Iran has shaped its character through centuries as a beautiful and rich country. Iran is all about culture, art, architecture, history, and nature. It is a four-season country where you can see all kinds of climates in every corner of the country. The rich history plays a role in everything about Iran. Ancient remains inspire architecture; Iranian art and Islamic Art appear together. As a result, every city, every monument, and every group of people has many untold stories and a meaningful background. In this article, we will make a pocket list of the best places to see in Iran. Of course, this array is just a small part of this immense country.
The Shah or Naghsh-e Jahan is a public urban square in the center of Isfahan, Iran. It is one of the largest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Persian and Islamic architecture. Built by the Safavid Shah Abbas I in the early 17th century, the square is bordered by two-story arcades and anchored on each side by four magnificent buildings. To the east, the shaykh Loftfallah Mosque; to the west, the pavilion of Ali Qapi; to the north the entrance of Qeyssariyeh; and to the south, the celebrated Royal Mosque. A homogenous urban ensemble built according to a unique and coherent plan. This UNESCO site was the heart of the Safavid capital’s culture, economy, religion, social power, government, and politics. Its vast sandy boardwalk was used for celebrations and public executions. The arcades on all sides housed hundreds of shops; above the entrance to the big Qeyssariyeh bazaar balcony accommodated musicians giving public concerts. It is excellent that this square is still alive and beautiful to visit. You can visit it during the day, but at night it is mesmerizing as well.
The ruins of the holy city of the kingdom of Elam, surrounded by three massive concentric walls, founded 1250 B.C. The city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal, as shown by the thousands of unused bricks left at the site. Located in ancient Elam (southwest Iran) was founded by the Elamite king as the religious center of Elam. The principal element of this complex is an enormous ziggurat dedicated to the Elamite divinities INSHUSHINAK and NAPIRISHA. The ziggurat originally measured 105 meters on each side and 53 meters in height, in five levels, and was crowned with a temple. Mudbrick was the primary material of the whole ensemble. The archaeological site of Tchogha Zanbil is an exceptional expression of the culture, beliefs, and ritual traditions of the oldest indigenous people of Iran.
Pasargadae was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II the Great, in Pars, the homeland of Persians, in the 6th century B.C. Its palaces, gardens, and the tomb of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid architectures and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. Pasargadae was the capital of the first vast multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different people. This was reflected in their architecture, a representation of distinctive cultures. Pasargadae located close to Shiraz.
Founded by Darrius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an enormous half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The royal city of Persepolis ranks among the archaeological sites that have no equivalent in the world.
Persepolis was the seat of the government of their empire and was designed to be a showplace and festival center of the kings of that era. This UNESCO site is close to the city of Shiraz.
Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times. The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darrius I, when he rose the throne of the Persian Empire. The sculpture portrays Darrius holding a bow, a sign of dominance, and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Guamate, the Median Magus, and pretender to the throne, whose assassination led to Darrius’ rise to power. On the sacred mountain of Bisotun in Western Iran is a remarkable multilingual inscription carved on a limestone cliff about 60 meters above the plain. Bisotun is an outstanding testimony to the important interchange of human values on the development of monumental art and writing.
When it comes to tourist attraction sites in Shiraz- Fars, Shah Cheragh is one of the places that has a great appeal to tourists. Both the architectural style of the exterior and the beauty of the shrine’s interior has something to offer to a variety of visitors. The shrine is located on the west side of the courtyard in the royal palace under the dome. The interior is mirrored in an artistic style by small colored mirrors. A variety of beautiful Persian and Arabic lines adorn the view around the mirrors and tiles. There are two main entrances, which pass the south and North of the shrine under two large tiled doors and enter the shrine’s vast courtyard. In the middle of this courtyard stands a large fountain pond with grand trees surrounding it. Apart from the two main doors, there are two other side doors, one to the Haji Bazaar and the other to the Atiq Grand Mosque. A gate-like entrance enters the Shah Cheragh Bazaar from the north side of the courtyard. This provides easy access for the sightseers, considering these three locations are also among Shiraz’s tourist attraction sites.
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, is a traditional mosque in Shiraz, Iran, was built during the Qajar dynasty rule of Iran. It is located in the Gawd-i Araban quarter, near the Shah Cheragh mosque. It’s a valuable tourist attraction in Iran due to its unique tiling and construction. The mosque’s main entrance has two piers that are each divided into three parts, decorated with seven-colored tiles and Shiraz iris. Its nickname, the Pink Mosque, comes from many pink-colored tiles used for its interior design. The mosque has seven wooden doors with colorful Orsi windows connecting the interior to the square-shaped courtyard, in the middle of which there is a beautiful pond. What makes Nasir Al-Mulk mosque one of the most attractive tourist attractions in the city is the extensive use of Orsi windows in its façade. Orsi windows are a mixture of wood and colored glass that makeup awe in the visitors’ feeling upon entering. The Orsi windows here create colorful lights on the interior of the mosque. When hit with light, these glasses provide for some of the most beautiful pictures taken by tourists in the mosque.
Vakil Bazaar or Vakil Al-Roaya is one of the most famous traditional and historical markets in Iran. This bazaar, which was built by order of Karim Khan Zand, is now located in the center of Shiraz. Other frequently visited tourist attractions such as the Vakil mosque and the historic Vakil bath are located next to the bazaar, and similar to other Middle Eastern bazaars, there are a few mosques and Imamzadehs constructed beside or behind the bazaar that are places of interest for those visiting the bazaar. The market has five large wooden doors located on all four sides that provide excellent access to the bazaar. Inside, the sightseers and shoppers face two corridors from North to south and east to west of the bazaar, intersecting like a cross. The bazaar has beautiful courtyards, caravanserais, bathhouses, and old square shops on two floors. These shops have kept to the antique theme they were built in and are filled with the most colorful and beautiful merchandise that captures the attention of various groups of visitors and are deemed among the best places in Shiraz to buy all kinds of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts, and antiques.
Here is an excellent example of Islamic architecture. It was built during the Safavid Dynasty about 400 years ago when Shah Abbas II – the King of that period – decided to make Isfahan a real Capital city by building significant buildings. When you go inside the mosque, you can see two sides and one dome precisely in the middle of them when you go inside the mosques. Those sides used to be seminary schools (religious schools). The turquoise blue tiles and magical architecture of this mosque are beyond imagination. There is always a person singing Islamic songs under the dome as it reflects the voice several times. This mosque is essential when it comes to calligraphy and the philosophy behind the architecture.
Chahar Bagh Boulevard or Street is a historical area in Isfahan downtown and belongs to the Safavid Dynasty. There are some other vital monuments in this part of the city. This complex of royal buildings used to be the town’s favorite spot for the King and his family. It still is a popular place with all the people as it is decorated with beautiful trees and walkways. Shops are always busy. The street is full of walking people trying to pass the road to get to the riverside, which is at the end of Chahar Bagh Abbasi Street. Chahar Bagh Means “Four Gardens” to illustrate the beauty of that part of the city.
Walking in Isfahan’s bazaars and historic districts, you may find this city a whole Islamic style city. Still, in Jolfa, an Armenian neighborhood in Isfahan, there is a different lifestyle going on to everyone’s surprise. Vank Church is the highlighted part of this elite neighborhood. This church is a combination of Islamic, Iranian, and Armenian style of Architecture. Right next to the church, there is a Museum of Armenian history and heritage. Jolfa is home to all Armenian people of Isfahan. They are kind-hearted and welcome the visitors who are into the Armenian lifestyle. This variety of cultures, architecture, lifestyle, and religion has made Isfahan a glory in Iran’s middle and one of Iran’s top destinations.
Remembering the time you were under the Khajoo Bridge is always cool because of that atmosphere’s happiness. This Safavid Bridge is about 400 years old, but the feeling it gives you is fresh and chilling. Every Friday night, locals gather there under each bridge entrance, singing and dancing to traditional music. Having a proper distance from the bridge, you’ll be able to see the warm lights of that super beautiful old bridge. Zayande-Rood River flows gently, and both lightening and reflection are eye-catching. This bridge almost a symbol of happiness among locals. Each side of the bridge is connected to a walking way alongside the river. Zayande- Rood River plays an exact role in the majesty of Khajoo Bridge. Very close to the Khajoo Bridge, another fabulous bridge attracts many tourists from all around the world called: Si-o Se Pol Bridge, meaning: 33 bridges. These tourist attractions in Isfahan are very close to the central part of the city.
Looking up to find the top part of the tallest entrance in the world, you feel it’s time to dive into the beauty. Jame Mosques of Yazd is truly a treasure in the heart of the city. Blue tiling has made this mosque a fantastic building in which calmness surrounds you. To get to the
Jame Mosque, you can easily pick a road in the old part of the town, and the end of your walking tour would be the Jame Mosque. Narrow alleys and streets, old-style houses, and huge Wind Catchers would be the surprise part of your journey through the old district. The best thing about the old part of Yazd is getting lost in the old neighborhood and try no to find the way out of there. Wandering around this part gives you the chance to meet locals and their rare lifestyle deep inside the city. Don’t worry about getting lost. You will always end up seeing the entrance of the Jame mosque.
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is an excellent gateway for starting a journey through time. The place we’re talking about had a significant role in a civilization’s water supply system referring to 3000 years ago. This water supply system is considered a rare masterpiece of creative genius, Darius the Great, who governed all over Iran’s land for around 30 years.
Shushtar infrastructure accommodates thirteen ancient monuments. Watermills, waterfalls, clean tunnels for transferring drinking water, and old bridges are aspects of this picturesque place. You can touch an avant-garde complex related to thousand years before any technological system.
SHHS is located in one of the Karun River’s tributaries, in one of the southwestern Provinces of Iran, Khuzestan. When you pass many roads beset by rice farms and sunflowers along with this province, you reach SHHS. Visiting this fabulous spot reminds us of those days of old ages when people were trying to figure out the best ways to use their intelligence. This type of history is one of Iran’s most popular tourist attractions and a source of inspiration for Iranian folks.
Fin Garden is an Iranian garden in Kashan. The public bathroom of Fin is also in the garden. Using natural elements such as water and trees, the architect has made a beautiful calm place where you feel walking in the air. The most beautiful thing about this garden is when you look at the combination of the freshwater and cool shadows of tall trees, you forget all about the dry land behind the garden walls. This contrary brings a unique feeling to the moment of visiting. To illustrate the joy, imagine the family of King walking, enjoying, and living in this forgotten piece of heaven. A weird fact about the big pool’s fountains is that they go back to centuries ago when there was no technology to build such fountains. They used gravity power and designed a piping system to make a water fountain without electricity and technology. That’s the art of this land. These days, the Fin Garden and the Fin Bathroom are open to tourists who are seeking untold stories about this green garden.
Iran’s top tourist attractions are the ones in which the identity of the country has a part. Naghsh-e Rostam is one of those attractions that shows only a bit of the ancient character of Iran. The oldest part of Naghsh-e Rostam goes back to 1000 BC. Of course, the patterns and shapes are damaged and faded, but some parts of an image are still on the wall. The idea of a man with an unusual head is on top of four toms belonging to Achaemenid Kings. To understand more about Iran’s top attractions, you’d better have an overall idea about Iran’s ancient background. Naghsh-e Rostam is now a place to visit and be proud of what those people did for building a civilization.
The Golestan Palace belongs to a group of royal buildings. It is one of the oldest historic monuments in Tehran and of world heritage status. A beautiful place that attracts many tourists from all around the world. The palace has 15 halls and buildings that require separate tickets. It consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries that have made this palace one of Iran’s main tourist attractions sites. This palace is a masterpiece in architecture and interior design that leaves its visitors awestruck. Stepping inside this palace, you go back in time and could spend hours walking between rooms full of antiquities, art, and history. Due to the magnificent size of the palace, it’s better to choose which ones to visit. The most recommended locations for tourists are The Mirror Hall, which is the most famous of the halls of the Golestan Palace, the throne room, the Reception Hall, and Edifice of the Sun, which is some of the most beautiful places in the palace to visit and are often recommended by tourists themselves.
Tajrish bazaar has very ancient architecture. Some of its places were built more than 200 years ago, back in the Qajar dynasty. Thus, it has been recorded as a National Monument of Iran. Inside the bazaar, you will face a lengthy hallway lined with brown bricks, Good food, and a perfect example of cohabitation of traditional and modern shops together. The main reason that this bazaar appeals to tourists is perhaps the fact that one can never see such an exotic and charming collection of goods in one place. Tajrish Bazaar is full of edible and functional odd assortments. From nuts, dairy, dried fruits, pickles, spices, and saffron-tinged Nabat, to cloths, gold, and cultural souvenir shops and also, the sight of vivid and mesmerizing colors of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are located in the heart of the bazaar make for a great experience and most beautiful pictures. Tajrish bazaar also has an adjacent door to Imamzadeh Saleh, one of the most popular Shia shrines in northern Tehran.
The Tomb of Hafez and Saadi are commonly known as Hafezieh and Saadieh, built-in memory of the celebrated Persian poets Hafez and Saadi are located in Shiraz- Fars. With the addition of their gardens, and the surrounding memorials to other significant figures, these two locations are among the most popular tourist attractions in shiraz.in both Hafezieh and Saadieh, there are several rectangular pools amongst the gardens, and well-maintained orange trees, paths, streams, and flower beds that create a pleasant environment for the tourism hub of the tomb and memorial hall. The dome over Hafez’s grave is well lit at night, providing an attractive focal point and its surrounding areas where many visitors spend hours immersed in the aroma of orange blossoms and read his poems. Saadi’s tomb, which is inspired by the Chehel Sotoun, has a fusion of old and new architectural elements with seven verses of Saadi’s poems on the walls. Next to the tomb, tourists can step down a few stairs to an old basement under the tomb itself with a pond at its heart, which creates a quite spiritual feeling and peace for the visitors.
The Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran, is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza. It is the largest mosque globally by area and is a tourism center in Iran and has been described as “the heart of the Shia Iran” The complex contains several courtyards, minarets, and fountains. Within the complex, various locations are attractive to visitors, such as the Goharshad Mosque, one of Iran’s most reputed mosques. It is situated adjacent to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza. It is located beneath the Golden Dome, which is the most prominent symbol of Mashhad’s city. Astan Quds Museum and Quran Museum, with their collections of carpets, rugs and golden covers for the Tomb and precious manuscripts of the Quran as well as a library, four seminaries, a cemetery, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims and vast prayer halls that create a Very Quiet Place to Pray And Think, all come together to provide an excellent experience for visiting tourists.
Rudkhan Castle, also Roodkhan Castle, is a brick and stone medieval fortress in Iran built by the Gilaks to defend against the Arab invaders during the Arab/Islamic invasion of Sassanian Iran. Located north of Iran in Gilan province, as one of the most breathtaking tourist attraction sites in Iran, The castle is built on two tips of the amount. After crossing a mountainous winding route with dense forests, the first thing that visitors notice about this mountain castle, which is embedded in the green forest that overgrows its walls and courtyards, is its big entrance gate and The castle’s 42 towers that still stand intact. What makes this castle one of the main tourist attractions sites in Iran is that sightseers can roam the historical castle with a fantastic view worldwide for hours at the path. At the foot of the court, there are plenty of places that tourists can eat or buy various souvenirs from. The Rudkhan Castle River, which originates in the surrounding heights and flows from south to North, adds to the scenery’s beauty.
Alamut, meaning eagle’s nest, a ruined mountain fortress located in the Alamut region in the northwest of Qazvin province and close to Gazer Khan Village, came into the possession of Hasan-i Sabbah In 1090 AD, as one of the most famous fortresses in all of Persia and Syria, it was thought impregnable to any military attack and was fabled for its heavenly gardens, library, and laboratories where philosophers, scientists, and theologians could debate in intellectual freedom. Although not at its full glory of the past, it is an exciting tourist destination for many because of its historical significance. When going to the Alamut castle, visitors should remember to have proper footwear and a tour guide so they can enjoy this experience to its fullest. Upon reaching the castle, sightseers can have a perfect view of all other mountains and valleys in the surrounding areas and Ghazor khan village and horizon from the summit. The road leading to the castle itself is most beautiful, with mountain sceneries and interesting photographic spots.
One of the islands in the Persian Gulf is Kish Island. This beautiful island is not like other parts of Iran. The culture is a mixture of Iranian – Arabic lifestyle. Local’s jobs are mostly related to the sea, and the island’s business character has been through many changes in previous years. As soon as you get there, there a variety of activities you can do and places you can visit The Greek Ship is one of them as well as the Kish Dolphin Park and Maryam beach. Kish is a very favorite travel destination among Iranians. They try to head to Kish during the Fall and Winter; Kish Island is very hot during the summertime. If you feel annoyed by extreme humid weather, visiting Kish Island in the summer is not recommended. No wonder if you find it completely different from Iran’s other top places. Nature is also very strange on this island. Travelers who have been there always have memories about camping by the seashore and different adventurous experiences. Make sure you will try snorkeling and swimming in the blessed water of the Persian Gulf. This gives you the chance to meet locals and have fun with them.
Shah Abbas, the King of the Safavid dynasty, wanted to compete against other Islamic buildings in the world at that time. He tried to put his beliefs about Shia-Islam into art and architecture. That’s why Isfahan is known for its many mosques and beautiful turquoise domes. But living like a king needs a lot of things, and that’s why mosques could not satisfy his desires. Chehel Sotoun (Forty pillars) is one of those things that the King wanted to have. A brilliant palace near the city’s royal district with a vast pool in the middle of the garden and the central part of the palace in which they used to hold political meetings. They call it Chehel Sotoun, which means: forty pillars. In the outer part of the palace where the entrance is located, 20 posts keep the building strong. When you look at the big pool, there would be a reflection of those 20 pillars, and as a result, it seems you have forty posts there. Chehel Sotoun is one of the best among Iran’s top tourist attractions.
Iranian People refer to a group of cities as “North.” Those are the final destination of any Iranian who wants to have fun. North of Iran is truly the paradise of Iran. An extensive land near the Caspian Sea with millions of tourist places and attractions in which you will feel as if you are the only person in the world! Spectacular sceneries and the beautiful beaches of this part of the country are the main reasons for heading to the North! North of Iran consists of many cities. Every city has its style, culture, and type of tourist attractions. Still, we often hear the name of Ramsar, Gilan, Anazali port, Chaloos, and Rasht. Caspian sea and forests of these cities attract many tourists every year, and the journey is always delightful. Everything you need to travel and stay the provided and a combination of the bests is there to discover. Among all those cities in the North of Iran, Masooleh is one of the most famous cities. Masooleh has a unique architectural style that all the houses are made over each other. When you have a glimpse of it, every step is just a house for locals. It is said that describing Masooleh will never clarify anything. The moment you get, there is a great moment we are talking about.
Counting Iran’s top tourist attractions will never end due to its countless unique spots and activities you can do in Iran. Iran is a big country; people are varied; nature differs from one place to another. All of these aspects show that there are numerous tourist attractions in Iran. If you ever have been to any of them, let us know about your experience and the things you must do in Iran.