12 must-see things to do in Tehran

Travelling to Tehran, in northern Iran? Check out our top 12 must-see things to do in the country’s capital!

The capital of Iran, located in the north of the country at the foot of the Elbourz mountains and the Caspian Sea, Tehran is the country’s largest city with, in 2015, around 9 million inhabitants and over 15 million people in the entire urban area. Perched between 1,100 and 1,700 meters above sea level from south to north, the city’s ramifications extend over 686 km², an area the size of the commune of Arles (13). Thanks to its position between mountains and desert, Tehran’s urban area enjoys a variety of climatic influences, with a cool, semi-humid climate in the north and hot, dry zones in the south.

A major historical, cultural and political center in Iran, Tehran has many monuments to visit. It’s also a city of students, home to some 50 higher education establishments.

Looking for something to do in Tehran? You won’t be bored when you visit Tehran. We’ve listed a selection of 12 must-see things to do in the Iranian capital.

1. Milad Tower

Tour Milad, Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – farhad sheikh

Tehran’s landmark tower, the Borj-e Milad is the country’s tallest and the world’s sixth-tallest telecommunications tower, reaching 435 metres at its summit. Opened in 2009, it can be seen everywhere, especially from the northern districts. You can’t visit Tehran without climbing it. You’ll find a cultural center, an exhibition hall, a panoramic restaurant, a luxury hotel and a breathtaking view of the entire city.

2. Pass through the Azadi Tower

The Azadi Tower is another symbol of Teheran: inaugurated in 1971 to celebrate the 2,500-year history of the Persian Empire, the authorities turned it into an emblem of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The 45-metre-high tower is entirely covered in white marble. Under the tower, visit the dedicated museum and its fountains.

3. Imam Zadeh Saleh Mosque

Mosquée Imam Zadeh Saleh, Téhéran

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Arian Ar

What to do in Tehran You’re not going to leave Iran without seeing the famous blue meringue with its rounded shapes? The mosque ofImam Zadeh Saleh is a must-see even if you’re not Muslim. Located next to Tajrish Square in the north of the city, this mosque is a must-see. The decoration, the meticulous painting of the facades and the ornate interior will captivate you!

4. Golestan Palace

Palais du Golestan, Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – Ninara

Located in Tehran’s historic district, the Golestan Palace – meaning « Palace of the Flower Garden » – is a bonus if you don’t know what to do in Tehran. – is a bonus if you don’t know what to do in Tehran. This is the former royal palace of the Qajar dynasty, a Turkmen dynasty that ruled the country between 1786 and 1925. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace blends Persian and Western architectural styles. Situated near City Park, the Palace is surrounded by sumptuous gardens, perfect for a stroll.

5. Sa’dabad Palace

Palais Sa'dabad, Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – Ninara

Built by the Qajare and Pahlavi dynasties in the early 20th century, the Sa’dabad Palace is located to the north of the city, between the foothills of the Elbourz mountains and the valley of the Darband district. The Palace is home to museums – the Water Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the Hossein Behzâd Museum – providing an insight into an important part of Iran’s rich and powerful cultural history.

6. Niavaran Palace

Palais Niavaran, Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – David Stanley

Not sure what to do in Tehran? Visit Niavaran Palace, a palatial complex in the northern Shemiran district, built at the instigation of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The palace was completed in 1968 and served as the residence of the royal family before Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iranian revolution (1979).

7. Tehran’s Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazar, Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – Ninara

How can you visit Tehran without experiencing the popular atmosphere of the locals at the Grand Bazaar? Would you go to Marseille without seeing the Calanques? The Grand Bazaar is a shopping arcade with high, vaulted ceilings, decked out in a multitude of colors, where everything is exchanged in a friendly atmosphere, at the end of noisy, crowded aisles. You’ll find absolutely everything here: spices, handmade Persian carpets, decorative objects, various utensils, silk scarves, colourful fabrics, cakes and sweets, telephones… If you want to immerse yourself in Iranian culture and visit Tehran in an authentic way, this is the place to go.

8. Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum

What to do in Tehran The mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini is a must-see. It’s a funerary complex located in the south of the city. It is dedicated to Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), iconic figure of the Iranian revolution in 1979. The mausoleum houses the remains of the Ayatollah and his wife. Under construction since 1989, the complex will be a 20 km² center encircled by four minarets, under a giant dome housing prayer halls, a university of Islamic studies, a memorial center and souvenir stores.

9. Eram Zoo Park

Also known as the Tehran Zoological Gardens,Eram Zoo Park is located to the west of the city. Covering an area of 5 hectares, it has been home to over 290 species of animal, including 121 native to Iran, since 1992. It’s a great place for children and adults alike to see tigers, leopards, lynxes, wolves, primates, reptiles, birds, turtles and much more. Still wondering what to do in Tehran?

10. The National Museum of Iran

If you love culture and history, the National Museum of Iran – also known as the Archaeological Museum of Iran – is the place to go when visiting Tehran. It traces the history of the city and the country back to antiquity. Opened in 1937, it boasts numerous pottery and metal objects, books and coins from ancient Persia, as well as artefacts from the Neolithic, Palaeolithic and pre-Islamic periods. The museum contains eight different halls dedicated to different periods of history.

11. Mount Tochal

You’ve seen it all and don’t know what to do in Tehran? See the mountains to the north? You can hike the slopes of the Elbourz Mountains and go from a temperature of 40°C to 10°C! Along a 12-kilometer ridgeline culminating at an altitude of 3,942 meters, hikes offer extraordinary views over the city of Tehran. Access is by cable car from Tajrish, north of Tehran, to the Tochal ski resort. A dozen peaks can be accessed from the ridge.

Also read on the Iran guide :

12. Sorkheh Hesar national park

When visiting Tehran, why not take advantage of the Sorkheh Hesar National Park and its 9,380 hectares directly accessible to the east of the city? You can climb to an altitude of 1,547 meters to take in some of the mild weather – if you come in summer, the days can be scorching – in this protected area. In winter, the area serves as a starting point for bird migration. But beware: due to its semi-arid climate, the average annual temperature range is considerable: 19°C between day and night!

How to get to Tehran

To get to Tehran, you absolutely have to fly, as the neighboring countries (Iraq, Kuwait, eastern Turkey) are dangerous zones, at war or with high geopolitical tensions. It is therefore inadvisable to travel there by land. Many airlines – Air France, Iran Air, Alitalia, Lufthansa and KLM – operate direct flights from Paris. For the best flight deals, please consult our partner Ulysse.

Where to stay in Tehran

If you want to know where to sleep when visiting Tehran, it’s best to aim for the historic city center, the Elahieh and Tajrish districts: less polluted, less noisy and cooler because they’re on higher ground.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Iran