How to plan traveling to Iran
Iran was once among the misunderstood travel destinations, but nowadays thoughts are changing about travel to Iran. This country’s newfound popularity has turned it to a bucket list destination of International travelers. Either you are a solo traveler adventuring undiscovered destinations of planet earth, or traveling in group tours, Iran is where you can make a wonderful trip to.
In this post we will go through 11 tips helping you plan your travel to Iran, you can read more detailed information in the subheadings below. First, we will go through major travel planning topics such as choosing a destination, finding accommodation, flights, and transportation. Then, we cover more details you will need to know once you are in Iran. like Iran money, Persian foods and drinks, ethics and cultural differences, and solo traveling.
Table of Contents:
Almost all the content you find on the internet focuses on the best time to visit Iran, but hold on a second! You are traveling to a vast 4-seasons country where tourism is diverse enough to spend over a couple of months around and yet there are plenty of missed places when getting back home.
So, the very first question is about your taste in traveling, what are your expectations out of your trip to the glorious Persia. Travel style comes before travel timing, as several cultural tour plans can be operated almost all-year-round, while adventure tours are season-based and you will need to plan accordingly. Iran has got much to offer as a destination: epic stories of the greatest kingdoms of Asia, a taste of the most unexplored adventurous natural sites. You may read more on different travel styles and suggested tours of different regions to be more familiar with Iran’s tourism destinations while you are traveling to Iran.
Some of the most famous themes of Iran tours are:
1.1 Iran Cultural Tours: mainly focused on the cultural aspects of Persia. Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, and Kerman attractions are the highlights of these tours. As all these designations are located in the central part of Iran, the weather is nice during spring (March to May), and fall (October to November) and well suited for travelling.
1.2 Iran Adventure tours which are most favored by adrenaline seekers, are operated in different regions of Iran from North to South and East to West. Shemshak and Dizin are among the skiing resorts hosting skiing tours in winter (late December to January). You may want to try out kiting in the north of Iran during summer, or visit the southern regions where kiting is best enjoyed during winter and early spring while you are traveling to Iran. Mount biking season highly depends on the heights of your choice, as different adventure plans are available in different locations.
1.3 Iran Culture and Adventure tours are held nearly all year-round in variations, so your travel plan mostly depends on the purpose of your journey to Iran (and what you may decide to add to it). For instance, you may like to take the gems of Iran cultural tour, and be interested in taking a trekking tour or go biking on the very same trip. In that case, you will want to pick winter.
1.4 Iran Special and Experience tours are designed for travelers with unique expectations of their journey. You may not get the chance to go to a pottery workshop or harvest saffron strands on a typical cultural group tour. But, special and experience tours have unique experiences to offer you during the time you are traveling to Iran. Another popular alternative is living with Iran Nomads and travelling along with them in transhumance, which only happens twice a year (and thus you will need to check your calendar in advance) or even the photography and agro tours.
1.5 Iran Family-friendly tours: are designed specifically for families with kids, senior tourists, or travelers in need of special cares. Depending on the trip duration and the path, different times of year are suitable for different trip plans. That being said, most of our dear travelers prefer to take the classic path, and so the best time will be Spring (especially if you have chosen Iran as your travel destination from Europe).
1.6 Tailor-made tours: are everyone’s favorite! You may ask why?! The answer is simple: the best travel experiences are always the ones you make yourself. These trips are popular for their flexibility, free travel style with accommodation options of choice, and the variety of activities travelers can handpick to experience as they’re traveling to Iran.
You can plan your very own custom tour to this land of numerous yet undiscovered adventures.
Iran is a four-season and vast country with different What does the right time mean exactly? After considering your travel style and expectations, when it comes to traveling to a new destination, you need to think of two different aspects of timing and match them to maximize the joy of your trip to Iran.
The first is “your travel schedules” and the second is “best time to visit Iran”. Your travel schedule or its duration is something you decide about, but if like to visit plenty of places in Iran and have a sense of Persia, consider a 2-week plan.
The short and sweet answer is March to May in spring and September to November in fall which is the right answer mostly to group tours with cultural travel style. The better question is “What is your travel style?”
As mentioned above, March to May is very popular with travelers to Iran, but there are 3 exceptions regarding the timing of travel to Iran.
Nowruz marks the beginning of spring and at the same time Persian new year. Many people travel to Iran so they enjoy the celebration of the new Persian year, alike any other important date but if you are a solo traveler wishing to make a trip to Iran on the last seconds with no pre-plans. D The biodiverse isle is also home to salt caves, mangroves, coral reefs, turtle hatching sites, and the Hara forests—features that earned its place as Iran’s first UNESCO Geopark not travel to Iran in Noruws (Persian new year)
80 million Iranians are traveling around Iran in the new year holiday. Hotels are almost fully booked in tourist cities like Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd. Flight and train tickets are sold out 100% on a presale a couple of months in advance, so your only choice will be traveling by bus or a private rental car and you need to prepare yourself for long long traffic jams on the roads between cities.
On the contrary to this travel bustle in Other cities, Tehran seems like a vacant city. All shops are closed at least for the first week and some up to 14 days. If you as an international traveler need to change cash and this is very likely not to succeed since bureau de charges are closed as well. The bright side is; the first two weeks of the Persian new year is a perfect opportunity to take a look at our Tehran travel guide and visit Tehran. That is, if the idea of traveling to Iran in the new year sounds interesting to you! There is no traffic or crowded metros (subway) so can fully enjoy wandering around every corner of the city.
Traveling to Iran during Moharam is quite an experience as various ceremonies are running around the country on the ninth and tenth of the lunar month of Muharram. Each region of the country holds the mourning ceremonies differently. It is not only limited to a geographical location but each ethnic group has its traditions. Tourists from around the world come to Iran, especially to Yazd, Meybod Isfahan, and Kashan to witness the rituals in each corner of the country. Tazieh (a passion play inspired by historical and religious narrations), and Sineh-Zani (beating the chest) and Nohehkhani (poems about Imam Hossein and Ashura) mark the most important events. The 9th and 10th of Muharram in 2021 falls on August 18th and 19th. If you like to know more about religious ceremonies in Iran, you may like to travel to Iran in Muharram.
Traveling to Iran during Ramadan is also a different experience in terms of eating out during the day. If you are traveling through big and well-known cities in Ramadan, you may find all restaurants and cafes closed until Eftar(evening). The only option is unfortunately fast foods and takeaways; moreover, due to the common courtesy, it is ethical not to eat in the public while other people are fasting. In case you are traveling to the rural areas, local places might be open, however; guesthouses and hotel restaurants offer foods to their guests. Aside from eating, everything else is going on the same normal way and will not affect your trip.
Planning your travel not only gives you peace of mind, but it also helps you benefit the best deals on tours and flights. Flexibility in the itinerary and making changes are also very easier up to 14 days before your arrival. You will have enough time to inform your friends and see if they love to join you! Depending on your home country and Iran visa requirement, a planned trip is always better. Please note for American, Canadian, and British travelers to Iran visa issuance process might take up to 40 days.
When planning to travel to another country, checking about visa requirements of destination is a necessity to take the timing and apply in time. Traveling to Iran is no exception. Iran visa policy has changed so much after 2015, and Iran visa service has changed accordingly.
You can apply for a visa online via mfa.com or if you prefer to be stress-free and paperwork is too much labor fill the visa form, so we handle everything for you.
Please note that you need a travel insurance to get an Iran visa. When buying a travel insurance make sure the company covers Iran. There is an article about the Iran visa, so you can find whatever you need to know Here. we are going through some of the most frequently asked questions about Iran visa.
3.1 Can I travel to the USA after visiting Iran?
Yes. Despite all the tensions between the two countries, as a tourist to Iran, there will not be a stamp on your passport, so you can travel to the USA easily after traveling to Iran.
3.2 How long Does it take to get Iran visa?
For British, American, and Canadian citizens it takes 40 days to 60 days to get Iran visa. For tourists eligible to get visa on arrival, it takes 5 to 14 working days. For visa-free countries, you just need to get tickets and welcome to Iran!
3.3 How much is the Iran visa fee?
Iran visa fee varies depending on your nationality while applying for Iran VOA is free of charge and you do the payment at the airport. Visa service is included in Artin travel packages.
3.4 How can I apply for Iran visa from the US?
American, British and Canadian travelers can only apply for a visa through eligible travel agencies and they need buying a tour package, either a group tour or private tours.
3.5 How can I get Iran visa at the airport?
You need to apply for a tourist visa online at least 1 week before your arrival date. When your visa application is approved you receive an authorization code. Presenting the code and paying the visa fee at the airport, it only takes 20-30 minutes to get your visa.
The first time in a new location leaves many travelers feeling nervous or unsure of how to act properly. This is particularly true for vacations to Iran if you are not fluent in Persian(Farsi). However, “Traveling to Iran is great fun”. “You see very friendly people.” “Iran is one of the safest places we have been to. “These are some of the common sentences you hear from people you have been to Iran either as a solo traveler or with a guided tour.
One of the most important questions before traveling to Iran is hiring a guide. There are certainly advantages to having a tour guide by your side in Iran. We will point out some of them below:
A tour guide help you have a better insight into the destination. Asian countries hold the amazing epic tails and local stories you can only hear from the local elders, and it is the same about Iran. Many hidden yet amazing stories are to be told, even about the most popular attractions. Local guides can help you have a deep knowledge of where you are visiting and be engaged with people and see the world from their point of view.
Before talking about communicating with local people let me say you will never get lost in Iran’s cities, just in urban areas, even if you don’t use an online smartphone. Unlike many countries around the world, all street signs are in both Persian and English.
Iranians get a relatively good score on speaking English compared to other neighboring countries, as all of us had English courses at school and a high percentage of youth have an academic education. Yet, communicating with local people is a bit challenging and your tour guide helps you have no troubles. It is always a good idea to learn some local expression while traveling to another country, you can read some of the Persian language travel expressions here. Speaking the local tongue while traveling to Iran is, however broken, is going to make the local people love you!
In adventure tours where safety precautions are the top priority hiring a professional tour guide for extreme sports such as safaris in Lut Desert, mountain climbing, or biking in Damavand is not an only suggestion but a serious piece of advice. Moreover, an experienced nature guide can provide information about animals that you may encounter, direct your attention to different types of plants, and explain the benefits to nature; an untrained eye could not do this
With countless pros of solo traveling and its precious experiences, the fact this you need to figure out every detail about accommodations, eating out, finding places, and many other things. A local tour guide will sort everything out and offers you the best experiences whilst traveling to Iran.
You may wonder why?! Usually, Iran travelers visit the most popular cities (Tehran, Kashan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, and Kerman) during their first trip to Iran. If this is your second trip to Iran and you like to see more of lesser-known places or trying a different tour package. This is when you can think of hiring a tour guide.
Thanks to technology, hotel booking is nowadays one of the easiest parts of planning a trip to Iran. There are many online platforms you can make accommodation reservations. You can also send your request for online hotel booking for any kind of accommodation in Iran cities. There different types of accommodation according to your travel taste.
If you prefer staying at the top hotel while traveling, it is the best choice to book 4 or 5-star hotels. There are a lot of good hotels in Big cities like Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan. Single, double, or even triple rooms are available in all of these hotels. Usually, you can find Persian and international foods there. In terms of convenience, these hotels are the best choice for classic tours.
Boutique hotels are emerging in Iran in recent years. Boutique hotels’ history is an attraction by itself. Almost all of them used to be caravanserais or antique hotels that have been revived and renewed with Iranian architecture and it is worth it to spend time there. Facilities cannot be always compared to luxury hotels as sometimes the bathroom is shared if you are not booking a suit. Depending on hotel facilities and services, rates are so different. For instance, Shah abbasi 5-star boutique hotel is more expensive than other 5 star hotels in Isfahan. However, you can find some other cozy ones with more reasonable rates just before, or even after, traveling to Iran.
Living with the locals is one of the most enjoyable aspects of a trip, no matter where the destination is. If you are a fan of experience tours, you have the chance of staying at local houses the way they live. You can enjoy the warmth of Korsi and drinking tea while on a trip to Iran west, or to stay in pleasant cool houses with natural ventilation (badger) while on a trip to the deserts of Iran. The most exciting part of staying at locals is talking to them or trying homemade food and the meaning of Iranian hospitality is bold. You need to consider the facilities and service level in advance and make sure you like to have the experience however you may not have laundry service.
Hostels are also popular among solo travelers who are interested in traveling to Iran. They are very budget-friendly with limited services like everywhere in the world.
You can easily make online reservations of 4 & 5-star hotels in Iran and the payment process is also online. It does not usually work about booking small hotels or local houses since not all of them have a website or the means of paying online. Travel agencies can help you make reservations finalized and also do the payment. If you would like to stay at locals, double-check the dates and what you have reserved not be in trouble. The payment for hostels or local houses is usually in cash, so need to have enough money with you.
The last but not least thing you need to take into consideration is the exact location of where you are staying and where you are visiting in the itinerary. This wise to make a map with the exact location and always check some hours before your arrival in Iran. There might be a road under construction, the weather may change and you will have enough time to sort out any unpredicted situations.
When traveling to Iran, you may think of using a roaming service to use your phone, but it will cost you an arm and a leg! The best thing to do is to buy a SIM card. After arrival in Iran, you can find Irancell kiosk at the international airports, you can easily buy a SIM Card and charge it immediately so you can activate the internet data packages. If you like to stay connected with the family, try using free online Apps such as WhatsApp.
Sharing your travel photos online is great fun! Unfortunately, some websites and social media are subject to filtering by the government in Iran, so you need to use VPN (Virtual private network) to connect to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, or Tiktok. There are several free (with ads) or paid VPNs you can use. Iran safe is one of the best-paid VPN services. Traveling with Artin travel, you will have free internet and VPN on the Iran rental car. You can buy the service online before arrival in Iran or you can ask your guide to help you with VPN settings.
Speaking of transportation in Iran, we are going to know more about Entering Iran in the first place and then, we will take a look at traveling around the country.
Entering Iran is possible through land and air. There are a large number of tourists traveling to Iran from Turkey or Azerbaijan by land, and there are more guests traveling by planes to different Iran’s international airports.
In case you are planning to have a combined tour of Turkey and Iran, you can enter from the Bazargan border located in the west of Iran, all the way to Maku and Tabriz by a private car or your camper. There is also a train leaving Van every Tuesday afternoon to Tabriz. The same train goes back to Turkey every Monday from Tabriz to Van.
The other most popular border is from Azerbaijan to Iran. You may enter Iran by a private car or you can easily take a taxi to Pass the border in Astara city. You may learn more about Iran visa on arrival before entering.
There are other land borders receiving tourists from Turkmenistan in the northeast of Iran, especially groups who are interested in Iran East tours or pilgrimage of Imam Reza holy shrine.
There are several international airports in Iran, among which Imam Khomeini international airport near Tehran, the capital city of Iran. Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Tabriz. These are some of the biggest international airports around the country you can use while traveling to Iran. Along with Iranian airlines like Mahan with direct flights, the most frequent flights to Iran international airports are from Turkey, UAE, Qatar and
The most common way to Travel to Iran is by air. There are many
Iran is a vast country and traveling around is possible by air, bus, railway, or private cars. Depending on your travel route and duration You may choose any transportation means. Public transportation in Iran is among the developed systems, in big cities like
There are more than 500 domestic flights per day around Iran. Number flights between major cities like Tehran and Shiraz, there are more than 50 flights available. It means flying to different cities is available almost anytime 24/7. Prices are more reasonable during the weekdays and a bit higher on the weekends (Thursday and Friday) and also on public holidays in Iran.
Buses are the main means of transportation in Iran, roads are safe and even small cities in remote areas are accessible by bus. You can buy tickets online or simply get to city terminal and start your journey by buying tickets instantly.
railway network is one of the oldest and most interconnected ones in Iran and also the middle east, Connecting North to South and East to west. The most beautiful railway in Iran is from Golestan to Mashhad passing through. There a lot of new and modern trains between Iran cities with perfect service and reasonable cost for its convenience. You can buy train tickets online or just check the timing and go to the station and ask for tickets (it is better not to put your travel plan at risk)
If your tour to Iran is a tailor-made tour or a private tour, hiring a driver guide or a driver is not only convenient but enables you to be vary agile in transportation and gives you a perfect travel experience. For traveling between cities, taxies are also available in every city terminal. They charge you almost 3 to 4 times more than buses for the same distance.
public transportation service is available in major Iran cities in different form. Vans, buses, BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and subways which is called metro (only available in Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad). You may see Tehran metro map here. Public transportation in Iran is very cheap, it only costs you 0.1$ to buy a metro or a BRT ticket in Tehran and move around the city. Online taxies (similar to Uber) are also another means of transportation around cities. You need to download the apps and register.
“Money talks” unless you don’t know its language. Traveling to an exotic country you should know about its currency and some other rules about money in your travel destination. When traveling to Iran there are a lot of questions about Iran money. Let’s see how money works in Iran from the moment you are planning your trip to Persia.
The most common question about Iran’s money is, “can I use my credit card in Iran? “The answer is No! Unfortunately, due to sanctions and financial disagreements, International transactions cannot be done from Iran. It caused a huge number of problems in different industries and tourism is no exception. However, there is a solution. In recent years, some companies are providing Travelcards.
You can easily charge them as much as you need. There are certainly many advantages to them, among which not carrying a lot of cash with you and reasonable exchange rates are on top of the list. In Artin Travel we are willing to help you get one of these travel cards.
As you need some cash for personal expenses, even if you have reserved an all-inclusive tour package, you need to change money. You can do this in your home country, at the airport after arrival, and also in exchanges around the city. Some hotels also have exchanged in them.
Iran’s currency is Rial. But in everyday life, people use Toman which is ten times bigger than Rial. You see all shops, hotels, and restaurants give prices in Toman, but in the accounting system, everything is calculated in Rials. It might be tricky, but you get used to it very soon. The simple Iran money calculation is as below:
10 Rials= 1 Toman
10000 Rials=1000 Tomans
So simply drop a Zero from what you see on the bills and that’s what we use in Iran.
It truly depends on your spending habits, travel styles, and if you have reserved a tour package and what services are included. Traveling to Iran is relatively reasonable. The average cost per day while traveling with a group along the classic route varies from 120$ to 150$ depending on the services included.
The bigger the group and the shorter the trip, you may pay less or when tours are on sale. If you are planning to have a private tour with a private car and wish to stay in the best 5-star hotels, your travel will be more expensive. The season you are making a trip to Iran is also important. You will find Spring and fall as two high seasons in Iran. Rates are higher in spring and a bit lower in fall.
If you are a fan of solo traveling, exploring a place rather than visiting and staying in hostels or local houses is part of your plan when taking a trip around cities, then 50$-70$ will be enough. Adventure facilities may seem very cheap before traveling to Iran, but as you there are fewer facilities in remote destinations, you need to be well equipped and this is always recommended to be accompanied by a professional tour guide or group, costs will be more than you estimated in advance.
Traveling always has hidden costs that are usually ignored. Doing a laundry, buying a cap, or buying OTC medicine are examples of unexpected costs. You may have 5$ per day for these tiny costs on your trip to Iran.
If you like to buy some specific items like saffron or Persian carpet as souvenirs, one of the best pieces of advice is to ask your tour guide to help you find what you are really looking for and take you to the right place to shop. Bargaining is also what you see in Iran more than often, it is not actually for the unfair price.
All-inclusive packages are the best if you don’t want the trouble and stress of managing your travel. The only thing that you do is enjoy your time while traveling to Iran. Traveling with a group you will not have much freedom as mentioned above.
If you have designed your tailor-made tour it can be all-inclusive or feel free to have hotel and transportation options. Planning ahead and hiring a tour guide helps you prevent mismanagement and consequently spend more properly.
One of the most pressing issues, that not everyone considers THAT pressing, is preparing a vacation packing checklist. You don’t necessarily have to check every item off of your notepad when you pack it but, it never hurts to have a solid idea about what you need on your trip since it can all go sideways if you forget than one object you shouldn’t!
When making your packing list, don’t forget to take the duration of your journey into consideration. You can make your way from there when deciding on numbers!
You will possibly get by with one pair of underwear and socks every day, one pair of pajamas, one to two dressier clothes, one to two sportswear or athleisure outfits, one to two casual outfits, and one to two pairs of shoes for three to five-day journey.
Still, the general vacation checklist you need to pack before traveling to Iran covers items you would usually think of when “traveling” is concerned, regardless of the destination. This travel checklist includes:
Of course, these are all items you can find in your trip to Iran not only in major cities, but in small towns as well. So if you DO forget to pack any of the necessary pieces, you can either ask your tour guide to get them for you or find the nearest convenient store on your online map.
Iran Travel Advisory FAQ