Getting there & away
Tehran is the hub of almost all bus, train and air services. Every town and city of any size is directly linked to Tehran – always by bus, usually by air and increasingly by train too. Tickets from Tehran can sell fast so book as soon as you know when you’re leaving.
Masses of buses link Tehran to just about every city and town in the country. Tehran has four bus terminals so you need to work out which station is best for your trip.
Tickets are usually bought at the bus terminal, and with services to major destinations leaving so frequently you don’t usually need to book ahead. However, Iran’s largest bus company Iran Peyma (Taavoni 1; 6671 9857; Ferdosi St; 8.30am-4.30pm Sat-Wed, 8.30am-noon Thu) does have a conveniently central office near Ferdosi Sq that sells tickets.
Tehran is Iran’s rail hub and many services start and finish at the impressive train station (Rah-Ahan Sq) at the south end of Valiasr Ave. Destinations and arrival and departure times are listed in English, and staff at tourist information (139) are walking timetables. For planning, use the excellent www.rajatrains.com website, which has up-to-date schedules and prices. Departures are punctual.
The train station is easy to reach in a shuttle taxi heading west from Imam Khomeini Sq; just ask for ‘Rah Ahan’.
You can buy tickets a month in advance at a travel agency – those on Nejatollahi St, among others, can sort you out. At the station you can only buy tickets for travel on the same day.
Tehran is Iran’s main international hub. Every day there are flights between Tehran and almost every provincial capital in Iran. Iran Air flies most routes, with Iran’s growing number of smaller airlines flying fewer routes, less often.
Almost all international services use Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA; www.ikia.ir), 35km south of Tehran, the exceptions (for now) being flights from Damascus and some Saudi Arabian cities. Domestic flights use the old Mehrabad International Airport (mehrabadairport.ir) on the western edge of the city. Taxi is the only link.
Routes and prices change regularly so check online before making firm plans. If you’re in Iran, you’re strongly advised to use a travel agency rather than an airline office.
Airline offices are generally open from about 9am to 4pm, Saturday to Wednesday, and Thursday morning.
Aeroflot (8880 8480; 23 Nejatollahi St)
Air France (2204 4498; 12th fl, Sayyeh Bldg, cnr Valiasr Ave & Sayyeh St)
Air India (8873 9762; Sarafraz St)
Ariana Afghan Airlines (8855 0156; 1st fl, 29 Khaled Eslamboli St) Next door to Coco Restaurant.
Azerbaijan Airlines (8855 3335; Khaled Eslamboli St)
British Airways (2204 4552; 10th fl, Sayyeh Tower, cnr Valiasr Ave & Sayyeh St)
Emirates (8134 1480; 1211 Valiasr Ave)
Gulf Air (2225 3284-7; Nejatollahi St)
Iran Air (8880 8472; Nejatollahi St) Sells only international tickets; use a travel agent for domestic flights.
Iran Aseman (8889 5568; www.iaa.com; Nejatollahi St)
KLM (2204 4757; 12th fl, Sayyeh Bldg, cnr Valiasr Ave & Sayyeh St)
Lufthansa & Austrian Airlines (8873 8701; 2 Sarafraz St, off Dr Beheshti Ave)
Qatar Airways (2201 5217-18; 2nd fl, Sayyeh Bldg, cnr Valiasr Ave & Sayyeh St)
Turkish Airlines (8874 8450; 239 Motahhari Ave)
Customs and immigration procedures at IKIA are slow but generally hassle-free. Bags are usually X-rayed as you leave the baggage hall, but tourists are seldom hassled. Two banks in the arrivals hall can change money at good rates, which you’ll need to do to pay for your taxi – there is no public transport from IKIA. The ladies at tourist information have simple maps but little else.
The hardest part about leaving Tehran is getting to the airport on time. Unless your flight is very early or very late, give yourself well over an hour to get through the traffic from central Tehran, then at least 90 minutes to get through customs and immigration. Be sure to tell your taxi driver the correct airport (most likely IKIA). If you have changed money legally at a bank, and have a receipt to prove it, you can convert unused rials into cash euros.