If you are searching for Iran tours, trusting Iran Doostan Tours Co. will offer you the privilege of working with one of the most experienced Iranian travel agencies and also the leader of the incoming tourism market in Iran.
As an ancient land, Iran has embraced numerous cultural attractions and amazing natural landscapes that have the potential to provide a life-long travel experience for you. All you would need for planning your travel to Iran is relying on a professional tour operator in Iran.
We are proud to offer a diversity of Iran travel packages including cultural tours, adventure tours, medical tours, religious tours, and safari tours to Iran is available at IDT. If none of the mentioned above are your choice, tailor-made tours will be planned for you.
IDT tours are available at various prices and quality including cheap Iran tours and luxury tours, which provide a greater range of options for partners and tourists to decide.
Iran Doostan Tours Co. is the most trustworthy Iranian travel agency you could rely on 100% to experience the most amazing holiday you could ever imagine. The positive feedback we receive after operating a tour is concrete evidence of our dear tourists’ satisfaction. It might also be interesting to note that IDT has been elected as the best Iranian tour operator 8th times during the 30 years of experience in incoming tours to Iran!
As a tour operator and travel agency in Iran, we provide all travel services including itineraries, Iran visa, tour guides, transportation, accommodation, and whatever our tourists may need while traveling to Iran. So, you would have nothing to worry about.
If you are looking for more information on details of our tours, Iran visa process, or starting a partnership, please do not hesitate to get in touch right now via info@idt.com. We will be back with you soon.

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Jiroft civilization - Iran

The ancient civilization of Jiroft

The 5000-year-old civilization of Jiroft is one of the most unknown and mysterious human civilizations, which represents the civilization of several thousand years of Iran. Many think that the missing link of humanity has been found by discovering the secrets of this great civilization. However, the nature of Jiroft and its souvenirs cannot be ignored. Stay with us to know the story of this ancient civilization of Iran.

The city of Jiroft in the south of Kerman province is famous for its fertile lands, abundant water and diverse climate. Agricultural production is booming in this city. But in the last decade, there has been a drought in the city and it has become difficult for the villagers to make a living.
The story of discovering Jiroft started when a farmer found a part of a bowl while he was plowing the land and thought he had encountered a treasure. From then on, the villagers dug up land and found historical objects and sold them to cultural heritage smugglers for a small price.

It was not until after a year and a half when Cultural and Heritage Organization of Iran found about this and invited Dr. Majidzadeh from France to excavate the historical area. In addition to excavating the area, he was able to recover many items that were still in the villagers’ homes.

Dr. Majidzadeh published photographs of Jiroft civilization and information about it for the first time in 2003. According to the archaeological findings on this site, the oldest antiquities in this area date back to more than 5000 years ago.

Jiroft Archaeological Museum

If you are fond of history and ancient civilizations, you should not miss the archaeological museum of Jiroft. There are 5,000-year-old works, each of which has something to say about this civilization. In Jiroft Archaeological Museum, works of bronze, soapstone, marble, azure and simple and painted pottery from the third millennium BC are preserved. In this museum, you can see the amazing art of Jiroft civilization in variety of designs and shapes of dishes, sardines, statues and sculptures.

Jiroft-Museum

There are 5,000-year-old works in the archaeological museum, each of which has something to say about this civilization.

Nature of Jiroft

The nature of Jiroft is completely different from the northern cities of Kerman province due to its location in the southern foothills of the Zagros Mountains and the closeness to the Halilrud River. Jiroft has hot and relatively humid summers and mild and short winters. The nature of Jiroft is beautiful, lush and diverse. Among the scenic natural monuments of this city, is the Delfard Valley, the hot springs and the village of Dosari, and the summer region of Saruieh. To see the Delfard Valley, you can go 25 km to the ancient city and enjoy its citrus orchards, palm groves, almond and pomegranate forests, rivers, unique waterfalls and colorful flower gardens.

Souvenirs

Jiroft offers a diverse variety of souvenirs. One of the most famous souvenirs of this lovely city is its red carpet, which is also a part of the country’s exports.

Kilim - Souvenirs from Jiroft

Souvenirs from Jiroft, Iran: Kilim

In addition to citrus, which are well-known agricultural products of this city, pottery, mat weaving, plus weaving, pouches and kilims, mirror embroidery and table weaving are made and sold as souvenirs in this city.

Tehran- Golestan Palace

Tehran attractions district 12: at a glance

You don’t have enough time to visit the whole big city of Tehran? Then replacing that with visiting the Golden District would be a clever idea. District 12 is the main and historical core of the city, where the Treasury of National Jewels _in which is kept the Naderi golden throne and the most valuable crowns remained from Qajar and Pahlavi kings_ and Golestan Royal palace is located, the Grand Bazar of Tehran and many other museums exist. To be clear, you can walk through the history, from thousands of years ago in Iran national museum, cross the Qajar wealth, and drink your evening modern Coffee in Masoudieh garden.

Tehran district 12

To see and download the high-quality infographic, click here: Tehran attractions district 12

Iranian Souvenirs

Top Souvenirs to Buy in Iran

From now on you don’t need to worry about what you actually could buy as a souvenir in Iran. From carpets and rugs, to spices and nuts or specially designed decorations in Persian styles. Here are 7 most popular Persian souvenirs that could be bought to bring back the sweet memories of your trip in Iran.

1. Persian Carpet

As you might know, some of the best rugs in the world are made in Iran. Persian Carpets have always been popular among all people around the world. Almost every part of Iran that you travel to, has amazing carpets lying around the shops, spreading colorful and dreamy vibes around. Some carpets might take over years to be done, and considering the number of knots and time that has been put into carpets, their prices differ from one another. If you’re looking to buy a Persian carpet or a rug as a souvenir, silk or wool hand-knotted ones are the best options if you truly want to feel heaven under your feet.

Persian carpet - souvenirs to buy in Iran

Most of the best carpets in the world are made in Iran.

2. Saffron

Iran is one of the main producers of saffron, a popular and precious spice. Saffron is almost served with every Persian meal that has rice beside it. The luxurious popular plate of Persian rice, topped with some saffron rice, is absolutely everyone’s favorite. Saffron is not only used for meals but it is also used for drinks as well. Making a drink with saffron and rosewater, or just adding a little bit of it to your tea could make your day all better.

Iranian saffron

Iran is one of the main producers of saffron, a popular and precious spice.

3. Caviar

What could possibly be more luxurious than Caspian Caviar as a souvenir? Iran owns the most expensive caviar in the world which is known as Almas Beluga Caviar. Beluga fish can be found in southern part of Caspian Sea and their soft and large golden or black eggs are what they’re famous for. This particular type of caviar, also known as black gold, has lots of fans for itself. Caviar has always been a fancy meal among Iranians and it still is being served at special events and dinner parties.

Iranian top Souvenirs: caviar

Iran owns the most expensive caviar in the world which is known as Almas Beluga Caviar.

4. Pistachio

If you didn’t know already, pistachios require cool winters and hot summers to grow. Iran as one of the rare countries that has all of the four seasons, is one of the best regions to produce pistachios. You can only find the best quality pistachios in the world in Iran. Rafsanjan City, in Kerman Province, is the main source of production of Iran’s pistachios. The lemon roasted and lightly salted pistachios are always served in Nowruz among other kinds of nuts. Take some tasty Persian pistachios with you as a souvenir, so you can celebrate with Iranians, by enjoying some pistachios during Nowruz.

Iranian Pistachio: Souvenirs to buy in Iran

Top souvenirs buy in Iran: High-quality Pistachio

5. Gaz

This sweet and delicious Persian nougat called Gaz is extremely popular among Iranians that you can almost find them in every house or shop in Iran. Isfahan is where Gaz was originated, and this Persian nougat is actually one of Isfahan’s famous souvenirs. So whenever Iranians travel to Isfahan from other cities, nearly all of their family and friends expect them to bring gaz for them as souvenirs. Gaz is also served in Persian ceremonies such as Nowruz. The tasty nougat is usually served with a hot cup of tea in order to sweeten the bitterness of the tea.

Persian souvenir: Gaz

This sweet and delicious Persian nougat called Gaz is extremely popular among Iranians.

6. Persian Turquoise

You might be wondering what is so special about Persian turquoise; the pure sky-blue color of Persian turquoise can only be found in Persian mines and that’s what makes them so rare. The turquoise gemstone is also considered to bring peace to the home and fortune to its owner. It is also believed that this particular stone could actually decrease the amount of negative energy. You can see a lot of Iranian women like wearing necklaces or bracelets made out of turquoise as well. Turquoise was also used in ancient Persian architecture; for instance, they used turquoise to cover the domes or design the palaces with its stunning and calming color.

Persian turquoise

The turquoise gemstone appear in variety of forms and in different objects ranging from ring to necklace and even decorative dishes.

7. Persian Handicrafts

These types of souvenirs are the only kind that have a vast range of variety. For instance, Persian clothing is a good choice. You can buy handmade masks that women wear along with their colorful and traditional clothes in southern region of Iran, or other regions’ traditional clothing with paisley or different Persian patterns on them.

Souvenirs to buy in Iran - Handicrafts

Patedoozi: a kind of popular handicraft made by Kermani women in Iran.

You also might be interested in handmade Persian espadrilles which are highly comfortable for a walk in summertime. If you’re not into clothing, then you can choose some home furnishing such as pillow covers for your couches, or enamel work plates, hand-painted vases and ceramics, tea sets or other decorative items that would remind you of Iran.

Mohamadali ashraf vaghefi

Coronavirus and the threats to the future of tourism in Iran

Mohammad Ali Vaghefi, the vice president of the Iranian Tour Operators Association had an online interview with Marketing and Advertising Manager at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts discussing the state of domestic and international tourism in Iran.

He admitted that 90% of the 2020 incoming tours to Iran have been canceled So far, and there is a high possibility of canceling the remaining 10%. However, many foreign agencies are already asking Iranian agencies for their travel package price in 2021. Many Iranian hotels, transportation companies, and travel agencies including Iran Doostan have predicted the requirements for traveling to Iran in this situation, and we are prepared to welcome our dear tourists, individually or in a group, considering all health protocols.

Mr. Vaghefi’s analysis of the situation, as a manager with more than 30 years of experience, is that domestic travel in Iran will be established first, and then demands in the travel sector will be raised by tourists with private vehicles. Many tourists prefer to go camping in nature and stay in tents or even rent a villa and disinfect it instead of booking a hotel room.

Regarding international travel, he believes that by resuming travels, there will be long lines for health control. Sanitary products and alcohol-based stuff will be added to the accessories that the tourist must hold. Passengers are required to receive travel insurance. The number of visitors and the number of visits to historical places and museums will decline, and by observing the slightest sign of illness, the person is excluded from the tour.

He continued: “We expect that demand for nature tourism will grow, and traveling in a group will be less frequent. Our tourism partners in other countries are already asking for a price of groups of one to eight people.” As a result, with regard to the health protocol, the cost of travel services, including plane tickets will increase and travel will become a luxury service.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Vaghefi asked for the government’s help to this sector, and

expressed his concerns this way: “In this situation, the government should contribute to the tourism industry.” It is important to keep the industry alive, the most important thing that should be considered is to keep the employees of the sector. It may take about four years for us to find a replacement for the specialized workforces that have left the profession.

travel to Iran

Iran Budget Travel – Part 1: Flights and Money

In this article, I would like to present some information and tips, hopefully, useful for “hard budget” travelers, with limited means but nevertheless dreaming of exploring the ancient land of Persia. As it was exactly my case, I am glad to share my experience in Iran travel costs!

Iran visa

While most Europeans (with the notable exception of UK) can obtain VOA in Iran’s several main airports, this obviously closes the possibility to arrive in other ways – by land or sea.
If you arrange an electronic visa before coming to Iran and are not in rush – you will be able to spice up your trip by making your journey a bit more adventurous and at least having a glance of some South Caucasus countries – while using well known European low-cost airlines.

Economic flight to Iran

Wizzair already connects Kutaisi in Georgia with lots of European cities; recently also Ryanair opened some connections with Kutaisi and Tbilisi. From amazing Tbilisi, it is possible to take a bus to Tehran, transiting Armenia and admiring towns and mountain roads. The bus price recently was around 60 euro, but take note that its some 30 h trip. Georgia and Armenia are visa-free for most Western nationals.
Otherwise, there is also the Wizzair connection Budapest-Baku, often around 50 euro, but in such a case you probably need also Azerbaijan e-visa that costs some 20 euro. There are bus and train connections to Tabriz or Tehran, or you can cross the Astara border and continue by exploring wonderful Green Paradise of Caspian areas of North Iran.
In case you come from Russia, Azerbaijani Buta Airways offers good prices Moscow to Tehran, via Baku.
Otherwise, as I did myself – the cheapest flight from many European countries is with Pegasus Airlines, a Turkish near-low cost company, obviously via Istanbul Sabiha Airport. In some periods of last year, there were prices (hand luggage only) of around 80 euro, one-way ticket – even from so faraway places as Madrid.
OK, so assuming you came to Iran you will need to stay somewhere, travel inside the country try local food – the good news is that it is very low actually, as long as you stay within “Iranian Price Space” by what I mean avoiding being corralled into specific services for foreign tourists, at much higher prices.
So, let’s talk about money – and here the fun starts! There are 2 money units in practice and 2 parallel foreign exchanges! Isn’t it wonderful?
Important – because of long time USA sanctions, no foreign bank card of any kind works in Iran. You must take CASH (euro or dollars) with you.
Any online source indicates that the official money of IRI is RIAL, nevertheless, Iranians with strange determination keep using the old unit, TOMAN – that worth 10 Rials, and nearly all prices are indicated in this unit: in shops, bazaars, taxis, etc. So, it is very confusing at the beginning, especially as we use hundreds of thousands and millions (of Rials – as these are the notes) on a daily basis.
Another initial tourist trap is the exchange rate. As said, there are two, government one and the real one. The real one does not mean the black market, as you change legally in exchange shops – that pay you 3-4 times more than banks on the same street, (as the banks by law must follow the Central Bank rates)! Doesn’t look a bit strange?

Everything about Iran money (Rial)

Because of recent sanctions and a de facto economic blockade, Iran’s Rial has lost its value compared to euro and dollar. If 3 years ago 1 euro was about 40 000 Rials, in October 2019 it was around 120 000 and in mid–December 2019 it is around 150 000 Rials – or as Iranians would say 15 000 Tomans.
Depending on many domestic or international factors Rial’s exchange can jump up or down (usually up) and it is absolutely crucial to check the latest rates on https://www.bonbast.com/.
What about other, Central Bank of Iran rate – it is for local importers and for other legitimate cases. The government keeps this rate, so they can buy dollars or euros at an easier price. However, it has nothing to do with tourists; as today, this rate for 1 euro is around 46 000 Rials – so, simply do not use banks to exchange your money, go only to private exchange points.
Be careful, the trap can wait for you in first minutes of your stay in Iran – while in need to change some money in Tehran Emam Khomeini airport, and wandering around – I was approached by a nice smart looking guy offering me to exchange my euros, giving me “very good rate” some 5000 Rials over the “official bank exchange” – of course showing me on his smartphone the exchange table of Central Bank in English!
Fortunately, I knew the real rate. Take note, on the second floor of the Emam Khomeini airport there is a money exchange shop, giving you quite good rates, so go there to change for the first needs.
Very important – with this fast depreciation, nobody knows how will be Rial exchange rate in 1 or 2 weeks – so do not exchange all money at once, but little by little, following your needs.
In Tehran, most of the exchange points are located in Ferdowsi Square (also metro station) and around, mainly on Ferdowsi street. Avoid black market dealers, that hang around and will approach you – they pay LESS than exchange shops and the same can even cheat you with fake or outdated notes.
Actually, most used note it is 100 000 Rials; the next bigger (and the biggest until now) note is 500 000 Rial; 3 years ago it had a somehow serious value of quite 15 euro – and as today is worth a bit over 3 euro in free exchange… for these reasons the smallest notes of 1000 and 2000 Rial notes and especially the coins, are nowadays rarely used.

Hamadan attractions

Hamadan, A Glance Over Iran’s Great History

History, poetry, knowledge, and art, they all could be found in the old city of Hamadan. Hamadan is a small province, with enormous history, owning one of the largest water cave in the world. It’s a great opportunity for learning more about Iran and its history and culture, so, his city must be included in your list while traveling to Iran. Meeting hospitable and kind locals, watching them bake special sweets, traditional meals, and handicrafts like leather, ceramics, and carpets which are reasons for the fame that Hamadan has received over the years, is a delight. Visit the city of Baba Tahir’s childhood and Avicenna’s burial place, to see part of Iran’s glory.

Ali Sadr Cave

There are no caves that could be compared to Ali Sadr Cave in Hamadan. This is the best tourist spot in the city. The large natural cave, dates back to the Jurassic era, around 150 million years ago. When you look at the entrance of the cave from outside, it is impossible to think that such a massive underground lake could be there, due to the surroundings of the cave which are as dry as the rest of the Hamadan region. In order to enter the cave, you will need to wait in lines at the boat station. A beautiful park is prepared for visitors to have a more pleasant time waiting outside. You will be guided into a chain of boats in which you will ride your way deep into the cave. After wearing the safety jacket and finding your seat, your trip to the Ali Sadr Cave will be officially started. As you enter the cave, you will be welcomed by a cold breeze. Usually inside the cave is colder than outside of it, even in hot summers. So make sure to bring warm clothes with you. The boat ride usually takes 2 hours. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the beauty of the cave; the million years old stalactites and stalagmites, fresh air and clean water. The colorful lightings at the corners add up to the cave’s beauty and make so many amazing photo opportunities. After leaving the boat you may walk up a few stairs to get a closer look at the walls and other natural formations of the cave, so make sure to wear sports shoes. There are no shops in the cave obviously, so it’s better to have water and snacks with yourself. There are a few shops back around the cave. Also a few restaurants and many other Iranian shops, such as a bazaar with lots of pots lying around. Walking in the cave besides pedaling boats makes the few kilometers underground journey, an experience to remember. The visit is well-organized and the guides will share all their information with you to make you always remember this wonderful cave.
Ali Sadr Cave is located outside the city. So you need to take Hamadan Road and drive along to get to the Lalejin city and then take Bijar Road to finally reach Ali Sadr Cave.
Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm

Hamadan - Alisadr cave

Alisadr cave is the best tourist spot in Hamadan.

Tomb of Avicenna

Avicenna, the great Persian scientist, and philosopher who had laid the foundation stones for modern medicine is buried in Hamadan. The first thing that would probably catch your eyes is the architecture of the tomb. The tomb is located in Bu Ali Sina in the city center. On the first floor beside the mausoleum of Avicenna, there is also a small museum beneath the statue which includes collections of ancient medical equipment that were used before by Avicenna. There are also old handwritten books along with his famous book “The Canon of Medicine” which you can take a close look at it. His achievements and a part of his library are also accessible for visitors to see and learn more about him. As you exit the museum you need to climb the stairs, on top of the museum, in order to get a closer view of the monument which is surrounded by a lovely garden and a fountain.
For getting to the Tomb of Avicenna take a taxi or drive to Bu Ali Sina square.
Opening hours: 8:30 am – 8:30 pm

Hamadan - Avicenna tomb

Avicenna, the great Persian scientist, and philosopher who had laid the foundation stones for modern medicine is buried in Hamadan.

Tomb of Baba Tahir

If you’re fond of Persian literature and architecture, then you might like to visit Baba Tahir’s Tomb as well. Baba Tahir was an Iranian poet who is still well-known for its romantic poems. A legendary poet whose Iranian adore his poems. The tomb has a unique design which its nice calligraphy and complex tile works with the famous poems on the walls, makes it a meaningful place. The interior of the tomb is splendid just like Baba Tahir was. If you compare his tomb with himself, they have a lot in common; simple appearance but beautiful spiritually. In the evenings there are usually poetry reading and music playing in the tomb. On special occasions, groups of people gather around the tomb and sing out loud and play traditional instruments. Local poets and artists will also appear in the lovely garden and they would read some of Baba Tahir’s poets or their own poets, so you can enjoy listening to them while enjoying the calm and friendly atmosphere by also observing artistic elements of Persian architecture and art. Around the garden, there are many places to have meals or snacks. You can also buy some nice souvenirs from the handicraft and workshops around or a little symbol of Hamadan to keep in your memory.
Opening hours: 9 am – 6 pm

Hamadan

Baba Tahir was an Iranian poet who is still well-known for its romantic poems. 

Qeshm island

Persian Gulf wonder islands : Qeshm, Hormoz and Hengam

This short memory of the amazing southern islands of Iran would remind of science fiction scenes. It takes only 2 minutes to explore the mars and moon-like valleys of Qeshm island to the red soil beaches of nature-oriented Hormoz island, stopping by playful dolphins of Hengam island and get dazzled by the shiny handicrafts of Hormozgan local women. Hormozgan province embraces scenic islands among which Kish, Hormoz, Hengam, and Qeshm are the most beautiful ones. Any of which is a wonderful world to be discovered. Qeshm, the island of the Seven Wonders of Iran, has the most beautiful and unique natural phenomena such as Chahkuh valley which is formed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks of the earth. From the mysterious Star Valley to the Chahkuh Strait, Qeshm will amaze with its beauty.

The mangrove forests are also on Qeshm’s list of seven wonders. Also known as Qeshm Green Gold, the forest is home to trees that are rooted in water and are called the great Iranian scientist َ” Avesina Marina”. Not so far from Qeshm, the Hormoz island with the red and silver shore wich enchants the viators. The red sand of Hormoz is not only beautiful but also edible and the local people make the delicious fish sauce with it named “Sooragh”. Even the Portuguese made one of a kind, red castle during the onslaught to the Persian Gulf with that. It doesn’t matter where you came from, being in the southern islands of Iran feels like home, and that’s because of the intimacy and the affection Afro-Iranian people. During the travels with Irandoostan, our guests feel this intimacy and have the opportunity to sing local songs with fishermen on the beach and draw Henna on their bodies with the native women.

The background music you hear in the video is one of the most famous music of South Iranian folk music called “Haleh Mahi” by the Rastak group.

5 Iranian local foods I love and I miss while abroad

In every region, every country you go to – you will find some unique foods – that you love so much. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is hard, if not impossible, to find them abroad. Here are five Iranian local foods I love and I am sure I will miss it when I leave this country.

Dough

Dough is a cherished traditional yogurt-based Iranian drink, to accompany meals and also used as an ingredient of many dishes such as soup or a variety of sauces. While in some European countries it is possible to find sour milk beverages – typically just acid in taste as kefir or buttermilk – Iranian dough offer a full symphony of taste and aroma. They are lightly salted, then come as plain dough, with mint, with thyme, or with several green herbs flavor. In every small shop or big supermarket, you will find an area with 1.5-liter bottles with this white drink; usually, there are several brands and varieties of taste. First of all, there is classic dough (no gas – some 80% brands) and carbonated one. Isn’t it a bit weird? a big plastic bottle of fully carbonated, salty, yogurt, and herbs-based beverage? I love it and I could find it only in Iran! Just be careful when opening the carbonated one, you will have several seconds of a champagne-like fountain, so do it carefully-otherwise your (and your neighbors’) clothes will suffer!

Iranian Dough

Iranian dough offers a full symphony of taste and aroma.

Kale-Pache

It is a soup – but a very special one! You will usually know about approaching a kale-pache shop from far away, because of the unmistakable smell it has. Considered as a kind of Persian Red Bull and winter panacea, it is also a love it/hates it food, somehow like British Marmite. Kale Pache means exactly Heads and Legs (of sheep, and sometimes goats) and it is, in fact, the essence of these ingredients, that boil for several hours on a small fire in a huge pot (hence the smell you can notice from a distance). It is believed that such powerful, caloric and tasty Persian food will make you healthy and strong in many aspects. I personally love it – but many Iranians, and seemingly the majority of local girls does not like it, be it for the smell, the taste of its ingredients. Absolutely to try!

Iranian local foods - kaleh-pacheh

Considered as a kind of Persian Red Bull and winter panacea, it Kale-Pache is a love it/hate it food!

Fermented Black Garlic

As a kind of pickle, a local specialty of Northern Iran, I never saw it outside the Caspian Sea areas. These regions were often under Russian influence, so I think this might be the reason why the locals love to pickle near everything – as it is a custom in Russia, too. So, when I first walked across food bazaar in Babolsar (a seaside city in Mazandaran province) I was astonished to see big quantities of black garlic, other vegetables pickled in barrels (as well as lots of smoked fish, not to find elsewhere in Iran). The local variety of garlic is supposed to have anti-inflammatory effects and to be beneficial against a number of illnesses. This is among the Iranian local foods offering an incredible taste and I really love it, altogether with local fish-based food.

Iranian local foods

This is among the Iranian local foods that offering an incredible taste and I really love it, altogether with local fish-based food.

Fresh pomegranate juice

Well, it is not limited in Iran, it is ubiquitous in all Iranian cities – street sellers with chromed metal pressers offering you a glass of the deliciously fresh (and very cheap by the way) pomegranate juice; also, if you want you can buy a small or bigger bottle of this juice right from street vendors and shops, it has wonderful taste and is full of vitamins.

Iranian local foods

Fresh pomegranate juice: A drink you can find everywhere in Iran.

Saffron sugar sticks (rock candy)

Saffron, is a rare and wonderful spice loved by Iranians. the product has been used for millennia in the Persian kitchen. Unfortunately, Saffron is not a cheap luxury, even more, precious than gold in some periods! In local bazaars, you will find different kinds of it in proudly exposed glass vases. But what I discovered soon is that there is a more popular and wallet-friendly use of this noble material – the saffron rock sugar sticks. Looking like miniature zurkhaneh sticks (if you have no idea of this ancient local sport – think about very fat baseball bats) – the rock sugar is mixed with a bit of saffron, giving it a beautiful dark yellow color, with a sweet taste and supposedly, health qualities. They are specially served with tea; a great gift or your own souvenir from Iran. I love to use them when offering tea to most precious friends, astonished by such a nice, sophisticated way of sweetening a hot drink.

Saffron sugar sticks, known also as rock candy, is a delicate Iranian sweet served with tea.

Ramadan in Iran

Everything about Ramadan in Iran

Traveling to Iran in Ramadan offers an opportunity to see a different side of Iranians’ lifestyle such as serving Iftar, religious gathering in public places, and Iranian nightlife.

What is the philosophy behind Ramadan?

You might have heard that ” Ramadan is all about losing Sins not weight“! well, during this month the Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk, by avoiding food, drink, false words, evil intentions, bad thoughts, and behavior. It is considered a discipline to practice morality, introspection, and self-transformation; it is also meant to evoke a feeling of deeper sympathy with the deprived people. Muslims believe by reading Quran, praying, and practice fasting, God will forgive their past sins and by the end of this month, they are prepared to start a new life with a purified nature. Everyone except the children, the people with medical conditions, the pregnant women, and the travelers are supposed to follow this Islamic rule which would result in a new lifestyle during this month in Islamic countries including Iran. During this month each Islamic country offers its own traditions, foods, and lifestyle. But, how is Ramadan in Iran?

Ramadan in Iran - Mashhad

A view of Iftar during Ramadan in Iran.

How do Iranians’ lifestyle change During Ramadan?

Practicing all the obligatory Islamic rituals during Ramadan would certainly affect people’s lives in various ways. Even if you are not fast, you are not allowed to eat and drink in public during sunrise to sunset. So, if you travel to Iran during Ramadan, you should be aware of this rule, otherwise, you will be caught by the police.

Instead, the nightlife during the Holy Month is quite fascinating. All coffee shops, restaurants, and even cinemas would start working from the evening. So, it is the right time when people start going out, and the whole city witnesses a lively atmosphere all through the night and does not sleep!

The exact opening hour of Café and restaurants depends on the season during Ramadan, however, it is sometime around the sunset!

Working hours for other businesses and companies including public places such as the banks, also change. It starts an hour later than the usual time, which is often 8:30 instead of 7:30 in the morning.

Ramadan Events

There are some holy events and rituals, aiming either to celebrate or commemorate special days of this month.

Beginning of the Month

Ramadan month begins and ends with the appearance of the new moon. By the beginning of the month, people prepare themselves to stay awake at night for praying and eating a small portion of food just before the dawn.

Qadr Nights

It is believed among the Muslims that God revealed the Quran to Prophete Mohammad in order to guide his followers. Ramadan Month is meant to commemorate the first revelation which was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr. So, the night is of a particular spiritual significance to the Muslims.

Muslims try to stay awake overnight for praying and there are special rituals in all mosques around Iran.

It is also believed that the whole faith of people for the next year is determined this night. So, people especially pray for their family and themselves to be healthy and happy in the coming year.

Qadr night - Ramadan in Iran

Qadr nights in Ramadan are of a particular spiritual significance to the Muslims.

Eid-al Fitr

By the end of the Holy Ramadan, Muslims celebrate their spiritual rebirth and thanking God for a whole month of precious praying. Although Eid-al Fitr is only one special day, it involves different duration in various Islamic countries. Officially, Eid-al Fitr involves a two-day holiday in Iran, that people celebrate with a special praying in the morning of Eid and continue with having an elaborate breakfast with their family and also paying some visits to their friends and relatives.

Traditional Iranian Meals of Ramadan: We eat less but a more diverse diet!

Having the sunset prayer, Muslims break their fast with a meal called Iftar. It often begins with dates and milk, and some other traditional Iranian foods in Ramadan. Although traveling to Iran during Ramadan imposes some restrictions on eating and drinking during day hours, it would be a good opportunity to test varieties of delicious Iranian foods particularly prepared for Iftar. And the great point about Iranian food is its portion size which happens to amaze many tourists!

Iranian Iftar

This is a typical Iranian Iftar during Ramadan.

Iranian traditions During Ramadan

There used to be some traditions practiced by Iranians during Ramadan which has been disappeared now due to the spread of technology and media; the most interesting one is making a sound with drums in the predawn hours to wake the neighbors up for Sahari, the meal Muslims have before the dawn to start their fast.

Another lovely tradition is inviting friends and relatives for Iftar during this month which is still practiced by many Iranians. They usually enjoy having Iftar together in the evening.

Coronavirus effects and this year’s Ramadan in Iran

It is no doubt that this year’s Ramadan could be different in some ways due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Practicing “social isolation” would not let people get together for Iftar at home and there would be some restrictions during “Qadr” nights for public gathering in mosques or religious places.

However, we all hope for the disappearance of the coronavirus and getting back to normal life very soon.

Tips for traveling to Iran in Ramadan

You may not be capable of traveling to Iran this year, but here are further tips for tourists having a call for traveling to Iran during Ramadan:

The tourists are not expected to fast or follow Islamic practices, but they are expected to respect the Iranian Muslims’ rituals by refraining from eating, drinking, and smoking in public during the day. However, some restaurants and fast-food outlets, especially the restaurants and cafes in the hotels, highways, airports, railways, and bus stations are open; so, they can have meals there. Some fast-food chains offer takeaway food as well. So, do not afraid of traveling to Iran in Ramadan!

Moreover, many tourist sites are open during the day except on special events such as the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ali on the 21st of Ramadan. There is no need to worry about changing your travel itinerary in Ramadan.

Ramadan

The traditional Persian cuisine of Ramadan

Only a few days are left to the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and everything in Iran likewise the world is overshadowed by the outbreak of a Coronavirus that has infected nearly two million people and claimed many lives in Iran and around the world. In recent days, some of Shia Maraji have announced that fasting will be ok for people with a strong immune system who are home quarantined and follow a healthy nutritious diet. The mentioned group can fast and perform their duties as in previous years. But people with weakened immune systems that doctors diagnose fasting makes them more prone to illness should avoid fasting.

This year Muslims are breaking their fast on smaller Iftar tables, but more solidarity to save lives. Stick with us to see what are the traditional Iranian Ramadan meals and diets and how will Coronavirus affects them.

Sahari or The pre-dawn meal

Eating the predawn meal is one of the indicators of the health of fasting. In this meal, which is served before sunrise, enough protein and water should reach the body. the regular Iranian foods, which are served in lunch meals during the year are usually served as the pre-dawn during Ramadan.

predawn or sahari

Sahari or Predawn meal, taking place before sunrise.

Iftar meal

Since fasting people do not receive the nutrients, sugars, and water they need during the day, they should make up for this deficiency by eating nutrients at predawn and iftar so that they do not have the ability to fast and their health is not endangered. Iftar meal should include a variety of foods that are good for the body and maintain the strength of the fasting person, so it is better to get acquainted with the foods and beverages that have these characteristics. Iftar meal includes 3 parts itself :

  • Aperitifs:

In the first half of the year, the fasting hours may long up to 18. Fasting people do not break their fast at once, but first, they drink a hot soft drink as an aperitif. The most popular aperitif of Iranians is hot tea with rock candy. But warm milk and dates, herbal teas, rose and saffron syrup, are also served before the appetizer.

Iranian tea

Tea drinking is an inseparable part of Iranian culture.

  • Appetizers:

Ash Reshteh

Ash Reshteh is the traditional Iranian version of nuddle soup, cooked with beans, pea, and vegetables. Whit a strong taste of the dried mint powder. The Ash is garnished with a salty diary sauce named “Kashk”. That’s why it also is called Ash_e Kashk.

Ash reshteh

Ash Reshteh, or Persian noddle soup.

Halim

Halim is a nutritious and stodgy food that is served as breakfast on normal days and a small amount of it is served as an appetizer during Ramadan. There are various versions of Halim in different countries, but honestly Iranian one The main ingredients of Halim are wheat and mutton. The word Halim means patience and endurance because cooking Halim requires patience. This dish is cooked slowly for seven to eight hours, which results in a paste-like consistency ― blending the flavors of spices, meat, barley, and wheat. Finally, you can add cinnamon with sugar or salt up to your choice and taste it.

Persian Haleem

Persian Halim of meat and wheat, is a strong appetizer.

  • Main course :

The main course food varies on different families with different tastes. Some people eat only bread, cheese, fresh herbs while others prefer rice and chicken for example. But the popular main course in most Nazri (Cooking and distributing free foods in holy days) ceremonies are Persian kebab and Gheymeh:

Gheymeh

Often cooked in enormous copper pots over wood-burning fires, is beef and split pea stew with the reddish tune of tomato sauce, in addition to some saffron and rose water. This luscious stew is served with white rice.

Gheymeh

Gheymeh, Iranians favorite Nazri.

  • Desserts:

Sholeh Zard

This Persian Saffron rice pudding is very delicate and light in texture, mild in sweetness and it gets its golden color from saffron. Sholeh Zard is served as a dessert in Iftar, garnished with designs made with ground cinnamon and slivered pistachios or almonds.

Sholeh Zard

Sholeh Zard, the Persian saffron rice pudding.

Zulbia and Bamiyeh

These sticky cookies are going to make your sweetest memory of Ramadan in Iran.  Bamieh is a small fried sweet, maybe a kind of donut, which is rolled in the rose water and Saffron syrup. The same way is cooked Zulbia, but it’s thinner and crunchier. Diabetics bear in mind that if you start eating one of these cookies, you can’t help the rest!

zoolbia bamiyeh

The crispy Zulbia and tasty fluffy Bamiyeh are among the most popular Ramdan sweets.