Isfahan Travel Guide
Planning to visit Isfahan has proven to be almost impossible, because the sheer number of places you must see and things you should do in Isfahan are just too many! Isfahan travel guide will help you learn all about the tourist attractions of Isfahan every traveler must see! Isfahan is also known for its ridiculously TASTY cuisine, and beautiful hotels you can find around the city. Travels also may need to know how to get away around the city and learn about TRANSPORTATION IN ISFAHAN.
Isfahan is home to Persia’s traditional architecture in its purest and finest form, and without a doubt, one of Iran top cities. Some of Iran’s most beautiful and historically significant landmarks are located in Isfahan, making Isfahan city a distinctive and unparalleled item on the list of Iran top cities.
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Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square
Ali Qapu Palace
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Imam (Shah) Mosque
Chehel Sotoun Pavilion
Jameh Mosque of Isfahan or
Atiq Mosque – Vank Cathedral
Si-o-se Bridge – Khaju Bridge
Hasht Behesht palace
Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square –
Jameh Mosque of Isfahan or
Atiq Mosque – Persian Qanats
Isfahan International Airport
Bus – Subway(1 line) – Taxi
Snapp( Iranian Uber)
Naqsh-e Jahan square is the beating heart of Isfahan’s cultural and social esse, and a MUST see on your Isfahan travel guide. This grand venue was built around 400 years ago and has been a center of national importance all throughout history.
Naqsh-e Jahan square (which was once called Meidan-e Shah) borders several cultural (and national) sites of Isfahan, and was also inscribed as a UNESCO site itself in 1979. Unlike what onlookers would expect from a square, Naqsh-e Jahan (which means the picture of the world) is 560 meters long and around 200 meters wide.
This makes Imam square one of the biggest squares in the world. This monumental venue is also one of the most beautiful Iran tourist destinations. As a municipal architectural regulation during the Safavid era, Naqsh-e Jahan was built in a way that no vehicle could enter the main site or its surroundings.
This rule remains in place to this day as the only vehicles found inside this grand monument are carriages! This square encloses an array of two-storey markets and shops whose architectural value and exceptional ceramic tile design and adorned walls are worldly renowned and admired by all.
The pavilion of Ali Qapu is just to the north of Meidan Emam, and was built by Shah Abbas as a meeting place with ambassadors, international guests, and rulers of other cities.
This grand palace has 6 storeys (adorned with miniature paintings and extraordinary ceiling art) and each of them holds a grand chamber within itself. This palace is also a guiding gate to the gorgeous royal gardens behind this structure.
The best of our Isfahan travel guide experts put The music hall on the 6th floor of this pavilion on top of the list. This hall is the most famous part of the structure, as well as one of the most famous Iran tourist destinations. The hall’s mesmerizing stucco designs and beautiful wall carvings are formed and modeled in a way to reverberate the sound of instruments played in this hall in forms of rich and acoustic vibrations.
Masjid Shah, also known as the Royal mosque or Shah mosque , is the most vivid example of traditional and colorful Persian architecture design in modern Iran.
This mosque is famous for its unique interior structure, built by the masterful hands of Safavid architects with the purpose of echoing the Moazen’s voice all throughout the mosque.
Its courtyard is built of marble and the entryway is skillfully adorned with incredibly – mosaic art and curved stones, making this mosque a spiritual addition to the mesmerizing monument of Naqsh-e Jahan.
Sheikh Lotfallah mosque’s structure is singular in the world for its detailed and marvelous building design using natural means and curved stones to provide lighting for this building. This structure’s beige and golden tiles are exceptional in the architectural methods of Safavid era, for all the mosques built during this period were blue tinted. This grand national treasure’s dome is uniquely designed, as the cyan and sandy tiles adorning it change color in different times of day.
A rather surprising characteristic of this mosque is the fact that it does not have a courtyard or any minarets. As our Isfahan travel guide has outlined, it is said that the structure was built without these parts to show that it welcomes all and there is no need for special entryways for guests or important visitors.
Si-o-se pol (thirty-three bridge) and Khaju bridge are two of the most famous bridges of Isfahan and Iran. As the largest construction on water, Si-o-se Pol’s name (which means bridge of 33 arches in Persian) is rather self-explanatory, as the bridge was named after the number of arches that are built within this popular tourist attraction.
Not too far from Si-O-Se Pol, resides the celebrated Khaju bridge. This bridge was once the royal dwelling of second Shah Abbas and his family, and is also called the royal bridge for this reason. What makes Khaju unique among all Persian bridges is its detailed tile design which is simply unmatched in Iran.
One of the highlights of Isfahan city we chose to add to Isfahan travel guide, is the dreamy palace of Hasht Behesht. This palace’s octagon structure has 4 entryways, each of which leads to a separate interior space unique in style and design even among traditional Persian palaces.
Fine Āina-kāri, Muqarnas, and seventeenth century mural paintings of war, kings, and horsemen ornament the walls and ceilings all over the building’s interior. The second floor’s majesty is another matter completely, as it is beautified by complex arches, porticos, and perforated walls.
Chehel soton Palace (palace of forty columns) puts the imperial beauty of aged Persia on show in its finest form. The architecture used in this mansion was inspired by traditional Chinese and European designs. This celebrated national gem also belongs to the Safavid era and encloses a lush garden within itself.
Chehel Soton Palace’s foundation was built on a slight slope, so the natural water stream in this estate’s blue pool is gentle but constant. Tall Pines, green Plane trees, cheerful Junipers, and lush Elm trees are aligned in rows on both sides of the garden, decorating the path leading to the mansion beautifully with natural elements.
One the most famous dishes made in Isfahan, which is also popular and cooked in other cities, is Isfahan’s Beryoni. This dish is prepared with dried vegetables, saffron, and cinnamon spiced fresh beef (often served with rice or Nan Sangak and Dough). Take the Isfahan travel guide’s advice to heart, we know that the best Beryonis in Isfahan city are found near the Khaju bridge.
Isfahan is also famous for its delicious Halims (or Haleems). One of the most popular ones on the list is Isfahan Halim Bademjan (halim made with eggplants and Kashk).
Isfahan is visited yearly by many tourists and travelers, and some of the most comfortable and beautiful accommodation options can be found in Isfahan. On our Isfahan travel guide, we recommend you consider both Isfahan luxurious hotels and eco lodge and traditional houses. To make you stay in Isfahan more pleasant for yourself, book your hotel of choice before visiting this city.
Isfahan’s weather is pleasant and refreshing all throughout the spring. Although, we recommend that you plan your trip to Isfahan after the 17th of Farvardin (5th of April). That’s because the Iranian new year ceremony is held in early spring and as a result, crowded roads and touristic sites are seen all around the country! The best of Isfahan city is experienced from early April to late May, as the weather is pleasing and your favorite Isfahan tourist spots are less crowded. Isfahan is also enjoyable in early fall, if a little more on the cool and windy side.
Isfahan was the city where music and folk pieces were purely Persian, and largely performed just using instrments with no sing over. Farhang Sharif, a masterful artist who produces his own pieces and plays the Tar, has made this piec. It is a beautiful representation of a Perisan music using only Tar and Donbak, two of the oldest Persian musical instruments.
Rent your own private vehicle and relax as your driver takes you to Isfahan city’s touristic spots. You can choose to have a guide with you, or tour the Isfahan city on your own. On this Isfahan travel guide, we suggest you use internet taxi applications serious! On-demand (international friendly) taxi applications are available and operating in Isfahan. They are safe, fast, and convenient; and can be shared with other travelers or hailed privately.
Navigate your way through the city using taxis and public buses and make your job easier with navigation applications, like google maps. (Isfahan is also equipped with a convenient subway system)
Note: At the time of updating this post, the COVID-19 virus has spread globally and health services are still struggling to cope. Thus, it is not recommended to use public transportation means at the present time.
To choose a gift to bring back for your loved ones from Isfahan city, titled half of the world for its immense beauty, is an arduous task. Many people (even Iranians themselves) find buying souvenirs from Isfahan challenging! This is because of the endless options one finds oneself surrounded by in any of Isfahan Bazaars. Isfahan city guide recommends the local sweets and candies like Gaz and Poolaki, and hand-crafted goods like Khatam Kari and Firooze Koobi artifacts.
The most famous and delectable souvenir of Isfahan is Gaz (candy), a white chewy sweet with a fantastic taste. Gaz belongs to the big nougat family. It gets its name from the Persian phrase Gaz-Angebin, which translates to Angebin sap. Over moderate heat, they simmer sugar, glucose, or corn syrup, and water until the sugar dissolves and the liquid starts to boil.
Gaz comes in a variety of flavors and fillings including chocolate, saffron, rose flower, and even fruits! Sliced Gaz, floured Gaz, finger-size, and bite-size Gaz are some of these sweets’ other variations.
Note about Angebin: From late summer through early autumn, this unique ingredient is gathered. It is then sieved, cooked, and filtered before being ready to use. Due to its scarcity and high cost, it is now substituted with a mixture of sugar and maize or glucose syrup, which produces the same results.
Poolaki is possibly one of Isfahan’s most popular treats and souvenirs. This candy is a delicate, tasty, and gleaming confection and is also very well-known among tourists and locals. To prepare this shiny sweet, a combination of sugar, water, and white vinegar is cooked on the stove. When the mixture turns golden, they pour it into special plates, one spoon at a time, and let it set.
Poolaki also comes in different flavors and styles including sesame-filled poolaki, saffron poolaki, vanilla poolaki, and Damask rose poolaki.
Simply put, Saffron Sugar Crystals are rock candies that have been infused with saffron. It’s known as Nabat in Persian culture and is commonly used to flavor tea, but it’s also said to have medicinal effects! Rock candies are simply made by adding the appropriate amount of sugar to boiling water until it dissolves, and is later flavored through different means.
There is not a moment in one’s life that can’t be made better by having tea, and what’s better than a steaming cup of tea with Nabat, especially in colder times of the year? You can mix Saffron Sugar Crystals or Saffron Rock Candy Bars into your tea to gradually sweeten it while also adding saffron notes to your afternoon treat.
Ghalamzani (Engraving, Teurotics, or Metal Engraving) is an archaic Persian art of engraving intricate patterns on metal containers, ranging from gold and silver to bronze and copper. The primary hub for this handcraft is Isfahan, and there are various ways that craftsmen go about this classic art.
One method involves compressing the metal using steal means to remove a portion of it. In another design, only the arcs of the motif’s perimeter are engraved, creating a tiny and multi-patterned background with no distinguishing features. You can find beautiful gifts of this type among Isfahan souvenirs.
Another beautiful item of hand-crafted goods in Isfahan is Khatam kari (Inlaid items / Khatamkari), which is employed by highly skilled craftsmen in the wood industry. Khatam kari, which dates back to the Safavid era, is also popular in Shiraz. The goal of this craft is to make attractive geometric shapes by putting together little pieces and triangles of hardwood shapes.
Gold, silver, bronze, aluminum, and twisted wires are some of the elements utilized in this craft. The size and geometrical motifs distinguish different types of inlaid products and their craftsmanship. Artwork with smaller elements has, naturally, a greater value.
Firoozeh Koobi is one of the most beautiful souvenirs you can take home from Iran as per Isfahan travel guide information, but the art of turquoise inlay (Firuzeh koobi) first began in Mashhad. Of course, Firoozeh Koobi reached its pinnacle in Isfahan 60 to 70 years ago. Turquoise Inlaying on jars consists of a copper artifact with small pieces of turquoise put in a mosaic pattern on areas of the exterior, which gives the object a unique gleam.
To begin this artful Persian craft, the turquoise pieces that were previously sorted based on size are arranged on the artifact of the artists’ choice. The additional lac and tiny elevated sections of the Azure turquoise chips are flattened by polishing the sections coated by lac and turquoise shards with emery. The color of the turquoise shards becomes apparent as turquoise in the spaces between the chips, meanwhile the color of the lac becomes visible as black (or dark brown) in the gaps between the chips.
This city was once the magnificent capital of Iran during the Seljuq and Safavid dynasties, in which Isfahan changed greatly and, of course, for the better! Isfahan travel guide puts emphasis on the fact that, in terms of Persian culture, language, artwork, and construction; Isfahan’s legacy established Iran (previously Persia) as the cultural hub of the eastern Islamic world!
When the Seljuqs conquered Isfahan, they converted an existing hypostyle mosque into the magnificent four-Iwan Great Jaame Mosque (Masjid-i Jami).
An Iwan is a large vaulted chamber with one end open. It was a symbol of absolute power dating back to pre-Islamic Iran when Iwans served as imperial palace audience rooms.
Iwans were also seen in Islamic palaces, but the Seljuqs were the first to incorporate them into religious architecture and design. The use of a royal prerogative emblem in mosque architecture inspired viewers to link earthly control with divine authority.
Most female travelers to Iran are nervous about the dress code. Many people are unsure of what to wear. Many others have erroneous notions regarding Iranian fashion and dress codes for women. However, it is not as restrictive as many people mistakenly imagine. It’s important to remember that not wearing a covering outfit is allowed, but not everyone enjoys being gazed at so at the end of the day, it is really more of a personal choice. LEARN MORE ABOUT DRESS CODE IN IRAN
Architecture and art were not the only things that were affected in the history of Isfahan. As you will soon learn in this Isfahan city guide, people of Isfahan had had 32 different kinds of traditional wear for men, women, and children in different eras, some of which can still be found on Isfahan markets! Historians have found out about some of the traditional clothes of Isfahani people in the past, about which you will learn more about soon.
Short, red, tiered skirts sewed from velvet
Long, white, embroidered dress
Comfortable, white, cotton trousers for younger women
Comfortable, black, cotton trousers for older women
Long, bone-white scarf worn with jeweled brooch pins
Black, wide-leg trousers
Plain, white dress shirts with oversized sleeves
Warm silk scarves in colder times of the year
1. What are Isfahan city’s most famous attractions?
Some of Isfahan city’s most famous tourist attractions are Meidan Imam (Naqsh-e Jahan Square), Ali Qapu palace, Si-o-Se pol, Hasht Behesht palace, and Chehel Sotun palace.
2. What Persian food should I try in Isfahan?
Anyone who visits the beautiful city of Isfahan must try the delicious Beriyani (Beryani), Halim Bademjan, and Gooshfil Dough.
3. Why cities should I visit in Iran?
Each city in Iran has its own set of attractions and beauties but the most popular cities in Iran are Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Yazd, Tehran, and Kashan.
4. What are Isfahan’s best hotels?
Some of the most beautiful hotels in Isfahan are Abbasi hotel, Isfahan traditional hotel, and Qasr Monshi boutique hotel.