Iranians are generally quite forgiving of Westerners for any minor cultural transgressions – they don't expect you to know all of the rules. Some useful things to remember, however:

  • Dress modestly. This applies to both men and women.
  • Learn some Farsi before you go – a sure way to win local friends.
  • Take some small gifts from home to repay the many small acts of kindness and hospitality you're likely to receive while in Iran.
  • When invited to dinner take a tin of the local sweets (eg gaz in Esfahan).
  • Take the time greet people you meet – greetings are important to Iranians and launching into conversation without a greeting is considered rude.
  • Never use the thumbs up sign, which is the equivalent of the middle finger ‘up yours’.
  • Men should not offer to shake a woman’s hand unless she offers first.
  • Take off your shoes when entering a home or a mosque.