The 12 most beautiful places to visit in Iran

Discover the 12 most beautiful places to visit in Iran: a fabulous country far off the beaten track!

A country steeped in history and with an incredible heritage, Iran is often misunderstood and mistakenly avoided by many travellers. And yet, Iran has everything to please: a culture several millennia old, fantastic monuments and cities, varied landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to arid deserts by way of the sea, and a population among the friendliest in the world!

Wondering what to do in Iran? Well, there are so many wonderful places to discover, you’ll probably find it hard to visit them all on your trip! Fortunately, to help you prepare for your Iranian adventure, we’ve put together a list of the 12 most beautiful places to visit in Iran!

1. Tehran

Téhéran

Photo credit: Flickr – hoochie740

It’s impossible to visit Iran without discovering its capital! Firstly, because Tehran will be your gateway to this wonderful Persian world, and secondly, because it’s home to some magnificent monuments, such as the Golestan Palace, a masterpiece of the Qadjar era located in the heart of the historic center and home to several museums, or the Niavaran Palace, one of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi‘s residences, or the National Museum.

And if you want to escape the city’s pollution, why not take one of the seven ski resorts in the Elbourz mountain range to the north of Tehran by cable car? Because yes, if you’re wondering what to do in Iran, you can ski! If you’re wondering what to do in Tehran, take a look at our article  » 12 must-do things in Tehran « !

2. Isfahan

Ispahan

For history buffs and laymen alike, Isfahan is a must-see destination if you’re planning a visit to Iran! Located south of Tehran, in the heart of the country, it is the former capital of the Persian Empire, and is renowned for its architecture dating back to that era.

Thanks to its history, Esfahan boasts some of the finest monuments in the country and the Middle East, including the Imam Mosque and the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, masterpieces of Iranian architecture from the Safavid period.

In town, you can also stroll along the Zayandehrood River beside Isfahan’s old bridges, such as the famous Pol-e Khaju. You can also take advantage of your stay to stroll through the city’s charming irrigated gardens, the Isfahan bazaar or discover the sublime Armenian Vank Cathedral!

3. Chiraz

Chiraz

Photo credit: Flickr – Teseum

Also spelled Shiraz, it is known as the cultural and artistic capital of Iran, city of poets and great philosophers of the 13th and 14th centuries such as Saadi and Hâfez!

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shiraz is home to such marvels as the Persian gardens of Afif-Abad,Eram and Delgosha. A gentle, peaceful atmosphere reigns in Chiraz, and Iranians are very fond of this city.

In addition to the gardens, you can also visit the Karim Khan citadel, a formidable fortified complex housing luxurious hammams, gardens, pools, courtyards and halls! Or the enchanting Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque: the sun’s rays shine through the stained-glass windows to create a superb kaleidoscope of light in the prayer hall.

4. Persepolis

Persépolis

Photo credit: Flickr – Andrea Moroni

Located 70 km northeast of Shiraz, Persepolis is a must-visit site in Iran. If you’re still wondering what to do in Iran, visit this country and take a leap back into ancient history!

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archaeological site was originally a city founded by Darius I in 521 BC. Partially destroyed during Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia, it is now possible to visit the ruins of the various dwellings, palaces and sculpted staircases.

5. Kashan

Kashan

Photo credit: Flickr – Kamyar Adl

South of Teheran, Kashan is a must if you’re planning a visit to Iran! Before joining the famous Isfahan or the beautiful Shiraz, it will seduce you with its bazaar, which forms a magnificent, sprawling complex of mosques and madresehs, tombs, caravanserais, arcades and baths!

The Friday Mosque is also a must-see during your stay in Kashan, as is the Fin Garden, an archetypal Persian garden.

6. The Maranjab desert

Désert de Maranjab

Photo credit: Flickr – harveypekar84

What to do in Iran? Walk in the desert, of course! Not far from the city of Kashan, the Maranjab desert is a favorite spot for Iranians themselves: to get out of the city and enjoy the fresh air, this is the perfect place.

Wonderful walks in the sand dunes await you in this desert: you can even imagine yourself in a setting from the cartoon Aladdin! It’s even possible to sleep in a caravanserai and pet free-roaming camels during your stay in the desert.

7. The red village of Abyaneh

Not far from Kashan and the Maranjab desert, Abyaneh is a superb typical Iranian village.

You’ll be charmed by its picturesque clay-brick houses and local crafts, as well as by the superb walks among the nearby rivers and mountains that await you! For a taste of traditional Iran, there’s nothing better than a trip to Abyaneh.

8. Yazd

Yazd

An oasis city in central Iran, Yazd lies between the deserts of Dasht-e Kavir to the north and Dasht-e Lut to the south. Yazd is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Iranian culture. With its typical, calm atmosphere, authentic old town and picturesque mosques, Yazd has nothing but good things in store for you. There’s nothing better than enjoying a magnificent sunset on the roof of a café, with a delicious cup of tea in hand, to admire the beautiful Yazd and its warm colors!

In town, you’ll marvel at the Amir Chakhmaq complex, with its baths, mosque and even underground bazaar, or at the charming adobe houses. And if you’re still wondering what to do in Iran, we can only recommend a visit to the Towers of Silence, Zoroastrian relics not far from the city!

9. Kerman

The largest city in southeastern Iran, it was probably founded by the Sassanid king Ardachîr I in the 3rd century. The ancient city is known for its production of famous Persian carpets, as well as for housing some of Iran’s most beautiful monuments, such as the Great Mosque and the Gandj Ali Khan bath.

Around the city, the village of Mahan, with its famous mausoleum and the Shahzadeh garden, is well worth a visit. But above all, it’s the gigantic citadel city of Bam, located on the famous Silk Road, that will draw you to the region!

10. Masouleh

Masouleh

Photo credit: Flickr – Michael Wong

Masouleh ‘s architecture is unique. Built into the mountainside, the buildings are interconnected so that courtyards and roofs form pedestrian areas. Indeed, the roof of one house also serves as a courtyard for the house above!

With its narrow streets, numerous staircases and ochre-colored clay houses, Masouleh has an uncommon charm. On the road to Tabriz in the north-west, it’s a must-visit village in Iran!

11. Tabriz

Tabriz

Photo credit: Flickr – Alan Cordova

With a history dating back over 4500 years, Tabriz is one of the oldest cities in the world! Thanks to its long history, Tabriz is home to spectacular monuments such as the Blue Mosque, tiled with superb blue ceramics, and the Tabriz Bazaar, one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world!

The latter is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Above all, Tabriz is a culinary paradise, at the crossroads of Iranian and Azeri cultures.

Also read on the Iran guide :

12. The island of Qeshm

Ile de Qeshm

Photo credit: Flickr – Ninara

Still wondering what to do in Iran? Then you absolutely must discover the astonishing and enchanting scenery of the largest island in the Persian Gulf! Theisland of Qeshm is home to a rich and varied natural environment, with impressive geological phenomena such as salt and sulfur caves, valleys and canyons, which you can discover by visiting the Valleys of Stars and Statues.

You can also take advantage of your stay to discover the picturesque fishing village of Laft or the islands of Naz and Hormoz!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Iran