Independent travel in Iran: 1 to 4-week itinerary

By Joan Torres 8 Comments Last updated on April 1, 2024

iran tourism itinerary

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Iran, the hottest destination of the decade, is a country filled with a very old history, mind-blowing architecture and amazing people.

The country is, however, extremely big, has been inhabited for millennia and was ruled by one of the most powerful empires that ever existed in human history.

As a consequence, Iran is, today, an extremely complex society home to an infinite number of historical sites, many of which are not open to the public yet.

And there is even more.

With some striking mountain ranges, the Persian Gulf islands, unique deserts and countless towns and cities with different kinds of people and culture, Iran is a country which you can’t finish, not in a lifetime at least.

However, whether you come here for a week or a month, getting a glimpse of the great power of the Persian empire or getting to know some locals over a cup of local chai is totally possible.

After visiting the country twice for more than months, I have compiled this 1 to 4-week itinerary for independent travel to Iran  that contains my favorite places in the country.

It took me almost two months to visit all the places I mention, spending 4 to 5 days on each one, which is a lot of days. However, if you plan well-ahead and stay 2 or 3 days in each one, you could perfectly squeeze my Iran itinerary in a month.

Independent travel to Iran

In this backpacking itinerary for Iran you will find:

Table of Contents

  • Moving around
  • Accommodation
  • Day 1, 2 – Tehran

Day 3, 4 – Kashan

  • Day 5, 6, 7 – Esfahan

Day 8, 9 – Yazd

  • Day 10, 11, 12 – Kaluts

Day 13, 14 – Shiraz

  • Day 15, 16, 17 – Mashhad
  • Day 18, 19 – Gonvad e-Qavus
  • Day 20, 21 – Khalid Nabi
  • Qeshm Island – 3 days
  • Masuleh – 3 days
  • Tabriz – 3 days
  • More resources

How to book hotels, flights and tours in Iran

Because of the sanctions, foreign cards or popular sites such as can’t be used in Iran, but now you can thanks to 1stQuest .

1stQuest is a local company that offers services such as visa LOI, hotel booking, tours, domestic flights, and travel insurance for Iran.

5% discount on ALL bookings with voucher code:

How to travel independently around Iran (Transportation)

Iran is an extremely easy country to move around, as it has a very well-connected bus network and plenty of domestic flights.

Domestic flights

Iran is a pretty big country, so for those short in time, taking a domestic flight would be wise, especially for going from Tehran to places like Qeshm Island, Mashhad or Shiraz. 

You can check flight schedules and book your tickets through 1stQuest, and you can get a 5% discount on ALL flights:

With voucher code: ATC-QST

Bus – Buses are the way to go in Iran. There are endless connections and the VIP buses are particularly comfortable and not expensive at all.

Because of the sanctions, in Iran, most booking sites don’t accept international foreign cards. Before, you could book them via 1stQuest but they are not offering this particular service anymore. However, you may still use 1stQuest for visa services, hotels, flights, travel insurance and tours. 

iran tourism itinerary

Accommodation in Iran

As you may know, popular websites such as , don’t have hotels listed in Iran.

Therefore, how can you book a hotel in Iran? Well, you have a couple of options:

  • Via your travel agency (if you go on a tour)
  • Making a phone call
  • Just showing up and trying your luck
  • Via a local booking website like 1stQuest

From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, 1stQuest has many listed hotels all over the country. 

You can get a 5% discount in ALL your hotels bookings.

Use my promotional code: ATC-QST

Side note – Keep in mind that the Iranian Government sometimes blocks this sort of travel websites, so 1stQuest may not be accessible from an Iranian server. In this case, there are 2 things you can do: 1 – Book the different hotels in advance, before going to Iran 2 – Get a VPN for Iran like ExpressVPN to access censored sites. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Best books for backpacking in Iran

Here’s a selection of a few useful books but, for a complete list, check the best books about Iran , classified into politics, history and novels

Bradt guide – Bradt has always the most comprehensive guides to the most off-beat countries. I love Bradt because they give plenty of tips for the independent traveler, as well as loads of cultural insights.

iran tourism itinerary

Lonely Planet guide – I personally prefer Bradt but, if you are a Lonely Planet fan, they have just released their latest edition for Iran.

iran tourism itinerary

Best graphic novel – Persepolis – This is, perhaps, the most famous story ever written about Iran. It is the story of a non-religious woman, before and after the 1979 revolution. An easy way to understand the complexity of Iranian society.

iran tourism itinerary

Independent travel in Iran – 1-week Iran itinerary

Iran is a massive piece of land so, if you only have one week, after Tehran, the closest cities are Kashan and Esfahan.

In Iran, you have to pay to enter most sites, including all the mosques, gardens and museums I am suggesting in this article. Usually, most sites charge between 150,000 and 200,000IR , which is 5 to 10 times more than what the locals have to pay

Map of the one-week Iran travel itinerary

Day 1 – Tehran

The capital of Iran is a real chaotic metropolis, where you can find an extremely mixed society, both the traditional, conservative Iran and the most hipster people in the country.

From ancient bazaars to 21st-century malls, Tehran is a very surprising city that could you keep busy for several weeks. This mixed society reminded me a lot to Beirut .

If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you must go to Tabi’at Bridge , the place from where you get the best views of the Tehran skyline.

Also don’t forget to check out the Grand Bazaar of Tehran , a real maze of bustling streets and carpet shops, and Golestan Palace , located in the middle of the city jungle but where you find beautiful gardens and the classic, colorful Persian tiles Iran is famous for.

A lot of people who visit Iran also go to Caucasian countries. Read my ultimate guide for traveling to Georgia

Moreover, if you are into politics, don’t forget to check out what used to be the actual USA Embassy before the 1979 revolution, as today it is a museum with plenty of anti-American propaganda.

Last, if you wanna take a break from all the chaos, go to Darband , located at the bottom of Mount Tochal and almost reachable by metro. With plenty of waterfalls and small day-treks, this was my favorite spot in the city.

For more information, read: Things to do in Tehran in 2 days

Tehran Grand Bazaar

The best tours in Tehran

  • Old Town Tehran – Oudlajan is the old quarter of Tehran and this walking tour will take visit all highlights.
  • The Armenian Quarter – Tehran is home to a large Armenian Christian population and in this tour you will explore the area where they live.
  • Golestan Palace – One of the top attractions in Tehran.

You can get a 5% discount on ALL your tours.

Where to stay in Tehran

You can get a 5% discount on ALL your hotel bookings.

Backpacker Hostel – Heritage Hostel – Plenty of common areas, a beautiful garden with a Persian pool, a barbecue place, and very modern facilities. I honestly think that this is the best hostel in the country and the best choice for independent travelers in Iran.

Budget Hotel – Khayyam Hotel – A cheap option, but very good, option near the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, so this is a great choice for budget travelers that don’t want to stay in a hostel.

A bit nicer – Hejab Hotel – A good option for mid-range travelers.

For more options, check Best areas to stay in Tehran .

Getting out of Tehran

Since this is the capital, you can come and go by public transportation from anywhere in the country.

Against the Compass tip – In order to save time, some independent travelers book a one-way ticket to either Shiraz, Yazd or Esfahan and visit all the cities on their way back.

Golestan Palace

Kashan isn’t the greatest of all the Persian cities but its privileged location makes it very convenient for any Iran itinerary.

This also means that tour groups abound but this shouldn’t put you off because I can’t deny that it is actually pretty and, if you don’t have the time to visit Yazd, Kashan also has the famous wind towers and windy mud-brick alleys.

Besides the classic bazaar, where you can check out the textiles Kashan is popular for, don’t forget to visit Khan Amin al-Dowleh Timche , a mosque with one of the craziest dome ceilings; the traditional Persian Fin Gardens and the unique  Agha Bozorg , a big mosque whose wall colors are confused with the houses from the old city.

For more information, read: Things to do in Kashan

Against the Compass tip – If you want a more off the beaten track option, Qom  is a better alternative to Kashan. I personally didn’t go there but it is a very holy city with some amazing shrines and the location is also very convenient the 1-week Iran itinerary.

iran tourism itinerary

Best day trips from Kashan

To be very honest, Kashan isn’t my favorite place but I have to say that this is a good base for doing a few great day trips:

  • Nushabad – 2,000-year old labyrinthic ruins.
  • Maranjab desert – Sand dunes with epic sunsets.

You can visit both on a combined tour.

Where to stay in Kashan

Budget Hostel – Sana Historical Hostel – With both private rooms and dorms and located right in the old town, Sana is the most popular choice for independent travelers. 

Budget Traditional House –   Kamal-a Molk House  – A beautiful, and very cheap, traditional guest house in the heart of Kashan.

Mid-range – Mahinestan Raheb – A few hundred-year-old house which has been beautifully restored into a beautiful hotel, very comfortable and lovely.

For more options, here you can see all the available hotels in Kashan

How to get to Kashan from Tehran

It’s very easy. Buses run regularly and it is only a 3-hour journey. You can also go by train but it takes 1 or 2 additional hours.

iran tourism itinerary

Day 5, 6 – Esfahan

Tip – If you have more than a week, consider staying in Esfahan for at least 3 or 4 days.

Esfahan is Iran’s most amazing city and its mosques are one of the main reasons independent travelers come to Iran.

With hundreds of years of history, Esfahan has always been home to a very important community of intellectuals and scholars and, historically, its importance was often compared to Athens or Rome.

Today, according to Iranian standards, this is a pretty modern city, very clean, composed of perfectly tree-lined streets, which makes it very pleasant to walk around.

The first place you need to go is Imam Square , where you find both the Shah Mosque and  Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque , whose ceilings and domes will leave you breathless.

Imam Square is also a place where locals hang out, especially during late afternoon and evening, so I recommend you not to rush and stay there for a while.

During the day, I suggest you stroll down the old bazaar , one of the nicest in the country, with plenty of spices and the worldwide famous creepy mannequins.

In the evening, a good idea is to head to the river to see the different historical bridges, the most famous being  Si-o-seh Pol . However, the last time I was there in April 2018, the river was completely dry, which made me very sad.

Oh! By the way, Esfahan is also famous for some sweets called gaz , which are filled with walnuts and have a gummy texture. Also, don’t forget to look for the local biryani (which is quite different from Indian and Pakistani) and saffron ice-cream .

Iran itinerary 1 week

Where to stay in Esfahan

Budget Hostel –   Ragrud Hostel – A brand-new hostel with very modern facilities, awesome staff and the best reviews ever. I am sure this place will, very soon, become very popular in Esfahan. 

Budget traditional house – Sarayeh Orbidehesht – If you prefer a traditional guest house, this one is really great.

Mid-Range Hotel – Setareh – Traditional breakfast, super friendly and English-speaking staff and very close to the main attractions.  

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Esfahan  

How to get to Esfahan from Kashan

There are several buses all day long and it is just a 3-hour trip.

Iran itinerary 3 weeks

Independent travel to Iran – 2-week Iran itinerary

Most people would have two weeks for traveling independently in Iran.

If you want to save time, consider flying from Tehran to Shiraz, as you will save a 1,000-kilometer journey.

Map of the two-week Iran backpacking itinerary

With its perfectly-shaped old city, cute mosques, souvenir shops and plenty of decent coffee places, Yazd is, by far, the most touristic city in Iran. It reminded me a lot of Khiva in Uzbekistan .

With tens of tour groups overrunning the magnificent narrow alleys of the old town, to be very honest, I am not the biggest fan of Yazd but, truth be said, it is a very beautiful city and, perhaps, the most photogenic in the country.

Moreover, I also liked Yazd because it is a nice place to chill out. After hectic travels and hard-backpacking, it is always nice to finally be in a place where you are just one more tourist, find good accommodation, coffee and loads of food choices.

So yeah, I actually enjoyed Yazd and it should be a must on any Iran itinerary.

This used to be a Silk Road trading town, so there is a lot of heritage dating from that period. The coolest thing to do in Yazd is get lost in the old city, while you check the wind-towers and stumble across the different sites and mosques, the most remarkable being Masjed e-Jameh , a mosque from the 15th century and one of the tallest in Iran, with 48-meter minarets.

At sunset, you must go to a rooftop to enjoy the views . There are many hotels and cafés that allow you to do that.

Some places will charge you 1€, while in others you just need to order something. I can’t recommend anyone in particular because all of them have different views and perspectives but Orient Hotel is a popular spot.

Moreover, just outside of the old city, you find the  Amir Chakhmaq complex , the famous three-storey facade building and the main landmark in the city.

Also, you should know that Yazd has the second largest population of Zoroastrians, a religion that dates back at least 4,000 years and was the official religion in the pre-Islamic Persian Empire.

Here, they have one of their holiest sites, the Fire Temple , which has a flame which they claim hasn’t stopped burning since the 5th century .

Iran travel itinerary

Where to stay in Yazd

Budget Hostel – Shahdad – The only real backpacker hostel in town, this traditionally decorated hostel is the best option for budget travelers.

Mid-range Hotel –   Moshir al Mamalek Garden Hotel – You will love this place. A building with real wind towers, many travelers claim that this the best hotel they ever stayed in Iran.

For more options: Click here to check all the available hotels in Yazd

How to get to Yazd from Esfahan

Esfahan to Yazd is a good 4 to 5-hour ride and buses run frequently.

Iran itinerary 8 days

Day 10, 11, 12 – The desert of the Kaluts

In Kerman province, quite far away from everything, you find the Kaluts, the most silent and remote desert I have ever been to.

Here, NASA registered the highest temperature ever found on the Earth’s surface (71ºC) so, if possible, try not to come in summer. Nevertheless, the temperature cools down exponentially in the evening, so you should be fine for the sunset.

Life is not possible in the Kaluts, not even microorganisms, but its beauty and sunsets are out of this world, similar to the Mars landscape so, if you are fancying some desert adventure, this is the place to go.

If you have time, you can also visit Kerman city, as well as  Shazdeh Garden and  Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine. These sites are quite off the beaten track and the people in Kerman are always happy to meet foreigners.

The closest settlement to the Kaluts is an oasis town named Shahdad , famous for its date plantations, handicrafts made of palm trees, lovely traditional guesthouses and desert fortresses.

For more information, read my guide: A trip to the desert of the Kaluts

Iran independent travel

Where to stay in the Kaluts

You can camp if you go on a pre-arranged tour but, if not, you can stay at the nearest village called Shahdad. There is a very budget guest house called Ab Anbar and a fancier one named Nebka . Both are nice.

How to get to the Kaluts from Yazd

If you are traveling independently in Iran, first, you need to go to Kerman city, which is around 400km from Yazd. It is quite a journey, so I recommend you take an overnight bus (or train).

Shahdad is 100km from Kerman and a taxi would roughly cost 850,000IR.


I love Shiraz.

Actually, I stayed here for 10 days, mainly because I was doing a project for a company but I enjoyed my time very much.

For some reason which I don’t know, the people from Shiraz are very open-minded, more than other cities in Iran. Actually, I drank more alcohol here than anywhere else in the country.

One day, one guy invited me to his house at 9:30am in the morning and gave me some shots of arak . It was a nice feeling to wander around Shiraz a bit tipsy after that.

There are also a lot of things to do in Shiraz, like visiting Vakil mosque , Nasir al-Molk , the famous mosque with the famous color effect from the sun rays; the ancient Vakil Bazaar , the less-visited, but outstanding, Shrine of Shah-e Cheragh and   Hazfez Tomb and, of course, the ancient Persepolis , the ruins of what used to be the center of one of the greatest empires that ever existed.

For more information, read my guide: Things to do in Shiraz

Day trips from Shiraz

To visit these places, you will have to add 1 or 2 additional days for each one to your original Iran itinerary.

  • Visiting the Qashqai Nomads – Read my report here
  • Exploring the ruins of the Sassanid Empire – Read my report here
  • Trekking in the Zagros Mountains – Read my report here


Where to stay in Shiraz

Backpacker Hostel  – Taha Traditional Hostel – A real backpacker hostel, very well-located and great traveling atmosphere. Highly recommended! 

Boutique Hotel –  Niayesh  – The busiest hotel in town, where everybody stays, from backpackers to wealthy couples and tour groups. Breakfast is included and it has several outdoor areas where you can rest and get some food.

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Shiraz

How to get to Shiraz from Kerman

It’s a 7 or 8-hour trip, so I strongly recommend taking a night bus.

Getting out of Shiraz

You can take a direct bus to Tehran, no problem, but if you want to save time, consider flying.

iran tourism itinerary

Independent travel to Iran – 3-week Iran itinerary

It’s mandatory to have a travel insurance to get your visa on arrival in Iran. Because of the sanctions, most insurance companies don’t provide coverage for Iran, but IATI Insurance does. Get your exclusive 5% discount if purchasing via this link

If you have an extra week for independent travel in, consider getting off the beaten track, so I suggest you visit Golestan province and Mashhad.

This is just my personal opinion but the truth is that I really loved these places. Let me tell you why.

Map of the 3-week travel itinerary to Iran

Day 15, 16 – Mashhad

There are two reasons to visit Mashhad:

One is to visit the Imam Reza Shrine and the other is to stay at Vali’s .

As you may know, Mashhad is the holiest place in Iran and one of the most important cities for Shia Muslims in the world. The reason is that the shrine is where Imam Reza rests, the 8th Imam of Twelver Shiïtes.

The shrine is the largest religious complex in the world and, when you step in, it is easy to understand why. It is f*** huge and you will lose count of all the courtyards and different mosques.

Cameras in Mashhad The only downside is that you can’t take in a professional camera but only your phone. I didn’t know that and had to leave my camera and tripod at the entrance and didn’t have battery on my phone, so no pictures for me. Moreover, if they see you are a foreigner, they will assign you a guide, which kind of sucked as well, because mine didn’t explain anything to me but just made me follow him. You can, however, sneak in easily.

As the top pilgrimage site in the country, Mashhad is a wealthy city with great tourism infrastructure, as it receives loads of pilgrims from Lebanon and Iraq , two countries with large Shia populations.

There is a modern metro line and plenty of different food options, including Lebanese restaurants.

The second reason to come is to stay at Vali’s. Vali has a family homestay that, for years, has hosted plenty of international travelers, especially overlanders going (or coming) from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

I stayed 4 days at his house as the only guest and we celebrated the Iranian New Year, ate great homemade food and they just took very good care of me.

Besides, he has plenty of stories to tell, is very talkative and can you take outside of the city for day trips.

Visit Vali’s website for more details.

iran tourism itinerary

Best day trips from Mashaad

I recommend you go to Kang, a traditional stepped village 50km from Mashhad. It’s very beautiful to see and there are some small trekking opportunities around the area.

To go there, take the Metro Line 1 to Vakilabad and then a bus or shared taxi. Additionally, a trip by taxi from the city center with 1-hour visit costs 600,000IR.

Where to stay in Mashhad

Budget Homestay – Vali’s – Like I said, staying at Vali’s is one of the best things to do in Iran. Visit his website for more information .

Mid-range –  Darvishi Royal Hotel – Vali’s is great but it’s a place for budget backpackers. If you wanna stay in a good hotel, this is one of the best options in town. 

How to get to Mashhad

Being the most visited city in the country, you can get here on a direct bus or train from anywhere in Iran, including Shiraz, if you are following the suggested itinerary.

The only downside is that Mashhad is really far away, no matter where you are, so if don’t have much time, consider flying in. I personally went by train from Bandar Abbas and it was a 23-hour journey.

Kang, Mashhad

Day 17, 18 – Gonvad e-Kavus

Gonvad e-Kavus is the main city in Golestan province, one of the least visited provinces in Iran but, controversially, the most beautiful.

I bet that you didn’t know that this province is home to the largest population of Turkmens, the actual people from Turkmenistan. This means that, in Golestan, there is a clear Central Asian culture, visible in their food, nomadic life and Mongolian features.

In Gonvad-e Kavus you find a UNESCO World Heritage site (a 72-meter tower), handicraft shops selling traditional Turkmen products and is the gateway to some of the most striking scenery in the whole country.

Golestan is the ultimate destination for independent travel to Iran.

For more information, read my  travel guide to Golestan

Where to stay in Gonvad e-Kavus

There are very few options and your best bet will be staying in  Hotel Ajam or Couchsurfing.

How to get to Gonvad e-Kavus from Mashhad

You should take a night bus. It’s an 8-hour journey.

iran tourism itinerary

Day 19, 20 – Khalid Nabi

Also located in Golestan, Khalid Nabi is the most stunning site I visited in my Iran itinerary, and not for the site itself but because it is located in the most epic spot ever.

Basically, Khalid Nabi is a cemetery where a pre-Islamic prophet and his followers are buried. The prophet is buried inside a cute building, whereas all his followers are found under some penis-shaped rocks.

The bigger the penis is, the older the man when he died. If you see a cross-shaped rock, it means that the person buried is a woman.

The archaeological is not the only reason to come but the landscape is absolutely gorgeous and the area is filled with small Turkmen villages and nomadic yurt camps.

iran tourism itinerary

Where to stay in Khalid Nabi

If you want to experience the real Turkmen and Central Asian culture, I recommend you stay in  Tamer-e Qarah Quzi , a village 35km before from Khalid Nabi. Here, there is a homestay run by Naim and his family, a Turkmen family that will bless you with their hospitality.

Besides, Naim can also take you for some trekking and visit nomadic camps.

Highly recommended!

How to get to Khalid Nabi and Tamer-e Qarah Quzi

To go to Tamer, you have to get a local shared taxi to Kalaleh (40,000IR) and, from there, a second one to Tamer (40,000IR). Khalid Nabi is just 35km away from Tamer but the road is really bumpy so it takes around 1.5h.

A round-trip by taxi costs 400,000IR. I hitchhiked and was picked up by some Iranians from Tehran who were drinking vodka in the car. It was pretty cool.

Remember that, for more information, read my guide to Golestan province

Iran landscape

Iran independent travel – 1-month Iran itinerary

If you have a full month, consider adding the Persian Gulf Island and the north-west to your Iran itinerary.

Map of the 30-day travel itinerary to Iran

Qeshm Island – 3 extra days from Shiraz

Note – You should come here after Shiraz.

If you wanna taste the Persian Gulf culture, I suggest you add Qeshm Island to your Iran itinerary.

The Persian Gulf culture is the traditional culture from Oman , Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates and, of course, south Iran. This culture, however, is fasting disappearing in the Arab countries but, fortunately, not in Qeshm.

The inhabitants of Qeshm are Sunni Wahabis, the most conservative branch of Islam. The most surprising thing is the way local women dress, in such colorful  abayas  and wearing some strange masks. It may seem a bit intimidating but they are actually quite laid-back and you can take photos of them, no problem.

Qeshm is also famous for its geology, consisting of strange rock formations. To see this, go at sunset to Star Valley .

I also suggest you visit the  Shib Deraz and the Sea Turtle Breeding Area , Hengam Island , Laft and, of course, try the local food, which consists of spiced seafood.

You can also take a ferry to Hormuz Island , which leaves every day at 9am and 2pm. I personally didn’t go but I have been told that it is a beautiful island.

The only downside of Qeshm Island is that, for people who travel independently in Iran, the public transportation options are scarce.

For more information, read my travel guide to Qeshm Island

iran tourism itinerary

Where to stay in Qeshm Island

I recommend you pick one place and do day trips from there.

I personally pitched my tent in Shib Deraz beach but there are a few good options to stay around the island.

In Qeshm, there are some nice hotels and, if you want to stay somewhere remote, stay in Sar Rig Village, at Asad’s Homestay.

How to get to Qeshm Island from Shiraz

From Shiraz, you need to take a bus to Bandar Abbas (8 hours, 500km).

Once in Bandar Abbas, go to the ferry terminal. Boats leave every half an hour (150,000IR).

iran tourism itinerary

Masuleh – 3 extra days from Tehran

Masuleh is the most famous stepped mountain village in Iran.

However, being the most famous means that it gets a mix of different opinions and feelings.

The most voracious travelers will tell you not to go because it gets swamped with local tourists, souvenir shops, and pricey restaurants, whereas the rest will tell you that it is a lovely village and you must go.

In my opinion, both are kind of wrong. On the one hand, it is true that Masuleh gets all the attention from all the travel guides and this is because it is actually very cute and has a developed tourist infrastructure.

On the other hand, despite being very touristic, most tourists just remain in the village, without knowing that Masuleh is surrounded by some of the most awesome mountains in the country, composed of lush, green plains and remote shepherd huts, which offer amazing trekking opportunities.

I went trekking myself and didn’t bump into absolutely anyone. So yeah, I think that you should definitely come.

For more information, read my travel guide to Masuleh

iran tourism itinerary

Where to stay in Masuleh

I stayed in a random homestay and you can do the same because there are many but they can’t be booked online. 

If you are looking for comfort, Aram Hotel seems like a popular mid-range option.

How to get to Masuleh from Tehran

You need to first go to Fuman, which takes 4 hours from Tehran. Masuleh is 34km from Fuman and private taxis cost 300,000-400,000IR. Local shared taxis leave from a station 3km from the main bus station and they cost 100,000-150,000IR.

Additionally, if you don’t find buses to Fuman, you can also go to Rasht, which is a bigger city very close to Fuman.

iran tourism itinerary

Tabriz – 3 extra days from Masuleh

The city where the famous Persian carpets come from and where you find the largest covered bazaar in the world, Tabriz is a real off the beaten track city and, practically, the only visitors are overlanders coming from the Caucasus countries.

The bazaar has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site so, if you are into bazaars, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tabriz also has some very friendly people who haven’t been spoiled by mass tourism yet, so people are quite a highlight, as well. Don’t forget to visit the Blue Mosque , even though due to an earthquake, it still undergoing a long restoration process.

iran tourism itinerary

Best day trip from Tabriz: Kandovan

I also suggest you go to Kandovan , often called the little Cappadoccia, a very peculiar cave city easily reachable from Tabriz. You can book you

For this, you should first take a bus to Osku, which shouldn’t cost more than 40,000IR. Then, a taxi to Kandovan would cost 200,000IR roughly.

Where to stay in Tabriz

Budget Hotel – Ramsar Guest House – Cheap accommodation for backpackers. (online booking not available)

Mid-range Hotel – Tabriz el Goli Pars – Nothing fancy but good quality service according to its price range.


How to get to Tabriz from Masuleh or Tehran

If you are in Masuleh, you should go to the city of Rasht, where you may find direct buses.

If you are in Tehran, take an overnight bus because it is a very long way. They leave daily.

iran tourism itinerary

More resources for independent travel in Iran

📢 In my Travel Resources Page you can find the list of all the sites and services I use to book hotels, tours, travel insurance and more.

Remember to always use my code – From booking a hotel to visa services, travel insurance and tours, if it is via 1stQuest , remember that you can use my 5% discount code, as many as you want, whenever you want:  ATC-QST

All guides and articles for traveling in Iran destination

  • Iran Travel Guide
  • Best Books about Iran
  • Travel insurance for Iran
  • VPN for Iran
  • Solo Female Travel Guide to Iran
  • Tehran Travel Guide
  • Qeshm Island Travel Guide
  • Travel Guide to Shiraz
  • A trip to the desert of the Kaluts
  • Trekking Guide to Zagros Mountains
  • Meeting the Qashqai People
  • Fars Province Travel Guide
  • Visa Guide for Iran
  • Masouleh Travel Guide
  • Travel Guide to Golestan Province
  • Iran-Iraq border crossing
  • Is Iran Safe?
  • Darband Travel Guide
  • Best Hotels in Tehran

Travel Itineraries to other countries in the Middle East

  • Syria Itinerary
  • Saudi Arabia Itinerary
  • Travel Guide to Oman
  • Travel Guide to Lebanon
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You might also like our Pakistan Travel Guide or Azerbaijan Travel Guide .

You will also be interested in: Where in the Middle East is safe? and The most beautiful places in the Middle East .

Iran itinerary

Hello Joan, how are you? Just discovered your website today and I have to say that this is the most useful blog I have ever visited 🙂 I have a question. I have 3 weeks in Iran and besides doing the classic itinerary from Tehran to Shiraz I also want to visit one of the less visited places you recommend. I can’t decide between Kurdistan and Golestan. Which one would you go with? Thank you in advance

Hey man! That’s a very hard question to answer! It really depends on what you like. To be honest, I haven’t visited much of Kurdistan, as I just passed through on my way to Iraq and spent less than 24 hours, but I traveled in Golestan extensively and i loved it because my Turkmenistan visa was denied in the past and Golestan is the closest place in the world to Turkmenistan, as most people there are ethnically and culturally like the Central Asian country. Kurdistan is also great, but I had already visited Iraqi Kurdistan before, so I preferred spending more time in Golestan

Having spent quite a bit of time in Iran over the years, I applaud your effort in promoting travels in this lovely country with exceptionally friendly people.

I would highly recommend your blog to friends who are planning to visit and so wish this was available when I was there.

Great job and keep up with the good work. Thank you!!!!

I really miss Iran, thanks for compiling some of the best things about it and putting it out there 🙂

Hello friend very compelete useful guide which encourage me (as an iranian & travel lover) to start visiting my country again, if this COVID-19 let us. I,ve visited most of the famous places when i was a kid with my family and i think a majority of them most be re-visited since i coudnt remember as well as your descriptions BTW, we pronounce that city in Golestan as Gonbad e-Kavus (NOT GonVad) and its not the main city of Golestan altough a large one (main is Gorgan)

Hello Joan. Thank you for your blog. I see you used a drone while in Iran. I thought they were banned. Would you mind to explain how you did? Thanks Antonio

Hi Antonio, I didn’t do anything. I just entered with it.

Impressive article, enjoyed reading it. Thanks for shedding light on this topic.

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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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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!

Might be useful? Pin it!

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 .
  • 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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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

iran tourism itinerary

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.

iran tourism itinerary

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. 


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


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.



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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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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The Little Adventurer

iran tourism itinerary

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 .


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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24 Hours Layover

10 Days In Iran – Detailed Travel Itinerary!

By: Author Catrina

Posted on Last updated: January 23, 2023


After having travelled to Iran twice now I have put together this travel itinerary for 10 days in Iran to include all the best bits of this fascinating country!

Iran is not your typical backpacking or holiday destination. And nowadays Iran certainly doesn’t have a great reputation. But you know what?

Iran is beautiful . Iran is safe. 

I felt safer here than I do on the streets back home that’s for sure. I do appreciate that is incredibly hard for some people to get their head around but it’s the truth.

If you’re willing to look beyond how the Western media portrays Iran, and see the people and the country for how they really are, you are going to have a trip filled with wonderful memories, adventures and happiness.

Plus Iranian people are some of the most friendly people in the world so you will leave having made a lot of Iranian friends! Heck check out Marco Ferrarese’s story on how he hitchhiked across Iran if you still need convincing!

Let’s check out how to spend the best 10 days in Iran.

Read: Things to know before visiting Iran!


Day 1: tehran.

Tehran, the capital of Iran, is slightly chaotic. But it is also very modern and the most liberal city in the Islamic Republic (you’ll even see the odd woman walking round not covering her hair with the hijab).

It is an extremely large city, however it is very easy and cheap to get around on the metro. Alternatively you can use the ‘snapp’ app for taxis (Iran’s version of Uber).

Golestan Palace

The impressive Golestan Palace is one of the best places to visit in Tehran and is an absolute must visit when you are here. The walled palace is one of the oldest buildings in Tehran and has gained UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.

Stroll around the beautiful gardens and admire the colourful Persian tiles that Iran is known for. Going inside, the lavish Palace that was the seat of power of the Qajar Dynasty, is stunning with such incredible details. 

golestan palace tehran iran

Golestan Palace is open 7 days a week 9am-6pm (9am-5pm on Fridays). Entrance to the courtyard is IRR 150,000, and it costs another IRR150,000 to enter the main room (mirror room).

The best way to get to Golestan Palace is by metro: get off at metro stop Panzdah-e Khordad on line 1 (red line).

golestan palace tehran iran

Tehran Grand Bazaar

A few hundred metres from Golestan Palace is Tehran Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is a complete maze, and with more than 10km of covered alleys full of shops it is the biggest bazaar in the world!

The bazaar is absolutely worth discovering, even though it is not so pretty and is more for locals as it doesn’t sell too many touristy things.

 This is good though because the stall owners won’t hassle you or be persistent with you to buy something. There are many Persian carpet and rug shops though if you do fancy buying one!

Remember to bargain though as they will increase the price for tourists. Along with shops there are many restaurants and teahouses in and around the bazaar you can relax in.

Most shops in the bazaar are open from 10am-5pm. Up until the early afternoon it isn’t too busy, so perfect for you to stroll around leisurely.

Prepare for lots of crowds if you go in the afternoon though! And don’t spend too long here – you’ll be going to a more touristy bazaar tomorrow!

Head back on Line 1 (red line) on the metro to Taleghani Station to see the former US Embassy.

Former Embassy of the USA

The former US Embassy in Tehran is also known as The Den of Espionage.

In 1979 several Iranian military students seized the Embassy and held 52 American Diplomats hostage here, claiming the USA was plotting to undermine the Iranian Revolution.

It took 15 months for the hostages to be released, but all diplomatic ties between the two countries have been severed ever since.

The place has now very recently been turned into a museum. You’ll see big slogans outside, declaring America the Great Satan, and murals of The Statue of Liberty with a skull head.

A very interesting place if you wish to understand modern day history in Iran and see the contrasting opinions between the Revolutionists and the open-minded general public.

Open Saturday – Thursday 09.00-12.30 and 14.00-18.30.

Get back on the metro and head north again on line 1 (red line) to Shahid Haqqani metro station for the Islamic Revolution & Holy Defence Museum.

Islamic Revolution & Holy Defence Museum

This was honestly one of the most interesting and informative museums I have ever been to. It focuses on the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, in which 1 million Iranians died.

The museum shows the bitter reality of the war and was very educational.

It will take you at least an hour or two inside as the museum is very large. It is a really impactful museum with incredible state-of-the-art visuals. 

Amongst many things the museum shows remarkably realistic reconstructions of war-torn cities and weapons used during the war. You are NOT allowed to take photos here (and there are cameras everywhere!).

Opening times are 08.00-12.00 and again from 13.00-17.00, 7 days a week.

Tabi’at Bridge

A short walk from the Holy Defence Museum is Tabi’at Bridge. Completed in 2014, the futuristic bridge offers some of the best views of Tehran skyline and the nearby mountains.

It spans the Motorway and connects Taleghani Park and Abo-Atash Park and is a popular place for people to come and relax as there are many benches and spaces here. 

Stay here until it starts to get dark, and then you will see the bridge is lit up so beautifully at night.

Day 2: Tehran

Tajrish bazaar.

Head up to the last stop on line 1 (red line) to Tajrish Metro station on your second morning in Tehran.

Your first stop in Tajrish is the bazaar – much more aesthetically pleasing and tourist-friendly than the centrally located Grand Bazaar.

You can shop for lots of nice crafts, souvenirs and traditional Iranian sweets here, as well as buy some cheap fruit and veg or stop in the many Iranian tea houses. The bazaar is open 9am-9pm.

Tajrish bazaar iran tehran

Imamzadeh Saleh Shrine

Tajrish Bazaar backs onto the picturesque Imamzadeh Saleh shrine. This is a very popular pilgrimage site for local people as it is the burial place of Imamzadeh – one of the sons of the seventh Imam. 

The shrine is beautiful, with the dome covered in beautiful tiles.

saleh shrine tajrish iran Tehran

As you come out of the shrine you will see the incredible snow-capped mountains very close to you. We will be heading in that direction next to the beautiful village of Darband.

darband iran tehran

A 5-10 minute taxi ride (or a 30 minute uphill walk if you’re feeling fit!) takes you to the unique neighbourhood of Darband in Tehran .

Darband is one of Tehran’s oldest rural villages and was always known for it’s country life, fresh mountain water and cool fresh air.

Now though, the village is one of the most upmarket destinations in Tehran for tourism, relaxing and casual dining.

darband iran tehran

Darband lies at the foot of Mount Tochal and so it is a little cooler here than in the rest of Tehran – we visited at the end of February and it was snowing a little!

Eat lunch in one of the cute little tents like in the pictures below – food is very reasonable here.

darband iran tehran

Then get a cablecar up to Tochal if you have time! Either way, don’t skip this beautiful village in Tehran, it makes a nice retreat from the bustling city below.

darband iran tehran

Azadi tower

The Azadi Tower, also known as the Freedom Tower, is Tehran’s iconic landmark. The tall white marble futuristic building pays tribute to the 2500th Anniversary of The Persian Empire.

It is adjacent to Mehrabad Airport, Tehran’s domestic airport and marks the entrance to the west gate of the city.

azadi tower tehran iran

Traffic is very busy around Azadi Square so allow extra time if you come in a taxi. You can take the elevator or stairs to the top to enjoy the view – you’ll be able to see the mountains and the city from here.

Opening times are 9am-5pm Sunday to Thursday (10am-5pm on Friday).

azadi tower tehran iran

Day 3: Kashan

Kashan is famous for it’s traditional Persian houses used by rich businessmen back in the day.

You must visit a couple during your time here: Tabatabai and Borojerdiha Traditional Houses are the most famous ones and are both worth a visit as they are so unique and beautiful.

From the outside, Iranian Traditional Houses look like nothing special as they are built in an inward design with the courtyard in the middle of the house to provide privacy. But inside they are absolutely stunning.

Tabatabai Traditional House

Tabatabai House is a really calming place, full of beautiful frescos and detailed stuccos. Being here really takes you back in time to Iran’s heyday.

kashan traditional house iran

Wander around and admire the beautiful symmetrical architecture and lots of incredibly intricate carvings. Also spend time exploring the underground rooms and the open courtyard.

kashan traditional house iran

Tabatabai Traditional House is open 8am – 8pm. Almost next door to Tabatabai is Borujerdiha Traditional House so stop off here too!

kashan traditional house iran

Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse

Just around the corner from these two traditional houses is Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse.

Whilst this beautiful 16th Century spa no longer functions as a working bathhouse, it has been incredibly well preserved and provides a glimpse into the past.

The bathhouse is decorated with turquoise and gold tiles and it is so incredibly detailed and beautiful inside.

Even outside the roof is beautiful with it’s small domes, and when on top of the roof you can get a stunning view of Kashan city. Definitely not to be missed during your trip to Kashan! Open 8am – 8.30pm 7 days a week. 

For lunch go to Abbasi Teahouse, a short walk from the bathhouse  – a really great traditional Persian restaurant.

Maranjab Desert

In the evening take a desert safari into Maranjab Desert, located about 60km from Kashan. I always find the desert a magical and relaxing place, and you just can’t beat the incredible sunsets here.

maranjab desert iran

Our local guide was really knowledgeable and entertaining, and we even stopped off to see some of his friends who live in the desert, who invited us in for tea and a traditional Iranian music performance.

maranjab desert iran

Make sure to also stay overnight in a traditional Iranian house when in Kashan – many have been converted into boutique hotels due to the increase in tourism here. They are very luxurious and incredibly beautiful.

kashan traditional house iran

Day 4: Kashan – Abyaneh

Agha bozorg mosque.

Start your morning by heading to Agha Bozorg Mosque, a stunning 18th Century Mosque in Kashan.

9km from Kashan lies the famous Fin Garden, also known as Bagh-e Fin in Farsi. It is a beautiful traditional Persian Garden and is supposedly the oldest remaining Persian garden in Iran, dating back from the early 1600’s.

The lush gardens lie within an arid part of the country and lots of fruit trees and beautiful flowers can be found here.

A beautiful water feature runs down the middle of the garden, which is very traditional Persian style.

kashan traditional house iran

The Fin Garden is also very well known for it’s hammam (bath house) where Amir Kabir the Qajarid Chancellor was murdered. Fin Garden is open 9-5 every day.

kashan traditional house iran

After visiting Fin Garden, it’s time to visit Isfahan. Make sure to stop off at Abyaneh first, which is on the way to Isfahan.

Abyaneh is the most famous village in Iran and absolutely worth a visit as it is unlike anywhere else in Iran you will visit.

abyaneh iran

Time has stood still in this mountain village – people still live in the same ways they did over 2,000 years ago!

abyaneh iran

You’ll see old women walking along the cobblestone streets speaking an ancient language (even other Iranians cannot understand it!) and wearing colourful traditional dresses.

abyaneh iran

The unique red soil and wooden houses, along with the ancient houses built into the side of the mountain make this a really unique place to visit.

abyaneh iran

Continue on to Isfahan and spend the evening there.

Day 5: Isfahan

Isfahan (also known as Esfahan), was once capital of Ancient Persia and is often nicknamed “Isfahan nesfe-Jahan” , meaning “half of the world” in the Farsi language. This is because it was the finest city in the world in its day.

The city is still so impressive and was my absolute favourite in Iran, with such a fascinating history and really grand and intricately detailed Persian architecture.

Imam Square

Start off your day in Imam Square, also known as Naqsh-e Jahan Square. This square is very large and so impressive. It was built in the 17th Century by order of Shah Abbas the Great.

The central part of Esfahan and many significant points of interest are here in the square: Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Imam Mosque.

Isfahan iran

The Quysarieh Gate is also in Imam Square, which is the entrance to the labyrinth that is Isfahan’s Grand Bazaar.

There is a lovely little cafe with an outdoor roof terrace above the gate where you can sit and watch the world go by down below – make sure to stop by!

Isfahan iran

Imam Square is really beautiful and peaceful in the evening when the mosques are lit up beautifully and the square is a lot emptier.

Even though the square gets quite busy in the day, it is so large that it never feels too busy.

Isfahan iran

Imam Mosque

Also known as Shah Mosque or Abbasi mosque, this mosque is absolutely breathtaking with it’s turquoise and blue ceramics.

It is a masterpiece of Persian architecture from the Islamic era and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

imam mosque Isfahan iran

Both from the exterior and once you are inside, the detail here is incredible stunning.

Isfahan iran imam mosque

Built in the 1600’s, Shah Mosque has unique architecture in the sense that it’s entrance gate doesn’t face Mecca (all mosques are built facing Mecca in Saudi Arabia).

But when you go through the entrance gate, you’ll come into the mosque courtyard, then you’ll make a right turn and find the entrance to the mosque, which faces Mecca.

Isfahan iran imam mosque

Due to this you can see both the entrance gate and the mosque dome from the main square.

Opening times are daily from 9am-6pm, and entrance fee is 200,000 rials (this is the standard entry fee for foreigners to enter a mosque here in Iran).

Isfahan iran

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

Also known as the Ladies Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque stands opposite Aliqapu Palace (the residence of Shah Abbas).

The Shah and his family used Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque as a private mosque, whereas Shah Mosque was a public mosque.

Therefore in order to avoid being seen they would cross the square in an underground tunnel.

sheikh lotfollah mosque Isfahan iran

The mosque was guarded and ordinary folk could only see it from the outside. This mosque is another example of an Iranian masterpiece.

Isfahan iran ladies lotfollah mosque

It’s size is modest (as it was built as a private mosque) but it is incredibly beautiful and a must visit when in Esfahan. Again, blue ceramics adorn the walls Open 9am-12.30, then 2pm-6pm daily.

Isfahan iran ladies lotfollah mosque

Near to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a small courtyard with a restaurant upstairs called “Traditional Banquet Restaurant”. Head here for food, it has great traditional food and a fantastic atmosphere.

Isfahan iran

There are beautiful stained-glass windows, colourful tiles, and everyone sits cross-legged at the table to enjoy the traditional Iranian food. The restaurant is always busy, and especially full of Iranians.

Isfahan iran

Day 6: Isfahan

Grand bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar of Isfahan is an absolute rabbit warren filled with many many shops. Luckily the shops are pretty much grouped by trade, so you’ll see all the jewellery shops together, all the fabric shops together etc.

When you see something you like, don’t forget to haggle! Don’t be shy to do so, it’s part of their culture! In Imam Square you’ll see the famous Persian carpet shops before you enter the bazaar.

My absolute favourite place to get the best quality and beautiful Persian rugs is from a shop called “ Black Tent “. If you wander all the way through the bazaar, you’ll come to Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, which is over 1200 years old.

Sio-se-pol Bridge

A 20 minute walk from Imam Square will take you to Siosepol Bridge  (meaning ‘bridge of 33 arches’ in Farsi).

The two-storey Sio-se-pol Bridge is very beautiful and impressive another iconic tourist attraction in Isfahan. Sadly however, there is almost always no longer water flowing underneath the bridge.

siosepol bridge Isfahan iran

The once mighty Zayanderud River used to flow underneath the eleven bridges of Isfahan but since the last few years the river has been dry due to poor water management and a rainfall shortage.

Seeing the river boats abandoned on the dried-up river bed is really sad, and seeing the river like this makes the locals sad. Sometimes when there has been rain in the winter, water will flow underneath the bridge again.

siosepol bridge Isfahan iran

Dust storms and dust blowing from the dry riverbed has led Isfahan to become one of the most polluted cities in the world with regards to air quality.

You’ll see some locals covering their mouth with masks or scarfs to protect themselves.

Both locals and foreigners come to the bridges in the evening to relax as it is a popular local hangout place with a really nice atmosphere!

Similarly, nearby Khaju bridge is also stunning and a great place to hang out in the evening.

siosepol bridge Isfahan iran

Spend overnight in Yazd.

Day 7: Yazd

Yazd is a desert city located 270km from Isfahan. Situated in the middle of the desert, Yazd is a two-season city with extreme climates (frosty winters and scorching dry summers).

It is a very beautiful city, with a very well-preserved mud-brick Old Town and wind catchers scattered amongst the skyline. 

Infact, Yazd is the second mud-brick city in the world remaining from ancient times and is said to be over 2000 years old! 

It is also the first Iranian city registered as a World Heritage UNESCO Site and definitely deserves a visit on any trip to Iran. Make sure to spend time strolling around the Old Town and get lost amongst the narrow alleys.

yazd iran

Masjid Jam-e

Jame Mosque in Yazd is one of the oldest mosques in the world, dating back almost 1000 years. It is a fine example of Persian architecture and features the tallest minarets in the world!

yazd iran

The detail on the turquoise blue tiles is absolutely stunning. All mosques use blue tiles to keep the insects away (although I found Yazd was the only place in Iran that had a lot of mosquitos!).

yazd iran

Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Long before Arabs came to Iran and made Islam the official religion, Ancient Persians practiced the ancient Zoroastrian religion.

Whilst the majority of people living in Yazd now are Muslims, a significant amount of Zoroastrians live here.

yazd iran zoroastrian temple

Take time to visit the famous Zoroastrian fire temple and learn about this ancient religion that is still important in Iran today.

This Zoroastrian Fire Temple contains a flame that has been burning for over 1,500 years. Open 07.30am-9pm, it can get quite busy here as the temple is quite small.

yazd iran zoroastrian flame

Amir Chakhmagh Complex

Amir Chakhmagh square is a social gathering point for the people of Yazd. The large facade has many symmetrical sunken alcoves and the complex also has a mosque, a mausoleum and a bazaar.

yazd iran

Rooftop Restaurants

– Visit Karizma Cafe for lunch – make sure to go upstairs onto the rooftop, you can see all the mountain ranges and the desert surrounding Yazd and get a really good view overlooking Jame Mosque.

Click here for Google maps location.

yazd iran

– Head to the rooftop restaurant Marco Polo, above The Orient Hotel, for perfect sunset views over Yazd. Click here for Google maps location.

Make sure to pack adequate clothes as it can get very cold in Yazd once the sun has gone down, regardless of the season.

yaz iran rooftop

Day 8: Persepolis & Necropolis

On the drive to Shiraz stop off at Pasargadae, Persepolis and Necropolis first. They are on the way from Yazd to Shiraz, so head straight there after Yazd to save time and avoid going back on yourself later.

The drive from Yazd to Shiraz is pretty uneventful, consisting mainly of desert, and about 1 hour before you get to Shiraz you will arrive at Persepolis.

The tomb of Cyrus The Great lies here at Pasargadae. The monument stands alone and is quite small but impressive and has been given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Pasargadae iran

One of the most spectacular archeological sites in the world is Persepolis, meaning “Persian City” in Greek. It dates back as far as 515 BC and is one of the most important sites in Iran.

Persepolis was constructed during the time of Darius I and Cyrus The Great and was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire and the seat of government during this time.

It was however, primarily used as a showplace for the events and festivals of the Kings and their Empire.

Persepolis iran

Persepolis is another magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can see many quality ruins, Palaces and engraves here.

It is a very impressive place but get here early to avoid the tour groups and the sun as there isn’t much shade. There is quite a lot of walking to do around the site, so wear comfortable shoes.

Persepolis iran

Persepolis was built on a large terrace so visit one of the viewpoints from the top so you can really get a sense of the scale of the place.

There aren’t too many signs explaining things but you’ll get the gist. Entrance to Persepolis is 200,000rials.

Persepolis iran

Necropolis (Naghsh-e-Rostam)

Just a few kilometres from Persepolis is Necropolis (“The City of the Dead”). Also known as Naghsh-e-Rostam, Necropolis holds the impressively large rock-cut out tombs of 4 Persian Kings.

The tombs are at a significant height from the ground and are in the shape of crosses. Only one of the tombs has been identified with certainty as Darius I – the others still remain to be identified.

The tombs have great detailed carvings on them, and serve as a reminder of the once powerful Archaemenid Persian Empire (500 BC to 330 BC). 

I actually preferred Necropolis to Persepolis as it was a lot quieter, easier to stroll around, and it felt pretty mysterious. 

Click here to access the opening times and entry fees to all 3 locations.

necropolis iran

*If you are flying into Shiraz and not driving there from Yazd, you can get a driver to take you to Persepolis, Necropolis & Pasargadae for around 40,000 toman.

Day 9: Shiraz

Pink mosque (nasir ol molk).

The Pink Mosque was the main reason I wanted to see the city of Shiraz. The stained glass windows in the winter prayer room are so impressive! When the sun rises in the morning the room is bursting with colours, it is so beautiful!

Get there early to avoid the crowds (it opens at 7am) and also if you arrive at sunrise you’ll see the sun beams coming through the window.

pink mosque Nasr al molk shiraz

The best time to visit The Pink Mosque is between 8-10am on a December morning, when the sun lies low in the sky and beams through the stained glass windows creating a wonderful ever changing kaleidoscope of colours.

As the sun comes through the different coloured stained glass windows, the light in the room constantly changes. One minute it is an intense red then a second later it changes to yellow, green and then blue.

It is so surreal to witness and it is such a magical place.

pink mosque Nasr al molk shiraz

We got there on a December morning at 7.30am and had the whole place to ourselves for an hour, it was so magical. Luckily just as we were leaving, herds of tourists started to arrive.

I was so glad we got to experience the sunrise and beautiful mosque in peace. The second time I went back to The Pink Mosque, in March, the place was so crowded and the experience was a lot different.

People weren’t being respectful and were more interested in getting photos of themselves rather than remembering they are in a place of worship.

pink mosque Nasr al molk shiraz

After you’ve captured the photos inside, head outside to the courtyard to see the beautiful pink tiles on the wall.

Built in 1888, this mosque is not very big but it’s very popular due to the gorgeous stained glass windows. Entrance is 200,000 rials.

pink mosque Nasr al molk shiraz

Shah Cheragh Mosque

Head now to a completely different mosque – Shah Cheragh. Almost every surface inside Shah Cheragh Mosque (meaning “King of the Light”) is covered in mirrors and glass.

It is literally like a disco ball from floor to ceiling, there is no other way to describe it. The mirrored mosque is a very important pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims.

It holds the tombs of the brothers Muhammad and Ahmad, sons of the 7th Shiite Imam Musa al-Kadhim. They took refuge in the area during the persecution of Shia Muslims and were killed here in 835 AD.

shiraz iran

The glittery mosque was erected in the 14th Century and has been maintainted to a very high standard.

It is free to enter, and you will be given a free guide to show you round (you can’t go in alone) and women will be given a free chador to wear to cover themselves.

shiraz iran shah cheragh mosque

Vakil bazaar and mosque

Stroll around Vakil Bazaar, another traditional Iranian bazaar full of spices, Persian rugs and handicrafts amongst other things.

The bazaar also has a traditional hammam (Vakil Bathhouse) and beautiful courtyards and caravanserais.

shiraz grand bazaar

Next to the bazaar you will find the beautiful Vakil mosque, built in 1773, is open from 8am-8pm. Entrance is 200,000 rials, like other mosques in Iran.

shiraz iran

Hafez was one of Persia’s greatest poets and is a national pride for Iranians.

The 14th Century writer’s marble tomb is in his birthplace of Shiraz in the peaceful Musalla Gardens and every day many people young and old come to his tomb to pay their respects.

The walled gardens are very beautiful and even though it is quite busy, it is a very peaceful place. All Iranians love Hafez, and you can see many people reciting his poetry here.

It is better to come at night time as his tomb is lit up so beautifully. Saadi was also one of Persia’s great poets, and you can also visit his tomb here in Shiraz if you have time.

hafez tomb shiraz iran

Haft Khan Restaurant

For dinner head to Haft Khan Persian restaurant. It is the best restaurant in Shiraz and serves traditional Persian food. It is very elegant inside, and extremely popular with many well-off local families who come to dine here.

There is also a lovely performance by a local group of deaf singers who are very talented.

Day 10: Shiraz

Eram garden.

One of Iran’s most beautiful and famous gardens is Eram Garden. Eram comes from the Arabic word “Iran” meaning heaven.

Stroll around the gardens, admire the Pavilion and the water feature. Open 8am-8pm entrance 250,000 rials.

eram palace shiraz Iran

Maharloo Lake, or the Pink Lake as it is also known, is located about 30km from Shiraz, near to the airport.

Seasonally it turns pinky red towards the summer time due to high evaporation water levels exposing the salt and the pink-coloured algae.

pink lake maharloo shiraz iran

Whilst you can see a lot in Iran in 10 days, it deserves so much more than that. 10 days only scratches the surface.

Iran is geographically an incredibly varied country, from snowy mountains to the scorching hot desert. If you have more than 10 days, be sure to check out the Caspian Sea in the north and Qeshm Island in the south!

If you’re planning to be in Iran more than 10 days and are looking for a 3 week backpacking itinerary of Iran click here !

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10 days in iran itinerary

Catrina is a Travel Writer and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. She only writes about places she has personally visited, and aims to give real, honest advice to help her readers.

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10 days in iran itinerary: discover the country with the world’s friendliest people.

Within days in Iran, it quickly climbed up to become a favorite country for me. With around 50 countries under my belt, that is quite a tough achievement with India holding the throne since I first visited the country in 2012.

How did this happen? There are so many reasons to love Iran , and the Iranian people are one of the major parts! Then come all the breathtaking nature and astounding architecture which you are going to explore in this Iran itinerary.

While you would need months to explore the whole country, I have put together an itinerary for 10 days in Iran to see some of the main sites in north and central Iran. If you stay longer in the country, you should definitely travel further south and if you have less time, then you can pick some of these places instead of all.

This is part of my own Iran itinerary that I followed when I was there, though I stayed longer in the country and spent a longer time in some of the destinations.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you have any questions about these services or products, feel free to ask me.

This should be on your Itinerary Iran hiking the Alborz mountain range

How to get to Iran

I suggest you take a flight to and from Tehran where this Iran travel itinerary starts and ends. Not only is it Iran’s main airport, but for those that are eligible for a visa on arrival , it’s one of the airports that offer it.

Once you have picked up your bag and got out of the restricted area, go up the escalator to your right to exchange money. No foreign debit or credit cards work in Iran, so make sure you bring enough cash for the whole trip. You don’t need to exchange it all at once, though.

Taxis to Tehran have a fixed price so don’t let them make you pay more.

Book your flight to Iran here

For a complete guide to what you need to know before you travel to Iran, make sure you read my complete guide of Iran travel tips .

Iran itinerary 10 days

It can be hard to choose an itinerary, Iran has so much to offer you could travel for months and not see it all. I have picked out a good blend of culture, nature, and activity so you get a good taste of Iran during your trip.

If you have more time and want an unforgettable hiking experience, one of the world’s best mountains to climb is towering above Tehran – the mighty Mount Damavand.

Day 1: Arrival in Tehran

First of all, you’ll want to install yourself at the guesthouse. I stayed at 2 different ones and have been recommended a third one warmly which I will test out on my next trip. Here are my suggestions.

Where to stay in Tehran

HI Tehran Hostel

A great hostel with super friendly staff and a nice common area with a kitchen. I stayed here when I first arrived in Tehran, and it felt so nice and safe there. Especially as it was ok for women to take off their headscarves which usually takes a while to get used to.

The hostel is close to the main metro line which makes it easy to travel around to the main attractions in Tehran.

By now, my favorite hostel in Tehran for sure.

Book your stay with HI Tehran Hostel here

See You In Iran Hostel

At the end of my trip I went to this hostel, simply because I had been recommended the place by other travelers. It was a good place, also here some women took off their headscarves, though the girls working there had them on at times.

See You In Iran Hostel was a friendly hostel in an area with many restaurants and great teahouses.

Book your stay at See You In Iran Hostel

Tehran Heritage Hostel

I was recommended Tehran Heritage Hostel by more than one traveler that had stayed there. Some of them referred to it as THE place to stay, so I am really eager to check it out on my next trip to Iran.

This hostel offers dorms, privates, yurts and even a heritage room which is a traditional room they discovered when renovating the building.

Book your stay with Tehran Heritage Hostel here

Your Iran itinerary should include Golestan Palace in Tehran

Tehran sightseeing

If you have time for some sightseeing make sure you go to Golestan Palace. This is one of the oldest historic structures in Iran’s capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013.

Opening hours are 09:00-19:00 in the spring and summer months while it closes one hour earlier in autumn-winter.

Not too far from Golestan Palace you find the Grand Bazaar. And this is grand! You can get lost for hours to end in the windy streets passed old dusty carpets, food stands, and other antiques. Why not spend some time trying local food?

Day 2: Day trip to Darband

If you have hung around my blog for a bit, you know I’m not much of a big city person and whenever I can escape to nature I do so. Tehran is huge and messy and there are some majestic mountains towering over the city. Why not go and check them out?

So, get up early, have a good breakfast, tie your hiking boots, fill up your filtered water bottle , buy some nuts, fruit, and other snacks to put in your backpack and head to the metro towards northern Tehran.

Once you get out of the metro (end stop), ask for a shared taxi to Darband. They leave frequently and only take about 10 minutes. It’s also ridiculously cheap. There is a small bazaar at the metro stop, so you can buy your snacks there if you haven’t before.

Darband chairlift

Once you get dropped off in Darband, there is a chair lift that takes you above the little mountain village. Make sure you ask what time the last chair lift goes back down so you don’t miss it.

From the top of the chair lift, there is a path passing several tea houses, restaurants, and the odd mountain gear shop. This is the perfect place to stop for a cup of tea and a chat with the locals.

Put Darband on your Iran travel itinerary

There are surely some mountain guides that will offer you their services along the way. If you are not keen on walking the mountains yourself, it is a great way of sustainable tourism to support a local guide.

I went solo and once I got to a bridge crossing the river, I walked to the left up some stairs.

First, I crossed the bridge and walked on the other side for a bit, but it was so many leaves on the path after a while that I didn’t find it safe walking alone up the steep hills.

So, I turned back and crossed the river back again, and walked up the stairs. Once I got passed the last houses, I turned around to the most mesmerizing view! A foggy Tehran in the far end. But all around me, I was surrounded by mountains.

Further up the path, you’ll see a set of large, slim waterfalls on the other side of the valley. You can walk as long as you please. Just remember to get down before sunset.

A 10 days in Iran itinerary should include hiking in the Alborz mountains

Explore Darband and eat street food

Once down the chairlift again, walk the streets of Darband. The little mountain village wakes up at night and lights up the valley with millions of lanterns and lights. The street food starts to get prepared along the main path and a delicious blend of spices penetrates your nostrils as you walk past.

Make sure you try the brown beans they cook in water and spice mix. Pro tip! Peel them before you eat them!

Get back to Tehran before the last metro leaves. The shared taxis to the metro, stop running at some point after dark. Not sure what time, but I had to take a private taxi back down to the metro.

Street food in Darband at night

Day 3: Bus to Kashan and sightseeing

Have an early breakfast and go to Tehran South Bus Terminal. I suggest you get a Snap! . If you need more information about Snap! , read my complete guide for Iran travel tips .

There are buses from Tehran to Kashan every half an hour, so you don’t have to book in advance. For more leg space, make sure you get on a VIP bus. They are a little bit more expensive, yet super affordable. The bus takes about 3 hours.

Where to stay in Kashan

Kooshk E Honar

Kooshk E Honar is a small, personal guest house with private rooms and shared dorms. There is a little café at the guest house, run by a sweet, young couple that serves breakfast, but you can get lunch and dinner there too. The guest house is walking distance from the historical houses and other tourist attractions in Kashan.

Book your stay at Koosh E Honar here

Hostel Green House

Hostel Green House was recommended to me by other travelers that loved the atmosphere. The owner, Ali, was super friendly and helped out with everything they needed and the hostel was situated within walking distance from the historical houses.

Book your stay with Hostel Green House here

Pro tip! I suggest you book your desert tour for day 5 as soon as you arrive at the guest house so you secure a spot. I just asked the guest house owner which made a couple of phone calls and booked me in. Feel free to change around day 4 and 5 if that assures you on a desert tour.

If you stay at Kooshk Honar I suggest you have a quick lunch there, if not, ask at your guesthouse where they recommend you have nice local food to a reasonable price.

Agha Bozorg Mosque in Kashan must be on your 10 days Iran itinerary

Kashan sightseeing

With half a day in Kashan , I Suggest you visit Agha Bozorg Mosque first. This is an incredibly beautiful mosque and without a doubt one of the most underrated landmarks in Asia . Women must wear a chador to enter, but you will get one on the way in, free of charge.

The old woman that was handing them out when I visited, helped me put on the chador perfectly, and helped me take it off again without losing my headscarf in the act.

This is without a doubt one of the greatest sights in Kashan! Verses of the Quran are inscribed in tiles and mosaics throughout the mosque.

After visiting the mosque, spend some time getting lost in the streets if you have time before dark.

Then head to the bazaar. The old caravanserai inside the bazaar is one of the most astounding in Iran. Old dusty, luxury carpets have been sold there back to Qajars times up until today. It is not as huge a bazaar as the one in Tehran, but still, it’s worth spending time there. I found it somewhat calmer.

Ask at the guest house where their favorite restaurant is and try something new.

Day 4: Fin Garden and Kashan historical houses

Start the day with early breakfast and go to Fin Garden. You can either book a private driver by asking at your guesthouse or you can book a Snap!

The Fin Garden is a green breeze in the middle of the desert. The oldest surviving garden in Iran. With beautifully ornated buildings surrounding the lush, greenery crisscrossed with a water system creating turquoise lanes spotted with fountains. The sound of the running water and the birds singing makes it hard to believe you are in the middle of desert land in central Iran.

Go to Fin Garden in Kashan during your Iran itinerary 10 days

Visit the Historical Houses

After exploring Fin Garden, head to the historical houses. They are all clustered together, so your driver will know where to drop you off.

You can get a ticket that gives you entry to Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, Abbasi House, and Tabatabaei House and it’s worth it! The three sights are truly mesmerizing. My favorite is the bathhouse. So incredibly colorful and the rooftop is pretty cool too!

I suggest you have lunch or dinner at the restaurant at Abbasi House. It’s a bit expensive for being Iran, but worth it considering where you are.

There are also other restaurants around the historical houses. I was recommended one on the other side of the square from Tabatabaei House, but it was closed when I went there.

Abbasi House in Kashan should be on your Iran itinerary

Day 5: Maranjab desert tour and Salt Lake

Have breakfast before pick up for the desert tour. The driver will take you to different places in the desert. There is an old caravanserai that used to house travelers on the old desert trade road all the way back to the 17 th century. It is still today possible to sleep there, though it’s far from luxury.

The highlight with the day is the Salt Lake, a huge plain in the middle of the desert. The perfect place for creative photographing. Then there is the sunset. There is nothing like a desert sunset when the shadows melt with the golden sand and the sunset colors the horizon in pastel colors.

When you get back after sunset, look for a nice place for dinner. My suggestion is to get a private driver for the next day, as Abyaneh village is impossible to get to by public transport. Ask at your guesthouse to organize a driver that takes you to Abyaneh on the way to Isfahan. Book your hotel there in advance so you get dropped off at the right place.

Include the Maranjab desert in your Iran travel itinerary

Day 6: Abyaneh and Isfahan

Get up early for breakfast before leaving for Abyaneh . This is one of the oldest villages in Iran dating back 2500 years. It has become a popular day trip for tourists as the villagers still hang on to their old customs, clothing, and language from before Islamic times.

Abyaneh is also called the Red Village as the clay used to build the houses contains a large amount of iron oxides.

After a couple of hours walking around the village and seeing the main sights, including the viewpoint of the village, you can either have lunch there or continue to Isfahan and have your lunch there.

There is a cost to enter Abyaneh which goes to maintaining the village, but it is a good thing to consider having lunch there to leave the villagers some income besides this.

Read more about responsible tourism here

the view of Abyaneh village in Iran

Continue the journey to Isfahan . The drive takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Once you get to your guesthouse, make sure you book your bus and accommodation in Garmeh including a desert tour the day after you arrive (if you haven’t already). Since 10 days in Iran is quite tight on time, it would be disastrous if they were fully booked the days you planned to go!

Where to stay in Isfahan

Anar Guesthouse

Anar Guesthouse is an awesome place to stay if you are looking for friendliness and a place to feel at home away from home. It is run by two sisters, and one of them even run a Persian Cooking Class you should attend if you would like to learn how to create amazing Persian food!

They have both dorms and private rooms, WiFi and a delicious breakfast included.

Book your stay with Anar Guest House here

Sightseeing in Isfahan

Whether you choose to have lunch before you get to Isfahan or not, you should spend the evening walking around the Armenian quarter. The one in Isfahan is one of the largest Armenian quarters in the world. Make sure you don’t miss the Vank Cathedral.

After dark, go see the Si O Se Pol Bridge and the Khaju Bridge. The latter is a unique experience at night when men gather under the bridge to sing and dance, mainly on Fridays. Have some street food and tea while you watch the spectacle. Or if you are a guy, why not join them?

Khaju Bridge at night

Day 7: Sightseeing in Isfahan

Have an early breakfast, as today is going to be full of spectacular sights! Don’t forget to have your camera fully loaded with enough space on your memory card because you are about to spend the day in one of Iran’s most beautiful cities!

A 10 days Iran itinerary won’t give you as much time in Isfahan as the city really deserves, but luckily a lot of the main attractions are all centered around one square. The Naqsh-e Jahan Square.

This is one of the largest squares in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With two of the most important mosques sitting on one side each, the Sheik Lotfollah Mosque and the Shah Mosque there is no doubt you have to go there.

On the square, you also find Ali Qapu Palace, with its beautifully painted and carved interior. The palace’s terrace also has one of the best views of the square.

For lunch, head to Azadegan Teahouse, which is popular both with the locals and tourists. They serve traditional dishes and could make up vegan options too. But the main attraction isn’t the food, it’s all the antiques that decorate the walls and hang from the ceiling. A truly unique place.

After lunch, walk through the bazaar which has its main entrance on the opposite side of Shah Mosque. The bazaar leads you to Isfahan’s biggest mosque, the Jameh Mosque, which means “main mosque”. It’s not hard to understand why. It’s huge and absolutely mesmerizing.

The rest of the day you can choose to walk back through the bazaar and hang out at the square, or you can take a Snap! to the Jewish quarter and have your dinner there.

Esfahan is a must visit during 10 days in Iran

Day 8: Travel to Garmeh

When I was there, there was only one bus to Garmeh from Isfahan and it left at 13:00. In fact, the bus doesn’t go to Garmeh at all, but to Khur. You will get off a bit before continuing by taxi to Garmeh, which takes approximately 20 minutes. Just let the bus driver know you are going to Garmeh and he will tell you where to get off.

There were no taxis waiting when I got off the bus, so the driver made someone on the street call a taxi for me and two Chinese guys that were going there too.

You will get to Garmeh for dinner if you take the bus. As it is a good 7+ hours travel by bus and taxi, I recommend you take a private car and leave early in the morning. The drive will be much shorter. This way you get to explore the little oasis of Garmeh which is totally worth it!

Make it to Garmeh - Iran in 10 days

Where to stay in Garmeh

Ateshooni Guesthouse

This is the only place to stay in the oasis and they have higher prices than elsewhere in Iran but it includes all meals, which makes it not so bad after all. If you haven’t already booked your night bus back to Tehran, ask them to do it as soon as you get there. It can also be an idea to book your guesthouse in Tehran if you are not going to the airport on the same day.

You can book your stay with Ateshooni Guesthouse directly on their website

Day 9: Desert tour and night bus to Tehran

The desert tour is with Maziar, the owner of Ateshooni Guesthouse. He is a great guy that will show you incredible sites in the desert including a salt river. He heats up wonderful food over a fire in the middle of the desert. He can make both vegan and vegetarian food, just let him know in advance.

You’ll enjoy a memorable sunset and millions of stars once it gets dark. After a chat around the fire and lots of cups of tea, the journey goes back to the guesthouse.

You’ll have time for dinner before the night bus goes back to Tehran.

Explore Iran in 10 days including the desert

Day 10: Sightseeing in Tehran

If you have time for sightseeing the last day, points of interest are the Azadi Tower, Tabi’at Bridge, and Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque. There are also plenty of nice tea houses in Tehran that you should enjoy to round off your Iran itinerary.

Make sure you have enough time to get to the airport as it can take time to get out of the city. It can be a good idea to drive 1,5-2 hours before you have to be at the airport.

READ: Countries off the beaten path you should not miss!

Reflections after 10 days in Iran

I hope you enjoyed this 10 days Iran itinerary. Though it is not enough with 10 days in Iran, you will get a good feel for some of the best places and not to mention the super friendly people.

Make sure you respect the laws and customs of Iran and especially the locals. They will most likely give you everything they can, so make sure you show appreciation and give back if you can.

In case you missed it, make sure you read this post before you go: Iran travel tips: All you need to know before you travel to Iran

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Are you planning a trip to Iran? This is the perfect Iran itinerary for 10 days in Iran. #responsibletravel #traveltips #itinerary #itineraryiran #irantravel #asia #middleeast #irantourism #touristiniran #brainybackpackers

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6 thoughts on “ 10 days in Iran itinerary: Discover the country with the world’s friendliest people! ”

What a wonderful post! I always hear nothing but the most positive of things about Iran from the people to the food, from the culture to the landscape. It’s a place I can’t wait to visit and this post has given me some great ideas for when I do. Thank you!

Thank you! I hope the circumstances make it possible to travel soon so you can visit Iran!:)

This is a wonderful guide! Those mountain shots are just incredible. I would love to plan a trip to Iran in the near future.

Thank you! I really hope it will be possible to visit Iran pretty soon so you can visit. I want to go back there too!

Great travel itinerary! I would be interested in visiting to immerse myself in the culture.

Thank you! Oh, you really should as soon as travel opens up again in the world!

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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.


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The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Author:  Caroline

Thinking of going to Iran but not entirely sure how to start planning? This beautiful country is very much underrated and sadly only on the radar of the more adventurous souls. But don’t worry I have written down the ultimate two-week Iran travel guide and even threw in some practical information about local etiquette, clothes in Iran, and Persian (Iranian) vegetarian food. Hope his article inspires you to go!

Iran is my personal favorite country to visit, both the local hospitality and architecture is astounding. The depth of culture that runs through the veins of every city is such a thing of beauty that it might surprise you to hear tourism in Iran is not omnipresent. The reason is maddeningly straightforward: Popular media has cast a shadow on Iran and ostracised it as being filled with terrorists and extremists. My family and friends (despite being very open-minded) pleaded with me not to go. Luckily I went anyway and so should you. Iran is safe, filled with great food and lovely people. Delve into my Iran itinerary and be prepared for the journey of a lifetime.

All prices are in IRR (Iranian Rials) and based upon March 2020 prices. Please note Iranians will often use Tomans to talk about price and not Rials this can lead to confusion. Just keep in mind that 1 Toman is equal to 10 Rials.

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).  Learn more .

to do in Iran

Traveling to Iran: FAQ

Iran (or Persia as it is referred to by some) is a very large country, it’s around 1,648,195 sq. km and has 82 million people living in it. It is in the top 20 largest countries in the world. In short, two weeks is a great start for traveling to Iran but you will be merely skimming the surface of all there is to see and do.

Do they speak English in Iran

The short answer is no. The long answer depends on where you are traveling. In large cities, the younger generation will speak enough English to be able to help you out with any questions you might have. I got lucky in the sense that my travel bud spoke fluent Persian (Farsi). It made things a lot easier but did not detract from the fact that at times it was hard to understand what was going on. Iranians are some of the most hospitable people you are likely to ever meet this is but one of the reasons to consider traveling or even backpacking through Iran .

Local SimCard

Certain sim cards from abroad are blocked in Iran so your best is to buy a local sim card. You can get them at the airport, right after you pick up your luggage and have cleared customs. There are various companies, but I ended up going with Irancell and pretty much had coverage everywhere. To get a sim card, you fill out a form pay IRR200.000 and have a copy of your passport taken. The local agent helped me install the sim card and I was good to go for 2 weeks.

Payment inside the country

Credit cards in Iran are blocked. You will not be able to use VISA, MASTERCARD, MAESTRO, or any other foreign supplier. So your best bet is to get in contact with a local company to use a prepaid card. I used the services of  Daricpay . The team speaks very good English, is readily available via email or WhatsApp to answer all your questions.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Best way to plan a trip to Iran

We had a lot of help from a local tour agency when planning the trip . They are a team of young guys, with a lot of experience in tourism with a professional yet very fun approach. So much fun, that they ended up becoming close friends that I still talk to on a very regular basis. I have never overtly promoted any agency on my blog, but will happily do so this time around. If you have any questions about travel to Iran (that are not answered below) be sure to check them out:

Read more Iran guides : If you are traveling through Iran, you might be interested in specific guides to  Kashan, Isfahan , and  Shiraz .

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Two week itinerary – Iran

Day one in iran: tehran.

Tehran is the capital of the country and like every other capital in the world, it is bustling with people on a mission. This translates into horrendous traffic jams and a lot of creative driving skills. After careful consideration, I decided to skip Tehran in favor of a few extra days elsewhere in the country.

If however, you do have a day to spare, be sure to check out the Golestan Palace, the oldest historical building in the city. Next time I am in Tehran, this is going to be my first stop. From all accounts, this palace is a real gem of Qajar architecture with its beautiful gardens, the intricately decorated main hall, and best of all, the room of mirrors.

Practical Information for visiting Golestan Palace : Entrance fee:   IRR2.000.000 How to get there:  Very close to two metro stops (15th of Khordad and Imam Khomeini)

Kashan Iran Central Market

Day two and three in the Iran guide: Kashan

Kashan is a relatively small city and usually, tourists traveling through Iran tend to skip it. If you have the time, my suggestion would be to add it to the itinerary. Kashan is conveniently located between Tehran and Isfahan  and is well worth two days of your time. Good to know is that the city is known for manufacturing carpets.  So if you are looking to purchase a beautiful Persian rug, this is the place to do it!

An important thing to note when visiting Kashan is that due to its smaller influx of tourists a foreign face might incite many curious stares. Locals are simply not as used to foreigners as in other larger cities across the country. There is absolutely no need to be scared, people are just naturally curious.

Short on time? Here is a neat overview of all the places to visit in Kashan .

Tabatabaei House Kashan Iran

The traditional houses in Kashan

These guys are most definitely one of the main reasons we decided to visit and an important tourist attraction in Kashan. They give you a glimpse into the life of the wealthy Persians in the 18 th  and 19 th  Each one is just that little bit different, so make a day out of it and go house hunting. Here is a list of my favorite houses.

  • Abbasi house : IRR 150.000 The highlight was the beautiful colourful stained glass.
  • Tabatabai House : IRR300.000 A house that was built by the wealthy Tabatabei family, by the same architect who built the Borujerdi house and also the Bazar in Kashan. Think opulent stucco, geometrical gardens and mirrored walls.
  • Borujerdi house : IRR300.000 Personally this is my favorite. Built by the husband of the daughter of the Tabatabei family. It took a full 18 years to get this house completely built. The husband wanted the house to be even more splendid than the Tabatabai House (guess what, he succeeded).
  • Ameriha House:  IRR150.000 Originally built as the house of the Governor of Kashan. The property is absolutely huge and also moonlights as a hotel and teahouse. They have an excellent selection of Persian fresh lemonades which you might want after walking around this huge property. If you do decide to have a drink at the café, or better yet stay at the hotel

Fin Garden Kashan Iran

Fin Garden: IRR500.000

One of the oldest gardens in Iran, dating back to the 16th century. It is a perfect example of a beautiful Persian Garden (think water elements, plenty of different trees, and geometrical architecture. The garden is also the site of a murder! Little gruesome but mighty interesting. You can roam around for a good 2 hours.

Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse Kashan Iran

Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse: IRR150.000

Talk about bathing in style, this bathhouse dates back to the 16th century and is a must-see tourist attraction in Kashan. It has beautiful tiles, in deep green and blue tones and wonderful arched ceilings. It is not in use anymore these days, although frankly, I think it would make one hell of a spa area! Be sure to head up to the roof to see the domes and of course the view over the city. The guards will be a little hesitant to let you take pictures up top, so make sure to tell them in advance.

Agha Bozorg Mosque Kashan Iran

Agha Bozorg Mosque:   IRR300.000

A beautiful mosque, that also houses a Madrasa. It is soberer than the mosques you will encounter in Isfahan and Shiraz but definitely worth a visit if you are in Kashan. It is the first mosque in this two-week Iran travel guide and I really hope you do not skip it because of its more sober entrance. Please note, women are required to wear a chador which is available free of charge at the entrance. Be sure to go early in the morning to avoid the tourists. While there may not be many in Kashan, the tour groups all somehow had this mosque on their morning itinerary.

Things to do in Kashan visit the Bazar

Kashan Bazar: Free

Personally, my favorite part of Kashan was the Bazar! It is still a working Bazar and so it offers a great insight into the daily life of Kashan residents. Older women haggling for a new pair of shoes, or “the guys” hanging out and checking out the ladies passing, you get to see it all. We were left pretty much to our own devices, there were a lot of curious eyes on us but no aggressive merchants trying to sell us goods. The Bazar has beautiful architecture and little squares tucked away at the end of certain streets. Be sure to head over to the Timche-ye Amin od-Dowleh part of the Bazar to get a cup of black tea and some biscuits. Don’t forget to look up at the domed ceiling.

in isfahan

Day four-five-six in the Iran travel guide: Isfahan

Isfahan is the third-largest city in Iran with a population of roughly 2 million. You will need a good two to three days (and a pair of comfy shoes) to see the majority of the sights. The city is known for its grand architecture, most of which dates back to the  Safavid dynasty when the city was the capital of the very large Persian Empire.

Isfahan has a long history of welcoming foreigners. It was an important stop on the Silk Route and to this day is one of the most visited cities by foreign tourists traveling to Iran. It’s safe to say locals are accustomed to seeing foreign faces.  As far as Iranian cities go, it was one of the most welcoming we encountered and my personal favorite.

Read More: Insider’s guide to Isfahan .

Things to do in Isfahan

Free Walking Tour Isfahan

If you are not entirely sure where to start, this 2-hour walking tour will guide you through the major tourist attractions in Isfahan. It’s based on tips, the entrance to the monuments is not included. Please note, that you do need to register for the tour and you can do that  here.

Isfahan Naqsh-e-Jahan square

Naghsh – e Jahan Square

The largest square in the world, right after the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It was built during the Safavid dynasty and houses 3 of the prettiest buildings in Isfahan. It is absolutely fantastic to visit in the early morning for the best light, the afternoon for the best people-watching and in the evening when you can grab a cup of tea at the Qeysarieh International Museum & Cafe Gallery, which offers spectacular views over the city (for a fee of IRR250.000). The entrance fee to the café will give you a seat to view the prettiest view we saw while traveling in Iran and will also buy you a cup of tea and some tasty cake.

Shah Mosque Isfahan Iran

Shah Mosque: IRR500.000

Location on the southern side of the Naghsh – e Jahan Square. This mosque was built for the common people by Shah Abbas I. A perfect example of Safavid architecture, think millions of different types of blue tiles, perfect geometry a myriad of calligraphy, and pretty stalactite-type architecture in the ceilings of the niches.

Ali Qapu Music room Isfahan

Ali Qapu: IRR500.000

A palace fit for a king, or even a Shah. Ali Qapu was where the Shahs of the Safavid era resided and is located on the western side of the Naghsh – e Jahan square. The Shah had fantastic views over the square, which was reputed to be a great place to play polo or even racehorses. The real gem of this place is the music room up on the 6th floor. It has beautiful stucco carvings in the ceiling, built to amplify the echo of the musicians playing music.

Sheik Lotfollah Mosque Isfahan Iran

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque:   IRR500.000

Welcome to the private mosque of the Shah and his ladies of the court. The mosque is located right opposite the Ali Qapu palace, on the eastern side of the Naghsh – e Jahan square. While the Shah mosque was open to the public, this ‘little’ mosque was more of a private affair. What it lacks in grandeur it makes up in intricate details. Walk in, and make a beeline for the main prayer hall. Whatever you do, do not forget to look up and see if you can spot the peacock on the ceiling.

Things to do in Isfahan Iran

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan: IRR500.000

The oldest mosque in Isfahan dates back to the 8th century BC. Over the years, a variety of different elements were added making it the most eclectic mosque in Isfahan. It was replaced as the main mosque of Isfahan by the Shah mosque in the 17th century. Jameh Mosque may not look as beautiful on the outside as the more recent mosques, and for some reason, this seemed to make the mosque less of a ‘must-see’ tourist attraction in Isfahan. This was clear by the lack of people when we visited. Give this a place chance and be sure to explore, because behind each door you may find a different type of architecture.

Mollabashi House Isfahan Iran

Motamedi (Mollabashi) historical house: IRR155.000

The Mollabashi house is a traditional house in downtown Isfahan. Like the traditional houses in Kashan, it is a beautiful display of the lifestyle of the rich and famous during their day. The house carries the name of one of its former owners, Mollabashi, who was a famous astronomer to the Shah in the 19th century. Be sure to check out the alcove in the courtyard, and watch as the sun streams in through the stained glass windows and bounces off the intricate mirrored tiles on the opposite wall. Aside from the pink mosque in Shiraz this house probably had the best stained glass windows I saw while traveling in Iran.

Chehel Sotoon Palace Isfahan/ Esfahan Iran

Chehal Sotoon palace: IRR500.000

A palace fit to entertain guests and that is exactly what this palace was built for. It has a beautiful porch which is supported by 20 wooden columns. These columns reflect in the lake, giving the illusion of a forest of 40 columns. That is exactly the secret of the name of this palace (translated as “The palace of 40 columns”). Chehal Sotoon is decorated with many different paintings, designed to impress the viewer and to demonstrate the power of the Safavid dynasty ( think bloody war scenes on wall-size canvases ). If you need a bit of mental rest after all those bloody scenes, make sure to have a walk in the beautiful gardens. They are UNESCO classified as a traditional Persian Garden.

in Yazd Iran

Day seven-eight in the Iran travel guide: Yazd

Yazd is located smack in the middle of the desert, a little oasis with very high temperatures (upwards of 40 C in the summer). The city is known for its wind catchers ( Bâdgir ) and also for its large amount of  Zoroastrians .

As the name wind catcher would suggest, they were built to catch the wind and provide a refreshing breeze to the houses – a traditional form of air conditioning. The wind catchers and the basements are typical architectural features you will find in most of the mudbrick houses dotted across the old town of Yazd (the new town uses modern-day air conditioning)

The city houses some of the friendliest people in the country, who were all very discreet yet curious to know more about us. The friendly nature of the people makes this city one of the top places to visit in Iran for me personally.

Read More : Discover 2-days in Yazd

in Yazd Iran

Walk around old town Yazd

The old town of Yazd is a virtual maze of little streets, that look very similar. Google maps will provide some help, although it tends to get lost too now and then. If you are like me and have a knack for getting lost anywhere (despite Google Maps) you might want to do look into a free walking tour that is offered in Yazd. You will need to register for the free walking tour, however, the fee you pay is totally up to you. It lasts about two hours and takes you around all the important sites of the city. Check it out  here .

Jameh Mosque Yazd Iran

Jameh Mosque Yazd: IRR80.000

This mosque was built on the site of an old Zoroastrian Fire Temple and dates back to the 12th century. Notice the beautiful colored tiles. Remember the dark blue tiles of Isfahan? Yazd has a specific color of tiles, typical for the city. They use many shades of turquoise and yellow to decorate them. The mosque has two huge minarets to mark the entrance. It is still a working mosque, so please be respectful of the hours for prayer when visiting. The sunrise was absolutely stunning and turned the turquoise tiles a light shade of orange. We ended up walking around to the side entrance to catch a glimpse of the beautiful door pictured below.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Amir Chakmaq Complex: IRR200.000

We were in Yazd during a religious festival and the mosque and complex were sadly closed. The outside looked absolutely spectacular though, so make sure to visit if you can. The complex contains various buildings (Mosque, Bazaar, Mausoleum, and Bathhouse to name a few).

Dolat Abad Garden Yazd Iran

Bagh e Dolat Abad Yazd:   IRR500.000

Once the private home of the Shah Karim Khan Zand. It was built in the 18th century and nestled amidst a beautiful UNESCO classified Persian Garden. A cool feature is the  Bâdgir  which measures 33 meters, and that’s not all – You can actually go inside and walk underneath it! The gardens have water elements and so many pomegranate and sour orange trees.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Zoroastrian Towers of Silence: IRR80.000

This ancient burial ground was still used up until the 1970s. The Zoroastrians believe that once the body dies, it becomes impure and there is a risk of it being inhabited by demons. To avoid this happening, the dead would be buried outside the city walls according to very specific rituals. Bodies were carried up to the hill, placed in a circle exposed to the elements. Whatever remained of the bodies, was then burned and buried. A little morbid, but a place to visit in Iran as you will not find it anywhere else in the world.

Windcatchers Yazd Iran

Watch the sunset over the bâdgirs at the Yazd Art Cafe

The best spot in the city to watch the sun go down, and to sip a delicious sekanjibin . The Yazd Art Cafe has a fantastic rooftop that offers panoramic views over the city and its many bâdgirs. It does get pretty busy though so try and go a little in advance. They offer some delicious food after the sun has gone down sit down and have a nice spot for dinner. The building houses a store with traditional crafts on the ground floor which is well worth a little browse if you have time.

Zoroastrian Museum Yazd Iran

Atashkadeh or Yazd Atash Behram: IRR150.000

Your very first Zoroastrian fire temple. It houses the Atash Behram, which means the victorious fire, and according to various sources, the fire in this temple has been burning since 470 AD. One of the longest-burning fires in the world! The temple contains a museum, which explains the Zoroastrian religion and some of their rituals. This is the place to go to learn about this ancient religion and a must amongst the list of places to visit in Iran because yet again it really is unique.

Daytrip outside of Yazd – Zein-O-Din Caravanserai One of the prettiest  Caravanserai  we visited. It is a little out of town so you might need to order a taxi to get there. Alternatively, you can spend the night here because it doubles as a hotel

Dash-te-lut Desert Iran

Day nine-ten in the Iran travel guide: Dash-te-Lut Desert

Time to kick off your shoes and enjoy nature’s finest with a tour in the desert. This was one of my favorite places on our Iran itinerary. It is not just any dessert, oh no it’s a UNESCO-classified desert. This desert has been classified based upon a few criteria: The world’s hottest land surface temperatures were recorded here, a whopping 70,7 C if you please

The second reason why this desert has been classified is the wide variety of landforms that can be found in the desert: salt flats, active dunes as high as 475meters, kaluts (the peeks of formations that are entirely made out of sand stuck together) that reach up to 155m high and span for a good 40 km.

We did a 2-day tour, starting with a pickup in Kerman . Our guide, Mansour, picked us up at the hotel, and off we went! We drove to the outskirts of the desert and stopped in a little village. We met up with our driver (Ali) and all four of us piled into his 4×4 – which had been packed with tents, food, and supplies for 2 days in the desert.

Dasht-e-Lut Desert Iran

Our guide Mansour spoke fluent English and explained the origins of the desert, and the various different formations (Kaluts) that can be found. As dusk started to set in, we found a spot to watch the sun go down and from which we could take some shots of the stars. There is nothing like watching the stars in a place that is completely quiet and void of all light. We got lucky, the sky cleared up and we got a view of the elusive Milky Way. It was pure magic. The night just got better after a wonderful dinner of grilled skewers over a homemade fire, and a hot cup of black tea. We looked up and were met by millions of stars and a red moon. A phenomenon which takes place for only a few weeks a year in this region of the world.

After breakfast, we cruised around the dunes and the various parts of the desert. Our driver obviously knew both the desert and his car very well. Up and down the dunes we went, giggling and screaming like little girls.

Practical Information for an Excursion to the Dash-te-Lut Desert Do I need a tour to explore the desert : You can explore on your own, however, due to the size of the desert it is strongly advised to take a local guide. Fee : IRR8.00.000 and 25.000.000 per person, depending on how large your group is. How to book : We booked directly via our local tourist agency

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Day eleven in the Iran travel guide: Maymand

This is the smallest and most peculiar village of this Iran travel guide . According to the locals, the village has about 100 people living in it and most of them are of a certain age. So why add this to the list of things to see in Iran? Well, there really is no place in the world like Maymand.

This village has remnants of civilization dating back 12.000 years. And if that does not convince you, the 350 caves that were dug out by hand and where people live ( to this day) might just do the trick. You will be hard-pressed to find concrete or even brick buildings that serve as homes. People are still living in the comfort of their caves, as was the case 3000 years ago. Granted, they made a few upgrades like electricity, running water, and Wi-Fi but the overall structure is the same. This is one of the reasons why Maymand is classified as a world heritage site.

There are a variety of different walking routes that take you around the village and to the plateaus with great viewpoints. Make sure to ask your accommodation for all the information. We had a really great time sleeping with a local family that runs an Eco lodge. Maymand is located between Kerman and Shiraz and a great pitstop if you are doing a road trip through this part of the country.   So if you have the time while traveling through Iran, try and spend a few days here.

Practical details for visiting Maymand How to get there:   It is about a 3-hour drive from Kerman Where to stay:   Maymand and Moon Ecolodge

Things to do in Shiraz visit Nasir ol molk mosque I

Day twelve-thirteen-fourteen in the Iran travel guide: Shiraz

Heralded for its wine (Shiraz wine originates from here…or it did, back in the day) a city of poetry, and let’s not forget fabulous pink tiles! It was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty (AD 1747–79) and many of its buildings are built in either Zand or Qajar dynasty (AD 1794 – 1925) architecture.

There are never enough days to explore the beauty of Shiraz.  You could easily spend two weeks here and still be left wanting more. Walking around the streets of Shiraz (both modern-day and old town) was an absolute pleasure. The streets are clean, people are friendly and the monuments are worth every single penny. It was our last stop of the two-week trip through Iran and it felt bittersweet. Our friends at TermehTravel decided to join us, which just added a sprinkle of something extra special to the city.

Read More : My in-depth 3-days in Shiraz guide

Nasir Ol Mosque Shiraz Iran

Free walking tour of Shiraz

Not sure where to start in Shiraz? This free walking tour has you covered. In two hours you see the main sights of the city including the Nasir Ol Mosque, The Vakhil Mosque and Bazaar and many more monuments. They run every day and are completely based upon tips. Entrance fees to the monuments are not included and you need to register in advance. You can do so  here.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Nasir Ol Mosque:   IRR500.000

The award for the prettiest mosque (probably in the world) very clearly goes to the Nasir Ol Mosque. It has 50 shades of pink and yellow tiles not to mention a winter prayer hall which will take your breath away. The light coming through the stained glass windows slowly spreads a rainbow’s worth of color across the floor and walls of the prayer hall. The effect is at its highest during the winter months when the reflection covers all of the floor and bounces back off the opposite wall. It will feel like you have stepped into a kaleidoscope. This mosque is at the top of many people’s list of places to visit in Iran and gets very packed. Be sure to arrive early and enjoy all this mosque has to offer.

Vakhil Mosque Shiraz Iran

Vakhil Mosque:   IRR500.000

A beautiful example of less is more. While the entrance is ornately decorated with vibrant pink tiles, the inside is a lot more minimalist compared to the vast majority of mosques in Iran. It was built during the Zand dynasty (18th century) and extensively renovated during the Qajar era (19th century) which explains the many floral tiles. Floral motifs on the tiles were the height of fashion during Qajar rule! My favorite part was the prayer hall, directly opposite the entranceway. It contains the night prayer hall (Shabestan) which is made up of 48 perfectly geometrical pillars. The pillars are all carved by hand and depict a spiral motion.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Tomb of Hafez:   IRR500.000

Hafez is to this day still the most famous poet of Iran. From an outsider’s perspective, it almost feels empirical to read his poems to truly understand modern-day Iranian culture. His words permeate every layer of society and glue together both young and old. Therefore, it kind of speaks for itself that his tomb is one of those places you cannot miss out on when visiting Iran. The entrance fee might feel rather hefty but it’s worth it in my opinion. At dusk, the grounds are filled with his fans who gather around the main monument often reciting his poems. It is one of Shiraz’s prime people-watching spots too. My advice is to pay the entrance fee, visit the monument and then park your butt on the steps opposite the monument and watch the people around you.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Eram Garden: IRR500.000

Speaking of people-watching spots, the Eram Garden will give the tomb of Hafez a run for its money. The garden itself is an example of a perfect Persian Garden: it has many water elements running through it and is built to geometrical perfection. The garden dates back to the 12th predating the house by about 6 centuries. Now the real reason I liked this spot is because it seemed to be a very popular gathering place for the local youth. There are not many spots for young women and men to meet out in public. It’s just ” not done”, keep in mind the country is governed by Islamic law. This park however seems to be a little loophole in the otherwise strict system.


Qavam House:   IRR200.000

Of all the Persian gardens we saw in Iran, this one was my absolute favorite. Smaller in size, but still containing all the elements that make up a Persian garden. It is locally known as Narenjestan because the garden is filled with sour orange trees, which are beautifully fragrant in springtime! The house was built in the Qajar dynasty (19th century) and until recently privately owned. These days it belongs to the university of Shiraz and you can visit it and have a sneak peek into the living of the wealthy in the 20th century. It is one of those understated places to visit in Iran, or as some would call it a bit of a hidden gem.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

The Pink Lake (Maharloo Lake)

The pink lake is part of a seasonal river that dries up around the end of the summer and leaves behind salt sediment. Through natural processes, this sediment turns pink. Usually, this only lasts for a couple of weeks, but be sure to check with locals what the status is when you go. We went in October and it had only just dried up.

Persepolis Shiraz Iran

Persepolis: IRR500.000

This UNESCO-classified site is the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire (6th-3e century BC). It was burnt down by Alexander the Great which sparked a fierce hatred for this historical character, which can be felt to this day.

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Naqsh-e Rostam: IRR500.00

A necropolis dating back to Achaemenid Empire. The burial sites were dug out of a cliff and are very impressive to witness.

Practical information to get to these sites : How to get there:   They are not accessible by public transport, so you will need to rent a taxi and/or guide for the day. Price:  For transfer and guide IRR9.070.000

Khaju Bridge Esfahan Iran

Etiquette to take into account on your Iran itinerary

The concept of taarof.

Taarof is the Persian (Iranian) art of etiquette. In no way do I pretend to understand the depths of this concept but I can provide you with a very top-line description, seen from an outsider (foreign perspective). Taarof will be felt in pretty much any conversation with an Iranian and it can be downright confusing if you do not know what is going on and worse you risk offending the person in front of you without having a clue what you did.

So let’s break it down. To put it very simplistically (and a bit crudely) Taarof is on the exaggerated form of politeness. A concrete example would be when you are invited to someone’s house. As custom dictates the host will provide food and beverages. So far, nothing different versus the majority of Western cultures. However, the next part is a bit tricky: When you are offered food and drink politely decline. I hear you thinking “What? Now that is just rude!”. Actually, it’s not, it would be rude to accept according to the principle of Taarof. Your host will ask again, and you decline again. Go through these motions about three times and then finally you can accept the offer graciously.

Most likely you will also feel Taarof when going shopping, taking a taxi, or eating out in restaurants when you are told the items are “free of charge”. In fact, they are not, the person in front of you is being polite, Iranian polite that is. You will need to pay for whatever services you have used; you might just have to insist a couple of times before they accept.

Can I take pictures of religious buildings and people in Iran

While in most countries, tourists are sometimes looked down upon and locals will certainly not move out of the way for tourists taking pictures, I found the opposite to be true in Iran. I lost count of the number of times people thanked us profusely for visiting Iran and goodness gracious me, they would practically jump out of our way when we wanted to take a picture. Invitations were handed out left and right for us to come to people’s homes and to dine with their families, not to mention to overwhelming responses to our stories on social media. I would have loved to be able to say more than ‘Mamnoon’ (thank you) when conversing with people and vowed to learn Persian for my next trip. Note: Places of worship such as shrines usually ask tourists to refrain from taking pictures with their professional equipment. Phone photography is allowed, albeit in a discreet manner without flash.

Imam Mosque Esfahan Iran

What to wear as a woman traveling to Iran

This is something I struggled with the most when planning my trip. You will need to ‘cover up’ when traveling to Iran as a woman. Do not worry, there is room for interpretation when it comes to covering up in Iran. As a general rule of thumb, dress modestly – no cleavage, tight-fitting clothes, or short clothing.

When you are in public and religious places you absolutely need to adhere to these rules. If you are invited to the home of other people, or inside a restaurant it is best to check what the local women are doing and follow their lead. When in doubt, just ask!

Head:  This needs to be covered with a loose shawl. There are two distinct headdresses to take into account in Iran. The first one is a Hijab, which is a scarf that you loosely drape across your head. The other is Chador, which is required in certain mosques. It is a long piece of cloth that covers your head and the majority of your body.

Arms:  Please cover up until just under your elbows.

Legs:  Need to be covered until the middle of the calves. You can wear jeans or leggings but just make sure that your butt is covered with a long jacket.

Shoes:  Anything you fancy.

Tip: it is best to carry a scarf with you on the plane as you will be required to cover your head before stepping out of the plane and onto Iranian soil.

Dolat Abad Garden Yazd Iran

Practical details for your trip to Iran

The official Iranian currency is Iranian Rials (IRR). However, locals much prefer to use the word Toman. Keep in mind that 1 Toman is 10 Rial, and be sure to always double-check if the price is in Rials or Tomans.

Visa Requirements:

There are only about 8 countries in the world that can travel to Iran without a visa.

For all the rest of us, there are two options:

Option one visa upon arrival.

Be sure to check if you are eligible for a visa upon arrival (VOA) because not every country can use this option. Have a check  here

What do you need? A passport that is valid for at least another 6 months, 2 passport pictures, preferably a return ticket, valid travel insurance that also covers Iran, an invitation letter (tourist agency, hotel, friend), and enough cash to pay for the visa fee. Where can you receive this Visa? You can only get a visa upon arrival at the major national airports and not if you are traveling overland! Check if you are coming in through any of these airports: IKA: Imam Khomeini Airport TEH: Tehran Mehrabad Airport SYZ: Shiraz International Airport MHD: Mashhad International Airport TBZ: Tabriz International Airport ISF: Isfahan International Airport KIH: Kish International Airport


I used this option for peace of mind. The team behind  TermehTravel  helped me out and I had my visa within 24 hours. You receive an email with a code, which you print and take with you. When entering the country, you present the border control with this paper and your passport and you can enter. I was very surprised not to receive a stamp on my passport. In fact, there is no proof in my passport at all that I actually entered the country.

Cost of the visa: $50 Documents needed: Passport valid for at least 6 months, travel insurance, invitation letter

Visiting Iran as a vegetarian

Iran is a country that loves meat in any which form. The traditional Iranian restaurants outside of Iran do not serve many vegetarian options. I was a bit worried about finding vegetarian options. Turns out, these worries were for naught. I am in the process of writing a dedicated blog post on the vegetarian food you must try in Iran. Stay tuned!

Restricted Internet in Iran

Certain apps (Facebook) and content on the internet (various Google functions) are blocked so my advice would be to invest in a good VPN before going.

Iranian Toilets:

In Iran, it is customary to use water to clean oneself after going to the toilet and not toilet paper. Most places will have a little paper available (to dry yourself off). If you want to be absolutely sure, take paper with you. Make sure to throw the paper in the waste bin and not the toilet itself. Speaking of the toilet, many places have a traditional toilet which is a squat toilet and not a seating toilet.

Ordering food in local restaurants

Many restaurants, bars, and even historical sites have websites that are solely in Persian. This means that planning anything usually takes a bit more effort, but that is part of the adventure! Luckily enough, there is a simple way around this problem in the form of an unlikely ally – Instagram. Iranians absolutely love Instagram, it is a platform that is not blocked by the government (for now) and thus widely used by everyone and their cat. Before despairing over not speaking Persian, try and pop onto Instagram and see if the place you want to visit has an account. I bet they do and are actively managing this account. Send them a DM with your questions and you should have an answer pretty quickly.


Things to do in Shiraz, Iran Travel in Isfahan like a local The most beautiful things to see in Kashan, Iran What to do in Yazd, Iran Guide to two days in Bukhara Everything you need to know to visit Khiva The perfect guide to things to do in Samarkand

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide

Two weeks in Iran Travel Guide: Pin It

The Ultimate Two Week Iran Travel Guide


in Yazd Iran

Caroline Muller is an award-winning travel blogger. She writes and photographs full-time while oscillating between Sicily and Brussels as a home base.  She has documented over 60 countries across six continents and does not plan to stop any time soon. A staunch vegetarian for over 25 years, she loves exploring local cuisine in search of that perfect (plant-based) mouthful. With this blog, she hopes to help you travel slower, more sustainably and a hella lot more meaningfully. Pack your bags!

Rutansh Nayak

You had an amazing trip, and thanks for sharing these details. I’m looking forward to your Iran travel for vegetarians blog. I should strat follow your blog for other travel ideas, too.

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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! My name is Caroline , and I am a full-time writer & photographer. With this blog, I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism , and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. Adventure awaits!

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Travel Guide to Iran – My 8 Day Cultural Itinerary Visiting Cities of Mashhad, Shiraz, Yazd, Ishfahan and Tehran

Iran is probably one of the most underrated tourist destinations in the world, thanks to the impact of mainstream media. As they report conflict and hatred, viewers establish fear and indifference to the country. Not a lot of people care about the true status of Iranians let alone set foot on their soil. 

Discover Iran A Travel Guide For Filipinos

This is one of the compelling reasons why I wanted to see this country for myself. I want to get to know their people, their culture, and see how beautiful their country is. I want to experience more than what I see and hear on the news or on television, this is aside from the fact that I wanted to visit every single country in the world.

Discover Iran A Travel Guide For Filipinos1

A lot of people think I’m crazy or stupid for traveling around Central Asia, Iran in particular. Well, let me tell you that I probably am! I have crossed the border from Djibouti to Somaliland , sailed from the Florida Keys to the Bahamas , traveled to 15 countries around Africa , and I even went Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Uganda so there’s no way I wouldn’t visit Iran! :p 

EXTRA TIPS: I recommend booking your Iran travel services through Exotigo , a trusted Iranian online travel agency. Through their web platform, you can find a large variety of Iran hotels, domestic flights, tour packages and experiences, car rental as well as Iran visa and insurance. They accept all major debit/credit cards and PayPal as well.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co1

This time, Visit Our Iran planned and arranged this trip, as well as my visas and flights and Marcopolo Iran Touring,   hosted  me and Bohemian Vagabond Travel Blog: Jacki Ueng for 8 full days! Here is a very interesting cultural itinerary that they prepared for us! 🙂

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co6

Table of Contents


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co6

From Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, I crossed the Bajgiran border to Iran with my Philippines Passport and pre-arranged Iranian Visa . It was relatively easy since the two Immigration Offices are close to each other.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co4

Right before I crossed the border, the environment instantly changed (at least that’s what I felt). Other than the fact that I had to cover myself from head to ankle to follow the rules in Iran, I felt a warm welcome from the Iranian starting from the Immigration Officers who even called a taxi and assisted me with my luggage without asking for anything in return.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co.

Marcopolo Iran Touring Co . booked a room for me at Homa Hotel in Mashhad (3-hour drive from Bajgiran) w hich happens to be one of the most popular luxury chains of hotel in Iran. It was so nice to have a little staycation from all the hardcore traveling I’m doing! :p 

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co3

After a couple of hours’ rest, I met Pouyan. He was super nice and he showed me around!

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co7

Places we visited in Mashhad:  

  • Jaghargh Village just close to the city which is a hub for local restaurants
  • Imam Reza Shrine which is believed to be one of the holiest places in the world.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co

Visit Our Iran arranged my flight to Shiraz (note that foreigners can’t purchase local flights because international debit and credit cards have sanctions). It is a 2-hour flight from Mashhad.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co6

I stayed in another 5-star hotel for 2 nights (thanks to Visit Our Iran and Marcopolo Iran Touring Co so I had a really good sleep before we embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. 

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co14

Note that before starting a group tour, I highly suggest you get a full-day rest! Traveling and moving around can be very exhausting so I always recommend you take a solid and power rest 🙂


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co1

Visit Our Iran   arranged a 1,500-kilometer drive for us where we explored one of the oldest cities in Ancient Persia, which is Shiraz. This is the capital of Fars Province and is now the 5th Most Populous City in Iran. We learned so much from our Tour Guide and he took us to local restaurants where we’ve tried delicious local food!

Discover Iran A Travel Guide For Filipinos1

Places we visited in Shiraz:  

  • Nasir al Molk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque known for its extensive coloured glass on its facade and pink interiors
  • Citadel of Karimkhan Zand which happens to be one of the most prominent architectural structures from the of Zand Dynasty
  • Vakil Bazaar (main bazaar in Shiraz) where you can go shopping for Persian rugs, spices, handicrafts, etc. and see its beautiful courtyards and bathhouses
  • Eram Garden which is a Historic Persian Garden where you can just watch the day go by
  • Mausoleum of Hafiz built to honor the 14th Century Persian Poet Hafiz who was a native of Shiraz from birth until death
  • Shah-e-Cheragh Holy Shrine which you may find underwhelming on the outside but the interior tells a fascinating story with its stained glass, ornamentation, inscriptions, and courtyard


Discover Iran A Travel Guide For Filipinos

Yazd is the capital of Yazd Province and is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a beautiful city in the middle of the desert and is the center of Zoroastrianism. This is the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co4

This city is home to unique Persian Architecture and this is why you shouldn’t miss this on your visit!

Places we visited in Yazd: 

  • Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire which Darius I himself founded. The earliest remains of this complex structure date as far back as 51C BC.
  • Pasargadae is yet another capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great, who ordered its construction. It is believed that his body lies on a limestone tomb which can be found there.
  • Naqsh-e Rostam is where you’ll find colossal tombs of Persian kings and their families carved on the facade of a mountain range
  • Dowlat Abad Garden which is one of the oldest gardens in the city of Yazd


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co5

There are so many interesting things to see and do in Yazd so one full-day isn’t enough! We had another half-day tour to see more of the City and then drove to Isfahan in the afternoon.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co

More places we visited in Yazd: 

  • Towers of Silence which was built by the Zoroastrians for dead bodies to be exposed to birds, a process called excarnation
  • Fire Temple, a place of worship for the Zoroastrians
  • Jami Mosque, built and rebuilt from 771 to the 20th Century due to several destructions, this is one of the oldest standing mosques in Iran 
  • Amir Chakhmaq Square, one of the most outstanding buildings in Yazd, considering its importance and aesthetics

Stopovers on the way to Isfahan:

  • The Historical Bridges of Si-O Se, one of the symbols of Isfahan and Khajou, described as the city’s finest bridge


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co (2)

Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province and is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, tree-lined boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques, and minarets. This is one of the tourist’s favorite stops and you’ll know exactly why with my photos :p 

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co.2

Places we visited in Isfahan: 

  • Naghsh-i Jahan Complex, the most famous attraction in Isfahan City with its blue-tiled mosaics. It is al where you can also find the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque and the Ali Qapou Palace
  • Abbasi Mosque, regarded as one of the masterpieces of Persian Architecture during the Islamic era
  • Qeysarie Bazaar where you can go shopping for handicrafts, copper, jewelry, carpets, etc.
  • Chehel Sotun Palace, a Pavillion for entertainment and guests of Shah Abbas II, the 7th Safavid King of Iran


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co6

This time, we left early in the morning to drive to Tehran. En route, we stopped at Kashan which is another City in Isfahan Province. Archaeological conquests show that this city dates as far back to the Elamite period of Iran. 

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co2

Places we visited in Kashan: 

  • Fin Garden, where you’ll find Kashan’s Fin Bath, where Amir Kabir , the Qajarid chancellor, was murdered by an assassin
  • The Holy Shrine at Qom, considered to be one of the most valuable Islamic architecture in the world


Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co3

Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. This is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia so expect this day to be a little chaotic. 

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Places we visited in Tehran: 

  • Golestan Palace where you’ll see royal buildings, vast gardens, and collections of Iranian crafts from the 18th and 19th Century
  • The Archeological Section of the National Museum where you’ll find interesting pieces of ceramics, pottery, and carvings mostly from the excavations made in Persepolis, Shush, Rey, etc.
  • Tajrish Bazaar, an interesting bazaar where you’ll find a lot of local food from fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, sweets, homemade sauces, kebab, etc.

Our 8 Day Cultural Itinerary In Iran With Visit Our Iran And Marcopolo Touring Co17

Niavaran Palace, home of royal textile works and museum for clothes, Niavaran exclusive Palace, Ahmad Shahi Palace, Sahebgharanieh Palace, Hoz-khane museum, Jahan Nama’ Museum, garden, etc.


After 8 days of traveling around this beautiful country, immersing in their culture, indulging in their local delicacies, learning about their religion, and seeing their historical monuments, it’s now time to go home or move forward with our trips. 

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Visit Our Iran   made sure we experience and see Iran’s best-kept gems! With our knowledgeable Tour Guide, we got to see the country from the eyes and perspective of a local and we learned so much from him! The Iranians are one of the most generous and sincere people I’ve met throughout my entire journey. 

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If you want to visit this country stress-free, then I suggest booking your trip with Visit Our Iran . Their tours are all-inclusive, which means that you don’t have to worry about Accommodations, Transportations (except international flights), Entrance Fees for places named on the itinerary, Mid-day refreshment, and English speaking Tour Guide . Get a 10% Discount when you use our code TWOMONKEYSTRAVELVOI2019 .

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Related Article: Iran Travel Guide for Filipinos  

P.S. Don’t forget to leave your driver and tour guide some tips! Enjoy your vacation! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “ Travel Guide to Iran – My 8 Day Cultural Itinerary Visiting Cities of Mashhad, Shiraz, Yazd, Ishfahan and Tehran ”

Come posso prenotare servizi di viaggio per l’Iran?

Wow, helpful information, I will travel to Iran in April, how can I book hotels in Tehran?

You can book with visitouriran directly! =) You can also get a discount! =)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: Many of the articles on Two Monkeys Travel Group are guest posts by a number of Approved Contributors and are hosted by Two Monkeys Travel Group. Approved Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. This includes all text and images that they use within their own work. All contributors are instructed to follow internationally recognised copyright and intellectual property guidelines. Two Monkeys Travel Group takes its own responsibilities very seriously, so if you feel that any part of this work is abusive in any way, please send us an email so that we can investigate - [email protected]

DISCLOSURE: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. So when you make a purchase we sometimes make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. The cost to you remains the same, sometimes even cheaper if we have negotiated a special deal for our readers.We use all of the companies we have listed here and that’s why they are in this list, but of course we need to keep Two Monkeys Travel Group running as well as it can, which is exactly what you’re helping with if you do decide to buy or book something through an affiliate link! If you have any more questions about the companies we use or any other companies you’re looking at, just email us and we’ll be happy to help. Please see our full disclaimer page for more information.

Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.

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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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iran tourism itinerary

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iran tourism itinerary



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Plan Your Trip

Iran starts here.

I can’t lie: I wasn’t completely stoked about completing my Iran itinerary in the context of a guided tour. The agency I chose and the guide they assigned me were awesome, to be sure, but the constraints my American nationality imposes on me often dampened my enjoyment as I was traveling, and mar my memories of the sojourn.

On the other hand, there’s literally nowhere else in the world like the country formerly known as Persia, from classic Iran tourist attractions, to intangible aspects of the experience, such as the extreme kindness of strangers, out-of-this-world food and the very affordable cost of traveling in Iran.

Whether you’re planning to spend two weeks in Iran on an independent basis, or are from the US, UK or Canada and are seeking the best-worst option for taking an organized tour, Iran starts here.

Practical Matters

When to visit iran.

The best time to visit Iran is shoulder season: April and October. During these months, you can expect daytime temperatures under 30ºC/86ºF in most of the country, with mild-to-cool nights and very little chance or rainfall or even clouds. The time between April and October in Iran, meanwhile, is unrelentingly hot and sunny, while the weather from November to March can be unpleasantly cold—you’ll probably only want to visit Iran during winter if you’re a skiier. No matter when you travel to Iran, you should bring good lip balm from home: The air here is very, very dry.

Where to Stay in Iran

Hotels in Iran leave a lot to be desired, no matter which of the Iran travel destinations you happen to be visiting. Another thing to realize about accommodation in Iran is that with the exception of five-star properties (Tehran hotels such as Espinas Palace and Piroozy Hotel in Isfahan), online reservation is basically impossible, given Iran’s current disconnection from the global financial system. Even if you don’t take an organized tour to Iran (more on those in a minute, particularly as they relate to Americans), an Iranian tour company can help you with hotels.

How to Get Around Iran

Iranian tour companies can also help you arrange transport during your 2 weeks in Iran if you can’t manage it yourself, whether you’re looking for domestic flights, tickets for Iran trains, bus tickets or even private taxi reservations. Another way to book items like these is consulting your hotel’s front desk. For example, if you’re staying at Barandaz Lodge in Farazadh and want to do an excursion into the Mesr Desert, lodge staff will be able to arrange that for you.

Money, Costs and Communication

Iran is one of the most affordable countries in the world. If you don’t need to be on an organized Iran tour, you can get by with a daily budget of around 50 EUR per person, per day. Speaking of euros , they’re the best currency to exchange for Iranian rial , a transaction you can complete at Tehran Airport, at banks throughout the country and even with money changers on the street, although rates vary highly. Western credit cards aren’t currently accepted in Iran, and though that doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon, innovation like the Iran Travel Debit Card from Visit Our Iran and Mah Card allow you to pay with plastic, using (in a roundabout way) funds from your overseas bank account.

WiFi in Iran is slow, in spite of being relatively common, so the best way to stay connected during your two Iran trip is to buy an Iran SIM card upon arrival at Tehran Airport. (TIP: The Iranian Internet is heavily censored, so make sure to download a great VPN prior to arrival to ensure uninhibited access.)

Can Americans Visit Iran?

When it comes to Iran travel American citizens got the short end of the stick—Brits and Canadians, too. For reasons that are far above my pay grade, these three nationalities need to have purchased an organized tour in order to even pay the Iran visa fee, and need to be with a tour guide at all times during the country. (By contrast, nationals of most other countries can get an Iran visa on arrival as of January 2023.)

As a perpetual independent traveler, I can’t lie: This is a bummer, and I frequently felt restricted during my two weeks in Iran. On the other hand, the outstanding support from my tour company Surfiran —who was available before, during and after my trip, and basically on-demand—helped to offset the disappointment I felt being subjected to the restrictions of traveling to Iran as an America. Click here to learn more about Surfiran’s wide variety of Iran itinerary tour options.

Places to Visit During Your Iran Itinerary

Iran’s capital Tehran has a mixed reputation among locals and travelers alike—it’s usually not listed among the best places to visit in Iran. On the other hand, you’re likely to have to spend a day or two here regardless, so make the most of it by traipsing around the base of the unique Azadi Tower , visiting the museum at the Former U.S. Embassy , getting a taste of Persian heritage at Golestan Palace (and a taste of Persian food at the nearby Tehran Bazaar !) and enjoying a panorama from Baam-e Tehran , the so-called “roof of Tehran.”

iran tourism itinerary

Kashan is a desert city full of historical houses and lush gardens, while Abyaneh is an ancient town famous for the red color of its buildings, and Natanz is home to a gorgeous old mosque.

As I noted in my guide to three days in Isfahan , Iran’s most-celebrated historical city is the also one that best embodies things to do in Iran. From Imam Square (by some measures the world’s largest public plaza) and its Shah Mosque , to the city’s central  Jameh Mosque and an Armenian Orthodox church known as Vank Cathedral , Isfahan is worth a visit for its architecture alone.

iran tourism itinerary

Of course, architecture is only the beginning of why Isfahan is amazing. Read the guide I’ve linked above to learn where you can enjoy classic Persian flavors like Fesenjan chicken stew and saffron soft-serve ice cream, take in a panorama of the city and stroll across some of the largest stone bridges in the world. Isfahan will definitely be a highlight of your 2 weeks in Iran!

Yazd and the Mesr Desert

Tehran and Isfahan are pretty arid, so it might seem strange to make an excursion into the Iran desert. Yet spending one to two days in the Mesr Desert , named because it resembles Egypt (“Mesr” in Farsi), will help clear your mind and cleanse your palate for the second half of your trip in Iran. It’s just you and the dunes—and maybe some camels, too!

iran tourism itinerary

After feeling the charm of towns like Farazadh and Garmeh , continue onward toward Yazd , which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world according to many historians. Spend at least a full day of your Iran itinerary taking in both its Islamic architecture and the bountiful Zoroastrian heritage it offers visitors , most specifically the Towers of Silence , which also provide a wonderful view of the city center.

Shiraz and Persepolis

The ancient city of Persepolis is on your way from Yazd to Shiraz , more or less, so while I found the reality of it slightly less impressive than its history (its genesis dates back to the reign of legendary Persian king Kourosh, aka Cyrus the Great), it’s worth at least a pit stop. Afterward, continue on to the city for 1-2 days in Shiraz travel.

iran tourism itinerary

Remember that mosque I mentioned in the intro to this itinerary for two weeks in Iran? It’s called Nasir ol-Molk Mosque (nickname: “ Pink Mosque “) and it’s located in Shiraz, along with the magnificent Narajestan Garden , Hafez Tomb , Eram Garden , Saadi Tomb and Karim Khan Citadel , to name just a few of Shiraz’s historical wonders besides the Pink Mosque Iran.

You could finish your two weeks in Iran itinerary in Shiraz and leave perfectly satisfied—or you could fly north to Tabriz , a city so near the Turkish border that Farsi is its secondary language, and conclude your trip by seeing a different side of Iran. Enjoy local hospitality , traditional Iranian food such as Tabrizi koofteh  and attractions like the Blue Mosque , Elgoli Park and the Azerbaijan Museum , named for the Iranian province, not the country where you find Baku .

iran tourism itinerary

Another advantage of visiting Tabriz, which also happens to be somewhat Turkish, is that it sits close to the village of Kandovan . In addition to the fact that locals here also mostly speak Turkish as their first language, the rock-hewn houses you find in Kandovan bear a strong resemblance to the ones in Turkey’s Cappadocia , and although there are no hot air balloons here, there are also very few tourists, even compared to other destinations from your Iran itinerary.

Other Iran Destinations

Although I’ve visited the majority of Iran tourist places already, there are plenty of other places to travel in Iran, especially if you don’t need to take a tour. In the south, Kish Island (which even Americans can visit without a visa) is a fascination place (if not a bonafide beach paradise), while Maharloo Lake near Shiraz is just as pink as the city’s famous mosque, but significantly less inundated with tourists.

This is to say nothing of the Caspian Sea, the gorgeous rural areas in Khoresan Province in Iran’s northeast and the whole host of other destinations you’re likely to have come across as you plan your Iran itinerary 2 weeks (or longer).

The Best Iran Tour Companies

To echo what I said earlier, RE: the question “can Americans travel to Iran?,” the best company to travel with in Iran is Surfiran. Run by passionate travelers with deep personal connections throughout the country, Surfiran is an organization to which I will always feel indebted, and to whose social media updates I still subscribe to stay informed about traveling to Iran.

Another reason I love Surfiran is that you can hire one of their guides to take you on an Iran private tour. To be sure, even if you decide against using Surfiran, make sure you travel to Iran with a local organization, as opposed to large international tour companies I won’t name here.

Other FAQ About Your Iran Itinerary

Is it safe to visit iran as a tourist.

Iran is one of the safest countries in the world, for tourists and citizens, due to a low level of crime, high levels of community cohesion and the general kindness of the Iranian people. The main risk of traveling in Iran, as is the case in most countries in the Middle East, is traffic accidents and things of the sort.

How much is a trip to Iran?

Iran is one of the most affordable countries in the world, thanks (ironically) to chronic economic sanctions against its regime. The average person can travel very comfortably for 100 USD per day (often less), which means that you can expect to spend around $500-1,000 per week of travel in Iran, not including flights.

Can you drink alcohol in Iran?

While it is not officially possible to buy alcohol in Iran, it obviously does exist in the country; I estimate that several tens of thousands of people consume it daily. With this in mind, punishments for drinking, buying or selling alcohol are strict, so I won’t be recommending you do this or helping you to do so.

The Bottom Line

Whether you have to take a tour to complete your Iran itinerary or can travel independently, you’ll be amazed by Iran’s architecture, cuisine and culture, to say nothing of the incredible hospitality of its people. Americans, Brits and Canadians can’t do Iran travel independently as of January 2023, but choosing the right tour company can help make up for the lack of freedom. In a time when everyone in the world is expected to voice an opinion about Iran, visiting the country—whether for 2 weeks in Iran or longer—gives you the rare opportunity to listen instead of speak. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Iran travel blog!

iran tourism itinerary

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  • Middle East
  • A 7 Day Travel Itinerary...

A 7-Day Travel Itinerary to Iran

Mountain skyline of Tehran

Iran is a vast country, and there is much ground to cover in terms of natural wonders, exquisite architecture and an intriguing ancient culture. If you find yourself with only seven days to experience this wonderful country, you might be overwhelmed with the amount of places to visit and things you should do. To help make the most of your time in Iran, here is a seven-day itinerary.

Upon landing in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, take a taxi from the airport into the city. The journey will take you approximately an hour depending on the traffic. Tehran is a vibrant and lively city, and there is a lot of culture to be soaked up.

Head to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, located adjacent to Laleh Park. The TMoCA, is the largest contemporary art museum in Iran. As well as being home to the largest collection of modern art in Iran, it also houses the most valuable collection of Western art outside of Europe and the United States including some pieces by Warhol, Lichtenstein and Hockney.

The Carpet Museum is also located near Laleh Park, and exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran, a treasured symbol of Iranian craftsmanship. If you still find yourself with some time to spare then the National Museum is an essential port of call for information about both the ancient and modern history of Iran.

There are many great restaurants in Tehran, but after a tiring day of sightseeing there is nothing more satisfying than a warm bowl of dizi, or ‘abgoosht’, a traditional stew with lamb and lentils. Saba Garden Restaurant is a great place to stop by for this dish, where you can also enjoy the local ambiance of a traditional Iranian restaurant.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art , Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran, +98 21 8898 9374

Carpet Museum of Iran, Doctor Fatemi Street, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 8896 2703

National Museum of Iran, Tehran Province, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 6670 2061

Baghe Saba Cafe Restaurant , Mirzaeiparvar Boulevard, Karaj, Iran, +98 26 3421 1708

View of Tehran

On your second day in Tehran heading to one of the bazaars in the city is essential. The Grand Bazaar is located in the south of the capital and is the largest historical market in Tehran. It consists of several corridors and alleyways selling goods of every kind, ranging from fabrics and pottery to home goods and books.

After a morning of wandering the market streets head to the Golestan Palace located near Park-e-Shahr. Dating back to the Qajar period, the Golestan Palace complex is really one of the must-see attractions in Tehran. Considered to be one of the oldest historic monuments in the city, the complex consists of gardens, royal buildings and collections of Iranian and European crafts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Grand Bazaar, District 12, Panzdah-e-Khordad St, Iran, +98 21 5516 3762

The Golestan Palace, Panzdah-e-Khordad Street, Tehran, Iran, +98 21 3311 3335

There is one phrase you will hear repeatedly from every Iranian – ‘Esfahan, Nesf-e Jahan’ – meaning a trip to Esfahan is the equivalent of travelling half of the world. There is some truth to the saying, as Esfahan boasts some of the richest historical and cultural places of note in the country and certainly also in the region.

Stunning architecture in Isfahan

To make the most of your time in Esfahan wake up early to take a six-hour bus from Tehran. Upon your arrival head to Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the magnificent central attraction of Esfahan. At the southern edge of the square lies the Imam Mosque (or Shah Mosque). Built during the Safavid empire, it is regarded as a masterpiece of Persian architecture from the Islamic period, embodying unique features such as the seven-colour style of tile mosaics, the four-iwan architectural structure and the intricate calligraphy written in ‘thuluth’ script.

The Jameh Mosque is also located nearby. Dating back to the 8th-century, it has undergone numerous remodellings and renovations over the centuries, making it an eclectic mix of Islamic architecture from the Seljuks, Mongols, and Safavids.

Nash-e-Jahan, Isfahan, Isfahan Province, Iran

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Majlesi Street, Isfahan, Isfahan Province, Iran, +98 31 3446 4397

Shah Mosque/Imam Mosque in Isfahan

Unfortunately time is of the essence on this quick whistle stop tour of Esfahan, but if you have some to spare then also make sure to check out the Si-o-se Bridge – one of Esfahan’s most recognisable landmarks.

Si-o-Seh Pol Bridge, Enghelab Sq Chahar Bagh e Abbasi St، Iran

Si-oh-se bridge

Catch an early bus down to Shiraz – a journey which will take you around six or seven hours.

After a morning of travelling you will likely want to take in some fresh air and enjoy the natural splendour in the Gardens of Eram. Sitting within the botanical gardens of the University of Shiraz, the vast gardens also house a small pool and Qajar palace, surrounded by plants and trees of every colour and stature.

Also in Shiraz is the resting place of two of the brothers of Imam Reza. The Shah Cherag Mausoleum houses a stunning mosque well worth visiting, with the highlight being the dazzling mirrored interior. If you know a thing or two about Persian poetry, you will know that Shiraz is particularly famous for being an important location amongst two revered Persian poets, Hafez and Sa’di. Both of their tombs are located in Shiraz, and Iranians and tourists alike gather to pay respects and visit their resting places.

Eram Garden, Fars Province, Shiraz, District 1, خیابان ارم، Iran, +98 71 3227 2538

Shahcheragh Holy Shrine, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran, +98 71 3213 1368

Hafez Tomb, Fars Province, Shiraz, District 3, خیابان حافظیه، Iran, +98 71 3228 4155

Sa’adi Tomb, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran

Tomb of Hafez

Hafez Tomb, Shiraz, Fars Province, the last full day of ‘gasht-e-gari’ – or touristing, is a big one! Ancient Persia is just a stones’ throw away from Shiraz, with the historical city of Persepolis located just an hour’s drive from the city.


Catch a bus from Shiraz early in the morning, there are many organised tours which leave the city from the many hotels. On your way to Persepolis the guide is also likely to stop at two other historical places of note. The first is Pasargadae, an archaeological remnant of the capital city of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great and one of Iran’s UNESCO world heritage sites.

Another stop on your tour should be ‘Naqsh-e-Rostam,’ an ancient necropolis located just 12 km outside of Persepolis. These tombs belonged to four Achaemenid kings and are carved out of the rock face from a very high point. One of the tombs is identified as being that of Darius I, the others are thought to be Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II.

Naqsh-e Rostam

And now for the creme de la creme of historical places of note, Persepolis. The ancient city of Persepolis is located just 60 km north of Shiraz, and was once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid empire, its earliest remains dating back to 515 BC.

Pasargad, Fars Province, Iran

Naqsh-e Rostam, Fars Province, Iran, +98 81 6720 9275

Persepolis, Fars Province, Iran

Chances are you will be flying out of Iran through Tehran, and if that is the case you are now a 15-hour bus ride away from the capital! An alternative is to fly back, although it may cost you a little more, the flight is just over an hour.

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25 Things to Know Before You Visit Iran

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: February 6, 2024

We’ve been all around the world, spent a lot of time in a lot of different countries, and if there’s one thing we can honestly tell you it’s that we’ve never felt as welcomed, fascinated and humbled as we did when we visited Iran.

Iran is such an incredible country to travel. The architecture will amaze you, the friendliness of the people will leave you speechless, the culture is fascinating and the landscapes are out of this world.

Iran is also very misunderstood, with many people believing whatever propaganda they hear on the media about how dangerous or difficult it is to travel there.

Imamzadeh Saleh Shrine Visit Iran

Table of Contents

Iran is Safe!

There’s a lot of customs to follow, you need a visa for iran, have a head scarf in your carry-on luggage before arrival, bring a phrase book or have google translate on your phone, bring a lot of cash, the currency has two names, bring comfortable footwear, research the food and don’t just eat kebabs, bring a backpack rather than a suitcase, draw up an itinerary, but keep it flexible, let your guard down and talk to locals, always ask the price before buying, book domestic flights with your accommodation or travel agent, team up with other travellers and share tours, be on time for your appointments, the traffic is horrible, you need a vpn to access some social media platforms, there is wifi, but be patient with it, pick up a local sim card, iran has its own uber called snapp, you can drink the tap water, good coffee is hard to find, there’s a female-only carriage on the metros, what to know before you visit iran.

The truth is travelling in Iran definitely has its quirks, and being an Islamic country means there’s a few things you need to know about the religion and culture before you go so you can show absolute respect.

Luckily these are easy enough to know before you go if you do a bit of research. We spent one month travelling around Iran and learnt so much during our time there.

To help put your mind at ease about travelling in this incredible country, here’s our list of the most important things to know before you visit Iran.

Women Mosque Yazd Visit Iran

All of the mainstream media outlets portray Iran as an unsafe country, somewhere that you’ll be at risk if you visit.

The mainstream media is wrong.

We did not feel unsafe once through the whole 4 weeks of us backpacking independently in Iran.

We weren’t with a tour group, had no tour guides, don’t speak the local language, took public transport and taxis, wandered the streets on our own – basically everything you shouldn’t do if you’re in a dangerous country.

And guess what? Nothing bad happened to us at all!

The Iranian people are so friendly and helpful. They want you to have a great time and tell your friends so more people will come and visit.

We were walking around one morning on a quiet street when a car passed us and turned around. A group of young people stopped the car, came up to us, and asked if we were ok or if we needed help.

Once we told them we were just looking for a coffee they pulled out their phones and started showing us where the cafes were on a map.

They even offered us a ride, and said if the cafes were closed they had coffee at their home and would love to make us some.

This is just one example of dozens of interactions that happened to us when we were in Iran. Iranians love that tourists are coming to their country and travelling around.

The locals know what the media says about them and what a lot of the world thinks of their country, and the people just want to show that they are nice, generous people.

Theft against tourists is very rare and even the Religion Police (secret police) tend to leave tourists alone.

Just be careful around the bazaars and crowed places for pickpocketing. We didn’t have any issue and didn’t hear of any other travellers having problems, but this is common sense in any busy place in the world.

With all that being said, there is a large military and police presence in Iran. Do not photograph any military areas or government buildings, and stay away from any protests if you see them.

Obviously there are some areas of Iran that are no-go zones, such as the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, so do your research and talk to locals if you’re thinking about going anywhere near them.

When you travel somewhere you want to take in everything about the country and its people, and that includes the culture and customs.

Iran has quite a few local customs that may take some getting used to, so it’s important to learn about them before you go so you don’t accidentally offend or disrespect anyone.

Some of the most common ones that throw tourists off are:

  • Women must wear hijabs (headscarves) at all times in public. They must also wear loose-fitting clothes that don’t show their figure.
  • Giving a thumbs-up sign is considered rude, similar to giving the middle finger in Western society.
  • Men can wear short-sleeved shirts, but long pants must be worn at all times.
  • Men and women who aren’t related shouldn’t touch either. That means no shaking hands or hugging someone of the opposite sex.
  • If you are travelling with your significant other, avoid any public displays of affection.
  • Always bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s house. Candy, pastries or flowers are fine.

Now we want to give a special mention to ta’arof – This is a hospitality trait where it’s customary for someone to refuse payment for a service, and is probably the most confusing thing for any tourist to get their head around.

Basically what happens is if you make a purchase (a souvenir, taxi ride, etc), the person may refuse your payment out of politeness. It is then up to you to insist despite their refusals that you want to pay. After two or three times they’ll then accept your money.

If they still keep refusing then perhaps you have just experienced some amazing Iranian hospitality! But chances are they’ll accept the payment once the process has been completed. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.

The locals are so lovely, that if you do something wrong someone will approach you and nicely let you know. For example, if you are a lady and your headscarf falls off without you knowing, a local will kindly let you know.

Don’t stress about getting your outfits beforehand as shopping in Iran is cheap. Just bring one headscarf and set of loose-fitting clothes, and buy more once you get there.

The culture is the best thing about visiting Iran, and after a few days, you’ll start to understand and fall in love with it just like we did.

Shah Mosque In Isfahan

In order to visit Iran, you’re going to need to get a tourist visa. This used to be a very difficult process, but luckily things have gotten easier with the introduction of visa on arrivals in 2016

On the 14th February 2016, the Ministry of Iran announced that citizens of 180 countries can now apply for VOA of 30-days at most international airports, including Tehran, Shiraz, Mashad, Tabriz and Isfahan.

There’s an exception to this rule though, and if you are from Canada, the UK or the USA, we have some bad news for you…You can only visit Iran if you join a guided tour, so no chance of getting a VOA and travelling independently.

Your tour company will help organise your visa for you.

Check out our article on how to apply for a  Visa On Arrival in Iran.

Iran Visa On Arrival

You Need to Dress Appropriately

This follows on from the customs section above, but in a bit more detail.

Iran is an Islamic country, and as such you need to follow the Islamic dress code. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Women need to cover their arms, legs and head. This including a Hijab, loose long length shirt with long sleeves and pants.

Leggings or tight jeans are ok as long as your top is long and covers your bottom. When wearing pants, you need to be covered down to your ankles.

The most common way to cover your head is with a scarf. The local women wear bright colours and are very stylish with their clothing, so don’t think you need to wear all black.

Black is still worn a lot but not so much among the younger generation.

You can wear sandals. Some guesthouses and hostels will allow you to take your headscarf off on their premises but do check first.

Men aren’t allowed to wear shorts in public, so bring long, lightweight pants as the best option. T-shirts are fine to wear in public. Men can wear sandals too.

If you do wear inappropriate clothing it’s not the end of the world, and besides some angry looks from some of the older generation, you’ll probably just end up having a friendly local let you know what’s best to wear.

In Tehran, the locals push the limits in terms of what they wear in public. At the end of 2017, an uprising occurred and supposedly women were no longer required to wear the Hijab in public in Tehran, but wait until you are in the country to find out for certain.

When you land at the airport, it is respectful to put a scarf straight on your head ladies. This will cause no trouble for you by locals or the officials at the airport.

Once you’re in the air on an international flight you’ll see most young ladies take their hijab as soon as the plane leaves the ground. Just follow what the locals do.

Girls At Mosque

We were quite surprised to discover that a lot of Iranians could speak a little bit of English, but that wasn’t always the case, so do yourself a favour and bring along something that can help translate English to Persian.

We always travel with Google Translate and offline languages saved on our phones, but at times having a phrasebook is the best (and most social) way to interact with people who don’t speak any English.

Remember, you are in a country that doesn’t have English as an official language, so don’t be that rude tourist that gets upset if people aren’t understanding you.

Persian (Farsi) is difficult, and no locals expect you to learn much beyond hello and thank you while you are there, but do your best anyway as a few extra words will go a long way in showing respect.

Also don’t be surprised if you are constantly invited out for tea with people so they can practice their English. If the opportunity comes up, make time for it, as it’s an amazing experience for both the local and yourself.

Don’t forget your cash when visiting Iran, as none of the ATMs in the country accepts foreign credit or debit cards thanks to the embargo. So if you forget to bring all of your cash for your entire trip, you’re out of luck.

Figure out what your usual budget is for a trip ($50 a day, $100 a day, etc), then bring a bit extra just in case. USD is best for all around the country but Euros and British Pounds are also accepted in Tehran.

There’s two exchange rates in the country – official rate and black market rate – and the black market rate is of course much better.

We actually found an exchange booth at Tehran airport that gave pretty close to the black market rate, so we traded some cash there.

As a tip don’t exchange all of your foreign cash into Rials at once, because you’ll either get ripped off on the exchange rate back if you have any left over, or you’ll be unable to trade it outside of the country.

Also don’t be too concerned about travelling around with thousands of dollars in your backpacks. As we mentioned earlier theft is rare. Do keep your money stashed in different spots though just in case.

UPDATE: If you’d prefer not to carry all your cash with you, can actually pre-order a local Iranian debit card from the company, Mah Card . It works just like a normal debit card in your home country.

You order it on their website and they’ll deliver it to your hotel in Tehran when you arrive. They have an online system too where you can top up the funds if you’re running low.

Use the code ‘ NOMADASAURUS ‘ at check-out to get a 40% discount on the card when ordering. Instead of a 19 Euro issue fee, our code brings it down to 11 Euro.

“Toman or Rial?” Get used to asking that question, because if you don’t it could end up being a costly mistake.

The currency in Iran is officially known as the Rial, and is valued at roughly 30’000 IRL to USD$1. That’s a lot of zeros, so what the locals have started doing is dropping a zero and calling the new value a Toman.

1 Toman = 10 Rial

When you hear prices quoted in Tomans you need to add a zero on the end and pay the amount in Rials. It sounds confusing, but you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.

That’s why it’s important to always ask Toman or Rial, so you don’t accidentally pay too much on an item. Most vendors quote in Tomans anyway, so chances are if the price seems too good to be true, you need to multiply it by 10.

Rumour has it that Iran will officially introduce Toman as a currency in the coming years, but that hasn’t come into effect yet.

Iranian Money

You are going to do a lot of walking in Iran, so bring comfortable footwear. The towns here are so amazing that you’ll probably end up walking at least 10km every day, so look after your feet.

These don’t necessarily have to be hiking boots (unless you’re planning on doing some treks). Just make sure you have some flat shoes that you can wear all day without a problem.

Don’t bring heels. You don’t need them, and you won’t wear them. We had a pair of hiking shoes each and a pair of sandals. That was perfect.

Persian food is varied and delicious, and there’s plenty of different styles to try, so be adventurous!

Most people travelling on a budget will end up eating falafel sandwiches when they’re in Iran because they are cheap ($1 !), filling and delicious, but there’s plenty more to Iranian cuisine then just kebabs.

We don’t consider ourselves to be foodies, but luckily we were travelling with our good friends Dan and John and they are all about culinary travel, so they had a huge list of food they wanted to try. And boy were we thankful they did!

They had looked up the different types of food they wanted to try, so we basically followed their advice and tried it all. Of course, it was super delicious too.

One particular dish we all loved was dizi. It’s quite confusing how to eat the first time, so we had the restaurant owner show us how to mix and grind all the ingredients. If she didn’t show us, we wouldn’t have a clue how to eat it.

If you are a vegetarian, there are food options but they can be limited. There is a lot of eggplant, lentil and chickpea dishes. There are simple salads and rice also.

Try to get away from the popular tourist areas as well, as the prices are going to be a lot higher than the average place.

Move away and you will be surprised how much the price drops, and the portions are larger. If you are passing a local restaurant and it is packed with locals, that is going to be a winner.

Iranian Food

We always recommend people travel with a backpack rather than a suitcase, but this is especially useful when you visit Iran.

The road and paths are uneven, and wheeling a suitcase would be a nightmare. A lot of hotels don’t have lifts, so unless you’re feeling strong it’s going to be hard to carry your suitcase up a lot of flights of stairs.

Always choose a lightweight backpack that fits you perfectly for the best support.

There are also hybrid backpacks, that have harnesses and wheels on the bottom for the times where you just don’t want to carry it.

Unless you are on a whirlwind 7-day trip of the country we recommend you design an itinerary of what you want to see and do, but don’t book anything until you are in the country.

Iran is one of those countries that is best to research beforehand so you can make the most of your time and you don’t miss anything, but don’t be surprised if some places you end up liking more than others.

Be willing to change your plans if you get somewhere that you want to stay an extra day, or if you meet a backpacker that raves about one town you hadn’t considered before.

Don’t stress about booking buses, flights or trains before you arrive. Everything can be booked in-country, for a much cheaper price than you’ll find online.

By not locking in your travel plans, you can change and swap your itinerary easy enough.

Disclaimer:  The one time that you may need to book everything ahead of time is during Nowruz, which is the Persian New Year. If you’re planning on travelling to Iran during this time (it happens around the spring equinox in March) you’ll find things are extremely busy with millions of locals travelling around the country to spend time with their families too.

Looking for somewhere else to check out when you visit Iran? Don’t miss our article on the best  things to do in Shiraz!

Hydraulic Dam In Shushtar

One of the best experiences you will have in Iran is spending time with all the friendly locals. And trust us, you’ll get plenty of opportunities if you are open to it.

The city squares are usually where locals will approach you to welcome you to their country, have a chat and practice their English.

Don’t shy away from this, even if you are a solo traveller. We found out so much information about Iran and how the locals live simply by chatting away.

Most people asked us questions about where we are from and were very happy to answer our questions. It was a true insight to Iran and we made some beautiful friends from it (many of whom we still keep in contact with).

Don’t be surprised if you get a lot of invitations to people’s homes as well, and this may be one of the few countries where we’d say hanging out with strangers is highly encouraged. The Couchsurfing scene is huge here too if you’re into that.

Do be wary of some people who will take you to an expensive tea house though. They are nice people, you will have great conversations, but they can be a little cheeky.

Also always look at the menu before you start ordering to make sure they haven’t taken you somewhere that has crazy prices.

Some will invite you out and try to sell carpets to you. If you are not interested just be firm and move on with the conversation.

We only had this happen to us once out of more than a dozen great experiences, and once we made it clear we weren’t buying a carpet we still had a great chat with him.

There is only one thing with all this – Expect to be stopped every few minutes by people wanting to chat! Make sure you’re mentally prepared when you go out around town to have a million friendly conversations.

You shouldn’t just do this in Iran, you should do this everywhere you travel, but it’s important to keep in mind.

In some countries, there are tourist prices and local prices. To be honest, we almost never felt ripped off here, but it did happen occasionally.

Before you buy anything, whether it’s a souvenir, a meal, a pot of tea, a tour, a taxi ride or whatever, ask to see the menu or how much it will cost to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Get out of the tourist squares too. Chances are if you walk a couple of blocks outside of those popular areas, the prices will drop dramatically.

When buying survivors, ask the price at a few places, get the vibe from the person/place and then buy. Try your bartering skills, but don’t be offensive.

We always try to settle in the middle so both parties are happy. This is their business and they need the money more than you do.

Man Going Through His Carpets At The Market

If you are flying domestic, book through an agent or your local guesthouse in the country. All the local airline pages are in Persian, and these are where the best deals are.

Online booking agencies like Skyscanner and Momondo will not bring up these flights. We were in the west near the Iraqi border and wanted to fly to Tehran. Our local guesthouse helped us out and we booked it for $50 USD including snack and bags.

They were charging $200 USD on one of those online booking agencies above. We never were questioned at the airport about the local price and everything went smoothly.

If you’re not travelling in a group of four, ask at your guesthouse or talk to other travellers to see if you can share the cost of a driver with them.

Sometimes hiring a driver between towns as private transport would work out to be the same price as 4 bus tickets. You get there faster and can stop when you like along the way.

This will save you money and you might even make some awesome friends out of it.

Iranians are very punctual. If you plan to leave for a tour at 8am be in reception at 7:45am, and the driver will most likely already be there.

Buses and trains also won’t wait for you if you aren’t there. The last thing you want to do is miss your tour because you slept in or hadn’t packed yet.

If you’re heading to the airport, bus or train station make sure you leave plenty of time in case of bad traffic.

Varzaneh Desert Dunes

When we say horrible, we’re being polite. The traffic in Iran is actually insane.

If you’re exploring Tehran don’t be surprised if you have plenty of “Holy s**t!” moments as you go to cross the street or you get around in taxi.

It’s not that Iranians are bad drivers…they just don’t have a concept of space when driving around. In one way it’s almost as entertaining as it is scary.

No one is actively trying to run pedestrians down, but if you do try to run the gauntlet of crossing a busy road it’s best to wait for a local to join them on their hell-bent journey to the other side.

Some social media platforms are banned in Iran and you cannot access them without a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

You cannot access Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest. You can access Instagram , but the rest only with a VPN.

We used ExpressVPN and had no issues. Here is a link to get your first 30 days for free .

Make sure you download your VPN before you arrive in Iran, because a lot of the VPN sites are blocked by the government.

If you can, we also recommend having access to a few different VPNs, because every now and then one might be blocked in Iran.

ExpressVPN worked for us during our trip, but some people have reported that it didn’t work during their own trip. Last we heard it’s back up and running properly now though.

Most of the guesthouses we stayed at had free wifi, but don’t expect it to be fast.

Some hotels had wifi available in the rooms, while others were only in the reception area or dining rooms. It all depends on how upmarket your place is. In popular cities, tea and coffee houses had wifi also.

One thing to keep in mind though is that just because there is wifi at your hotel, be respectful on how much you use it.

There are no unlimited data plans in Iran, so the hotels have to pre-purchase data in small packets.

Please don’t be that person that streams Netflix or tries to download the new season of Game of Thrones, because all that will happen is you’ll end up using all the net for everybody else in the hotel, and cost the owner more money.

Yep, we met a guy that did just that in Varzaneh, and because it was a weekend it meant nobody in the hostel could get internet until Monday. Thanks, mate.

Ladies Mosque At Night

Despite what you may have been told, you can buy a local sim card in Iran as a foreigner, and it’s a great idea to do so.

This way you can call hotels to make bookings use WhatsApp and Snap (more on that below) on the go, and keep in touch with friends and family back home.

We bought up a sim card with the telecommunications company IranCel through our hostel in Tehran, however, they marked the price up by double.

We found out later that you can buy sim cards at the airport or at any store, so our suggestion is to do this yourself.

When going into the phone store bring your phrasebook or a local friend. You will not need to show any ID, just pay in cash, but it helps to have your passport with you just in case.

You can top up at little general stores that display the IranCel sign. They will do it all on your phone and charge a small fee for their time. Please don’t argue with that, it’s maybe 25c USD.

We were getting 5GB of data for about $10 USD.

There is an app in Iran called Snapp, and it is similar to Uber. It’s a rideshare app where drivers register and customers can order cars to get around town.

This was a lifesaver for us!

What makes Snapp so great is that a price is determined by the app and you pay in cash once you get to your destination. There’s no metre, so the driver will take the most direct way possible.

When you book it you’ll get the driver’s name, their car model and their registration number, so you know you’re getting in the right vehicle.

Yo drop a pin on a map for where you want to go, so there’s no need to try and explain it to the driver in case he doesn’t speak English (or your pronunciation is crap).

The other added benefit is you can rate the drivers afterwards, so they are more likely to be honest rather than a taxi driver.

The only thing is you cannot easily download it onto an iPhone, as Apple is an American company and does not support Iran. It doesn’t show up in the App Store.

If you go to the Snapp website  you can download it to your Apple phone through a special link there. Downloading it on an Android phone is easy with no issues.

Driver Iran

This one was a big surprise to us, but you can drink the tap water just about everywhere in Iran.

It’s totally safe to drink, even if you’re new to the country, so don’t worry about buying plastic water bottles everywhere you go.

Bring a reusable water bottle instead and simply fill up as you go.

Don’t drink river water tough if you are out hiking.

Iran is a nation of tea drinkers, so it’s no surprise that you’ll get delicious fresh tea for cheap (or free) just about everywhere.

But what about us coffee drinkers??

The bad news is that getting good coffee is very hard in Iran. Despite their close proximity to places like Turkey, the coffee culture phased out years ago and so now the best you’ll find is usually those horrible instant packets.

There is a silver lining though, and some entrepreneurial locals have discovered that coffee is basically the second greatest thing on earth (after a delicious IPA, which you also can’t get in Iran), and some Western-style coffee shops are popping up in major towns.

They’re not cheap, but when you need that caffeine hit in the morning it’s totally worth it.

When you catch the metro around Tehran or Esfahan, there are carriages designated just for women, which is great if you’re a solo female traveller.

These are basically sections that males aren’t allowed in to stop accidental touching of non-related mixed genders, but it also adds a sense of security for women taking public transport.

Occasionally if the mixed carriages are full you’ll see one or two men in the female ones, but they tend to stand next to the door away from everyone.

Friday Mosque Yazd

[box] Those were just some of the things you need to know before you visit Iran. Has the article helped you? Do you have anything else to add? Leave a comment below and let us know![/box]

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Hello friends, I read your comments and I wish I could say that I am happy that you think so naively about the Iranian regime, but the truth of Iran and its people is not what these friends say, and unfortunately the bitter truth is that all those media that They present this regime and the leaders of the Islamic Republic as terrorists and a bunch of dishonorable and inhuman people, they are telling the truth and only the oppressed people of Iran understand this! you can ask them. But for you tourist friends, yes, this country can be a paradise because your money is worth many times more than ours, and not you tourist friends, but the unfortunate people of this cursed country feel the pressure. Our only wish was to have normal rights and a normal life like you, but this regime stole that life from the people of Iran and blackened the lives of the people of this country. Hoping for a day when this terrorist regime, which has made the Middle East and the whole world insecure, will be destroyed and we Iranian people have good and sincere relations with the people of other countries of the world . That day we will have at least a normal life and the world will not recognize this country as a criminal terrorist country. Written by a 27 young Iranian.

hi I want to just say now ( 2023-15-11 ) that the US dollar is 510000 Rials and here is heaven for people of countries where the currency is the dollar and Iran just is Hell for local people thanks to the Iran government for this situation!!!!!!

Hi dear Alisha and Jerry My name is Raziyeh. As an Iranian, I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for your kind words and appreciation of our beautiful country. Contrary to media propaganda, Iran is safe, and Contrary to media statements, we are hospitable and genial people who do everything to ensure you have a fun time in Iran. Please do not believe the lies that social media tells about our country. We’ll be happy to see tourists and give information to them. I hope you revisit our country. Best regards, Raziyeh.

Hi everyone I’m from Iran. I’m happy that you liked your trip to Iran. Iran has a lot of museums and attractive places if you’ll come you should visit them. And we’ll be happy to see tourists and give informations to them.

Iran is an extremely lovely place to travel. Thank you for the trip advice. I adore your article.

For foreigners especially Westerners Iran is a very dangerous country. There is a high risk of being arrested on fake charges. Atleast 50 foreigners have been arrested recently and sentenced without a fair trail. The “friendly” citizens of Iran will not help you out unless you pay them witg Euro or Dollars…..

Well! I accidentally found this while surfing the net, and it’s a bit sad that each dollar is 450000 Rials… People are still friendly to tourists though, no matter how hard our lives are. I hope you visit our country again, after all these sad events, of course.

22 days later and its 510000. when will these evil leaders leave us alone

We are glad that you were satisfied with your trip.You pointed out great points like someone who has lived inside for years… Our people believed, but the government has crushed the people so much under the economic pressure that they have become a little unfair to each other. Be sure to use SNAP inside Iran.. Be sure to check the price before buying.. Our common currency is Toman and Rial is nominal. For example, now every 1 dollar is equivalent to 33000 Tomans.. To eat a pizza, you need 6 or 7 dollars.3 cents are required for 1.5 liter of taqriya water.. If you have an acquaintance in Iran, you can be much easier.. Don’t pay too much attention to the capital because it has very beautiful cities with a very old history. Thank you for choosing which country for your trip. Good luck

Thank you for the excellent information and for taking an interest in the lovely country. really nice tips for visiting Iran.

I’m glad you liked Iran. Unfortunately, due to the difficulty in managing economic affairs, the Iranian people suffer from the high cost of goods. Now each dollar is equivalent to 277,000 rials, which is really terrible, of course for our people! Of course, Iran is still full of beautiful places and amazing places! I hope you have good trips …❤

Hi guys I am Ava. I am from Iran/ Isfahan. If you want to come to Iran I would be happy to help you. I have a beautiful Iranian old house.

Can you please write about traveling in Iran at the moment. I would be traveling on a New Zealand passport. Thank you. Evan.

Iran holds many surprises for visitors; like the climate which can fluctuate greatly, depending on the area and time of year, dispelling the long-held myth that Iran is nothing more than a vast, sweltering desert. But Iran is a historical place and i like to visit this type of places that is why few days ago i read this type of article on another site it contain huge information. While some surprises are nice when travelling, it’s important to be as well prepared as possible.

Is $1000 for 7 days visiting 5 cities everything included except airline tickets a reasonable price? Please let me know what you think! Cities included are Tehran, Yazd, Esfahan, Shiraz, and the desert side with Caspian sea. Thanks,

Definitely if you stay at budget accommodation, take public buses as transport and not eat at fancy restaurants. Have a good trip

it’s very good

Indeed it is 🙂

I am Iranian. You described Iran very well. I am glad that you visited Iran

Thank you for your comment Masoud. We really enjoyed travelling around Iran. 🙂

Hi Thank you for your essay about Iran. As an Iranian I do hope you have good memories generally from Iran. No country is perfectly free of any trouble but please do not believe propaganda against Iran unless you travel to Iran and live with Iranian for a couple of weeks (at least) and then judge.

Hi there! I’m an Iranian, and i’m REALLY happy that you loved our country! I hope other tourists enjoy their travel to Iran, and I wanted to say, that Pinterest doesn’t need VPN! 🙂 And also about hijab, if you’re thinking that it’s gonna make you struggle, well, it definitely isn’t. I mean, it’s not such a big deal, and you’ll get used to it and continue enjoying! Anyways, hope you like our country

Reasons for a Group Visit to Iran Experienced travelers may want to look away. Guided tours can really be the best option for some travelers going abroad. Of course, they limit you a little and lose a little freedom. You will not have enough time to fall in love with a place and you will not have enough time to stay there, and other companions may not be with you. But no matter what the veterans might say, there are good reasons to tour for those who want to.

Salaam All, I’ve travelled extensively in the Middle East (Egypt, Palestine, Lybia, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India. My wife, daughter and myself went on holiday to Iran in 2012 and 2015 (for my 60th birthday). An Iranian couple came to sing happy bithday to me in farsi. It was an inexplicable experience, no crime on the street, no fighting, very, very safe, people very friendly and warm, food and confectionary very good, not expensive to shop but hotel accommodation could be expensive, public transport (bus and metro rail) very good and effecient, metro stations very clean and very easy for foreigners to use. Although we were based in Northern Tehran (Eliheyah), we once drove by luxury coach to Ishfahan to spend one week there (2012), the other trip we flew to Shiraz to spend one week there (2015). I fell in love with this country, it’s absolutely beautiful. In Tehran, we even went in the cable cars on the Azborg mountains. O, I just cannot stop raving about IRAN. I’ll visit there anytime. Please don’t believe the media with their negative reports, go see for yourself and discover this amazing country. Salaam from Riedwaan Salie (Cape Town, South Africa.

That is so nice. What a great birthday trip. We are so glad you had a wonderful time with you family. We found the country very welcoming and friendly also. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

Your itinerary was perfect! I hope you come back again very soon! I heard now you should ask for visa only from agencies. Also now for your money matters you can use a local debit card like Daricpay to charge and transfer money online

We hope to visit again one day. Take care

Hi Im am an iranian person and your information was totally correct about iran I am very glad to see you were anjoyed traveling to iran If you come to iran again you can visit other cities like shiraz,Tabriz,Isfahan,Hamedan they are as beautiful as Tehran

Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂

Hi all, I have been 2 weeks in Iran the last month, my friends and I were travelling the west part of this huge country touring the famous cities and recommended places over the countryside. I could never thought how beautiful were every little point that we stopped by: landscapes, restaurants, seacoast, food… persian landmarks will remind forever in my mind. As we were travelling by car we trusted (company removed, you can message below if interested), a notorious iranian company which offers a wide variety of car for rent. The service was excelent and they provided us whatever we need in order to make our trip easer. I would definetely recommend this company If you are thinking about renting a car to shuttle from a place to another, they are serious and reliable. Thanks persian people and the company for making our dreamt trip happen!!

We love Iran!!!!

Sounds like you had a great trip. We are so glad so had a great time.

Hi Alesha and Jarryd, Thank you for the useful info and your interest in my beautiful country. I’m Zahra Mazaheri an English – Farsi translator. I would be more than happy to help the tourist to Iran in having a pleasant journey.

Glad you liked our article. All the best

Iran is a wonderful country for all nations to visit. Whether you’re interested in going to cultural and historical places, try local food, shopping, or visiting new people, the country is one of the best places for all of these.

Thank you for your comment. It is a magnificent country

thanks so much for your tips, and i want to add this there is something that we call it “Taarof” This is a polite exchange that takes place in all aspects of life in Iran, in shops, in streets, in businesses, at homes. Simply stated, it is a form of one person making an offering and the other, refusing it. This ritual may repeat itself several times before the individuals finally determine whether the offer and refusal are real or simply polite. Be very careful how and with whom you taarof so that it does not interfere with your stay. Use common sense as to when to do it and when not to.

Thank you so much for this. After travelling the country for 3 weeks, we only experienced this once in Tehran on the outskirts of the city, We ate locally, bought locally, stayed locally, bought a lot of items on the street but only experienced it once. We were shocked. We had read about it and was waiting every time but it never came. Maybe if you are a foreigner they don’t do it as much. Thank you the explanation.

I really appreciate for your thoughts on this topic. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

Hi Alesha and Jarryd, this was so helpful. We’re off to Iran in a couple of weeks and great to get some tips re luggage, local currency cards and communication options. thanks david

Hi David, We are so happy the article was helpful. You will have a great time in Iran. Do not over pack. Woman have to be covered. Loose clothing is a must and a long top/dress is best as it covers the figure. Her arms and legs have to be covered. Sandels can be wore. A hijab is a must so bring scarfs. For the men, your arms do not have to be covered. Do bring pants as you need it for mosques. Our advice is to bring zip off pants. They are great. We did not use local currency cards. We bought all our cash in euros and exchanged it in Tehran on day 1. We did it with our guesthouse. They gave us a great rate. As for communication, do download Farsi offline before you go so communication can be easier. Surprisingly a lot of people do speak broken English. have a great trip.

Hi guys. Im so glad you had a good time over here. I believe Iran is the most misunderstood nation (thanks to media!) and articles like this may help people see Iran for what it is. One thing i need to point out is the currency exchange rate. the rate of 30,000 to 1 USD is no longer valid. 1 USD would be exchanged to about 110,000 rials now (11,000 Toman). Hope to see you back here soon! cheers

i promise to passengers ( our guess ❤) that we can make nice memory for you , and hope you enjoy that

Hi guys, great article! Just wanted to suggest that you include information about the Pocket WiFi and Travel Debit card services offered by MahCard ( as well… We travelled from Amsterdam to Iran during January this year and we used both services from MahCard and they really made our trip much easier…

Thank you for your tip Lotte. We have never heard of these guy. Definitely would be helpful. We strongly encourage travellers to do their on research on companies and make their own judgements. All the best

Hello! Very useful info about Iran. I am preparing a trip with car from UAE to ROMANI so it will be Bandar Abbas to Turkey Border. Any info and advices are welcomme! Thx

Hi Als, not too sure about that border. We flew in to Tehran. All the best.

Hello Dear Guys, I’m really glad to find your blog. It’s really interesting to me. I should say thank you to you for giving this good information about my country to people. It would be our honor to be host in your next travels to Iran.

I have been to a lot countries. I have been to super cold areas like Norway and have lived in the snowy Switzerland, and have also been to warm countries such as Bali, Sri Lanka, etc… What I love about Iran is that whenever and in whatever season you go, there are always 4 seasons. The southern part (Persian Gulf) is known for its golden beaches and hot climates, other areas such as Shemshak, Darbandsar, etc… are known for their snow and mountains. I recommend going to ski resorts in winter, and as a person who has lived in Switzerland I can tell that they are better. At the same time where you find snow in Iran, you can also travel to the other side where there are hot deserts. I recommend you go to these desert areas with a local tour called RONATURE, which is an ecofriendly tour and provides vegan and vegetarian food, furthermore supports locals and the environment. The Persian Gulf is unimaginably beautiful. Qeshm island in the south is probably the most beautiful place in the world, unfortunately there are not many photos of this island online because not many people know about it yet, but I do recommend taking diving courses there. The water park in Kish island is the best I’ve ever seen, much better than the ones in Dubai. I could go on for forever but you go to Iran once and experience all the four seasons. You get snowy mountains and sunny beaches. You go skiing and after a short flight you are tanning on the beach. This is a miracle and not something other countries dont have to offer. I can say nothing more but to recommend this marvellous country. Do not listen to the media, Iran is safer than Europe and Im not even slightly exaggerating.

Thank you for helping people to travel to Iran, I believe everyone should visit Iran beyond the media portrayal.

We totally agree with you Vahid. Never listen to the media about a destination, we don’t. We really enjoyed our time in Iran and encourage people to experience this country for themselves. 🙂

Sorry, I won’t support Iran. The government is evil. They imprison and torture their own citizens and they execute gay people. How can you support a government like that? Oh, and if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport, they won’t let you in. That’s ok with you?

We don’t support the government, we support the people of the country, who are among the friendliest, most genuine and hospitable people we have ever encountered. If we were to boycott countries with corrupt and evil governments, we’d start with the US.

I recently moved to Iran, as I am Iranian-American (well, now mainly just Iranian). I really appreciate all of the sweet and insightful comments and your wonderful website. Since the last time I lived here I was a child and have only visited every few years, when I arrived I was definitely feeling like a Persian that came back from a lost time warp of sorts, and had to learn the deeper levels of what you all already thoughtfully mentioned like tarof and the culture. Iran is a BEAUTIFUL & AMAZING country and I am lucky to be here. Just to let people know, everything I read here is true and helpful. 🙂 Even riding a bus from Iran into Armenia (to access my american bank for my final paycheck), I started out feeling slightly awkward as the 99% Persian only passenger peers around me were playing cute little games with each other laughing, with LOTS of incredible Persian music… I started getting many happy flashbacks of American-Iranian dance parties… but this was the REAL thing! Within minutes I joined in after being invited to clap my hands and a few girls were doing little hand dances in their seats… within about 10 minutes half the people on the bus were all SINGING together, it was precious. I felt like I was home, with my (native) Iranian people, and I got little happy tears in my eyes. YOU CANNOT FIND THESE MOMENTS IN AMERICA or EUROPE where nearly everyone around you surrounds you with welcoming bright eyes all at the same time. It’s like they are making you part of their family. I recommend visiting Iran for ANYONE… You will see that Iranians are good hearted and loving, even with all the sanctions. Give them a genuine smile, and you will get 100 smiles back, with tea and poetry. 😀

What a beautiful moment. That is great you are going back to your roots. We hear you. Iranians are good hearted and so generous. It is a beautiful country. Have a great time and hope you settle in quickly. All the best

Thanks for visiting my country. Hope tourism breaks all the wall of this global village.

We hope so too. It is a beautiful country with many beautiful people. We loved our time there

Thank you so much for this amazing article! I am going to visit Iran, but just for one week, so I need to take everything that I can from this short trip. I didn’t know that I need a VPN, that is a surprise! I have Surfshark subscription. Maybe you know how it works in Iran?

Not too sure if it will work or not. We used VPN Express and had no issues. There are free VPNs if you get suck and find yours does not work. Have a great trip.

So disappointing to learn that Canada is not one of the countries included on the Visa on Arrival program…I really want to spend a week in Tehran but it looks as though that won’t be possible. That’s really too bad 🙁

I know. It is a little more of a hassle but worth it. I know Canadians, UK and USA citizens have to go on a tour but there are many great tours within the country. If you want a tour that is not a tour, check out Yomadic. He’s tours are informative but relaxed and have great reviews. All the best.

I was 10 days in Iran (Teerah, Esfahan, Yazd and Siraz) and … is a great country, good food, culture and fantastic people. Thank you Iran!

Glad you had a wonderful time Vitor. 🙂

hi im ghazal from kermanshah iran! a offer all to come here and feel how friendly people are


I’m sorry for this government rule.

Your welcome. I hope you back soon in my country.

hello,im shahzad from iran. thank you so much for your excelent content about Iran. all of the sentences are true about my country and u knew it very so happy that you had good times here. As the other iranian people said,now 1 USD is equal with 141,000 Rials :).so Iran is a very cheap country for tourists,too:). come to my country and enjoy,it would be your best trip with no debt:)

Hi Shahzad, We had a wonderful time there. Thank you for the update with the exchange rate. We recommend all travellers to visit Iran. 🙂

Thanks for this guys! I am super excited leaving for Tehran on Monday I booked a small tour as I felt anxious about travelling independently first time ever in Iran. If I like it -and I am sure I will – I shall go back. I was advised to take a day travel backpack and a medium sized wheely which I hope to fill up with things bought locally. Of course I shall take essentials. Is a long skirt allowed? It might be cooler than trousers. What do you think?

Hi Alex, I hope you are having a wonderful trip, That great you booked a small tour. Sometimes it is the best way to see the country and learn about the people and culture. There is so many great souvenirs to buy. Unfortunately my bag wasn’t big enough. 🙂 Absolutely a long shirt is allowed but not a tight body fitting one. Long sleeve and maxi dresses are perfect. Trousers are great just make sure you top is loose and long past your bottom. Have a great trip.

Wow, Thanks for this. I’am glad, that I found your page. I’ll travel in october alone to isfahan. I’m already so excited

That’s amazing. You will have a great time. The Iranians are so friendly and welcoming. There is so much to do there. Here is a video we made about Isfahan if you want to check it out.

Great points!

Regarding bringing a load of cash though, I found a solution. In my last trip to Iran, I got a DaricPay card. It made everything easier!

Thank you for your suggestion and information. Glad that worked for you. We still recommend visitors to take cash as not everywhere will accept cards.

Hello everyone. This is Ali, an Iranian. This page is a good guidance; LIKE ! Iran is a country of different climates and has very beautiful historical monuments and natural areas. Contrary to propaganda, Iran is safe and a good choice for travel. Come to Iran and have nice time here.

Thank you Ali. 🙂

This is great ! Thank you! I’m preparing to go there in June and your article answered a lot of questions! I will come back to it just to remember everything. Thanks again.

Glad the article could help. Have a wonderful trip Joanna.

Great i read your experiences you had great fun in Iran. Everyone should need to aware about your guidelines before visit.

Hi Eric, thank you. We had a great time in Iran. Definitely everyone should read up on the guidelines, not just what we have written but from other also. It is important to do your research before travelling to a country. 🙂

Hey, great article on Iran tourism. What should I plan in terms of budget, if I want to plan a 7-day trip to Iran and cover major tourist/historical destination.

How would you rate food for just vegetarians. Thanks!

We budgeted $80 USD a day for a couple. We came home with a little bit of money but we rather have more than less as there is no ATMs that work for foreigners. As for vegetarian food, there are many options.

This is awesome article, I’ve read a ton of articles online these past couple of months as I’m traveling to Iran in May. I’ve already bought a NordVPN subscription regarding the social media access, I hope it will work fine too, saw some recommendations for it too. Other than that I really cannot wait for the trip, so I keep reading about it. Thanks 🙂

Awesome Steve. Have a great time. The people there are so friendly. It is an amazing country.

hi steve, i recommend, first travel to iran then try free vpn then buy subscription.because some vpn in iran dose not work. instagram and what up don’t need vpn.have a nice trip!

Hi I am very pleased to be pleased with your trip to Iran I hope that one day we will be able to travel to other countries as well These days, people in my country are very sad.

Hi Mostafa, thank you for your message. We did enjoy visiting your country but did hear this from many locals. We hope that one day it all changes and travel will be a lot easier for Iranians. We saw nothing but friendly and welcoming people. The most friendliest country we have visited. We hope happiness comes soon.

Glad to hear that you had good trip in Iran guys. However things get worse and now 110,000 rials = 1 USD which is good for tourists. Lol.

Thanks for that Mohammad. Not good for the locals. We thought it was cheap when we visited last year. Sorry to hear that

I glad to read this site My country has very beautiful natural scenery and tourism, as well as very caring and kind people… I hope to see you in my city, Isfahan, the city of culture and art, and we can spend good times together^_^ I hope that there will always be in all countries, including my country

Hello I am Iranian I am very pleased that you have been satisfied with traveling to Iran I wish you success

Thank you for stopping by. We loved travelling Iran. The people were so welcoming and we had a lot of great chats with many. We are looking forward to returning one day.

You were ok travelling without a guide? Is it easy to travel around without one? And is it possible to hire guides to specific places, such as Persefone of some mosque? My wife and I are planning to visit Iran on April or October? What’d say? Thanks a lot.

Absolutely. We met so many local people and had so much fun. It is an easy country to get around in. Their transport system within the cities were easy and great. Their bus system across the country was comfortable and faster than the train. You can hire guides at main attractions as you go. The hotels can help with that also. Have a great trip.

If you are from the USA, Canada or UK you need to go on a tour.

Hi We are older Australians and are wanting to go to Iran. We usually plan our holiday booking accommodation and transport before we go so are a little hesitate going without anything booked. We have not been on a tour before and they don’t appeal to us.

Thank you so much for this valuable information. My mother and I are trying to book an organized trip with Intrepid Travel. They told us that we were not allowed to be out and about without the accompaniment of a male. Which they say we would have to stay in our hotel during our free time unless we go with a male. Have you heard of this before?

I am Mehdi and I am from, Shiraz Iran. I welcome your arrival to Iran in advance. Staying you in your hotel during your free time in Iran is not right. You can go out without a male. I can help you if you have any question. please don’t hesitate to ask me. you can contact me at [email protected] . I hope you have a nice trip in Iran. Regards; Mehdi

Hi Cathy, that is so strange they would tell you this. That is wrong on Intrepid Travel to tell you this and if they are concerned about this for their guests they should provide tours for you free of charge as staying in the hotel room is not a very good experience at all. I hope you wrote to them to express your disappointment with this.

As Mehdi said above, that is not right. When we were travelling throughout Iran there were many woman travelling on their own that out and about by them selves. We did not hear of any issues. Obviously have your wits about yourself. The people of Iran are so friendly. The friendliest we have come across in our travels. I hope you got to experience this and see a lot of the beautiful country.

Hi Cathy, I’m an Iranian person, this is not right, you can go out without a male. Iran is full of friendly people and I’m sure you will enjoy your time and this would be one of the most unforgettable trips.

Hello kathy I’m very surprised by your talk I am from Iran and I assure you that it is not

Hey guys! This is one of the *very* few articles about Iran that I completely agree with. Oh, apart from one sentence: “Iranians are very punctual”… I actually laughed out loud. You must have got lucky. In any case, I’m glad you enjoyed your time, and hope we cross paths one day.

(also, feel free to edit this out: the photo of Alesha at Friday mosque in Yazd is actually Friday mosque in Esfahan)

Thanks so much Nate! Glad the piece got the seal of approval from the Iran expert himself! And I guess we did get super lucky with the locals being punctual. For the whole month we were there we were never left waiting. Will count our lucky stars, and make a note that perhaps it’s not always the case.

And thanks for the correction on the Friday mosque! Have amended it now. Happy travels mate.

Hi dears! I’m an iranian girl & I love my country… Actually my father is a tour guide & I’ve heared such lovely words from so many tourists… they mostly say they had heard many bad things about iran and they have experienced the bests when they came here… I’m so glad to here such nice words by many travelers and i really appreciate you cause you ‘re telling the truth about my amazing country!!!! I love you all dears!!

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Iran Travel: The Complete Guide You’ve Been Waiting For!

ToIranTour - desert in Qom province - Iran Travel

Table of Contents

Welcome, fellow explorers and adventure seekers! If you’ve ever dreamt of embarking on a journey to a land where ancient history, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality converge, you’re in for a treat. In this Iran Travel Guide, we’re about to unravel the secrets of Iran, a country that has captivated the hearts of travelers for centuries.

Whether you’re considering Iran Travel as your next trip or you’ve already booked your ticket, our aim is to equip you with the knowledge you need to make your trip an unforgettable experience, from understanding the intricacies of obtaining an Iran visa to managing your finances while in the country, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also delve into the nuances of Iranian etiquette and dressing codes, ensuring that you navigate this beautiful nation with grace and respect.

So, get ready to embark on an enriching journey through the enchanting realms of Iran. Pack your curiosity, an open heart, and a sense of adventure because Iran is waiting to reveal its treasures to you. Let’s begin this odyssey together!

Iran Travel Guide: Why Visiting Iran?

ToIranTour - Vakil Mosque - Shiraz - Iran Travel

Visiting Iran is an absolute must for any adventurous traveler! With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and warm-hearted locals, Iran offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Imagine wandering through ancient cities like Isfahan, where stunning mosques and palaces adorned with intricate tile work transport you to a bygone era.

Don’t miss the mesmerizing beauty of the deserts, where the sand dunes seem to stretch on forever under a sky painted with stars. And, of course, the delicious cuisine will tantalize your taste buds with aromatic kebabs, fragrant saffron rice, and sweet baklava. But what truly makes Iran special is the warmth and hospitality of its people, who are eager to share their culture and stories with visitors. Here we listed a few reasons why to visit Iran:

1. Embrace the Timeless History

Iran boasts an ancient civilization that dates back thousands of years, and its historical significance is awe-inspiring. From the magnificent ruins of Persepolis , a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the grand Golestan Palace in Tehran , each structure is a testament to the country’s glorious past. Wander through winding alleys of historic cities like Isfahan and Yazd, where intricate architecture and the echoes of the past transport you to a bygone era.

2. Immerse in Vibrant Culture

Iran’s culture is a tapestry of diverse influences, from Persian, Arab, and Turkish to Central Asian and European. Experience the warmth of its people as they welcome you with open arms and indulge you with their hospitality. Marvel at the vivid colors of traditional clothing and savor the flavors of Iranian cuisine , renowned for its aromatic spices and delicately prepared dishes.

3. Mesmerizing Landscapes

ToIranTour - North Khorasan Province - Iran Travel

Venture beyond the cities, and Iran unfolds its breathtaking natural beauty. From the lush greenery of the northern forests  (Hyrcanian Forests) to the stunning deserts of Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut , each landscape is a masterpiece of nature’s artistry. Don’t miss the serene beauty of Mount Damavand or the otherworldly Kaluts, where wind-sculpted sand dunes create a surreal landscape.

4. UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Iran is home to an impressive array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites , and exploring them is like traveling back in time. Discover the ancient city of Bam and its adobe citadel, the awe-inspiring ancient aqueducts of Shushtar , and the magnificent Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran. Each site offers a unique glimpse into the country’s diverse heritage and architectural brilliance.

5. Dazzling Art and Architecture

Iran is an art lover’s paradise. Delve into the mesmerizing world of Persian carpets , renowned for their intricate designs and craftsmanship. Admire the mesmerizing beauty of Islamic architecture in mosques like Nasir al-Mulk in Shiraz , where colorful stained glass windows cast a rainbow of hues on the floors.

6. Experience Festivals and Traditions

Plan your visit to coincide with one of Iran’s vibrant festivals, and you’ll be treated to an immersive cultural experience. Witness the exuberant celebrations of Nowruz , the Persian New Year, or be part of the spiritual fervor during Ashura . These festivals offer a window into the soul of Iran’s traditions and values.

7. Warmth and Hospitality of Locals

Iranians are known for their exceptional warmth and hospitality towards visitors. Prepare to be embraced with open hearts and enjoy a genuine connection with the locals. The enriching interactions you’ll have will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your travel memories.

8. Safe and Welcoming Environment

Contrary to misconceptions, Iran is a safe country to visit. The people are warm and friendly, always ready to assist travelers. While you should exercise usual caution as with any foreign destination, Iran’s reputation for safety is well-deserved.

9. Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

If you yearn for unique experiences, Iran has plenty to offer. Explore the enigmatic village of Masuleh, nestled in the Alborz Mountains, where houses are built into the mountainside. Trek through the lush valleys of Golestan National Park, spotting rare wildlife along the way. These off-the-beaten-path adventures will leave you with unforgettable memories.

10. Photography Paradise

ToIranTour - Isfahan Architecture - Iran Travel Photography

Photographers will find Iran to be a haven of visually stunning landscapes and architectural marvels. From the colorful bazaars to the ancient ruins, every corner of Iran is a potential masterpiece waiting to be captured through your lens.

Persia or Iran: Are They the Same?

Have you ever wondered if Persia and Iran are the same thing? They’re often used interchangeably, but there’s an incredible history to each.

Persia refers to the ancient Persian Empire , which existed around 550 BC to 330 BC. Persia was famous for its amazing art, culture, and architecture back then. It left a big mark on the Middle East and beyond. Today, we use “Persia” to talk about this old kingdom and its impact.

In 1935, the country officially switched its name from Persia to Iran , which means “land of the Aryans.” This change was meant to highlight Iran’s deep ties to the Aryan people who came to the region thousands of years ago. Nowadays, we use “Iran” to talk about the modern-day Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East.

Even though people often use Persia and Iran interchangeably, it’s cool to know the history behind each name. By learning about the fascinating history of Persia, you can better appreciate the rich culture and heritage of this beautiful country.

When we dive into Persia’s awesome history and how it influenced the world, we can start to really admire Iran’s amazing culture and heritage. So, let’s explore and learn!

Can Everyone Travel to Iran?

Iran has become a popular travel destination that attracts wanderers from all over the world thanks to its rich history, captivating culture, and breathtaking landscapes. However, some prospective travelers may have lingering questions about whether everyone can travel to Iran. Let’s answer that question!

The answer to whether everyone can travel to Iran is a resounding yes ! Iran, in recent years, has taken significant steps to facilitate travel for visitors from diverse backgrounds and nationalities. The Iranian government, recognizing the potential of tourism and the desire of travelers to explore its wonders, has streamlined visa procedures, making it easier for tourists to obtain necessary travel permits.

While some nationalities can enjoy visa-free entry for short stays, most visitors can apply for a visa through a simple process. The option of a visa on arrival at major airports has also been extended to many nationalities, further enhancing accessibility. These measures reflect Iran’s commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive travel destination. We will talk about getting Iran visa in detail later in this article.

Safety and security are crucial considerations for travelers, and Iran stands as a country with a relatively low crime rate. Misconceptions surrounding its geopolitical situation often overshadow the reality on the ground. The Iranian people are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness towards visitors, making travelers feel welcomed and safe throughout their journey.

Cultural sensitivity plays a significant role in ensuring a smooth travel experience in Iran. The country has a rich cultural heritage, and respecting local customs is essential. While the dress code is more conservative compared to Western norms, adhering to it when visiting public places and religious sites is not only a sign of respect but also fosters positive interactions with the locals. If you’re interested in reading about someone’s experience traveling to Iran with To Iran Tour, we have a fantastic travelogue from one of our guests below. It’s definitely worth checking out!

Iran Travel Story: A Memorable 15-year-old’s Wanderlust Through Iran

Iran is making strides in improving accessibility for people with disabilities. Although there may still be challenges to overcome, many public places, hotels, and tourist attractions have taken steps to accommodate travelers with mobility challenges. Efforts are continuously being made to make Iran a more inclusive destination for travelers of all abilities.

When traveling to Iran, some people may worry about language barriers since English may not be commonly spoken. However, this should not discourage anyone from discovering this fascinating country. The Iranian locals are renowned for their kind-heartedness and eagerness to help tourists communicate, often using hand gestures and basic English phrases. Additionally, many young Iranians speak English as a second language, and it is taught in high schools.

Financial transactions and currency exchange are essential aspects of travel planning. Iran’s official currency is the Iranian Rial (IRR) . While international credit cards may not be widely accepted, travelers can use US dollars or euros and exchange them at official exchange offices or banks. Carrying sufficient cash is advisable, especially when visiting more remote areas where ATMs may not be readily available.

Iran has its unique cultural norms, particularly regarding gender segregation and LGBTQ+ rights. Travelers need to approach these considerations with cultural sensitivity and respect. Understanding and adhering to local customs can create a harmonious travel experience and foster positive interactions with the local community.

Healthcare is a crucial aspect of any travel experience. Iran boasts a well-developed healthcare system with competent medical professionals. While the likelihood of medical emergencies is low, having comprehensive travel insurance is recommended to ensure peace of mind throughout the journey.

To sum up, Iran has made significant strides in improving its travel accessibility in recent years, making it a warm and inclusive destination for visitors from all over the globe. With simplified visa processes, increased safety measures, and a commitment to meeting diverse needs, Iran warmly welcomes travelers. Adapting to local customs, respecting cultural sensitivities, and being open to new experiences will undoubtedly enhance the travel experience in this captivating country where history, culture, and natural beauty unite seamlessly.

ToIranTour - Anzali Lagoon

Thank you for joining me on this journey through the historical tapestry of Persia and Iran. Now, we want to extend a personal invitation to each one of you. If you’ve been captivated by the allure of Iran and are considering a visit, or even if you’re just curious to learn more, I invite you to explore our Iran travel guide. It’s a labor of love, crafted to share the magic of Iran with fellow travelers. From general steps to plan your travel to Iran to everything you need to know about Iran visa that might confuse you, our guide promises to be your trusted companion on your Iranian adventure.

How to Plan Visting Iran? (12 Steps)

ToIranTour - How to plan travel to Iran

Traveling to Iran, with its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes, requires meticulous planning to ensure a smooth and fulfilling journey. Follow this step-by-step guide to efficiently plan your trip to this captivating destination.

Step 1: Research and Itinerary

Start by researching Iran’s diverse attractions and destinations . Identify the places you wish to visit and create a detailed itinerary. Consider the duration of your trip, the activities you want to engage in, and the must-see landmarks you don’t want to miss. You can check ToIranTour packages and customize your desired tour itinerary.

Step 2: Visa and Travel Documentation

Check the visa requirements for your nationality. Most visitors can obtain a tourist visa for Iran through the Iranian embassy or consulate in their home country. Alternatively, you can opt for a visa on arrival at major airports or use of visa services of an authorized tour operator/travel agency. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. There is more information about getting Iran visa in the rest of the article and also on our blog .

Step 3: Best Time to Visit

Consider the best time to visit Iran based on your preferences. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) offer mild temperatures and pleasant weather, ideal for exploring the country. Also, the best time to visit depends on the tour and activities. However, each season has its unique charm, so choose according to your interests.

Step 4: Cultural Awareness

Familiarize yourself with Iranian customs and etiquette to show respect for local traditions. Note that women should wear modest clothing that covers the arms, legs, and hair when in public places. Understanding and embracing the culture will enhance your travel experience.

Step 5: Language and Communication

While English is not widely spoken, the Iranian people are known for their warm hospitality. Learn a few basic Persian phrases to facilitate communication and connect with the locals. This will enrich your interactions during your journey.

Step 6: Accommodation and Transportation

Book your accommodation in advance to secure the best options that suit your budget and preferences. Iran offers a range of accommodations, from luxurious hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Plan your transportation within the country, whether by domestic flights, trains, or buses, to efficiently navigate between destinations. You can check the accommodation and transportation with a local tour operator. 

Step 7: Health and Travel Insurance

Prioritize your health and well-being by consulting a healthcare professional for any required vaccinations or health precautions before traveling to Iran. Additionally, consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance to provide coverage in case of unexpected medical emergencies or trip disruptions.

Step 8: Currency and Money Matters

Familiarize yourself with Iran’s currency, the Iranian Rial (IRR), and its exchange rates. While credit cards are not widely accepted, carrying sufficient cash is advisable, especially when traveling to remote areas where ATMs may not be readily available. Also, read about travel costs in Iran to plan accordingly.

Step 9: Safety and Security

Iran is considered a safe destination for travelers, with a low crime rate and a welcoming local population. However, exercise standard safety precautions and stay informed about local conditions to ensure a worry-free journey.

Step 10: Respect for Religious Sites in Iran

Iran is home to numerous significant religious sites. Show respect when visiting mosques, shrines, and other places of worship by adhering to dress codes and rules for visitors.

Step 11: Iran Local Customs and Traditions

Respect local customs and traditions to foster positive interactions with the Iranian people. Greetings, gestures, and dining etiquette -which we are going to talk about later in this article – may differ from your home country, so be open-minded and willing to embrace cultural differences.

Step 12: Packing Essentials

Pack appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions and cultural considerations. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, and a reusable water bottle for staying hydrated.

DIY or Tour for Traveling to Iran? Our Iran Travel Guide Perspective

ToIranTour - DIY Trip to Iran

When you’re thinking about having an awesome trip to Iran, you’ve got to decide if you want to plan everything yourself or join a guided tour . Each option has its own good and not-so-good points, so it’s important to pick what suits you and your travel goals best. In this comparison, we’ll look at the perks of DIY travel to Iran or going on a tour for visiting Iran. We’ll highlight why it’s a great idea and show you why tour services are valuable.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Travel to Iran

  • Freedom and Flexibility: DIY travel offers the freedom to create a personalized itinerary, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations at your own pace. It caters to adventurous spirits who relish the thrill of independent exploration.
  • Cost Control: Traveling independently allows budget-conscious travelers to choose accommodations, transportation, and dining options that align with their financial preferences.
  • Authenticity in Interactions: With DIY travel, you have the opportunity to interact with locals on a more personal level, leading to genuine cultural experiences and connections.


  • Logistical Challenges: Planning transportation, accommodations, and activities can be time-consuming and potentially overwhelming, especially in Iran with language barriers and unfamiliar customs.
  • Navigating Language Barriers: English is not widely spoken in Iran and this will lead to communication challenges in certain situations.
  • Cultural Awareness: Researching and adhering to local customs and etiquette may require extra effort to ensure respectful interactions.

Travel to Iran by Tour

ToIranTour - Travel to Iran with Tour

  • Reasonable Pricing: Contrary to common misconceptions, tours to Iran often offer excellent value for money, including a comprehensive package of services and experiences at a reasonable cost.
  • Local Knowledge: Tour guides possess extensive knowledge of Iran’s history, culture, and landmarks, providing enriching insights and context to enhance your understanding of the destination.
  • Close Connections with Locals: Tour operators often have well-established relationships with local communities, facilitating authentic encounters with Iranians and unlocking hidden gems inaccessible to DIY travelers.
  • Awareness of Subtleties: Experienced tour guides are attuned to cultural nuances, ensuring that travelers navigate social interactions with grace and sensitivity.
  • Authentic Experiences: Tours curate experiences that offer a balance between must-see landmarks and off-the-beaten-path wonders, providing a more authentic and immersive travel experience. Since Iran is a less-known destination, this issue becomes more important.
  • Fixed Itineraries: Tours operate on pre-planned itineraries, which may not cater to individual preferences for spontaneity and exploration. To solve this problem, you can use individual and customized tours. ToIranTour can help you in this matter.
  • Group Dynamic: Traveling with a group may limit personal freedom and require compromise on specific preferences. However, using the services of tour operators who are committed to organizing tours with small groups can solve this problem to a large extent.

While both DIY travel and guided tours have their perks, let’s talk about why you might want to consider taking an Iran tour. Tours in Iran are like having a friendly local show you all the best stuff. They know the coolest places, the tastiest food, and the most interesting stories.

When you join a tour, you don’t need to worry about all the nitty-gritty details of planning. The tour guides take care of everything, so you can relax and enjoy your trip. Plus, they know all the ins and outs of Iran’s beautiful landscapes, so you won’t miss a thing.

But the best part? You get to connect with the local folks, discover hidden gems, and dive deep into Iran’s rich history and culture. It’s an adventure you won’t forget! So, if you’re looking for a stress-free and amazing way to explore Iran, consider joining a tour .

How Can I Buy Iran Tours?

To make sure your trip is fantastic and easy, you need to think about a few important things when choosing your tour. We’re here to help you with that. Check out these key factors to find the perfect tour for your travel to Iran:

1. Attractiveness of the Itinerary

Examine the tour itinerary closely to determine its appeal and alignment with your interests. A well-crafted itinerary should encompass a balance of must-see attractions and off-the-beaten-path gems, offering a comprehensive exploration of Iran’s diverse landscape. Look for unique experiences, cultural encounters, and opportunities for authentic interactions with local communities.

2. Licensed Tour Operator

Verify whether the tour operator is licensed and accredited by relevant authorities. A licensed operator adheres to specific standards, ensuring compliance with safety regulations, customer protection, and quality of services. This validation offers peace of mind and enhances the reliability of the tour.

3. Right Price vs. Misleading Pricing

Price is a crucial consideration, but it should not be the sole determining factor. Be cautious of tours that offer significantly lower prices than competitors, as they may compromise on the quality of services and experiences. Compare the inclusions of each tour to assess its true value and avoid being misled by seemingly inexpensive options.

4. Customer Support

Good customer support is integral to a satisfying travel experience. Look for a tour operator who is responsive to inquiries, provides detailed information, and is attentive to your needs and preferences. A reliable tour operator should be readily available to address any concerns before, during, and after your journey.

5. Communication with the Tour Operator

Efficient and clear communication with the tour operator is vital for a seamless travel experience. Ensure your Iranian tour operator is accessible through various communication channels, such as email, phone, or chat. Prompt responses and transparent communication demonstrate the operator’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

6. Group Size and Dynamics

Consider the group size of the tour and how it aligns with your preferences. Smaller groups offer a more intimate experience, while larger groups may foster camaraderie with fellow travelers. Choose a group size that complements your travel style.

By picking a tour that matches your interests , you can have an incredible adventure exploring Iran’s history, culture, and beautiful natural sights. So, get ready to discover the magic of Iran and enjoy every moment of your unforgettable journey!

Local Tour Operator or International Tour Operator?

ToIranTour - Beach - Iran Travel

When you’re planning your trip to discover the amazing attractions of Iran, you have two choices: you can either go with a local tour company or an international one. Each of these options has its own good sides and not-so-good sides, and they’re better suited for different kinds of travelers. In this comparison, we’ll focus on why using a local tour company can be a great idea. We’ll talk about what they’re really good at and how they can make your travel experience even more special.

Local Tour Operator

  • Reasonable Pricing: Local tour operators usually have great prices because they really know the local scene. They can talk with suppliers and get good deals, often saving you a lot of money – up to 80-100% less than international tour operators. One reason is that local operators have lower taxes. On the flip side, many international tour companies team up with locals to run their tours. When they add an extra layer like an intermediary, costs go up, and so does the price for you.
  • Local Knowledge: Utilizing the expertise of a local tour operator grants travelers access to a wealth of insider knowledge. Local operators possess an in-depth understanding of Iran’s history, culture, and attractions, allowing for enriching insights and personalized recommendations.
  • Close Connections with Locals: Local tour operators have well-established relationships with local communities, leading to meaningful cultural interactions and authentic experiences that might not be possible with international operators. Local tour operators are attuned to cultural nuances and customs, ensuring that travelers navigate social interactions with respect and grace, leading to more immersive and respectful experiences.
  • Flexible Itineraries: Local operators can offer more flexibility in tailoring itineraries to individual preferences, allowing travelers to focus on specific interests and personalize their journey.
  • Unknown brand and trust: Naturally, international tour operators have a more well-known brand, and it is easier to trust them. Of course, you can trust local tour operators who have an official license and also have good performance in their previous services. On the other hand, you can book your tour with just a small deposit.

International Tour Operator

  • Global Expertise: International tour operators often have a wider network of destinations and resources, offering comprehensive tour packages that cover multiple countries or regions.
  • Ease of Booking: International operators usually have user-friendly websites and customer service in various languages, making booking and communication more accessible for a diverse clientele. 
  • Higher Costs: International tour operators may have higher overheads and administrative expenses, which can be reflected in the pricing of their tours, making them comparatively more expensive.
  • Limited Local Insights: While international operators offer broad coverage, their understanding of the local culture and customs in specific destinations may not be as deep as that of local operators.

ToIranTour - Business Visa in Iran

Are you having trouble with the Iran visa application process? You’re not alone. Getting a visa for Iran can be tricky for many travelers. It’s important to determine if you’re eligible and what rules you need to follow.

Generally, visiting Iran needs a visa, except for a few countries that can travel to Iran visa-free. There are some countries that can get their visa on arrival, but some countries are not eligible for Iran visa on arrival, and they must get their visa before their trip (which normally takes about 3 to 7 days to get your visa). There are some countries that don’t need any visa for visiting Iran. Keep reading to find out which group you belong to.

To get your visa, you can go to Iran’s embassy in your country, or apply for your Iran visa online , or even easier, use an authorized tour operator to do the process for you.

For some countries like the US, the UK, and Canada , things might be more complicated. Their governments don’t have good relationships with Iran’s government, which can make getting a visa even harder. Right now, there’s no Iranian embassy in the US.

Don’t let this process stop you from exploring the great things Iran has to offer. With some planning and looking into things, you can make the visa application go smoothly. Make sure you know what your nationality needs and give yourself enough time.

Even though getting a visa can be tough, Iran is an amazing place to visit. There are ancient cities with beautiful buildings, delicious food, and friendly people who will make you feel welcome. So, don’t let the visa process hold you back. Start planning your trip to Iran today, and To Iran Tour can help you make getting your visa easier .

How to Get an Iran Visa on Arrival?

Feeling a bit stressed about getting your visa to Iran? Well, here’s some good news! If you’re from one of 180 countries, you might not need to stress too much.

Starting from February 14, 2016, Iran’s Ministry announced something cool. They said that at their airports, they can give 30-day visas to people from those 180 countries. This makes things super simple if you want to visit Iran and see all its amazing stuff.

But hold on a second! Not everyone from those 180 countries can just show up and get a visa. It might depend on where you’re from, and there could be some rules you need to follow. Before you pack your bags for Iran, make sure to check what you need to do based on where you’re from.

If you’re allowed to get an Iran visa on arrival, you can do it at different airports, like Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA), Mashad Airport, Shiraz Airport, and more. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Answer some questions about your Iran trip,
  • Show them where you’re staying (like a hotel reservation),
  • Share a copy of your travel insurance,
  • Prove you have a return flight ticket

By keeping yourself informed and being careful, you can have a great and safe trip to Iran!

Iran Visa Requirements: Best Guide 2023

Travel to Iran Without a Visa

There are 14 countries in 2023 that can visit Iran without any visa at all. These countries include Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Malaysia, Oman, Venezuela, China (for 21 days), Hong Kong, Macau, Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Bolivia, and Syria. To read more about Iran travel without a visa, read the article below:

Travel to Iran Without a Visa in 2024: Your Ultimate Guide

Non-eligible Nationalities for Iran Visa on Arrival

It’s important to know who can get a visa when they arrive in Iran. If you’re from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, you can’t get a visa on arrival.

If that’s the case for you, don’t worry! You can still get a visa in a few different ways. You can go to the Iranian embassy in your home country, apply online, or ask an authorized tour operator to help you out , which is the easiest option.

How to Get an Iran Visa; A Complete Guide

What is the Iran Visa Authorization Code

This code is necessary for everyone who wants to apply for an Iran visa and serves as a determining factor for your visa application’s approval.

For those who plan to travel in a group, the tour operator will generally process the visa process and get the authorization code.

For solo travelers or those who don’t have a tour agent, ToIranTour can be a reliable option that offers essential travel services for visiting Iran. Alternatively, you can source an Iranian travel agency or seek direction from the embassy where you plan to obtain your visa.

When applying for the Authorisation Code, you’ll need to specify the embassy or airport where you’ll be processing your visa (unless you’re American, Canadian, or British because Iran doesn’t have embassies there). This can be a bit challenging for those traveling without solid plans or those who plan to visit multiple cities in Iran. It’s wise to choose an embassy in a city you’re likely to fly into Iran from, taking into account the processing time required for your visa application.

Remember, the Authorization Code isn’t your visa . It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get one. Once you have the code, you have to collect your visa label at the embassy/Iranian airport within three months . It’s a good idea to apply well ahead of your trip to handle any delays or issues. So, by getting the Authorization Code and applying for your visa early, you can have a smooth and fun trip to Iran.

Iran Tourist Visa Cost

ToIranTour - Iran visa application costs

When planning to obtain an Iran tourist visa, it’s important to budget for the costs of the visa. The cost of the visa service varies depending on the agency, usually with an administration fee of 30 to 50 euros, unless booked along with a tour package.

To Iran Tour offers the most affordable service for this situation, and they even have promotions where it can be free. Plus, if you book a tour with To Iran Tour , you won’t have to pay for the visa service.

However, the price of an Iran tourist visa depends on your nationality and the embassy where you apply for it. There isn’t a fixed fee for the visa, so it’s essential to inquire about the current fees at the embassy where you intend to obtain it. Consequently, the visa cost can vary depending on the location where you submit your application. For instance, one traveler paid €180 for their visa in Tbilisi, Georgia, while another paid a slightly higher amount to process their visa in Paris.

An IMPORTANT note is that to pay the cost of a visa at the airport, have enough cash in your pocket as in Iran, international payment cards are not valid. We have travelers who put their cash money in bags and do not have access to their money when check-in and have administrative problems, So keep enough cash in EUR/USD by yourself while getting your stomp visa at the airport.

It’s recommended to budget for the highest possible cost when planning your trip, as visa fees can change without notice. By budgeting accordingly and planning in advance, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free visa application process and enjoy your trip to Iran with ease.

Iran Visa Timings

Obtaining an Iranian tourist visa is not a time-consuming process, but travelers should plan accordingly to avoid any last-minute stress. It’s important to be aware that the Authorisation Code, necessary for obtaining a visa label, could take 3 – 7 working days to process except for US, Canada, and Britain passport holders, which take more time (around 30-45 working days). Even if you fast-track the process, it’s likely that the code will arrive with only a few days to spare before your planned arrival in Iran or tour start date.

This means that before any trip to Iran, especially when traveling on a tour, you’ll need to plan in advance and be prepared to rush to the embassy to process your authorization code. You may have to pay extra for fast-tracking and organizing your flight ticket to Iran at the last minute, which doesn’t always guarantee the best price. So, it’s a good idea not to book your flights to Iran or any travel arrangements until you know your Iran visa will be processed.

By planning ahead and being aware of the potential delays and challenges in obtaining an Iran tourist visa, travelers can have a stress-free and enjoyable trip to this beautiful country. 

How Can US citizens Travel to Iran?

ToIranTour - Iran visa for US citizens

For American citizens, exploring the wonders of Iran can be an enticing prospect, but it comes with a unique set of considerations due to the complex relationship between Iran and the United States of America.

When it comes to visas, Iran has stricter conditions for American citizens, and the United States has similar policies for Iranian nationals. While the process of obtaining a visa for American citizens traveling to Iran may require more time and effort, it is entirely possible with the right approach . Here’s a brief explanation of the process.

1. Visa Application Process:

If you plan to travel to Iran, it’s best to start the visa application process well before your intended departure date. It’s recommended to begin the process at least two months in advance to ensure there is enough time for processing.

2. Contacting the Iranian Interests Section or Embassy

American citizens seeking to obtain an Iran visa must contact the Iranian Interests Section located at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. This is due to the absence of any direct embassy or consulate representation of Iran in the United States. Alternatively, they may choose to contact an Iranian consulate in a third country.

3. Application Documentation

Applicants will need to submit specific documentation to support their visa application, including a completed visa application form, a valid passport with at least six months’ validity beyond the planned departure date, passport-sized photographs, a detailed travel itinerary, and their resume which you can download its sample resume here .

4. Letter of Introduction

If you’re an American citizen planning to visit Iran, you’ll need something important: a special letter. This letter can be easily obtained through a trusted travel agency in Iran. They’ll help you get this letter from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This letter is like your travel pass. It should explain why you want to visit Iran, your travel plans, and if someone in Iran is helping you, they should be mentioned too.

5. Group Tour vs. Independent Travel

American citizens can choose between traveling as part of an organized group tour or in a private tour.

IMPORTANT note: Both should be escorted by an authorized tour guide. Joining an organized group tour can simplify the visa process, as the tour operator may assist with obtaining the letter of introduction and navigating the application procedure.

6. Additional Screening and Processing Time

Due to the sensitive nature of the bilateral relationship, visa applications from American citizens undergo additional screening, which may contribute to longer processing times compared to citizens of other countries. However, it is crucial to remain patient and diligent throughout the process.

7. Visa Validity and Duration

After approval, the visa will specify its validity period and the permitted duration of stay in Iran. It is crucial to strictly adhere to these limitations to prevent any complications while traveling.

Therefore traveling to Iran as a US citizen may require navigating a more intricate visa application process due to the existing differences between Iran and the United States. However, with careful preparation, proper documentation, and patience, obtaining an Iranian visa is entirely possible. By adhering to the specified requirements and following the recommended steps, American travelers can embark on an unforgettable journey to discover the rich history, culture, and beauty of Iran, making memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Iran Visa for US UK and Canada Citizens: A Comprehensive Guide

How Can British and Canadian Citizens Travel to Iran?

ToIranTour - Iran visa application for UK and Canadian citizens

British and Canadian citizens can travel to Iran following a similar process as American citizens . They must apply at the Iranian embassy in England or Canada, considering the required documentation and a letter of introduction from an authorized travel agency in Iran. Notably, these nationalities cannot obtain airport visas and must only use escorted tour services through a tour operator.

If the office of the custodian of Iran’s interests in Washington or other embassies located in Canada and England is far from your place of residence, or if you cannot visit them for any reason, you can receive your visa through the postal service. You should send the necessary documents, including your passport and your photo, along with a special form filled out by mail to the office of Iran’s Interests Protector or the embassy of your choice. After completing the administrative formalities, they will send the passport along with the visa to you.

Visa Refusal Possibilities

Travelers need to be aware that there is a risk of visa refusal for Iran if there is proof that they have traveled to Israel. This is due to the political tensions between the two countries and the Iranian government’s strict stance on the matter.

Additionally, visitors who work in certain industries, such as journalism or media, may also face scrutiny from Iranian authorities. This is because the Iranian government is sensitive to the portrayal of the country in the media and may view journalists and media workers as a potential threat to their national security.

If you have traveled to Israel in the past, it’s important to be transparent about this when applying for an Iran tourist visa. While this may increase the likelihood of visa refusal, it’s important to be honest to avoid any potential legal issues or complications during your visit.

It’s also recommended to avoid discussing any sensitive topics related to politics or religion during your stay in Iran, as these may be viewed as provocative and lead to unwanted attention from authorities.

Nationality Restrictions- Israelis Travel to Iran

It’s really important to know that if you’re from Israel, you can’t go to Iran. The two countries don’t get along right now, so this rule probably won’t change for a while.

We understand that it might be disappointing if you’re from Israel and you want to visit Iran to learn about its amazing culture and history. But it’s super important to follow the rules and not try to sneak into Iran. If you do, you could get into big trouble with the law, and your safety could be in danger.

Even if you have another passport from a different country, don’t try to go to Iran if you’re also an Israeli citizen. It’s just not safe.

Travel Insurance for Visiting Iran: Insights from Our Iran Travel Guide

ToIranTour - Travel Insurance in Iran

When you’re getting ready for a trip to Iran, remember this: You need travel insurance to get your visa. It’s like a permission slip for your trip.

But not just any insurance will do. Make sure your insurance covers all of Iran and all the stuff you want to do there. Some insurance might say no to certain places or activities, so read the fine print!

You can also ask your tour guide to set you up with health insurance from a company like Saman Insurance. This insurance will help if you get sick or have an accident, and it can cover up to 50,000 Euros in medical bills.

So, if you want to stay safe and have a blast in Iran, get good travel insurance and be careful. Happy travels!

Booking the Best Tour

ToIranTour - Naqsh-e Rostam - Iran Travel

Booking an Iran tour package is a fantastic way to dive into the country’s incredible culture and history. It’s especially great if you want a smooth and stress-free trip. This might be your only option if you’re from the UK, the US, or Canada. You see, these countries have special rules that say you must join an official Iran tour operator or hire a private Iran guide.

Now, there are so many Iran tour packages out there that it can feel a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry! If you pick a trusted tour company like To Iran Tour , you’re in for a memorable adventure. We’ll take you to amazing places in Iran, ones that you might not easily reach on your own or using public transport. Plus, your local guide will be a treasure trove of info about Iran’s ancient history – perfect if you’re a history and culture fan.

You might think being in a tour group means you’re stuck all the time, but that’s not the case. You’ll still have plenty of free time to explore each place at your own pace. Even in a small group, we had loads of opportunities to discover Iran’s hidden gems on our terms.

Now, one thing to remember is that Iran tour packages can be quite packed. There’s not much downtime or rest days on the schedule, which might feel a bit rushed if you prefer a slower travel pace. But in just 12-14 days, you’ll see and experience so much that you’ll never forget.

All in all, booking an Iran tour package is an awesome way to soak up this incredible country and its rich culture and history. With a bit of planning and research, you’ll find the perfect tour that matches your interests and travel style. You’ll make memories that will stick with you forever.

Private Guided Tours of Iran

For those who prefer a more personalized travel experience, hiring a private tour guide in Iran is a great option. While it typically requires a minimum of two people, it offers the flexibility to customize your itinerary and travel at your own pace.

Private guided tours of Iran are particularly appealing to those who may have visa restrictions or prefer to avoid traveling in larger groups. With a private guide, you’ll have the benefit of local knowledge and expertise, and you can tailor your itinerary to suit your interests and preferences.

One of the advantages of a private guided tour is that you can have an intimate and authentic experience of Iran’s culture and history. Your guide can take you to off-the-beaten-path destinations and provide insights into local customs and traditions, giving you a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country.

Additionally, a private guided tour allows you to avoid the hassle and stress of planning logistics and transportation on your own. Your guide can handle all the details, from arranging accommodations and transportation to helping you navigate local customs and etiquette.

Iran Independent Travel

ToIranTour - Alamut in winter - Qazvin Province - Iran Travel

While solo and independent travel to Iran can be moderately easy for those with a free nationality, it’s important to note that the country is not yet well-trodden on the independent travel path. Hostels and guesthouses are scarce, and big, expensive hotels dominate the landscape, especially in Tehran. It’s also rare to come across a group of solo travelers to join.

However, that doesn’t mean that solo travel in Iran is impossible or unsafe. On the contrary, it’s a rewarding and exhilarating experience that offers a unique glimpse into the country’s rich culture and history. While it may require a bit more planning and effort, traveling independently in Iran allows you to create your own itinerary and explore at your own pace.

One of the advantages of independent travel is the flexibility to stay in smaller, locally-run accommodations and eat at local restaurants, giving you a more authentic and immersive experience. It also allows you to connect with locals and learn about their way of life, which can be a highlight of any trip.

Of course, traveling independently in Iran also requires some caution and common sense, such as being aware of local customs and dress codes and taking necessary precautions for safety. It’s also important to do your research and plan ahead to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Couchsurfing in Iran

ToIranTour - Iran Travel

Couchsurfing can be a popular option for budget-conscious travelers looking to connect with locals and experience the culture firsthand. However, it’s important to note that Couchsurfing in Iran is officially illegal. While many independent travelers have reported using the resource and finding local hosts to be excellent guides, there are some risks involved.

One of the main concerns with Couchsurfing in Iran is the lack of official filters in place for hosts listed online. This means that travelers must exercise caution and take responsibility for their own safety. In the event that anything goes wrong, Couchsurfing hosts cannot be held responsible.

Despite these risks, Couchsurfing in Iran can be a rewarding experience for those who are willing to take the necessary precautions. It provides an opportunity to connect with locals and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s rich culture and history.

It’s important to note that while Couchsurfing may be illegal in Iran, it does happen anyway. However, travelers should be aware of the potential risks involved and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. This may include carefully vetting potential hosts, staying in public areas, and communicating clearly with your host about your expectations and boundaries.

Solo Female Travel to Iran

Traveling alone as a woman in Iran can be a bit tough sometimes, but it can also be incredibly rewarding if you’re open to experiencing the unique culture and people here. While women might have some more rules to follow compared to men, many solo female travelers have found Iranians to be really friendly and kind.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make your trip smoother:

  • Respect Local Customs: Especially in smaller and more traditional places like Yazd, Kashan, and Qom, it’s essential to dress modestly. That means avoiding clothes that are too revealing, as it might come across as disrespectful.
  • No PDA: Public displays of affection, like hugging or kissing in public, aren’t allowed in Iran. However, friends of the same sex usually hug or kiss each other on the cheek and it’s considered normal.

Despite these things to watch out for, Iran is actually considered one of the safest countries for tourists . You can confidently explore its beautiful landscapes and rich culture, knowing that most locals will be warm and welcoming.

Just remember to be cautious like you would anywhere else. Stay away from poorly lit areas at night and keep an eye on your surroundings in crowded places. With some careful planning and an open attitude, traveling solo as a woman in Iran can be a really enriching experience that might change your life.

In the end, while it might require a bit more effort and attention to local customs, it’s a unique and rewarding way to discover this amazing country and make unforgettable memories.

Best Time to Travel to Iran

Iran is a year-round destination with diverse climates and landscapes, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking a variety of experiences. However, the best time to visit Iran depends on the region you plan to visit and your personal preferences.

For the classic route , which includes popular destinations like Tehran , Kashan, Isfahan, Yazd , and Shiraz, the best time to visit is during the two high seasons. The first high season runs from early March to late May , while the second high season runs from early September to late November . During these periods, the weather is generally mild, and the landscapes are lush and green, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

If you’re planning to explore the Northwest and West route along the Zagros mountains , which includes destinations like Ardabil, Tabriz, Zanjan, Hamedan, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj, the best time to visit is during the high season from mid-April until mid-November . During this period, the weather is generally pleasant, and the landscapes are at their most picturesque.

If you’re thinking about visiting ski resorts in the northern part of Tehran like Dizin, Shemshak, and Tuchal, or if you’re headed to places in Southern Iran such as Ahwaz, Bushehr, Bandar Abbas, and the Persian Gulf Islands , the perfect time to go is from late November to late March . This is when the weather is cooler, and the ski resorts are at their busiest and most fun!

Keep in mind that July to September in Iran can get really hot, which might make the usual travel route not so comfy. But don’t worry! If you plan well and keep an eye on the weather, you can still have a great time visiting Iran during this time.

So, the ideal time to go to Iran depends on what you like and where you want to go. Iran has all sorts of landscapes and weather, so no matter when you decide to visit, you’ll always find something cool to do in this awesome country. For more detailed information about the best time to visit Iran based on your destination and weather, check out this article below:

Best Time To Travel To Iran: Your Ultimate Guide 2023

Iran UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Iran is a treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will leave you awestruck. With 26 sites recognized by UNESCO, including 24 cultural and two natural wonders , Iran boasts an ancient lineage that Iranians take pride in.

Each of these sites is the result of years of research and presentation of evidence to prove their significance to the world. From ancient palaces to stunning natural landscapes, these sites offer a glimpse into Iran’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

Visiting all of these sites would require multiple trips to Iran, but the effort is well worth it. Some of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran include the ancient ruins of Persepolis , the stunning Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil, and the beautiful Masjed-e Jāmé in Isfahan .

Other notable sites include the historic city of Yazd , the ancient hydraulic system of Shushtar , and the Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex, which is one of the largest covered bazaars in the world.

If you’re into history, nature, and culture or want a fantastic travel adventure, Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites have something for you. So, get your bags packed, plan your trip, and let’s explore the awesome things this amazing country has to offer. You can even join the UNESCO tour with To Iran Tour to see it all!

Dress Code in Iran

ToIranTour - a woman standing in mountain landscape - Iran dress code

If you’re planning to visit Iran, it’s good to know that they have a dress code that you need to follow. As a woman, you should wear loose clothing that covers your body and a headscarf. But don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a burka or anything too concealing. You can still show off your personal style and wear clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. Just keep in mind the local customs and you’ll be all set!

Even though there is a strict dress code in Iran, you’ll quickly see that it’s not as stereotypical as you might think. Iranian women are very fashionable and take pride in their appearance. Fashion is a way for them to express themselves and make a statement, and you’ll notice them wearing beautifully designed headscarves and stylish clothing that still comply with the Iranian dress code .

It’s also worth noting that the dress code applies to both men and women. Men are required to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that cover their legs. 

While it’s true that there is a “morality police” in Iran, whose job is to enforce the dress code and other moral codes of conduct in public, it’s important to note that they are not actively targeting foreign visitors. So, as a traveler to Iran, you don’t need to worry too much about being chased down by the morality police.

In general, if you show respect for local customs and adhere to the dress code regulations, you can have a secure and enjoyable travel experience in Iran. Therefore, don’t allow concerns about the morality police or any misunderstandings preventing you from exploring all the amazing things that this country has to offer.

Packing Tip for Travel to Iran

ToIranTour - Travel Packing for Iran Travel

Packing for a trip to Iran can be a bit daunting, especially with the strict dress code regulations. However, with a little bit of preparation and the right mindset, you can embrace the local customs and still express your personal style.

The most immediate essential item to pack for Iran is a headscarf, also known as a ‘Roosari’ in Farsi. But don’t worry if it falls off – just put it back on again. While wearing a headscarf is mandatory, it’s common for Iranian women to wear it a little loose and halfway back on their head, with a high bun or ponytail to keep it in place. And if you’re worried about showing a little bit of hair, don’t be – it’s granted.

When it comes to tops, loose-fitting ones with three-quarter-length sleeves are ideal, especially in the heat. The general rule of thumb is that your body should be covered, and your arms should not be bare. As for trousers, they should be baggy, but tight, brightly colored leggings worn with a long, loose-fitting top are also acceptable, as long as your legs are covered down to the ankles.

The myth that you need to dress in dark colors or black tunics is just that – a myth. Embrace fashion the way the locals do, and bring some color into your Iran packing list! Open-toed sandals are OK, especially on hot days, and sports shoes are fashionable in Iran, especially in bright colors, so pack some for longer day trips.

If you’re worried about not having enough appropriate attire, fear not. As soon as you arrive in Tehran or Shiraz, hit the bazaars and local markets for plenty of options. And if you’re traveling with children, it’s worth noting that young boys can wear shorts and t-shirts, and girls under ten are not required to wear a headscarf.

For men, dressing in Iran is more straightforward, much like in Western countries, except for no short shorts, super short sleeves, or extremely tight-fitting clothing.

Overall, remember to approach the dress code with an open mind and respect for local customs. And don’t be afraid to express your personal style while still adhering to the guidelines. With the right attitude and a well-stocked suitcase, you can have a comfortable and enjoyable trip to Iran.

Is Iran Safe to Travel?

Even though some Western media might paint a different picture, Iran is a safe and friendly place for travelers. You might worry about safety because of politics and cultural differences, but the truth is that Iran is a great place to visit.

The people in Iran are super welcoming. You’ll meet lots of friendly locals who are excited to have you in their country. Whether you’re exploring busy markets or historical sites, Iran offers a one-of-a-kind travel experience.

Like anywhere else, it’s essential to be cautious and aware of your surroundings when you travel. But honestly, the chances of running into safety problems in Iran are pretty low. Many travelers say they feel safer here than in other popular tourist spots.

So, if you’re thinking about visiting Iran, don’t let safety worries stop you. With the right mindset and some preparation, you can have a safe and unforgettable trip to this fascinating country.

Iranians are known for their hospitality. They often go out of their way to help visitors, whether it’s giving directions, suggesting a great local restaurant, or offering you a ride. They might even share their contact info, just in case you need assistance. This shows how much they want you to feel welcome and at ease during your stay.

It’s also worth mentioning that Iranians want to break away from the negative image sometimes shown in the media. They’re proud of their culture and want you to see the beauty of their country and the warmth of their people.

As a visitor to Iran, you have a special chance to bridge cultural gaps and show Iranians that the world outside isn’t as unfriendly as they might think. By approaching your trip with an open mind and a desire to learn, you can make meaningful connections and get a deeper understanding of Iranian culture.

In the end, the hospitality and friendliness of the Iranian people are some of the best parts of traveling to this amazing country. So, don’t hesitate to engage with the locals and fully enjoy the rich cultural traditions that make Iran such a unique and captivating destination.

Is Iran Safe to Travel RIGHT NOW?

When thinking about visiting Iran, like any other place you might want to go, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news about politics and how your own country is getting along with Iran. But don’t worry too much because Iran is actually one of the safest countries in the Middle East for travelers.

Now and then, people in Iran might have protests about politics or money issues, but these usually stay in one place and don’t put tourists in danger. Just be smart and avoid those protest areas, like you would anywhere else.

Remember, Iran follows Islamic rules pretty strictly. So, things like drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or having romantic relationships with locals can get you in big trouble – like being kicked out of the country, getting arrested, or worse. But if you respect their way of doing things and follow the rules, you’ll have a great and safe time in Iran.

Overall, as long as you keep an eye on what’s happening and are careful, there’s no need to be super worried about going to Iran. If you go with the right attitude and prepare well, you’ll have a fantastic trip to this remarkable country.

Is Iran Safe to Visit 2024? A Comprehensive Overview

Essential Things to Remember When Visiting Iran

When you plan to visit Iran, it’s really important to be respectful and well-informed. Iran is a Muslim country where they take their rules seriously, especially Islamic law. So, it’s not a good idea to act like a clueless tourist and think you won’t get in trouble.

You see, what might be okay back home could get you into real trouble here. Iran has strict laws and customs, and it’s super important to follow them.

But here’s the good news. If you respect the local ways and follow the rules, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Iran. So, don’t let the strict rules scare you away. Come with an open mind and a desire to learn about the unique and fascinating culture of Iran. You’ll have a great time!

Is Iran an Arab Country?

There is a common misconception that Iran is an Arab country, fueled by its location in the Middle East, Muslim religion, and some similarities in culture and language. However, it’s important to note that Iran is not an Arab country, and Iranians are not Arabs.

Iranians speak Persian, also known as Farsi, which is not the same as Arabic. While there are many languages spoken within Iran, including Kurdish, Turkish, and Khuzi Arabic, the primary language is Persian. This is due to the many different ethnic groups that exist within the country, each with its own unique language and cultural traditions.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that misinterpreting Iranians as Arabs can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Although Iran has certain similarities with Middle Eastern Arab nations, it possesses a unique culture and history that distinguishes it.

In essence, when traveling to Iran, it’s vital to maintain an open-minded attitude and a genuine desire to explore the country’s distinctive cultural traditions and history. By recognizing the differences between Iran and its neighboring Arab nations, you can develop a greater appreciation for the richness and diversity of the entire region.

The Iranian currency system can be a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with it. Iran uses two units of currency, the Rial (IRR) and the Toman.

The Rial is the official currency of Iran. It has been the official currency since 1932, and the symbol for the Rial is “﷼”.

The Toman is not an official currency but is widely used in everyday transactions in Iran. The Toman is equal to 10 Rials. This practice of using the Toman as a unit of currency dates back to the early 20th century when the value of the Rial significantly decreased due to inflation. 

To convert Rials to Tomans, you remove one zero from the Rial amount. For example, 1,000 Rials is equivalent to 100 Tomans. In practice, prices are often quoted in Tomans rather than Rials. For instance, if an item costs 10,000 Rials, it would be referred to as 1,000 Tomans. This pricing convention is used in everyday life, in markets, shops, and sometimes even on price tags.

The official currency notes in Iran are denominated in Rials, not Tomans. When you’re working with important papers, like contracts or international deals, you’ll often use the Rial as the currency.

The currency notes come in various denominations, including 1,000,000 Rials, 500,000 Rials, 100,000 Rials, 50,000 Rials , and so on.

Although the official currency is the Rial, the Toman is more commonly used and understood by Iranians in their daily lives. For example, if someone says a product costs 500,000, they most likely mean 500,000 Tomans, which is equal to 5,000,000 Rials.

Iran Travel Costs 2024: The Best Detailed Guide for Tourists

Currency Exchange in Iran

To get the best exchange rates , it’s recommended to take US Dollars or Euros with you and exchange them at reputable exchange offices. Let’s figure out more about exchanging money in Iran:

There are a few ways to exchange your money into Rials, and some are safer than others:

  • One option is to go to the currency exchange at the airport. It’s a secure choice, but the exchange rate there might not be as good as what you’d find in the market.
  • Another way is to exchange your money at the hotel or exchange offices in some hotels. Their rates are similar to what you’d get at the airport.
  • If you’re in Tehran, you can also sell your foreign currency on Ferdowsi Street or at exchange offices in the city. These places have a wider range of rates, and they’re usually better than the airport rates.

The only catch is that you might not be headed to Ferdowsi Street on your trip. If you plan to visit the Tehran market, you can ask your guide (if you have one) to take you to Ferdowsi Street for currency exchange.

Just remember, it’s not a good idea to deal with people on the street who are buying and selling currency. Stick to the official exchange places for your safety.

Credit and Debit Cards during Iran Travel

ToIranTour - Credit card and Debit card in Iran Travel

If you’re planning a trip to Iran, it’s essential to understand the financial landscape and the options available for making transactions. Unfortunately, using credit or debit cards from outside of Iran is not possible due to the lack of an international card network.

This means that the best option is to bring enough cash with you to convert to an Iranian Rial. However, there is now a new option available for tourists and temporary visitors like the Mah Card and Irani Card .

The Mah Card is a prepaid debit card that can be used in Iran. Like most travel cards, you can instantly add funds to your card in your preferred or home currency, and it will be converted to Iranian Rial. The advantage of using the Mah Card is that it’s more convenient than carrying cash, protects you from unauthorized purchases, and is accepted country-wide.

So, if you’re looking for a safe and easy way to make transactions during your trip to Iran, consider getting a Mah Card. With this handy tool in your pocket, you can enjoy your travels without worrying about carrying large amounts of cash or the inconvenience of finding exchange offices.

Of course, there are other solutions, such as gift cards that are issued through banks, and to use this unofficial solution, you should ask your tour operator for help.

Public Transport in Iran

Exploring Iran’s cities is an adventure in itself, and luckily, there are plenty of public transport options available to help you get around!

Best Inner-City Transport Options

Metro (subway).

ToIranTour - Tehran Metro - Iran Transportation

The Iranian Metro is a modern and efficient way to explore the city, especially in Tehran, Shiraz, Tabriz, Mashhad, and Isfahan. It’s the ideal option to get around Tehran, and the stations are easily accessible by taxi or bus.

The ticket price for one trip is about 3000 Tomans, which is equal to approximately 0.1$ in 2023, I know, it’s so cheap. Additionally, you can purchase a card to pay for the metro trips and even the buses in Tehran. Rush hours are typically from 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.

The metro guidance can be easily found in each station, but if you want to be prepared for your metro journey, check out the Tehran Metro website or other cities’ maps.

Buses are another popular option for inner-city transport in Iran. They are widely available and offer an affordable way to get around the city. Bus fares vary depending on the distance you are traveling, but they are generally inexpensive.

There are two main types of buses in big cities: Regular and BRT. You can pay for the buses using your Metro card, and fares typically range from 3000 to 10,000 Tomans (10 to 25 cents) per trip. You can easily locate all the bus and BRT stations on Google Maps.

In comparison to subways, buses are somehow time-consuming because of traffic jams. So, if your destination is near a subway station, our suggestion is to take the subway instead of the bus.

Another way to get around in the city is by taxi. There are different types of taxis available, including shuttle/shared taxis (Khatti in Farsi), private taxis (Darbast in Farsi), and non-registered taxis (Shakhsi in Farsi). Shuttle/shared taxis are a cheaper option, but they are for fixed destinations, and you may have to wait for the taxi to fill up. Private taxis are readily available, but you should negotiate the fare before getting in. Non-registered taxis are driven by people who are not licensed taxi drivers, and you need to negotiate the price with them too. It is advisable to get a shared Taxi or Private Taxi and not a non-registered one for your safety.

Of course, platforms such as Snapp and Tapsi have been launched, which have a function similar to Uber. You can download their applications from Google Play or directly from their websites and register with your Iranian SIM card.

Finally, if you need a taxi in a hurry, you can call the numbers 133, 1828, and 1833 in major cities in Iran to request a taxi wherever you are. This service is called “Bisim Taxi” and is available 24/7.

10 Essential Apps for Traveling to Iran: Empowering Your Exploration!

Intra-City Transport Options

Buses are a common and affordable way to travel between cities in Iran. There are two types of buses available: regular and VIP buses. VIP buses offer more legroom and comfortable seating, with space to almost lie down.

You can purchase bus tickets from the hotel front desk, local travel agencies, platforms such as SnappTrip, or directly from the bus terminal. Prices vary depending on the type of bus and the distance you are traveling. For instance, a VIP ticket from Tehran to Shiraz costs around 200,000 Tomans ($15).

There are three bus terminals in Tehran: Jonoub Terminal (South), Sharq Terminal (East), and Qarb or Bayhaghi Terminal (West). From these terminals, you can easily buy and board a bus and start your trip to other cities in Iran.

The train network in Iran is relatively extensive and offers a comfortable and scenic way to travel between cities. The trains are well-maintained and offer a range of seating options, from economy to first-class; But their speed and being on time cannot be compared with the European rail transport system.

Trains are the best and safest option for intercity travel in Iran. There are different types of trains available, including 4-bed, 6-bed, and bus trains. You can also choose between express and regular trains.

Book train tickets through online apps, local travel agencies, hotels, or directly at the train station. Prices vary depending on the distance and the type of train. For example, a ticket from Tehran to Yazd costs between 150,000 and 300,000 Tomans ($5 to $10).

Private Car

If you prefer a more flexible and personalized way to travel, you can also consider renting a private car with a driver. This option is more expensive than buses or trains, but it offers the freedom to explore at your own pace. 

The Maxim platform has also provided the possibility of renting a car with a driver at a very reasonable price all over Iran. You can download its application from Google Play and register with your Iranian SIM card.

Domestic Flight

Finally, if you’re short on time or traveling long distances, you can opt for a domestic flight. The major cities in Iran are well-connected by domestic airlines, making it easy to get around the country quickly and efficiently.

Online platforms for selling Air tickets, such as Alibaba, provide the online purchase of domestic and international flight tickets.

By understanding the different transport options available in Iran, you can choose the one that suits your needs and budget and explore the country with ease.

Separated Men’s and Women’s Carriages in Iran’s Public Transport

ToIranTour - Teheran Metro women only

It’s important to note that there are some separate men’s and women’s carriages on public transport in Iran, both on the metro and buses for those women who prefer to use them. While subway cars are generally mixed-gender, women who want more privacy can choose to ride in the first and last wagon on both sides. On buses, there may be designated seating areas for men and women, with women sitting in the back and men in the front, or vice versa. However, couples can sit together in the men’s section but not in the women’s section. Respecting these gender-segregated arrangements while using public transport in Iran is essential.

Pre-register with the Foreign Office of Your Country

Before embarking on your journey to Iran, it’s important to research the specific travel regulations, rules, and warnings for your home country. Each country has its own guidelines, and it’s critical to be aware of them before setting off on your adventure. 

To ensure your safety and peace of mind, it’s also a good idea to pre-register or alert your foreign office about your travel plans. This step is particularly important for British citizens , as there is no embassy representation in Iran. By registering with your foreign office, you can stay informed about any updates or changes in travel regulations or warnings.

It is important to note that certain travel insurance providers may ask you to inform the appropriate authorities about your travel plans before you can obtain coverage. To ensure that you are fully protected, it is essential to identify which authorities you need to inform before you leave.

By taking these steps before your trip, you can travel to Iran with confidence, knowing that you have done your due diligence to ensure your safety and security.

Internet Access during Iran Travel

ToIranTour - Internet in Iran

When traveling to Iran, it’s important to anticipate limited internet access and mandatory “digital filtering.” The Internet connection in Iran is known for being frustratingly slow, and many popular social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp are blocked. Additionally, you need to pay fees for a good connection.

Make sure that you inform your family members or friends that you may be out of touch and to prepare for unreliable internet.

Recommended SIM Cards to Use in Iran

When it comes to buying a SIM card in Iran, Irancell is the top phone operator and offers temporary SIM cards specifically designed for tourists. These SIM cards come pre-loaded with a credit balance and 4G internet access, allowing you to stay connected with ease. They are sold at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and are valid for 30 days.

Irancell’s temporary tourist SIM cards provide affordable and convenient connectivity throughout Iran.

You can buy regular Irancell SIM cards from their service centers located in almost every city. However, it’s important to note that you need to purchase charge and internet packages before using them. To do so, you can get assistance from Irancell staff at the centers, use the MTN Irancell application, or dial USSD codes.

Which VPN to use in Iran?

Staying connected while traveling in Iran can present unique challenges, particularly when it comes to accessing the internet and using your preferred VPN. To ensure that you can stay connected and protect your online privacy, it’s essential to find the right VPN for your needs.

There are several VPN options available for both Android and IOS users. For Android users, Hi VPN, Psiphon, v2ray, and Hotspot Shield are recommended, each offering reliable and secure connections. For IOS users, popular VPN options include Psiphon, Free VPN, and VPNProxyMaster, all of which are well-suited to use in Iran.

To have a suitable and safe VPN, you can ask your tour operator or tour guide for help. If you have any questions or help do not hesitate to ask To Iran Tour support team.

Persian Food

Iran is well-known for its varied and flavorful cuisine. If you’re a foodie who loves trying new things, you should definitely give Persian cuisine a try! Some must-try dishes include stews, Dizi (a lamb-based dish with broth and solids separated), Ash, and Haleem. To ensure you have the best experience, it’s important to do some research and find the top restaurants that serve these dishes so you can truly savor the flavors of Iran.

Persian Breakfast Guide: Irresistible Traditions!

Iranian food for vegetarians

In Iranian cuisine, meat is a staple ingredient, but there are also numerous vegetarian dishes that are just as delectable. Mirza-Ghasemi or Kashk-e Badenjan, both made with eggplant, are excellent choices. If you’re on a tight budget, go for Falafel, which is both inexpensive and delicious. However, it’s crucial to convey your dietary requirements to the restaurant staff and be ready to request that meat be omitted from your meal if needed.

By being open to trying new dishes, you can experience the rich and diverse cuisine of Iran with a little extra effort and creativity.

Drinking in Iran

When it comes to drinking in Iran, it’s important to note that alcohol is strictly prohibited, and there are no bars or clubs serving alcoholic beverages. Instead, you’ll find a variety of non-alcoholic beer options available, typically in fruity flavors such as peach, lemon, strawberry, etc.

Alcohol in Iran: A Complete Guide for Tourists

It’s important to understand that there are no exceptions when it comes to alcohol consumption in Iran, whether you’re a local or a traveler. While it’s tempting to take up offers from locals to find the “real deal” at underground gatherings, it’s not worth the risk. The punishment for alcohol possession or consumption can be severe, and there are no allowances made for tourists or visitors.

Did you know that Buttermilk, or “Doogh” as it’s called in Iran, is a delicious fermented dairy drink? It has a slightly sour taste and is often paired with dried herbs like mint for a refreshing flavor. It is very common to enjoy Doogh besides any kind of kebab.

Iranian Etiquette

When visiting Iran, it’s important to be aware of and respectful of the cultural and religious customs that may differ from your own. By following these customs, you can demonstrate your appreciation for Iranian culture and enjoy your trip to the fullest. Here are some etiquette guidelines and fascinating insights into Iranian culture to keep in mind:

  • One of the primary forms of social etiquette is “ Taarof” , where Iranians may insist on offering things to people, even if they don’t mean it. As a visitor, it is important to be aware of local customs and not immediately accept an offer.
  • During the Muharram month , which is the mourning month of Imam Hossein, to show respect for religious beliefs, it’s best to avoid wearing bright colors, especially red.
  • During Ramadan, eating or drinking in public is disrespectful while most people are fasting during the day.
  • Shaking hands between men and women can be a delicate matter, and it is generally unacceptable for unrelated men and women to engage in this gesture. As a female tourist, it is advisable to wait and observe if men initiate the handshake first, instead of initiating it yourself.
  • The thumbs-up hand signal is OKAY in Iran, but it is better not to use it in the presence of older people. However, younger people understand its meaning.
  • In Iran, there are certain limitations when it comes to public displays of affection. While affectionate gestures like touching, kissing and handshakes between family members are acceptable, French kissing is considered inappropriate. Holding hands is generally tolerated, but hugging might be regarded as crossing the line. It’s important to note that inside holy places and religious cities, any public display of affection may not be tolerated at all.

For a truly enriching travel experience, it’s important to embrace and appreciate the customs and culture of Iran. By respecting their traditions, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and connection to the country and its people.

Time in Iran and the Solar Calendar

ToIranTour - Clock Building Municipality Palace - Tabriz

The country operates on Iran Standard Time (IRST), which is UTC+3:30.

The Solar Hijri Calendar

The solar calendar used in Iran is known as the Iranian calendar or the Persian calendar . It is a type of solar calendar that is based on the astronomical observations of the Sun’s movement. The calendar has its roots in ancient Persia and has undergone several modifications throughout history to align it with various astronomical and cultural considerations.

Here are some key differences between the Iranian calendar and the commonly used Gregorian calendar:

  • Starting point: The Iranian calendar starts from the year of the Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. This event occurred in 622 CE in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the Iranian year is approximately 621 years behind the Gregorian year.
  • Length of the year: The Iranian calendar is a solar calendar that consists of 12 months, each with varying lengths. The total length of a year in the Iranian calendar is approximately 365 or 366 days, depending on whether it is a leap year or not. Leap years occur every four years and consist of an additional day, just like in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Naming of the months: The Iranian calendar has its own set of month names, which are deeply rooted in Persian culture and history. The names of the months are as follows: Farvardin, Ordibehesht, Khordad, Tir, Mordad, Shahrivar, Mehr, Aban, Azar, Dey, Bahman, and Esfand.
  • Different New Year: The Iranian New Year , known as Nowruz, is celebrated on the vernal equinox, which usually falls on March 20th or 21st in the Gregorian calendar. Nowruz marks the beginning of spring and is one of the most significant holidays in Iran and several other countries in the region.
  • Different era: The Iranian calendar uses the Islamic lunar Hijri era, which began with the Hijra mentioned earlier. In contrast, the Gregorian calendar uses the widely accepted Common Era (CE) system.

Time is a curious thing. It flows differently for each culture and place, shaped by history, geography, and tradition.

While visiting Iran, it’s best to keep an open mind when it comes to timeframes. It’s a good idea to bring along some extra patience and be ready to go with the flow. This is especially true when it comes to food, service, and payment. By embracing the relaxed pace of life in Iran, you can fully immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy a more laid-back travel experience.

Read more on Iran’s History and Iran Travel

ToIranTour - Tehran from above - Iran Travel

Iran boasts a complex and fascinating history, which can be difficult to comprehend without prior knowledge. Even though tour guides can be informative, it’s recommended to do some research on the history of Persia and the events leading up to the Iranian Revolution in 1979 before embarking on a trip to Iran. This will enable you to gain a better understanding of the country’s composition and value its abundant cultural heritage.

Book Recommendation

Here are some excellent books to read before your trip:

  • “Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic” by Michael Axworthy provides a comprehensive overview of recent Iranian history.
  • “Iran: What Everyone Needs to Know” is also by Axworthy and delves into Iran’s economy, politics, culture, and people.
  • “Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from Her Father’s Harem Through the Islamic Revolution” is a fascinating book. The story follows a woman born in Iran who went to study in the United States and later returned to the country amidst significant changes.

If you’re traveling in Iran, the Lonely Planet guidebook can be a valuable resource for exploring historical landmarks. While it’s not the only source of information, it’s a helpful tool to have with you since internet access in Iran may be limited.

To make the most of your trip to Iran, it’s a great idea to get to know its history and culture beforehand. Trust me, it will definitely enhance your travel experience!

FAQs about Visiting Iran

Q1: do i need a visa to visit iran.

A1: Yes, most travelers require a visa to enter Iran. You can obtain one through an Iranian embassy or consulate in your home country. There are some countries that can travel to Iran without a visa, and there are also some countries that can get their visa on arrival.

Q2: What is the best time to visit Iran?

A2: Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are ideal times to visit, as the weather is mild, and many attractions are at their best. But Iran has varied weather across different regions. For instance, the ideal season to tour Iranian deserts is winter.

Q3: Is it safe to travel to Iran?

A3: Iran is generally safe for tourists, with low crime rates. However, it’s essential to stay informed about the current political situation and follow local guidelines.

Q4: What is the official currency in Iran?

A4: The official currency is the Iranian Rial (IRR), but you’ll commonly see prices quoted in Toman, which is equivalent to 10 Rials.

Q5: Can I use my credit card in Iran?

A5: No, international credit and debit cards are not widely accepted in Iran. Bring cash in US dollars or Euros and exchange it locally.

Q6: Is it safe for solo female travelers in Iran?

A6: Yes, Iran is considered safe for solo female travelers, but it’s important to dress modestly and be aware of local customs and norms.

Q7: Can I drink alcohol in Iran?

No, alcohol is strictly prohibited in Iran due to Islamic law. You won’t find it in public places.

Q8: What languages are spoken in Iran?

Persian (Farsi) is the official language, but many Iranians also speak English, especially in tourist areas.

Q9: Can I use social media in Iran?

Most social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are blocked in Iran. However, you can access them using a VPN.

Q10: What is Iran famous for?

Iran is famous for its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, and stunning architecture. It’s renowned for attractions like the ancient city of Persepolis, the vibrant bazaars of Isfahan and Tabriz, and the beautiful mosques, such as the Pink Mosque in Shiraz. Iran is also known for its contributions to literature, poetry, and art, with famous poets like Rumi and Hafez hailing from this region. Additionally, Iran is celebrated for its world-class Persian rugs, saffron production, and traditional handicrafts.

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2 weeks north iran itinerary.

Khalid Nabi shrine

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our  disclaimer  here.

The north of Iran has an entirely different landscape from the rest of the country. Mountains covered with vast forests, tropical jungles, holiday resorts along the Caspian sea, and the reputed cities of Tabriz, Ramsar , Rasht, and the holy city, Mashhad, are the main attractions. Tehrani people love heading to the green north, especially during the hot summer weekends. You can start visiting the north of Iran from the northwest and finish in the holy city, Mashhad, with a possible extension towards South Khorasan. This is a more off-the-beaten-track part of Iran with less information available. That’s why I made this ultimate travel guide and north Iran itinerary that contains the essentials to travel around Zanjan, East Azerbaijan, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan, and Razavi Khorasan provinces.  

Important things to know about traveling to northern Iran?

Northern Iran, characterized by the Caspian Sea, with extensive beaches and holiday resorts, is one of the most beautiful places in Iran. It is the biggest lake on earth (372 000 km2), divided among five countries: Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. The legal status of the Caspian Sea had been long debated until an agreement put an end to that in 2018. It was a crucial subject concerning the fact that the Caspian Sea has significant oil and gas reserves. With the currently increasing European need for gas, the lake is expected to be geopolitically even more important. 

The first question to be clarified at the summit was whether it is a sea or a lake, which defines how the mineral sources can be exploited. They decided it was neither a sea nor a lake; instead, it should enjoy a Special Legal Status. However, many Iranians were disappointed by the agreement saying that the country should have achieved a better deal.  

Do you want to know more about Iran? Here is a list of the best books to read about Iran (constantly updated)

The Caspian Sea provides 80-90% of the world’s caviar and the best quality. However, you get disappointed if you expect to find caviar everywhere in Iran because there isn’t. Almost all the caviar is exported abroad.  

Northern Iran does not have as extraordinary historical monuments as the classical itinerary with Tehran, Isfahan, or Shiraz. It is more the versatile landscape that makes the trip memorable.  

45 tips and must knows before traveling to Iran

Iran is a blend of multiple ethnic groups with different traditions, languages, and mentalities. The people of the north of Iran belong to the Turc/Azeri, Gilak, Tat, Mazani, Turkmen ethnic group and speak that as their first language. 

Here is the list of the best books about Iran to prepare for your trip

Shared taxis are available in most places; however, keep in my mind that the transport connection between the cities in the north is not as frequent as between the most touristic cities (Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd, and Shiraz). You probably need to wait longer until a shared taxi gets full, or there is only a private taxi available. There is no public transport at some places, and you need to ask someone to give you a lift. Don’t worry; many people are happy to take you for some extra money during these hard times in Iran. 

Most people in northwestern Iran speak various languages (Turkish, Azeri, Farsi), but only a few speak English, which makes it a bit more challenging to communicate and get information. People of the northern provinces (Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan) speak Gilaki, Mazani, Tati and Turkmen languages. In the West, people mostly speak Kurdish. This is not something that should deter you from traveling there.

They say that the best quality rice is found in northern Iran, in Gilan province, which they also use for making sweets. Due to the proximity of the Caspian sea, fish specialties are more widespread than in other parts of Iran. Garlic is one of the main ingredients of northern meals. 

Akbar Joojeh

Takht-e Soleyman (The Throne of Solomon) Ruins

From the Behestan Castle, you can continue towards Takht-e Soleyman. 

The complex of ruins around a crater lake with a depth of 12 m is still one of the most impressive attractions of western Iran in a stunning landscape.

Takht-e Soleyman was a spiritual and religious center during the Sassanian dynasty when Zoroastrianism was the state religion. The presence of water was essential in the pre-Islamic religion that respects the four elements of nature: wind, water, earth, and fire. They also say it is the birthplace of Prophet Zoroaster, the founder of the religion. 

Takht-e Soleyman

Mulberry gardens in June

If you are in Urmia in June, you can go to one of the private  mulberry gardens  in the city. 

The impressive bastion-shaped tomb from the Seljuk times (12-13th century) is one of Urmia’s most important historical attractions. The tomb was built of stone and brick with Kufic inscriptions inside, while the portal has decorative muqarnas, a typical element of Islamic architecture. The mausoleum is in the center of the city in the middle of a park with several other graves. 

Urmia Segonbad

by Ramin Paknejad

A tour guide in Iran for cultural and cycling tours with ten years of experience who jumps on every opportunity to bike long distances. After the start of the Syria war, he and his team completed the 5900km Tehran-Istanbul-Tehran “cycling for peace project”. His big dream is to bike from the North Cape of Norway to Cape Town in South Africa as soon as visa restrictions are eased.

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Is travel insurance refundable here’s everything you need to know.

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Sometimes, travel insurance is refundable. Here's when you can get your money back.

Peter Hoagland always checks to see if his travel insurance is refundable. That's because anything can happen between the time you book your vacation and when you leave — and because travel insurance isn't always refundable.

During the pandemic, he discovered that the hard way. He had to cancel a trip and asked for his money back from the insurance company. It refused.

"Since then, I always read the fine print on the policy," he says.

The refundability of travel insurance has always been an open question. Some countries and U.S. states regulate refundability. Travel insurance companies put refundability details in the fine print of the policy. And, as Hoagland found out, there are always exceptions.

Like the pandemic, when refund policies were all over the map. Some insurance companies adhered to their published policies. Others offered a credit that could be reused within a year, which was minimally useful because the pandemic was still happening a year later. Others quietly gave their customers a refund.

Hoagland says he fought for his money. Eventually, he contacted a manager at his travel insurance company.

"That produced a quick result," he says. "I got my money back."

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But let's face it: Getting a refund for travel insurance can be difficult. There are times when insurance is always refundable because it's required by law. There are times when it's sometimes refundable. And there are times when it's almost never refundable. But even then, there may be a way to recover some — or all — of the value of your policy.

Getting a refund for travel insurance can be a challenge

If you have a travel insurance policy and would like to get a refund, it might be easier said than done, say experts.

"While travel insurance is regulated like auto and home insurance, it’s often less standardized," says Stuart Winchester, CEO of Marble, a digital wallet for your insurance. "So first off, it’s important to check the fine print of your specific policy. Don’t assume it’s like the last one you got."

Even when you have something in writing, a refund can require some serious negotiating skills.

"Getting a refund for travel insurance can be complicated and frustrating," says Peter Hamdy, the managing director of a tour operator in Auckland, New Zealand. He's asked for a refund on policies numerous times and says that despite what travel insurance companies may tell you, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to getting a refund on your policy.

"Some situations can warrant a refund," he says. "It depends on your policy."

What does a typical refundability clause look like? For example, the World Explorer Guardian from Insured Nomads notes that it's refundable only during the 10-day review period from the date of delivery or 15 days from the date of delivery if mailed, provided you have not already departed on your trip and you have not incurred any claimable losses during that time. If you depart on your trip before the expiration of the review period, the review period ends and the policy can't be refunded.

"We go a bit further with our World Explorer Travel Medical plans," notes Andrew Jernigan, CEO of Insured Nomads. "If no claims have been filed then we can refund the unused portion of the policy if you cut your trip short.”

When can you get a refund for travel insurance?

Here are the most common cases where travel insurance can be refunded:

  • If you cancel during the "free look" period required by the government. Most states require what's called a "free look" period of anywhere from 10 to 14 days. "During this period, travelers can review the purchase and make sure it fits their needs," explains James Nuttall, general manager of Insubuy . "If it does not, they can cancel it for any reason and get a full refund, no questions asked, so long as you haven’t departed yet.
  • If you cancel during the travel insurance company grace period. Many insurance companies also have a grace period for refunds (usually, they are the same as the "free look" although some grace periods can be longer). "If you’re outside your grace period, which typically lasts one to two weeks after signing, you’re contractually obliged to pay your premiums," says David Ciccarelli, CEO of the vacation rental site Lake . "Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask your company for a refund or alternative options if you’re outside your grace window. You might not get a yes, but it could lead to some cost savings or better solutions."
  • When someone else cancels your trip. "For instance, if your cruise is canceled due to low river tide, you are not at fault and would typically receive a full refund or credit for a future sailing, thus eliminating the need for the travel insurance policy," explains Rhonda Abedsalam vice president of travel insurance for AXA Assistance US.
  • If you die. Typically, the policy would be refunded to your next of kin. Generally, you can also ask for a refund if your travel companion dies before your trip.

Remember, it depends on where you buy your insurance

The refundability of your insurance can depend on where you purchased it. Commercial policies bought from a cruise or tour company are generally canceled and refunded if you cancel the trip far enough in advance of your departure date.

"The travel insurance cancellation provisions are generally tied to the cancellation provisions for the cruise or tour," explains Dan Skilken, president of . "After you have paid the last deposits on the cruise and are close enough to departure that they will not provide a refund on the cruise, they generally will also not provide a refund on the travel insurance. But if you cancel early enough to get all or most of your deposit back, you will also get your travel insurance premium refunded."

If you’ve purchased retail travel insurance from a third-party provider or comparison website, you can often get a refund if you can show receipts proving that you received a full refund of all trip deposits and have not had any cancellation penalties or taken any travel credits when you canceled your trip.

That's because retail travel insurance is sold for a specific traveler and for a specific trip. If you have proof of a complete refund and have not received travel credits, then you no longer have what's called an "insurable interest" in the trip. The insurance company must cancel and refund your premium in full, says Skilken.

Insider tip: If the insurance company refuses, just tell them you have proof that you no longer have an insurable interest in the trip. You have to have an insurable interest in a trip to own a travel insurance policy.

Your agent may be able to help you get a refund

You may also be able to lean on the agent who sold you the policy. For example, all policies on Squaremouth come with a money-back guarantee.

"The purpose of this benefit is to give travelers extra time to review their policy documentation to be sure it’s the best policy for their coverage needs," says spokeswoman Jenna Hummer. At Squaremouth, the money-back period typically lasts between 10 and 14 days, which is in line with the mandated "free look" period.

However, I have also seen agents negotiate with travel insurance companies for a more generous refund period in case of extenuating circumstances. There's no guarantee that you'll get it, but it's worth asking — and one reason to work with a third party.

Agents can also help you avoid this problem. Susan Sherren, who runs Couture Trips , a travel agency, notes that American Airlines Vacation Packages offers a predeparture protection insurance plan, which allows cancellation for any reason before the outbound departing flight time. Other restrictions apply, she adds.

"More flexibility will often cost you more," she says. "But having the flexibility is a great way to sleep well at night."

Can't get a refund? Look for other kinds of flexibility from your travel insurance company

Even if your travel insurance company says no to a refund, it doesn't necessarily mean you've lost the value of your policy.

"If a travel supplier changes or cancels your trip, you should be able to change your travel insurance policy to match the new dates of your trip or even cover a new trip, sometimes up to two years into the future," says Daniel Durazo, director of external communications at Allianz Partners USA .

Pro tip: Be sure to change the dates of your travel insurance policy before the departure date of your current itinerary. You can do that online or by calling your agent. Once the policy's effective date has passed, making any changes or initiating a refund or credit becomes much more difficult.

Don't forget to do your due diligence

Bottom line: Travel insurance is refundable under certain circumstances. But knowing when can require research.

"It's important for consumers to carefully read their policy upon receipt to understand the specific terms offered by their insurance provider," says Robert Gallagher, president of the US Travel Insurance Association.

The more you know, the likelier you are to get the refund you want when your plans change.

Christopher Elliott

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As China and Iran hunt for dissidents in the US, the FBI is racing to counter the threat

American officials say foreign countries like China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. They show the frightening consequences that geopolitical tensions can have on ordinary citizens.

Wu Jianmin speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Washington. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. Jianmin, a former student leader in China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, was targeted in 2020 by a group of protesters outside his home in Irvine, Calif. The harassment lasted more than two months. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Wu Jianmin speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Washington. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. Jianmin, a former student leader in China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, was targeted in 2020 by a group of protesters outside his home in Irvine, Calif. The harassment lasted more than two months. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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FILE - Masih Alinejad is interviewed outside Manhattan federal court, April 7, 2023, in New York. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. “We’re not living in fear, we’re not living in paranoia, but the reality is very clear — that the Islamic Republic wants us dead, and we have to look over our shoulder every day,” the Iranian journalist said. (AP Photo/Lawrence Neumeister, File)

A van parked outside Bob Fu’s home in Midland, Texas in the Fall of 2020, accuses the Chinese-American Christian pastor of being a spy for the Chinese Communist Party. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. Fu, whose organization, ChinaAid, advocates for religious freedom in China, said he has endured far-ranging harassment campaigns for years. Large crowds arriving at his home by bus in well-coordinated actions he believes can be linked to the Chinese government. (Bob Fu via AP)

In this image taken from video, Chinese-American Christian pastor Bob Fu speaks during an interview on April 5, 2024. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. Fu, whose organization, ChinaAid, advocates for religious freedom in China, said he has endured far-ranging harassment campaigns for years. Large crowds of demonstrators have amassed for days at a time outside his West Texas home, arriving by bus in well-coordinated actions he believes can be linked to the Chinese government. (AP Photo)

Protestors hold signs and chant outside Bob Fu’s home in Midland, Texas in the Fall of 2020, accusing the Chinese-American Christian pastor of being a spy for the Chinese Communist Party. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. Fu, whose organization, ChinaAid, advocates for religious freedom in China, said he has endured far-ranging harassment campaigns for years. Large crowds arriving at his home by bus in well-coordinated actions he believes can be linked to the Chinese government. (Bob Fu via AP)

Chinese protesters shout slogans and display a Covid-19 virus inflatable outside Wu Jianmin’s home in Irvine, Calif., in 2020. American officials say foreign countries like Iran and China intimidate, harass and sometimes plot violence against political opponents and activists in the U.S. For Jianmin, The harassment lasted more than two months. (Wu Jianmin via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a student leader of the historic Tiananmen Square protests entered a 2022 congressional race in New York, a Chinese intelligence operative wasted little time enlisting a private investigator to hunt for any mistresses or tax problems that could upend the candidate’s bid, prosecutors say.

“In the end,” the operative ominously told his contact, “violence would be fine too.”

As an Iranian journalist and activist living in exile in the United States aired criticism of Iran’s human rights abuses, Tehran was listening too. Members of an Eastern European organized crime gang scouted her Brooklyn home and plotted to kill her in a murder-for-hire scheme directed from Iran, according to the Justice Department, which foiled the plan and brought criminal charges.

The episodes reflect the extreme measures taken by countries like China and Iran to intimidate, harass and sometimes plot attacks against political opponents and activists who live in the U.S. They show the frightening consequences that geopolitical tensions can have for ordinary citizens as governments historically intolerant of dissent inside their own borders are increasingly keeping a threatening watch on those who speak out thousands of miles away.

“We’re not living in fear, we’re not living in paranoia, but the reality is very clear — that the Islamic Republic wants us dead, and we have to look over our shoulder every day,” the Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, said in an interview.

Police stand next to a black forensic tent in Grenfell Park, Tuesday May 21, 2024, in Maidenhead, England, west of London, where Matthew Trickett was found dead, Sunday, May 19. Trickett, one of three men charged earlier this month with assisting Hong Kong authorities with gathering intelligence in the United Kingdom, died in unexplained circumstances, British police said Tuesday. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

The issue has grabbed the attention of the Justice Department, which in the past five years has charged dozens of suspects with acts of transnational repression. Senior FBI officials told The Associated Press that the tactics have grown more sophisticated, including the hiring of proxies like private investigators and organized crime leaders, and countries are more willing to cross “serious red lines” from harassment into violence as they seek to project power abroad and stifle dissent.

Foreign adversaries are increasingly making well-funded intimidation campaigns a priority for their intelligence services, and more countries — including some not seen as traditionally antagonistic to the U.S. — have targeted critics in America and elsewhere in the West, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss their investigations.

The Justice Department, for instance, announced a disrupted plot last November to kill a Sikh activist in New York that officials said was directed by an Indian government official. Rwanda arrested Paul Rusesabagina of “Hotel Rwanda” fame and returned him to the country before releasing him back to the U.S. last year, and Saudi Arabia has harassed critics online and in person, the FBI has said.

“This is a huge priority for us,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the Justice Department’s top national security official, describing an “alarming rise” in government-directed harassment.

He said the prosecutions are meant not only to hold harassers accountable but to send a message that the actions are “unacceptable from the perspective of United States sovereignty and defending American values — values around free expression and free association.”

Other nations also have seen a spike in cases.

An April report from Reporters Without Borders called London a “hotspot” for Iranian attacks on Persian-language broadcasters, with British counterterrorism police investigating an attack one month earlier on an Iranian television presenter outside his home in London. In Britain and elsewhere in Europe, harassment and attacks targeting Russians, including a journalist who fell ill from a suspected poisoning in Germany , have long been blamed on Russia’s intelligence operatives despite denials from Moscow.

Inside the U.S., the trend is all the more worrisome because of an ever-deteriorating relationship with Iran and tensions with China over everything from trade and theft of intellectual property to election interference. And emerging technologies like generative AI are likely to be exploited for future harassment, U.S. intelligence officials said in a recent threat assessment .

“Transnational repression is a manifestation of the broader conflict between authoritarian regimes and democratic countries,” Olsen said. “It’s been a consistent theme of the way the world is changing from a geopolitical standpoint over the last decade.”


Two of the leading culprits, officials and advocates say, are China and Iran.

Emails to the Iranian mission at the United Nations were not returned. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington disputed that the country engages in the practice, saying in a statement that the government “strictly abides by international law, and fully respects the law enforcement sovereignty of other countries.”

“We resolutely oppose ‘long-arm jurisdiction,’” the statement said.

Yet U.S. officials say China created a program to do exactly that, launching “Operation Fox Hunt” to track down Chinese expatriates wanted by Beijing, with a goal of bullying them into returning to face charges.

A former city government official in China living in New Jersey found a note in Chinese characters taped to his front door that said: “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison your wife and children will be all right. That’s the end of this matter!” according to a 2020 Justice Department case charging a group of Chinese operatives and an American private investigator.

Though most defendants charged in transnational repression plots are based in their home country, making arrests and prosecutions infrequent, that particular case led to convictions last year of the private investigator and two Chinese citizens living in the U.S.

Bob Fu, a Chinese American Christian pastor whose organization, ChinaAid, advocates for religious freedom in China, said he has endured far-ranging harassment campaigns for years. Large crowds of demonstrators have amassed for days at a time outside his west Texas home, arriving in well-coordinated actions he believes can be linked to the Chinese government.

Phony hotel reservations have been made in his name, along with bogus bomb threats to police stating that he planned to detonate explosives. Flyers depicting him as the devil have been distributed to neighbors. He said he’s learned to take precautions when he travels, including asking his staff not to post his itinerary in advance, and relocated from his home at what he said was law enforcement’s urging.

“I’m not really feeling safe,” Fu told AP. When it comes to returning to China, where he was raised and left more than 25 years ago as a religious refugee, he said: “I may be able to travel back, but it’s a one-way ticket. I’m sure I’m on their wanted list.”

Wu Jianmin, a former student leader in China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, was targeted in 2020 by a group of protesters outside his home in Irvine, California. The harassment lasted more than two months.

“They shouted slogans outside my home and made verbal abuses,” he said. “They paraded in the neighborhood, distributed all sorts of pictures and flyers, and put them in the neighbors’ mailboxes.”

The perpetrators of harassment plots, Wu believes, include retired Communist Party members living in the U.S., their children, members of Chinese associations with close links to the Chinese government and even fugitives seeking bargains with Beijing.

“The end goal is the same,” Wu said in an interview in Mandarin Chinese. “Their task, as assigned by the Communist Party, is to suppress overseas pro-democracy activists.”

Last year, the Justice Department charged about three dozen officers in China’s national police force with using social media to target dissidents inside the U.S., including by creating fake accounts that shared harassing videos and comments, and arrested two men who it says had helped establish a secret police outpost in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood on behalf of the Chinese government.

The year before, federal prosecutors in New York disclosed a series of wide-ranging plots to silence dissidents , like the scheme to dig up dirt about the little-known and ultimately unsuccessful congressional candidate.

Other targets have included American figure skater Alysa Liu and her father, Arthur, a political refugee who prosecutors say was surveilled by a man who posed as an Olympics committee member and asked them for their passport information.

A sculpture created by a dissident artist in California that depicted the coronavirus with the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping also was dismantled and burned to the ground.

“We should be under no illusion that somehow these are rogue actors or people that are unaffiliated with the Chinese government,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the top Democrat on a House select committee focused on China, said of the Chinese operatives who have been charged.


Sometimes violence has been planned in response to world events.

Prosecutors in 2022 charged an Iranian operative with offering $300,000 to “eliminate” Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton as payback for an airstrike that killed Iran’s most powerful general.

A fresh Tehran threat was disclosed this year when the Justice Department charged an Iranian whom officials identified as a drug trafficker and intelligence operative as well as two Canadians — one a “full-patch” member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang — in a murder-for-hire plot against two Iranians who had fled the country and were living in Maryland.

“We gotta erase his head from his torso,” one of the hired Canadians is accused of saying before the threat was disrupted.

Alinejad, the Iranian journalist, was targeted even before the murder-for-hire plot was announced by the Justice Department last year. Prosecutors in 2021 charged a group of Iranians said to be working at the behest of the country’s intelligence services with planning to kidnap her.

Alinejad remains a prominent journalist and vocal opposition activist and says she’s determined to keep speaking out, including at a sentencing hearing last year for a woman who prosecutors say unwittingly funded the kidnapping plot.

But the details of the plots are chillingly etched in her mind. The criminal cases laid bare the gravity of the threat she faced as well as the intrusive surveillance and the grisly preparations that were involved, including researching how to spirit Alinejad out of New York on a military-style speedboat and discussing lures for getting her from her home — such as asking for flowers from the garden outside.

One of the defendants in the murder-for-hire plot was arrested in 2022 after he was found driving around Alinejad’s Brooklyn neighborhood with a loaded rifle and rounds of ammunition. Another suspect was extradited from the Czech Republic in February to face charges . Two others also have been taken into custody.

The FBI disrupted the plot but also encouraged Alinejad to move, which she has done. But that also meant saying goodbye to her beloved garden, which had brought her joy as she gave homegrown cucumbers and other vegetables to neighbors.

“They didn’t kill me physically, but they killed my relationship with my garden, with my neighbors,” Alinejad said.


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