Iran Travel Guide and Tips
Rich Persian heritage is evident throughout the country, both in terms of the historical sights – the ancient ruins of Persepolis and the still-glorious former capital of Isfahan being the two most prominent examples – and the country’s distinct cultural identity, which makes Iran unique.
- About Iran
- Language & culture
- Weather & geography
- Doing business & staying in touch
Plan your trip to Iran
- Travel to Iran
- Where to stay
Before you go to Iran
- Passport & visa
- Public holidays
- Money & duty free
- While you’re there
Things To See – Things To Do
- Shopping & nightlife
- Food & drink
- Getting around
Iran is a remarkable travel destination in myriad ways, and chief among these is the fact that preconceptions of a stern, inhospitable destination are invariably shattered. No one’s pretending that the country’s current leadership can’t be shockingly hard-fisted in matters of civic law, but the most likely result of a Western visitor making an Iran trip remains an endless stream of tea invites.
Rich Persian heritage is evident throughout the country, both in terms of the historical sights – the ancient ruins of Persepolis and the still-glorious former capital of Isfahan being the two most prominent examples – and the country’s distinct cultural identity, which sets it as almost a nation apart in the Islamic world. It’s somewhere with issues, sure, and flashpoint travel advisories should be heeded, but street-level Iran is largely a separate entity to news-headline Iran, and it makes for a truly soul-stirring place to visit.
British nationals – including dual British/Iranian nationals – face greater risks than nationals of many other countries and the security forces are suspicious of people with British connections. The risks increase for independent travellers, particularly if you go off the beaten track. Any behaviour, no matter how innocent, that does not have an obvious explanation can put you at risk. The threat to travellers is likely to be higher if there is any national unrest, terrorist incident or an increase in tensions between Iran and the international community.
If you choose to travel to Iran you should keep a low profile. Border areas are particularly sensitive. The FCO advise against all travel to: areas within 100km of the Iran/Afghanistan border; within 10km of the entire Iran/Iraq border; the province of Sistan-Baluchistan; and the area to the east of Bam and Jask, including Bam. This area is notorious for banditry and is the main route for drug-traffickers from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The towns of Zahedan, Zabol and Mirjaveh are particularly insecure. Some Iranian officials and media reports have falsely alleged a UK connection to separatist groups in Khuzestan and Sistan-Baluchistan. If you travel to these areas against our advice, stick to the main routes to avoid accidentally entering the numerous restricted or military zones.
The Iranian authorities have in many cases failed to meet their international obligations to notify Embassies when foreign nationals have been detained. Even if requested, adequate consular access is not always granted. You should therefore keep in close touch with family or friends back home.
There have been some attacks and robberies against foreigners. Young men on motorcycles or in cars have snatched bags from individuals either on the street or through open car windows/doors.
There have been attempted robberies by bogus policemen, usually in civilian clothing. If you are approached by anyone who claims to be a policeman, ask to see their ID and request the presence of a uniformed officer or marked patrol car. Don’t hand over any documents or cash, or get into any vehicle.
There have been incidents of motorcycle taxis taking tourists to quiet locations where they are then robbed.
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime. Avoid carrying large amounts of money and keep your passport safe. Pre-booked taxis are safer than those hailed from the street.
Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents and fatalities in the world. Most accidents are due to poor driving standards, unsafe vehicles and poor road maintenance. Take great care when travelling by road, including by public transport and when crossing streets. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, don’t leave the scene. Wait until the police arrive to make their report.
The Iranian authorities sometimes set up informal roadblocks both in cities and on main highways. They are often manned by young and inexperienced officers. You should always carry your identification with you and avoid getting into disputes.
If you wish to drive your own vehicle into Iran, you may be subject to Iranian customs and other regulations. There are special requirements for travellers wishing to bring motorcycles into the country. Contact the Iranian authorities for details well before you travel.
The European Union has highlighted a number of concerns about air safety oversight in Iran. Since April 2010, the State carrier Iran Air has been subject to operational restrictions in the EU and only 14 Airbus A300, eight Airbus A310 and one Boeing B737 from their fleet have permission to operate to/from the European Union. The restriction was put in place because Iran Air had been unable to demonstrate that a number of aircraft in its fleet meet international safety standards.
The list of airlines banned within the EU is based on random inspections on aircraft of airlines that operate flights to and from EU airports. The fact that an airline is not included in the list does not automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.
There is limited reliable independent expert information available about domestic airline safety in Iran and the International Civil Aviation Organisation has not audited those bodies responsible for air safety oversight in Iran. Aircraft operating domestic routes in Iran may not necessarily comply with international safety standards. There have been a number of fatal accidents.
Many areas of the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf are highly sensitive politically. The waters around the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the southern Persian Gulf are particularly sensitive and are militarised. In 2005 a British couple who anchored at Abu Musa were detained and French and German nationals were imprisoned for entering the waters near the island. In November 2009 a group of British sailors were detained for a week, along with their yacht, after accidentally sailing into Iranian waters in this area.
Mariners should not attempt to dock at all or sail into waters around these islands without express permission from the Iranian authorities.
You should maintain a high state of awareness and be alert to local and regional tensions which may affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.
The June 2013 Presidential Elections passed peacefully. However demonstrations are heavily policed with security forces deployed in large numbers and protesters have previously been taken into custody. You should stay away from demonstrations, rallies, large crowds and areas where police and security forces are deployed. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations. Western diplomatic missions have been the focus for previous protests. There is the potential for these to occur on Fridays after prayers. If you are unable to leave the immediate vicinity quickly, you should find a place of safety off the street, preferably indoors.
Here you can see all about Iran’s main highlights in details:
Iran Cities and Highlights
Why Go to Iran?
1. World Heritage Sites in Iran:
- Chogha Zanbil, Susa (1979): The ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam centered by one of the few great Ziggurat and surrounded by three huge concentric walls. It is located on the southwest of Iran, 80 km (50 mi) north of Ahvaz.
- Persepolis, Marvdasht (1979): An ancient ceremonial capital of the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenid Empire. Situated central south of Iran, 70 km northeast of Shiraz city.
- Meidan Emam, Isfahan (1979):Located in the center of Isfahan city, Meidan Emam, is one of the largest city squares in the world. The square is surrounded by important historical buildings and traditional craft bazaar from the Safavid era.
- Takht-e Soleyman, Takab (2003):Takht-e Soleyman, “The Throne of Solomon”, is the holiest shrine of Zoroastrianism and the former Sassanid Empire, In northwest of Iran.
- Bam Citadel, Kerman (2004): An Achaemenid period site that is situated in a desert on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. Bam was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake on 2003. Since than, Rayen citadel has substituted it.
- Pasargadae, (2004): Pasargadae was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site. The ruins lie 87 km northeast of Persepolis and was the first capital of the Persian Empire. The most important monument in Pasargadae is the tomb of Cyrus the Great.
- Soltaniyeh, Zanjan (2005): Was the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols. The main feature of Soltaniyeh’s is the Mausoleum of Il-khan Öljeitü, traditionally known as the Dome of Soltaniyeh. located some 240 kilometres (150 mi) to the north-west of Tehran.
- Bisotun, Kermanshah (2006): It contains remains dating from pre-historic times through the history of ancient Persia. located in the west of Iran, It bear’s unique testimony to the Persian Empire and the interchange of influences in art and writing in the region.
- Armenian Monastic Ensembles, Chaldoran (2008): The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith. They illustrate the very long duration of relations between the Persian and Armenian civilizations.
- Historical Hydraulic System, Shushtar (2009): It is an island city from the Sassanian era with a complex irrigation system.
- Historic Bazaar Complex, Tabriz (2010): It is one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazar in the world. Tabriz has been a city of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex was one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road.
- Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh & Shrine Ensemble, Ardabil (2010): It is a Sufi spiritual retreat dating from between the early 16th century and late 18th. Ardebil is among the northwester cities of Iran.
- The Persian Garden (2011): Nine gardens through out Iranfrom different epochs and climates are registered among this category. Royal Garden of Pasargadae, Bagh-e Eram (Shiraz), Bagh-e Chehel Sotun (Isfahan), Bagh-e Fin (Kashan), Bagh-e Dolat Abad (Yazd), Bagh-e Pahlavanpur (Mehriz), Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Kerman), Bagh-e Abas Abad and Bagh-e Akbariyeh.
- Gonbad-e Qābus, Golestan (2012):It is a monumental tomb tower in the north of Iran, the earliest and tallest in this part of Asia.
- Jāmé Mosque, Isfahan (2012): Know as the encyclopedia of Iranian architecture. It displays architectural styles of different periods in the country’s Islamic architecture.
- Golestan Palace, Tehran (2013): It is a 19th century royal residence, built by the Qajar dynasty. It displays traditional Persian architecture with western influences.
- Shahr-i Sokhta or Burnt City, Zabol (2014): It is an archaeological site from the Bronze Age urban settlement. It is associated with the Jiroft culture, an “independent Bronze Age civilization with its own architecture and language”, intermediate between Elam to the west and the Indus Valley Civilization to the east.
2. Geography & Weather:
Iran is located in southwestern Asia, largely on a high plateau situated between the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Its neighbors are on the north, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan; on the east, Pakistan and Afghanistan; and on the west Turkey and Iraq. The capital is Tehran and other main cities are Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz and Ahvaz.
Iran’s central plateau is surrounded by several tall, heavily eroded mountain ranges, principally the Alborz Mountains in the north and the Zagros range in the west and south. The arid interior plateau contains two remarkable deserts the Kavir-e-Lut or the Lut Desert, and Kavir-e-Markazi or the Central Desert. Iran’s climate is one of extremes, ranging from subtropical to subpolar, due to the extreme variations in altitude and rainfall throughout the nation.
3. The Growing Tourism Industry in Iran:
Moreover, Iran is one of the most important countries in Middle East and with old history, kind and hospitable people who always welcome foreigners to their country, to their home…
Before the Iranian revolution, significant numbers of tourist traveled to Iran and the tourist industry was growing due to diverse attractions, cultural authenticity and a various beautiful landscape suitable for a range of activities. Tourism declined after the revolution and again during the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s the declines were dramatic.
In 2011, the industry showed growth and foreign tourists reached 3 million. The economic conditions which caused devaluation of the Iranian Rial in 2012 also caused a higher number of tourists visiting Iran.
4. It’s on the Way to a lot of Places:
Iran is not the only place that tourist visit while traveling to this part of the world; rather it’s one of their destination! Yes, most tourists visiting Middle-East have stop by at other countries too. Like Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan on the West, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, India, China or Mongolia.
When to Go to Iran?
Iran is 4 season country with very moderate weather in most months. In summer the weather is hot in southern cities, on the other hand you will enjoy the weather in North West and northern cities. Iran ski season from December to early April is also popular time for ski lovers.
Where to Stay in Iran?
By having a look at our Iran hotels information page, you can choose the best of Iran hotels for your accommodation. Hotels Link