We’ve been all around the world, spent a lot of time in a lot of different countries, and if there’s one thing we can honestly tell you it’s that we’ve never felt as welcomed, fascinated and humbled as we did when we visited Iran.
Iran is such an incredible country to travel. The architecture will amaze you, the friendliness of the people will leave you speechless, the culture is fascinating and the landscapes are out of this world.
Iran is also very misunderstood, with many people believing whatever propaganda they hear on the media about how dangerous or difficult it is to travel there.
Table of Contents
- What to Know Before You Visit Iran
- Iran is Safe!
- There’s a lot of Customs to Follow
- You Need a Visa for Iran
- You Need to Dress Appropriately
- Have a Head Scarf in Your Carry-On Luggage Before Arrival
- Bring a Phrase Book or Have Google Translate on Your Phone
- Bring a Lot Of Cash
- The Currency Has Two Names
- Bring Comfortable Footwear
- Research the Food and Don’t Just Eat Kebabs
- Bring a Backpack Rather Than a Suitcase
- Draw Up an Itinerary, But Keep it Flexible
- Let Your Guard Down and Talk to Locals
- Always Ask the Price Before Buying
- Book Domestic Flights with Your Accommodation or Travel Agent
- Team Up with Other Travellers and Share Tours
- Be on Time for Your Appointments
- The Traffic is Horrible
- You Need a VPN to Access Some Social Media Platforms
- There is Wifi, But Be Patient With It
- Pick Up a Local Sim Card
- Iran Has its Own Uber Called Snapp
- You Can Drink the Tap Water
- Good Coffee is Hard to Find
- There’s a Female-Only Carriage on the Metros
What to Know Before You Visit Iran
The truth is travelling in Iran definitely has its quirks, and being an Islamic country means there’s a few things you need to know about the religion and culture before you go so you can show absolute respect.
Luckily these are easy enough to know before you go if you do a bit of research. We spent one month travelling around Iran and learnt so much during our time there.
To help put your mind at ease about travelling in this incredible country, here’s our list of the most important things to know before you visit Iran.
Iran is Safe!
All of the mainstream media outlets portray Iran as an unsafe country, somewhere that you’ll be at risk if you visit.
The mainstream media is wrong.
We did not feel unsafe once through the whole 4 weeks of us backpacking independently in Iran.
We weren’t with a tour group, had no tour guides, don’t speak the local language, took public transport and taxis, wandered the streets on our own – basically everything you shouldn’t do if you’re in a dangerous country.
And guess what? Nothing bad happened to us at all!
The Iranian people are so friendly and helpful. They want you to have a great time and tell your friends so more people will come and visit.
We were walking around one morning on a quiet street when a car passed us and turned around. A group of young people stopped the car, came up to us, and asked if we were ok or if we needed help.
Once we told them we were just looking for a coffee they pulled out their phones and started showing us where the cafes were on a map.
They even offered us a ride, and said if the cafes were closed they had coffee at their home and would love to make us some.
This is just one example of dozens of interactions that happened to us when we were in Iran. Iranians love that tourists are coming to their country and travelling around.
The locals know what the media says about them and what a lot of the world thinks of their country, and the people just want to show that they are nice, generous people.
Theft against tourists is very rare and even the Religion Police (secret police) tend to leave tourists alone.
Just be careful around the bazaars and crowed places for pickpocketing. We didn’t have any issue and didn’t hear of any other travellers having problems, but this is common sense in any busy place in the world.
With all that being said, there is a large military and police presence in Iran. Do not photograph any military areas or government buildings, and stay away from any protests if you see them.
Obviously there are some areas of Iran that are no-go zones, such as the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, so do your research and talk to locals if you’re thinking about going anywhere near them.
There’s a lot of Customs to Follow
When you travel somewhere you want to take in everything about the country and its people, and that includes the culture and customs.
Iran has quite a few local customs that may take some getting used to, so it’s important to learn about them before you go so you don’t accidentally offend or disrespect anyone.
Some of the most common ones that throw tourists off are:
- Women must wear hijabs (headscarves) at all times in public. They must also wear loose-fitting clothes that don’t show their figure.
- Giving a thumbs-up sign is considered rude, similar to giving the middle finger in Western society.
- Men can wear short-sleeved shirts, but long pants must be worn at all times.
- Men and women who aren’t related shouldn’t touch either. That means no shaking hands or hugging someone of the opposite sex.
- If you are travelling with your significant other, avoid any public displays of affection.
- Always bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s house. Candy, pastries or flowers are fine.
Now we want to give a special mention to ta’arof – This is a hospitality trait where it’s customary for someone to refuse payment for a service, and is probably the most confusing thing for any tourist to get their head around.
Basically what happens is if you make a purchase (a souvenir, taxi ride, etc), the person may refuse your payment out of politeness. It is then up to you to insist despite their refusals that you want to pay. After two or three times they’ll then accept your money.
If they still keep refusing then perhaps you have just experienced some amazing Iranian hospitality! But chances are they’ll accept the payment once the process has been completed. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.
The locals are so lovely, that if you do something wrong someone will approach you and nicely let you know. For example, if you are a lady and your headscarf falls off without you knowing, a local will kindly let you know.
Don’t stress about getting your outfits beforehand as shopping in Iran is cheap. Just bring one headscarf and set of loose-fitting clothes, and buy more once you get there.
The culture is the best thing about visiting Iran, and after a few days, you’ll start to understand and fall in love with it just like we did.
You Need a Visa for Iran
In order to visit Iran, you’re going to need to get a tourist visa. This used to be a very difficult process, but luckily things have gotten easier with the introduction of visa on arrivals in 2016
On the 14th February 2016, the Ministry of Iran announced that citizens of 180 countries can now apply for VOA of 30-days at most international airports, including Tehran, Shiraz, Mashad, Tabriz and Isfahan.
There’s an exception to this rule though, and if you are from Canada, the UK or the USA, we have some bad news for you…You can only visit Iran if you join a guided tour, so no chance of getting a VOA and travelling independently.
Your tour company will help organise your visa for you.
Check out our article on how to apply for a Visa On Arrival in Iran.
You Need to Dress Appropriately
This follows on from the customs section above, but in a bit more detail.
Iran is an Islamic country, and as such you need to follow the Islamic dress code. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Women need to cover their arms, legs and head. This including a Hijab, loose long length shirt with long sleeves and pants.
Leggings or tight jeans are ok as long as your top is long and covers your bottom. When wearing pants, you need to be covered down to your ankles.
The most common way to cover your head is with a scarf. The local women wear bright colours and are very stylish with their clothing, so don’t think you need to wear all black.
Black is still worn a lot but not so much among the younger generation.
You can wear sandals. Some guesthouses and hostels will allow you to take your headscarf off on their premises but do check first.
Men aren’t allowed to wear shorts in public, so bring long, lightweight pants as the best option. T-shirts are fine to wear in public. Men can wear sandals too.
If you do wear inappropriate clothing it’s not the end of the world, and besides some angry looks from some of the older generation, you’ll probably just end up having a friendly local let you know what’s best to wear.
In Tehran, the locals push the limits in terms of what they wear in public. At the end of 2017, an uprising occurred and supposedly women were no longer required to wear the Hijab in public in Tehran, but wait until you are in the country to find out for certain.
Have a Head Scarf in Your Carry-On Luggage Before Arrival
When you land at the airport, it is respectful to put a scarf straight on your head ladies. This will cause no trouble for you by locals or the officials at the airport.
Once you’re in the air on an international flight you’ll see most young ladies take their hijab as soon as the plane leaves the ground. Just follow what the locals do.
Bring a Phrase Book or Have Google Translate on Your Phone
We were quite surprised to discover that a lot of Iranians could speak a little bit of English, but that wasn’t always the case, so do yourself a favour and bring along something that can help translate English to Persian.
We always travel with Google Translate and offline languages saved on our phones, but at times having a phrasebook is the best (and most social) way to interact with people who don’t speak any English.
Remember, you are in a country that doesn’t have English as an official language, so don’t be that rude tourist that gets upset if people aren’t understanding you.
Persian (Farsi) is difficult, and no locals expect you to learn much beyond hello and thank you while you are there, but do your best anyway as a few extra words will go a long way in showing respect.
Also don’t be surprised if you are constantly invited out for tea with people so they can practice their English. If the opportunity comes up, make time for it, as it’s an amazing experience for both the local and yourself.
Bring a Lot Of Cash
Don’t forget your cash when visiting Iran, as none of the ATMs in the country accepts foreign credit or debit cards thanks to the embargo. So if you forget to bring all of your cash for your entire trip, you’re out of luck.
Figure out what your usual budget is for a trip ($50 a day, $100 a day, etc), then bring a bit extra just in case. USD is best for all around the country but Euros and British Pounds are also accepted in Tehran.
There’s two exchange rates in the country – official rate and black market rate – and the black market rate is of course much better.
We actually found an exchange booth at Tehran airport that gave pretty close to the black market rate, so we traded some cash there.
As a tip don’t exchange all of your foreign cash into Rials at once, because you’ll either get ripped off on the exchange rate back if you have any left over, or you’ll be unable to trade it outside of the country.
Also don’t be too concerned about travelling around with thousands of dollars in your backpacks. As we mentioned earlier theft is rare. Do keep your money stashed in different spots though just in case.
UPDATE: If you’d prefer not to carry all your cash with you, can actually pre-order a local Iranian debit card from the company, Mah Card. It works just like a normal debit card in your home country.
You order it on their website and they’ll deliver it to your hotel in Tehran when you arrive. They have an online system too where you can top up the funds if you’re running low.
Use the code ‘NOMADASAURUS‘ at check-out to get a 40% discount on the card when ordering. Instead of a 19 Euro issue fee, our code brings it down to 11 Euro.
The Currency Has Two Names
“Toman or Rial?” Get used to asking that question, because if you don’t it could end up being a costly mistake.
The currency in Iran is officially known as the Rial, and is valued at roughly 30’000 IRL to USD$1. That’s a lot of zeros, so what the locals have started doing is dropping a zero and calling the new value a Toman.
1 Toman = 10 Rial
When you hear prices quoted in Tomans you need to add a zero on the end and pay the amount in Rials. It sounds confusing, but you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.
That’s why it’s important to always ask Toman or Rial, so you don’t accidentally pay too much on an item. Most vendors quote in Tomans anyway, so chances are if the price seems too good to be true, you need to multiply it by 10.
Rumour has it that Iran will officially introduce Toman as a currency in the coming years, but that hasn’t come into effect yet.
Bring Comfortable Footwear
You are going to do a lot of walking in Iran, so bring comfortable footwear. The towns here are so amazing that you’ll probably end up walking at least 10km every day, so look after your feet.
These don’t necessarily have to be hiking boots (unless you’re planning on doing some treks). Just make sure you have some flat shoes that you can wear all day without a problem.
Don’t bring heels. You don’t need them, and you won’t wear them. We had a pair of hiking shoes each and a pair of sandals. That was perfect.
Research the Food and Don’t Just Eat Kebabs
Persian food is varied and delicious, and there’s plenty of different styles to try, so be adventurous!
Most people travelling on a budget will end up eating falafel sandwiches when they’re in Iran because they are cheap ($1 !), filling and delicious, but there’s plenty more to Iranian cuisine then just kebabs.
We don’t consider ourselves to be foodies, but luckily we were travelling with our good friends Dan and John and they are all about culinary travel, so they had a huge list of food they wanted to try. And boy were we thankful they did!
They had looked up the different types of food they wanted to try, so we basically followed their advice and tried it all. Of course, it was super delicious too.
One particular dish we all loved was dizi. It’s quite confusing how to eat the first time, so we had the restaurant owner show us how to mix and grind all the ingredients. If she didn’t show us, we wouldn’t have a clue how to eat it.
If you are a vegetarian, there are food options but they can be limited. There is a lot of eggplant, lentil and chickpea dishes. There are simple salads and rice also.
Try to get away from the popular tourist areas as well, as the prices are going to be a lot higher than the average place.
Move away and you will be surprised how much the price drops, and the portions are larger. If you are passing a local restaurant and it is packed with locals, that is going to be a winner.
Bring a Backpack Rather Than a Suitcase
We always recommend people travel with a backpack rather than a suitcase, but this is especially useful when you visit Iran.
The road and paths are uneven, and wheeling a suitcase would be a nightmare. A lot of hotels don’t have lifts, so unless you’re feeling strong it’s going to be hard to carry your suitcase up a lot of flights of stairs.
Always choose a lightweight backpack that fits you perfectly for the best support.
There are also hybrid backpacks, that have harnesses and wheels on the bottom for the times where you just don’t want to carry it.
Draw Up an Itinerary, But Keep it Flexible
Unless you are on a whirlwind 7-day trip of the country we recommend you design an itinerary of what you want to see and do, but don’t book anything until you are in the country.
Iran is one of those countries that is best to research beforehand so you can make the most of your time and you don’t miss anything, but don’t be surprised if some places you end up liking more than others.
Be willing to change your plans if you get somewhere that you want to stay an extra day, or if you meet a backpacker that raves about one town you hadn’t considered before.
Don’t stress about booking buses, flights or trains before you arrive. Everything can be booked in-country, for a much cheaper price than you’ll find online.
By not locking in your travel plans, you can change and swap your itinerary easy enough.
Disclaimer: The one time that you may need to book everything ahead of time is during Nowruz, which is the Persian New Year. If you’re planning on travelling to Iran during this time (it happens around the spring equinox in March) you’ll find things are extremely busy with millions of locals travelling around the country to spend time with their families too.
Looking for somewhere else to check out when you visit Iran? Don’t miss our article on the best things to do in Shiraz!
Let Your Guard Down and Talk to Locals
One of the best experiences you will have in Iran is spending time with all the friendly locals. And trust us, you’ll get plenty of opportunities if you are open to it.
The city squares are usually where locals will approach you to welcome you to their country, have a chat and practice their English.
Don’t shy away from this, even if you are a solo traveller. We found out so much information about Iran and how the locals live simply by chatting away.
Most people asked us questions about where we are from and were very happy to answer our questions. It was a true insight to Iran and we made some beautiful friends from it (many of whom we still keep in contact with).
Don’t be surprised if you get a lot of invitations to people’s homes as well, and this may be one of the few countries where we’d say hanging out with strangers is highly encouraged. The Couchsurfing scene is huge here too if you’re into that.
Do be wary of some people who will take you to an expensive tea house though. They are nice people, you will have great conversations, but they can be a little cheeky.
Also always look at the menu before you start ordering to make sure they haven’t taken you somewhere that has crazy prices.
Some will invite you out and try to sell carpets to you. If you are not interested just be firm and move on with the conversation.
We only had this happen to us once out of more than a dozen great experiences, and once we made it clear we weren’t buying a carpet we still had a great chat with him.
There is only one thing with all this – Expect to be stopped every few minutes by people wanting to chat! Make sure you’re mentally prepared when you go out around town to have a million friendly conversations.
Always Ask the Price Before Buying
You shouldn’t just do this in Iran, you should do this everywhere you travel, but it’s important to keep in mind.
In some countries, there are tourist prices and local prices. To be honest, we almost never felt ripped off here, but it did happen occasionally.
Before you buy anything, whether it’s a souvenir, a meal, a pot of tea, a tour, a taxi ride or whatever, ask to see the menu or how much it will cost to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Get out of the tourist squares too. Chances are if you walk a couple of blocks outside of those popular areas, the prices will drop dramatically.
When buying survivors, ask the price at a few places, get the vibe from the person/place and then buy. Try your bartering skills, but don’t be offensive.
We always try to settle in the middle so both parties are happy. This is their business and they need the money more than you do.
Book Domestic Flights with Your Accommodation or Travel Agent
If you are flying domestic, book through an agent or your local guesthouse in the country. All the local airline pages are in Persian, and these are where the best deals are.
Online booking agencies like Skyscanner and Momondo will not bring up these flights. We were in the west near the Iraqi border and wanted to fly to Tehran. Our local guesthouse helped us out and we booked it for $50 USD including snack and bags.
They were charging $200 USD on one of those online booking agencies above. We never were questioned at the airport about the local price and everything went smoothly.
If you’re not travelling in a group of four, ask at your guesthouse or talk to other travellers to see if you can share the cost of a driver with them.
Sometimes hiring a driver between towns as private transport would work out to be the same price as 4 bus tickets. You get there faster and can stop when you like along the way.
This will save you money and you might even make some awesome friends out of it.
Be on Time for Your Appointments
Iranians are very punctual. If you plan to leave for a tour at 8am be in reception at 7:45am, and the driver will most likely already be there.
Buses and trains also won’t wait for you if you aren’t there. The last thing you want to do is miss your tour because you slept in or hadn’t packed yet.
If you’re heading to the airport, bus or train station make sure you leave plenty of time in case of bad traffic.
The Traffic is Horrible
When we say horrible, we’re being polite. The traffic in Iran is actually insane.
If you’re exploring Tehran don’t be surprised if you have plenty of “Holy s**t!” moments as you go to cross the street or you get around in taxi.
It’s not that Iranians are bad drivers…they just don’t have a concept of space when driving around. In one way it’s almost as entertaining as it is scary.
No one is actively trying to run pedestrians down, but if you do try to run the gauntlet of crossing a busy road it’s best to wait for a local to join them on their hell-bent journey to the other side.
You Need a VPN to Access Some Social Media Platforms
Some social media platforms are banned in Iran and you cannot access them without a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
You cannot access Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest. You can access Instagram, but the rest only with a VPN.
We used ExpressVPN and had no issues. Here is a link to get your first 30 days for free.
Make sure you download your VPN before you arrive in Iran, because a lot of the VPN sites are blocked by the government.
If you can, we also recommend having access to a few different VPNs, because every now and then one might be blocked in Iran.
ExpressVPN worked for us during our trip, but some people have reported that it didn’t work during their own trip. Last we heard it’s back up and running properly now though.
There is Wifi, But Be Patient With It
Most of the guesthouses we stayed at had free wifi, but don’t expect it to be fast.
Some hotels had wifi available in the rooms, while others were only in the reception area or dining rooms. It all depends on how upmarket your place is. In popular cities, tea and coffee houses had wifi also.
One thing to keep in mind though is that just because there is wifi at your hotel, be respectful on how much you use it.
There are no unlimited data plans in Iran, so the hotels have to pre-purchase data in small packets.
Please don’t be that person that streams Netflix or tries to download the new season of Game of Thrones, because all that will happen is you’ll end up using all the net for everybody else in the hotel, and cost the owner more money.
Yep, we met a guy that did just that in Varzaneh, and because it was a weekend it meant nobody in the hostel could get internet until Monday. Thanks, mate.
Pick Up a Local Sim Card
Despite what you may have been told, you can buy a local sim card in Iran as a foreigner, and it’s a great idea to do so.
This way you can call hotels to make bookings use WhatsApp and Snap (more on that below) on the go, and keep in touch with friends and family back home.
We bought up a sim card with the telecommunications company IranCel through our hostel in Tehran, however, they marked the price up by double.
We found out later that you can buy sim cards at the airport or at any store, so our suggestion is to do this yourself.
When going into the phone store bring your phrasebook or a local friend. You will not need to show any ID, just pay in cash, but it helps to have your passport with you just in case.
You can top up at little general stores that display the IranCel sign. They will do it all on your phone and charge a small fee for their time. Please don’t argue with that, it’s maybe 25c USD.
We were getting 5GB of data for about $10 USD.
Iran Has its Own Uber Called Snapp
There is an app in Iran called Snapp, and it is similar to Uber. It’s a rideshare app where drivers register and customers can order cars to get around town.
This was a lifesaver for us!
What makes Snapp so great is that a price is determined by the app and you pay in cash once you get to your destination. There’s no metre, so the driver will take the most direct way possible.
When you book it you’ll get the driver’s name, their car model and their registration number, so you know you’re getting in the right vehicle.
Yo drop a pin on a map for where you want to go, so there’s no need to try and explain it to the driver in case he doesn’t speak English (or your pronunciation is crap).
The other added benefit is you can rate the drivers afterwards, so they are more likely to be honest rather than a taxi driver.
The only thing is you cannot easily download it onto an iPhone, as Apple is an American company and does not support Iran. It doesn’t show up in the App Store.
If you go to the Snapp website you can download it to your Apple phone through a special link there. Downloading it on an Android phone is easy with no issues.
You Can Drink the Tap Water
This one was a big surprise to us, but you can drink the tap water just about everywhere in Iran.
It’s totally safe to drink, even if you’re new to the country, so don’t worry about buying plastic water bottles everywhere you go.
Bring a reusable water bottle instead and simply fill up as you go.
Don’t drink river water tough if you are out hiking.
Good Coffee is Hard to Find
Iran is a nation of tea drinkers, so it’s no surprise that you’ll get delicious fresh tea for cheap (or free) just about everywhere.
But what about us coffee drinkers??
The bad news is that getting good coffee is very hard in Iran. Despite their close proximity to places like Turkey, the coffee culture phased out years ago and so now the best you’ll find is usually those horrible instant packets.
There is a silver lining though, and some entrepreneurial locals have discovered that coffee is basically the second greatest thing on earth (after a delicious IPA, which you also can’t get in Iran), and some Western-style coffee shops are popping up in major towns.
They’re not cheap, but when you need that caffeine hit in the morning it’s totally worth it.
There’s a Female-Only Carriage on the Metros
These are basically sections that males aren’t allowed in to stop accidental touching of non-related mixed genders, but it also adds a sense of security for women taking public transport.
Occasionally if the mixed carriages are full you’ll see one or two men in the female ones, but they tend to stand next to the door away from everyone.
[box] Those were just some of the things you need to know before you visit Iran. Has the article helped you? Do you have anything else to add? Leave a comment below and let us know![/box]
98 thoughts on “25 Things to Know Before You Visit Iran”
Well! I accidentally found this while surfing the net, and it’s a bit sad that each dollar is 450000 Rials… People are still friendly to tourists though, no matter how hard our lives are. I hope you visit our country again, after all these sad events, of course.
22 days later and its 510000.
when will these evil leaders leave us alone
We are glad that you were satisfied with your trip.You pointed out great points like someone who has lived inside for years… Our people believed, but the government has crushed the people so much under the economic pressure that they have become a little unfair to each other. Be sure to use SNAP inside Iran.. Be sure to check the price before buying.. Our common currency is Toman and Rial is nominal. For example, now every 1 dollar is equivalent to 33000 Tomans.. To eat a pizza, you need 6 or 7 dollars.3 cents are required for 1.5 liter of taqriya water.. If you have an acquaintance in Iran, you can be much easier.. Don’t pay too much attention to the capital because it has very beautiful cities with a very old history. Thank you for choosing which country for your trip. Good luck
Thank you for the excellent information and for taking an interest in the lovely country. really nice tips for visiting Iran.
I’m glad you liked Iran. Unfortunately, due to the difficulty in managing economic affairs, the Iranian people suffer from the high cost of goods. Now each dollar is equivalent to 277,000 rials, which is really terrible, of course for our people! Of course, Iran is still full of beautiful places and amazing places! I hope you have good trips …❤
I am Ava.
I am from Iran/ Isfahan.
If you want to come to Iran I would be happy to help you.
I have a beautiful Iranian old house.
Can you please write about traveling in Iran at the moment. I would be traveling on a New Zealand passport. Thank you. Evan.
Iran holds many surprises for visitors; like the climate which can fluctuate greatly, depending on the area and time of year, dispelling the long-held myth that Iran is nothing more than a vast, sweltering desert. But Iran is a historical place and i like to visit this type of places that is why few days ago i read this type of article on another site it contain huge information. While some surprises are nice when travelling, it’s important to be as well prepared as possible.
Is $1000 for 7 days visiting 5 cities everything included except airline tickets a reasonable price? Please let me know what you think! Cities included are Tehran, Yazd, Esfahan, Shiraz, and the desert side with Caspian sea.
Definitely if you stay at budget accommodation, take public buses as transport and not eat at fancy restaurants. Have a good trip
it’s very good
Indeed it is 🙂
I am Iranian. You described Iran very well. I am glad that you visited Iran
Thank you for your comment Masoud. We really enjoyed travelling around Iran. 🙂
Thank you for your essay about Iran. As an Iranian I do hope you have good memories generally from Iran. No country is perfectly free of any trouble but please do not believe propaganda against Iran unless you travel to Iran and live with Iranian for a couple of weeks (at least) and then judge.
Hi there! I’m an Iranian, and i’m REALLY happy that you loved our country! I hope other tourists enjoy their travel to Iran, and I wanted to say, that Pinterest doesn’t need VPN! 🙂 And also about hijab, if you’re thinking that it’s gonna make you struggle, well, it definitely isn’t. I mean, it’s not such a big deal, and you’ll get used to it and continue enjoying! Anyways, hope you like our country
Reasons for a Group Visit to Iran
Experienced travelers may want to look away. Guided tours can really be the best option for some travelers going abroad. Of course, they limit you a little and lose a little freedom. You will not have enough time to fall in love with a place and you will not have enough time to stay there, and other companions may not be with you. But no matter what the veterans might say, there are good reasons to tour for those who want to.
I’ve travelled extensively in the Middle East (Egypt, Palestine, Lybia, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India. My wife, daughter and myself went on holiday to Iran in 2012 and 2015 (for my 60th birthday). An Iranian couple came to sing happy bithday to me in farsi. It was an inexplicable experience, no crime on the street, no fighting, very, very safe, people very friendly and warm, food and confectionary very good, not expensive to shop but hotel accommodation could be expensive, public transport (bus and metro rail) very good and effecient, metro stations very clean and very easy for foreigners to use. Although we were based in Northern Tehran (Eliheyah), we once drove by luxury coach to Ishfahan to spend one week there (2012), the other trip we flew to Shiraz to spend one week there (2015). I fell in love with this country, it’s absolutely beautiful. In Tehran, we even went in the cable cars on the Azborg mountains. O, I just cannot stop raving about IRAN. I’ll visit there anytime. Please don’t believe the media with their negative reports, go see for yourself and discover this amazing country. Salaam from Riedwaan Salie (Cape Town, South Africa.
That is so nice. What a great birthday trip. We are so glad you had a wonderful time with you family. We found the country very welcoming and friendly also. Thank you for your comment. 🙂
Your itinerary was perfect! I hope you come back again very soon!
I heard now you should ask for visa only from agencies. Also now for your money matters you can use a local debit card like Daricpay to charge and transfer money online
We hope to visit again one day. Take care
Im am an iranian person and your information was totally correct about iran
I am very glad to see you were anjoyed traveling to iran
If you come to iran again you can visit other cities like shiraz,Tabriz,Isfahan,Hamedan they are as beautiful as Tehran
Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂
I have been 2 weeks in Iran the last month, my friends and I were travelling the west part of this huge country touring the famous cities and recommended places over the countryside. I could never thought how beautiful were every little point that we stopped by: landscapes, restaurants, seacoast, food… persian landmarks will remind forever in my mind. As we were travelling by car we trusted (company removed, you can message below if interested), a notorious iranian company which offers a wide variety of car for rent. The service was excelent and they provided us whatever we need in order to make our trip easer. I would definetely recommend this company If you are thinking about renting a car to shuttle from a place to another, they are serious and reliable. Thanks persian people and the company for making our dreamt trip happen!!
We love Iran!!!!
Sounds like you had a great trip. We are so glad so had a great time.
Hi Alesha and Jarryd,
Thank you for the useful info and your interest in my beautiful country. I’m Zahra Mazaheri an English – Farsi translator. I would be more than happy to help the tourist to Iran in having a pleasant journey.
Glad you liked our article. All the best
Iran is a wonderful country for all nations to visit. Whether you’re interested in going to cultural and historical places, try local food, shopping, or visiting new people, the country is one of the best places for all of these.
Thank you for your comment. It is a magnificent country
thanks so much for your tips, and i want to add this there is something that we call it “Taarof”
This is a polite exchange that takes place in all aspects of life in Iran, in shops, in streets, in businesses, at homes.
Simply stated, it is a form of one person making an offering and the other, refusing it. This ritual may repeat itself several times before the individuals finally determine whether the offer and refusal are real or simply polite.
Be very careful how and with whom you taarof so that it does not interfere with your stay. Use common sense as to when to do it and when not to.
Thank you so much for this. After travelling the country for 3 weeks, we only experienced this once in Tehran on the outskirts of the city, We ate locally, bought locally, stayed locally, bought a lot of items on the street but only experienced it once. We were shocked. We had read about it and was waiting every time but it never came. Maybe if you are a foreigner they don’t do it as much. Thank you the explanation.
Hi Alesha and Jarryd,
this was so helpful. We’re off to Iran in a couple of weeks and great to get some tips re luggage, local currency cards and communication options.
Hi David, We are so happy the article was helpful. You will have a great time in Iran. Do not over pack. Woman have to be covered. Loose clothing is a must and a long top/dress is best as it covers the figure. Her arms and legs have to be covered. Sandels can be wore. A hijab is a must so bring scarfs. For the men, your arms do not have to be covered. Do bring pants as you need it for mosques. Our advice is to bring zip off pants. They are great. We did not use local currency cards. We bought all our cash in euros and exchanged it in Tehran on day 1. We did it with our guesthouse. They gave us a great rate. As for communication, do download Farsi offline before you go so communication can be easier. Surprisingly a lot of people do speak broken English. have a great trip.
Hi guys. Im so glad you had a good time over here. I believe Iran is the most misunderstood nation (thanks to media!) and articles like this may help people see Iran for what it is. One thing i need to point out is the currency exchange rate. the rate of 30,000 to 1 USD is no longer valid. 1 USD would be exchanged to about 110,000 rials now (11,000 Toman). Hope to see you back here soon! cheers
i promise to passengers ( our guess ❤) that we can make nice memory for you , and hope you enjoy that
Hi guys, great article! Just wanted to suggest that you include information about the Pocket WiFi and Travel Debit card services offered by MahCard (www.mahcard.com) as well… We travelled from Amsterdam to Iran during January this year and we used both services from MahCard and they really made our trip much easier…
Thank you for your tip Lotte. We have never heard of these guy. Definitely would be helpful. We strongly encourage travellers to do their on research on companies and make their own judgements. All the best
Hello! Very useful info about Iran. I am preparing a trip with car from UAE to ROMANI so it will be Bandar Abbas to Turkey Border. Any info and advices are welcomme! Thx
Hi Als, not too sure about that border. We flew in to Tehran. All the best.
Hello Dear Guys,
I’m really glad to find your blog. It’s really interesting to me.
I should say thank you to you for giving this good information about my country to people. It would be our honor to be host in your next travels to Iran.
I have been to a lot countries. I have been to super cold areas like Norway and have lived in the snowy Switzerland, and have also been to warm countries such as Bali, Sri Lanka, etc… What I love about Iran is that whenever and in whatever season you go, there are always 4 seasons. The southern part (Persian Gulf) is known for its golden beaches and hot climates, other areas such as Shemshak, Darbandsar, etc… are known for their snow and mountains. I recommend going to ski resorts in winter, and as a person who has lived in Switzerland I can tell that they are better. At the same time where you find snow in Iran, you can also travel to the other side where there are hot deserts. I recommend you go to these desert areas with a local tour called RONATURE, which is an ecofriendly tour and provides vegan and vegetarian food, furthermore supports locals and the environment. The Persian Gulf is unimaginably beautiful. Qeshm island in the south is probably the most beautiful place in the world, unfortunately there are not many photos of this island online because not many people know about it yet, but I do recommend taking diving courses there. The water park in Kish island is the best I’ve ever seen, much better than the ones in Dubai. I could go on for forever but you go to Iran once and experience all the four seasons. You get snowy mountains and sunny beaches. You go skiing and after a short flight you are tanning on the beach. This is a miracle and not something other countries dont have to offer. I can say nothing more but to recommend this marvellous country. Do not listen to the media, Iran is safer than Europe and Im not even slightly exaggerating.
Thank you for helping people to travel to Iran, I believe everyone should visit Iran beyond the media portrayal.
We totally agree with you Vahid. Never listen to the media about a destination, we don’t. We really enjoyed our time in Iran and encourage people to experience this country for themselves. 🙂
Sorry, I won’t support Iran. The government is evil. They imprison and torture their own citizens and they execute gay people. How can you support a government like that? Oh, and if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport, they won’t let you in. That’s ok with you?
We don’t support the government, we support the people of the country, who are among the friendliest, most genuine and hospitable people we have ever encountered. If we were to boycott countries with corrupt and evil governments, we’d start with the US.
I recently moved to Iran, as I am Iranian-American (well, now mainly just Iranian). I really appreciate all of the sweet and insightful comments and your wonderful website. Since the last time I lived here I was a child and have only visited every few years, when I arrived I was definitely feeling like a Persian that came back from a lost time warp of sorts, and had to learn the deeper levels of what you all already thoughtfully mentioned like tarof and the culture. Iran is a BEAUTIFUL & AMAZING country and I am lucky to be here. Just to let people know, everything I read here is true and helpful. 🙂 Even riding a bus from Iran into Armenia (to access my american bank for my final paycheck), I started out feeling slightly awkward as the 99% Persian only passenger peers around me were playing cute little games with each other laughing, with LOTS of incredible Persian music… I started getting many happy flashbacks of American-Iranian dance parties… but this was the REAL thing! Within minutes I joined in after being invited to clap my hands and a few girls were doing little hand dances in their seats… within about 10 minutes half the people on the bus were all SINGING together, it was precious. I felt like I was home, with my (native) Iranian people, and I got little happy tears in my eyes. YOU CANNOT FIND THESE MOMENTS IN AMERICA or EUROPE where nearly everyone around you surrounds you with welcoming bright eyes all at the same time. It’s like they are making you part of their family.
I recommend visiting Iran for ANYONE… You will see that Iranians are good hearted and loving, even with all the sanctions. Give them a genuine smile, and you will get 100 smiles back, with tea and poetry. 😀
What a beautiful moment. That is great you are going back to your roots. We hear you. Iranians are good hearted and so generous. It is a beautiful country. Have a great time and hope you settle in quickly. All the best
Thanks for visiting my country. Hope tourism breaks all the wall of this global village.
We hope so too. It is a beautiful country with many beautiful people. We loved our time there
Thank you so much for this amazing article! I am going to visit Iran, but just for one week, so I need to take everything that I can from this short trip. I didn’t know that I need a VPN, that is a surprise! I have Surfshark subscription. Maybe you know how it works in Iran?
Not too sure if it will work or not. We used VPN Express and had no issues. There are free VPNs if you get suck and find yours does not work. Have a great trip.
So disappointing to learn that Canada is not one of the countries included on the Visa on Arrival program…I really want to spend a week in Tehran but it looks as though that won’t be possible. That’s really too bad 🙁
I know. It is a little more of a hassle but worth it. I know Canadians, UK and USA citizens have to go on a tour but there are many great tours within the country. If you want a tour that is not a tour, check out Yomadic. He’s tours are informative but relaxed and have great reviews. All the best.
I was 10 days in Iran (Teerah, Esfahan, Yazd and Siraz) and … is a great country, good food, culture and fantastic people. Thank you Iran!
Glad you had a wonderful time Vitor. 🙂
im ghazal from kermanshah iran!
a offer all to come here and feel how friendly people are
I’m sorry for this government rule.
I hope you back soon in my country.
hello,im shahzad from iran.
thank you so much for your excelent content about Iran. all of the sentences are true about my country and u knew it very well.im so happy that you had good times here.
As the other iranian people said,now 1 USD is equal with 141,000 Rials :).so Iran is a very cheap country for tourists,too:).
come to my country and enjoy,it would be your best trip with no debt:)
Hi Shahzad, We had a wonderful time there. Thank you for the update with the exchange rate. We recommend all travellers to visit Iran. 🙂
Thanks for this guys! I am super excited leaving for Tehran on Monday I booked a small tour as I felt anxious about travelling independently first time ever in Iran. If I like it -and I am sure I will – I shall go back. I was advised to take a day travel backpack and a medium sized wheely which I hope to fill up with things bought locally. Of course I shall take essentials. Is a long skirt allowed? It might be cooler than trousers. What do you think?
Hi Alex, I hope you are having a wonderful trip, That great you booked a small tour. Sometimes it is the best way to see the country and learn about the people and culture. There is so many great souvenirs to buy. Unfortunately my bag wasn’t big enough. 🙂 Absolutely a long shirt is allowed but not a tight body fitting one. Long sleeve and maxi dresses are perfect. Trousers are great just make sure you top is loose and long past your bottom. Have a great trip.
Wow, Thanks for this. I’am glad, that I found your page. I’ll travel in october alone to isfahan. I’m already so excited
That’s amazing. You will have a great time. The Iranians are so friendly and welcoming. There is so much to do there. Here is a video we made about Isfahan if you want to check it out. https://youtu.be/XDYJ44CutT4
Regarding bringing a load of cash though, I found a solution. In my last trip to Iran, I got a DaricPay card. It made everything easier!
Thank you for your suggestion and information. Glad that worked for you. We still recommend visitors to take cash as not everywhere will accept cards.
This is Ali, an Iranian.
This page is a good guidance; LIKE !
Iran is a country of different climates and has very beautiful historical monuments and natural areas.
Contrary to propaganda, Iran is safe and a good choice for travel.
Come to Iran and have nice time here.
Thank you Ali. 🙂
This is great ! Thank you! I’m preparing to go there in June and your article answered a lot of questions! I will come back to it just to remember everything. Thanks again.
Glad the article could help. Have a wonderful trip Joanna.
Great i read your experiences you had great fun in Iran. Everyone should need to aware about your guidelines before visit.
Hi Eric, thank you. We had a great time in Iran. Definitely everyone should read up on the guidelines, not just what we have written but from other also. It is important to do your research before travelling to a country. 🙂
Hey, great article on Iran tourism. What should I plan in terms of budget, if I want to plan a 7-day trip to Iran and cover major tourist/historical destination.
How would you rate food for just vegetarians. Thanks!
We budgeted $80 USD a day for a couple. We came home with a little bit of money but we rather have more than less as there is no ATMs that work for foreigners. As for vegetarian food, there are many options.
This is awesome article, I’ve read a ton of articles online these past couple of months as I’m traveling to Iran in May. I’ve already bought a NordVPN subscription regarding the social media access, I hope it will work fine too, saw some recommendations for it too. Other than that I really cannot wait for the trip, so I keep reading about it. Thanks 🙂
Awesome Steve. Have a great time. The people there are so friendly. It is an amazing country.
hi steve, i recommend, first travel to iran then try free vpn then buy subscription.because some vpn in iran dose not work. instagram and what up don’t need vpn.have a nice trip!
I am very pleased to be pleased with your trip to Iran
I hope that one day we will be able to travel to other countries as well
These days, people in my country are very sad.
Hi Mostafa, thank you for your message. We did enjoy visiting your country but did hear this from many locals. We hope that one day it all changes and travel will be a lot easier for Iranians. We saw nothing but friendly and welcoming people. The most friendliest country we have visited. We hope happiness comes soon.
Glad to hear that you had good trip in Iran guys. However things get worse and now 110,000 rials = 1 USD which is good for tourists. Lol.
Thanks for that Mohammad. Not good for the locals. We thought it was cheap when we visited last year. Sorry to hear that
I glad to read this site
My country has very beautiful natural scenery and tourism, as well as very caring and kind people…
I hope to see you in my city, Isfahan, the city of culture and art, and we can spend good times together^_^
I hope that there will always be in all countries, including my country
I am Iranian
I am very pleased that you have been satisfied with traveling to Iran
I wish you success
Thank you for stopping by. We loved travelling Iran. The people were so welcoming and we had a lot of great chats with many. We are looking forward to returning one day.
You were ok travelling without a guide? Is it easy to travel around without one? And is it possible to hire guides to specific places, such as Persefone of some mosque?
My wife and I are planning to visit Iran on April or October? What’d say? Thanks a lot.
Absolutely. We met so many local people and had so much fun. It is an easy country to get around in. Their transport system within the cities were easy and great. Their bus system across the country was comfortable and faster than the train. You can hire guides at main attractions as you go. The hotels can help with that also. Have a great trip.
If you are from the USA, Canada or UK you need to go on a tour.
We are older Australians and are wanting to go to Iran. We usually plan our holiday booking accommodation and transport before we go so are a little hesitate going without anything booked. We have not been on a tour before and they don’t appeal to us.
Thank you so much for this valuable information. My mother and I are trying to book an organized trip with Intrepid Travel. They told us that we were not allowed to be out and about without the accompaniment of a male. Which they say we would have to stay in our hotel during our free time unless we go with a male. Have you heard of this before?
I am Mehdi and I am from, Shiraz Iran. I welcome your arrival to Iran in advance. Staying you in your hotel during your free time in Iran is not right. You can go out without a male. I can help you if you have any question. please don’t hesitate to ask me. you can contact me at [email protected]. I hope you have a nice trip in Iran.
Hi Cathy, that is so strange they would tell you this. That is wrong on Intrepid Travel to tell you this and if they are concerned about this for their guests they should provide tours for you free of charge as staying in the hotel room is not a very good experience at all. I hope you wrote to them to express your disappointment with this.
As Mehdi said above, that is not right. When we were travelling throughout Iran there were many woman travelling on their own that out and about by them selves. We did not hear of any issues. Obviously have your wits about yourself. The people of Iran are so friendly. The friendliest we have come across in our travels. I hope you got to experience this and see a lot of the beautiful country.
Hi Cathy, I’m an Iranian person, this is not right, you can go out without a male. Iran is full of friendly people and I’m sure you will enjoy your time and this would be one of the most unforgettable trips.
I’m very surprised by your talk
I am from Iran and I assure you that it is not
Hey guys! This is one of the *very* few articles about Iran that I completely agree with. Oh, apart from one sentence: “Iranians are very punctual”… I actually laughed out loud. You must have got lucky. In any case, I’m glad you enjoyed your time, and hope we cross paths one day.
(also, feel free to edit this out: the photo of Alesha at Friday mosque in Yazd is actually Friday mosque in Esfahan)
Thanks so much Nate! Glad the piece got the seal of approval from the Iran expert himself! And I guess we did get super lucky with the locals being punctual. For the whole month we were there we were never left waiting. Will count our lucky stars, and make a note that perhaps it’s not always the case.
And thanks for the correction on the Friday mosque! Have amended it now. Happy travels mate.
I’m an iranian girl & I love my country…
Actually my father is a tour guide & I’ve heared such lovely words from so many tourists… they mostly say they had heard many bad things about iran and they have experienced the bests when they came here…
I’m so glad to here such nice words by many travelers and i really appreciate you cause you ‘re telling the truth about my amazing country!!!!
I love you all dears!!