Iran travel guide
General Information of Iran
The word ‘Iran’ was known as ‘Arya’ in old Iran and ‘erãn’ in Old Persian language. It is derived from the ancient ‘Airya name’ or the land of noble people.
The term ‘Arya’ was spelled as ‘Arya’ and Arya in Old Persian and Sanskrit. ‘Arya’ or ‘Airyana’ denotes freeborn and, in its collective form, denotes the freeborn’s land. Many centuries before the emergence of Islam, this country was named ‘Iran’ or ‘Iranshahr.’ Of course, from the 6th century BC until 1935, the country was known and called ‘Persia’ by the world.
A few facts about Iran:
Provinces: 31 (Tehran, Khorasan Razavi, and Isfahan are the most populated)
Area: 1,648,195 Sq.Km
Population: 83.9 million (2020)
Money: Iranian Rials (IRR)
Driver’s seat: Left side of the car
Calendar: Iranian Solar year
Time zone: +3:30 GMT
Electricity: 220 volts (50 hertz)
Telephone code: +98
Emergency call: 110
The geographical situation of Iran [where is Iran]?
Iran is situated southwest of the Asian Continent and in the northern part of the Middle East. The country borders with the Caucasus and Caspian Sea (Mazandaran Sea) and Central Asia from the north side. From the east side, it borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. From the south, it borders with the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, and from the west side, it is bounded by Iraq and Turkey. Actually, the former more enormous Iranian plateau covered 2,600,000 sq.km, out of which only 1,648,000 sq.km now belongs to current formed Iran.
The variation of time between the farthest eastern town compared with the farthest western city is almost 1.18 hours.
Generally, the country’s circumference is 8,731 kilometers from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman.
Also, about 20.7% of the country’s 160 million hectares is desert and barren, 54.9% of the land is covered by plains, 7.6% is covered by forests, and the remaining 14.4% is fertile and productive.
In old times the Silk Road commenced from Tian Huang town in China. Then it extended to Gansu Province at the north side, entered the present Eastern Turkistan, crossed the central part of Afghanistan, and extended to Samarqand and Bukhara. In the beginning, the Silk Road highway continued to Marv, Sarakhs, Nishapur, and Gorgan and reached Rey from Bukhara. From Rey, the road continued to Qazvin, Zanjan, Tabriz, and Yerevan. From Yerevan, it reached the Trabzon port situated at the Black Sea.
After that, the road made a circle and came to a port in Syria. A branch of the Silk Road stretched from Samarqand to Kharazm, then to Hashtarkhan, and stoped at the Danube river and Sea of Azov in Europe.
The most critical commodity transported through Iran in ancient times was silk. Since the Iranians imported vast amounts of silk and transformed it into the fabric, they were able to sell their silk fabric to European countries at reasonable prices.
Safety precautions [Is Iran safe?]
‘Iran? Is it safe?’ It is a question you’ll almost definitely be asked before you travel to Iran… and often. But the perception of a dangerous trip to Iran and Iran as an unforeseeable, risky destination couldn’t be further from the truth. Harsh crime against foreigners and tourists is almost unheard of. The belief that as a Westerner, you won’t be welcomed is undoubtedly wrong. If you do your best to adjust to local customs, you are not likely to be treated with anything but courtesy and kindliness- that applies to Americans, too.
Of course, crime does still occur, so it needs to take the usual and reasonable precautions. However, from time to time, we’ve heard of very few travelers or tourists being robbed.
Police & Security Forces
It is improbable you’ll have any issue with the Iranian police. The majority of those you’ll see will be busy in a gainless effort to improve the traffic flow, and they really have no time and interest in hassling foreigners. Generally, in Iran, tourist destinations such as Shiraz, Mashhad, and Isfahan will find Tourist Police inconveniently located kiosks. One should be capable of speaking English or at least finding someone who might be able to.
Although soldiers and policemen wander the streets and patrol the highways checking on the motion of pedestrians and road users, they rarely make trouble for foreigners and tourists traveling around Iran.
You can expect the routine inspections at airports and in some public areas, such as the shrines of Imam Reza. It is expected for foreigners to carry their passports with them all the time.
In the eastern provinces, or traveling within cities of Iran late at night, your transport is probably to be stopped more often by police searching for drugs and other smuggled goods.
Most of the same activities that are illegal in any country are banned in Iran. For most minor faults or crimes, foreigners will likely be deported, although it is not absolute.
Most Women travelers enjoy visiting Iran and have few problems.
- When traveling long distances by public transport as train or bus, especially on international services, keep your passport, money, and camera with you. The occasional pickpockets operate in some busy and crowded bazaars and streets.
- If you drive, try to avoid parking on the street overnight in Zahedan province or anywhere near the Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghani borders.
- If you are carrying your passport, keep it strapped to your body. However, simply you’ll have to trust your hotel, which will inevitably demand that you deposit your passport overnight.
- Violence against foreign women is almost unheard of or rare in Iran. You should take standard safety precautions while staying in cheap Mosaferkhaneh or traveling alone or with female friends. It is best to be cautious about accepting invitations to tea at a man’s house unless at least one of the female relatives be present.
- If you are harassed, tell your persecutor family, but politely, to discontinue and enlist the sympathy of other Iranians. If the problem persists, a mere mention of the police (call number:110) should have a sobering effect.
Emergency phone numbers in Tehran
Like many other countries in the world, Telecommunication Company has established useful and emergency numbers to offer public service. The following are the most frequently needed phone numbers in Tehran.
Phone number of political and international agencies in Iran
Iran is a member of the majority of international organizations. Many of these organizations have an office in Tehran (PhoneCode:021). The following is their phone numbers:
Iran Visa Rules & Regulations
Interested people wishing to visit Iran for touristic purposes (Visa Type B) must obtain a valid visa adjusted to foreign ministry rules and regulations. It is good to notice that the visa is not stamped on Iran traveler’s passports.
Business visas can be harder to obtain than tourist visas. To get a two-week or one-month (extendable) Iran business visa, you must have a business contact in Iran who can sponsor your visit through the MFA in Tehran.
A five-day transit visa is actually the last resort. The cost of this type of visa is almost as much as tourist visas, and while in theory, processing could be quick, in point of fact, it often takes two or three weeks. One benefit is that you don’t require an agency-sponsor; however, you may need a letter of recommendation from your embassy for Iran visa, which might cost more. The main drawback? Iran is a big country; five days is a short time, and Iran does not extend transit visas to your desired time
Currently, nationalities of 15 countries are eligible to enter Iran without a visa.
Armenia (90 days of stay within 180 days)
Azerbaijan (30 days of stay)
Bolivia (30 days)
China (21 days of stay)
Egypt (20 days)
Georgia (45 days of stay)
Iraq (30 days)
Hong Kong (21 days)
Lebanon (30 days of stay)
Macau (21 days)
Malaysia (15 days of stay)
Oman (30 days)
Syria (90 days of stay within 180 days)
Turkey (3 months)
Venezuela (15 days of stay)
It is worth noting that tourists visiting Kish and Qeshm islands do not need to obtain visas in advance and are eligible to enter and stay up to 14 days. Citizens of 3 countries (USA, UK, Canada) need a registered guide waiting for them upon arrival with a valid hotel reservation. Guide also must inform the Immigration office at the airport 48 hours before the arrival of the citizens mentioned above.
On arrival visa nationalities
People of more than 50 countries can visit Iran with a stamp-free (sticker-free) visa while entering one of the international airports of cities of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kerman, BandarAbbas, Mashhad, Bushehr, Kish, and Qeshm. The maximum period of stay would be 30 days.
Visa necessary nationalities
Nevertheless, some nations need to obtain an Iran visa before entering. Citizens of countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Somalia, USA, and the UK must obtain their valid visa through embassies and consulates before arrival, which might take 6 to 8 weeks to be issued. Due to political conflicts, citizens of Israel are banned from entering Iran.
Visa Steps for Nationalities of the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom
Citizens of Canada, United Kingdom, and the USA need to pass a two-step process to obtain their Iran visa:
- Book a tour from a registered travel agency to get their authorization code. Citizens of these three nations must be accompanied by a certified guide during their stay and announce their Iran travel itinerary supervised by the visa sponsor before obtaining their visa. Authorization code must be issued through the ministry of foreign affairs. It might take 2 months (usually 6-8 weeks) for the nationalities mentioned above, so you would better take this into consideration.
- After obtaining your authorization code, you would be able to send the code and documents to the embassy or consulates of Iran to obtain your visa. As different documents might be needed in different locations, it is better to check before sending your documents.
Iran Visa Fee
The foreign ministry of Iran has issued visa cost for different nations which can be seen here:
Required Documents for Iran Visa on Arrival
- Valid passport with at least 6 months of validity
- Return ticket (confirmed one) within a 30-day timeframe started from arrival time
- Iran visa application form containing a photo attached on
- Hotel voucher within a 30-day timeframe holding reservation number or an invitation letter sent from a registered travel agency in Iran to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 48 hours before passenger’s arrival.
- Visa sticker-free fee. It is required to be paid at the entry airport. (from 10 to 150 euros depending on passenger’s nationality)
- Valid travel insurance that is printed on a paper covering you during your stay is necessary. It is not officially listed, but it is mandatory and essential.
- An authorization code obtained from a registered travel agency or Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although it is optional, it accelerates the process.
- Filling out the application form provided on ElCid Tour website
- Sending the documents (scanned) – Passport & 6×4 Photo (Women must wear Hijab according to governmental rules & regulations while taking photos)
- Paying the service fee (15 euros)
- Waiting for completion (48 to 72 hours in working days)
- Taking the authorization code sent to you to the nearest consulate (if you don’t refer to a consulate it is possible to obtain it at the entering airport)
It is possible to extend an Iran visa for another 30 days at an immigration office. It is advised to be done in the cities of Isfahan, Mashhad, Tehran, and Shiraz. This process typically takes within a working day and from 1 to 4 hours.
Necessary documents for extending visa
- Photo (2 x 6*4 )
- Filling out the visa application form
- Copy of visa page & passport
- Paying visa fee (renewal fee)
Currency & cost of travel to Iran
The currency of Iran is called Rial. It is written ریال in the Persian language. Although the Rial is the official currency in Iran and the price of goods is printed in Rial, Iranian commonly express prices in Toman. Every Toman equals to 10 Rial. For instance, if you are buying a loaf of bread and the clerk announces 1000 Toman, it is in fact 10,000 Rial. IRR is the symbol of Rial and it can be written instead.
Toman = 10 Rial
Due to the sanctions imposed by the US over Iranian banks, most of the exchanges function through exchange offices and not banks to exchange your money at better prices at exchange offices. Every morning around 11 a.m., exchanges quote the new price of the day, and you would be able to trade currency at the new prices. If you change money on the street, you might be treated like a total moron with no idea of current rates. You should demand the same rate as you’d get in. For checking online quotations, you can click here. (www.bonbast.com)
Presently the following banknotes are used in Iran:
250,500,1000,2000 and 5000 Rials coins.
1000,2000,5000,10000,50000, 100000, and 500000 Rials banknote.
ATMs in Iran
Although Iran has a functioning network of ATMs (cash-point machines), they can only be used with locally issued bank cards, so they are useless to travelers unless you open a local account.
Like credit cards, travelers’ cheques are useless in Iran. Only a couple of banks attached to international hotels in Tehran can (unofficially) change travelers’ cheques.
We intend to specify the price of some services for you to be informed about the budget you might suppose to allocate to your desired trip. Just please be advised that these prices are approximate and depend on many variations.
We consider two types of budget, mid-range budget and luxury one.
Mid-range Budget Iran travel packages
Accommodation (Normally 3-star hotels): 30 to 65 Euros (per night- per room)
Food & Beverage: 12 to 15 Euros (For 3 medium daily meal)
Transportation (including VIP bus transport and taxi service): 7 to 12 Euros
Sightseeing (including 3 entrance fees): 5 to 7 Euros
Overnight activity: 40 to 90 Euros per activity
Average For services (except activity): 54 Euros per day
Luxury Budget Iran travel packages
Accommodation (Normally 4 to 5-star hotels): 65 Euros to 100 Euros
Food & Beverage: 15 euros to 25 Euros (For 3 luxury daily meal)
Transportation (including private car and driver): 50 Euros to 70 Euros
Overnight activity: 90 to 140 Euros per activity
Tour Guide: 20 to 50 Euros
Domestic Flights: 20 to 70 Euros
Sim card with data: 2 to 4 Euros
Events/Ceremonies/Calendar & Holidays of Iran
Iranian Official Working Hours
Friday is an official holiday in Iran. Government departments and ministries are open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. from Saturday until Wednesday. Still, some organizations or departments in Tehran and provincial towns work from Saturday until Thursday. Banks are open from 8 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. from Saturday until Wednesday and from 8 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Thursdays. The working hours of private companies are the same as in government departments. They open at 8 or 9 a.m. and typically close at 4 or 5 p.m. Some private companies are off on Thursdays, and some are open until noon.
Opening and closing times might be changeable, but you should consider that most businesses close Thursday afternoons and Friday (the Iranian weekend). During summer, many businesses close during the hot afternoons, from about noon until about 4 p.m.; along the blistering Persian Gulf coast, doors stay shut until about 5 p.m. The most likely to find anything open is between 9 a.m. and noon, daily except Friday.
Currently, three calendars are in Iran; the Persian solar calendar is the one which is used officially and comes in everyday use; The Muslim lunar calendar is used for Islamic religious matters, and the Western (Gregorian) calendar is used in dealing with foreigners and in some books that are related to history. As a result, Iranian newspapers carry three dates; 13 May 2017 also appeared 24 Dey 1395 (Persian) and 14 Rabee II 1438 (Muslim).
The Zoroastrians also have their own calendar. When visiting Iran, if you plan to use the whole visa time allocated, don’t forget to note the Western date for your personal reference; the stamp on your visa page might be written in the Persian calendar (and in Farsi numerals). When you intend to book public transport or extend your visa try to double-check the Gregorian date with a calendar (most calendars in Iran show Persian, Gregorian and Islamic dates) or online at https://www.time.ir
The modern Persian solar calendar, a direct descendant of the ancient Zoroastrian calendar, is calculated from the first day of spring in the year of the Hejira, the movement of the prophet Mohammed the prophet of Islam from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. This calendar containing 365 days (366 every leap year) holds a New Year (Nowruz, the first day of spring), which usually corresponds to 21 March following the Gregorian or Western calendar.
The Muslim calendar, used to some extent in Islamic countries, starts from the month before the Hejira but is formed by the lunar year of 354 or 355 days. Hence, it is presently not by the Persian solar calendar by some 40 years. The names of the 12 Muslim calendar months in Farsi are Moharram, Safar, Rabi’-ol-Avval, Rabi’-ol- Sani (or Rabi’-ol-Akhar), Jamadi-ol-Ula, Jamadi-l-Okhra, Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramazan, Shavval, Zu-l-Gha’deh, and Zu-l-Hejjeh. The useful website www.rabiah.com converts Islamic (Hijri) dates to Western (Gregorian) calendar and vice versa.
The Zoroastrian calendar works to a solar year of 12 months of 30 days each, with five extra days. The week does not exist in this system, and every 30 days of a month is called after and presided over by its own angel or archangel. The 1st, 8th, 15th, and 23rd of each month are considered as holy days. As in the Persian calendar, the Zoroastrian year starts in March at the vernal equinox. Except for Espaadarmaz, which replaces Esfand, the Zoroastrian calendar months are the same as those in the Persian calendar.
Official holidays in Iran
Iranian holidays cover national, religious, and political events. Some holidays are based on solar months and remain unchanged every year, and some are based on lunar months and change every year. It is worthwhile to take a look before making a trip to Iran.
Official language and alphabet
According to the Constitution of Iran, the rights of the language of the minorities are duly respected. Principle 15 of the Constitution says, ”The official and common language and alphabet of the people of Iran is Persian, and all official documents, correspondence, texts, and textbooks must be written in this language, but newspapers and magazines are permitted to use local or ethnic words, and minority languages can be taught in schools along with the official Persian language. ” As we said before, Persian or Farsi is the official language of Iran. The Persian language is spoken in various regions in the country with different dialects.
Azari language is often spoken northwest of Iran. Kurdish and Lori are expressed in the west. Arabic is spoken at the south, Gilaki and Mazandarani dialects are spoken at northern seashores, and the Baluchi language is spoken southeast of Iran. After the official Persian language, the Azari language is the most common in most regions in Iran.
Nowadays, exertion is being made at cultural centers in the country to purge the Persian language of foreign words and terms. Meanwhile, one must note that there is a slight difference between the written and spoken of the Persian language. The lyrics are not wholly pronounced the way they are written. For example, the word ‘beravim (let’s go) is pronounced ‘berim.’
Accommodation in Iran
Iran has a reasonable accommodation choice, from tiny cells in noisy Mosafer-khanes (basic lodging houses) to luxury rooms in world-class hotels. However, camping is almost nonexistent. Don’t expect anything resembling an Eco resort except a few known eco-lodges called Boomgardi.
Dual-pricing or not, it is possible to engage in a bit of friendly negotiation, especially during the low season between mid-October and early March. If dual-pricing is still happening, you could try asking for a discount for more extended stays, or learn the Farsi numbers so you can print out the difference between local and foreign prices (most hotels have Iranian and foreign prices displayed in reception).
For foreign tourists, midrange and top-end places mostly quote their prices in US dollars or Euros, although they will accept (and sometimes require to be paid in) Rials. In some budget places, soap and (small) towels are usually provided. Most mid-range hotels offer toilet paper, but you should always have an emergency stash. Hotels will almost always keep your passport overnight, so keep a photocopy, and get it back if you are heading out of town. Check-out time is usually 12 p.m.
Hotels in Iran
As well as Mosaferkhanehs, basic one- and two-star hotels feature rooms that can be categorized into the budget level or range. In these places, you usually have an attached bathroom with at least a shower (usually hot) plus air-conditioner, a TV (Iranian channels only), a fridge, and maybe a phone. The hot water and heating will almost surely be working.
Prices in this range start at about 12 euros for a double and go up to about 30 euros.
Most two-star hotels and all three and four-star places feature a private bathroom with a hot shower and toilet and almost surely have a phone, TV, and minibar. Besides, they also may provide a reasonable restaurant, and breakfast will often be served. You’ll find toilet paper in most of the places, even though bath plugs are a long-shot. Prices start at about 20/25 € for a single/double and go up as much as 70/90 €. The most charismatic midrange places and those worth aiming for are the Sonnati (traditional) boutique hotels. Yazd has many, and the first examples have recently opened in Isfahan and Kashan.
Top End hotels
Prices are astronomical by Iranian standards, but pretty reasonable by those of the west, starting from 90/120 € for a single/double and rising to about 250/350 €. Some hotels add 17% for tax and service.
Suites & Homestays
Alongside the Caspian Sea coast and those northwestern rural resort-villages most frequented by Iranian tourists, you’ll see locals renting out rooms, bungalows, and self-contained suites, gardens, or above shops. In the low season, prices can be very reasonable, but in summer, up to 400% and bookings are virtually essential. Some suites and almost all rooms/homestays are unmarked in Farsi, let alone English, so it’s just a case of asking around for an Otagh. Food is generally not included.
Telephone, Internet & Communication in Iran
Long-distance call by cell phone is possible in the country from every town or village. Public telephone systems in telecommunication stations in cities and towns with 5 million lines make long-distance calls to every point in the country possible. If we take into account the owners of cell phones in the private sector, the number of subscribers will climb to 42 million. Iran is ranked first in the Middle East and 29th in the world from cell phone possession.
Currently, Iranians can enjoy rooming service with 105 countries, and 238 foreign operators and steps have been taken to launch the fifth operator for the country’s mobile phones.
In Iran, internet cafés are known as coffee nets, though you’ll rarely find coffee on the menu. You can get online in all Iranian cities and big towns, and a growing number of smaller centers. Mobile apps like Telegram and WhatsApp are well known and used everywhere in Iran. Most of the hotels provide Wi-Fi internet access.
How to get Iranian sim cards?
There are some well-known operators in Iran, which Hamrahe Aval and Irancell are the most prominent ones. You can purchase them while arriving in Tehran at Imam Khomeini airport (IKA). You might find them at kiosks offering internet or cell phone services. For buying them, you need to submit your passport and information on it to be registered. Hamrahe Avval offers a Tourist sim card with a maximum validity of 1 month. You can see further details at https://mci.ir/web/en/tourism-simcard for Hamrahe Avval and https://irancell.ir/en/home for Irancell sim cards.
What kind of VPN to use in Iran?
While using the Internet in Iran, you might face restrictions entering your desired sites and applications, so you need a VPN. Hi VPN, Psiphon, and Hotspot Shield are recommended for Android users, but you have to test them to see which one works. For IOS users, Psiphon, Free VPN, VPNProxyMaster, and X-VPN have proved to work but still needs tests.
Rules in IRAN
People in Iran have to obey the dress code of the country. Men and women are up-fashioned, especially in big cities, and you can find some famous brands there as well. However, there are some rules to obey, especially for women. From the hijab headscarf and chador to anything in-between, the Iran dress code for women doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. Actually, you will realize that tradition is mixed with modern fashion, and it is not as worrying as it seems.
Dress code for Women
Wearing Hijab in Iran
During Travel to Iran, you need to wear Hijab. It is necessary to wear a headscarf when entering the country and every day in all public places. It is good to know that Hijab in Iran is more like a social etiquette than religious law; therefore, it is unnecessary to cover whole your head. You can enjoy shopping and go out with just a regular scarf in whatever color you want. It is not necessary to wear black or dark-colored Hijab even in main Iran tourist attractions.
Article Suggestions: How to dress up like a local in Iran
Men dress code
In Iran, it is against the norm for men to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts; however, wearing t-shirts is common and normal. Although each city has its own cultural dress, the majority of people wear like this.
Drinking in Iran
Actually, in Iran, there is no alcohol. You cannot find it in any place, even in hotels. Consequently, there is no club or bars there neither. You can order a non-alcoholic beer or flavored one in the restaurants, cafes, or other places. Usually, locals know people to buy alcohol for you. If it is not necessary to forget it, but you are sure you can ask them if you know any local there.
Etiquettes in Iran
It is essential to know the customs and etiquette of your destination. Like any country, Iran has its own traditions and rules that understanding them would help you travel in that country.
Here are the most important and exciting Etiquettes in Iran.
- TAROF; Iranians usually insist on offering things to others, and occasionally, they do not mean it. You should not accept the first time, but it is OK to take it afterward.
- Muharram month (the mourning month of Imam Hossein) People do Not wear red color cloths. Many people wear black on those days, but it is optional.
- Ramadan month, it is disrespectful to eat or drink in public like any other Muslim country. The restaurants and cafes are closed during the day until the sunset.
- Shaking hands between men and women is a complicated topic.Normally, it is not common for men and women to shake hands if they are not related. Yet, it is entirely depending on the situation. Usually, it is not advised for female tourists to extend their hand towards men fist, and it is better to wait if the men do that first.
- The thumbs-up hand signals a derogatory sign in Iran. It is best not to use it, especially in the presence of older people.
- Public displays of affection, you’ll see that affectionate touching, kissing, and shaking hands between men and women who are relatives are very reasonable. You can kiss your partner on the cheek, but French kissing rigorously goes beyond the line. Holding hands is entirely okay, whereas hugging, on the other hand, would seem to be crossing the line a little. Especially inside holy places and religious cities, it would not be easily tolerated.
- The greeting is essential, the most common reception is “salaam alaykum” or more simply “salaam,” which means “peace.”
- Small chats, when Persians greet each other, they take their time and talk about general things.
- Punctuality, try to never be late, punctuality is appreciated, and it is a sign of respect.
- Elders show respect for elders by greeting them first.
- Business is second! Iranians choose to do business with those who know and respect; therefore, they usually spend time cultivating a personal relationship before the business is conducted.
Travel to Iran [ How to reach Iran?]
You can reach Iran, air travel, Railway travel, traveling by private vehicle or by bus.
The leading well-known airlines that give services to Iran are Turkish airline, Emirates, and Qatar Airways. Also, European airlines such as Lufthansa, Austrian, and Alitalia have 1 flight per week. There are Iranian flights like Mahan air and Iran air, which give you cheaper options. Still, they are not recommended due to the delays and other restrictions.
A 30-day Tourist Visa Upon Arrival, for those of eligible nationality, can be obtained at the following Iran airports:
IKA: Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport
THR: Tehran Mehrabad Airport (domestic flights only)
MHD: Mashhad Airport
SYZ: Shiraz Airport
TBZ: Tabriz Airport
ISF: Isfahan Airport
From Turkey: Once a week, there is a train from Istanbul to Iran. After passing Ankara and Van, the train arrives on the Iranian border. It has a short stop in Tabriz and then heads to Tehran. The whole trip takes 72 hours from Istanbul to Tehran.
From Pakistan: The Quito- Zahedan railway takes 11 hours. After reaching Zahedan, you can go to the other towns in Iran. However, this route is not recommended.
From Azerbaijan: You can travel from Nakhjivan in Azerbaijan to Tabriz and Tehran by Tehran.
From Turkmenistan: Every day, there is a train from Ashgabat to Mashhad in Iran.
Traveling by private vehicle
According to Iranian Customs regulations link https://www.Irica.gov.ir, a foreign traveler can bring a car into the country provided he has a valid visa to stay in Iran and possesses a vehicle passage license from a travel agency which is a member of ”Carnet de passage Organization ”. After submitting his membership license and other necessary documents to the Customs, the travel can enter Iran with his vehicle (not longer than 3months). You can get more info from this link; https://en.taci.ir/
Traveling by bus
From Armenia: Buses arrive from Yerevan to Tabriz, and most of them continue to Tehran.
From Turkey: Buses arrived from Istanbul, Antalya, and Ankara to Tehran. The price of the ticket is around 30 Euros.
From Turkmenistan: There are daily buses from Ashgabat to Mashhad.
You can travel by ship from Baku to Bandar Anzali in Iran and other Caspian Sea ports from Azerbaijan.
From the south: There are many luxury passenger ships from Dubai, Sharjah, Qatar, and Kuwait to Iran every day.
Domestic Travel in Iran
If you choose Iran travel packages, your travel in the country is organized, and it is unnecessary to worry about it. However, if you are going as a small group or alone, there are some points you should know.
The best way of traveling inside Iran is by traveling by bus because there are many VIP buses in good condition for going inside the country. However, you can travel by airplane as well. The only problem is the delay that may change your plan. If you want to see the country in-depth and not in a hurry traveling by bus is an excellent choice.
You can buy bus tickets on the bus terminals or online, and it is not necessary to buy it before you travel to Iran. However, to buy online, you need an Iranian debit card, and most of the websites are in Persian languages.
You can check some of the buses schedule on these links: http://ebooking.royall.ir:8091/EnHome.aspx
For the airplane tickets you can visit: ….
You can hire a driver to take you from one city to another, or you can hire a licensed driver-guide to drive and also show you the city attractions. For hiring a driver, you can ask the hotel reception to manage one for you or simply ask ELCID TOUR to book you a driver-guide or driver. You can also hire a driver-guide to show you the whole country if you want. The prices are generally different due to the car’s class. Still, it is not recommended to hire cheap, low-quality vehicles. Always ask for the excellent condition cars.
here are different types of taxis inside the cities:
- Shuttle/shared taxis: It is a way inexpensive way to get around the city. The two downsides are that they are for fixed destinations, and you will have to wait for the taxi to be filled. The fares are also set, and you cannot negotiate.
- Private taxis: You can easily hail a cab and say ‘darbast.’ It means the driver will not pick any other passengers up, and you must negotiate the price before getting on. It is like taking a taxi in Europe or everywhere else.
- Uber-like apps: Tap30 and Snapp are the two leading apps that you can easily use on your phone. Unfortunately, they’re not available on the App Store and Google Play. Still, you can ask a local to help you with downloading them on your phone. Tap30 is available in many cities, including Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Mashhad. Snapp is available in the same towns and also in Ahwaz and Qom.
- Bizim Taxi: You can also call the numbers 133, 1828 and 1833 in major cities in Iran to call a taxi.
You can also take the metro in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, and shiraz, and ticket prices are around 0.25cents.
You can download the Tehran metro map here.
By the way, for tourists, the best way to transfer to the city is Private cars or Taxis. You can visit all the towns with less than 20euros during the day.
Suggestion article: Transportation in Iran as a tourist!
Time of Visit and season change in Iran
As a matter of fact, Iran is a four-season country. While it has a snowy and cold winter in the center in January and February, it has beautiful mild weather like April and May in the south. Although in summer the average temperature Is high, north of Iran has pleasant weather.
The difference between day and night is high in most parts of Iran because most of the country is surrounded by big deserts. However, cities in the north and south are not included in this situation. The Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf bring pleasant weather for north and south coast cities.
Generally, the best time to visit Iran is in spring and autumn, but summer is also good, although it is a bit hot. If you do not want to travel to cities in South cost, it is a good idea to visit in summer as well. In contrast, in winter, the weather is cold, especially in the northwest of Iran. For example, Tabriz might get up to -14. However, if you want to travel for skiing, the best time is from December to March.
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People and culture
Persia and Iran – Are they the same?
As a matter of fact, Persia and Iran are both used and refer to the country. However, Persia is more used in the legacy of the ancient kingdom of the Persian Empire, and Iran is used more about the modern-day Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East.
Is Iran an Arab country?
There is sometimes a misconception in Europe and the western countries that Iran is an Arab country. Although there are some similarities in culture and language, Iran is not an Arab country. Iranians are not Arabs. Iranian speaks Persian (also known as Farsi) and not Arabic.
Not only is the Arab misconception a source of contention generally, but Persians can take offense at these preconceived ideas.
Facts about Iranian culture
Iranians are proud of their history
Because of the great civilization that they had, Iranian are proud of their history. When you talk about Persia, they all know the country’s exact history and what had happened for them throughout the centuries.
Family is Important to Iranians
For Iranians, the family is the center of society. Like other Eastern cultures, families play a significant role in their community and respect their extended family. In ceremonies or new year, most of them pay a visit to their families like their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. That is interesting to know it is common that children do not live separately after they get 18 years old, and they sometimes still financially dependent on their families.
Hospitality Counts for a Lot
Middle eastern cultures always famous for great hospitality. Traveling to Iran may surprise you in this theme. When you walk in the streets or shopping, everyone helps you, try to talk to you, and try their best to solve it when you want you to have a problem. This is why what you read on the news or watch Tv is very different from what you see in Iran streets. With a simple search on Google, you can figure out what Persian hospitality culture is.
The complex currency
The official currency in Iran is Rial. Therefore, you can search Iranian Rial on the internet, but they do not use Rial. Although the notes have been printed in Rial, they use Toman. Toman is actually the real currency in Iran. For converting Rial to Toman you can eliminate one zero in their paper money in Rial. For example, if you have a note of 100,000 Rial, you have 10,000 Toman, and when you want to buy something or exchange money, they tell you prices in Toman.
The Image of the Country in other countries is important
Persian are sensitive about the image of their country in the west, Specially the younger generation. They have also known about the propaganda that shows Iran unsafe or messy, so this is the reason they really want to show vice versa. The political situation between the western countries and Iran is always unstable during these decades. Because of this issue, these cultures did not have a chance to stay close to each other.
Food and gastronomy
Due to Iran’s geographic situation, the taste of Persian food is between Greek and Indian Preparations. It is more varied than Greek food and less spicy and subtler than Indian food with greater use of fresh ingredients.
Meat (usually lamb, goat, or chicken) is used as a condiment instead of the centerpiece of a meal. Rice and fresh whole-grain bread are stapling starches, and the primary beverage is black tea. However, the dietary taboo is the Islamic prohibition against pork.
Persian Breakfast is a light meal including fresh unleavened bread, tea, butter, or white (feta-style) cheese and jam. Eggs may also be eaten fried or boiled, but Persian do not eat meat for breakfast.
For lunch in a middle-class household, it usually starts with a plate of fresh greens— scallions, radishes, fresh basil, mint, coriander, and others in season. The main dish is steamed rice that they call it chelow, served with one or more stews ( khoresht) made of meat and a fresh vegetable. Each KHORESHT has a central ingredient: eggplant, spinach, quince, celery, or many other possibilities. One particularly well-known dish is khoresht fesenjun; a consists of chicken, duck, and pheasant cooked in a sauce of onions, ground walnuts, and pomegranate molasses.
chelow kabab is the Iranian national dish. Filet of lamb kept in a mixture of lemon juice or yogurt, onions, and saffron, pounded with a knife on a flat skewer until fork tender. This is served with grilled onions and tomatoes on a bed of chelow. A usual drink with a meal is dough, a yogurt, and salted water preparation similar to Turkish ayran, Lebanese lebni, and Indian lassi.
Sweets and pastry are more popular with tea in the afternoon than as a dessert. Every region of the country has its own unique sweets and served casually to guests. One of the most well-known sweets is gaz from Isfahan.
Outside the large cities, some teahouses offer you a meal and Shisha. These teahouses located in gardens outside of the cities are familiar places for hanging out among young people.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions
For the Persian New year, Iranians regularly cook Fish with rice (Polow). During Ramazan, Special crispy fried sweets made from a yogurt batter and soaked in syrup are frequently served, called ZULBIA and Bamiyeh. Also, some pastry or sweets are sharing with people as charitable, religious activities in the streets during specific dates.
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Iran tourist attractions
Welcome to Iran tourist attractions! Museums world heritage sites and natural attractions and Iran’s cultural attractions are the main charms in Iran.
Museums in Iran
The number of museums is countless, as you can predict. However, there are many places that you can visit during your trip to Iran In Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, or Yazd. Here is the list of the most important museums in Iran.
- Golestan Palace
- Abgineh Museum
- Treasury of National Jewels
- Sa’ad Abad complex
- Carpet Museum
- National Museum of Iran
- Yazd Water museum
- Negarestan Garden
- Fin garden
- Museum of decorative art
- Eram Garden
World Heritage Sites (UNESCO sites)
Iran has 24 UNESCO sites that put this country on the top of the list of countries. Iran tourist attractions consist of 23 cultural heritage and 1 natural world heritage. The variety of these heritage sites are incredible because they are all around the country and belongs to both before the beginning of Islam and after that.
|Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran||West Azerbaijan Province||Cultural|
|Bam and its Cultural Landscape||Kerman Province||Cultural|
|Cultural Landscape of Maymand||Kerman Province||Cultural|
|Gonbad-e Qābus||Golestan Province||Cultural|
|Lut Desert||Kerman Province||Cultural|
|The Ensemble of Historical Sassanian Cities||Fars Provinces||Cultural|
|Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan||Isfahan||Cultural|
|Naqsh-e Jahan Square||Isfahan||Cultural|
|Shahr-e Sukhteh||Sistan and Baluchestan||Cultural|
|Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh||Ardebil Province||Cultural|
|Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System||Khuzestan Province||Cultural|
|Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex||East Azerbaijan Province||Cultural|
|Takht-e Soleyman||West Azerbaijan Province||Cultural|
|Tchogha Zanbil||Khuzestan Province|
|The Persian Garden||Khuzestan Province, Mazandaran, Isfahan, Yazd||Cultural|
|Persian Qanat||Yazd, Isfahan||Cultural|
|Historic City of Yazd||Yazd||Cultural|
|Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests||Golestan, Mazandaran||Natural|
Deserts in Iran
Iran has two central desert, Dasht-e- Kavir (Great salt desert) and Lut desert (sand and stone desert). These two deserts are essential because these are the vast ones and among the best Iran tourist attractions. However, there are many small deserts in Iran as well. There is a world record of hottest places on the earth for Lut desert. Seven years of satellite temperature data show that the Lut Desert in Iran is the hottest spot on earth. The Lut Desert was hottest during 5 of the 7 years and had the highest temperature overall: 70.7°C (159.3°F) in 2005.
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Mountains in Iran
The wonderful Alborz and Zagros Mountains have about 70 heights over 4000m; Many can be climbed without special equipment, experience, or a guide. Those listed here are the most outstanding.
Mt. Damavand 5671m: Northeast of Tehran, is the highest and famous peak which is popular for climbing. However, getting the top is not of great technical difficulty.
Mt. Alam Kuh 4850m: A world-class challenge for you because it has the most technical peak in Iran with an 800m near-vertical wall.
Mt. Sabalan 4811m: is near Tabriz in the northwest of Iran. It is one of the most beautiful mountains in the middle east.
Mt. Oshturan 4070m: has a gorgeous lake near the peak. It is one of the most accessible mountains in Iran and is ideal for mountain walkers.
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Wildlife in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as Persia, is a country in the Middle East. The name ‘Iran’ may lead your attention to politics or religious conflict. Still, this Western Asian humid and beautiful country actually includes a variety of flora and fauna.
With a territory span of 1,648,195 km², Iran is a habitat of 500 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, and a thousand plants. Some of these species are so rare or extinct that you might haven’t heard of them. Wildlife in Iran is so precious that at least 20 national parks and hundreds of nature reservoirs are made to preserve some of the rarest and exciting species. If you are in Iran, then these places would make excellent Iran tourist attractions.
Wildlife here includes several species of bears, tigers, wild pigs, gazelles, wolves, panthers, Eurasian lynx, etc. There are also a variety of species of domestic animals like goats, sheep, cattle, water buffalo, horses, camels, and many others. Pheasant, eagle, stork, falcon, and owl are some prominent birds of this place.
Here are some of Iran’s most rare and excellent animals that might be caught up in your eyes:
Asiatic Cheetah: Also known as Iranian Cheetah, this is the most famous member of Iranian wildlife. This critically endangered species can be found in nowhere but only in Iran. There were also Asiatic Lions and Caspian Tigers, which are gone half a century ago. However, the Caspian Tigers can make a comeback in Iran. Recent studies show that it has genetic similarities with Siberian Tiger subspecies.
Persian Leopard: Another species of tiger found in Iran, which is said to be the largest of all subspecies of leopards. They are more copious in the northern part of the country. The population number of Persian Leopard is only a few. Due to loss of habitat, natural prey, and population fragmentation, these beautiful creatures are also being extinct.
Persian Brown Bear: These bears are larger than European Brown Bears, but quite the same. Only less than a thousand of these mammals are alive in Iran, and they are protected species in the country. There is also a Syrian brown bear found in Iran, which is a relatively small subspecies of brown bear.
Persian Fallow Deer: This is another species of animal that is found only in Iran. These rare ruminant mammals are nearly extinct. You can only find them in Khuzestan, Mazandaran, and on an island in Lake Urmia.
Persian Wild Ass: Not donkeys, Persian Ass. Unlike normal donkeys, Persian Wild Ass or Persian Onager is actually beautiful and elegant looking creatures. Only 300-400 of these are surviving today, and all of these are in Iran.
Moreover, there are Golden Jackals in Iran which are subspecies of wolves, but smaller than them. You will also find Greater Flamingo pink in color or Long-legged Buzzard that are similar to Rough-legged Buzzard but larger than them. Iran is a land of varieties of wild animals, and you should visit Iran at least once in your lifetime to see them.
Camping in Iran
Iran has many locations to camp, and solo travelers or backpackers will love camping in Iran.
The main idea is everywhere is free to camp, but you need to check it first where exactly you want to camp. In the jungle, for instance, it is ok. Still, you should be aware of wild animals or not camp close to forbidden areas like military stations.
- Damavand Mountain
- Jungles in North
- Kurdistan Provinces
- Lorestan Provinces
- Camping with Nomads
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Skiing in Iran
Mountains in the center of Iran get excellent snowfall during the winter and become a powder paradise for ski lovers from December to March. All resorts there are located above 2000m. For instance, Tochal goes up to 3750m. Dizin ski resort is no-off-the-radar one. It is recognized by the International Ski Federation and hosts its fair share of global competitions. The majority of Iranian skiers do not go off-piste; therefore, you will still ride fresh powder even after the last snowfalls.
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Shopping in Iran
There are various sorts of places in Iran for shopping, among which Bazaars are the traditional ones. However, there modern malls and shopping stores in all of the cities in Iran as well.
The bazaar is an ancient Persian term known as Vazar in Middles Persian and Vazhar in the Parthian dialect. This genuine Farsi term is being used in Arab countries, Turkey, and some Eastern European countries. The stores and shops are often named after the product sold in them. Still, most of the time, they are named after the profession of the association member such as coppersmiths’ market or shoemakers’ market. You can find bazaar in even small cities as well. The most famous bazaar are Gran Bazaar Tehran, Isfahan Bazaar, and Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz and grand bazaar in Tabriz. The bazaars are the best places to buy souvenirs and handicrafts in each city.
Nomads in Iran
Nomads in Iran are one of the last that still exists in the world. They are a group of people who move from one place to another place along with their tribe. Nomadism is the tribal lifestyle, actually, and their economy is based on herding. This seasonal movement from one place to other sites is very interesting for tourists, especially those living in metropolitans. Nomads move to the colder countryside in summer and back to warmer areas in autumn and winter.
Elcid Tour Nomadic tour is a chance to trip with these tribes and see these attractions that are still present in the 21st century. You can visit their life, taste their wood stove cooked local food, see their style of animal herding, and understand their customs. There is no better chance to visit the original people of Iran living in Zagros Mountain ranges for those who wish to visit the Nomadic culture of Iran.
Islands in Iran
Iran has 43 islands just in the Persian Gulf. Among these islands, 24 of them are inhabited. You can read and explore the full list of the islands here. The 5 most important ones that would be interesting and among Iran tourist attractions are;
This is the most prominent Persian Island, and it has many attractions to see. Besides the importance of import and export for Persian nowadays, Qeshm Island has a great history and civilization that has made it one of the beautiful ancient islands to see.
Kish island actually has been forgotten in the history of Iran. The small island with no historical attraction and small population, however, thanks to the government plan for this island for the past 30 years, has turned to the center of entertainment and shopping for Iranians. There are huge malls and beautiful hotels that attract millions of Persian visitors to Kish every year to spend vacation and fun. The free-trade zone of Kish provides an excellent opportunity for businessmen to bring their businesses over there.
Hormuz island is the best island in Iran in terms of natural landscapes. The outstanding sand mountains and bright coast side create this island an exciting destination for international tourists and photographers. Hormuz island is also called Rainbow Island because of the same name mountains there. Rainbow mountains put Hormuz on top of the Iran tourist attractions.
Hengam islands us more famous because of its wildlife attractions. You can see dolphins in the sunset. You can see some exceptional animals like the Persian Gazelle, lizards, and Hawksbill sea turtle that will not see anywhere.
Among these five islands, lark island is less known, and when you search its name, you will find many political dramas about this island. Besides its great nature, Lark island inhabitants are mostly fishermen. So, it is more interesting for tourists who seek for empty beaches with natural adventures.
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Insurance for traveling to IRAN
Typically everyone has insurance that covers all kinds of travel in every country. However, due to the sanctions, many US and EU companies stop their services during your journey to Iran. You can ask your travel agents when about insurance when you search for Iran travel packages. So, there are several ways that you can select insurance if you travel to Iran.
insurance for any traveler – IATI Insurance
insurance for Europeans – True Traveller
1.IATI is based in Europe, and it is very popular, but they offer its services almost everywhere in the world. North and Latin America and also Asians can use this insurance provider too. They have a different plan for travelers, no matter you are a backpacker or luxury traveler. The minimum quote for this insurance is 40€. It covers up to 50,000€ of medical expenses, and it includes baggage loss as well.
- With True traveler, you can get a basic quote and then add other coverage to it like trekking, theft, and securing your electronics. As a result, It is cheaper than any other company in Europe. The minimum quote is 53€, which covers 2,500,000€ of medical expenses but does not include extra services. Their main strength is that their medical coverage is enormous compared to most insurance providers.
Elcid travel Insurance
- We provide online insurance services for you, which is very cheap. We are in collaboration with an insurance company in Iran that offers you basic travel insurance with a minimum of 20€ and covers up to 5,000€ of medical expenses. This insurance just covers you during your travel to Iran, and you can pay it online with your credit card.
For more information, read more about ELCID TOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE.
Souvenirs of IRAN
The single home of Pistachio was Iran. Currently, it is one of the principal non-oil exportable commodities in Iran. However, the story of exporting Pistachio returns to the Achaemenid Period. There were wild Pistachio trees in the northeast region of Iran (Khorasan Province). You can find Pistachio in several areas in Iran from ancient times. There are many Pistachio tree jungles north and east of Iran, especially bordering Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Today Pistachio is the second largest non-oil exportable good in Iran after exporting carpets. It is interesting to know that 55% of the Pistachio in the world is growing in Iran, and 60% of its production exported around the world. Pistachio brings approximately 400 million dollars in revenue for Iran each year.
According to linguists, caviar is originated came from the Persian word ‘Khagavar,’ which means laying an egg, the most luxurious foodstuff in the world. For example, the Caspian produces 93% of total caviars in the world because some types of caviar-breeding fishes are fined in the Caspian see such as sturgeon and goldfish. Actually, the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, particularly near Turkman Sahara shores (stretching from Hassangholi Harbor to Minakale Harbor), are the primary homes where you can catch caviar.
Cultivation of Saffron in Iran began approximately three thousand years ago. Za’faran (saffron) is a word that originated from Persian and Sanskrit idioms. Arabic transcripts seldom refer to Saffron, and wherever they have talked about it, they referred to Persian books from Avicenna and Razi. Saffron’s home is in Iran and India, and it doesn’t naturally raise in any Arabic country. Since Saffron grows in deserts, it is known as red gold or desert gold. Out of 150 flowers, only one gram of saffron is obtained. From approximately 147 thousand fresh Saffron flowers, only 1 kg of dry Saffron is gotten. Thanks to its exceptional taste, color, and perfume Saffron is used in various Iranian dishes and in chemistry and medicine. By producing nearly 100 tons of Saffron a year, Iran is the foremost producer of this herb.