Top 10 Cities to Visit in Iran
Nicknamed ‘nesf-e jahân’ [half the world], it’s with good reason that Esfahan is Iran’s crown jewel and one of the main two cities drawing visitors to the country. Imam Mosque with its calligraphy and symmetry and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque with its lofty domes display Islamic architecture at its finest. Elsewhere, the city’s 11 bridges crossing over the babbling Zayandeh River create a most romantic atmosphere. A stroll through the bazaar is like walking through a living museum where you can witness the making of some of Esfahan’s most famous handicrafts.
Shiraz is the city of love, literature, and Persian gardens. Home to two of Iran’s most beloved poets, Hafez and Sa’adi, who even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe adored and was influenced by, their tombs attract throngs of Iranian visitors, as if they are making a pilgrimage. Elsewhere, a spectacular three-storey pavilion takes center stage in Eram Garden, a botanical Persian garden replete with towering cypress and palm trees, red roses, and flowing water, all of which will tempt you to break out a book of the great poets.
Yazd has the trifecta: kind people, ancient culture, and delicious food. Most famous for its badgir [wind catchers], this city blossomed in the desert and is the best place to experience ancient Zoroastrianism and modern-day Islam co-existing. Even though the sun-dried clay buildings ensure cooler temperatures inside, the summer sun is rather unforgiving outdoors, making winter the best season to visit. Not to be missed is the Zurkhaneh, ancient Persian gym, which is one of the only places in the country where women can also attend this UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Best known for its historical 18th century houses such as the Ameri House or Borujerdi House, Kashan has a wealth of other architectural and historical beauties which warrant it a stop on anyone’s trip to Iran. Especially photogenic are the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse (make sure you also climb up to the roof), Agha Bozorg Mosque, best visited at non-prayer times, and Khan Amir al-Dowleh Timche caravanserai in the bazaar. As the perfect stop between Tehran and Esfahan, you might want to plan your visit such that you stay the night in one of the historical homes, several of which have been converted into luxurious boutique hotels.
Don’t be put off by the traffic, smog, or wild confusion because Tehran deserves a chunk of your time. Iranians from all over the country eventually find their way here as do major international companies, which make the capital city a melting pot and best place to get a sense of modern-day Iran. There are plenty of palaces and museums to satisfy your historical requirements as well as a hip art and cafe scene to make you re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about Iranians. And when you’ve had enough city chaos, look no further than the northern Darband or Tochal neighborhoods for a quick escape into some pleasant nature.
Tabriz is one of the Iran’s old capitals. Explore the highlights of Tabriz, like Amir Nezam House, Blue Masque, Qajar living history, and the Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex, the largest covered bazaar in the world on Silk Road & UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then in the evening we taste a local delicious cuisine. Depending on timing, we may spend the night walking in El-Göli Park and breathing deeply in the scents of fragrant flowers.
Ahvaz has earned the nickname ‘the city of bridges’ thanks to the many crossing over the Karun River which runs through it. Because it lay close to the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war, it suffered greatly at the time, but the carefree attitude of this south-western city today is contagious. The nearby towns of Khorramshahr, Shush, Shushtar, and Dezful are also worth stops for their breathtaking nature and triple dose of UNESCO world heritage sites (Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, Tchogha Zanbil and Susa). Since Ahvaz is unfortunately often plagued by harsh weather conditions, the best time to visit usually coincides with the Persian New year, just at the beginning of spring.
Situated in the foothills of the Payeh Mountains on the edge of the Dasht e Lut desert, Kerman survives on water brought to the city by an intricate system of qanat water channels. Dating back to the Sassanian period of the third century AD, Kerman is best known today for its world-famous, elaborately designed carpets, including kelims (goats hair carpets), jajims (silk and wool rugs) and shawls, which are hand-woven in hundreds of small workshops dotted around the city.
Kerman's attractions include the now restored Ganj Ali Khan Complex. Ganjali Khan was one of the rulers during reign of Shah Abbas of Safavid the 17th century. As the ruler of Kerman province he constructed many monuments and building, Ganjali khan complex is composed of a school, a square, a caravanserai and a public bath, a water reservoir, a mint house, a mosque, a tea house and a bazaar.The historic bath now is an ethnographic museum with unique work of architecture with beautiful tile work, painting, stuccos and arches. Is an interesting area to shop and admire the Architecture. Attractions around Kerman are: Mahan, Rayan citadel, Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine.
Kermanshah city is the center of Kermanshah province in west of Iran. This city is considered to be the largest and most important city in western region of Iran. Kermanshah has been of the historical and cultural cities of Iran and one of the highways connecting east and west and the oldest passageway from Iran to Mesopotamia. Even in ancient times, the people of Kermanshah were always claiming many firsts of the history for their own name. In terms of the survived pre-historic habitations, this region, is one of the richest and most important in Iran and west Asia. Kermanshah is also one of the important cities of the Sassanid period and most of its historical monuments belong to this period of Iran’s history. Most Popular Tourist Attractions Of Kermanshah include Behistun inscription (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Taghbostan, Temple of Anahita, Statue of Herakles in Behistun complex and etc.
10. Qeshm Island
The largest of the Persian Gulf islands, Qeshm is a free-trade zone and requires no visa to enter. It also contains some of the most epic natural wonders such as Stars Valley, Namakdan salt cave, and Hara (Mangrove) Forest, a beloved spot of migratory birds. Along with its charming towns, such as Laaft, and cultural heritage, like the art of lenj(Iranian Boat) building, this island is also noteworthy for its unique local culture and style of dress. In a world of sites and beauty within Iran, Qeshm truly stands out from the crowd.