26 Iran Tourist Destinations You Must Visit
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If one were to speak with at least some modicum of honesty, the list of Iran tourist destinations would have to be filled with natural, cultural, and purpose-made touristic destinations from top to bottom. More than hundreds of places, starting from every grain of sun-kissed sand in the north to the crimson-colored mountains of the south, merits a place on the list of Iran tourist attractions and destinations.
Starting with Iran tourist destinations categorized on the list of Iran cities, we will continue our list to the Natural Iran Touristic destinations, and Cultural/Historical Iran touristic destinations. From the top 25 places you must visit while traveling to Iran, 4 of them belong to the CITY category. of course, don’t be mistaken as these cities are different from the Top Iran cities (which you also should visit!), as these places are ancient and aged, and each hold something dear from the past. The oldest of these cities is Shahr-i Sokhta, which ages back to 3200 BC. These cities include:
An ever-present name on all Iran tourist destinations’ list is the ancient, burnt city of Persepolis. Once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid empire, the grand city of Persepolis was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its immeasurable value, both as an archeological city and as the representative of a once glorious culture.
Persepolis was built at the foot of Kooh-e Rahmat which translates into “Mountain of Mercy”; a name most ironic if one knows the story of how Darius, the emperor of Iran at the time, fell.
The main structure of the Persepolis had several great halls, throne rooms (Apadana), and stairways each of which with architectural elements unique to themselves. Traveling to Iran without visiting the grand city of Persepolis is most definitely a missed opportunity.
Accessibility: Shiraz City
The citadel of Bam is one of the oldest and most significant adobe structures in Iran and the world. After the earthquake that shook this Iran touristic destination’s walls to the ground, more than 100 archeologists and engineers worked on the reconstruction of Bam to revitalize it.
This citadel has unique elements as the single most significant remaining of a once fortified, medieval town. This renovation not only did wonders to the once in-ruins structure of this citadel, but it also gave the city a renewed sort of glory and magnificence. Arg-e Bam UNESCO site now stands as the biggest adobe structure of the world once again.
As one of the jewels of Iran tourist attractions, this cultural destination holds more than just magnificent history and architecture within its clay walls. Arg-e Bam is the safekeep of a civilization older than 2500 years, and the lifestyle of the people who were surprisingly well-adapted to the harsh environment of the desert. The many towers and underground canals that still exist in this aged fort are all tokens of this town’s once grand stand as an important stop on the silk road.
which literally translates to “The Burnt City”, is one of the most historically awe-striking Iran tourist destinations. This city’s name is pretty self-explanatory, as there is not much left of this once-great-center of civilization in Iran.
Even so, Shahr-i Sokhta comprises the largest group of ruins in a territory ever witnessed in the history of the world. The remains of this mud brick city have borne witness to the emergence of numerous “new” concepts in what is considered to be one of the oldest societies of the world in eastern Iran.
The historic, UNESCO site city of Shahr-i Sookhta lies just next to the Helmand River and is the most significant touristic destination of the Sistan region. For years, archeologists and historians have studied what has remained of this town, in an effort to uncover the mysteries of this burnt city. You can visit this city and other Iran UWH sites in our UNESCO discovery tour.
Their findings, big in scale and yet complicated in measurement, show that sciences like agriculture, zoology, botany, jewelry making, and metalwork were all practiced in this city! Archeologists have recently found three new underground areas in this mysterious Iran tourist destination as well, which further adds to this city’s allure.
The historical village of Abyaneh is at the foot of the Karkas mountain, and it is one of the oldest and most beautiful stair-stepped villages in the world. This peerless touristic destination is painted with crimson and mud-colored houses from top to bottom, making it famous among tourists as “The Red Village”.
Abyaneh’s authentic and aged buildings hold history in their every block. Abyaneh village’s value as an Iran tourist destination is more than just its history or architectural design, however. The residents of this village are clad in traditional Persian wear to this day and speak the language which was once spoken all over Iran: Pārsīk.
This language was the literary language of the nation more than 2000 years ago, and yet it is still spoken by the people of Abyaneh village. Among all tourist attractions in Iran, Abyaneh stands out for the purely traditional and conventional way its citizens still live, the likes of which is very rare in today’s world.
Accessibility: Kashan city
Hyrcanian forests in the Northern regions of Iran are some of the most amazing and ancient of their type, which has made them very popular Iran tourist destinations. Since these forests have survived between 35 and 50 million years, Hyrcanian forests are among the most ancient forests on the planet.
The presence of over 3000 vascular plants and 58 mammal species, including the famous Persian panther and the endangered wild goat, are just two of the reasons why Hyrcanian forests were inscribed as a natural UNESCO sites. Rare plants such as Beech (Fagus), Alder, Elm, and wild cherry are reported to still exist in Hyrcanian forests.
Not only are these forests significant in the country’s ecology and are very popular among tourists, but they are also adored by the whole nation! Hyrcanian forests are also among the highlights of our Iran national parks tour.
Accessibility: Northern Iran
Hara forests, also known as the emerald of Qeshm island, are among the rarest forest types (mangrove forests) in the world. The Hara forest owes its creation and ecosystem to the frequent tidal changes of the area and is among the most popular tourist attractions of Iran and highlighted on Qeshm travel guide.
Studies suggest that this mesmerizing touristic destination’s foundation dates back to the Third Geological Period (Jurassic) or the Dinosaur Era! Yet, its beauty is as fresh as it can be, and the forest is still one of the most naturally wonderful tourist attractions in Iran everyone must visit.
This beautiful miracle of the earth is located just between the Qeshm Island and the Persian Gulf near the Straits of Khuran. Unlike what many people think, the waters in which the trees have rooted are as fresh as they can be. This in itself, is one of the reasons why Hara forests host numerous migrant birds from all over the country and the world each season.
Accessibility: Qeshm Island
Hormuz island is one of the prettiest islands near Qeshm, known for its red soil and gorgeous rocky shore. The line separating the “Gelack” mountains on the shoreline from the sea is a very thin one. The clash of waves against the crimson-colored rocky hills and soils is also a sight for the sore eyes.
Walking along the shore, you will encounter sections where the sand turns glittery, like a red sky filled with numerous stars at night. This sight is especially mesmerizing at the times of sunset or sunrise, making Hormuz island a must-visit Iran tourist destination. But this island’s mountainous beach has more than just beauty to offer.
It comes as a surprise to many people that residents of Hormuz use this islands’ bloody soil to make local dishes or spices with them. Once a year, both local artists and artists from all over the country gather in Hormuz to make a breathtaking carpet from the colorful sands of Hormuz alone. For any traveler interested in taking the off-the-beaten track tour in Iran, visiting Hormuz Island is a must.
Accessibility: Qeshm Island
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The connecting point of Desert to sea, the mesmerizing blue waters’ meeting ground with the golden sands of Chabahr, and Southern Iran’s purest form of natural beauty is the Darak desert. This desert is one of the most beautiful places any tourist must put on their Iran tourist destinations’ list.
Amazingly crisp and fresh weather, untouched nature, clear waters, and the conventional lifestyle of this city’s people all add to this desert’s inherent beauty. Darak desert tour is one of the most popular Iran desert tours among tourists for reasons more than this desert’s natural beauty.
The starry sky of Chabahar and the delicious traditional Persian cuisine of the people of this city also contribute to this desert’s popularity among nature and adventure lovers. Despite this Iran desert‘s alluring nature and beauty, it is one of the lesser known touristic destinations in Iran which is not visited as much as other deserts by tourists. This is the reason Darak Desert’s ecosystem and wildlife are still in a relatively untouched state.
Accessibility: Chabahar City
Located 30 kilometers to the southeast of Shiraz, Mahrloo lake draws in curious visitors from all over the world each year. As it is slowly but surely becoming a signature color of Shiraz tourist attractions, the beautiful lake of Maharloo is also pink. It is one of the most beautiful natural attractions of Iran, and it is also known as the “Pink Lake”.
Red tides in Mahraloo which are the results of the lake’s specific vegetation, are why this lake’s water turns pink during certain times of the year, and blue at other times. A number of rare migrant birds fly to this lake and its surrounding lands during different times of the year.
This creates a great opportunity for birding enthusiasts to go on one of our birding tours. To visit Maharloo when its water is pinkest and most beautiful, you should travel to Iran in mid-summer. Maharloo lake is also a popular Iran summer destination.
Accessibility: Shiraz City
Damavand Mountain is Iran’s and the Middle East’s highest peak; it is Asia’s highest volcanic summit and the world’s 19th tallest point. On a clear day, the Iranian capital Tehran can see the snow-covered top of Mount Damavand in the distance.
This snow-capped summit is as well-known and beloved by Iranians as Fujiyama is by Japanese. This is clearly not just a tall mountain, as evidenced by its steep-sided conical shape. As mentioned before, Mount Damavand is a volcano too!
It is believed that a magical arrow was launched from this location to mark the country’s border. According to Persian mythology, Damavand is also home to a three-headed dragon that will eventually bring about the end of the world as we know it. If you’re thinking of Ragnorok, then yes, the tales are quite similar!
If each of 9 Persian Gardens inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage sites’ list were to be likened to a gem, Shazdeh Mahan Garden would definitely be an Emerald. This Iran tourist destination is not unlike a lush mirage in the middle of its surrounding harsh deserts.
This mesmerizing contrast is the cause of awe and wonders for the people who rush in to see the beauty of this garden on the daily basis. Long ago, it served as a refreshing stop in the middle of the barren lands near Kerman city, for those traveling the Silk Road. This historical garden is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of Iran and for reasons more than its refreshing setting.
Similar to other Persian Gardens, both the natural and architectural elements of this garden represent Persian culture, philosophy, and religion in every small detail. Not only is this garden one of the most beautiful touristic destinations of Kerman city, but it is also one of the places every tourist in Iran must visit.
Accessibility: Kerman City
Located in Shiraz, a city with a reputation for poetics and dreamy sceneries, Eram Garden is one of the most gorgeous attractions of Iran and Shiraz city itself. This Garden is not only one of the most beautiful Persian Gardens in Iran, but it is also among the most gorgeous botanical gardens found all over the world.
Eram Garden was built with the ideology of “heaven” in its builders’ minds. The name of the garden itself is a testimony to this as the word Eram literally translates to “Heaven” in English. Rows of aromatic herbs and flowers fill this garden’s pathways to brim with the divine scent of orange blossoms and citrus fruits.
Numerous plants like Magnolia flowers, the weeping willow, passion flowers, the Judas tree, and Dahlia flowers complete the poetic image this Iran tourist destination paints in the onlookers’ minds.
Accessibility: Shiraz City
Fin Garden is without a doubt one of the most elegant and lovely Persian Gardens in Iran, found in Kashan. rows of lush plants everywhere you look, a refreshing water fountain stretching in the middle of the garden, and the beautiful building at the far end of the yard all contribute to this Garden’s exceptional beauty.
Similar to most of the other Persian Gardens, this garden is half natural and half artificial in all the elements used in its building and design. This garden too, similar to Shazdeh Mahan Garden, is in the middle of barren lands of Iran as far as the eyes can see.
The aromatic plants and flowers adorning Fin Garden do nothing but enhancing its impressive charm. The boldest elements of this Persian Garden are Water and Earth, as beautifully illustrated in this Kashan landmark’s design. Fin Garden is renowned for its awe-inspiring architecture using natural elements and artificial elements alone.
The water fountain that stretches in the middle of the Garden has a curious water system that works on its own using nothing but water pressure, the ground’s inclination, and the water pipes that are buried beneath the fountain. The garden’s water-system designer is no other than the famous and skilled Jamshid Kashani.
Accessibility: Kashan City
Rightfully named as one of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of architecture in Iran, the pink mosque of Shiraz merits a place on your must-see places in Iran. Nasir ol-mulk mosque beautifully represents a mixture of Islamic architecture and European decorative customs in its building.
It may interest you to know that this mosque is the first religious site in Iran which, instead of the traditional and customary Azure blue, uses pink as the boldest color in its beautification. This mosque is still being used to this day, but its popularity as an Iran tourist destination is undeniable.
Nasir ol-mulk’s colorful glasses display different arrays of colors reflected on its many rugs one after another, creating a unique kaleidoscope effect as the result. However, pink remains the boldest color used in the building’s design and thus the name “The Pink Mosque”. This touristic destination is one of the most popular and famous places in Shiraz, and Iran, that everyone MUST see!
Accessibility: Shiraz City
Ali Gholi bathhouse is a royal Hammam in Isfahan, and one of the many Iran tourist destinations that are worth a visit and even two, in the very least. Ali Gholi Agha Hammam was used by many royals in different eras in the history of Persia, namely Shah Suleiman and Shah Sultan Husayn.
This was one of the reasons that the building, maintenance, and architectural elements of this Persian Bathhouse were always the best they could be. This Bathhouse, similar to most traditional Persian bathhouses, has two separate halls for men and women. The roof of this building is also built in a way to catch the sunlight as best as possible and illuminate the Garmabe halls naturally and beautifully.
This important tourist attraction is now turned into a museum so that all its valuable elements representing the culture and history of its time are preserved, and accessible to all. Ali Gholi Agha Hammam is one of the important Persian bathhouses, and among the most beautiful Isfahan attractions.
Accessibility: Isfahan city
Another unique Iran tourist attraction among Shiraz landmarks is the marvelous tomb of Hafez and the Tomb of Saadi. Located a short distance apart from each other (8 minutes by car), these two places are on the list of must-visit attractions of Iran. Saadi and Hafez are both renowned Persian poets whose poetry left behind not only magnificence and glory but a source of inspiration for heaps of artists and literature lovers after them.
Poetry is what makes Shiraz truly unforgettable, and what better places to get a taste of the purest form of Persian poetry than the Tomb of Hafez and the Tomb of Saadi? You can drop a coin at the water fountain near Hafez tomb, as it is customary, and make a wish. You can also do what Persian people cherish doing on the yalda night and open Hafez’s poetry book (divan) as a way to hear your fortune told through the tongue of Hafez himself.
The two gardens in Hafezieh and the Delgosha garden in Saadieh are worth a tour of their own for their heavenly atmosphere and colorful flowers. They add flavor and color in the most elegant form to these two touristic destinations.
Accessibility: Shiraz City
Another one of the Kashan attractions, as well as the most famous historic house in the city, is the Tabatabaei House. Tabatabaei historical house is nationally renowned as a masterpiece in both architecture and style and is visited yearly by tourists from all around the world.
The building of this touristic destination, by the masterful hands of Ostad Ali Maryam, took around 10 years to complete. The interior and the exterior design of the house are among the most prominent of its kind, and some even have meanings beyond simply beautifying the house.
Numerous phoenix designs in different shapes and forms around the house are, for example, all dedicated to the house owner’s wife. Phoenix, the mythical bird of Persian, Greek, and Egyptian mythologies, translates into “Homa” in Persian, which was the name of Jafar Tabatabaei’s wife. The historical House of Tabatabaei is unmistakably one of the most significant tourist attractions in Iran.
Accessibility: Kashan City
One of the most beautiful and grand historical houses in Kashan is the house of Abbasi. This place is gorgeously designed with traditional Persian elements and art figures. Stained glasses, Muqarnas, Aina Kari (mirror designs), and lattice structures are just some of the many designs used in the architecture of this house. As with most historical houses in Kashan, the Abbasian house contains a number of different halls and rooms for different purposes.
Some of these halls are meant to be used during the cold seasons, and some the hot seasons. Abbasi house is a pure representation of the living style of the wealthy residents of Kashan back in the 18th century. This Kashan landmark’s value as an Iran tourist destination lies not just in its architecture but in its cultural worth as well.
A noteworthy characteristic of this tourist attraction is its Howz Khane (fountain hall). The water inside this hall is provided by the many water canals running directly to a Qanat (traditional Persian water channels) and back to the mansion. This is also the reason for this house’s sunken courtyard.
Accessibility: Kashan City
The royal Golestan palace is the most famous and grand royal palace in Tehran among others of the same category. This majestic monument is the only UNESCO site in Tehran, edging the once-northern borders of the city. The interior of each of the buildings inside the Golestan estate is filled with bright, vivid, and aesthetically pleasing figures each designed by talented artists of the Qajar density.
Spacious rooms, mirrored walls, marble-carvings, tile-work, stucco, enamel, woodcarvings, and golden designs everywhere you cast your eyes. This touristic destination is among the finest of its kind in regards to elegance, design, and architecture.
Golestan palace was the fruit of king Naser Al-din’s trips to European countries, as he was inspired by the architectural elements of their buildings which were rarely seen in traditional Persian architecture. He gathered the best of the best for the building of this royal palace and mixed the Western and Persian elements in architecture to create this masterpiece of a palace you MUST see as an Iran tourist destination.
Accessibility: Tehran City
One of the exceptional buildings bordering the west side of the UNESCO site of Imam Square in Isfahan is no other than Ali Qapu palace. Each story of this building holds magnificent rooms and halls within itself with a great view over the Imam square the upper you go.
One of the most famous halls in this palace is the Persian Historic Music Hall, found in the sixth (and last) story of the palace. The music hall was the gathering place of the king and his international guests, where King Abbas help grand parties hosting the best traditional Persian musicians who played Setar, Kamanche, and Daf. This touristic destinations’ music hall is adorned with numerous art designs and frescos on its walls, doors, and ceilings.
An interesting fact about this hall is its lack of any echoing effect which, considering the fact that it was a music hall, is strange to many tourists. This was intentional and in fact ordered by Shah Abbas himself, so that the royal guests of Ali Qapu palace would get the best of the live music. Without any distortion, or any added effects. Ali Qapu palace is famous for its glorious vaulted ceilings, curved stucco designs, Muqarnas cutouts, and the trove of art beautifying this mansion’s walls and ceilings.
Accessibility: Isfahan City
Towers of silence in Yazd are one of the few Zoroastrian ancient burial grounds remaining in the world. Rituals for the dead are parts of any religion, and Zoroastrianism is no different. Mobads (Zoroastrian clerics) used to carry the bodies of the dead into the tower and feed their remaining to the scavenger birds.
They believe that this is not only an act of charity towards the creatures of the earth and ecology but also the best way to assure the spirits’ swift journey to the underworld. Followers of this religion, which is one of the oldest practiced religions in the world, are great in number in Yazd city but they don’t use these towers anymore.
These Yazd landmarks were prohibited to use by the government, and are now only accessible as Iran tourist destinations. It’s worth mentioning that Yazd city was once a major stop on the silk road (the main trade route across Iran). The central city has kept its adobe structure alive to this day, and tourists are sometimes seen biking down the aged alleyways and speaking with locals.
Accessibility: Yazd City
Fahadan district is the single oldest and most historic part of the ancient city of Yazd. The mud and clay of the buildings, the pottery workshops scattered around its streets, and traditional Persian shops of the neighborhood are some of the most authentic of their kind.
Yazd city itself is the first city in Iran which was inscribed as a UNESCO site for its historic houses and streets still untouched by the fast-paced world of the modern age. Fahadan though, is THE oldest neighborhood of Yazd, which says a lot about this area. Yazd travel guide’s recommendation to those interested in the adobe structure of Fahadan is to use their feet as the only means of their transportation.
You can also use bicycles as many people of Yazd do, to enjoy this city’s aged construction as well as the Fahadan touristic destination. Another interesting fact about Fahadan is its situation in Yazd, as it is right behind Alexander’s Prison, Leila House Museum, and Jameh Mosque of Yazd. That means you will probably get to see more than a handful of Iran tourist destinations in just a short walk in Yazd!
Accessibility: Yazd City
One of the many traditional Persian Bazaars, but the only one inscribed as a UNESCO site, is the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz. This historic Bazaar is one of the highlights of the Tabriz travel guide on top of being a unique tourist destination in Iran. Tabriz Bazaar is the largest covered bazaar in the world and it served as a major market on the long route of the silk road.
Not only is this Bazaar a great witness to Iran’s culture during the ruling of different kings in different eras, but it also has a collection of art and architecture from each period within itself. This touristic destination holds memories of old times and numerous revolutions against Visiting the grand bazaar of Tabriz is also a great opportunity to buy this city’s famous souvenirs like a Persian rug or Tabriz sweets and cookies.
Accessibility: Tabriz City
The blue mosque of Tabriz, which also goes by the name of Kabood Mosque, is one of the greatest architectural wonders of Persia. Its magnificent tile work, tall curves, unique design, and symmetrical arches are just a number of things that make Kabood mosque so extravagantly beautiful.
After an earthquake shook this azure mosque’s construction to the ground in the 18th century, only its gateway remained intact. However, because of this mosque’s exceptional beauty and the importance it gained during the time of Tabriz city’s status as the capital, the building was reconstructed.
Nowadays, Kabood mosque stands tall and glorious as one of the oldest mosques of Tabriz and as a gorgeous Iran tourist attraction, drawing fascinated onlookers in during all times of the year. This touristic destination is well worth a place on your must-visit destinations while traveling to Iran!
Accessibility: Tabriz City
The spectacular garden palace of Pasargadae was built by Cyrus the Great as the first imperial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. This grand monument is also the most ancient Persian garden, and one of the oldest Iran tourist destinations of which there are records.
It may interest you to know that the Achaemenid empire is regarded as the first kingdom who respected the cultural diversity of its people who came from different tribes and nations. Achaemenid architecture, of which not much is left, is a present representation of various cultures who lived as a part of this kingdom which further proves this empire’s awe-inspiring mindset which was way ahead of its time.
The tomb of Cyrus the Great is one of the few of these remaining architectural pieces in Shiraz, which inspires respect and admiration to this day. Pasargadae has kept the memory of war, grandeur, betrayal, and love alive in the simplicity of the Tomb of Cyrus the great alone. This tomb was restored to a new state of grandeur by the order of Alexander the Great. Yet, no signs of restoration or repairing are apparent on any part of his tomb.
Accessibility: Shiraz City
Chogha Zanbil (meaning “basket mound”) is a modern-day Elamite monument complex in the Persian region of Khuzestan. Dur-Untash (Fortress/Town of Untash) and Tchogha Zanbil are two other names for it. Outside of Mesopotamia, this UNESCO site has the world’s largest and finest preserved ziggurat.
The site was used as a pilgrimage place until 1000 BCE, according to archaeological discoveries although the complex was never completed, as evidenced by mud bricks still stacked for use in building and incomplete buildings in the venue. The ziggurat initially measured 105.2 meters on each side and 53 meters in altitude with five floors and a temple atop it. Mud brick served as the foundation for the entire town.
This Persian ziggurat was clad in baked bricks, some of which bear ancient symbols spelling out deities’ names in Elamite and Akkadian tongues. The shrine structure of this Iran touristic destination however, was never used because it was unfinished at the time of the king’s death and neglected thereafter.
Accessibility: Khuzestan city