Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Iran

Tiled mosque in Iran Claire exploring Iran's intricate tiled mosques © Claire Beyer

Claire Beyer, Lonely Planet’s Territory and Key Account Manager, has recently returned from a trip to Iran.

Tell us more… I spent two and a half weeks travelling mainly in central Iran with two girlfriends, taking in deserts, mountains and cultural sights galore. Every day was a surprise and full of unexpected adventures. Iran is a destination that wowed me like no other, and I felt quite bereft when it came time to depart because there was just so much more I wanted to explore.

In a nutshell… Iran is a cultural treasure trove teeming with World Heritage wonders, gorgeously tiled mosques and colourful bazaars stocked with an astonishing array of arts and crafts. Persian history is as fascinating as it is awe-inspiring and although I’ve visited many ancient ruins in my time, Persepolis was astounding. Even if old stuff is not your thing, Iran will turn you into a budding historian by the time you leave.

A blue tiled mosque in Iran Awe-inspiring sites can be found at every turn in Iran © Claire Beyer

If you do one thing… just say yes. Iranians are the friendliest, most welcoming people on the planet so if you’re invited in for a tea, a coffee or even a meal, say yes. And believe me, the invitations will happen. Random conversations will become a constant on your travels, but the locals are also very keen to sit you down and learn about you, your culture and why you chose to visit their country. Being hospitable is very important to Persian culture so go with the flow.

Defining moment… I said yes to an invitation for dinner in a family home in the fabulous town of Shiraz, and it was one of the highlights of my trip. We were treated to a most delicious meal, 10 of us seated on the floor while our lovely young host translated for all her family. Different family members were brought in to meet us over the course of the evening and by the end we had met four generations. There was singing, dancing and even a late-night trip into Shiraz to search for ice cream and faloodeh (a Persian dessert made from thin noodles and a semi-frozen sugary syrup). A perfect night.

The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in Yazd The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in Yazd © Claire Beyer

Quintessential experience? Feeling like an intrepid explorer! We were wandering around the wonderful crumbling mud-brick town of Kharanaq, believed to be more than 1000 years old, and realised that we’d only run into a handful of people. Tourism is growing, but for the moment Iran feels quite untapped. You won’t experience hoards at the main sights, touting isn’t generally a thing at the bazaars and you’ll feel like you’re exploring something new and undiscovered.

Tech free travel… As a destination Iran makes it easy for you to put away all your devices and open up a good book instead. Although wi-fi is available almost everywhere, access to social media is very limited so there’s no excuse but to immerse yourself in the culture. Switch off and soak it all in – you won’t want to miss a thing.

Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Assistant Editor Louise Bastock got up to on her recent trip to La Gomera, Canary Islands.