Top ChoiceIslamic Site in Mashhad

Haram-e Razavi

Imam Reza’s Holy Shrine is enveloped in a vast series of sacred precincts collectively known as the Haram-e Razavi, or Haram for short. This magical city-within-a-city sprouts dazzling clusters of domes and...

Top ChoiceBar in Shahrud

Flamingo

With its barrel seats, bottle scultptures, eccentric sculpture-walls and dangling cocktail glasses, this superb, low-lit cafe feels for all the world like a quirky beerhouse – minus the beer, of course, but with...

Top ChoiceMonument in Gonbad-e Kavus

Mil-e Gonbad

A Unesco World Heritage site since 2012, this 53m tower in Gonbad's centre looks like a buttressed-brick spaceship with the cross-section of a 10-pointed star. Built in 1006, it's so remarkably well preserved...

Top ChoiceIranian in Semnan

Cafe Sonati Tadaion

This charming family restaurant makes delightful use of a domed cellar room off the rear courtyard of the historic Tadayon House (in which you'll also find a gift shop, gemstone store and cultural office Semnan...

Top ChoiceTeahouse in Central Khorasan

Lankadeh Padideh

A blanket ban has pushed qalyan-smoking out of Mashhad, but in Shandiz you can still relax puffing on water pipes at various upmarket teahouses. While not recommended for its limited food, castle-styled Lankadeh...

Top ChoiceIranian in Semnan

Zendegi

This upmarket restaurant occupies several small rooms and two open terraces in the fountain-centred Zendegi House, a 180-year-old miller/trader's mansion with a museum room of 20th-century oddments, a crystals...

Top ChoiceIranian in Mashhad

Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse

Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse

Hezardestan is one of Iran’s most beautiful teahouse-restaurants, with a museum-like basement full of of carpets, samovars, antique metalwork and countless knicknacks around a small fountain. The menu is limited...

Top ChoiceCoffee in Garmsar

Cafe Abenbar

Deep below a conical dome of concentric brick rings, this unique cafe in what was once its greatest underground cistern is the highlight of Garmsar. The atmosphere is low-lit and female-friendly. Espresso-based...

Top ChoiceIranian in Mashhad

Babaghodrat

Part of an impressive cultural complex, this memorable restaurant serves kababs, trout and huge bowls of mirza ghasemi (IR160,000) within the spacious brick vaults of a Qajar-era caravanserai. It's around 10...

Iranian in Garmsar

Dehnamak Caravanserai

An historic yet fair-value place to break the Tehran–Semnam journey, this sizeable Safavid-era caravanserai was built in 1570 but has been thoroughly restored around fountain pools with a semi-traditional...

Islamic Shrine in Mashhad

Holy Shrine

Amid tearful prayer and meditation, the climax to any Mashhad pilgrimage is touching and kissing the zarih (gold-latticed cage), which covers Imam Reza’s tomb in the Haram's central shrine beneath the iconic...

Islamic Site in Mashhad

Imam Khomeini Ravagh

All a-dazzle with intricate, mirror-faceted tiling, this former courtyard is now enclosed and entirely covered by a sparkling ceiling held in place by large, well-spaced columns that spread up and out like...

Village in Esfarayen

Roein

Backed by a rocky crag, Roein's old section is a stepped village of high, porch-fronted traditional homes, looking rather like a less verdant version of Masuleh, though several parts of town have been marred by...

Village in Sabzevar

Zafaraniyeh

Little-visited Zafaraniyeh village has a Safavid-era brick caravanserai in a state of photogenic part-collapse, but more importantly maintains a large percentage of the less dramatic ancillary mud-domed buildings...

Islamic Shrine in Turkmensahra

Khalid Nibi Shrine

Dramatically perched above a sea of badlands sit three small mausoleums. The most important commemorates a certain Khalid Nibi; although he was apparently a 5th-century Nestorian Christian, the site now attracts...

Monument in Kordkuy

Mil-e-Radkan Qarbi

Sitting upon an astoundingly lonely knoll with wistful views over the cliff-edged valley, this circular, conical-topped tower was built in 1020 for a military commander of Tabarestan's ruling Bavend dynasty....

Architecture in Shahrud

Bezayit Bastami Complex

At the heart of ancient Bastam, now a village-suburb of Shahrud (around 7km from centre), is a collection of mostly 13th-century historical buildings. The main group is set around the relatively simple grave of...

Monument in Radkan

Radkan Tower

This conically spired 25m brick tower has baffled visitors for centuries. Was it a tomb? A coronation spot? According to Iranian archaeo-astronomer Manoochehr Arian (www.jamejamshid.com), it was actually a highly...

Mausoleum in Mashhad

Boq’eh-ye Khajeh Rabi

This beautifully proportioned, blue-domed mausoleum commemorates an apostle of the prophet Mohammad who later exiled himself to Khorasan to avoid tensions between the prophet's then-feuding followers. Paying...

Gardens in Damghan

Cheshmeh Ali

Very popular as a picnic place in summer, Cheshmeh Ali's centrepiece is a pair of Qajar-era pavilions facing each other across a reflecting pool. It's almost worth the savari fare for the beauty of the 30km drive...