Travel To Iran

Iran is indeed one of the most beautiful countries in the middle-east, filled with a mix of everything. From the most hospitable people to historical legacies, stunning architecture, rich culture, the most desolate deserts, wonderful natural sceneries, islands, and many other things, slowly, travelers are realizing that Iran is an amazing travel destination. You may know next to nothing about Iran, you will never run out of things to do when visiting this beautiful country. The general opinion in the western countries is that Iran is a dangerous country. The news in west describe Iran as a place full of violence that makes people believe the country is populated with mad, unfriendly and ferocious people.

 

Firstly, Iran is one of the safest countries in the region. Crime is much lower than in most European countries and the U.S.A.

Secondly, Iranians are among the friendliest and most hospitable in the World.

Thirdly, Iran is quite developed, clean, and its population are well educated and have cultural / political awareness.

 

This Iran travel guide contains everything you need to know about traveling to Iran. 

Covid-19 travel restrictions in Iran

Given the resumption of travel as worldwide restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to ease, Iran reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on November 1st. Anyone who has had both doses of a Covid-19 jab can now travel to Iran, including citizens, residents, and any visitors who do not need a visa to travel to Iran or those who can use the country’s visa on arrival service.

Do I need a negative Covid-19 PCR test result for traveling to Iran?

Travelers entering to Iran from any origin, including connecting and transit passengers, must have a printed negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate to avoid being deported. All passengers must take their PCR test no later than 96 hours before their scheduled time of arrival in Iran.

Is It Safe To Travel To Iran?

Iran is generally a very safe place to travel perhaps, one of the safest countries in the Middle East, no kidding. Many travelers describe it as the “safest country I’ve ever been to”, or “much safer than what I thought”.

Solo female travelers in Iran

Iran is an Islamic and a day-by-day growing tourism destination, so it is not surprising at all that, every day, Iran is attracting more and more travelers, including many solo females.

How to get a visa for Iran?

Most nationalities can buy an Iran tourist visa on arrival. If you don’t want to wait at the airport, want to secure your visa or enter overland, you should get the visa in advance. You can easily apply for Iran visa through Iranian travel agencies or via the visa portal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Iran tourist visa will be issued for maximum 30 days. But you can easily extend your Iran visa. You can extend your visa twice for 30 days. In other words, you can be in Iran for up to 90 days. Visa extensions can be arranged in all provincial capitals of Iran.

What nationalities are eligible for visa on arrival?

Almost all travelers are eligible for Iran visa on arrival except the travelers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, UK, USA.

What is the best time to visit Iran?

Peak season: With no doubt, the best time to travel in Iran is from late March to the end of May and from September to early November. The weather conditions during these months are great in Iran. Generally this is the high season, so you may encounter a lot of crowds. You’d to book your travel and accommodation in advance, and the prices of travel might be a bit higher than other months.

Low season: Thanks to Iran’s diverse nature, you can experience different seasons and weather conditions on the same day. Generally it is hot and dry from May to September and it is quite cold from October to February in most parts of Iran. If you are looking for a budget trip to Iran, winter and summer are best time to visit Iran, since many hotels have special offers.

Travel Insurance for Iran

Most international insurance companies don’t cover Iran trips due to the sanctions. IATI is one of the very few international insurance companies whose policy is valid for traveling in Iran. They provide a wide range of different plans and good coverage. You can also buy Iran travel insurance from one of the Iranian insurance providers. The prices range from 10€ to 30€, depending on the number of days traveling to Iran. Having a valid travel insurance is mandatory in order to get an Iran visa. If you don’t have a valid travel insurance, you will have to buy it at the airport.

Buy your travel insurance to Iran 

Money and budgeting when traveling in Iran

  • Currency: The official currency of Iran is the Iranian Rial (IRR). But more often you’ll hear the money in Iran called Toman. [1 Toman = 10 Rial]
  • Exchange rate: In January 2022 it has been hovering around 300,000 IRR to $1 USD.
  • Where to exchange money: Exchange offices are available everywhere and Euros, US Dollar and Pounds are always accepted. You’d better not to exchange your money in Banks because the exchange rate in market is higher. Besides, black market exchange (illegal) on the street are best avoided.
  • ATMs in Iran: Because of the financial sanctions toward Iran, ATMs do not take foreign credit or debit cards. So you will either need to bring cash or get a prepaid local debit cards. You will be surprised to know that local credit cards are accepted all across the country, including at street food stalls and grocery shops from rural areas.

How much does traveling to Iran cost?

  • Iranian SIM card + Data 600,000 IRR (2 USD)
  • Budget hotel – 3,000,000 IRR (10 USD)
  • Luxury hotel – 15,000,000 IRR (50 USD)
  • A plate of Kebab – 2,000,000 IRR (6.5 USD)
  • A sandwich – 1,000,000 IRR (3.5 USD)
  • A big bottle of water – 30,000 IRR (10¢)
  • A cup of coffee – 300,000 IRR (1 USD)
  • Short taxi rides within Tehran – 600,000 IRR (2 USD)
  • Entrance fees per attraction – 1,000,000 IRR (3.5 Rial)
  • Bus from Tehran to Shiraz – 2,000,000 IRR (6.5 USD)
  • Flight ticket from Tehran to Shiraz – 8,000,000 IRR (26.5 USD)

How to travel in Iran on a super budget?

  • Do Couchsurfing: Free accommodation and a great way to meet locals.
  • Only eat street food and local cafes: Foods and drinks are not expensive in Iran but avoiding fancy and touristic restaurants cut your food bill down.
  • Take night trains or buses: When traveling long distances (for example Tehran to Shiraz), you can save money on accommodation by traveling on overnight trains or buses.
  • Find other travelers to share the costs: Some activities like desert tourscity tours, taxi and more can be cut down significantly by sharing the costs with others.
  • Pick and choose limited attractions and activities: Iran has a massive number of attractions and you don’t have to see all the sites in every cities.
  • Travel in low season: You will experience the approximately the lowest prices of travel services specially hotels in low season.

Top Travel Destinations in Iran

The diversity of attractions in Iran makes this country a fabulous travel destination for travelers with any taste. No matter which region you go to when traveling in Iran, you can always find something interesting to see and enjoy. That being said, there are cities in the country that are popular as Iran’s top tourist cities due to the higher concentration of tourist attractions in them, or their unique properties. It might be difficult to figure out which places should be your priority. That’s why you must read a lot about the cities and find those are close to your travel style.

  • Tehran 

Tehran, the nation’s capital city, is a beautiful metropolitan surrounded by eye-catching mountains.

  • Shiraz

Shiraz known as the city of love and poetry, is one of the most touristic cities in Iran. It’s famous for its beautiful Persian gardens.

  • Isfahan

Isfahan, located in the center of Iran, is another touristy city which tourists love, and famous for its beautiful bridges, Islamic architecture, mosques and palaces.

  • Yazd

With its kind people, ancient culture, and delicious food, Yazd is most famous for its Badgirs [wind catchers].

  • Tabriz

Rich in Azeri culture, Tabriz is known for its thriving bazaar. If you are looking for places for shopping in Iran, then this should definitely be on your list.

  • Kish

Known as the pearl of the Persian Gulf, Kish is a luxurious and developed island in Iran.

  • Kashan

With its majestic historical houses, lively bazaar, natural rosewater, and traditional, dusty rugs, Kashan gives you a deep dive straight into the Persian culture.

  • Kerman

With its dry and desert climate, rich history, and of course hospitable and warm-hearted people, it is known as one of the best regions for desert activities in Iran.

  • Hamedan

Mountainous city of Hamedan is located on the hillside of Alvand mountain range. As a matter of fact, this city is one of the oldest cities in the world.

  • Kermanshah

A destination for motivated adventure and culture lovers, Kermanshah is the largest kurdish speaking city in Iran.

Accommodation and Hotels in Iran

Accommodation is surprisingly plentiful in Iran. Fortunately here are many types of hotels and guesthouses in Iran to fit your travel style.

  • Budget Hotels: You can find budget hotels in most of the cities in Iran. You pay 8-10 USD for a single clean room which have some minimum standards.
  • Hotel-apartments: In big cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad and etc. you can also find hotel apartments, which are very good value-for-money if you are more than 2 people.
  • Mid-range hotels: In most of the touristic you can find mid-range and standard hotels. The rates may start at 15 USD per night.
  • 5-star hotels: The offer of luxury hotels in Iran is not very large. But you can easily find luxury hotels in big cities such as Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz.
  • Traditional hotels: Traditional guest houses are very popular among foreign travelers in Iran. Most of these hotels are old and historical houses with acceptable standards and fare prices.
  • Couchsurfing: Iranian hospitality is incredible. You can easily find plenty of profiles to be your host during to your trip to Iran.

Transportation in Iran

  • Traveling to Iran by air: If you come by flight, Tehran would be the most obvious destination, as it has a large number of connections from Europe, especially Turkey. Shiraz has also an international airport and there are daily, very cheap flights from Dubai.
  • Traveling to Iran by land: Iran shares a border with many neighbor countries:
  • Iraq border
  • Armenia border
  • Azerbaijan birder
  • Pakistan border
  • Turkmenistan border
  • Afghanistan border (Warning! In 2021, this border was taken over by the Taliban. For more information, read my Afghanistan safety guide.)
  • Traveling to Iran by sea: Passenger ferries from Dubai and Sharjah to Iran is available.

How to move around inside Iran?

  • Airway transport in Iran: Many Iranian cities have airport and you can easily take a flight to travel from one city to another. Domestic flight tickets costs from 15 USD to 60 USD depending on the route, travel date and airline.
  • Road transport in Iran: Road trips in Iran is the most common way of traveling. Road trips take place in two ways: by bus and private cars (or taxi).
  • Railway transport in Iran: The majority of Iranian cities are connected with one another through the railway.

How to get around within the cities?

The transport fee in Iran is quite reasonable and far less than the global average. This is actually one of those issues that can give travelers some peace of mind about the travel expenses. Taxispublic buses and subways (in major cities) are the urban transportation options during the trip in Iran.

Food & Drinks in Iran

Whilst travelling around Iran you are sure to come across a stunning variety of culinary delights. Persian cuisine is absolutely among the most popular and delicious ones all around the world. Rice and bread are the staple foods of the Iranians which they eat with meat and vegetable dishes along with herbs and yogurt.

Bread:

Iran has a wide range of bread types and Iranian breads are some of the tastiest in the world. But of course European types of bread such as the French baguette, and the English white slices are also available in the country.

Sweets:

Iran has also a wide range of sweets and confectionery in most of which they put pieces of almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts as well as dried fruits.

Drinks:

Iranian beverages are just as varied as their dishes. Although drinking alcohol is totally forbidden in Iran, it gives travelers a great opportunity to taste different Iranian beverages such as herbal teas, sweet traditional drinks (sherbats), Iranian soft drinks, etc. Tape water is also drinkable in Iran, although mineral water can be found easily in any small stall in the street.

Vegetarian foods:

Iran has a heavily meat-based food culture, but absolutely not more than US. Visiting Iran as a vegetarian will limit your menu but it’s of course possible. There are lots of Iranian vegetarian cuisine and meatless food, but unfortunately, most of them are missed at the restaurant menu.

Dress code in Iran

Whilst travelling around Iran you are sure to come across a stunning variety of culinary delights. Persian cuisine is absolutely among the most popular and delicious ones all around the world. Rice and bread are the staple foods of the Iranians which they eat with meat and vegetable dishes along with herbs and yogurt.

Bread:

Iran has a wide range of bread types and Iranian breads are some of the tastiest in the world. But of course European types of bread such as the French baguette, and the English white slices are also available in the country.

Sweets:

Iran has also a wide range of sweets and confectionery in most of which they put pieces of almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts as well as dried fruits.

Drinks:

Iranian beverages are just as varied as their dishes. Although drinking alcohol is totally forbidden in Iran, it gives travelers a great opportunity to taste different Iranian beverages such as herbal teas, sweet traditional drinks (sherbats), Iranian soft drinks, etc. Tape water is also drinkable in Iran, although mineral water can be found easily in any small stall in the street.

Vegetarian foods:

Iran has a heavily meat-based food culture, but absolutely not more than US. Visiting Iran as a vegetarian will limit your menu but it’s of course possible. There are lots of Iranian vegetarian cuisine and meatless food, but unfortunately, most of them are missed at the restaurant menu.

Books and Travel Guides

  • Iran Travel Guide by Bradt: The guide to Iran by Bradt is, definitely, one of the best guidebook about Iran that exists.
  • Iran travel guide by Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is the most accurate and up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and hidden discoveries in Iran.
  • The Cypress Tree: The Cypress Tree is love letter to Iran written by an Iranian girl who was born in Iran but grew up in Britain.

 Click here to check the prices on Amazon

Wrapping it up

Iran is quite simply one of the most fascinating countries you can visit on holiday. During your trip to Iran, you will find yourself in colorful architecture, great history, fascinating culture and friendly locals who will leave a strong impression on you long after you’ve left the country.

Do you have any suggestions or want to share your experiences on what to do when in Iran? Do comment down below; we would love to hear all about it!

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