Although we would like to say otherwise, the cost of backpacking a country does pay an important role in our decision to visit a country or not. And while Iran might not be on the top of your list (although it should be), the cost of backpacking Iran should definitely not hold you back. Backpacking Iran for 24 days costed me a total of €750,-, averaging €31,25 a day. Even though this was a bit over my intended budget of €30,- a day, I also saw a lot more than I expected to. Curious to see where my money went, and how much it costs to backpack Iran, read it down below!
How much does it cost to backpack Iran?
Okay, so first of all to make it a little bit easier, let’s break the cost down into 5 categories: accommodation, food & drinks, sightseeing, transport and “other”. The categories are quite straightforward, but in the paragraphs down below I’ll explain a little bit more about each single one of them. So as expected, accommodation and food & drinks took up roughly 50% of my budget, which is mostly the case to be honest. After that comes sightseeing with 22% and transport with 12% (surprisingly low)! So first, let’s talk a little bit about accommodation.
Cost of Accommodation in Iran
Accommodation took up most of my expenses in Iran, €202,50 to be exact. With hostels costing us roughly €10 euro’s a night, this sounds about right. Luckily I traveled of season, meaning we had many discounts on our stays, and free upgrades from dorms to private rooms once we arrived. If you want to read a little bit more in detail about where to stay and if I would recommend the accommodation or not, read the whole article here. Or else, here are the exact hostels and prices I paid:
- Tehran – Kojeen: See You in Iran Café-Hostel
16$ for a dorm in February 2017 (excl. Breakfast)
- Kashan – Noghli House
15$ for a private room in February 2017 (incl. Breakfast) – Free upgrade from dorm
- Esfahan – Seven Hostel
15$ for a private room in March 2017 (incl. Breakfast) – Free upgrade from dorm
- Yazd – Orient Hotel
10$ for a dorm in March 2017 (incl. Breakfast) – Discount due to low season
- Kerman – Homestay
8$ as arranged by our tour guide
- Kaluts – Tour
0$ prices including dinner and breakfast were included in the tour
- Qeshm – Homestay
0$ we only paid a small amount of money for the food prepared for us
- Shiraz – Golshan Hostel
10$ for a private room in March 2017 (incl. Breakfast) – Discount due to low season and free upgrade
If you are looking to cut down your cost, and want to go full on budget, check out Couchsurfing. I have met multiple people, and read from loads of travel bloggers, that Couchsurfing in Iran is a great idea. Not only will you cut down your cost, you will also have the opportunity to interact more with the locals!
Cost of Food & Drinks in Iran
Well if there is one thing you shouldn’t be saving money on in Iran (unless you’re a vegetarian), it would be food and drinks. Persian food must be one of my favorite cuisines in the world. While often a bit greasy, the dishes are full of spices and flavor, and often have taken hours and hours of work to prepare. If I think back about the food in Iran kebab, fesenjoon, dizi and ghormeh sabzi must be my favorite. And the best thing is, eating out is not that expensive! In total, I spent over €170,- on food and drinks, averaging €7,20 a day, but did eat until my stomach hurt. Do note, dishes in Iran are often large, and meant to be shared, so two dishes between the three of us was often enough. Here are some example prices of food and drinks:
- Fresh pomegranate juice – €2
- Breakfast consisting of omelet and bread – €4
- Falafel – €1
- Lunch consisting of kebab and bread – €3
- Samosa on the street – €0,75
- Coffee/Tea – €1
- Dinner consisting of Fesenjoon and rice – €5
- Bag of raisins – €0,75
Kebab and falafel must be the cheapest food to find in Iran, but don’t forget how much more of this tasty cuisine there is to explore. Restaurants are not expensive, and you will be ensured to leave with a full stomach! We also had a lot of snacks such as cookies, dates, raisins and nuts from the bazars (we just wanted to taste it all). If you snack less, or eat street food instead of restaurants you can easily cut down these costs.
Cost of Sightseeing in Iran
So we’ve got the basics covered, we have a roof over our head and our bellies filled with delicious food. Now lets get to the reason we came to Iran, to see the country right? Iran is filled with many beautiful sights, from UNESCO World Heritage gardens, mind-blowingly beautiful mosques, and well lets not forget the nature. But sightseeing and tours come with a price, and contrary to what the old lonely planet told us, sightseeing in Iran is not the cheapest. Prices are often split between prices for locals and prices for tourists, and while yes we can have a whole discussion if this is fair or not, it is just the way it is and sadly enough we do not have the ability to change it. So if you want to see the wonders of the country, you might have to just accept it, pay the price, but trust me you’ll be happy you did. I spent a total of €165 on sightseeing and tours. Here are some example cost:
- Tour Kaluts (including food and accommodation) – €80
- Cultural Houses Kashan – €8,75
- Entry mosques in Esfahan – €5 (each)
- Day tour Kashan to Esfahan – €10
- Tomb of Hafez – €5
- Golestan Palace Tehran – €7,50
- Den of Espionage Tehran – €2,50
- Carpet Museum Tehran – €3,50
- Fin Garden Kashan – €4
- Entry to Abyaneh – €1,25
And while these entry fees might not seem high, visiting every mosque and sight does add up… However, not every sight will cost you money. Some mosques do not have entry prices, if you want you can often leave a small donation instead. The Aran va Bidgol mosque, for example was free of entry, but just as beautiful as some of the other mosques I have seen. After a while you will also get a bit more selective of which sight you might want to see, we did. In the end I still felt I had seen everything I wanted to see, and used my money wisely, but this is all personal of course. If I didn’t do a tour in Kerman I would have cut these cost down in half for example.
Cost of Transport in Iran
Ha well, okay we got most of the cost out of the way. Now the only major category left is transport. If you want to see the country you will have to move from city to city. Besides that, Iran is a big country, cities are large, and while I am all pro walking around, it is not always possible. Well luckily for all of us, transportation in Iran is cheap, even taxis. If you want to be sure you won’t get ripped off, let your hostel book a taxi and set a price a beforehand! Here are some of the example prices you might encounter:
- Taxi in the city – €1 t0 €4
- Renting a car for 4 days on Qeshm Island (for 4 people, including insurance) – €35 pp
- Bus from Kerman to Bandar Abbas – €9
- Bus Yazd to Kerman – €4
- Bus from Esfahan to Yazd – €5,50
- VIP Bus from Tehran to Kashan – €9
- Metro ride in Tehran – €0,25
For buses between cities you often have the choice between regular buses and VIP buses. VIP buses are a bit more expensive, but often a lot more comfortable, especially if it is a night bus. Taxis might not be the cheapest option if you are traveling solo, but if you found other travelers (like I did), it becomes really cheap. We often split the cost between 3 or 4 people, which made a taxi ride as cheap as €0,25 per person on some occasions. I spent a total of €90 on transportation, including the rent of a car on Qeshm Island!
Other Costs while Backpacking Iran
And then the last category… “other”, taking up 16% or €120 of my budget. Other classified anything that didn’t fit into the other four categories. From souvenirs, to sending postcards, to buying more headscarfs. While this often is a much smaller category, I sadly enough had some money stolen from me during a day trip, hence largely increasing these costs. If I would have taken that out of the equation, my daily spending would have been €28,75, or €690 for the total of my trip. However, things like this happen, and thus I took it all into account when writing this post!
NO ATMS – there are no ATMs for foreigners available in the country, you will have to bring all your money in cash (Euro’s or American Dollars). So make sure to overestimate how much money you’ll be spending in the country, and always have some back up money available. So I took €1000 with for a 24 day trip, just to be on the safe side!
Currency – Well, this is where it gets a bit confusing. Iran’s official currency is the Iranian Rial, however, the old currency, Toman, is often the one used as the price. The Iranian Rial is worth 10 times as much as the Toman, so 200 IRR would be 20T for example. Hence, if you are asking for the price always be sure to ask if the price is in Rial or Toman. To make it even a bit more confusing, the exchange rates are not corresponding to exchange rates as stated online, your Euro’s or Dollars are often worth a bit more in the country! In February 2017 €1,- corresponded to 40,000IRR.
The exact cost of traveling in Iran
As you can see it is quite easy to travel for €30 a day in Iran. You can visit sights, go on tours, fill up your belly and stay in lovely hostels. However, if you are a bit more of a luxury traveler: prefer to take taxis everywhere, no dorms, no street food, VIP buses all the time… you might have to increase your budget a little bit to €45 – €50 a day. Conclusion: money should not be the reason you don’t want to vist this beautiful country.