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...

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....

Iranian in Gonbad-e Kavus

Havash Traditional Restaurant

The term 'traditional' refers to the excellent food, served with tanour bread fresh from the clay oven – not to the decor, which, while very comfortable, is a series of somewhat rectilinear mini cottages in new...

Village in Golestan National Park


Beyond the national park's eastern edge, 5.3km north of the highway, ridge-backed Espakho is a small, Khorasani village retaining several traditional-style mud houses, some lovely old trees and – most famously –...

Coffee in Gonbad-e Kavus

Cafe Night Star

Expertly made barista-quality coffee (from IR70,000) with a view of the tower from the open terrace (albeit through electricity wires).

Ruins in Turkmensahra

Sadd-e Eskander

This ancient wall once stretched 190km from the Golestan Mountains to the Caspian Sea; like its equivalents in China and England, Alexander’s Wall was built to keep out warlike raiders from the north. For the...

Village in Turkmensahra

Haji Qoshan

Locally known for being a former home of Turkmenistan's 'national poet' Makhtumkuli, the visually forgettable village of Haji Qoshan is one of the points where the vague undulation that was once Sadd-e Eskander...

Museum in Gonbad-e Kavus

Carpet Museum

This well-presented but very small museum exhibits seventeen 20th-century Turkmen carpets, labelled with dates of production and styles. There are also a few implements and some raw materials for the dyeing...

Ruins in Golestan National Park

Robat Qarehbil

Close to the Golestan National Park's eastern tip, this apparently uninteresting highway-strip hamlet hides a small, atmospherically ruinous Safavid-era caravanserai with small area of partly restored interior...

Ruins in Turkmensahra

Great Wall Fort #4

Around a dozen square-plan fort sites lie along the course of what was once the so-called Alexander's Wall. All are just muddy shapes rising above the flat agricultural landscape but at Malaisheikh Kingliq, 4km...

Islamic Shrine in Gonbad-e Kavus

Imamzadeh-ye Yahya

This large, ornate imamzadeh lies 4km southwest of central Gonbad-e Kavus. To the complex's direct west is a ragged area of wasteland that, viewed from the air, appears to pocked with bomb-craters. This was once...

Horse Racing in Gonbad-e Kavus

Horse Racing

On Thursday and Friday afternoons in spring and autumn, the hippodrome at the northeastern edge of town holds horse-racing meets. Predominantly watched by male locals who're here to bet, the atmosphere is...

Fast Food in Gonbad-e Kavus


The logo implies a KFC knockoff, but while they do have ready-to-go fried chicken, there's also a range of pizzas, burgers, stuffed baked potatoes and even steak and trout. Colourful and contemporary, with a menu...

Juice Bar in Kordkuy

Toot Farangi Cafe

Signed with a luminous strawberry, this small, bright-white cube of a coffeeshop is a good place to meet young Kordkuy locals over fresh juice, an espresso (IR40,000) or some ice cream (IR30,000). It's opposite...

Ruins in Turkmensahra

Great Wall Fort #6

Of the dozen or so amorphous remains of the former forts that was once used to guard the Sadd-e Eskander wall, this is one of the best preserved. It's 4km west of Haji Qoshan, some 500m north of the Gonbad road.

Sweets in Gonbad-e Kavus

Safa Café

This little cafe sitting opposite the classic Mil-e Gonbad tower offers ice-cream sundaes, floats and freshly squeezed seasonal juices.

Iranian in Golestan National Park

Dasht Rest Area

At the turn to Dasht is a series of simple roadside eateries facing a rugged landscape of crags dotted with sparse evergreen trees. Charcoal barbecues produce kebabs and there are small indoor areas serving...