz an attractive option from either point, or a creative stopover on route.

Hormoz Island Iran Places To Visit

Over 1000 years old, Masuleh is one of Iran’s most charming villages and one of its most touristed.

Located around 1,050 meters above sea level in the Alborz mountain range, near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, the village of Masuleh itself has an elevation difference of 100 meters as it clings – or rather grows – up the mountain slope.

A popular haunt on the Iran backpacker trail thanks to its earth-colored houses, Masuleh presents a picture-perfect scene and plenty of Instagrammable spots. Then there are the cute herbal shops, ubiquitous souvenir stands, nice cafes, and varied restaurants to explore.

During the day, tourists swarm the village rooftops and narrow passageways, and it can be hard to find the magic of this place, but if you do stay overnight, you will be duly rewarded. Spend the day hiking the surrounding mountains and come back when the coaches have left in the last afternoon to quiet streets and the mystical shadows of sunset set in.

It seems almost every villager is renting out their room, but we loved the renovated suites of Abbas Bamdad with stunning views. Its position up the slope makes it a climb to get here, but you will lose many tourists by staying up here.

Masuleh - most beautiful places in iran

If Tehran’s inevitable smog gets a bit too much for you, why not head to the mountains with the Tochal Telecabin / Sky Lift, located just to the north of Tehran.

You can make a 45 minutes trip straight up and couple your efforts with a short scramble to easily summit Mt Tochal (3933m). As you would expect, the views from up here are out of this world – both of the mountains and back down over the chaos that is Tehran. If you’re feeling fit, there is plenty of hiking opportunities at the different stations along the way!

Popular with locals looking for a weekend day trip, just don’t make the same mistake as us and try to visit the Tochal Telecabin during the week. We were told it is closed for the first three days after the weekend, every week, which means the Tochal Telecabin opening hours are supposedly Wednesday – Saturday.

The best solution is to call ahead before making the trip out there (best reached by taxi) and to go early as the last car back down is apparently 3 PM…

Like many things in Iran, it’s better not to question it!

Tochal Telecabin / Sky Lift - Top Places To Visit In Iran

Located on a high-up plane in the hills in north-western Iran, this extensive city is rich in history, culture and there’s a pretty epic bazaar here, too.

Yes, we know we keep talking about bazaars, but they really are the most fascinating places to go and the one in Tabriz is UNESCO listed and could easily be explored for a day or more. In 2018, the city was actually chosen as the Tourism Capital City of Islamic Countries – a just reward for all its attractions.

When you finish gaping at the mosaics of the spectacular Blue Mosque, people-watching at El Goli Park (a popular courting-spot) and resisting the urge to buy All The Persian Rugs, head out of the city to explore the starkly beautiful hills around the city. The Tabriz Telecabin takes you to the top of Eynali Mount to enjoy the views.

If you’re particularly energetic, you could even walk up there! Sprawling, with the best bazaar in Iran, beautiful architecture, and plenty of Azeri cultures to boot – there has been no better time to visit Tabriz then right now! 

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If you make your way to Shushtar in Iran, you have to go on a day trip to  UNESCO World Heritage Listed Susa, which dates back to the 5th century BC.

The Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultures can trace their heritage back here – though sadly the Susa site itself is a tad underwhelming with only small walls remaining to help you imagine what it once looked it. However, the onsite museum is terrific, as are the desert foxes that wander around the ruins in the afternoon.

While you are out this way, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Daniel’s Shine, the final resting place Daniel of ‘Daniel and the Lion’s Den’ fame – where there is a beautiful small but busy altar besieged by vibrant markets.

Susa Ruins UNESCO Site - Places To See In Iran

When you think of Iran skiing is probably not the first association you make — but high-altitude Iran has more than 20 ski fields and rather affordable prices.

Most of the biggest ski resorts are conveniently clustered around Tehran, with Shemshak and Dizin being the most popular with international snow bunnies looking for steep downhills and fresh powder.

Popular with Tehran’s upper middle class, the slopes are some of the most liberal parts of Iran and a unique way to experience this historic country. Chalets and ski passes are economical, especially compared with other Western ski destinations — and far cheaper than skiing in Lapland, Finland . Package deals can be arranged in advance through several local operators, or on the ground through accommodation providers.

Skiing In Iran

We have previously told you of the rainbow mountain of Argentina , Peru , and China – and now, let us introduce the incredible Aladaglar, The Colored Mountains Of Iran.

Positioned about 25 kilometers northeast of Tabriz between Ahar and Khajeh, on the road to Babak Castle, the colorful eroded hills rise out of an otherwise rather bleak and treeless plateau.

The mountains have slowly been forming over the past 15 million years, creating a masterpiece of art in which it seems like nature has painted the mountain with whichever colors it pleased.

A rainbow might be a bit of a stretch as the mountain are predominately brown and grey, but some of the slops have reds, oranges, and yellows. And worth making a trip to, especially at sunset when the glow of the sun sets the golden and copper tones afire and some pigments appear as blue or white.

Aladaglar, The Colored Mountains Of Iran can be reached by taxi – taking around 30 minutes or so each way, or can be viewed out the window of the bus as you travel along the Tabriz – Ahar Highway. If you are an avid photographer, it is best to head out on a tour with a local guide who knows the best spots for lighting.

Situated in a vast desert plateau in the southern reaches of Iran, the Bam Citadel rises up like a Phoenix again from the intimating earthquake after being almost entirely leveled in the 2003 Bam Earthquake.

Tracing it’s origins back to the 6th century BC in the Achaemenid Period, the oasis town and citadel of Bam didn’t experience it’s golden era until much later in the 7th til 11th centuries when it was one of the key stops on the Silk Route transporting goods between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Despite the 2003 earthquake catastrophe, the government was undaunted in its efforts to restore the spectacular site – which looks like a larger-than life-sandcastle towering over the nearby town.

It’s quite a sight, and the fact that it is there to be enjoyed now is a testament to the patience and commitment of the restoration team.

Even as you wonder at the feat of human perseverance, you’ll also enjoy walking through living history, including the old bazaar, barracks, and the central square (Tekiyeh).  It’s one of the best things to do in Iran not only because of its grandeur and sheer scale — because also because of the way it captures the feel of the past

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1 – 3 Weeks in Iran: The Ultimate Iran Itinerary

Iran, a country that is a dream to many travelers. Filled with delicious cuisine, beautiful architecture, and out of this world like landscapes, there is something in Iran for everyone. However, knowing where to go in a country as large as Iran can be difficult so to help you out we have created the ultimate Iran itineraries for you below. No matter if you have one week, two weeks or three weeks to spent in Iran, the destinations below are the ones you will want to add to your Iran bucket list . Explore the bustling cities of Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan or go off the beaten path in the East and South of Iran; there are simply so many things to do and see, and you don’t want to miss out, because you never know when you’ll be back. Keep on reading to find out which destinations in Iran you should add to your itinerary…

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Roads through Iran with mountain view.

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1 Week in Iran: Iran’s Most Beautiful Cities

Only have a short amount of time available? Don’t worry, there is a lot to see in a week, and even a week in Iran is worthwhile your time. 1 Week in Iran is just enough time to see Iran’s most famous and most beautiful cities: Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz. Travel from North to South and stop in Isfahan, a city that is said to be half the world, and see some of the most beautiful mosques, landscapes and eat some of the most delicious Persian cuisine. Have a taste of some of the best Iran has to offer, and leave the smaller cities and off the beaten path destinations for your next visit to Iran. If you only have limited time, and budget is not something you take into account, you might want to fly to save some time and spent all your time in the cities. To give you a better idea of where the cities are located, check out the blue markers on the map below. Keep on reading to see why Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz should be on your itinerary!

2 – 3 Days: Explore Tehran

Tehran, Iran’s capital and largest city, is a place you cannot leave of your Iran itinerary. Explore the vibrant hustle and bustle of this concrete jungle, a place that many people tend to leave of their itinerary, which is a shame as it has so much to offer. Wander around the Tehran’s bazaar, visit the former US embassy (now named the Den of Espionage) or admire the beautiful architecture of Golestan palace. These are just a couple of the many things to do in Tehran . As Tehran is home to Iran’s largest international airport, this will be most likely your start and ending point of your trip to Iran, and as such the perfect place to meet other travelers. We recommend to spend at least 2 days in the city, and if you have another day left, use it for a day trip to the mountains surrounding Tehran. From Tehran you can make your way North, should you have a lot of time, or if you are on a strict timeframe, head down South to the beautiful city of Isfahan!

Where to stay in Tehran

There is no shortage of hostels in Tehran, making it easy for the budget backpacker to find a place to stay. From private rooms to dorms, there is something for everyone’s liking in Tehran! Some of Tehran’s most popular places to stay, as of early 2019, are Hi Tehran Hostel , See You in Iran Hostel and Tehran Heritage hostel . And the best thing is, you can now easily book these all on Hostelworld, to see all hostels in Tehran available just click here ! Looking for more info, check out our complete blogposts on the best hostels for budget backpackers in Iran here .

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Azadi Tower in Tehran.

The Azadi Tower in Tehran

3 Days: Visit Isfahan

“Isfahan is Half the World” as the saying goes. In the 16th century the reigning Shah Abbas chose Isfahan as its capital, filling it with bridges, mosques, gardens and many more wonderful architecture that can still be admired today. Many successors kept on adding beautiful architectural pieces, and as such Isfahan is still one of the most beautiful cities for architecture lovers, and photographers, visiting Iran. Admire some of Iran’s most beautiful mosques, such as the Shah Mosque , explore Isfahan’s bazaar or simply watch daily life go by at the Naqsh-e Jahan square. These are just some examples of the many unforgettable things to do in Isfahan . 3 Days should give you enough time to see some of Isfahan’s most beautiful highlights and experience some of Iran’s culture. For many travelers Isfahan is the highlight of their trip, especially those who are only visiting Iran’s cities, it is simply a place you cannot leave out of your Iran itinerary!

Where to stay in Isfahan

With the rising popularity of tourism in Tehran it isn’t hard to find budget and non budget accommodation in Isfahan. For budget accommodation, check out Hostelworld , as this is currently one of the few booking websites that allows you to book accommodation in Iran. Some of the most popular hostels in Isfahan are currently RagRug Hostel , a modern hostel located slightly out of the center of Isfahan, and Mahbibi Hostel , a more traditional hostel in a central location. These hostels both offer a selection of dorm rooms and private rooms, perfect for travelers visiting Iran on a budget .

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Stunning Jameh Mosque in Isfahan.

The Jameh Mosque in Isfahan

2 -3 Days: Explore beautiful Shiraz & Persepolis

Shiraz, Iran’s 5th largest city, is located in the South of Iran and is one of Iran’s most popular tourist destination. The reason, its close proximity to the remains of Persepolis. And while Persepolis is a beautiful place, a place that draws tourists from all over the world, it isn’t the only reason you should visit Shiraz. Shiraz is also home to the tomb of Iran’s most famous poet, and to one of the most colorful and unique mosques in Iran: the Nasir al Mulk Mosque . Take a walk through Shiraz’s bazaar, explore Shiraz’s most beautiful mosques or simply indulge in the delicious Persian cuisine, these are just some of the many amazing things to do in Shiraz . You will need a full two days to admire the highlights of Shiraz, and if you are a history lover and came to Iran to see the ruins of Persepolis, you will need at least another half a day, as Persepolis is located 60km out of Shiraz. From Shiraz you can either decide to fly back to Tehran, if you are on a time crunch, or to enjoy the beautiful train ride through the desert and mountain landscapes of Iran.

Where to stay in  Shiraz

With most of Shiraz’s attractions being centrally located it is easiest to find a centrally located hostel, especially for those traveling Iran on a budget , so you can explore the city by foot. The easiest way to book accommodation in Shiraz is by using Hostelworld , as this is currently one of the few booking sites available that allows you to book a hostel in Iran. Currently, one of the most popular hostels in Shiraz is Taha Hostel but there are plenty of other options out there which you can find here !

iran itinerary: persepolis in iran

2 Weeks in Iran: Highlights of Iran

If you have a little bit more time to spend extend your trip to a two week trip in Iran. While a week will give you just enough to scratch the surface of Iran’s beauty, two weeks will allow you to not only see the big cities, but also to see some smaller desert cities, which will guaranteed add value to your trip to Iran. From these desert cities it is easy to explore nearby deserts, mountains and see some of Iran’s most beautiful landscapes. Most people traveling to Iran will follow the itinerary below, as this covers the highlights of Iran. It will offer the best of both worlds: nature and architecture, and will allow you as a traveler to see what Iran is like! Curious to see what you should add to your Iran itinerary, check out the map below. Instead of just seeing Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz, consider adding the two desert cities, Kashan and Yazd to your trip, read on below why these should be on your itinerary.

2 – 3 Days: Explore Kashan

Kashan, located conveniently between Tehran and Isfahan, is a town that is famous for its traditional houses, and impeccable views. Wander through the small alleys of the old town, visit the bazar, awe at the architecture of the traditional buildings or simply enjoy the view. From Kashan many travelers opt to either spent a day, or even a night in the desert, one of the most famous things to do in Kashan. A day could be all you need to explore this cozy city, but we recommend to spent at leas two days here to fully take it in, and not only explore Kashan, but also its surroundings. To find out exactly what there is to do in Kashan check out our complete guide to Kashan here . From Kashan, instead of taking the bus to Isfahan, opt to book a private tour, easily to be shared with other travelers, to see some of the beautiful stops between Kashan and Isfahan such as Abyaneh and the mosque in Aran va Bidgol.

Where to stay in Kashan

Accommodation in Kashan isn’t hard to find as it has is becoming more and more popular with tourist to visit this beautiful city. The best thing is to find accommodation that is located in the older part of town, as this will easily allow you to walk to the major sights and save some money on transport. Currently, the easiest way to book a hostel is by using Hostelworld , as this is one of the few booking sites out there that allows you to book hostels in Iran. Currently, one of the most popular places to stay for backpackers is Sana Historical Hostel , but you can find all available hostels in Kashan here .

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Agha bozorg mosque Kashan.

The Agha Bozorg Mosque in Kashan

2 – 3 Days: Visit Yazd

Yazd, another desert city, located East of Isfahan. Yazd is the perfect stop between Isfahan and Shiraz, and can easily be added if you have more then a week to spend in Iran. There are many reasons to visit Yazd: to see the traditional wind towers of Yazd, created to keep the houses cool during hot summer days, to learn more about Zoroastrianism, or again, to explore the beautiful deserts of Iran. It doesn’t matter if you are an architecture lover or a nature lover, there is something for everyone in Yazd. Two days will be enough to see the city itself, if you have an extra day left in your Iran itinerary consider spending a day in the desert by booking a tour, available at one of the many tour offices in the heart of Yazd.

If you are looking to see a bit more off the beaten path of Iran, consider spending a night/day in the nearby town of Taft, at the lovely Nartitee Ecolodge. You will be warmly welcomed by a friendly family who cooks the most delicious food, will be able to tell you more about Zoroastrianism and has bikes available to cycle through the beautiful surroundings. The accommodation is simple, but so peaceful and surrounded by beautiful surroundings. Visiting Taft for a day was one of the highlights of our four week trip to Iran. Find out more info on Nartitee here .

Where to stay in Yazd

Besides deciding to perhaps stay in Taft for a night, it is easiest to book a local hostel with a central location for Yazd. From here it will be easy to find restaurants and many of Yazd’s most beautiful sights. One of the most popular hostels currently available on Hostelworld is Badgir Hoste l. To see all hostels available in Yazd here , to find the best fit for you. Looking for an overview of the best hostels in Iran, be sure to check out our complete guide to budget accommodation in Iran here.

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Jameh Mosque Yazd.

The Jameh Mosque in Yazd.

3 Weeks in Iran: off the beaten path Iran

Want to turn two weeks to three weeks in Iran? Don’t worry, there is enough to see and to do in Iran to keep you busy for weeks. If you have more then two weeks to spend in Iran, consider going off the beaten path in Iran. Instead of making your way from Yazd to Shiraz, opt to go more East, and more South in Iran, this is the itinerary we followed below ourselves for 3,5 weeks in 2017. Visit one of the most unique and beautiful deserts of Iran: the Lut desert and make your way South to explore the beautiful Persian gulf area. This is the ultimate itinerary for adventure travelers, who love to see a bit more then the touristic sights in Iran. While you might run into a few other tourists in these areas, you can easily also go without seeing any for days. Visit the Lut desert and visiting the Persian Gulf is a unique experience, and perfect if you are looking to see a bit more of Iran’s unique and beautiful landscapes. Keep on reading to find out a bit more on these unique destinations!

2 Days: Desert Tour of the Kaluts

If you have been in the Middle East or Africa before then the sand dune deserts of Yazd and Kashan might not be that spectacular to you. If that is the case you might want to skip on the more touristy desert tours, and opt for a more off the beaten path desert instead: the Dasht-e Lut desert, also named the Lut desert. The Lut desert is located East of the city of Kerman and is home to Kaluts, unique sand formations like no where else in the world. It is the Kaluts that earned this desert a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The easiest way to visit the Lut desert is by setting up a tour from Kerman, this is also the most advisable way to visit the Lut desert as visiting the Kaluts without a guide is illegal, the reason being their concern for your safety. The Lut desert is partially located in the Sistan and Baluchestan region, for which many countries give a strong negative travel advice due to the drug smuggling that happens in these regions. We experienced none of these dangers when visiting the Lut desert and considered it one of the most unique experiences of our trips. Read more about safety in Iran and other tips in our article on 86 things you must know before traveling to Iran .

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Lut Desert near Kerman.

Lut Desert in Iran.

2 – 3 Days: Qeshm Island

Qeshm Island is located in the Persian Gulf and has slowly been gaining popularity with foreign tourists visiting Iran, and we cannot blame them, as it is one of the most stunning and unique locations of Iran. Not only many off the beaten path travel bloggers, but also vloggers, are now visiting this stunning part of Iran known for its rugged landscapes and delicious Persian sea food cuisine. Explore the wildlife of Qeshm, tour the island for some of the unique landscapes such as Chahkooh Valley or perhaps explore the world’s longest salt cave, you can do it all on Qeshm Island. If you are planning on visiting Qeshm Island be sure to check out our complete Qeshm island travel guide , containing all info on how to get there, things to do and many more tips!

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. . Shour Valley on qeshm island.

Valley in Qeshm Island.

1 -2 Days: Hormuz Island

East of Qeshm Island you can find the small island of Hormuz, known for its red color earth that makes the whole island look like it located on another planet. While small, this island is simply like no other, offering stunning landscape views a rainbow valley and some beautiful unique red sand beaches. As Hormuz island is small you can easily combine visiting the island with a visit to Qeshm and simply scooter or take a tuktuk around the island for a day. But it might be worthwhile your time to stay the night and see the sunset, and the sunrise over the beautiful Persian Gulf before making your way back to the main land. There are ferries going daily to the mainland coastal city of Bandar Abbas (from where the ferries to Qeshm also leave). From Bandar Abbas make your way up North to the beautiful city of Shiraz to end your trip.

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran. Hormuz Red Landscape Qeshm Island Iran

Red Landscapes of Hormuz.

Make it 4 Weeks in Iran

And there you have it, a one to three week itinerary for Iran, each depending on personal preferences and amount of time available. However, the adventure doesn’t have to end there, as there are many more beautiful places to visit, enough to keep you busy for weeks. If you are looking to add some more off the beaten path destinations to your itinerary you might want to check out these places:

  • Mashhad – Mashhad is located in Northeast Iran and is mainly known for religious pilgrimage reasons, and while fairly unexplored, it is actually the second largest city of Iran.
  • Tabriz – Tabriz is located North of Tehran, and for most people is considered a bit too far out of their itinerary for Iran. However if you have the time it might be worth exploring as it is home to one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East.
  • Kermanshah –  Kermanshah is located in the Kurdish region of Iran (West Iran). Due to its location it is often skipped by travelers, meaning only the most off the beaten path travelers head this way.

And there you have it, everything you need to know to create your ultimate Iran itinerary. Looking for more inspiration on Iran? Find all our blogposts on Iran here or check out our complete Iran travel guide … and oh, don’t forget to pin it!

Iran itinerary: 1 - 3 weeks in Iran #Iran

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Home » Travel Guides » Iran » 15 Best Places to Visit in Iran

15 Best Places to Visit in Iran

Iran might not seem like your usual tourist destination, and it’s certainly true that theocratic juntas, a fervor for all things nuclear, and tales of autocratic shahs from decades gone by don’t make for the most enticing of travel cocktails. But Iran isn’t like most Middle Eastern countries.

Millennia of rising and falling civilizations – the Persians, the Parthians, the Safavids – have all gone before the modern nation, and their glory and richness have done something to instill today’s country with a pride and stability that’s the envy of many neighbors (even if they won’t admit it). Today, that means Iran is hurtling headlong into the future whilst still clinging steadfastly to its dazzling past – it’s a curious dichotomy that really informs the whole place.

You can flit between boho coffee shops and avant-garde art galleries in Tehran, or seek out majestic madrassahs in cities like Esfahan and Yazd. You can carve the pistes at Dizin or trace the footsteps of Xerxes and Darius at Persepolis.

Lets explore the best places to visit in Iran :

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Esfahan

Gilded with the riches of more kings and sultans and Muslim caliphs than you can shake a cobalt-blue ceramic pot from a Zagros Mountain village at, the glorious city of Esfahan is unquestionably one of the most beautiful in all of Iran.

Its heart is dominated by the colossal Naqsh-e Jahan Square; a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s ringed by ceramic-fronted mosques and gorgeous Safavid palaces.

Elsewhere and babbling fountains give way to tree-dotted avenues, legendary madrassahs pop up on the streets, and arabesque souks burst with multi-coloured stacks of spices and tassel-fringed carpets from the east.

In short: Esfahan is the Iran you really have to see.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz

Eulogized and eulogized over and over again by romantic poets and travelers, and revered as the birthplace of the great Persian wordsmiths Hafez and Sa’di, Shiraz is a city steeped in heritage and culture.

Visitors will be able to spot the great tombs of those writers nestled between the palm-dotted, flower-sprouting gardens of Afif abad and Eram, along with the intricate arabesque interiors of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque and the 1,000-year-old Qor’an Gate.

Rather surprisingly, the town also lends its name to a popular strain of wine, and, despite the cascading vineyards of the Fars Province long since having dried up, it’s thought that some of the world’s earliest white tipples were produced here nearly seven millennia ago!

Azadi Tower, Tehran

One’s thing’s for sure: Tehran certainly isn’t a looker like Shiraz or Esfahan.

Apart from the rugged wall of snow-tipped Alborz Mountains that rise like a phalanx on the northern edge of town, the place is largely dominated by concrete and packed with smog-creating traffic jams aplenty.

However, like it or loathe it, this sprawling metropolis is the epicentre of the country’s politics and economy, and that surely counts for something, right? Well, a lot actually.

Great monuments like the Azadi Tower have been raised here, while the glimmering wonders of the Treasury of the National Jewels and the mummified princes of the National Museum of Iran are just some of the awesome relics to see.

Add to that a clutch of stylish teahouses and coffee shops, frantic bazaars and youthful student energy, and Tehran really isn’t all that bad!

Dizin

Perched nearly 3,000 meters up in the snowy heights of the Alborz Mountains, where the European Caucuses crash into the Asian ranges, the small hill station of Dizin has firmly established itself as one of Iran’s top winter sports destinations.

With a clutch of good groomed pistes ranging from moderate difficulty to challenging runs, and a selection of cableways and chairlifts that were first installed in the 1960s, the soaring resort is one of the top places to don the skis and salopettes here.

There are also some alpine-style hotels, and awesome views of the cone of massive Mount Damavand in the distance.

Amir Chakhmakh, Yazd

The adobe warren of the Yazd old town is like something out of Arabian Nights.

Here and there, turrets gilded in intricate geometric designs loft above the mosque domes; the scents of incense and mint tea twist and turn from the cafes.

Meanwhile, the middle of the city is dominated by mysterious Zoroastrian fire temples and the spiked minarets of the Shia hussainia that is the Amir Chakhmakh complex.

And then there are the souks, where dust devils twirl between the cotton and silk emporiums, and shisha pipes puff in the background.

Yep, it’s precisely the sort of place you’d expect to trace the footsteps of one Marco Polo!

6. Persepolis

Persepolis

Great kings by the name of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes all set foot between the sun-scorched streets of Persepolis once upon a time, for it was here, amidst the arid erstwhile vineyards of Shiraz and the babbling Pulvar River, that the mighty Persian Empire made its home from the 5th century to the 3rd century BC. Today, only traces of this once feared power in the east remain, with a clutch of looming marble columns and a couple of stele all that’s left to mark the great compound out amongst the rising hills of Rahmet Mountain.

Travelers can immerse themselves in the history, and even see the tomb of the revered king Darius I.

Blue Mosque

With a history of more than 4,500 years, there’s evidence to show that Tabriz is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the entire world.

That deep past now reveals itself in the layers of architectural majesty the place is known for, at spots like the colossal Blue Mosque of 1465, which comes gutted with shimmering ceramics of a deep cobalt blue.

Another real must see is the sprawling Bazaar of Tabriz, which is known as one of the great trading outposts of the old Silk Road.

Today, the vaulted ceilings and alcoves of this ancient merchant centre still burst with shimmering gold jewellery and blood-red carpets, sweet-smelling Turkic pastries and oodles of spice from the east.

Ali al-Ridha

Mashhad is hallowed ground for many Iranians. It houses the revered tomb of the eighth Imam of Shia Islam: Ali al-Ridha (or Imam Reza). It’s a seriously holy place, and is appropriately marked by the colossal Imam Reza shrine, which sprawls over nearly 600,000 square meters in the middle of the city; a glimmering mass of gold-clad minarets that go over 30 meters into the ski and great domes inlayed with precious metal (it’s definitely one of the country’s most breath-taking pieces of architecture).

Away from that must-see and Mashhad also has clean streets and curious sculpture art, not to mention some saffron-infused curries that are sure to set the taste buds a-tingling!

Rasht

For Iranians, Rasht represents the gateway to the Shomal – a region of verdant hills and high rainfall that’s really unlike anywhere else in the country.

The unique climactic conditions of the high ridges that surround the town are made possible by its enviable location on the edge of the Caspian Sea, which also happens to imbue it was an array of other curious attractions.

We’re talking about the USSR-themed relics relating to the Soviet sympathiser Mirza Kouchak, and the leafy European-style facades of the Shahrdari in the center.

However, it’s trips out to see the gorgeous Golestan National Park, where the misty forests house Persian leopards, that usually come up trumps!

Kerman

Encompassed by the sweeping deserts of the Iranian south, the old trading outpost of Kerman still clings to the bustling mercantile character it has had since the days when major trading routes between Arabia and India passed this way.

Check out the sprawling bazaar in the heart of the city, where five spice mixes with chilli and coriander powder between the vaulted emporiums.

There are also earthy Turkic hamams to bathe in, and a warren of mud-brick streets to wander.

And once the city’s done and dusted, be sure to strap on the boots and go intrepid into the ochre-hued hills of greater Kerman Province.

Ameri House

Kashan sprouts from the deserts of northern Iran midway between Esfahan and the capital at Tehran.

An oasis town, it’s packed with blooming pockets of date palms and green gardens that are fed with babbling irrigation streams.

The buildings are distinctly adobe and brown though, except – of course – for the elegant mansions of the Tabatabaie Residence, the Ameri House and the domes of Aqabozorg.

These are remnants of the Qajari royals, who came here and raised magnificent residential structures in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There’s also a throbbing bazaar and beautiful views of the mountains on the horizon.

Kish

Just 19 kilometres south of Iran’s coast, in the sparkling waters of the Persian Gulf, more than one million people discover the island of Kish each year.

They come to wallow in a place that’s quite unlike its mother country in many ways; a place where huge casinos converge on the palm-dotted gardens of opulent resort hotels.

However, there are two other attractions that ensure a steady stream of visitors on Kish: shopping and beaches.

The first of these comes with the duty-free malls that ring the main town, and the latter comes in the form of sparkling white sands, coral reefs, and awesome SCUBA diving to boot.

13. Hamadan

Tomb of Avicenna

Forged by the Medes and the Assyrians, the Persians and the Parthians, this once great city might not be the legendary metropolis it was in antiquity, but it still comes steeped in all the culture you’d expect of a place with so many thousands of years of history behind it.

It’s perhaps most famed as the home of the Tomb of Avicenna, which chronicles and honors the life of arguably the most totemic scientific thinker in the Islamic world.

And there are other awesome sights to see too, like the Ali Sadr Cave, which is the largest in-cave lake on the planet, and the inscriptions of the Ganjnameh, made by the ancient Persian kings Darius and Xerxes.

Qom

Qom is considered one of Iran’s most holy cities.

It’s packed with soaring minaret spires and the turquoise-hued domes of totemic mosques (don’t miss the uber-handsome Ahlulbayt Mosque). One of the country’s cultural and religious centers, it’s also got some acclaimed madrassahs and draws massive crowds of pilgrims throughout the year.

Most come to wonder at the filigrees and pay their respects at the Shrine of Fatima-al-Massumeh, which is the resting place of the sister of the eighth Imam of Shia Islam.

Ramsar

Ramsar sits neatly sandwiched between the rugged rises of the Alborz Mountains and the lapping waters of the Caspian Sea.

It’s a truly enviable location; one that imbues this town of neo-classical hotel fronts and palm-peppered avenues with a wealth of good beaches and some seriously jaw-dropping panoramas of the hills that rise to form the Caucasian chains of Azerbaijan to the north.

The place has long been one of the top seaside retreats for Iranian luminaries, and continues to draw with its bubbling hot springs and fabled healing waters.

15 Best Places to Visit in Iran:

travel highlights iran

ISFAHAN (ESFAHAN)

Travel to Shiraz

KISH ISLAND

Visit Iran: Travel to Iran, Discover Five thousand years of culture

Iran Highlights

Isfahan travel guide: discovering the half of the world.

isfahan travel guide

Isfahan( i · sfuh · haan ), also known as Esfahan, is one of the most beautiful and historically significant cities in Iran. Known for its stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and vibrant culture, Isfahan is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Iran. In this Isfahan travel guide, we will cover everything you need to know to plan a trip to this amazing city, including the best time to visit, top things to see and do, where to stay, and more.

Best Time to Visit Isfahan

The best time to visit Isfahan is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. Summer months (June to August) can be very hot and dry, while winters (December to February) can be quite cold. However, even in the colder months, Isfahan has plenty to offer, including beautiful snow-covered landscapes and indoor attractions like museums and mosques.

Things to Do in Isfahan

Isfahan is a city with a rich cultural and historical heritage, and there are plenty of things to see and do here. Some of the top attractions in Isfahan include:

  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square: Also known as Imam Square, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest public squares in the world and the heart of Isfahan.
  • Imam Mosque: Located on the south side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square, this mosque is a masterpiece of Iranian architecture, with its blue-tiled dome, minarets, and intricate geometric patterns.
  • Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: Built in the early 17th century, this mosque is known for its stunning dome, which changes color throughout the day.
  • Ali Qapu Palace: Located on the west side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square, this palace was built in the 16th century and served as the residence of the Safavid kings.
  • Chehel Sotoun Palace: This beautiful palace is located in a park on the outskirts of Isfahan and is known for its stunning mirror hall.
  • Si-o-se Pol Bridge: Also known as the Bridge of 33 Arches, this bridge spans the Zayandeh River and is a popular spot for picnics and evening walks.
  • Khaju Bridge: This beautiful bridge is known for its unique design, which includes arches, pavilions, and beautiful tilework.
  • Jameh Mosque of Isfahan: This mosque is one of the oldest in Iran, dating back to the 8th century, and is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture.
  • Hasht Behesht Palace: This 17th-century palace is known for its beautiful gardens and fountains.
  • Vank Cathedral: This Armenian church is located in the Jolfa district of Isfahan and is known for its beautiful frescoes.
  • Armenian Quarter: Jolfa is the Armenian quarter of Isfahan and is known for its beautiful churches, historic buildings, and cozy cafes.
  • Isfahan Bazaar: This traditional bazaar is a must-visit for shopping, eating, and soaking up the local culture.
  • Abbasi Hotel: This historic hotel is located in a traditional Persian mansion and is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning courtyard.
  • Isfahan Music Museum: This museum showcases the rich musical heritage of Iran, with exhibits and live performances.
  • Ali Gholi Agha Hammam: This historic bathhouse is now a museum and is a great place to learn about the traditional Persian bath culture.
  • Isfahan Museum of Contemporary Art: This modern museum is located in a beautiful park and showcases the works of Iranian and international artists.
  • Menar Jonban: This historic tower is known for its unique construction, which allows it to shake when one minaret is pushed.
  • Atashgah: This Zoroastrian temple is a must-visit for those interested in ancient Persian religion.
  • Sio Cafe: This cozy cafe is located in a traditional Persian mansion and is a great spot for a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Explore the neighborhoods: Isfahan is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own character and charm. Take the time to explore the backstreets and discover hidden gems.
  • Chah Haj Mirza: Chah Haj Mirza is a traditional tea house located in Isfahan, Iran, known for its cozy atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and traditional Iranian tea and snacks. The tea house is housed in a historic building with a charming courtyard, traditional Persian carpets, and elegant tile work. Guests can enjoy a variety of teas and Iranian sweets, including baklava, zulbia, and bamieh. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and the service is excellent. Overall, Chah Haj Mirza is a must-visit spot for anyone looking to experience the traditional Iranian tea house culture and hospitality.

Isfahan has numerous museums that showcase the city’s heritage. Visitors can explore the history and traditions of Isfahan through the various collections housed in these museums. Some of the most notable museums in Isfahan include the Museum of Contemporary Art, which features works by Iranian artists as well as international artists; the Museum of Decorative Arts, which displays traditional handicrafts, pottery, and textiles; and the Music Museum, which showcases traditional Iranian musical instruments. The Natural History Museum, which highlights the flora and fauna of the region, and the Science and Technology Museum, which features exhibits on astronomy, physics, and engineering, are also popular attractions for visitors. These museums offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Isfahan, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Iran’s past and present.

what to eat in isfahan (unique)

Isfahan is famous for its delicious Persian cuisine and a variety of traditional dishes that are sure to satisfy any foodie. Here are some must-try foods in Isfahan:

goshfil with doogh

Goshfil is a type of pastry that is popular among the people of Isfahan and is always sold during the month of Ramadan alongside zulbia and bamieh. To make this delicious dessert, eggs, yogurt, flour, and saffron are used. Once the goshfils are fried in hot oil, they are immediately dipped into a thick syrup.

Interestingly, this sweet pastry is served with doogh, a traditional yogurt drink, because the people of Isfahan believe that the hot and cold properties of the two complement each other.

Similarly, they also enjoy eating baghlava with doogh. If you are interested in trying this unique combination, be sure to give it a try during your visit to Isfahan.

Khoreshmast

One of the most popular desserts in Isfahan is Khoreshmast, which is known as a traditional and aristocratic dessert. The appearance of this dessert is very different from other stews.

Eggs, strained yogurt, chicken, saffron, barberry, turmeric, and sugar are used in this dessert, which has a sour and sweet taste and its color is yellow.

isfahan hotels

Isfahan, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Iran, welcomes tourists from all over the world. As a result, there are plenty of options for accommodations in the city, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here are some popular hotels in Isfahan to consider for your next trip:

  • Abbasi Hotel: A luxurious hotel located in the heart of the city, with beautiful Persian architecture and all the amenities you could want.
  • Safir Hotel: Another high-end hotel option, with modern facilities and a convenient location near popular attractions.
  • Parsian Kowsar Hotel: A five-star hotel with an outdoor pool, spa, and fitness center, overlooking the Zayandeh Rud River.
  • Piroozy Hotel: A mid-range option with clean and comfortable rooms, located near many of Isfahan’s top tourist destinations.
  • Mahbibi Hostel: A budget-friendly hostel with a cozy atmosphere and friendly staff, located in the heart of the city.
  • Aseman Hotel: A boutique hotel with a beautiful rooftop terrace offering stunning views of the city and the mountains.
  • Setareh Hotel: A stylish hotel with modern decor and a central location, offering easy access to many of Isfahan’s cultural and historic sites.
  • Zohreh Hotel: A family-friendly hotel with spacious rooms and a beautiful garden, located in a quiet residential area of the city.
  • Kianpour Historical House Hotel: A traditional Iranian house converted into a charming hotel, with a beautiful courtyard and friendly staff.
  • Sepahan Hotel: A budget-friendly hotel with clean and comfortable rooms, located near the city center and many restaurants and cafes.
  • Ghasr Monshi hotel: Ghasr Monshi is a historic house in Isfahan that has been converted into a boutique hotel. The hotel features traditional Iranian architecture and design, with rooms that are decorated with Persian carpets and antique furnishings. It also offers a peaceful courtyard where guests can relax and enjoy the traditional fountain.

Isfahan is a city that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. With its rich cultural heritage, beautiful architecture, and friendly locals, Isfahan is a must-visit destination in Iran. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s history, sampling its delicious cuisine, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of one of Iran’s most beautiful cities, Isfahan has something for everyone.

So if you’re planning a trip to Iran, be sure to include Isfahan in your itinerary. With its stunning mosques, beautiful parks, and rich cultural heritage, Isfahan is sure to be a highlight of your trip. And with this comprehensive travel guide, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your time in this amazing city.

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  • 8 Unbelievable Places To Visit In Iran To Experience Its True Culture

05 Apr 2023

Famous for its magnificent architecture and warm hospitality of the locals, Iran is known to be one of the friendliest countries. The country speaks of ancient civilisations and glorious days of the past. With lovely gardens and thriving bazaars, it is one of those countries in the Middle East that should be on every traveler’s list. Listed here are the best places to visit in Iran . Have a look.

8 Best Places To Visit In Iran

Iran has some of the most beautiful cities to explore with each of them flaunting their architectural marvels and bazaars selling a speciality good. Read on to know the top places to visit in Iran .

Tehran_18th Feb

One of the top places to visit in Iran , Tehran is a busy metropolis set against the Alborz mountains. This capital city offers one with the present or modern-day Iran. Popular as a tourist destination, the city features both historical monuments as well as the dazzling skyline making it a melting pot of both the ancient and the present. There are a number of museums and palaces for one to explore and a hip cafe scene to chill in the evenings. If you wish to explore places around the city, then two interesting places to take day trips are Tochal and Darband. Adorned with natural beauty they offer quite an escape from the busy city of Tehran.

Tourist Attractions: The Grand Bazaar, National Museum of Iran, Golestan Palace, Sa’dabad Complex Places to stay: Taj Mahal Hotel, Espinas Palace Hotel, Parsian Evin Hotel

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a fine historical heritage

Rich in Azeri culture, Tabriz is known for its thriving bazaar and if you are looking for places for shopping in Iran, then this should definitely be on your list. Placed at the gates of paradise by the Bible, Tabriz has a fine historical heritage. With great transport facilities, the city is easily accessible and the pleasant weather adds to one’s wonderful experience of the city. The city is further known for its beautiful carpets and teahouse hammams. So, are you excited to explore this city in Iran?

Tourist Attractions: El Goli (Shah Goli), Blue Mosque, Bazaar of Tabriz, Azerbaijan Museum Places to stay: Ahrab Hotel, Tabriz Elgoli Pars Hotel, Shahryar International Hotel

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iving museum of traditional culture

A living museum of traditional culture, Esfahan is one of the top tourist destinations in Iran. The old Islamic buildings along with the Persian gardens give this city a beautiful appeal. The picture-postcard bridges are the highlight of this place in Iran. Imam Mosque and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque are the biggest attractions along with the historic bazaar which brings visitors to this gem of a city. Do not forget to buy some local handicrafts while in the city.

Tourist Attractions: Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Imam (Shah) Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque Places to stay: Abbasi Hotel, Iran Hotel, Piroozy Hotel, Parsian Kowsar Hotel

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Shiraz is known for poetry and wine

Once the Iranian capital, Shiraz is known for poetry and wine. It was also famous for its vineyards during the earlier days. If you are a connoisseur of either, you’d love to spend time here. Housing major pilgrimage sites for the Iranians, the city also has lovely gardens and beautiful mosques. A city full of love, Shiraz should definitely be on your list if you are visiting Iran with your partner.

Tourist Attractions: Tomb of Hafez, Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bazaar, Nazar Garden Places to stay: Shiraz Grand Hotel, Zandiyeh Hotel, Karim Khan Hotel

Suggested Read: 15 Best Places To Visit in Beirut On Your Middle Eastern Vacation!

Mashhad is a city worth visiting

The list of places to visit in Iran is incomplete without the mention of the city of Mashhad. The second-largest city in the country and one of the holiest, Mashhad is a city worth visiting. Plan your holiday well because, during Muslim holidays, the city is completely booked months in advance while during other times one can get great deals here! Also, if you are in town, do check out the carpets and saffron in the markets here. Mashhad is known to have the best of them!

Tourist Attractions: Imam Reza Shrine, Baba Ghodrat Tourist Complex, Golden Arch Places to stay: Sinoor Hotel, Ghasr Talaee Hotel, Javad Hotel

Suggested Read: 15 Best Things To Do In Oman For An Extravagant Holiday In This Middle East Gem

admiring the beauty of the architecture

Walk along the winding lanes admiring the beauty of the mud-brick houses in the city of Yazd, one of the best places to visit in Iran . Often missed out as not being the touristy one, the city has a charm of its own. The old alleyways holding within themselves centuries of history have their own story to tell. A laid back city, Yazd invites everyone to explore the maze of its lanes.

Tourist Attractions: Amir Chakhmaq Complex, Jameh Mosque of Yazd, Dowlat Abad Garden, Yazd Atashkadeh Places to stay: Dad Hotel, Parsian Safaiyeh Hotel, Jungle Hotel

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An architectural gem

Journeying from Tehran to Esfahan, Kashan is often overlooked but it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Iran . An architectural gem, the archaeological findings say that the city was founded some eight thousand years ago. The historical houses here make it one of the best tourist towns in Iran. Also, it has some of the best traditional hotels to enjoy Iranian hospitality. Excited to visit this city? Also, do get yourself some rose water from any of the stores in the bazaar!

Tourist Attractions: Fin Gardens, Kashan Bazaar, Historical houses: Borujerdi, Abbasi, and Tabatabaei Places to stay: Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel, Negin Traditional Hotel, Mahinestan Raheb Hotel

city is rich in ethnic diversity

Popularly known as the city of bridges, Ahvaz is another one of the best places to visit in Iran . These bridges which have made the city famous are built over the river Karun. The city is rich in ethnic diversity and is known for its kind and warm-hearted people that are very hospitable. The city experiences mild and short winters which are very beautiful and also the best time to visit Ahvaz.

Tourist Attractions: Karun river, Pol-e Siah (Black Bridge), Pol-e Sefid (White Bridge), Ahvaz waterfall, Chahar Shir square Places to stay: Karun Hotel, Ahvaz Boostan Hotel

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With lovely people and beautiful cities to explore, Iran is one of the best countries to visit in the Middle East. Book a trip to Iran with TravelTriangle and have a hasslefree trip. Add these places to visit in Iran to your list and have an awesome time exploring the ancient cities and the busy bazaars. If you get a chance buy saffron and rose water as souvenirs!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Iran

What are the top attractions in Iran?

Some of the top attractions that you must explore during your visit to Iran are Persepolis, Pasargadae, Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, Naqsh-e-Rustam, Hafez Tomb, Eram Garden, Naqsh-e-Jahan Square, Sheik Lotfollah Mosque, Chehel Sotoun, Vank Cathedral, and Golestan Palace.

What is there to do outdoors in Iran?

Iran is one of the alluring countries in the world and includes several elegant attractions. Some of the best things you can do outdoors during your visit to Iran include exploring various historical museums and palaces, visiting the ancient mosques, and trying out the appetizing cuisines at various renowned restaurants.

Is it safe to visit Iran during covid times?

Iran is among few of the countries who have imposed strict guidelines regarding covid. A 2 weeks quarantine has been made mandatory and travelers should be fully vaccinated to visit Iran. Basic rules such as wearing a face mask and social distancing should be followed in a public place.

What is Iran known for?

Iran is known for its rich cultural heritage in various forms of art such as literature, architecture, and much more. Iran comprises several spectacular architectures in the form of royal palaces, ancient mosques, and historical museums.

What is there to do in Iran for 3 days?

Some of the best things to do in Iran for 3 days are exploring the ancient architecture, trying various appetizing cuisines of the Iranian culture, and strolling around the beautiful streets of Iran.

What can you do in Iran at night?

Iran has a vibrant nightlife and comprises various astonishing things that you could do at night. The best things to do at night include exploring the historical monuments, visiting renowned eateries and trying out various appetizing cuisines, and strolling around the streets of Iran.

When is the best time to visit Iran?

The best time to visit Iran is from March to May and September to November during the spring season and the fall. Make sure to plan your itinerary accordingly and visit Iran during these months for a hassle-free experience during your tour.

How many days are required to explore Iran?

If you are planning to visit Iran, then at least 4-5 days are required in order to explore the major tourist attractions, indulge in adventurous activities, and experience the appetizing cuisines around this beautiful city.

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The Ultimate Iran Adventure

travel highlights iran

At a Glance

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

TOTAL DISTANCE: 1200 km

MAX ALTITUDE: 3100 meters

TOUR DURATION: 12 days

TOTAL HIKING DAYS: 3 Days

LODGING: Mix of local, camp, hotels

GROUP SIZE: 12 people

Epic Backpacker tours map of Iran

  • Who This Trip is For

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  • What's Included

Gorgeous mosques. Mouth watering food. Trekking to remote nomadic camps. Persian culture. City highlights. Artisan markets. Massive sand dunes. 

This is the kind of adventure tour in Iran that we want to take you on.

Come with us as we experience the Zagros Mountains, stay in remote Qasqhai nomad camps, explore the culture of some Iran’s most beautiful cities, and become a member of a fun-loving team of adventurous travelers.

We’ve been leading trips in Iran for the last several years and we have formed many lasting relationships here. Our unique connections allow us to show you a side of one of the most fascinating countries on the planet and experience Iran in a way that others can’t.

So join us on an Iranian adventure of a lifetime and let us guide you through all the buzz, beauty, and wonder that this country has to offer. 

Nobody travels in Iran like Epic does – we guarantee it. 

Why Book A Small Group Tour to Iran with Epic?

Iran is for you if you enjoy…

  • NATURE : Iran is home to some of the most stunning desert and mountain landscapes in the Middle East. We’re going to explore as much as possible.
  • TREKKING : We embark on a multi day trek through nomadic settlements, walking between camps in the Zagros mountains. This is what a real adventure tour in Iran is all about.
  • LOCAL CUISINE: Because we travel to different regions in Iran you have the opportunity to taste a variety of mouth-watering food – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Seriously, all the meals are the best.
  • HISTORY : The Persian Empire formed one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen. If you love history, there is something to learn around every corner.
  • OFF THE BEATEN PATH ADVENTURE: We visit places in Iran that solo travelers can’t go to. The trip is for travelers who truly want to connect to places, local people, landscapes, and food without being rushed in the process. 
  • LOCAL HANDICRAFTS: We make sure to include some of the most authentic bazaars and handy craft shops in the country as a part of this itinerary. Be prepared to bring lots of gifts back home.

hiking trip in Iran Zagros mountains

Have a question or ready to book?

Whether you’re just curious about this trip or are ready to make a deposit, we’re here for you. To submit an inquiry or make a trip deposit, please fill out and submit the form below.

Your Trip Leaders

travel highlights iran

Pedro Ricardo Dias

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro will be leading his 11th tour in Iran with EBT this coming spring 2022.

When Pedro’s not working as a guide with Epic  Expeditions , you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning his next adventure missions, logistics, and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

Highlights of our Iran Tour

  • Discover the highlights of Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz
  • Embark on a multi-day trek between off the beaten path nomadic camps
  • Experience genuine Iranian hospitality
  • Marvel at the ruins of Persepolis
  • Take in the stunning architecture in Isfahan
  • Devour delicious Persian meals and foods 
  • Learn about Qasqhai nomadic culture
  • Explore ancient mosques, markets, and important historical sites
  • Visit the former USA Embassy in Tehran
  • Meet with local artisans 
  • Sleep in comfortable hotels and guesthouses 

Day 1: Arrival day - Group Introductions - Sunset in Tehran - First Team Dinner

Arrive into Tehran airport where you will be met by the EBT team (if you are arriving within 24 hours of the start of the tour); we’ll ferry you to HQ where you can relax and freshen up. Note: accommodation pre-tour is not included.

Once back at our beautiful boutique hotel, you can freshen up until we head out into the fabled city of Tehran, an ancient city of proud traditions, bustling markets and friendly people.

In the afternoon we will go north to Tajrish to explore a photogenic local bazaar. We’ll also visit Imamzadeh Saleh Mausoleum, one of Tehran’s most attractive shrines and a beautiful spot to people watch at sunset.

We wrap up the days’ activities with a visit to Tabiat Bridge – an iconic green park with nice city views of Tehran.

In the evening, we celebrate our first days’ adventuring in Iran with our first group meal together. Lots of tasty traditional Iranian food will be on the menu!

Day 2: Explore Tehran

Today, we take to the streets to properly explore this massive city of +10 million inhabitants.

Tehran is very different across neighborhoods and there is a strong contrast between the North and the South.

First up is the Grand Bazaar – a maze of bustling alleys that stretches for more than 10 km. Later on, we move to Golestan Palace, where we can explore the opulence and excesses of the Qajar Dynasty.

After lunch, we’ll stop to visit the old US Embassy – focal point of the 79′ revolution, where 52 USA diplomatic staff were held hostage for 444 days. These days the US Embassy is a museum with lots of the original embassy and CIA communication equipment still in the building. 

We’ll round off the day with another tasty feast of traditional Iranian cuisine!

Day 3: Travel to Varzaneh

Today, we hit the road and drive overland for six hours to reach Varzaneh . We travel overland by a comfortable private vehicle.

We stop to have a meal at the house of a local family en route. 

In Varzaneh, we stay in a traditional guesthouse run by a local family and our friend Mohamed.

Varzaneh is a fascinating village surrounded by epic desert dunes, a colorful salt lake, thriving wetlands and ancient caravanserais – the telltale sign of an important hub along the Silk Road.

Day 4: Explore Varzaneh

In the morning we head along an old branch of the ancient Silk Road to watch sunrise whilst enjoying an epic picnic breakfast on top of the roof of a particularly stunning abandoned caravanserai. 

Caravanserais were the inns for camel trains and merchants traveling along the silk road and offer an insightful glimpse into the lives of merchants moving goods moving from east to west along these ancient trading routes. After breakfast, we hike up an epic black mountain volcano where we are greeted with striking views over the Gavkhooni wetlands.

After some hours of rest and free time, we will then head to the famous salt lake and finish off the day by climbing the dunes to watch the sunset. We can arrange sand boarding if you’re keen to ride some sand waves! If the weather is good and there is no sand storm or rain, we will have a tasty dinner on the dunes, star gaze, and watch as the milky way fills the desert sky.  overhead.

Day 5 and 6: Discover Isfahan

Isfahan : the legendary city of incredible Islamic architecture, bustling bazaars and opulent bridges crisscrossing the many rivers along which the city has grown…

Isfahan – also known as Esfahan – is truly unmatched by any other city in Iran (and perhaps the world) so ready your cameras and prepare to be wowed, Esfahan is an absolute delight. This magical city is a living monument to traditional Persia and you can still see many artisans and traditional craftsmen practicing arts handed down over generations.

The days have have in Esfahan will be a mix of visiting historical sites as a group and plenty of free time on your own to discover the city.  

The main bazaar has an incredible atmosphere – you feel it as soon as you wander it’s twisting, pulsating, lively lanes – if you want a Persian carpet, a camel skin lamp or a shiny dagger, this is the place to do all of your shopping and especially to buy an authentic Persian carpet.

The buildings in Esfahan are a delight to architectural buffs (and photographers) and we’ll learn more about traditional Persian architecture throughout our time here.

We will visit the most famous monuments in the city including Masjed e-Shah, Masjed Lotfollah, and the lively bridges famous for the performers, musicians and artists who entertain the many locals walking across the bridges on their daily commutes.

On the 2nd day in the city, we head to the Armenian Quarter for a coffee/tea in one of the many hip cafes lining an old cobblestone street. There is an option to visit the Vank Cathedral – one of the few opportunities to visit a church in Iran. 

Day 7: Travel to Persepolis and Shiraz

Today, we travel south on our way to Shiraz to check out two major historical sites and open-air museums: Nasqh-e Rostam, where the tombs of the great Persian Kings from the Achaemenid Dynasty have stood carved deep into a high cliff for more than 2500 years.

The other site is the legendary Persepolis , one of the great wonders of the Ancient World. Conceived by Darius the Great, sacked by Alexander the Great, Persepolis is a wonderful place to stroll for a couple of hours and lose yourself amongst this truly ancient city… Afterwards we head to our accommodation in Shiraz where we’ll enjoy dinner and rest up. 

Day 8 - 10: Zagros Mountains and Trekking to Nomad Villages

Today, we step off the beaten track and begin a proper Epic-style adventure: trekking in the Zagros Mountains .

We’ll be joined by Mr. Mohamed, our local guide and a good friend, and he will lead us deep into the mountains.

Mohamed will be our leader in the Zagros for the next three days.

Born to a Qasqhai nomad family, he had been a shepherd until his mid 20’s whilst developing his skills as a guide, he knows the region like the back of his hand and is one of our closest friends in Iran. He will be able to provide a unique insight into life within nomadic communities, as well as the history and traditions of these groups, in Iran.

The exact itinerary of our trek will depend on the time of year. The nomad families have two primary camps for the year: summer camp and winter camp. 

For a day by day breakdown of the two different trekking itineraries, check out the trekking information section below. 

In both itinerary scenarios, when we finish the trek, we spend the night in a modern hotel in the center of Shiraz. Learn More

Day 11: Shiraz Exploration

This morning, we’ll head to one the most impressive sights in all of Iran – The multicolored Nasir Al Molk Mosque, which is just around the corner from our comfy accommodation. This is one of the most colorful mosques in the world and a true delight for any photographers in the group. Afterwards, we move to Bagh Narajestan to have a glimpse of the spectacular Persian garden area before exploring its traditional bazaar.

In the afternoon, the group has free time to explore the bazaar, do some final shopping, chill at a local cafe , or stroll the streets for photo opportunities. Lunch is on your own today.

We will have our final group meal together (and plenty of laughs and hugs) and EBT staff will be making preparations for tomorrows departure. 

Day 12: Tour Ends

Sadly our Iranian expedition has come to an end!

Today is departure day with no scheduled activities planned. 

EBT staff will arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 24 hours. Check out of the hotel is around 11 am and breakfast is included. 

You can choose to stay on at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered by EBT.

Please note that for Americans, Canadians, and UK nationalities, you can not stay in Iran on your own without prior arrangements and without paying for a guide for each day you remain in the country. 

Trekking Information Details

We’ll drive west from Shiraz through the Zagros mountains for about three hours until we reach Bosharjan village nestled in the foothills.  We’ll walk towards the mighty Dera mountain in the distance where we will spend a night perched atop the mountain.

Total trekking distance: 12 km / 4 hours Total altitude gain: 400 meters

Day 2: 

In the morning after breakfast we will trek down to the other side of the valley and take in expansive views of the Zagros range from camp. 

Total trekking distance: 10 km / 4 hours Total altitude gain: 350 meters

Day 3: 

Our trek continues down to the Safarbag nomadic village ( about 2hr / 6 km walking), our final destination. From here we drive to Chogan Valley and visit some beautiful ancient reliefs from the Sassanid-era.  We will have lunch at a Bishapur traditional house, before driving back to Shiraz in the afternoon.

Total trekking distance: 6 km / 2.5 hours Total altitude gain: 200 meters

After a three hour drive from Shiraz, we reach the trailhead and start the trek.  We weave our way through a dense forest, streams, and waterfalls before emerging into a clearing.  After a few hours we arrive at a traditional village with houses made from mud bricks. Here we eat lunch at the house of a local family.  Our walk after lunch follows a winding dirt road through rolling hills and the camps of various nomadic families.

We make camp and settle in for the night around the fire. 

Total trekking distance: 11.5 km / 4-4.5 hours Total altitude gain: 600 meters Max altitude: 2400 m

As we slowly gain altitude, the landscapes become more dramatic. The springtime in the Zagros mountains is special because of the wildflowers and on this day, the landscapes are dominated by a vast sea of yellow and snow capped peaks in the distance. 

As we ascend into a more remote part of the valley, we will also visit some nomadic camps along the way. 

Total trekking distance: 10.4 km / 4.5 hours Total altitude gain: 505 meters Max altitude: 2600 m

We start our day early and after coffee and a hearty breakfast, we set off up the valley for the highest point of the trek. 

It takes about 2 1/2 hours to reach the summit at the high end of the valley where we will enjoy 360 degree views of the surrounding ranges. Here we will have some snacks, take some photos, and chill out before heading back down the way we came. 

Lunch is at camp. We will then take a truck 45 minutes to the main road where our van will be waiting for us to return to Shiraz. 

Total trekking distance: 7.6 km / 3.5 hours Total altitude gain: 450 meters Max altitude: 3070 m

trekking in iran

  • All accommodation during the tour
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all tour days, except for 1 or 2 meals (when guests may have free time).
  • All transportation whilst on tour
  • All on-the-ground logistics and planning
  • Tehran Airport pick up and Shiraz drop off (if arriving/departing within 24 hours of the start/end of the tour)
  • Western and local guides
  • Authorization Code/Supporting Documents for Visa (if needed)
  • Entrance fees to historical sites, museums, and other activities unless otherwise indicated
  • Some group snacks on hikes
  • Lots of laughs and epic moments
  • Life-changing experiences
  • Bonus surprises along the way
  • Flights to Iran
  • Visa application fees
  • Any pre-tour or post-tour accommodation
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for staff
  • Personal snacks and drinks
  • 2 meals when the group has free time or anytime you eat lunch or dinner away from the group
  • PCR test for return flight

Contrary to what 99% of the world thinks, Iran is generally a very safe place to travel to. Violent crimes against foreigners/tourists as well as kidnapping and terror related crimes are VERY rare in Iran in general.

American, UK, and European tourists can 100% travel to Iran. We help you sort out the visa paperwork so you can focus on your trip. Never have we had any of our clients be denied entry or a visa – regardless of nationality.

Read more about visiting Iran as an American here .  

In cities, we will stay in local guesthouses & nice hotels that offer comfortable, clean facilities. While in the Zagros Mountains / trekking portion of the trip, we will sleep in tents (two people to a tent unless you pay for a single supplement). The tents are provided by us, but you do need to bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping mat/inflatable pad. 

The cuisine reflects the soul of the country. From the fertile provinces in the north where rice fields mark the landscape to colorful veggie dishes, slow roasted lamb and dates from the desert to fish from Persian Gulf; Iranian cuisine has something for everyone. It’s some of the best food in the world – and this is not just out bias. We seek out the best local restaurants, and even eat with a few local families. You have not lived until you have tried the food of an Iranian grandmother. 

The specific flavors and ingredients of the food are unique to Persia. None of the traditional Iranian cuisine is (chili/pepper) spicy at all – like zero tongue-scorching heat – but at the same time very flavorful. Pomegranate, cherries, and nuts seem to be ever present in most dishes. If you are a foodie, you will love how food-focused this trip is. 

One of the best ways to discover and connect with a new country is through food – and we make sure to have tasty discoveries with the best Iranian food on a daily basis! 

What People Have to Say

Didn’t find the answer you working for? Try reading our extensive Iran FAQ page first where we break down the tour in more detail or feel free to get in touch with us using the contact page !

Iran - Abridged

Iran (known as Persia until the mid-20th century) has such a prolific and expansive history that it is impossible to detail here. The Persian Empire is more than 2500 years old with conquests involving world-famous (not to mention brutal) leaders; Cyrus the Great, Genghis Khan, and Alexander the Great.

The Islamization of Iran occurred around 650 and has essentially remained a big part of the Iranian/Persian identity ever since. These Islamic elements that have lasted centuries along with the significant Iranian Revolution that took place in the 1970s have shaped the country into what it is today, the vast majority of the population being Shi’a.

Nowadays, Iran is a country with many faces. Many ethnic groups, including the Azeris, Baluchis, Kurdish, Lors, and Turkmen are scattered around the country. The majority (60% of the population) are Persians, not Arabs, who only represent 2% of the population.

There are still nomadic tribes, living their traditional days of old, migrating from winter to summer with their flocks in tow. Regions inhabited by these ethnic groups often seem a world apart with different dialects, clothing, architecture, food, and cultural customs making Iran a fascinating place for any traveler interested in rich, cultural history.

Iranians are some of the most friendly, genuine, helpful, and respectful people in the world and we are confident in saying that most backpackers who have traveled here would agree.

Most locals are delighted to see foreigners enjoying their country and many will want to speak with you and ask you to take photographs with their families.

Additional Resources

dune varzaneh iran

Privacy Overview

travel highlights iran

Clark Tyler 🇨🇦

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to.  When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Meet him during : K2 Base Camp Trek

travel highlights iran

Noemi Liebi 🇨🇭

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Meet her during : Discover the Celestial Mountains | Island Peak Climbing Expedition

travel highlights iran

Syerik Manap 🇲🇳

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi… The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

travel highlights iran

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

travel highlights iran

Andrew Golovachevn 🇷🇺

An experienced trek leader and IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka. A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

Meet him during : Trekking in the Fann Mountains

epic expeditions team

Sandip Dhungana 🇳🇵

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 sunrise from reflection lake.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

#3 playing cricket with the locals, trips where we visit fairy meadows.

tour in Lahore

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

Intermediate

Barah Broq trek

Trekking Among Giants

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

travel highlights iran

João Frietas 🇵🇹

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

Meet him during : Lost World of Europe | Discover the Hunza Valley   | K2 Base Camp Trek

travel hunza valley

Sohail Sakhi 🇵🇰

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

Meet him during : Discover the Hunza Valley

iran travel tour

Pedro Ricardo Dias 🇵🇹

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects. Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

Diane Bouvet

Diane Bouvet 🇫🇷

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Ralph Cope 🇺🇸

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

Meet him during : Trekking Amongst Giants | Discover the Celestial Mountains | K2 Base Camp Trek

adventure tours pakistan

Chris Lininger 🇺🇸

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas  –  an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.   

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country!  Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

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Summer in Iran: Travel Tips and Highlights

ToIranTour - Summer in Iran

Table of Contents

The allure of Iran is undeniable, particularly in the summer months. From breathtaking landscapes to vibrant city streets, there’s something for everyone. For travelers who are up for an adventure, it’s seriously a gold mine. The diverse climate, cultural richness, and unique culinary experiences offer a perfect setting for an unforgettable holiday. Summer in Iran, honestly, is an experience like no other.

Iran, truly a versatile travel destination, boasts four seasons simultaneously. In summer, while the southern parts simmer under a hot sun, the northwest and Caspian Sea regions enjoy milder temperatures. The variance of climates allows travelers to explore different facets of the country all year round. But for sure, summer in Iran provides a unique perspective on Iran’s beauty.

For the history buffs, Iran in summer is absolutely a feast for the eyes. The ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites , like the Persepolis in Shiraz , stand in stark contrast against the clear summer skies, offering a picturesque view. And it’s not just about historical sites; the country is equally rich in natural beauty. The Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges, for instance, are just breathtaking.

Summer in Iran, for sure, paints everywhere in beautiful shades. The gardens are in full bloom, and the parks are filled with families enjoying picnics. The atmosphere is filled with the sweet scent of roses, particularly in Kashan, which hosts the annual Rose and Rosewater Festival. And for the adventurous, the Lut Desert , despite the heat, offers an intriguing terrain for exploration.

While the heat might deter some, the warmth of the Iranian people is sure to win over every traveler. The hospitality they exhibit is truly heart-warming, and the bustling bazaars are a testament to their vibrant way of life. Whether it’s enjoying a cup of traditional tea or bargaining for a beautiful Persian carpet , the experiences are handpicked and unforgettable.

Definitely, summer in Iran is an experience not to be missed. Whether it’s exploring the historic sites, immersing in the local culture, or enjoying the stunning landscapes, there’s plenty to do and see. Just pack your bags and set off on this extraordinary journey!

The Weather of Iran in Summer

alcohol in Iran

Iran’s geography and topography give rise to a diverse climate. In summer, temperatures vary greatly across the country. It’s hot and dry in the central and southern regions, while the northwest enjoys milder weather. So, you should not underestimate summer in Iran.

Southern Iran, including cities like Bandar Abbas and Ahvaz , can experience extreme heat. Iran summer temperatures there rise to over 40°C (104°F), coupled with high humidity. Surely, these areas might not be the best choices for summer trips unless you’re someone who enjoys the challenge.

In contrast, the northwestern regions and the areas near the Caspian Sea are quite mild. Temperatures range between 20-30°C (68-86°F), with relatively high rainfall, making it an ideal destination for summer retreats. Undeniably, cities like Tabriz, Ardabil, and Rasht can offer a pleasant summer experience.

The central regions, including Tehran, have a moderate climate in the summer. While the days might be hot, the nights are often cool and comfortable. And the wind towers of Yazd, a marvel of ancient Persian architecture, make the heat bearable.

The mountains, like Alborz and Zagros , offer respite from the summer heat. They’re popular among hikers and nature enthusiasts. And, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see some snow!

The desert areas, particularly the Lut and Kavir Deserts, are best avoided in summer. The temperatures can soar up to 50°C (122°F), and there’s a high risk of sandstorms. But if you’re up for an adventure, there are guided tours that ensure safety.

Remember, the summer sun in Iran can be harsh, so it’s essential to protect your skin. Pack sunblock, hats, and sunglasses, and always stay hydrated. It’s also important to respect the local culture and dress modestly. Definitely, a scarf, a long-sleeved shirt, and trousers should be part of your packing list.

Iran summer temperature might be challenging, but it’s not unmanageable. With the right planning and preparations, you can make the most of your summer trip to this fascinating country. Just remember, every weather condition brings its own charm, and Iran in summer, for sure, is a unique experience.

Travel Smart: Why Season Affects Your Iranian Adventure

ToIranTour - Iran in Summer

When planning a trip to Iran, the season matters. Summer in Iran can offer a completely different experience compared to other seasons. It’s not just about the weather; the season can impact the local culture, festivals, and even your travel itinerary. So, it’s crucial to understand why the season affects your Iranian adventure.

One of the reasons is the climate. As mentioned, Iran’s climate varies drastically from region to region. Summer in the southern regions can be extremely hot, making it less suitable for outdoor activities. On the other hand, the northwestern regions are milder, offering a pleasant summer experience.

Local Festivals

Another factor is the local festivals. Iran history and culture are known for its traditions, and different festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Summer, for instance, brings the annual Rose and Rosewater festival in Kashan, which is absolutely an experience worth witnessing.

Iran History and Culture: A Comprehensive Guide

Seasonal Changes

The seasonal changes can also impact the scenery. In summer, the gardens are in full bloom, adding to the beauty of the landscapes. And for nature lovers, it’s a great time to explore the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges.

Summer also influences the local lifestyle. You’ll see families spending time in parks and gardens, enjoying picnics. The local bazaars are bustling with activity, and the evenings are filled with lively street performances.

Therefore, when you travel to Iran in the summer, you get to see a different side of the country. You witness the landscapes in their full glory, you become a part of the local culture, and you experience Iran in its authentic form. Undeniably, traveling in summer has its unique charm.

But remember, traveling in the summer requires smart planning. Consider the climate, pack accordingly, and always stay hydrated. And more importantly, be open to new experiences. Traveling to Iran in summer can be a unique experience, and with the right planning, you’ll surely have a memorable trip.

Tips for a Better Summer in Iran

Tips for a Better Summer in Iran

Traveling to Iran in the summer can be a unique experience, but it requires smart planning. Here are some insider tips to help you make the most of your summer in Iran.

1. Choose the Right Destinations

Based on the climate variations, choose the right destinations. If you’re not a fan of extreme heat, avoid the southern regions. The northwest, with its milder climate, can be a better choice. Cities like Tabriz, Rasht, and Ardabil are excellent for summer visits.

2. Attend Local Festivals

Summer is a time for celebrations. Make sure to attend local festivals, such as the Rose and Rosewater Festival in Kashan. It’s definitely an opportunity to immerse in the local culture.

3. Dress Appropriately

Respect Iran dress code . Women are required to wear a headscarf and cover their bodies. Men should avoid wearing shorts. Dressing modestly is not only a sign of respect, but it can also protect you from the harsh summer sun.

Persian Clothing: A Rich Combination of Colors and Patterns

4. Stay Hydrated

This one’s a no-brainer, but it’s essential. Always carry a bottle of water with you. Some of the local drinks, like Doogh (a yogurt-based beverage), can also help you stay hydrated.

5. Pack Wisely

Carry sunblock, hats, sunglasses, and loose-fitting cotton clothes. Don’t forget your camera to capture the beautiful landscapes!

6. Learn Basic Phrases

Learning some basic Persian phrases can help you communicate better with the locals. They’ll appreciate your effort, and it’ll make your trip more enjoyable.

7. Be Open to New Experiences

Whether it’s trying the local cuisine, bargaining in the bazaars, or taking a public bus, be open to new experiences. It’s the best way to understand and appreciate the country and its culture.

With these tips in mind, your summer trip to Iran can be an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags and get ready for an Iranian summer adventure!

Top 8 Must-Visit Places to Visit during Summer in Iran

Iran in Summer

Iran is a treasure trove of beautiful destinations, and summer can be an excellent time to explore some of these hidden gems. Here are the top 8 must-visit spots in Iran during the summer:

Known for its historical sites and vibrant bazaars, Tabriz is a great summer destination. The city’s cool climate makes it a pleasant escape from the summer heat. Don’t miss the UNESCO-listed Bazaar of Tabriz !

Tabriz Attractions: Top 10 Must-Visit Sites

2. Caspian Sea Region:

With its lush forests and beautiful beaches, the Caspian Sea region is a popular summer retreat. Cities like Rasht and Lahijan offer a unique blend of nature and culture.

Home to the UNESCO-listed Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble , Ardabil also boasts natural attractions like the Shorabil Lake. Its moderate summer climate is definitely a bonus.

Known for its historical houses and beautiful gardens, Kashan in summer is a sight to behold. The city also hosts the annual Rosewater Festival, making it a must-visit summer destination.

Kashan Restaurants, Top 10: A Foodie’s Guide

Despite the summer heat, Yazd is worth a visit for its unique architecture. The city’s wind towers, designed to cool the houses during the hot summer months, are a testament to the ingenuity of ancient Persian architects.

While the Lut Desert might be too hot to visit in summer, the city of Kerman has plenty to offer. Its historical bazaars, mosques, and gardens are definitely worth exploring.

Known for its cool summers, Hamedan is home to several historical sites. The city also serves as a gateway to the Alisadr Cave, the world’s largest water cave.

With its stunning Islamic architecture and beautiful gardens , Isfahan is a must-visit any time of the year. In summer, the city’s bridges and the Zayandeh River offer a cool retreat.

Isfahan Attractions: Top 10 Must-Visit Destinations

Each of these places offers a unique perspective on Iran and its rich culture and history. So, when planning your summer trip to Iran, make sure to include these hidden gems in your itinerary.

FAQs about Summer in Iran

Q1: what month is the hottest in iran.

A1: July and August are the hottest months in Iran, with dry temperatures over 30°C.

Q2: Is Iran hot in the summer?

A2: Summer in Iran can be very hot. Central deserts like Dasht-e Kavir and the Persian Gulf coast often have temperatures over 40°C (104°F).

Q3: Is Iran one of the hottest countries?

A3: The highest recorded temperatures in history include a scorching 70ºC in Iran. Last year, the world experienced the hottest day ever recorded on Earth.

Q4: Why is it so hot in Iran?

A4: The intense heat from nearby deserts combined with high humidity from the Gulf creates a sweltering environment.

Q5: What are the 4 seasons in Iran?

A5: Spring in Iran brings bright flowers and pleasant weather, perfect for walks in nature. Summers are warm and humid, great for beach activities. Autumn displays stunning colorful leaves, while winters are mild with occasional rain, creating peaceful landscapes.

Last Words: Experience the Best of Iran in Summaer with a Customised Tour

Summer in Iran offers beautiful landscapes and lively cities, making it great for adventurous travelers. Iran is a versatile place to visit, with four seasons at once. This climate variety lets travelers see different parts of the country all year. But summer gives a unique view of Iran’s beauty.

If you want to experience the best of Summer in Iran , it’s a good idea to travel on a Customized tour . To Iran Tour offers professional tours to Iran , creating personalized Iran tours and travel packages that fit each traveler’s wishes. Our expert team makes sure your Iran Tours are fun, enjoyable, and suited to your tastes. We are here to help you have a great experience of summer in Iran, showing you its beautiful places, rich culture, and special foods.

Let us make your trip during summer in Iran unforgettable.

 Explore Iran Stunning Natural Landscapes

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Top 12 Things to Do in Shiraz, Iran – The Heartland of Persian Culture

By Author Christian L.

Posted on Published: October 13, 2021  - Last updated: January 15, 2022

Categories Destinations , Iran , Middle East

Shiraz is a treasure in Persian culture & history and one of the most popular destinations in Iran both for locals and foreign tourists.

Iran is a country that might not necessarily end up on many travel lists in the west these days, but for a true traveler, it is a must-see!

Iran is a beautiful story made of history, culture, UNESCO world heritage sites, and tastes that keep you mesmerized and asking for more. This is why I’ve now been to Iran 3 times, and I can’t wait to go back for the 4th time. Iran is an amazing country if you look away from the news headlines in the west.

The amazing Nasir al-Molk Mosque – The Pink Mosque iran

Travel Guide To Shiraz in Iran, a treasure trove of Persian culture & history and one of the most popular destinations in Iran both for locals and foreign tourists.

For those of you who heard that Shiraz is a pearl of the Middle East, you are right. For those of you who heard that Shiraz is a kind of wine, you are also correct, and for those of you who haven’t heard much of Shiraz, brace yourselves or, even better, buy a ticket to Iran .

But remember, no matter how much time you spend in Shiraz, it will not be enough, and you will be coming back for more.

Are you planning a trip to Iran, but need help with an itinerary, check out this great guide on how to cover all the highlights in Iran for three weeks.

Top 12 Things To Do In Shiraz, Iran

There are so many wonderful things to do in Shiraz, fitting in all of the important sites may be tricky. To really experience the heartland of Persian Culture, you want to experience a broad range of activities and places. So we’ve put together the 12 top places to visit in Shiraz so that you can see it all.

Nasir al-Molk Mosque – The Pink Mosque

Stepping inside of Nasir al-Molk Mosque is nothing but a glorious experience. The mosque is more than 130 years old and serves both as an ode to art and as a religious masterpiece. You shouldn’t miss it!

Inside the beautiful Nasir Al-Molk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque. shiraz iran

I wanted to experience the most of it, which is why I set off to the mosque early in the morning.

Luckily on that day, there was more sunshine, so I could fully experience the place. Entering the mosque leads you through the most stunning examples of Iranian craftsmanship.

Tall, dominant, curved arches, decorated with many lines and twirls carefully distributed to make stunning arabesques were just a mild announcement of what was coming up next.

The amazing Nasir al-Molk Mosque – The Pink Mosque iran

This place is a playground for colors and wonder. Ceilings decorated with thousands of pink tiles and windows that were covered in mosaics made of painted glass were making a show inside.

The amazing Nasir al-Molk Mosque – The Pink Mosque iran

While the morning light was coming through the windows, the light started breaking into magnificent colors and nuances.

Nasir al-Molk Mosque – The Pink Mosque Iran

The interior came alive, and I could hardly avert my eyes and leave. Sitting there on the floor covered with a beautiful Persian rug will be one of the best pieces of peace you can give to yourself. Plan to spend at least one whole morning here and try to absorb the spectacle.

Note : You should be at the mosque before it opens at 7 am, around 7.30, as it is already very crowded with tourists and you can just forget about getting photos without tons of people taking selfies.

Inside the beautiful Nasir Al-Molk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque. iran

Shop in Vakil Bazaar

A bazaar is still a place that carries loud voices of the times passed. It was built in the 11th century as a part of the greater plan to make Shiraz one of the most important trading cities in the world.

The bazaar today is stretching for about 3,000 m2, and it will take your heart in a moment even if you are not there for shopping at all.

Shiraz bazar iran

Vakil Bazaar is not even only about shopping though the prices and variety of goods can tempt you into a shopping frenzy. This bazaar is also about the architecture and Persian wisdom of building objects.

Namely, Vakil Bazaar is relying on tall, heavy wooden pillars holding up the massive structure of carefully carved and reshaped stone ceilings rising up to 10 meters. Just looking at the curved arches can leave you in mystery.

Vakil Bazar Shiraz iran

This is a place where it seems that the whole town meets. Rest assured, it’s not a place for ripping off tourists, but it is a place for serious negotiations. Don’t be shy and bargain! Or at least learn how to. It’s the rule of trade in Iran.

vakil bazar shiraz iran

Spices, teas, silk, Persian carpets, jewelry, and hundreds of other goods wait for you at Vakil Bazaar, so plan your budget wisely before getting submitted to the charm of the bazaar.

Vakil Mosque, The Royal Mosque

Vakil Mosque is another must-see in Shiraz. This mosque is a real jewel of Islamic architecture.

It was initially built in the 18th century as a praying place for the royal family of its founder Karim Khan Zand. During the time, the mosque was opened to non-royals as well.

Looking at this Shiraz mosque from the outside makes you think of the beauty of simplicity and elegant oriental architecture.

Vakil Mosque Shiraz iran

Coming closer, tons of details and subtle artistic decorations will come your way and leave you stunned. The main gate is decorated in a series of intertwining arabesques.

Inside the amazing Vakil Mosque shiraz iran

Massive pillars spiral up to the ceiling while you walk on a floor made of enormous stone blocks and make your way to the inner garden with a pool inside.

A rainy day in Shiraz iran

What keeps fascinating me is the way mosques combine simplicity with abundant beauty, complex art, and magical impressions. Once you enter the mosque, you get all these three amplified to the maximum.

And the best thing you can do is just to sit down on one of the perfect Persian rugs spread across the floor and just breathe.

Vakil Mosque, The Royal Mosque Shiraz Iran

The mosque is calming and refreshing, regardless of your religious beliefs. Let yourself get absorbed in the beauty of art and mastery joined in a celebration of a higher power.

Shiraz is also called the city of love and literature, and the poet named Hafez is one of the main reasons for that.

Hafez was and is one of the most beloved Iranian poets, where his words of universal love and acceptance still inspire people from all over the world.

HAFEZ TOMB sHIRAZ iRAN

Hafez was a poet who was teaching the world how to put a smile on everybody’s face and dive into this life with a joyful and loving heart. It’s no wonder that many of the artists all over the world were praising him and declaring that he is a poet of no match.

Hafez tomb shiraz iran

Today the city of Shiraz is giving thanks to the magnificent poet by carefully protecting his tomb. The tomb of Hafez is wrapped up with a beautiful garden stretching around and making the place even more magical.

Hafez Tomb Shiraz iran

Eight tall pillars support the elegant dome protecting the tomb. Looking up, you will see a dance of lines and an arabesque covering the entire inside of the dome, which remains predominantly aquamarine blue. The place is mainly active in the evening when people come over to pay respect to the glorious poet.

Saadi’s Tomb

Another important soul of Iran and Shiraz is Saadi. A poet whose work still inspires creators all over the world.

Furthermore, should you ever visit the entrance to the Hall of Nations in New York, you will be welcomed by Saadi’s verses.

Saadi Tomb shiraz iran

He was a poet and a traveler looking for the essence of existence, human purpose, and molding the conclusions in lines that cannot be recreated. Saadi is one of the jewels of Iran.

Saadi´s Tomb.

Saadi had taken part in many travels that were taking him all around the Middle East. However, once he returned to his hometown, Shiraz, the people of the town, as well as the rulers, welcomed him with their hands widespread.

He was loved during his life and honored once he died. The Saadi’s tomb is one of the must-see in Shiraz.

Saadi Tomb in Shiraz on a rainy day.

The tomb of Saadi is another beautiful complex, with a garden that is carefully taken care of, high slim trees soaring to the sky, and a beautiful mausoleum keeping the memory of the poet. Proof of how much one town can love an artist who was helping them to elevate their beings.

Read the poems scattered all over the complex, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the place, and imagine how it might have been for Saadi to try to get into the mastery of life and immerse yourself with the beauty of creation.

Eram Garden

Eram Garden was made to compete with paradise. At least that was what the original creators of it had in mind once they started imagining it. Today is one of the main tourist attractions in Shiraz.

ERAM GARDEN iran shiraz

The reason is simple. This Shiraz garden does look like a piece of paradise on earth. Scents of dozens of sorts of flowers capture your senses and ease your mind in a second.

A tall wide building radiates gentleness and fits perfectly with the overwhelming sense of ease.

Eram Garden is an ode to architecture, nature, and, of course, poetry, as you will quickly see the verses of Hafiz all over the place.

Arg of Karim Khan

In the middle of Shiraz is Arg-e Karim Khan, also known as Karim Khan Citadel, a castle dating back to 1766 and was Karim Khan’s personal castle, the ruler of Persia from 1751 to 1779.

Arg of Karim Khan shiraz Iran

After the fall of the Qajar dynasty in 1925, the fortress served as a prison until it was given to the Iran Cultural Heritage Organization in 1971. The renovation of the castle started in 1977 to get the fortress back to its former glory.

Sayyed Alaeddin Hossein Mosque

The holiest site in Shiraz is the Shrine of Sayyed Alaeddin Hossein, one of the sons of the seventh Imam. Mosque’s walls and ceilings are covered with intricate mirror mosaics and colored glass.

Sayyed Alaeddin Hossein Mosque shiraz iran

It’s absolutely gorgeous. As a non-muslim, you are required to have a guide with you. But luckily it’s free, and the guide speaks fluent English so that you will get a lot of information about both the Shrine and about Shiraz.

Sayyed Alaeddin Hossein Mosque Shiraz Iran

Take a Shiraz Day Trip To Persepolis

Probably the first thing you will do once you come to Shiraz is to go away from Shiraz, for about 60km. The reason is quite unarguable and about 2,500 years old.

Overview of ruins from the hill in the behind. iran

The ancient city of Persepolis . King of all Kings, Darius the Great, started building this monumental complex as a gift to Persians. Hence the name of the city, when translated, means Persepolis – City of Persians.

Persepolis is one of Shiraz’s UNESCO world heritage sites, and it is located less than an hour away from Shiraz. If there is only one thing to see in this area, then Persepolis is number one.

The city, once covered in silver, gold, and marble, now has been stripped of all of the precious stones, but its beauty is still ever-present.

Persepolis iran

Carved with attention, skill, and detail, the ruins of the city again sparkle imagination and make you wonder how it must have been once the city was at its peak. Historians say it was a place for making glorious gatherings, hosting and impressing people from other nations, and diving into the full power of Persia.

Persepolis iran

I can easily believe that. No wonder Alexander the Great wanted to destroy Persepolis that much. Persepolis was a sign of strength and dominance that stood out and couldn’t be ignored ever.

Discovering Persepolis will lead you at first through the Gate of all Nations, a large gate made of stone that is still holding on against the ages. The gate is protected by two statues of bulls with heads of humans. Furthermore, the whole complex is full of mythological creatures and carvings that will make you wonder where the inspiration came from.

Persepolis gate iran

Take your time, wander around and absorb as many details as possible as the place is brimming with art masterpieces, mesmerizing designs, and fascinating sceneries.

Feel free to spend one whole day in Persepolis, but mind the weather. In the warm seasons, the sun can be very strong, so make sure you are protected. I didn’t have those problems, though, as my visit to Shiraz was accompanied by rain and clouds stretching over the ancient town. Somehow it made it look even more monumental.

Spend Time With locals

The special beauty of Shiraz, and Iran, in general, is in its people, like in the rest of Iran. Their hospitality and care cannot be measured nor compared with anything I had experienced before in any other countries around the world, even tho both Syria and Iraq are also extremely hospitals and friendly towards tourists, never trust western what western Media is telling you about the Middle East. Make sure you don’t miss hanging out with locals, diving into their stories, and learning about the country that has so much beauty and contrast.

iran local

It seems as if the ages of being one of the key countries on the Silk Road made Iranians even more open to travelers from all sides of the world. They will always help, give advice, and even host you in their homes free of charge. Don’t try to say no, as you might even offend them. 

Iranians have generations of practice hosting the whole world on its territory, so make sure you experience it yourself.

Go on a Picnic

While being in Shiraz, I learned so much about the culture, history, people, and how to enjoy life and food. Food is very important for Iranians, and they are masters in enjoying the moment. 

Hence, a picnic! Picnic is almost a national sport. Everybody seems ready for it at all times. I cannot even count the number of times when I was seeing people stopping by the road, opening the trunk, and pulling out baskets full of food and blankets to spread on the ground.

Many of the times this happened, I was actually invited to join and enjoy food in Iranian style. I loved it! So, if you are invited to a picnic freely, say YES!

Try the Local Food in Shiraz

One thing is sure, in Iran, you will never stay hungry! The food is absolutely delicious and comes in so many variations to please everyone’s wishes. Dive into the kingdom of spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, pistachios, and desserts that will give you a boost. Whatever you do, don’t miss Faloodeh.

iran food

Faloodeh is a famous semi-frozen delicacy made of vermicelli-sized noodles mixed with a combination of lemon juice, rose water, and syrup. It’s refreshing and delicious.

Apart from desserts, make sure you try as much of the local food as possible. The dishes are tasty and generous, and you will be coming back for more. Kalam Polo (Cabbage Rice) is one of the main things you need to try, or you might as well have not come to Iran at all.

Note: In the northern part of Shiraz is a world-class restaurant, “Haft Khan.” Personally, it’s one of my top 5 food experiences in the world.

How to Dress When You Travel to Shiraz

Iran is different from what you might hear from mainstream media. The country is not so oppressive nor ultimately conservative. However, there are still some rules that must be followed. Dressing up appropriately is one of them. In Shiraz, I learned that you are not allowed to enter mosques in sandals or shorts and that you need to pay respect and dress up accordingly.

Dress up is a bit more demanding for ladies as they are asked to wear scarfs and cover their hair regardless if they are Iranian or foreign.

Pay attention to such detail and make sure you are respectful to the culture you are getting to know at the end of the day. That is what makes a traveler a genuine one.

Shiraz is a glorious place that stole my heart forever. Every street of this city holds stories, inspiration, and people who will charm you forever. And don’t be surprised if at one point you start asking yourself a question, “Could I live here?”

How to Get to Shiraz, Iran

Shiraz is easy to reach from all over Iran with long-distance buses and trains, Esfahan is 6 hours away, Yazd is about 5 hours, Tehran is 12 hours away.

Flights To Shiraz

Shiraz International Airport (SYZ) is very well connected to all other countries in the Middle East, and it’s often a cheaper option to fly into Shiraz than to Tehran . The most important Airlines flying to Shiraz and the departure cities are:

Air Arabia: Sharjah.

Fly Dubai: Dubai .

Iran Air: All larger cities in Iran, plus Baghdad in Iraq . Kuwait and Saudi Arabia .

Pegasus Airlines: Istanbul.

Qatar Airways: Doha.

Turkish Airways: Istanbul .

Final Thoughts on Shiraz Tourist Attractions

There is a lot to do and see in the heartland of Persian Culture. Spend your days staring at incredible mosaics and Arabesque designs in the city’s mosques before going on a picnic with locals. You can fill your days in such unique and interesting ways in the city of Shiraz.

Pink Mosque Iran

I absolutely loved it here and was blown away by the friendliness of the locals, the beautiful mosques and tombs, and the authentic traveling experience. There are not that many places left in the world that offer such a genuine experience. So pack your bags, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

Top things to do in Shiraz a must visit in Iran everything you need to know

ایران کجاست

Sunday 12th of July 2020

hi dears iran is a good country for travelling to it it have all seasons wather.

Friday 29th of November 2019

Thanks for the amazing article, it was really helptul ;) 💜

Tourists are flocking to Iran - here are 18 reasons why

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Tehran

Iran is having a moment. Last year British Airways resumed direct flights between Tehran and Heathrow, and this week the country announced a 30 per cent increase in annual visitor numbers. Here we look at what all the fuss is about – to explain why more travellers than ever are setting their sights on this beguiling Middle Eastern nation.

This metropolis is home to art galleries, museums and some striking architecture, such as the Azadi Tower monument. 

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Golestan Palace

Tehran's lavish Golestan Palace complex, a World Heritage site, is a masterpiece of Persian decorative arts and crafts.

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Isfahan

Robert Byron, in The Road to Oxiana, wrote: "Isfahan [is] among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity". 

The "Friday mosque" (Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan) is one of the city's two World Heritage Sites. 

The world's most beautiful mosques

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Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Naqsh-e Jahan Square is the other. 

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Shiraz

Further south lies Shiraz, home to the Eram Garden, which dates back to the 13th century. 

The world's 20 oldest cities

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Shiraz

Equally spectacular is the Nasir ol Molk Mosque, famous for its coloured glass windows.

Poets and pistachios: A journey to the heart of Iran

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Persepolis

The ruined city of Persepolis, which dates from 515BC, is one of the world's finest examples of ancient architecture, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. It was discovered in the 1930s by Andre Godard, a French archaeologist.

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Yazd

Around 170 miles south of Isfahan, the desert city of Yazd is known for its ancient windcatchers - building whose design creates natural ventilation. Pictured here is the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, home to a mosque, bathhouse, well, and confectionary. 

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Pasargadae

Another ancient city and World Heritage Site. The Mausoleum of Cyrus II, shown here, is one of the most notable remains. 

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Kish

Beach holidays in Iran? It might surprise you, but the country has some spectacular stretches of sand. Kish, an island resort on the Persian Gulf, is visited by one million people annually and features numerous hotels and shopping malls. 

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Ramsar

This city on the coast of the Caspian Sea, is another popular spot for tourists. Attractions include hot springs, the holiday palace of the last Shah, and the forest of the Alborz Mountains. 

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Shemshak

Even more suprising is the sight of ski slopes in the country. Shemshak, within easy reach of Tehran, is Iran's second largest ski area. 

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Mashhad

Iran's second most populous city is home to the world's largest mosque, the Imam Reza shrine.

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Susa

One of the country's newest World Heritage Sites (added in 2015), Susa comprises the remains of a settlement that was founded around 4200 BCE, but abandoned in 1218. 

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Ardabil

Iran's has 12 World Heritage sites in total, including the Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil, a city close to the border with Azerbaijan. 

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Tabriz

The bazaar of Tabriz, the former capital of the Safavid kingdom, is also recognised by Unesco. 

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Tchogha Zanbil

Tchogha Zanbil

As is Tchogha Zanbil, the remains of a ziggurat, dating back to 1250BC, in the south east of the country. 

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Bisotun

This small city is best known for another World Heritage Site: the Behistun Inscription, written by Darius the Great.  

The Foreign Office warns against travel to parts of Iran – check out the latest advice . 

Why you're wrong about Iran – and 14 other things I learned cycling around the world for seven years

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Here’s some general information about Iran Highlights Tour:

You can add other cities, villages, sites, regions, etc to your tour. You can deduct some from your tour. As long as the tour is doable, we will do our best to help your wishes realize.

  • Transportation all during the trip in a private vehicle or in a private wagon of a train or on a plane.
  • Transfers are carried out in a private vehicle depending on the size of your tour.
  • Accommodation in all the destinations inside Iran. They can be in two categories of standard (3-4 star hotels) or superior (5-star hotels or best in each town). You can ask for traditional house hotels, etc too.
  • Breakfast is always included in all the accommodation you choose and you won’t have to pay for them separately, individually, etc. For lunch and dinner, you can choose when completing the tour inquiry form or before you finalize your tour package with us.
  • Guidance of all the tour by our certified national/local tour guides.
  • Admissions to enter all sites, museums, etc will always be part of the tour package.

There’s no specific date for this tour. It’s a sample tour itinerary by itself. However, we’ve tried and enriched it for years and assure you that you can make the most of your trip in such a limited time by taking it.

Type & Description of Iran Highlights Tour

Iran highlights Tour has been planned as a one-week tour to make it possible for you to see the very highlights of Iran in one week.

This tour includes the cities of Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz together with their sites and museums so that you can learn about Iranian culture and history in a short period of time.

You can take this tour and travel for 6, 7 or 8 days depending on your exact arrival and departure times. Your flight schedule and the exact time of arrival and departure can determine one night less or more at the first or last hotel.

Iran Highlights Tour is a guided tour in which a guide accompanies you from the start to the end. He follows the itinerary you’ve chosen, pays the entrance fees for the sites and museums, manages the tour, takes responsibility for solving any issues occurring during the tour, etc.

This is a cultural tour in which you learn about the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Iranians. Some of them are inscribed on  UNESCO’s list  and some are in UNESCO’s tentative list. Many still need to be documented to go through this process.

During the tour, you drive long and short distances and stop to see sites and people. At least every 90 minutes, you will stop to stretch your legs and relax for a while, have some refreshments, etc.

During the tour, you walk for a short/long time here and there inside the cities. If you choose to customize the tour and include some trekking, etc, you must make sure you’re fit enough to do it.

Itinerary of Iran Highlights Tour

Here’s the itinerary for this tour package:

Shiraz: 3 nights

Arrival at Shiraz International Airport. Meet with Guide. Transfer to hotel for rest.

Sightseeing in and around Shiraz:

  • Nasir-ol-Molk mosque
  • Narenjestan garden
  • Tomb of Sa’dy
  • Ali Ebn-e Hamzeh Shrine
  • Karimkhany Citadel
  • Vakil Mosque
  • Vakil Bathhouse
  • Vakil Bazaar including Saray-e Moshir
  • Persepolis (UNESCO Site)
  • Naqsh-e-Rostam
  • Gate of Koran
  • Eram Garden
  • Tomb of Hafez

Esfahan: 2 nights

On the way to Esfahan, visit:

  • Pasargadae & Tomb of Cyrus the Great (UNESCO Site)
  • Ruins Izadkhast ancient village

In Esfahan, visit:

  • Si-o-Se Pol (Allahverdikhan) bridge
  • Khajoo bridge
  • Chehelsotun Palace (UNESCO Site)
  • Meidan-e-Emam (Naqsh-e-Jahan square) (UNESCO Site)
  • Emam Khomeini Mosque (UNESCO Site)
  • Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (UNESCO Site)
  • Aliqapoo Palace (UNESCO Site)
  • Qeysariyeh Bazaar
  • Vank Cathedral
  • Jolfa Armenian quarter
  • Museum of Music

Tehran: 2 nights

On the way to Tehran, in Kashan, visit:

  • Tabatabaee Traditional House
  • Fin Garden (UNESCO Site)

In Tehran, visit:

  • National Museum (3 Halls: Prehistory, Pre-Islam & Post-Islam)
  • Golestan Palace Complex (UNESCO Site)
  • Treasury of National Jewels OR Carpet Museum

At the end of Iran Highlights Tour, transfer to Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) to fly out.

Send an Inquiry for Iran Highlights Tour Now!

1. When do you think you will visit Iran? *

When have you approximately planned to travel to Iran?

2. Which hotels do you prefer to stay in? *

There are "traditional" hotels, "standard" hotels (3-4 stars) and "superior" hotels (best in town & 5 stars)

—Please choose an option— Traditional Hotels Standard Hotels (3-4 stars) Superior Hotels (Best in town OR 5 stars)

3. Which type of service do you prefer to receive during the tour? *

This refers to the number of meals you want to receive.

—Please choose an option— Bed & Breakfast (included in all hotels) Half Board (Bed & Breakfast + Lunch OR Dinner) Full board (Bed & Breakfast + Lunch AND dinner)

4. How many Travelers are you? *

Please clarify how many people you are who intend to take a tour to Iran together.

5. What nationality are you? *

Explain what nationality is indicated at your passports.

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We would like to hear from you if you have any specific concerns, questions, comments, etc.

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Iran: A Journey Through Time and Culture

I ran is a country that attracts many tourists with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture. But how much do we truly know about this ancient land and its people? In this article, we will take you on a journey to Iran from the 1950s to today and show you some amazing photos taken by a traveler during their visit in 2012.

Iran in the 1950s

Iran during the 1950s was totally unique in relation to the present time. The nation was administered by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, otherwise called Shah, who came to drive in 1941 with the assistance of England and the Soviet Association. Shah is a modernizer who needs to transform Iran into a common and Westernized country. He executed changes like land rearrangement, ladies’ testimonial, and industrialization. He additionally settled close relations with the US and Israel, and became one of the richest and most impressive forerunners in the Center East.

In any case, not every person is happy with Shah’s strategies. Numerous Iranians think of him as a manikin of the West, overlooking the country’s Islamic legacy and customs. Certain individuals are likewise disappointed with his lavish way of life and abusive system that stifles any resistance or contradiction. In 1953, a well known patriot pioneer named Mohammad Mossad was ousted in an overthrow arranged by the Focal Knowledge Organization and England, who had nationalized Iran’s oil industry. This occasion denoted the start of a long and serious battle among Shah and his rivals, at last prompting the 1979 Iranian Insurgency.

In any case, before that, Iran during the 1950s was where many individuals partook in an internationalized and moderate way of life. The capital Tehran is a clamoring city with present day engineering, stylish shops, and exuberant nightlife. Ladies wear small scale skirts and two-pieces, men wear formal outfits, youngsters pay attention to exciting music, and watch Hollywood motion pictures. Iran likewise has a prosperous social stage, where specialists, journalists, and movie producers express their innovativeness and social editorial. Iran during the 1950s was where everything was conceivable.

Iran in 2012

Iran in 2012 was totally unique in relation to the 1950s. The nation is managed by the Islamic Republic and was laid out after the defeat of Shah in 1979. The Islamic Republic is a religious government, with the preeminent pioneer Ayatollah Ali Khamenei having the last say in all public and strict undertakings. The nation is completely deciphered by Islamic regulation, which forces limitations on numerous parts of life, like dress, music, and orientation relations. Iran likewise faces worldwide disconnection and authorizations because of its dubious atomic program and antagonism towards the West and Israel.

In any case, not every person is happy with the arrangements of the Islamic Republic. Numerous Iranians accept that the system is bad, wasteful, and harsh, disregarding the nation’s monetary and social issues. Certain individuals additionally try to more opportunity, a majority rules government, and basic liberties. In 2009, after a dubious official political decision, a huge scope fight development known as the “Green Development” ejected, with many accepting that the political race was controlled for current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The fights were ruthlessly smothered by security powers, yet they showed the world that there is areas of strength for a dynamic resistance inside Iran.

Regardless of confronting difficulties and troubles, Iran in 2012 still had many individuals partaking in a rich and different culture. The nation has probably the most established and most gorgeous landmarks and locales on the planet, like Persepolis, Isfahan, and Shiraz. This nation likewise flaunts shocking regular magnificence, including mountains, deserts, woods, and lakes. The Iranian public are neighborly and open their arms, heartily inviting guests. Iran in 2012 was a position of extraordinary incentive for cash.

A Traveler’s Experience

An explorer who has encountered the two sides of Iran is a Reddit client named u/kevin182 who visited Iran in 2012. He shared his photographs and stories on the reddit sub part of r/travel, and got a great deal of positive input and interest from different clients. He said he chose to go to Iran since he needed to see something else and challenge his assumptions. He said he was shocked by the magnificence and variety of this nation, and had a real sense of security and invited all through the whole excursion. He additionally said that he has met numerous agreeable and intriguing individuals who are anxious to converse with him and offer their perspectives and viewpoints. He said he gleaned some significant knowledge from this visit and desires to return one day.

Some of the photos he shared include:

-A photo of him and his tour guide in front of Azadita is an iconic monument in Tehran, symbolizing the country’s independence and modernization.

-A photo of him and a group of young Iranian people in the park, inviting him to their picnic and playing music with them.

-A photo of him and a woman wearing traditional clothing at the market, who gave him tea and cookies and showed him her handicrafts.

-A photo of him and a man in a mosque, the latter explaining the history and architecture of the place to him.

-A photo of him and a family from a village, inviting him to live with them and treating him as one of their own.

He also shared some highlights and challenges of this trip, such as:

-Visit the ancient ruins of the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire, Persepolis, and marvel at the complex carvings and sculptures.

-Explore the cultural and artistic center of Iran, Isfahan, and admire its stunning mosques, palaces, and bridges.

-Visit the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, and pay tribute to one of the most influential leaders in history.

-Experience the hospitality and generosity of the Iranian people, who provide him with food, drinks, gifts, and even money without expecting anything in return.

-Facing the difficulties of traveling in a country with strict regulations, such as obtaining a visa, finding a tour guide, exchanging money, and avoiding sensitive topics.

-To cope with cultural shock and language barriers, and strive to adapt to the different customs and norms of Iranian society.

He said toward the finish of the post that he had invested an astonishing and extraordinary energy in Iran, and he would prescribe it to anybody who needed to face challenges and difficulties. He said he trusts his photographs and stories can motivate others to visit Iran and witness it firsthand.

Iran is a country that has a lot to offer tourists who are prepared to look past the headlines and stereotypes. It is a country with a rich and varied history, culture, and environment. It is also a country with warm and welcoming people who are happy to share their experiences and be hospitable. It has changed and evolved throughout the years from the 1950s to the present. It is a country that is worth seeing and learning about. Finally, it is a country that will surprise and delight you.

Related posts:

Iran’s Transformation From The 1950s To Today, In Pictures – TheTravel

Life Under The Shah Of Iran Before 1979, In 47 Revealing Photos

Iran is a country that attracts many tourists with its rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture. But how much do we truly know about this ancient land and its people? In this article, we will take you on a journey to Iran from the 1950s to today and show you some amazing photos taken […]

travel highlights iran

The Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Sanctions measures, under Article 41, encompass a broad range of enforcement options that do not involve the use of armed force. Since 1966, the Security Council has established 31 sanctions regimes, in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, the Former Yugoslavia (2), Haiti (2), Angola, Liberia (3), Eritrea/Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, Somalia/Eritrea, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, Iraq (2), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Lebanon, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Libya (2), the Taliban, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Yemen, South Sudan and Mali.

Security Council sanctions have taken a number of different forms, in pursuit of a variety of goals. The measures have ranged from comprehensive economic and trade sanctions to more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, and financial or commodity restrictions. The Security Council has applied sanctions to support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, constrain terrorism, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation.

Sanctions do not operate, succeed or fail in a vacuum. The measures are most effective at maintaining or restoring international peace and security when applied as part of a comprehensive strategy encompassing peacekeeping, peacebuilding and peacemaking. Contrary to the assumption that sanctions are punitive, many regimes are designed to support governments and regions working towards peaceful transition. The Libyan and Guinea-Bissau sanctions regimes all exemplify this approach.

Today, there are 15 ongoing sanctions regimes which focus on supporting political settlement of conflicts, nuclear non-proliferation, and counter-terrorism. Each regime is administered by a sanctions committee chaired by a non-permanent member of the Security Council. There are 11 monitoring groups, teams and panels that support the work of 12 of the 15 sanctions committees.

The Council applies sanctions with ever-increasing cognisance of the rights of those targeted. In the 2005 World Summit declaration, the General Assembly called on the Security Council, with the support of the Secretary-General, to ensure that fair and clear procedures are in place for the imposition and lifting of sanctions measures. The establishment of a focal point for de-listing , and the Office of the Ombudsperson to the ISIL (Da'esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee are examples of this approach in practice.

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Tehran police close Turkish Airlines office after its employees defy Iran’s headscarf law

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Women line up to vote for the presidential election in a polling station at the shrine of Saint Saleh in northern Tehran, Iran, Friday, July 5, 2024. Iran held a runoff presidential election on Friday that pitted a hard-line former nuclear negotiator against a reformist lawmaker. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Police in Iran shut down the Turkish Airlines office in the capital of Tehran, Iranian media reported Tuesday, after female employees there apparently refused to wear the mandatory headscarf, or hijab , in an act of defiance of the country’s law.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency said police officers went to the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran on Monday to issue what is called a first warning over the “non-observance of hijab” by the company’s employees.

However, the employees — who are Iranian nationals — reportedly “made trouble for the police officers,” prompting the closure. The Tasnim report said police subsequently sealed the office over the employees’ behavior.

According to Tasnim, the Turkish Airlines office will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday and resume business as usual, something that the police did not confirm. The report further said that police would not seal any business due to the non-observance of hijab but issue first warnings.

There was no immediate comment from the Turkish Airlines over the incident in Tehran.

An open defiance of the headscarf law erupted into mass protests across Iran following the September 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the country’s morality police. While those demonstrations appear largely to have cooled, the choice by some Iranian women to remain uncovered in the street poses a new challenge to the country’s theocracy.

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Iranian authorities have over the past years shuttered hundreds of businesses across the country — from shops, restaurants to pharmacies and offices — for quietly allowing their female employees to forgo wearing the hijab.

That reinforcement was intensified in the months running up to Iran’s presidential election in June to replace the late President Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash a month earlier.

The fracas at the Tehran office of the Turkish Airlines took place on the same day as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Iran’s President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian to congratulate him on his win in Iran’s presidential runoff last week.

Pezeshkian bested hard-liner Saeed Jalili in the election by promising to reach out to the West and ease enforcement on the country’s mandatory headscarf law after years of sanctions and protests squeezing the Islamic Republic.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Tehran Prosecutor Ali Salehi as saying that no legal proceedings or ruling had been issued regarding the sealing the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran.

Iran and Turkey have maintained good relations and in 2023, the volume of bilateral trade between the two stood at $5.4 billion. Turkey is also a popular tourist destination for Iranians, with some 2.5 million visiting last year.

Turkish Airlines is a favored carrier among Iranians because of the shorter travel time to the United States and Canada, compared to other long-haul flights from Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

travel highlights iran

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Seattle Art Fair 2024: Tips, highlights for navigating the big event

Art fairs come in all shapes and sizes, from neighborhood festivals where artists set up tables with their work to huge, international fairs like Art Basel and Frieze, where galleries compete for the chance to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a booth that gets their art in front of jet-setting collectors and in-the-know art lovers. The Seattle Art Fair, begun in 2015 by the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, edges toward the latter in scope and design, while retaining a mid-size feel that allows local galleries to shine amid their counterparts who travel from across the country and globe. 

Several art dealers and critics have noted changes in the fair’s lineup since its inception, with the fair becoming increasingly regional and a few big-name galleries like Gagosian and David Zwirner not returning. This year’s fair, the eighth iteration, takes place July 25-28 at Lumen Field Event Center, with around 100 galleries participating, up from nearly 70 last year. New York-based Art Market Productions, which is producing SAF, remains committed to mixing the regional with the international and to devoting attention to new buyers and non-collecting visitors, said Kelly Freeman, SAF director. 

As usual, SAF will be a gathering place for the city’s creative community as it intersects with visitors from across the world. Which leads us to an important byproduct of art fairs: to rally the local art scene to show off, enticing fairgoers to venture out of the exhibition hall and into the city’s museums, galleries and alternative spaces. 

And as for navigating the mazelike SAF along with the anticipated 20,000 visitors? Here are some suggestions for what to see and how to prepare. 

Buy tickets in advance or look around for free passes 

Single-day tickets go for $35 and fair passes will set you back $65, which leads some folks to wonder why admission is so steep for what is, essentially, a trade show. Art fair organizers state that they couldn’t operate solely on booth rental fees and many artists and gallerists concur that it’s worth supporting fairs, which can benefit art communities. Avoid the lines by buying tickets online or by looking around for free passes given out by local galleries and arts organizations. Seattle Art Museum, which has been the fair’s beneficiary partner since 2022, offers members free access for all three public days of the fair. Maybe now’s the time to buy or renew that SAM membership?

Plan your route (or just wander)

You can check out this year’s list of participating galleries on the SAF website and grab a floor plan when you arrive, marking which booths you don’t want to miss. But you can also simply show up and wander around. What catches your eye? Which galleries are positioned near the entrance? Which galleries have packed up their art and traveled from Argentina, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Portugal or South Korea?

Don’t miss the strong contingent of local galleries and arts organizations, including long-established Seattle staples such as Woodside Braseth, Traver, Greg Kucera and Stonington. Smaller organizations with more unconventional approaches — including Method, The Vestibule and Veronica — are definitely worth checking out. 

ARTXIV, the Seattle-based art production house that creates big, buzzworthy events, will be showing brand-new, large-scale paintings by some stellar artists. I’m also intrigued by SlipStitch Studio’s plan to display works in its booth along with a projection of the artist Xin Xin painting live in SlipStitch’s Pioneer Square gallery, connecting the spaces together. Taswira, a Seattle gallery that focuses on African art, has its Art Fair debut this year and is also hosting the official SAF After Party (5:30-9 p.m. July 28, free with registration).

The greater Northwest is also well represented with galleries like PDX CONTEMPORARY ART coming up from Portland and Smith & Vallee making the trip down from tiny Edison, Skagit County.   

Buy art (or don’t)

Galleries that exhibit living artists’ works typically share the profits with them (feel free to ask dealers what percentage goes directly to the artist). And when you buy from a local gallery, you give a boost to Seattle’s art ecosystem. If you buy from a far-flung gallery, you can pick up the piece after the fair and save on shipping. If you fall in love with something but aren’t quite ready to commit, ask if you can put it on hold, or ask if there are items in their inventory that are more suited to your taste or budget.

But don’t worry about being pressured to buy. There is plenty to see and do without those transactions. Gallery staff will usually leave you alone or be happy to engage in a noncommercial conversation, unless you interrupt while they’re working on a sale. 

Sample the noncommercial displays

Scattered among the galleries are big and bold works of art that have been selected by the fair’s organizing committee to add variety, edge and spectacle. 

Among other projects on display this year will be an actual military tank covered in 70 million colorful glass beads created by South African artist Ralph Ziman in collaboration with almost 100 African artisans. “I wanted to take what was the ultimate symbol of apartheid and turn it into something that is African and beautiful,” Ziman said of the work in Surface magazine  

Also worth seeking out will be Seattle artist Emily Counts’ “Sea of Nectars,” a dreamlike installation of life-size ceramic women illuminated from within and embellished with spiders, vampire teeth and misplaced eyes and noses. 

Avoid fair fatigue and attend a panel discussion or screening

Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk and stand a lot, especially if you’re going to branch out to Pioneer Square to see more art. The Lumen Field Event Center is ADA accessible and there will be food and drink for purchase during all opening hours. 

Take a load off while taking advantage of film screenings, artist talks and panels. I’m particularly excited to see the short film “Dark Side of the Moon” by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, a Swedish duo who create unruly, fairy tale-esque films with clay-animation and original soundscapes. 

Also worth noting is a panel titled “The Arts, Public Engagement, and Social Change” with artists Josué Rivas and Elisheba Johnson, in conversation with Michelle Woo, one of the founders of the artist-led activist group For Freedoms.

These two examples alone show the scope of the Seattle Art Fair, from fantastical escape to real-world engagement. And that’s just how you can approach your visit. Go to escape or go to connect.

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

Israel Today: Ongoing War Report - Update from 2024-07-15 at 14:02 Israel Today: Ongoing War Report

HEADLINES - **Cease-Fire Talks Progress as Mossad Chief Prepares to Travel to Doha** - **Columbia University Faces Backlash Over Partnership with Pro-Hamas Nonprofit** - **Google in Advanced Talks for $23 Billion Acquisition of Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Wiz** The time is now 02:00 PM in New York, I'm Noa Levi and this is the latest Israel Today: Ongoing War Report. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran's proxies, primarily Hamas and Hezbollah, continues to unfold with significant developments on multiple fronts. In recent hours, it has been reported that cease-fire talks, despite delays, remain on track. An official stated that the head of Mossad is poised to travel to Doha, pending an invitation from Qatar. This diplomatic move is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strategy to maintain military pressure on Hamas, aiming to secure the release of the most hostages at the lowest cost without jeopardizing Israel's security. In the backdrop of these tense negotiations, Columbia University finds itself under scrutiny for its partnership with the left-wing nonprofit organization Slow Factory. This organization has been vocal in its support for the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, framing it as an act of "systemic change for collective liberation." Slow Factory, which has shifted its focus from climate justice to "Palestinian liberation" since the attack, has launched media campaigns and posted anti-Semitic content online. Columbia's collaboration with Slow Factory has sparked controversy, especially given the university's ongoing struggle with anti-Semitism within its faculty and student body. Meanwhile, in the realm of high-tech, Google's parent company Alphabet is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire the Israeli cloud cybersecurity startup Wiz for approximately $23 billion. If finalized, this would be Google's largest acquisition to date and a notable milestone for Israel’s high-tech sector. The deal underscores the resilience and innovation of the Israeli tech industry, which continues to thrive despite the ongoing conflict. In legal news, a federal judge in Florida has dismissed the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump. The judge ruled that the special counsel who filed the charges was illegally appointed, marking a significant legal victory for Trump amid his campaign for the Republican nomination. On another front, internal divisions within Hamas are becoming increasingly evident. The leadership is fragmenting under the pressure of Israeli military actions, Qatari political maneuvering, and American economic sanctions. Key figures within Hamas have been targeted and eliminated, prompting a reshuffle in leadership. The group is also experiencing internal discord over its relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization and its strategic direction. In Germany, authorities have arrested a Lebanese man suspected of being a member of Hezbollah and procuring drone components intended for attacks on Israel. This arrest highlights the ongoing threat posed by Hezbollah, which has been engaged in near-daily exchanges of fire with Israel since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The skirmishes have resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with Hezbollah losing numerous members, while Israel continues to face threats from both Lebanon and Syria. These developments paint a complex picture of the regional dynamics at play, as Israel navigates its security concerns, diplomatic efforts, and internal challenges amidst ongoing hostilities with Iran's proxies. Thank you for tuning in to this Israel Today: Ongoing War Report update. I'm Noa Levi. Stay safe and informed. Keep in mind that this AI-generated report may contain occasional inaccuracies, so consult multiple sources for a comprehensive view. Find the code and more details in the podcast...

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Lionel Messi scores goal, Argentina tops Canada to reach Copa America final

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Lionel Messi was in the right place at the right time, needing a gentle touch of his legendary left boot to find the back of the net.

It was Messi’s first goal during this summer’s Copa America tournament.

Now, Messi and Argentina have a chance to win the whole thing again.

Messi scored a quirky goal early in the second half, Julián Álvarez scored in the first half and Argentina defeated Canada, 2-0, on Tuesday night during their Copa America semifinal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“It's crazy what this group did, what the Argentine national team has been doing,” Messi said  after the game . “After this, much more importance will be given to all the finals that I and all of the old group had to play in.”

When is the Copa America final?

Argentina will play in the Copa America final on Sunday in Miami – awaiting Colombia and Uruguay to play Wednesday’s semifinal – for a chance to further cement its soccer dynasty.

Argentina,  the defending World Cup champion , will pursue its second straight Copa America title. It could be the fourth major international championship in a three-year span — including the 2022 Finalissima win over 2021 Euro champion Italy. 

Messi scores his first goal during this Copa America

Messi, Argentina’s star, orchestrated another score, finding his way in the goal area to slightly touch a shot from Enzo Fernández in the 51 st minute to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. It was the cushion they needed to cruise in the second half against Canada.

Messi was scoreless through Argentina’s five Copa America matches, and missing one on June 29 to nurse a right groin/adductor injury he has since returned from in the last two matches.

Messi was persistent with three shots in the first half toward the net, growing more and more frustrated to break through and deliver a shining moment during the tournament.

Messi finally delivered, but his goal lacked the theatrics that leave lasting impressions like many others in his career have.

Messi didn’t unleash a wicked boot from distance. He was barely 3 feet in front of the net. And the referees needed to review the score before ruling in Argentina’s favor as he and his teammates celebrated.

However, it was an early attack in the second half to demoralize Canada, playing in its first Copa America tournament and reaching the semifinal – outlasting the likes of Brazil, Venezuela, United States and others.

Argentina, however, was a Copa America favorite from the start. It beat Canada in the opener, along with Chile and Peru in the group stage. Argentina also rebounded from Messi’s miss in a penalty shootout to beat Ecuador in the quarterfinal. And then defeated Canada again decisively.

“It is extremely tough to reach another final,” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said. “We are carrying a great level of praise with great success. We know how hard it is to get here.”

Copa America highlights: Argentina vs. Canada semifinals

Messi moves to second on all-time international goals list.

Messi scored his 109th goal in international play, taking second place from Iran’s Ali Daei (108), while rival Cristiano Ronaldo leads all players with 130 goals, despite going scoreless during his Euro 2024 run with Portugal.

Álvarez scored in the 23rd minute, taking a pass from Rodrigo De Paul to get behind a Canadian defender, and sending Argentina’s early 1-0 lead into the back of the net.

Veteran Ángel Di María, 36, came off in the 78 th minute to a curtain call from fans. The Copa America final will be his final match in Argentina’s famous white and sky blue.

Messi took a hit from a Canada player in the 88 th minute, falling to the pitch. But he was able to finish the match.

And Canada’s second shot on goal of the night came during the 89 th minute where Argentine goalie Dibu Martinez tipped Tani Oluwaseyi’s shot off his foot and caught it while laying on his back.

Only one match remains for Argentina to ascend to another height as one of the greatest teams in the sport’s history with another Copa America title.

Messi celebrates Copa America win on Instagram 

Tani oluwaseyi misses late shot for canada: argentina 2, canada 0.

Canada’s second shot on goal of the night came during the 89 th minute where Argentine goalie Dibu Martinez tipped Tani Oluwaseyi’s shot off his foot and caught it while laying on his back.

Ángel Di María gets applause from fans as substitute: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Ángel Di María, 36, came off in the 78 th minute to a curtain call from fans. The Copa America final will be his final match in Argentina’s famous white and sky blue.

Lionel Messi scores first Copa America goal: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Messi has finally broken through with his first goal during this Copa America, a swing of his left foot right inside the goal area on a crowded sequence in the 51 st minute to start the second half.

Credit Enzo Fernández for the assist as Messi tapped it in past the Canadian goalie.

Messi misses shot over the net: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi, again, frustrated with his latest shot, a bit rushed and sailing over the net just before halftime.

Messi misses right boot before halftime: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi, scoreless during Copa America, appears restless unless he finds the back of the net. Messi squared up for a shot from his right boot on this sequence, but missed outside the net.

Messi foul or no foul? Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi was left on his backside, wondering why a referee did not make a foul call in his favor during this sequence. It could have led to a Messi free kick.

Nicolás Tagliafico’s shot from Messi is blocked: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi delivered a pass to Nicolás Tagliafico, but his shot was blocked by a defender.

Angel Di Maria takes a lofty shot toward the net: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Argentina remembers Canada goalie Maxime Crépeau veering off his line in the last match, and have tried a second time to catch him off-guard. Angel Di Maria took this shot, but missed.

Argentina fans celebrate Julián Álvarez's goal: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Julián álvarez goal: argentina 1, canada 0.

Julián Álvarez took a pass from Rodrigo De Paul, got behind a Canadian defender, and set himself again for a shot into the back of the net.

Argentina takes the early lead in the 23 rd minute.

Messi takes a shot, but misses right: Argentina 0, Canada 0

Lionel Messi takes his first shot of the game in the 12 th minute, but is just right of the near post.

Messi remains scoreless during Copa America, but nice to see him with the proactive attempt.

Jacob Shaffelburg attempts an early shot: Argentina 0, Canada 0

Canada’s Jacob Shaffelburg took his chance with an early shot on goal, but he was wide right.

Messi’s first touch is to Angel Di Maria: Argentina 0, Canada 0

After the match begin in Argentina’s backfield, Messi’s first touch was a dribble up the right side and a pass to Angel Di Maria, who attempted a cross back to Messi. But the pass was intercepted by Canada defender Derek Cornelius in the second minute.

Is Messi playing tonight vs. Canada?

Yes, Messi will play in his second straight game after returning from a right groin/adductor injury. He’s in the starting lineup tonight.

What time is Argentina vs. Canada Copa América match?

Argentina and Canada will play at 8 p.m. ET (9 p.m. in Argentina) on Tuesday night.

How to watch Argentina vs. Canada Copa América live stream?

The game will be broadcast by FS1 in English, and Univision/TUDN in Spanish.

HOW TO WATCH: Watch every Copa America game with a subscription to fuboTV

Dibu Martinez has Argentina colors in his hairstyle

Argentina goalie Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez has a new hairstyle for tonight’s match. Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, Martinez is showy and has no problem psyching out his opponents, especially in penalty shootouts. 

Drake makes $300k bet on Canada for Argentina game: ‘This could get Messi’

Canadian rapper Drake made waves with his $300,000 bet for Canada to beat Argentina. The bet would win $2.88 million, according to the betting slip Drake posted on his Instagram story before the game.

Messi holding Lamine Yamal as a baby

It’s surreal to imagine how former Barcelona star Lionel Messi posed with 16-year-old Spain phenom Lamine Yamal for these photos when Yamal was just a baby. The photos continued to make the rounds on social media Tuesday as Yamal scored to help Spain beat France 2-1 to reach the Euro finals .

Argentina vs. Canada Copa América predictions

Argentina 2, Canada 0: Argentina’s ability to control possession will create chances for the world champions, and limit Canada’s opportunities at the net. Messi delivers with a goal and an assist, perhaps to Angel Di Maria in a victory. — Safid Deen, Lionel Messi reporter .

Argentina vs. Canada Copa América betting odds

Argentina is a -300 favorite to win, while a draw as +400 odds, and Canada has +900 odds for the upset, according to BETMGM. Keep in mind, these odds are for the 90-minute match, and not any penalty shootout.

When will Messi retire? Here’s what he said about retirement

Messi, 37, has left the door open about playing in the 2026 World Cup . Here’s what he’s said earlier this year about when he could potentially retire .

What did Argentina's coach say about Lionel Messi's injury?

“Leo is well. He finished the last game well, and he’ll be part of the game [Tuesday],” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said Monday during a press conference.

When will Messi score his next goal?

Messi has yet to score a goal during Copa América , and missed a match (June 29 in Miami) due to injury. He has played in two group matches, and in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador last Thursday.

Although Messi has been the catalyst to three of Argentina’s six goals, he has slightly underwhelmed during the tournament hosted in his new home country for the last year since joining Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

When was the last time Messi scored a goal?

Messi’s last goal came more than a month ago on June 1, during a 3-3 draw with Inter Miami against St. Louis City during the MLS season.

Messi misses penalty shot in Copa América 

Messi was angered and disappointed after he missed a penalty shot during a game-deciding shootout in the Copa América quarterfinals, but Argentina prevailed 1-1 (4-2 in penalties).

"A lot of anger, a lot of anger," Messi said of his penalty miss. "I just wanted to touch it and it went high."

Who’s playing in the other Copa América semifinal?

Colombia and Uruguay will play in the other Copa América semifinal Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

When is the Copa América final?

The semifinal winners will play in the Copa América 2024 final Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, while the losers play in the Copa América third-place game on Saturday in Charlotte.

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