Persian sketches. How to go to Iran?
Iran is an amazing country, not so popular among tourists as Turkey or neighbouring Emirates, but it is very interesting and deserves the attention of travelers. Trip to Iran – it’s always adventure, a unique culture of a closed Islamic country, the remains of the greatness of Persia and as many as 17 world heritage sites of UNESCO.
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Travelers will find in Iran many interesting and amazing. The rich history and culture, art painting palaces and mosques — the Islamic architecture with delicate paintings and patterns is particularly impressive, Persian gardens and palaces of the shahs, city in the desert and mountain villages, the Gulf coast and vibrant urban square of Isfahan, Yazd, Mashhad, caravanserais and tea houses, colorful bazaars, where the shelves are full of cheap dates, Souvenirs and saffron. Iran is diverse, colorful, sometimes reminiscent of the scenery for Eastern tale.
Spacious Imam square in Isfahan / Travel in Iran
Many people are hesitant to go to Iran and consider the journey to this country unsafe. If you listen to the advice of all friends, you never to visit this spiritual and hospitable country. Feature Iran – people – good-natured and intelligent. All the rest of the game in politics. The Iranians are very open and friendly, happy to come up and communicate on the streets, I invite you to drink tea, ask questions about Russia and travelling, very respectful of the guests. Do not be surprised what new friends you’ll invite to tea, to visit, to meet with the family together to walk around the city or just to watch football and have dinner.
The textile shops at the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz
Sites in Iran are many: it is the ancient city of Persepolis, Susa and Choga-Zanbil, historical Bazaar in Tabriz, standing on the Great Silk road city in the desert – Yazd, Kerman and BAM, Esfahan square and souks, sand the narrow streets of Yazd, a volcanic lake and seretide complex of Takht-e Soleiman, kachinskie palaces and much more.
Read the article Persian experience. Shiraz
Tickets to Iran
To buy tickets to Tehran via search calendar form on the website.
Tickets to Tehran you can buy at:
Read the article How to buy a ticket through the online manual and magic search Skyscanner
The low price calendar on the Moscow – Tehran
Airfare to Iran, from 7962 rubles.
How to get to Iran on the ground?
In Iran can be reached from Russia by land. The route runs through Vladikavkaz, Georgia, crossing the border at Sarpi in Turkey, crossing the Kars and Doğubeyazıt to the Turkish border Gurbulak, crossing the border by land to the village Bazargan (Iran). On the border of Turkey — Iran no queues, my transition took about 10 minutes.
Near the Turkish-Iranian border regularly go dolmushi (Turkey) and private taxi drivers-savari (Iran), which will be brought to Tabriz for 3 hours. In Iran, cheap gasoline, therefore, the services of taxi drivers cheap, especially if the machine is hooked for another 1-2 people, and you divide all the cost of the road.
If you are not much in a hurry and want to save money, you can take a taxi from the border to Bazargan to Mac. From Maku to take a bus to Tabriz is about$2.
Another land transfer from Azerbaijan to Iran is located in the city of Astara. They say that there is a large queue.
I arrived in Shiraz from Dubai and went by land to Russia. When passing the border points of the issues and difficulties did not arise, except on the Turkish-Georgian border. The Georgians asked a few General questions — where from, where to, why go home from Iran on the ground, slapped a stamp and was released to the world.
Housing in Iran
Because of political sanctions in Iran, you can’t book accommodation through a popular Booking service, Hotellook, Airbnb. However, hotels and guest houses in Iran, there are! And quite a lot of them! I combined housing in Iran and tried to live in an Iranian family in Shiraz, in the traditional hotels in Kashan and Yazd, budget hotels 1-2* in other cities.
*Housing prices rise in April during Novruz holiday, and fall in September.
Isfahan — the city of craftsmen, half of the world, the impressive bazaars and exquisite gifts everywhere.
The types of housing in Iran
Budget hotels 1-2* guesthouses and simple hotels with neat and clean interior, hot shower, toiletries, air conditioning (summer essential item!), TV from Iranian TV, wi-fi in the lobby and excellent Breakfast. And Breakfast was covered even in Ramadan from 7 to 10 am, because the travelers in Iran are exempt from fasting. Breakfast is good: eggs, cheese, cream cheese, ham, butter, hot pita bread, fresh vegetables, biscuits, jam, tea and coffee. Prices – 20 to 45$ for double.
Traditional hotel (sonnati) is the most atmospheric and best hotels in the country in my opinion. Usually it is a traditional historic building with a caravanserai (an internal garden and a restaurant where you can relax on rugs in the shade pomegranate and ingerului trees next to the fountains or under the roof), and around the common areas located on the perimeter of the room. Traditional hotels can be found in Yazd, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kashan, and other cities. There is also a Breakfast + English-speaking staff, guides, maps, wifi. There is a simple room without air conditioning and more beautiful, cool room interiors, as well as the dormitory. Prices from 25$-45$ for the double.
Hotels 3-4-5* — comfortable accommodation in the lush Persian style, or modern and neat. In these hotels there is a separate bathtub, also includes Breakfast in the price, there are pool (women and men separately), sauna, fitness centre and a stunning tea. Best teehaus I just visited the hotel Abbasi Hotel in Isfahan with traditional interior, wi-fi, delicious snacks and berry tea. Price range from 100$ to 450$.
Simple hotels (predominantly male mosaferkhanehs) is a small state hotels simple type. Usually designed for male guests, the rooms are cramped, no bath and toilet, bar, wi-fi no, women should not sleep in such questionable places. Prices from 6-10$.
Couchsurfing in Iran is well developed Couchsurfing! You can stay in the homes of local residents, Iranians are hospitable and welcome guests with open arms. I stayed in a very nice Iranian family in Shiraz, in a separate house with Antiques and Persian mosaic ceilings. The owners have allocated a separate room for me and my travel companion were treated to a traditional pilaf, juicy figs from the garden, showed the books and talked about Iranian customs. And also received an invitation to visit from people from Tehran, Kerman and Isfahan.
Internet in Iran is weak. Facebook and VK open a bad email you can check, but work, update websites, post information on the network is almost impossible. Be prepared for this and better do all the important things beforehand.
The Palace of Jafar Shah in Iran — the aristocratic mansions in Kashan are not uncommon
Where to buy travel insurance for Iran?
Insurance for travel to Iran can be issued for service Cherehapa. Here you can compare 16 insurance companies and find the right options / conditions for suitable value. The cost of the basic insurance to Iran for 2 weeks — from 775 rubles per person.
Paid-up policy you will receive by e-mail.
Company Zeta Insurance is well established for travelers, as it cooperates with partner Mondial assistance. Through the company’s website you can arrange reliable insurance for trip to Iran.
Visa to Iran
As I got the visa to Iran
To obtain a visa to Iran at the airport in Tehran, but many sources say that problems can occur if you do not have a reference code. As I flew to Shiraz from Kuala Lumpur, tourist visa for 30 days decided to register in advance at Iranian Consulate in Malaysia.
The visa procedure is a bit long, since you first need to get approval from the Ministry of foreign Affairs in Tehran (the same reference code) and only after that to the Consulate.
For a visa to Iran, you can contact any Consulate. They are in Moscow and Astrakhan (Russia), Minsk, Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Istanbul, Ankara, Delhi and in other cities.
To obtain the reference code with the site iranianvisa.com
The Iranian Consulate asked:
Visa issued in 3 days.
During a visit to the Consulate I did not cover the head and also for photos was not required to cover their heads.
The mosque of Nasir-al-Mulk shining brighter colors in Shiraz
Money in Iran
Stock up on cash
During travel because of sanctions in Iran, it was impossible to use ATMs, there is a need to carry cash.
Dollars changed to the local rials at official exchange offices and banks – Bank Mellat, Bank Tejarat, Bank Saderat. At the weekend the banks are closed.
Exchange offices can be found at the big bazaars in Tabriz, Tehran, Shiraz. At the airport in Shiraz exchange item we have found. Well, in this city, I agreed to meet with a local on couchsurfing, and only after the weekend Nasrin helped to exchange money for a good course and issued a local SIM card. Without the help of local residents are not enough. In Shiraz, all the signs are in Farsi, we had a long ride around the city by car to find a small local issuing SIM cards (reminiscent of our little branch of the Russian post with large queues, in English nobody says).
The beautiful architecture of Kashan / Agha Bozorg Masque
The best time to visit Iran
In Iran, a dry, arid climate, summer is very hot, especially near the desert. Therefore, it is best to pre-select the best season for travel.
The high season lasts from March to may, air temperature is ideal for travel. High prices in hotels during Nowruz (21 March – 3 April) in April, the prices remain very high, especially in Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz.
The hot season lasts from June to September. Summer is very hot weather — up to 50 in the South. Actively travel difficult. Even at night the heat wave continues. Hotel prices are already falling and almost no tourists.
Low season from November to March, very cold in the mountains the snow falls. Hotels discounts of up to 50%.
In my opinion the best time to visit — late April — may or September — October.
The fortress of Karim Khan in Shiraz — any shade of gold!
Travel during Ramadan
I traveled to Iran in the hot season, during Ramadan in July. The journey was complicated by the extreme heat (almost always +45-49 C), in a very dry climate and hot wind is transferred more complicated than the humid Asian heat.
Ramadan is also partly hindered the trip. For example, I am always thirsty, the water ends quickly, and to buy a new bottle very difficult, because in Ramadan all the shops are closed. Sometimes we had to walk a few kilometers until you meet a small shop where you can still buy a drink. There in this heat do not, so Breakfast and late dinners enough.
In Iran, eating or drinking publicly during lent. Water to drink can in a deserted alley, though most of the streets were so deserted, so most likely no one will notice if you drink water or chew on an Apple.
Survival tips for travelling during Ramadan
- In Ramadan, the public transport runs as usual according to the schedule, and travelers are exempt from fasting. Therefore, at bus and railway stations are always open cafe. Usually glass sealed with Newspapers and curtains, so as not to embarrass those who are fasting. In the canteens you can buy a simple Iranian meal – a hot soup, saffron rice with barberries, eggplant, salads, meat dishes of lamb, lavash, ayran, tea and sweets. In the station shops selling Turkish delight, cookies, chocolate, fruits, cherries, strawberries. So start to starve to death, run to the station!
- In hotels, even in Ramadan, is served for Breakfast. In the afternoon you can go to any hotel 2-5* and order something in the restaurant. To wait out the peak of solar activity under the air conditioner, read, relax and at the same time to eat. Another thing is that not every city you can find such hotels with open restaurants. And often only 1 out of 10 you will be served!
- In rare streetwear shops you can buy (if you find where) in the afternoon peaches, cherries, figs, water, juice and to eat in his room.
- At 5 PM begin to open street bakery – baked hot, fragrant, crispy tortillas, pitas, loaves. Locals come in a bread shop, to stand in a queue and pastries go home to dinner (after sunset).
- In the bazaars sell great vegetables, herbs, fruits, cheeses, honey, dates, halva and sweets. You can buy all of this tonight with fresh bread.
- In the heat better inside to see the Museum, the Palace or the Bazaar, you can spend time in the caravanserai or in teahouses. The traditional hotel Yazd and Kashan have your garden and tearoom, where you can wait out the heat from 11 to 4 hours.
- It is best to get up early in the morning at 5 o’clock and walking around the city until 11 o’clock when air temperature is below 40 degrees. Another time for walking is from 5 to 10 p.m. (very hot, but not scorching sun).
- During the heat of the saved transfers by air-conditioned bus to another city (usually 3-4 hours by bus).
- On the street you need to always have a supply of water, cover your head, you can use a taxi for long distances.
Clothing and etiquette
Replenish clothes closet closed
To visit Iran’s need to procure chastely, long sleeves and a scarf on the head is enough.
Men in Iran are a classic long pants and shirts with short or long sleeves. Women need to cover their legs and arms, wear a long tunic or cotton cloak. The head needs to be covered by a headscarf, even to foreign tourists (even in the heat!). To cover the head fits the handkerchief from Catton or cotton, it does not slip from the head in contrast to the lightweight silk.
Girl in Iran is vividly and effectively painted, some fashionistas handkerchief lightly geared with a hairpin. Guests often take off their scarves, even the local women (depends on the rules and traditions of a particular family and her husband’s permission).
Do not even think to roll up to cador is very uncomfortable and is only required for visits to religious shrines and mosques. There when needed you will be given chador and will help him to properly wear.
You can wear leggings, jeans, pants, shirt, or tunic should not fit the chest.
In buses women and men sit separately. Foreigners can sit around if a woman is travelling with a partner (husband). In cafes and restaurants usually women and men sit on different sides of the table, but not together.
In public places it is not customary to hold hands and look at people when they eat. In General, Iranians are very neat and you should always wash your hands before eating.
If you are offered food or gifts, in Iran it is believed that it is necessary to refuse 3 times. If you dine in guests, the owners will bring and to bring food, desserts, fruit, tea. When the guest is already full, the Iranians still continue to treat aggressively. This is not surprising, thank and politely refuse 3 times. In Iran don’t like to let a guest go hungry. Often you will offer free transportation, food, purchase things, pay for museums, etc. should Not abuse the hospitality, the Iranians will take care of guests from the heart, but no one expects that you fully accept all that you offer. It is rather a form of Iranian etiquette, and the Iranians such communication a lot of fun. In response, the travelers and guests can also buy sweets and treats to thank the owners of the house, to tell about their country and traditions, to present the Souvenirs from your country or pictures.
Prices in Iran
Travel to Iran can get quite inexpensive, because the country is a good price for transport, accommodation, food, excursions. Especially if you avoid travelling in April and may – the height of the season.
Transport Bus Isfahan – Yazd – 5-7$ (5 h), Isfahan – Kashan – 4$ (3 hours), train Yazd – Mashhad – 25$ (19 h). In Iran you can order a taxi for the whole day for$ 50, very popular share taxi (savari) – so you can navigate between cities.
Attractions0,20 – 0,50 $ for the entrance to the main places, sometimes up to$ 3 for entrance. Plenty of free places.
Hotelshousing Prices start from 18$ for a single and 22 to 32$ for the double. Hotels mid-range from$ 40 for double to luxury hotels 300-400$ a day. Dorm from 10-15$. Historic hotels – from$ 30 in summer.
Food Juices / milkshake – 1,50-3$, Fig – 2$ per kg, tea kettle – 1.50 to more than$ 3 appetizers / salads – from 1,50$, a dinner in a good restaurant 4-15$.
For example, in the atmospheric restaurant Baliq in Tabriz you can order fish or kebabs as a main course – 3-8$, salad bar and soups for$ 3. The main dish is always fresh bread, vegetables, appetizers. If you order 1 main dish, you can not eat together. All very tasty and inexpensive.
Transport in Iran
Comfortable and cheap
To travel between the cities in Iran preferred the buses – they are cheap, comfortable, equipped with air conditioning, go regularly. Terminal is usually located outside the city. The easiest way to get to the terminal by taxi. Just give the taxi driver your destination (where you want to go) and say “terminal”.
Advance tickets can not buy, as many bus companies and schedule regular. You can arrive at the terminal 20 minutes before departure or buy your ticket on the next flight. In the city centre usually there are offices of the transport companies where you can buy tickets for buses and trains in advance.
The main transport hub of the country – Tehran – from here trains to Tabriz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman. Trains in Iran are very comfortable and clean, they are good to travel long distances.
Trains have 2 classes:
Class 2 recalls buses – soft Seating chairs in the car, is cheaper.
Class 1 – this bedding with soft shelves (compartment for 4 or 6 people, linen, TV, Breakfast, tea with snacks are more expensive. I had an overnight trip from Tehran to Tabriz, the ticket cost about 10$.
Trains need to be booked in advance through the transport tourist offices. Ticket on the train Tehran – Tabriz I bought in the street Agency of the Kashan a few days before the trip. Office address ticket, you can check with your hotel.
There are airports in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kish island, Mashhad, and Tabriz. Local airlines: Iran Air, Mahan Air, Caspian Airlines. Tickets can be bought at the airline offices in Iran or through street travel agents.
Friday mosque in Isfahan painted Persian patterns
What to see in Iran?
The Attractions Of Iran
In Iran many attractions, the oldest villages and historic Persian cities, 17 are UNESCO world heritage, beautiful architecture and a huge bazaars, through which passed the Great silk road. I’m not going to give a complete list of places to visit in this article, and write only the main points that should be included in the classic route on Iran.
Map of tourist attractions in Iran
Tabriz is the oldest city on the trade route in the province of Azerbaijan. In the city, visit the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz – a UNESCO monument, the Blue Mosque, a 15th century Park Shah Goli, the Fortress of Babak 8th century on top of a cliff.
Darya Guesthouse$ 16 for a double
Kandovan village near Tabriz, the famous rock dwellings. From city by taxi can be reached within an hour.
Qazvin is a city in the North of Iran, from where you can see the mountain fortress of the assassins in Alamut and the mausoleum of Soltanieh is the most important monument of Iranian architecture and cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Iran Hotel – $ 50 per double
Tehran – the capital of the country with its medieval Palace and Golestan Palace, Saadabad, the famous Archaeological Museum and a treasure trove of gems, a Central Boulevard Vali-ASR, the Milad tower with the height of 435 meters with a revolving panoramic restaurant, trendy art galleries and coffee shops. In General, the city is quite monotonous gray buildings and busy traffic.
Firouzeh Hotel – $ 35 double
Kashan cozy and very cute town with the architecture of 11-16 centuries. Here are the Persian gardens, aristocratic palaces-museums of the 19th century, the oldest market, a beautiful mosque Agha., a ziggurat.
The traditional Khan-e Ehsan – 35-65$ for a double (my favorite in Iran)
The local people in Iran are friendly, simple and good-natured
Abyan is a traditional mountain village (1500 years!) of red stone, with original architecture and colorful local residents. From Kashan – 60 km, it is possible to arrange a morning taxi ride.
Isfahan – the most interesting and impressive city in Iran. In Isfahan has it all: beautiful Persian gardens, museums, mosques and large squares, bustling bazaars and arched bridges. Central Imam square, a world UNESCO heritage site and a busy, popular place among the citizens. Here is another heritage Friday Mosque and the famous covered market where the best place to buy Souvenirs.
Totia Hotel very clean, 15 min walk to the centre) – $ 25 per double
Yazd is an ancient Iranian city located on the outskirts of the desert and is particularly heat and dryness. The old Town of Yazd has retained its Oriental surroundings and original form. This is a real fairy-tale atmosphere with the streets-labyrinths of ancient tombs and mosque of the 14th century. In the city should visit the area and the complex of Amir chakmak, Water Museum, the Zoroastrian temple and tower of silence on the outskirts of the city.
The traditional Silk Road Hotel – Dorm 11$, doubles – from$ 50 (summer sale!)
Kerman is a city at the height of 1749 metres, surrounded by mountains and known for the largest crop of pistachios in the country. What to see? Old Bazaar and Vakil teahouse, an architectural complex and Ganj Ali Khan bath, the Friday Mosque, the complex of Ibrahim Khan, the Fire Temples, the Gardens ice house Muede.
Jalal guesthouse with Breakfast is$ 20 per person
BAM is an oasis in the desert, who grew up near the fortress of Arg-e BAM (sample of fine Persian architecture) on the Great Silk road.
Akbar guesthouse 18-23$
Shiraz is a city in the South of the country, known for poetry and Persian gardens. What to see? Atmospheric Bazaar and Vakil mosque, the fortress of Karim Khan, the stunning tombs of poets Saadi and Hawise, the mausoleum of Shah-Cerami, rainbow mosque Nasir-Ol Molk, garden Eram.
Traditional Boutique Hotel Niayesh – double 50$, the Dorm is 12$.
Persepolis and Pasargade ancient Persian city, whose ruins are well preserved.
Choga-Zanbil – the ancient city and temple complex with a ziggurat – a UNESCO world heritage site, 45 km from the ancient city of Susa archaeological fortress.
Mashhad , the Holy city of the Shiites. The image of the mausoleum of Imam Riza in Mashhad can be seen in many retail shops of Iran. People are happy to talk about the Mashhad and many people believe an important event of the pilgrimage to this Shrine.
Beautiful Persian samovar in the market for Iranian tea
A generous and varied
Trip to Iran is impossible without immersion in the local cuisine. Even during Ramadan, I got something to try and meet generous Iranian kitchen. The meat eaters here expanse – the Iranians eat a lot of lamb, kebabs, meatballs. Restaurants often serve fish and vegetable dishes and legumes. Every meal in Iran is complemented by fresh herbs, plenty of vegetables and olives, pickles and kislotami, fruits and berries. And if you’re a fan of the Turkish, Georgian and other middle Eastern cuisine, you will fall in love with Iran once and for all.
The classic cuisine of Iran:
- Yellow rice with saffron and barberries
- Rice is usually served Horesh (stew with saffron, pepper and turmeric) – it is based on meat and vegetables, quince, apples, nuts, especially popular eggplant Horesh. Vegetarians better clarify the types of Horesh cook in the kitchen. Be on the alert — lamb and chicken mixed in the veggies! Bademjan the sorhe card – pure vegetarian.
- Sour and salty salads – variations of vegetables and legumes
- Saffron rice pudding – Sholeh-ZAR – sweet and delicious.
- Pilaf with a dense crust Tadic – it’s delicious! Tadic loves and knows every Iranian, it was a treat for the festive table, behind a piece tadika any admirer of the Persian pilaf soul to sell.
- Dolma – vegetables (pepper, eggplant) or leaves (grape and cabbage) are stuffed with meat and vegetables. Less common vegetarian dolma.
- Kuku – thick omelet with lots of fresh herbs, often served on holidays
- Cooling yogurt with cucumber and vegetables
- White salty cheese with bread and watermelon. In General, cheese in Iran, a lot! Different and tasty.
- The fruit from date palm syrup
- A lot of bread – thin and thick pitas, bread, taftan, thin Sangak.
- Dough – cooling liquid yogurt with mint
Bright, diverse, generous and filling Iranian cuisine — saffron rice with horesham, eggs, spices, Oriental sweets and tea
Tea in Iran is a separate story. Local like to drink tea, herbal tea, rose, Jasmine, or green, usually with crushed sugar or Golden sugar crystals with cardamom, cinnamon, mint and other additives. Tea are large juicy dates soaked in honey and rose water baklava, pastries, halva, nougats, nuts, iced, med and thick date syrup.
In street stalls sell juices, berry compotes and milkshake – the most delicious juice – orange, pomegranate, grape and ingilby.
And distinctions of the Iranian cuisine is that they love to decorate every dish to make it look aesthetically pleasing and original. In the course of usually are strands of saffron, pomegranate seed, pieces of quince, herbs, raisins, walnuts, pistachios, patterns of cinnamon, sumac and turmeric.