Iran travel guide, including map of Iran, top Iran travel experiences, tips for travel in Iran, plus advice for women travellers in Iran
Iran is one of the world’s best-kept travel secrets. A large and diverse country, Iran has rugged mountains, secretive forests, salt-plains, arid deserts, mysterious steppes and sleepy beaches.
The man-made attractions can be equally magnificent, with stunningly beautiful Isfahan way up any list of travel highlights, while Persepolis is one of the world’s greatest ancient sites.
But it’s the Iranian people who are the real surprise to the unsuspecting visitor; most Iranians are friendly and approachable, with many curious about the outside world. Add to this, Iran’s fascinating history, its rich culture, its many contradictions, and you have a heady mix. Iran has suffered from an image problem; be prepared to have any preconceptions overturned.
Iran is probably the safest country in the world for women. But you do need to observe the hejab dress code. Cover your head at all times – a headscarf is fine. You can show a fringe but nothing more. You are expected to have no flesh showing except hands and face. The ideal is baggy clothing; loose trousers with a modest long-sleeved tunic or baggy shirt is fine. Or top it with a thin cotton coat (a roupush) as many of the locals do.
Men should not wear shorts or reveal too much flesh. Don’t take magazines that include photographs of scantily clad women. Remove shoes if entering a house or mosque.
Even if you’re not into football, gen up on Manchester United and some of the world’s top footballers! Iranians are passionate about football, and it makes a great ice-breaker if you can name a dozen or so footballers.
Spring and autumn are the ideal times to go, with temperatures at their best for sightseeing and activities. Summer is blazingly hot, winters are searingly cold except in the south.
Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), 30 kilometres southwest of Tehran
This is a big country so distances are large (eg Tehran to Shiraz is 900km) but it has a good transport network. Domestic flights run between the major centres. Public transport, such as buses and mini-buses, is cheap and frequent. Note that women have to sit at the back on buses. Car rental is almost non-existent. However, you can hire cars with driver easily. Note that the standard of driving is atrocious!
There is a wide range of hotels but the budget ones often don’t take foreigners. Hotels are graded but don’t expect the equivalent to a European rating. Most hotels expect payment in dollars.
Persian food is one of the most ancient cuisines of the world, and is rich in spices, herbs and fruit. Sadly, you won’t find much sign of it outside private homes. In restaurants the most common meal is lamb kebabs with rice, or chicken. The rice is superb, and may be cooked with saffron, or with dill, berries or orange peel. Nuts, fruits and cakes are found everywhere. The yoghurt and ice cream are delicious.
Vegetarians will survive on rice, yoghurt and salad but may struggle to get much else. Falafels are widely available from snack bars.
Alcohol is banned. A very malty non-alcoholic “beer” is available. Tea (chai) is the most common drink and is served without milk. Doogh is a rather sour but refreshing drink of yoghurt, water, salt and mint that is widely served. Soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available.
There are no particular health risks. Violence towards tourists is rare. Muggings and pick-pocketing incidents have increased over the past few years so do take the usual common-sense precautions.
As the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha (Sacrifice Feast, Aug 31-Sept 4) gets under way, we take a look at the world's most incredible mosques, whose architecture inspires anyone who sets eyes on them More
With a change in political mood in some countries, even visas that were previously easy to get are proving tough. Here are the five most difficult visas and what you’ll need to do to get them More
We asked 11 famous folks, including Brian Cox, Kate Humble and De La Soul, the destinations that top their ‘To Do Before I Die’ list. From Borneo to Korea, these are their answers, and the clear favourite is…? More
From the architectural splendour of Isfahan to the arid high Pamir plateau, journeys along the Silk Road are steeped in history, with breathtaking views to match. Following its routes is one of the great travel experiences, says Bradley Mayhew More
From humorous solo traveller tales to a novel set in a Parisian apartment block, Jude Brosnan from Stanford Books reviews 10 life-affirming books you should read this summer More
26-year-old Savannah Grace has been travelling the world since she was a teenager. Here are some of her tips for travelling over an extended period, from packing light to taking public transport with the locals More
Following a close call with cancer, Sandra Reekie discovered the joys and freedom of solo travel. Here's her story, along with specialist solo trips and our advice for how to make the most of travel-for-one More
Wanderlust's readers picked these 10 tour operators as the best in the world. Those tour operators picked their greatest signature trips. Here are their inspiring adventures... More
The Broke Backpacker has been travelling the world for eight years on a shoestring budget. Here's his golden advice for cutting costs overseas, to travel further and longer More
Make 2017 the year you go on a truly epic journey that covers lots of ground, history and legendary sights for an experience you’ll never forget, including holidays in Iran, Bali and Peru More
Experience the romance of rail travel in some of the most stunning locations on the planet More
With British Airways resuming direct flights from London to Tehran, Lyn Hughes gives 5 good reasons to go to Iran More
Certain enterprising towns have discovered that it’s always possible to be the world capital of something – cats, accordions or even bathtub racing! More
It's everyone's favourite Middle Eastern dessert – but how to make crispy, chewy baklava? We've tracked down a traditional Turkish recipe... More
Iran is one of 2016’s most talked about destinations. Head there, and you’ll find its capital to be a friendly base for exploring the country More
Want to mingle with local people and immerse yourself in everyday life? These trips were designed for culture seekers – and they'll whisk you to the world's most colourful destinations More
Incredible architecture, beguiling culture, Silk Road splendour – and quite possibly the warmest welcome you'll ever experience. Welcome to Iran... More
Foreign reporter Lauren Razavi shares three recipes from her father's Iranian homeland More
The sublime architecture, rich poetic tradition and wildly diverse landscapes of Iran are waiting for you to visit... Go now! More
With travel restrictions easing, Iran's sites and valleys are opening up to visitors. We glimpse a country that may be on the verge of change More
Some countries don't welcome journalists – so how do you travel under the radar? On a recent trip to Iran, Nick Boulos took on an alternative job title: Sales Manager. But who fell for his facade? More
Ahead of his filmmaking seminar at London's Adventure Travel Show 2015, we quiz Leon McCarron about his new film, what makes a great story on screen, and his tips for aspiring filmmakers... More
Love New Year's Eve but don't want to wait another 12 months until the next one? Here's an annual guide to the different New Year's celebrations observed around the world. More
If you're considering travelling through Central Asia, this advice from overlanding guru Mark Middleton may save your life More
We've unearthed five obscure musical instruments from around the world and slipped one in you might be more familiar with More
Associate Web Editor Peter Moore chats to Dom Joly about their mutual fascination with the destinations most people avoid More
List blogs are generally an excuse for the author to show off about something or other... Not this one More
Mount Damavand may be little known outside its home nation of Iran but Asia's highest volcano is a delightful challenge for mountaineers More
Iran has many facets, but Lyn Hughes has discovered another, unspoken, romantic side to this fascinating country More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!
The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
If you are intending to have a completely different view of travel, you might need to consider this trip! An itinerary of pure culture, fantastic nature, and a different lifestyle