Plan your trip to Iran
“Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving but selection.”
An advance planning is a must to enjoy a fulfilling trip to Iran as the country is huge and the attractions are very diverse. While interests are different for each person, in this post we try to provide general tips about Iran trip planning.
Tour or independent visit
Tours are great in making you visit as many places as possible and offering efficient transportation between different sites. But if you like to discover real Iran and hospitality of the Iranians tours are not the best option.
New visa regulations makes it much easier for independent travelers to visit Iran. Even if you find making your trip arrangement a bit of challenge as most of the tourism related businesses still does not have good online presence, but the joy of discovering your own version of the Iran will be a great pay off.
A good way to discover Iran would be to plan an independent trip but book several daily tours with a guide to visit historical sites like Persepolis. You could also arrange home stays to meet locals in big cities to dive even deeper into the Iranian culture.
When to visit Iran
Due to the good weather in most of popular touristic destinations, April to June, and September to mid November are the most popular times to visit Iran. However, with a bit of smart planning you could enjoy Iran on any time of the year and get good off season discounts on accommodations and flights. For example you can include Qeshm island, desert tours or skiing in you plans if you are traveling on winter or visit the cities in north of Iran or climb the mountains on a summer visit.
Traveling to Iran during the new Persian year celebrations (Norouz) is not recommended (from March 16th to April 5th), as most of the Iranians are traveling themselves during this period and is hard to find accommodations and all the roads and sites are crowded.
Some people recommend avoiding travel during religious months of Ramadan (starting around June) or Moharam (starting on September), but in reality traveling during these months is not that much different compared to other periods and you could even see some of the festivities related to these periods.
Try not to visit everything
Historical sites and natural attractions in Iran are very diverse and distributed all over the country. We recommend that you identify your interests in advance and try to avoid visiting similar sites in different cities. We have listed popular attractions in our post about Iran best attractions. So for example you can skip Bazar of Tehran from your plan as you plan to visit Bazars in Isfahan and Shiraz.
Some tours try to include every city and attraction from north to the south in few days of travel, but this way they will just spend their time only on roads as the average distance between the cities is around 500 Km. Try to have a minimalistic list of the cities and the sites that different in terms of nature and culture with a realistic plan with respect to the number of the days you will stay in the country.
If you are visiting Iran for a first time try to include at least some of the following experiences in your plans:
- Spending a day in treasures of Naghshe Jahan Square
- Walking in the footsteps of Persian empires in Persepolis
- Colorful morning in the Nasir ol molk mosque
- Desert stays in Kaluts or Farahzad area
- Tasting Dizi, Fesenjan, and Mirzaghasemi
- Wandering around the alleys of Yazd’s old town
Iran popular trip plans and routes
If you are traveling to Iran for a first time and for 10 to 14 days, the best visit plan would be the routes highlighted by red in the following map. It includes, Tehran (1-2 days), Isfahan (2-4 days), Yazd (2-3 days), Persepolis (try to visit on the way from Yazd to Shiraz) and Shiraz (2-3 days). A desert detour to Mesr desert (1-2 days) is highly recommended if you are not travelling during summer. You can also go to Kaluts (2 days) in Kerman Provence. Include Kashan (1-2 day) if you have more time. The best plan is to go with bus from a city to another city from Tehran to Shiraz and fly back or take the night bus to Tehran. You can also skip Tehran if you are short in time or if you could fly directly to Isfahan or Shiraz with Airlines like Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways.
If you have more time or you have already visited some of the sites above you could try the green routes. Try to spend a night in village of Masuleh (1 day), then stay night with nomads in Khal khal region, visit Ardabil and the nature around this city (1-2 days) and Tabriz (1-2 days). This route has less historical sites but you will discover amazing recipes and natural sites. You can take the night bus or fly back from Ardabil or Tabriz to Tehran. If you want to combine this plan with classical visit plan the best would be that you fly from Shiraz to Tabriz.
To check Iranian Kurdish culture, include visiting Sanandaj (2-3 days) in your plan. You can also go from Tabriz to Sanandaj by bus. To visit some amazing nature fly to Qeshm island from Tehran or Shiraz.
Many different airlines operate between the Tehran and all the major cities. Ticket reservation in advance is required particularly during the high season and the price range is between 25 to 90 Euros. To check price and availability visit our Iran domestic flight reservation service.
Only the main cities are connected with trains. Normally, some advance reservation is needed and the price range is from 15 to 40 Euros.
You can move between most of the cities by bus, there are many daily bus departures between the main cities and the average ticket prices is between 8 to 20 Euros depending on the distance and the quality of the transportation company. Normally, no online booking is available for the standard buses in Iran, but you can check the timetable and reserve a ticket once you are in Iran.
The taxi is also very cheap and you might need to use it if you want to visit a remote places or villages. Public transportation in Iranian cities in not very luggage friendly and normally to go from airports to your accommodation you need a taxi. A taxi from Tehran IKA airport to anywhere in Tehran costs around 15 to 20 Euros.
We will be happy to know your recommendations and comments about your trip to Iran. Hope you have lots of fun discovering Iran with your own plans!