If you are thinking about going to Iran you already know you are set up for a unique adventure. Iran is a country that is truly find with wonders: natural wonders, and manmade wonders. Depending on how much time and interests you have there is a large variety of things to do in the country, so here are my top 8 things to see and do in Iran. Hopefully it will help you make a selection, or you might even have the opportunity to do and see them all!
1. Nasir ol Molk Mosque
The Nasir ol Molk Mosque, situated in Shiraz in the south of Iran, was my sole inspiration for my visit to Iran. After seeing a picture on the internet I just knew I had to visit this country. I put it on my bucket list and dreamed about a “one day”. And instead of keeping on dreaming I decided to read more and more about the country and just decided to head out there. On my second to last day I visited the Nasir ol Molk Mosque, and it was more than I could have ever dreamt. Get there at the opening of the mosque early in the morning and watch the the first rays of sunshine shine through the colorful windows. The only way I know how to describe the feeling and the remarkable sight is as a kaleidoscope of colors!
2. Naqsh-e Jahan Square
The Naqsh-e Jahan Square is located in the centre of Esfahan. The square might be one of the largest you have ever seen, I for sure was mindblown. The square is attached to the Esfahan Bazar and multiple mosques, with the Shah (or Imam) mosque located in the South being the largest and the most impressive mosque of the whole square. You’ll find families picnicking on the square, and it sure offers a nice break from walking around. Take a seat and see the world pass by. Once you feel all rested up, be sure to make a visit to the Shah mosque. Under the main dome, located straight under the center point of the dome, you’ll find a stone different from other stones. Drop a book on it, or stand on it while clapping your hands and you’ll hear the echo of the mosque. The mosque was designed in such a way that the acoustics from the main dome spread through the whole mosque, and it is quite an amazing sight to see.
3. The Desert
Yes, most of Iran kinda is a big desert… that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Iran has a very dry climate and most of its surface is either covered with stunning mountains or deserts, but you can’t fully experience the beauty of the desert unless you step away from the cities and villages and head into the desert. Many visit the desert from either Kashan or Yazd. I decided to do it differently, I visited the Kaluts instead located near the city of Kerman. Wandering through the desert, not seeing a single other person besides our little group, was a whole new experience. Witness the beauty, the quietness but also the power of the desert. If you are a nature lover I could highly recommend visiting the Kaluts and spend the night in the desert for a night.
4. Golestan Palace
If I would have to describe Tehran to a blind person the first two words that would pop in my mind would be a “concrete jungle”. Tehran is a busy city home to crazy traffic, streets packed with concrete buildings, where green can mostly be found in parks. Many would call it dirty, due to the heavy pollution the city is home to; but Tehran has so much more to offer. So don’t run away yet, my most favorite sight in Tehran must be Golestan Palace. In the middle of the grey and the pollution it is a refreshing sight of colors. Wander around the garden to admire the mosaic walls, or visit one (or more) of the many rooms the palace has to offer.
5. Agha Bozorg Mosque
Don’t think that when you have seen one mosque you have seen them all. The mosques vary largely in style, some may appeal to you, some maybe won’t. So if the Nasir ol Molk mosque didn’t appeal to you, and the shah mosque didn’t either, maybe you’ll like the Agha Bozorg mosque. You can find the mosque in Kashan, a desert town located between Tehran and Esfahan. Besides the mosque the town is home to many beautiful traditional houses and bathhouses that are worth a visit if you have the time!
6. Shah Cheragh
Well I could name all the standard sites to see such as Persepolis, but those are probably already on your list. So how about we change it up a bit, go and see something different? If you like sparkles and glitters I got a unique one for you… Shah Cheragh. Shah Cheragh is a funerary monument and a mosque situated in the city of Shiraz, Iran. But this mosque is not like any other. The inside is completely covered with mosaic mirrors that reflect the light and make the whole insight of the mosque shiny and shimmery. We were warmly welcomed by two gentlemen who would give us a small tour and offered us some tea while they explained, and showed, us more about the city of Shiraz.
7. Zoroastrian’s Towers of Silence
The Zoroastrian’s Towers of Silence are a bit more of a different sight then visiting a mosque, palace or desert. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, and was founded in Ancient Iran over 3500 years ago. While Iran is now known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are still places in Iran (and India) where Zoroastrians can be found. One of those places is Yazd, which is also home to the Towers of Silence. The Towers of Silence is where the Zoroastrian’s would bring the dead bodies of the deceased to be eaten by birds. While this may sound grim, Zoroastrianism is a fascinating religion, and if you are interested in learning more I would encourage you to visit Yazd and Nartitee Ecolodge in Taft, you’ll have all the opportunity there to learn more about the religion. Besides that, the towers of silence are not only home to a rich history, they also offer an amazing view over the area (should that interest you more).
8. Qeshm Island
For all the nature lovers, this is a place you don’t want to skip. Experience rough, unexplored nature and drive around for hours without seeing any tourist. Qeshm Island is located in the Persian Gulf, and is completely off the beaten track, but maybe my favorite spot in Iran. Take the ferry from Bandar Abbas and rent a car once on Qeshm Island and find yourself in a true new world. Hang out at the beach, drive through valleys, see camels along the road and visit the largest salt cave in the world. Qeshm was unique and so magical, go now before it is just another touristic sight! Read about all my favorite things to do here.
So there you have it, my top 8 things to see and do in Iran. They might be unexpected, they might have already be on your list. Iran is one of my favorite countries, and truly most unique adventure so far. I absolutely can’t wait to go back and write a new list for all of you. Interested in reading more about Iran and things you should see, do, where to sleep or just some general tips? Read my full Iran Travel Guide!