10 Things To See And Do In Kerman Iran You Absolutely Cannot Miss

1. Kaluts / Lut Desert

  • The trump card of this region, a trip out to the Lut Desert UNESCO Site to see the eerily barren wasteland is an absolute must. Out here – nothing at all grows, and dramatic erosional features known as Kaluts are the main drawcard.
  • The Kaluts is best seen at sunrise or sunset due to the dramatically changing color, you just can’t visit Kerman without making the trip out there.
  • Be careful in summer as the Lut Desert is one of the hottest and driest locations on Earth and you do not want to be outside in peak hours, though in winter you will need a jacket.
  • Be sure to spend a few hours wandering around, climbing and exploring this utterly unique natural phenomenon.

2. Bazar-e Sartasari

  • Kerman’s Grand Bazaar is one of the clear highlights of the central city and is one of the oldest Bazaar’s in Iran (after the UNESCO listed Bazaar in Tabriz).
  • With a classic vaulted ceiling and over 1.5 kilometers end-to-end there is plenty to explore here so take your time and don’t forget your camera: the friendly stall owners won’t mind a photo!  Pay special attention to the gold section and copper bazaar of Kerman held within – and look out for the bathhouse museum if you have extra time (or just stop in at  Hamam-e Vakil Chaykhaneh restaurant for some tea which is also built in a former bathhouse!).

3. Fath Abad Garden

  • Claimed to have been one of the most beautiful gardens in Persia, Fath Abad Garden until recently suffered years of neglect – had many of its trees dry up and died and has only just been beautifully restored bringing back something of its former glory. An important historical place from the Qajar period (constructed in 1870) it is famed for its long reflection pond and ornate architecture.
  • Surrounded by pistachio gardens, Fath Abad Garden in Kerman is best visited around sunset to appreciate its changing colors and the beautifully done night illuminations that will take your breath away.

4. Kerman Traditional Restaurants

  •     Cheaper than Tehran or other tourist towns in Iran – and just as good, Kerman is the place to let your taste buds experiment with locals flavors and spices. Most locations here can be found in beautiful spaces with low prices, but for the best food in town you need to check out Spakho Resturant Kerman for their opulent white interior and affordable salad and hot buffet at lunch.
  • In the evening head to Sindokht near the airport for atmospheric outdoor dining in summer or cozy interiors in winter, with large portions and plenty of traditional food options.

5. Bam and its Cultural Landscape

  • Bam – the famed sandcastle fortress of Iran, is found in a desert oasis just two hours drive south of Kerman. Tracing it’s origins back to the Achaemenid period (around 6th to 4th centuries BC), Bam later became an important crossroads on the Silk Road and with this importance (and money) came underground irrigation canals, the qanāts, and Arg-e Bam – the best example of a fortified medieval town using mud layers in the world.
  • Hit hard by the 2003 Bam Earthquake, experts have spent 15 years tirelessly restoring the site, and you can read more in this complete guide to Bam Iran.

6. Shazdeh Mahan Garden

  •     A UNESCO World Heritage site just 30 minutes south of Kerman, the Shazdeh Mahan Garden rise out of the arid-desert like a beautiful mirage and inside its internal walls is a glorious garden on Eden complete with tall trees and fresh water running straight from the mountain.
  • There are a tea-house and residence onsite and is best visited in the evening when the sun lights it up beautifully. Be aware however it undergoes maintenance in winter so might be quite ugly, and is worth calling ahead to see if this is the case when you are there as it does take away quite a bit of the spectacle.
  • A favorite place for lovers and families alive in Iran, be sure to take your time and amble slowly around.

7. Kerman Coffee Shops

  • While not having the diversity of delicious coffee that can be found on almost every corner in Tehran these days, Kerman is still joining the national trend and plenty of hip-new coffee shops have opened embracing the West’s love of caffeine.
  • Fulled with university students, free thinkers and plenty of people who would love to chat – Visitors to Kerman should not pass up the opportunity to experience this new and exciting trend in Iranian life that has only been allowed the last few years.
  • For the best experience, with great coffee and nice design try Cafe Tehran, Sefareshi, Barista or Bozrag (though this last one is more of a big, rip off Starbucks)

8. Akhaven Hotel

  • Sadly, for now, there are no hostels in Kerman and with most attractions being a good distance out of the city you will be in need of a trusty hotel.
  • We had Akhaven Hotel recommended to us by plenty of travelers and thought it was the perfect place from which to explore Kerman with clean rooms, many travelers passing through and breakfast included. Slightly kitschy in design, the real highlight here is the tour desk run by two brothers who can organize tours at a moments notice at far cheaper prices that we could find online (and three times cheaper than any taxi we asked).
  • Even if you don’t stay here I would recommend you check out their tour desk for the best prices in town – and friendly advice in fluent English!

9. Aramgah-e Shah Ne’matollah Vali in Mahan

  • The adjoining town of Mahan is famed for the grand mausoleum complex built to house the remains of Shah Ne’matollah Vali, a famed Persian poet who died in 1431. This is a country which loves it poets so the beautiful blue cupola and twin minarets from the Qajar period are not unexpected, nor is the praying chamber covered in ornate calligraphy.
  • Many day trips fro Kerman can easily include here, and while enjoying the two interior courtyards are free there is a charge for the main tomb if you want to see the 17m tall dome.

10. Rayen Fortress

  • Not quite as impressive as Bam Fortress, but significantly closer – Rayen is only an hour away from Kerman and gives an opportunity to experience one of Iran’s most impressive fortresses (without an Earthquake damage).
  • There was not even a guard when we turned up so we were free to explore around to our heart’s content including the well-resorted governor’s palace interior and surrounding courtyards. Do not try to access the upper-walls however as even if you find the way (there is one) it is dangerous, slippery and you will quickly be yelled at for being entirely stupid!
  • With plenty of dark passages, small rooms, and history – there is no reason not to visit both Rayen and Bam from Kerman on a day trip!

How To Get To Kerman Iran

  • Located in the south of Iran, getting to Kerman is easiest via bus, train and flight. There are direct flights to Tehran daily, domestic flights to most major cities in Iran and weekly flights to Dubai.
  • From Tehran the overnight sleeper train is the best option and takes around 15 hours, or you could take a bus from Tehran and other cities in Central Iran. As a major transport hub in Iran and the greater region you should have no problem getting and and out of Kerman.

Where To Go After Kerman When You Visit Iran

  • Planning on exploring more than just one city in Iran? Here are some great other guides and cities to continue on your trip around Iran – or you can just check out these top things to do in Iran.
  • And if you want even more adventure – and to get out into nature while exploring off-the-beaten-track in Iran – why not consider hiring a rental car in Iran?


  • It is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the center of the country. It is located 270 km southeast of Isfahan and is currently 15th largest city in Iran.
  • It is nicknamed the “city of wind catchers” from it many examples. It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire temples ,…. . Ab Anbar (cisterns),Qanat (under  ground channels),Yakhchals (coolers),Persian handicraft, handwoven cloth (Persian Termeh),silk weaving ,Persian cotton candy, it is known as city of bicycle ,because of its old history of bike riders, and the highest amount of bicycle per capita in Iran. Yazd tower of silence.

10 Amazing Things To Do In Yazd, Iran: A Storybook City Hidden In The Desert

1. Rooftop Cafes of Yazd

  • One of the best ways to experience Yazd is on one of it’s many, many iconic roof-top cafes!
  • Cool in summer and heated with plastic covers in winter, there is no better way to waste a few hours than taking in the surreal view with a cup of coffee and some traditional Yazd food. You should try as many as you can because each has a different view and style but three of my favorites where the Fazeli Hotel Coffee Shop for sunset, Cafe Fooka with its incredible milkshakes or Art House Cafe with its panoramic view of the entire old town.
  • There are however dozens to explore, so if you have the time – why not spend a day cafe-hopping in Yazd to find your preferred view?

2.Yazd Water Museum

  • The best museum in Iran to learn about the intriguing history of the qanats (underground aqueducts) of Iran, which have UNESCO World, Heritage Listing.
  • Yazd has some of the oldest and best-maintained qanats which were essential to this desert cities survival in the past as fresh, cold water was brought underground from nearby mountains. Spend your time exploring the history and process taken to build these feats of engineering, all in a stunning restored mansion where you are free to explore – both above and below ground.
  • A true-must visit in Yazd for anyone even with a passing curiosity to how this incredible town – one of the oldest in the world – was able to survive in such extreme conditions.

3. Fazeli Hotel Yazd

  • The perfect mix of a traditional hotel in a recently renovated building, with the best location in town – only 50 meters to the Grand Jāmeh Mosque of Yazd.
  • The Fazeli Hotel has all the amenities you could want – including plenty that are just not possible in many traditional hotels – such as en-suite bathrooms and soundproofing, and we thought was the best way to experience the traditional accommodation of Yazd in the Old City without compromising on quality or sleep!
  • With competitive prices, modern bedding, free breakfast, in-room heating, and air-con as well as a funky rooftop bar with one of the best views of Yazd

4. Saheb Azalan Club Zurkhaneh

  • Completely unique in Iran, the Saheb Azalan Club Zurkhaneh is a repurposed water reservoir now used as a gym by practitioners of an ancient sport which used music and wooden clubs for exercise.
  • Entrance is 50,000 for foreigners and you can stay as long as you like – training takes place around 5 pm every day. Bring a book and sit for hours listening to the rhythmic chants and drum beats as men, young and old, undertake this mysterious routine right in front of you.
  • Women are welcome to watch, but not to participate.

5. Jameh Mosque of Yazd

  • Looming over the old town of Yazd, this stunning building with twin minarets is worthy of a visit just to see the incredible tile work and restoration the mosque underwent in the 1960’s.
  • There are also many interesting calligraphic patterns of note and colorful designs, which if you’re lucky the ticket seller at the front desk will insist on showing you – keep an eye out for the swastika symbol and repeating patterns of important names.
  • This is also one of the best places to see the Qanats of Iran UNESCO Site, with a small stairway down off the main courtyard – Though it is frequently closed as the water is rather polluted these days sadly.

6. Towers of Silence

  • Abandoned for over 50 years, these twin outposts used in the past as part of Zoroastrian ceremonies are a must visit. On the edge of town, on a wind-swept desert at times it feels straight out of a sci-fi movie as you explore the crumbling buildings and climb the twin, barren hilltops for stunning views of Yazd and over to the distant mountains. There is nothing else quite like this in Iran, and only a 15-minute taxi trip from the Old Town of Yazd.
  • You can also visit the Ateshkadeh, or the Zoroastrian Fire temple, to learn more about this ancient religion though it’s entrance fee and underwhelming building and gardens means only those with a true interest should visit.

7. Yazd Desert Tour

  • With Yazd being a desert city, it should be no surprise that undulating sand dunes are only 30 minutes drive away.
  • Best explored at sunset, the best operators will have a 4X4 and really let you explore these mesmerizing formations while giving you the ride of your life, before an optional camel tour and bonfire as the stars come out from above. While not as unique as the Kaluts of Kerman, the Yazd Desert is still an incredible sight to behold and will likely be a highlight of your trip to Yazd.

8. Yazd Kahn Bazaar

  • What more could you want than endless alleys and covered archways full of glittering gold, gorgeous rugs, spices, and history… Nothing, that’s what.
  • No matter how many cities in Iran you visit you always need to check out the local bazaar and the Bazaar in Yazd is no exception. Eerily deserted in parts, bustling in others and thoroughly modern in one particular section, take your time to explore these twisting alleys after dark when most people come out after a scorching day to enjoy the refreshing breeze, chat and pick up a few essentials!

9. Old Town of Yazd

  • Not all those who wander are lost, but you sure will be after taking a few wrong turns in this complex, mud-brick maze.
  • One of the oldest human settlements on Earth, the Old Town of Yazd is a mix of residential palaces and homes surrounded by tall walls and winding alleys, creating a labyrinth from which you are unlikely to ever find your way out without help. Find your way around and explore every street you can, and discover all the hidden courtyards, beautiful wooden doors, photogenic spots and light shafts that make Yazd such a special UNESCO World Heritage site.

10. Amir Chaqmaq Complex

  • An icon of Yazd and one of the largest structures of its type in Iran, the Amir Chakhmaq Mosque is a photographers dream and best visited in the soft afternoon light or in the evening when it is perfectly illuminated.
  • Inside there is a small bazaar to explore, but most locals prefer to sit around the fountains in the evening chatting and enjoying the view of the imposing three-story facade. There is no way currently to explore inside further, but then again – its free to take in the best view from the outside!

How To Get To Yazd Iran

  • Located in the center of Iran, getting to Yazd is easiest via bus, train, and flight.
  • There are direct flights to Tehran daily, and weekly flights to Istanbul, Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait, and Doha. You can also find direct flights to most major cities in Iran at least once a week. From Tehran, the overnight sleeper train is the best option and takes around 10 hours, or you could take a bus from Tehran and other cities in Central Iran including Esfahan and Kerman.
  • As a major transport hub in Iran and the greater region, you should have no problem getting in and out of Yazd.
  • The bus station and train station are quite far out of town so you should book at the reputable travel agency in the main street of the Old Town to avoid a taxi trip, but if you are heading the Shiraz or Kerman they might have some interesting – and affordable – day trip options to maximize your time!


Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.4 million in the city and 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran’s largest city and urban area, and one of the largest three cities in the Middle East (along with Istanbul and Cairo).

In pre-Islamic times, part of the area of present-day Tehran was occupied by Rey. It was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. In 1796, Agha Mohammed Khan chose Tehran as Iran’s new capital, in order to remain in close reach of Iran’s territories in the Caucasus, at that time still part of Iran, and to avoid vying factions of previous Iranian dynasties. Throughout Iran’s history, the capital has been moved many times; Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.

Large scale demolition and rebuilding took place beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, and Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all over Iran up until the present. The city is home to many historic mosques as well as several churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. However, modern structures, notably Azadi Tower and the Milad Tower, have come to symbolize the city. Tehran is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.[4] Although a variety of unofficial languages are spoken, roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian.

The majority of the inhabitants of the city are Persians, but there are also populations of other Iranian ethnicities such as Lurs, Armenians, Kurds, and Azerbaijani Turks who speak Persian as of their second language.[5] The majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians.

There has been a desire to relocate Iran’s capital from Tehran to another area at some point in the future, because Tehran is prone to earthquakes. Shahroud, Esfahan and Semnan have been suggested as alternative sites.


Settlement of Tehran dates back over 7,000 years. An important historical city in the area of modern-day Tehran, now absorbed by it, is known as “Rey”, which is etymologically connected to the Old Persian and Avestan “Rhages”. The city was a major area of the Iranian speaking Medes and Achaemenids.

In the Zoroastrian Avesta’s Videvdad (i, 15), Rhaga is mentioned as the twelfth sacred place created by Ahura-Mazda. In the Old Persian inscriptions (Behistun 2, 10–18), Rhaga appears as a province. From Rhaga, Darius the Great sent reinforcements to his fatherHystaspes, who was putting down the rebellion in Parthia (Behistun 3, 1–10).

The Damavand mountain located near the city also appears in the Shahnameh as the place where Freydun bounds the dragon-fiend Zahak. Damavand is important in Persian mythological and legendary events. Kyumars, the Zoroastrian prototype of human beings and the first king in the Shahnameh, was said to have resided in Damavand. In these legends, the foundation of the city of Damavand was attributed to him.[11] Arash the Archer, who sacrificed his body by giving all his strength to the arrow that demarcated Iran and Turan, shot his arrow from Mount Damavand.[11] This Persian legend was celebrated every year in the Tiregan festival. A popular feast is reported to have been held in the city of Damavand on 7 Shawwal 1230, or in Gregorian calendar, 31 August 1815. During the alleged feast the people celebrated the anniversary of Zahak’s death.[11] In the Zoroastrian legends, the tyrant Zahak is to finally be killed by the Iranian hero Garshasp before the final days.

In some Middle Persian texts, Rey is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster, although modern historians generally place the birth of Zoroaster in Khorasan. In one Persian tradition, the legendary king Manuchehr was also born in Damavand.

During the Sassanid era, Yazdegerd III in 641 issued from Rey his last appeal to the nation before fleeing to Khorasan.[10] Rey was the fief of the Parthian Mihran family, and Siyavakhsh, the son of Mihran the son of Bahram Chobin, resisted the Muslim Invasion.[10] Because of this resistance, when the Arabs captured Rey, they ordered the town to be destroyed and ordered Farrukhzad to rebuild the town.

There is also a temple in Rey, which is said to be one of the temples of Anahita, the Iranian goddess of waters. But after the Muslim invasion, it got dedicated to Bibi Shahr Banou, eldest daughter of Yazdegerd III, and one of the wives of Husayn ibn Ali, the fourth leader of the Shia faith.

In the 10th century, Rey was described in details in the work of Islamic geographers.[10] Despite the interest of Baghdad displayed in Rey, the number of Arabs there was insignificant, and the population consisted of Persians of all classes.[10][13] The Oghuz Turks laid Rey to waste in 1035 and in 1042, but the city recovered during the Seljuq dynasty and Khwarazmian era.[10] The Mongols laid Rey to complete waste and according to Islamic historians of the era, virtually all of its inhabitants were massacred. The city is mentioned in later Safavid chronicles as an unimportant city.

The origin of the name “Tehran” is unknown. Tehran was well known as a village in the 9th century, but was less well-known than the city of Rey which was flourishing nearby in the early era. Najm ol Din Razi, known as Daya, gives the population of Rey as 500,000 before the Mongol invasion. In the 13th century, following the destruction of Rey by Mongols, many of its inhabitants escaped to Tehran. In some sources of the early era, the city is mentioned as “Rhages’ Tehran”. The city is later mentioned in Hamdollah Mostowfi’s Nozhat ol Qolub (written in 1340) as a famous village.


25 Unmissable Things To Do In Tehran: Iran’s Chaotic Capital

Crazy, chaotic, surprises at every turn – Tehran, the smoggy capital of Iran is more than just an eternal traffic jam.

  • The political, cultural and economic heart of the Islamic Republic, one can not truly experience this dynamic country without spending at least a few days here…And don’t worry, there is no shortage of things to do in Tehran!
  • While many travelers make the mistake of rushing past Tehran in a race to the more historic cities of Iran, there is so much more here than meets the eye. With 14 million inhabitants, Tehran is one of the most dynamic and interesting cities in the world. With glorious museums, huge bazaars, captivating people and yes – even the notorious former US embassy that was the focal point of the Iranian hostage crisis.
  • Thankfully today, Tehran is actually the most liberal and secular place in Iran, a city whose inhabitants are constantly pushing up against authority whether it’s at one of Tehran’s many universities, in a contemporary coffee-shop or a modern art museum. Through Tehran, you can get an idea of what the future of Iran might look like if many of the regimes more progressive elements get their way.
  • Throw in a spectacular mountain range, a few architectural gems, delicious food and some of the friendliest people in the world and you begin to see why Tehran is one destination in Iran you absolutely cannot miss!

1. Tehran Grand Bazaar

  • Characterized as an old historical bazaar, but the Tehran Grand Bazaar is so much more than that, still till this day acting as a vital economic center of Tehran where everyone comes to buy anything.
  • You name it, you can find it here if you wander for long enough through its seemingly endless labyrinths of covered alleys. Make sure you have a map on your phone and then get as lost as you can, safe in the knowledge you will somehow find your way back!
  • Incredibly photogenic, be sure to visit the Tehran Grand Bazaar in the morning before all the stock gets refilled in the afternoon by scary fast-moving haulage equipment which somewhat distracts from the experience.
  • Iranian carpet sellers will undoubtedly try to befriend you and can make an interesting guide if you don’t mind the hard sell at the end (although in our experience they knew Westerners generally couldn’t afford their outrageous prices and were just happy to chat!)

2. Tabi’at Bridge / Nature Bridge Tehran

  • A 270-meter three level bridge connecting two parks in Tehran, the Tabi’at Bridge is probably the most beautiful piece of urban architecture built since the Revolution.
  • Opened in 2014, the Tabi’at Bridge (also known as the Nature Bridge in Tehran) is a popular hang out for Iranian’s who come to enjoy a variety of dining options, views and relaxation areas. Even more incredibly- the Tabi’at Bridge was the brainchild of Iranian architecture student, Leila Araghian, who was only 26 at the time.
  • Winning design competitions all over the world – the Tabi’at Bridge should not be missed, and we can’t wait to see what Leila Araghian comes up with next!

3. Azadi Tower

  • An icon of Iran known around the world, the Azadi Tower – known as the Shah’s Memorial Tower before the revolution – marking the west entrance to Tehran and is part of the Azadi Cultural Complex.
  • There is a museum underground which is included in your ticket are you can either walk or take two elevators up the 45-meter tall structure. And yes, the entire thing is clad in cut marble so you can imagine how incredible it looks at sunset (though the views at the top are pretty incredible too!).
  • The Azadi Tower was built to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the foundation of the Imperial State of Iran by architect Hossein Amanat who based the design upon classical Iranian architecture. The entire grand design was financed by the huge wealth generated by Iran as a major oil producing nation before the revolution, however as a member of the persecuted Bahá’í Faith, Amanat fled Iran to Israel during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
  • He went on to design the equally famous Bahá’í Arc buildings in Haifa, Israel and weirdly enough – the House of Worship in Samoa.

4. Golestan Palace UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • The incredibly lavish Golestan Palace is considered a defining work of the Qajar era thanks to the marriage of Persian craft architecture with Western influences.
  • That is probably why it was rewarded UNESCO World Heritage Status, and quite rightly I think!
  • The Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Tehran and when the Qajar family came into power here in 1779 they made Teheran the capital of Iran – where it has stayed ever since. Glorious and outrageously excessive the Golestan Palace is one thing to do in Tehran you absolutely cannot skip.
  • However be aware that with a total-ticket price of 850 000 rials (app. 25USD) it is tied with the far less-worthy Sa’d Abad Museum Complex for the most expensive museum in Iran.

5. HI Tehran Hostel

  • Information about Iran can be hard to come by outside the country, so it pays to have a super-reliable place to connect with travelers with helpful locals on hand when you arrive.
  • This is why I loved staying at HI Tehran Hostel, a full-renovated hostel in a quiet street just minutes from many of Tehran’s top tourist attractions and a Tehran Metro Station. While the modern facilities, spacious dorms, and private food and free breakfast were definitely great, what I actually loved most was the atmosphere as the staff would always be chatting at the communal breakfast table and answering everyone’s questions.
  • It’s also a great place to meet other travelers either beginning or ending their trip to exchange money, find companions, get ideas or just to swaps stories! I stayed here both at the beginning and end of my trip and would return to HI Tehran Hostel in a heart-beat!
  • Oh, and another nice bonus: HI Tehran Hostel provide an invitation via email needed to get the Iran visa on arrival at Tehran Airport, and the immigration staff seems to be so familiar with the hostel they didn’t even bother calling to confirm.
  • This meant I was out of the airport while other travelers were waiting for their hostel to answer the phone in the middle of the night (though I later called the hostel at 3 AM when I was lost and they answered in a few seconds – they really are 24/7)

6. US Den of Espionage / Embassy of the United States in Tehran

  • The famous former US embassy in Tehran where 52 diplomats where taken hostage for 444 days by students during the 1979 revolution!
  • Even today the massive compound is still controlled by the Student Basij Organisation who are tasked with defending the revolution and have turned the building into a museum. Be sure to take the free tour to really make the most of the colourful propoganda both visually and spoken. It is also absolutely fascinating to see the previously secret rooms used for spying now embarrassingly on full display and to get a real sense of the work undertaken in the US embassy before the revolution.
  • Truly like walking back in time and straight onto a movie set, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic US Den of Espionage.

7. Museum of the Qasr Prison

  • Newly opened, the Museum of the Qasr Prison in Tehran is a dark look into the Pahlavi-era prison complex, renown for psychological and physical torture.
  • Former prisoners still guide here somedays and will share memories of their torture including broken teeth and amputated limbs. The former Qasr Prison gardens have been turned into a beautiful park, and while the main historic prison building may be the focus (with stunning brickwork none the less) don’t miss the much darker and newer concrete building at the back of the complex where recordings still play the screams of torture.
  • Here you get an intensely real look into what life was like in this prison just before and during the revolution here, but it is not for the faint-of-heart.

8. Tochal Telecabin Tehran

  • If the inevitable smog of Tehran gets a bit too much for you – why not head to the mountains with the Tochal Telecabin / Sky Lift! Located in the north of Tehran.
  • You can make a 45 minutes trip straight up and then couples with a short scramble you can easily summit Mt Tochal (3933m). As you would expect, the views are out of this world – both of the mountains and back down over the chaos that is Tehran – and if you’re really feeling fit there is plenty of hiking opportunities at the different stations along the way!
  • Super popular with local Tehranis during the weekend, but don’t make the same mistake as us and try to visit the Tochal Telecabin during the week – We were told it is closed for the first three days after the weekend, every week?! So that means the Tochal Telecabin opening hours are supposably Wednesday – Saturday, but best to call ahead before making the trip out there (best reached by taxi) and to go early as the last car back down is apparently 3pm…
  • Like many things in Iran, it’s better to not question it!

9. Skiing In Iran

  • Even though the majority of Iran is pretty much a desert, there is still some great skiing in Iran – and some of the cheapest skiing in the world!
  • While global warming seems to be shortening the season for skiing in Iran, you can get some pretty good powder for skiing in Tehran from January..The Tochal Ski resort is located at the end of the above cable car and makes a great day-trip but if you are really serious you are going to want to head to the nearby Dizin Ski Resort or Shemshak Ski Resort from Tehran. Not what you were expecting to do in Iran right!
  • Just make sure you have everything you need for your first time skiing as you won’t be able to buy in Iran.

10. Tehran Metro Art

  • Constantly expanding, the Tehran Metro is the lifeline of Tehran and carries over 3 million passengers a day while the streets above are in near-constant grid-lock.
  • Cheap and easy-to-use, there is also a bonus for tourists – if you pay attention, the Tehran Metro is the best place to see propaganda in Iran! Constantly changing, pay special attention on the platforms or the long entrance corridors to see cartoons and artwork depicting everything from the morals taught in the Quran and daily life in Iran to rather harsh and graphic anti-US and anti-Israel pieces.
  • While these Tehran metro cartoons make a great picture to share with friends back home, be discrete when taking photos and remember that the views expressed are directly from a government department and by-and-large not reflective of Iranian society at large (or at least many of the more liberal Tehranis)…

11. Wander Tehran

  • While each time crossing the road might be a near-death experience, there is no better way to get to experience the social fabric and stumble upon hidden gems in Tehran than to simply wander.
  • Instead of taking a taxi or heading a few stops on the Tehran Metro why not get your walk on and see what you come across! Small parks, street food, intriguing shops and hidden bazaars, there really is no telling! Expect a great many people to stop you and thank you for visiting Iran and to question your experiences so far.
  • Besides, if you ever are really lost these people are great to help you find the nearest Metro, coffee-shop, museum or restaurant!

12. Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA)

  • While Iran might not be a world-leader in contemporary art today you should still make a visit to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to see the stunning collection of 19th and 20th century’s world-class European and American pieces.
  • Opened by Empress Farah Pahlavi in 1977 – just two years before the Revolution – TMoCA is said to hold the most valuable collections of modern Western masterpieces outside Europe and North America, although most were hidden away until recently when they have again been put on display.
  • Possibly even more intriguing however is the liberal Tehranis that are drawn to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art many removing their hijabs and you could easily imagine yourself in an art gallery in Western Europe or the US!

13. Sa’d Abad Museum Complex

  • A sprawling 300 hectare complex built by the Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs in a similar pattern to the oil-rich rulers of Saudi and the Gulf States today…
  • Now open to the public the Sa’dabad Complex, while expensive by Iranian standards, is a beautiful place to wander and admire the natural forest, qanats and buildings. Each museum is individually chargeable and in our opinion – not at all worth it, except for the famous Green House (with its hall of mirrors) which is currently under-renovation. There is also a collection of royal cars if you have a passion for vintage sports cars but you can see them in only a few minutes. Look out for the President of Iran who has taken up residence in a private section of the Sa’dabad Complex.
  • Don’t worry there are plenty of armed guards to stop you accidentally wandering in!

14. Park e Shahr / Tehran City Park

  • A sprawling park in central Tehran near to all the major museums in the district. Take a wander through and admire the bizarre bird park, aquarium and library. The Tehran Peace Museum is also located here with strange opening hours – take a peak in if it actually is open. You can also find plenty of cats roaming round and can join in a game of ping-pong with the locals who gather here to relax and unwind.
  • The Park-e Shahr is probably the only place big enough to really escape the constant traffic and honking in Central Tehran!

15. Museum of Ancient Iran

  • Housing historic objects from Iran’s pre-Islam you would expect the Museum of Ancient Iran to be one of the most glorious in the country – but sadly it is entirely underwhelming and a wasted opportunity.
  • Housing objects from the Shah era, the museum was opened after the revolution and you get the feeling that the government did not want to venerate any part of Iran’s past before Islam… Still, if you’re interested in ancient history you should still take a wander through. Islam’s post-islamic history is displayed next door and charged separately (and weirdly enough the Museum of Ancient Iran is almost twice the price but nowhere near as good…)

16. Museum of the Islamic Era

  • Next door to the above Museum of Ancient Iran and far better, the Museum of the Islamic Era is one of the top museums in Tehran.
  • Recently reopened after a nine year renovation this three story building displays over 1500 items and relics from the early Islamic period as well as Seljuk, Ilkhanid, Teymurid, Safavid, and Qajar eras. Beautifully done, you won’t want to rush through as you take in all the details of the ancient rugs, painting, plates, pots and more .
  • There is also a temporary exhibition space on the ground floor changing every six month.

17. Islamic Revolution & Holy Defense Museum

  • An outsized experiment in glorification with more than a hint of propaganda, the Iran Holy Defense Museum is easily one of the things to do in Tehran.
  • Focussing on the bloody Iran-Iraq war which left over a million lives lost, there are over seven halls here going into minute details of every imaginable aspect of the conflict – though mostly through displays, walk-through models, visual effects and more. This is a very high-tech museum – if a little surreal – after which you might have a better idea of this harrowing episode in modern Iranian history.
  • The bridge of the martyrs here is especially fascinating -and there are the huge tanks, rockets and planes outside.

18. Imamzadeh Saleh / Tajrish Mosque

  • Visit the beautiful Tajrish Mosque officially known as the Imamzadeh Saleh to see the entombed remains of Saleh, a son of the Twelver Shia Imam, Musa al-Kadhim.
  • One of the most popular shrines in Tehran, the interior is particular spectacular and was our favourite mosque in Tehran. Make sure not to visit during prayer as it is far too busy and you are likely not to be let in – but during other times we found foreigners were welcomed and someone is likely to take an interest in you and offer you a tour!

19. Tehran Shopping Malls

  • So as a tourist, you’re probably not going to Tehran for the shopping – and especially not given that you need to bring cash for everything you buy!
  • But a visit to the Tehran Shopping Malls is not just about shopping!
  • With giant food courts, arcades and plenty of Iranian / independent stores, they are a socializing space for Tehran rising middle-and-upper class and a great place to meet young, educated Iranians. Of course the Tehran Shopping Malls are also mega-monstrosities and interesting to wander around for a bit, the best are the Palladium shopping center (with the largest toy store in the Middle East), the Arg Commercial Complex (with its luxury stores and beautiful outdoor interactive facade)and the Sam Commercial Complex.

20. Saint Sarkis Cathedral

  • The largest church in Tehran, the Saint Sarkis Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic varsity was completed in 1970.
  • While a Cathedral might not be top of your list of things to do in Tehran, you should not miss the opportunity to see Christian life play out in the Islamic Republic – complete with imposing giant walls, barbed wire and strict security, though as a foreigner you will be welcomed in.
  • Forbidden from practising their faith in public, the spires of the church are barely visible outside the compound the surrounding area is intensely covered in pro-Islam murals and billboards.

21. Sharaf Al-Eslami Restaurant

  • A historic restaurant hidden away in the Tehran Central Bazaar but you can find Sharaf El Islam by following the throng of people until you see a line heading into a crowded basement.
  • Here you can try some of the best traditional food in Tehran in a crowded and frantic setting. The service is rushed, and people will hover to get a table but it all adds to the atmosphere and you really know you are ‘in the know’ as it is 99% locals in here!

22. Cinema Museum of Iran

  • Located in the north of Tehran is a stunning Qajar-era mansion complex with historic garden, the Cinema Museum of Iran is a curious mix of equipment, posters and photos from the Iranian movie industry dating back over the last century – and all in English!
  • There is even beautiful working cinema with ornate moulding showing new and classic Iranian films – though without subtitles, but still intriguing.

23. Snapp / Iranian Uber

  • So not really a thing to do, but everyone travelling to Tehran should have Snapp downloaded on their phone as it halves the price of taxi’s – and lets you get where you need to go without language barriers.
  • While it might be blocked on the Apple App store you can still download Snapp for iPhone with this handy work-around. Basically Uber in Iran, Snapp let you explore the more remote attractions of Tehran that are not easily reached via Subway, and is really handy if you’re a larger group – though prices are set and very low!
  • Though you will get a first hand experience of the insane drivng in Tehran.
  • I recommend sitting in the back-seat and potentially blindfolding yourself as some things are better not seen!

24. Tehran Coffeeshops

  • A hot bed of liberalism in Iran, since the removal of sanctions a café culture has exploded across Tehran as many more wealthy Iranians got a taste of Western culture and cosmopolitanism.
  • With some pretty decent views, coffee shops in Tehran are also a great place to meet young Iranians, engage in open discussion or just to watch the unique culture that takes place here. A few years ago many were raided as women were known not to wear hijabs inside, but the authorities seem to be looking the other way again – but the morality police crackdown of 2013 makes for an interesting read. Lamiz Coffee is basically the Starbucks of Tehran with multiple locations (yet annoyingly no WiFi) but you should also stop by the historic Gol Rezaieh Café or the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art Café.
  • To be honest, so many have opened up over the past year its hard to keep track of the best – so just ask your hostel in Tehran for their recommendation nearby, or better yet just stop someone young and trendy on the streets!

25. Tehran Street Food

  • While all over Tehran you will find plenty of traditional street food – and you should try as much as you can (check here for Iranian street food to watch out for) – we are specifically talking about the street food of 30th Tir Steet outside the National Museum of Iran. Trendy and oh-so-cool, swing by here in the afternoon or evening for a lively atmosphere, intriguing food trucks + carts and some nice outdoor seating.
  • You will surely be joined quickly by locals who will be quick to recommend their favourite spots, to help you with an translation and let you know all their favourite things to do in Tehran!

How To Get To Tehran Iran

  • The undeniable hub and main entry point of Iran, getting to Tehran is easy via bus, train, and flight.
  • There are direct flights to Tehran daily from all over the Middle East, Europe and even with Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur if your coming from that direction. You can also find direct flights to most major cities in Iran at least a few times of week, multiple times daily for major cities.
  • You can also get overnight sleeper trains to and from almost every major city in Iran. As a major transport hub in Iran and the greater region, you should have no problem getting in and out of Tehran.


Is the fifth most population of Iran and the capital of fars province .Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran.It has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for over a thousands years. Shiraz is one of the oldest cities of ancient persia.In the 13th country Shiraz became leading center of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. Two  famous poets of Iran ,Hafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz , whose tombs are on the north side of the current city boundaries.


The Tomb of Hafez

The Tomb of Hafez and its associated memorial hall, the Hāfezieh, are two memorial structures erected in the northern edge of Shiraz, Iran, in memory of the celebrated Persian poet Hafez.


Saadi Shirazi

Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, better known by his pen-name Saadi, also known as Saadi of Shiraz, was a major Persian poet and prose writer of the medieval period. He is recognized for the quality of his writings and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts.



Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It is situated 60 km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BCE. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture.


Pasargadae “protective club” or “strong club”; was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC), who ordered its construction. It is located near the city of Shiraz, in Iran. The most important monument in Pasargadae is the tomb of Cyrus the Great.

Shah Cheragh

Shāh Chérāgh  is a funerary monument and mosque in Shiraz, Iran, housing the tomb of the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of Mūsā al-Kādhimand brothers of ‘Alī ar-Ridhā. The two took refuge in the city during the Abbasid persecution of Shia Muslims. The tombs became celebrated pilgrimage centres in the 14th century when Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school in the vicinity.

Narenjestan Garden of Shiraz

Narenjestan or Qavam Garden of Shiraz dates back to Qajar era and is located on the eastern side of the end of Lotfali Khan Zand Avenue. Due to abundance of sour orange  trees it is called Narenjestan. Narenjestan building has been a place where ordinary people went for administrative purposes and public meetings as well as meetings among Qajar dignitaries and nobles were held there.

12 Fun Things To Do In Shiraz, Iran: The Majestic Soul Of Persian Culture

The life and soul of Persian culture for millennia, Shiraz today is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Iran and for good reason, with plenty of culture, archaeology, food and local life to keep even the most jaded travelers interested for a few days.

  • Long famed for the quality of its namesake wine (now banned by the Islamic Republic) Shiraz still has plenty to bring to the table for those who are willing to make the effort to get here.
  • With plenty of students and educational establishments, life is never dull here and if you explore outside of the historic city (especially in North Shiraz) you can find almost a completely different world full of western chains, girls without hijabs and some of the biggest shopping malls in Iran.
  • The highlights of the historic city can be seen in a day if you rush, but other day trips with take a few more days to compete until you have all the highlights ticked off.
  • A smog and traffic-choking city at first site, Shiraz will grow on you when you know where to look and will have you begging for more, and more, and more!

1. Vakil Bazaar

  • While Old Shiraz is a mismatch of historic bazaars, Vakil stands out in terms of grandeur and status.
  • With imposing vaulted avenues filled with over 200 stores selling everything from gold and handicrafts to spices, rugs, and clothing. There is a lot to take in here and the Shiraz Bazaar is best experienced – like all bazaars – by walking in headfirst and getting swept away into the maze.
  • If you have time, the Seray-e Mehr Teahouse inside is a hidden gem, with great food and tea (but very crowded at peak times)

2. Citadel of Karim Khan

  • You can’t miss this historic fortress smack-bam in the center of old Shiraz.
  • While it has nothing on the historic sand-castle fortress of Bam further south, there is a certain charm to its beautiful restored turret towers – especially in the right light and the beautiful garden interior. Its best features can be enjoyed day or night from the exterior without paying an entrance fee, but if you do decide to enter you can explore more thoroughly and see the old bath-house.

3. Persopolis

  • One of the greatest ruins from the ancient world, no trip to Iran would be complete without marveling at Persepolis and it’s many, many sights.
  • Built by architects from all over the first Achaemenid Empire, the scale here defies belief and you can wander for hours and hours and still be totally amazed. Be sure to stay for sunset here and pick out a great spot of Mt Rahmat to watch the entire ruins and desert enveloped in a soft red glow.
  • No trip to Shiraz would be compete without a tour to the inspiring Persepolis!

4. Pink Mosque

  • Probably the most famous Mosque in Iran – and certainly the most photographed, the Pink Mosque of Shiraz is reason alone to visit Shiraz and does not disappoint.
  • Best viewed just after opening when the rainbow shadow stretches all the way across the room  – though be prepared to fight the crowds for the perfect photo. While the kaleidoscope of color at the Pink Mosque is the main feature, there is also plenty of other beautiful rooms and details to take in, including a newly added underground storage tunnel that has been renovated and opened.
  • The Pink Mosque of Shiraz is one-thing you cannot miss the chance to see in person!

5. Ghalat Town

  • Ghalat (or Qalaat) a crumbling adobe mess of a village on the edge of the mighty Zagros Mountains is slowly becoming a tourism destination, know locally as the ‘Amsterdam of Iran’.
  • While drug cultivation may have taken off in Ghalat the major drawcard is not the smell of weed in the air, but the mountain hiking and delicious food and views. Best avoided on the weekend when visitors from Shiraz make it a bit of a madhouse, you should also not miss the chance to visit Grandma’s House for some of the best food you will eat anywhere in Iran.

6. Citrus Garden / Bagh-e Naranjestan

  • A beautiful garden and building complex from the Qajar period named after the oranges that line the central pathway.
  • A typical – but rather small – Persian garden, the pavilion at the back is the main reason to visit with its beautiful stained-glass windows, mosaic patterns and risky European works of art. Best visited in full light, you will find it empty during most of the day and the palm-trees shade is perfect for sitting and reading or talking under.

7. Shiraz Coffee Shop

  • Borrowing from the current coffee trend sweeping Tehran, Shiraz has up’d its game for caffeine dispensing of late and a whole host of cool coffee shops have popped up overnight.
  • Perfect for travelers wanting to get to know students and local life, or just to get a good cappuccino – The Shiraz coffee shops and cultural evolution in progress and many more are expected to open up in the near future. For now, you should check out the central Ferdowsi Cafe for relaxes vibes, or Cabin Cafe (a converted shipping container with skyline views) and Cafe Cup (a Starbucks / nightclub hybrid).

8. Pasargadae

  • The ancient ruins of Pasargadae – built by the armies of Cyrus the Great in 546 BC – is often overshadowed by Persopolis.
  • Let me be clear though, Pasargadae is worth a visit in its own right as it has UNESCO World Heritage Status and is located smack-bang in the middle of a flat, arid plateau. Big sky and big ruins await you here, and while the ruins of a different era might not be as impressive as Persopolis – this is considered to be the home base of the first world empire to respect and include cultural diversity…Almost 2,500 years ago!

9. Shiraz Grand Hotel

  • If you’re going to splurge on one hotel in Iran, the Shiraz Grand Hotel should be it.
  • While the Shiraz downtown is a bit down-trodden and lifeless, the Shiraz Grand Hotel occupies an envious position literally carved into the rocky hillside with panoramic views of Shiraz which spread out below. With an awe-inspiring design like no other hotel in Iran (or the world) guests here can enjoy modern amenities such as spa, pool and jacuzzi, an Insta-worthy rooftop terrace, luxurious rooms and a selection of modern and international restaurants.
  • Only a few minutes walk from the Holy Quran gate to the city – there is truly no better Shiraz Hotel for your stay!

10. Maharloo Lake / Pink Lake of Shiraz

  • A seasonal-salt lake in the highlands around Shiraz, the Maharloo Lake is famously known as the Pink Lake of Shiraz due to the high salt concentrations that result in its brackish water in late summer.
  • For the rest of the year, however, it is just a beautiful lake with a mountainous backdrop with stunning reflections and a great day trip from Shiraz that won’t break the bank!

11. Haft Khan Restaurant

  • The most fashionable and luxurious dining in Shiraz, the Haft Khan Restaurant is a mega-complex with a different style of food and dining style on every floor.
  • Surprisingly affordable, take your camera as you will want to get snaps of every floor though my personal favorite is the chic-white fit out downstairs with traditional Persian food and live music every night. There is also a cafe, a fast-food level and bread making in a traditional fire-oven on the top floor you really should check out.
  • Perfect for a romantic meal or large groups of friends – this is one restaurant in Shiraz you will brag about to all your friends back home!

12. Mausoleum of Sayyed Mir Mohammad

  • A stunning city-shrine dedicated to on of Imam Reza’s 17 brothers – you need to get in here to appreciate the blue-tiled domes and mosaic works in the Shite pilgrimage site – the 3rd most sacred in the country.
  • There is a free tour guide available – but is rather useless and does not speak English well so you might want to go early before he starts and you are forced to use him. You must stow your bag (free) nearby, but if you can get in without a guide – or even better with a local – then you will be able to enter the glorious mirrors prayer spaces.

How To Get To Shiraz Iran

  • Located in the center of Iran, getting to Shiraz is easiest via bus, train, and flight.
  • There are direct flights to Tehran daily, and weekly flights to Dubai. You can also find direct flights to most major cities in Iran at least once a week. From Tehran, the overnight sleeper train is the best option and takes around 12 hours, or you could take a bus from Tehran and other cities in Central Iran including Isfahan, Yazd, and Kerman.
  • As a major transport hub in Iran and the greater region, you should have no problem getting in and out of Shiraz.
  • The bus station and train station are quite far out of town so you should book at the reputable travel agency in the Old Town to avoid a taxi trip, but if you are heading the Esfahan, Yazd or Kerman they might have some interesting – and affordable – day trip options to maximize your time!


  • Kashan is a city in Isfahan province, Iran. At the 2017 census, its population was 396,987 in 90,828 families.
  • The etymology of the city name comes from the Kasian, the original inhabitants of the city, whose remains are found at Tapeh Sialk dating back 9,000 years; later this was changed to “Kashian”, hence the town name. Between the 12th and the 14th centuries Kashan was an important centre for the production of high quality pottery and tiles. In modern Persian, the word for a tile (kashi) comes from the name of the town.
  • Kashan is divided into two parts, mountainous and desert. In the west side, Kashan is cited in the neighbourhood of two of highest peaks of Karkas chain, Mount Gargash to the southwest of Kashan (the home of Iran national observatory, the largest astronomical telescope of Iran) and Mount Ardehaal in the west of Kashan, also known as “Damavand of Kashan” and the highest peak of Ardehaal mountains (end part of Karkas chain in central Iran).
  • In the east side of the city Kashan opens up to the central desert of Iran which the city is famous for. Kashan is also known for Maranjab Desert and Caravanserai located near the namak lake (or salt lake). Today Maranjab and the surrounding Shifting Sands is a popular destination at the weekends.
  • On August 9, 2007 Iran placed the Historical Axis of Fin, Sialk, Kashan on its Tentative List for possible future nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The exact definition of what locations within Kashan proper might be nominated was not made clear. In 2012 Iran successfully nominated the Fin Garden separately for inscription by UNESCO as a part of its Persian Gardens World Heritage Site. Despite this the “Historical-Cultural Axis of Fin, Sialk, Kashan” remains in full on Iran’s Tentative List


Isfahan is the third largest city in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad, but was once one of the largest cities in the world. Isfahan is an important city and flourished from 1050 to 1722, under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history under Shah Abbas the Great.
It is famous for its Perso-Islamic architecture, grand boulevards ,covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques, and minarets.
The Naghshe- Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world.

The bridges on the Zayanderoud river comprise some of the finest architecture in Isfahan.The oldest bridge is the Shahrestan bridge . Further upstream is Khaju bridge, which was built by Shah Abbas 2 in 1650. Joui bridge also called the Choobi bridge , is a bridge in Isfahan , was built in 1665,during the Safavid area.
Allahverdi khan bridge popularly known as si-o-se pol is the largest of the eleven historical bridge on the Zayanderoud.

20 Fun Things To Do In Isfahan Iran: Persian Architecture Extravaganza

Isfahan is Iran’s top tourist destination and it’s easy to see why. Ancient Islamic architecture, Three UNESCO world heritage sites, gorgeous bridges, friendly locals and plenty of hidden locations to discover.

  • And that’s without even talking about all the food…Hook’d Right?
  • Read on to find out more about this historic city in central Iran filled with majestic Persian architecture,  domes and minarets are covered with mosaic tiles and more markets than we could count.
  • Esfahan (or Isfahan) is the third biggest city in Iran – and one of it’s most cultural important. Serving as a capital at various times in Iran’s long past. At one stage Isfahan was the biggest city on Earth but now it is a relevantly quiet town known around the world for its beautiful architecture and breathtaking public spaces
  • .With three UNESCO World Heritage sites, a myriad of food options to explore, some of the biggest and most beautiful mosques in the world and relatively little tourism – Isfahan should be top of every traveler’s list in Iran.
  • This really is a city for those in the know, and you don’t want to miss any of its hidden treasures so read on to discover the 20 best things to do in Isfahan in this ultimate guide!

1. Wander the Great Expanse of The UNESCO World Heritage Naqsh-e Jahan Square

  • While itself home to many of the marvelous attractions of Isfahan, the Naqsh-e Jahan Square deserves a mention in its own right – if not because it is one of the biggest public plazas in the world.
  • Built to symbolize the importance of Isfahan in the Safavid Empire – not much has changed except the addition of horse-drawn carriages, a beautiful fountain, and hoards of tourist shops. You can’t avoid this square even if you wanted to – but is best visited in the late afternoon or evening when Iranian families and couples come out to enjoy its splendor and the light is more mallow.

2. Potter Over The Historic Zayandeh River Bridges

  • Isfahan is endowed with no less than 11 bridges crisscrossing the dried out Zayandeh River – five of which are protected historic monuments.
  • These bridges are popular places for locals to gather at any time of day, but especially in the evening as the bridges are perfectly lit up. The Si-o-Seh Pol bridge is a perennial favourite – and the longest, though Pol-e Khaju may well be the finest bridge in Iran.
  • Don’t miss Pol-e Shahrestan which is the oldest dating back to the 12th century or Pol-e Chubi with it’s interior parlours used by the shah and his concubines.

3. Check Into The Luxurious Attar Hotel In Isfahan

  • Newly opened the opulent Attar Hotel in Isfahan blows every other Isfahan hotel out of the water – and at pretty reasonable prices by western standards.
  • One of the best new hotels in Iran opening to cater to a booming tourism industry – I can think of no better way to enhance a stay in Isfahan that by indulging in their colorful pool, relax in rooms that hark back to the Shah era and take in all of the traditional details. A truly one of a kind hotel in Isfahan – and their traditional Iranian breakfast is rumored to be the best in the city.
  • Other great mid-range hotels in Isfahan include Piroozy Hotel and Viana Hotel, both bookable online so you can avoid confusion around price or facilitates when you arrive. If you are really on a budget and need a hostel in Isfahan there is not a great selection but Seven Hostel run out of Orchid Hotel is by far the best bet (but at 15€ per night and no common space, you are better getting one of the mid-range hotels in Isfahan.

4.Climb Up The Isfahan Fire Temple For Incredible Views

  • Dating back to Sassanian times there is not much left of the crumbling bricks at Ateshkadeh-ye (the Isfahan Fire Temple) but the panoramic view from the top over Zayandeh River and the edge of Isfahan make it all worthwhile.
  • A slippery and treacherous path requires a 20-minute scramble uphill, but as long as the weather is good its worth it to wander amongst the ancient (or often rebuilt) ruins and gaze out to the horizon. Not the best example of a Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Iran, but there is still a certain otherworldly charm up here ave it all.

5. Sample The Traditional Food of Isfahan

  • One of the highlights of Iran is the food and Isfahan is no exception.
  • You absolutely must try Biriyani when here, minced lamb served with bread and Faloodeh which is a cold dessert of corn vermicelli noodles in rosewater syrup. I also particularly liked the Dizi stew here ( lamb with assorted vegetables in a stew) but for the most comprehensive food guide to Isfahan, you really need to click through to this incredibly lengthy Food guide by The City Lane who does a far better job than I ever could!
  • My recommended approach?
  • Wander the streets and markets until you see a line or something delicious and then just go for it. Ask questions later!

6. Walk Along the Dried Out Zayandeh Riverbed

  • For centuries Isfahan city was an oasis settlement but a population explosion and industrialization demanded more water and sadly the Zayandeh River suffered.
  • Having seasonal dry-outs, the Zayandeh River has not flown through Isfahan since 2010 due to poor environmental policies and rampant mismanagement. A man-made disaster that has left tourists with the bizarre option of walking all over a dried-out riverbed, or wandering the parks either-side which are brightened up by a few pieces of modern art.
  • The sight of swan boats simply left here 8 years ago reminds me a bit of Chernobyl and are quite photogenic.

7. Marvel at the Exterior Of The Grand Masjed-e Shah Mosque

  • The center point of the city, Masjed-e Shah Mosque otherwise known as the Abbasi Great Mosque is elegant and iconic – and by far the biggest building on the square.
  • The entrance gate provides plenty of stunning photo opportunities but considering there are many other beautiful mosques in Isfahan, you can probably skip going in this one if you want to avoid a hefty entrance fee. Simply wander around through the main entrance at sunset and into the internal courtyard – when it is free.
  • Don’t disrupt those going to pray, but you will get an incredible vantage point from which to admire the iconic blue tiling and overwhelming stature of Masjed-e Shah Mosque.

8. Learn The Intriguing History of Jolfa: The Armenian Quarter in Isfahan

  • Jolfa is the Armenian quarter in the south of Isfahan.
  • Dating back to the 16th century when Shah Abbas the First ordered the transportation of the entire population of Jolfa ad hoc, a town boarding Armenia, to Isfahan to help complete his historic architectural works here in record time. These new populations talents as merchants, entrepreneurs and artists were needed, and it was ensured their religious freedoms were respected…though at quite a distance from the Islamic monuments he was creating.
  • Today Jolfa is a very fashionable and liberal enclave serving the needs of the remaining 6,000 Armenian Christians here – with many beautiful restaurants, cafes, hidden churches and a vibrant feel around the central Jolfa Square. A curiosity deep in the heart of Iran that no travelers who visiting Isfahan should skip!

9. Decide If the Shaking Minarets of Monar Jonban Really Defy Physics.

  • A 14th century architecturally undistinguished shrinewhich covers the grave of Amu Abdollah Soqla, Monar Jonban has become famous for it’s shaking minarets.
  • Every 1.5 hours one of the minarets is shaken and the other minaret should be observed to shake in unison swell. Locals will tell you that science can not explain the miracle of the shaking minarets of Monar Jonban, but in actuality, it is simply an example of couples oscillation given the height of the minarets and width of the roof. Regardless, in 2018 when I visited only one minaret would shake and no visible effect could be seen on the other, so it is probably not worth the hefty 200,000 entrance fee – but if you have a local you can probably negotiate your way in for much less.
  • Then, perhaps you will get lucky and see the laws of physics defied. Best combined with a trip to the Isfahan Fire Temple.

10. Enter The Hidden & Secretive Vank Cathedral in Isfahan

  • The beautiful Vank Cathedral, formally known as the Holy Savior Cathedral, stands at the heart of the Armenian Quarter, whose entrance is hidden behind a discreet wooden door.
  • Hidden away behind high walls to avoid offending the Islamic rulers over the centuries – all can be seen is a small cross on a done similar to a mosque but once inside you there is plenty of glorious wall paintings and an interesting collection of bibles.
  • If you have never been inside an Armenian Church the Vank Cathedral is the perfect place, if you can catch it when it’s open between baptisms and weddings.

11. Get Lost On The Depths of The Isfahan Grand Bazaar

  • Locally known as Bazar-e Bozorg, the historic and seemingly endless Isfahan Grand Bazaar spreads all the way from Naqsh-e Jahan Square through to Masjed-e Jameh…Quite the distance.
  • Open from 8 am til 9 pm – the best time to visit the Isfahan Bazaar is mid-morning if you want to experience hustle and bustle, or the evenings for a more subdued experience. Make sure to admire the gorgeous brick-arches, stop by a carpet shop to admire to learn about the ancient history of Persian carpets and pick up some saffron from the spice markets to take home.
  • You can easily lose half a day here, and the best way to see it is to simply wander – though if you are actually looking for something specific, it is best to ask directions!

12. Get Snap Happy At The Photogenic Azadegan Teahouse

  • Possibly one of the best teahouses in Iran, a trip to Isfahan would not be complete without seeking out the Azadegan Teahouse.
  • Located in a hidden alley off the Naqsh-e Jahan Sqaure, this place is insanely popular with locals on the weekend who come for the delicious tea and traditional food. However, most tourists go for the ridiculous collection of oddities and curiosities covering almost every single surface and flowing outside into a courtyard as well.
  • In this cave of wonders service is rushed off their feet, but really you won’t be in a hurry to leave this interesting and utterly unique space…

13. Admire The Stunning Inner Sanctuary of Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah

  • A harmonious, almost discrete, compliment to the Grand Masjed-e Shah Mosque – the Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah is small but packs a big punch.
  • With a twisting hallway leading to an unforgettable inner sanctum, covered in complex mosaics and a ceiling like no other it is surely worth the hefty entrance fee. Be sure to take you time and enjoy this masterpiece of design in Isfahan famed for the shafts of sunlight with peak through the windows in its dome – creating a short of light and shadow any photographer will love.
  • Try to visit in the mid-morning for a quiet, almost sacred experience, and stay as long as possible to admire the way changing light changes the space.

14. Find Magic On Friday Nights Under The Khaju Bridge

  • Constructed to highlight the natural beauty of a river that no longer exists, the Khakju Bridge, Khaju bridge is “the culminating monument of Persian bridge architecture and one of the most interesting bridges extant…where the whole has rhythm and dignity and combines in the happiest consistency, utility, beauty, and recreation.”
  • While you should visit during the day as well, on Friday nights young lovers and friends gather under its base for picnics and what I can only describe as Iranian glee – a sort of sing-off where operatic songs in Persian echo under the arches and everyone competes to out-do each other. One of the best experiences I had in Iran, it is truly enchanting and almost otherworldly so bring a blanket after sunset and settle in.
  • Who said you need alcohol to have fun right! 

15. Get The Best View of Isfahan At Kakh-e Ali Qapu

  • While this six-story palace ha a long history dating back to its use as residence for Shah Abbas I in the 16h century, today it is perhaps best known for its view of the Isfahan Square and out to the mountains.
  • Slowly being restored after being largely destroyed during Qajar rule –  don’t expect to see it completed anytime soon but the wooden ceiling, display of arts and craftsmanship do add a nice bonus to the view.

16. Hunt Out The Burgeoning Isfahan Coffee Scene

  • While tea is traditionally the beverage de jour in Iran, a sub-culture of young caffeine addicted Iranians is popping up and Isfahan is no exception to this trend.
  • While your hotel in Isfahan is likely to have only tea and terrible coffee on offer I did the hard yards drinking and can recommend as the best best coffee shops in Isfahan: Radio Cafe for it’s warm vibes, WiFi and local atmosphere, Mustache Cafe for it’s take-away coffee and central location and Grumri Cafe for its beautiful interior, Instagrammable coffee and warm Armenian hospitality.
  • And trust me, with all of these top things to do in Isfahan your going to need a double-shot expresso just to keep up!

17. See One Of The Best Remaining Examples Of A Persian Garden At Chehel Sotun Palace

  • Overlooked by many travelers, the Chehel Sotun Palace is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site as it exemplifies Persian garden design and evolution since the 6th century BC.
  • Always divided into four sections – following the Zoroastrian principles of earth, sky, water, and planet coming together to produce Eden. The Chehel Sotun Palace is a perfect representation of this with its beautifully preserved palace, long reflection pool, and quiet side gardens. Feel at peace amongst the tranquil – and perfectly symmetrical – gardens and elegant palace terrace.
  • A wonder of the world not to be missed from any list of things to do in Isfahan.

18. Let Down Your Guard And Make Friend With The Locals

  • While Isfahan is one of the most popular tourist cities in Iran, this still does not stop the locals from showing their world-class hospitality.
  • Travelers who have experienced other parts of the world might be wary of an ulterior agenda – but except for the odd shop-keeper in the bazaar, everyone here is truly concerned and hopeful you have a good time. So take the time to chat, accept their generous offers to join for dinner, tea or a night of sight-seeing and see where it goes. I now have a phone full of contacts in Isfahan, wonderful memories and have seen Isfahan in ways I could never have imagined.
  • Just stay clear of giving your opinion on politics – unless you are quite sure of your company!

19. Learn The Intricate History Of Isfahan carpet

  • Isfahan is famed for its achievement in arts and crafts and today it’s most famous export – the Isfahan carpet – is still world renown in quality and style.
  • You can see artisans at work on these carpets all over the city, and while the price of a Persian Rug is mind-boggling – it’s not hard to see why when it can take up to four months just to produce one square meter. Pop your head into any shop and the sales person will happily show you all the different styles and construction techniques just like a free museum tour.
  • You are by no means obligated to buy anything, but just be upfront if this is the case and he will still proudly show you these beautiful works of art.

20. Head Back In Time At  The Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, The Largest Mosque in Iran

  • Dating back to 841, the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Jameh Mosque of Isfahan lies in the historic center of Isfahan and is well worth the entrance fee, showcasing centuries of Islamic architecture.
  • Also known as the Friday Mosque of Isfahan, the innovative designs and additions undertaken almost every 100 years showcases stylistic developments over a millennium and provided a prototype all later mosques across Iran and Central Asia. Still functioning as a place of worship, you can respectfully observe muslims praying here as you take in the myriad of design details throughout.
  • Undoubtably one of the top things to do in Isfahan and Iran.

How To Get To Isfahan Iran

  • Located in the center of Iran, getting to Isfahan is easiest via bus, train, and flight. There are direct flights to Tehran daily, and weekly flights to Damascus, Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait, and Istanbul.
  • You can also find direct flights to most major cities in Iran at least once a week. From Tehran, the bus from Tehran and other cities in Central Iran including Isfahan and Kerman is the best option taking around 5 hours, although there is also a train station if you prefer it does take longer.
  • As a major transport hub in Iran and the greater region, you should have no problem getting and out of Isfahan.
  • The bus station and train station are quite far out of town so you should book at the reputable travel agency in the main street of the Old Town to avoid a taxi trip, but if you are heading the Shiraz, Yazd or Kerman they might have some interesting – and affordable – day trip options to maximize your time!