Central Iran, encompassing the magnificent cities of Esfahan, Yazd and Shiraz, is the cultural tour-de-force of Iran. Wedged between the Zagros Mountains to the west and the Dasht-e Kavir to the east, it offers the quintessential Persian experience and it's no coincidence that it attracts the most visitors. But in an age that celebrates getting off the beaten track, this is one destination where this is a redundant quest: for centuries people have crossed this land, following in the footsteps of ancient empire builders, their journeys commemorated in the artistic wonders at Persepolis.
You can continue that journey today, tracing the silk route along desert byways, through city bazaars and across mountain passes – in much the same manner as the region's famous nomads. Many of the caravanserai and khans that dot these routes have been restored and overnighting in one of these hospitable lodgings serves as an appointment with history.