Best of Iran
Good for: photographer's, whos like historical place
All content by World Expeditions
Journey through Iran and experience fascinating Persian culture
There are few places in the world which have a history and culture as rich as this remarkable country, formerly known as Persia. You’ll find a refined society that has been misinterpreted by world press, yet travellers to the country consistently attest that Iran has one of the worlds warmest and most welcoming people. It's history provides endless fascination and an atmosphere that is most definitely relaxed, and certainly enriching. Our journey traces the magnificent legacies of the Persian Empires which will not fail to inspire, yet its the snow clad mountains, vast deserts, oasis towns and spontaneous engagement with the locals that provide surprise at every turn of our diverse itinerary. From the vibrant city of Tehran we fly south to Shiraz, the home of the famous Poets Tombs and to Persepolis, an incredible example of the rule of Achaemenid Empire. Our trip returns to Tehran via Yazd, the second most ancient city in the world and Isfahan, famous for its ancient bridges, mosques, minarets, and tree lined avenues.
- The surrounding hills of Tehran
- Imam Square and the ancient bridges in Isfahan
- The extraordinary ancient city of Persepolis; the capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid dynasty
- The poets tombs in Shiraz
- The desert city of Yazd
Day 1 Arrive Tehran
On arrival in Tehran, we are met by our local guide and transferred to our hotel. First impressions of Tehran will be the rich culture and history of this ancient land. The capital has some spectacular museums, palaces and gardens which are to be enjoyed in depth on our return visit to Tehran. Overnight in Tehran
Day 2 Fly to Shiraz
This morning we fly to Shiraz which was once the capital of Iran, and has been synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and at one time, wine.
Day 3 In Shiraz
Shiraz is known as the poetic capital of Persia, because two of the greatest poets of the world, Hafez (1324-1391) and Sa'di (1209-1291), originated from this city. Simple mausoleums were constructed for them after their deaths but later became celebrated pilgrimage destinations in the 14th century when the pious and art-loving Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school by the tombs. Of the two remarkable monuments in Shiraz, one is dedicated to Hafez, the master of Persian lyrical poetry. The other one is dedicated to Sa'di , the author of the famous Golestan , and a book of sonnets called the Garden of Roses. There are many other striking Islamic buildings in Shiraz, namely the Safavid mosque but more notably the shrine of Syed Amir Ahmed, also referred to locally as the Shah Cheragh or the ‘King of Light’. This exquisite shrine boasts a dazzling interior of mirror tiles, display of fine china and glassware and exquisitely inscribed old and modern Korans. The Eram Gardens, famous for its rose garden and avenues of cypress trees is also on our schedule, time permitting.
Day 4 Visit Persepolis
We visit Persepolis in the morning when the temperature is mild and the site relatively uncrowded. A comprehensive tour is provided bringing to life the history of this magnificent ruin. Ruler of the largest empire the world had ever seen, Darius I started constructing the great metropolis to serve as a summer capital in around 512BC. Subsequent Achaemenian kings, including Xerxes I, added their own palaces over the next 150 years. Sited on a vast platform above the plains, Persepolis is not a subtle monument. The Great Porch of Xerxes, flanked by winged bulls of stone, leads you into a massive ruined complex of royal palaces, halls, courts and apartments covered with inscriptions and carvings. A stunning wall of detailed bas-reliefs represents thousands of envoys from as far away as Ethiopia and Armenia, India and Cappadocia, bearing gifts to their almighty ruler. A good three hours is needed to explore Persepolis. A short drive away is the four impressive burial tombs of Darius and his successors, Naghsh-e Rostam, which have been hewn from the rock. There is also a fire temple at the site (or so they believe) – that dates back to Achaemenian times. Returning to Shiraz, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 5 Drive to Yazd
We embark on the 425km drive from Shiraz to Yazd, where we cross over the mountains and descend into the vast desert expanse. En route Pasargadae reveals the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty in 500 AD. We continue on to Abarku to witness traditional cisterns, ice-stories and a 4500 year old cypress tree. This is one of several trees in Iran that is sacred, and a popular pilgrimage spot where devotees fasten pieces to its branches. We continue on to Yazd to our overnight accommodation.
Day 6 In Yazd
Yazd is situated at an oasis where the Dasht-e Kavir Desert and the Dasht-e Lut Deserts meet, and is circled by a mountain range, the tallest being 4075m. During its long history, Yazd adapted to the desert surrounds gracing the city with great Islamic architecture and culture, despite it being a full Zoroastrian society. When exploring the city one gains a sense that time has stopped as there are plenty of old traditions and buildings that retain the character of the bygone era. The chimney like structures on the roofs of Yazdies’ houses is just one example; in fact they are not chimneys but the ancient ventilation systems. They gather even the faintest breezes of the desert and channel them into the building below. Yazd is famous for its handicrafts and in the markets there will be plenty of opportunity to shop for rugs, small but intricate carpets, Kilim, Termeh (a lovely hand-made silk tapestry) pottery and ceramics. Yazd is the holiest city for Zoroastrians who travel from all over the world to see the sacred fire in Yazd that has been burning without interruption for 1500 years. In the outlying southern suburbs of town are the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, where the bodies of believers were once left to the vultures after death.
Days 7-8 Isfahan
Morning drive to Isfahan (300km), considered to be one of the finest cities in the Islamic world. Our sightseeing will include visits to the Shaking Minarets and the ancient bridges over the Zayande River, some dating back to the 12th century. Many of the bridges have teahouses beneath them and tend to be the Iranian equivalent of the local pub (strictly tea of course). A visit to Isfahan would not be complete without going to Imam Khomeini Square. It is surrounded by two mosques, a palace and the entrance to the Bazaar. In the middle of the square is a lake with a fountain and still in place are polo goal posts at either end. The Masjed-e Imam (or Imam Khomeini Mosque) is the most exquisite example of Mosaic tile work and the most stunning building in Iran. It is completely covered inside and out with the pale blue tiles for which Isfahan is famous. Other sights we plan to visit include Chehel Sotun Museum & Park – this was built in the 17th Century as a reception hall, and has lovely columns made of plane tree with a 110m pool in the front. The Vank Cathedral – built in the 17th century, has an interesting museum attached, and shows the history of the Armenians in the area. Finally, our evenings may be spent at the Abbassi Hotel - a great place to sip on a Farsi Cola and watch the world go by. Alternatively, we may stroll along the banks of the Zayande River, stopping at the many tea houses along the way.
Day 9 In Isfahan, fly to Tehran
There is a full morning of free time in Isfahan. Afternoon fly to Tehran and overnight
Day 10 In Tehran
There are many great museums in Tehran. This morning we plan to head to the National Jewels Museum which will shock you with its ostentatious display of precious jewels, many of which are the largest of their kind, namely the Darya-ye-Nur which at 182 carats is the largest uncut diamond in the world. We will also view the jewelled globe which is covered in 51,363 precious stones. We will spend time visiting the Carpet Museum, which will illustrate the history of Iran, its poets and its myths and the National Museum (or Archaeological Museum) which begins with exhibits dating back to the 5th and 4th Millennium BC and provides a fascinating insight into Persian History. Later in the afternoon, we plan to visit Darband, a delightful mountain area in North Tehran. Darband is accessed by chairlift, by foot or by donkey and time permitting you can climb further up to the flanks of Mount Tochal (3933m). The view, whilst often quite hazy, will nevertheless show the vastness of the Tehran sprawl and the culinary delights waiting at the many cafes will make the hike up well worth it. *Please note that our itinerary in Tehran will depend on current opening times (and days) of the museums and therefore the order of sights and the sights visited may vary accordingly.
Day 11 Trip concludes in Tehran
Depending on your flight out today, there may be more time for further optional sightseeing. Please discuss this with your guide.
- 10 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
- 3 to 5 star hotel accommodation on a twin share basis or best available hotels in remote towns
- Sightseeing and entrance fees to monuments listed
- All internal transport by private bus, jeep or car
- English speaking tour guide throughout
- Internal flights valued at US$150
- Entrance fees to museums and sites as detailed
- Emergency medical kit
- International airport transfers if arriving on group flights
- Assistance in arranging visas
- 11 day trip
- 10 nights hotel
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).
What You Carry
You will be required to carry all your luggage between hotels and transportation. On sightseeing days you will be required to carry a day pack with your camera, water proof clothing and any other personal items you may require during the day.