Iran Doostan Tours Co. has the honor of being a pioneer in operating cultural tours in Iran. We were one of the first few travel agencies that started operating incoming tours to Iran. Through 30 years of experience, we managed to expand our service to cover more diverse package tours to Iran. Today, we offer nearly all sorts of Incoming tours to Iran, any type of tour our dear clients request ranging from cultural to adventure, MICE, medical and tailor-made tours.
No matter you are looking for tours to Iran from India, tours to Iran from USA, Cheap Iran tour or luxury tour,
Iran 7-day tour or 14-day tour, we are ready to offer you the best travel experience you could ever have in the ancient land of Persia. Iran’s land tour and escort tour are also among our experiences you can count on.
All sorts of tours at any price and quality range, from any country, would be managed by our professional experts at Iran Doostan. Having handled a variety of situations and operating a diversity of tours to Iran, our staff are quite reliable for consultation and operating incoming tours to Iran.
Covering all travel services tourists might need including itineraries, visas, tour guides, transportation, accommodation would be provided by Iran Doostan tours Co.
If you have any concerns regarding Iran visa, it should be noted that the procedure is quite fast and convenient and the tourists can apply for a visa online. Iran e-visa has been launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make it easier to apply for an Iran tourist visa online. However, If you still happen to have any problem with the process, our professional colleagues are ready to help you.
Have you made up your mind for a holiday in Iran? Get in touch with us via info@idt.com. We will be at your service.

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Tehran

Tehran attractions: at a glance – Districts 1 – 3

As a metropolitan which has been the capital of Iran for over 200 years, Tehran offers loads of tourist attractions in every corner of the city. Stay with us here to know more about Tehran attractions located in districts one, two, and three.

From the past to the present, the district one of Tehran also called Shemiran, has been well-known for its pleasant climate and a great deal of natural beauty. The area is located between the Alborz mountain range is Lavasat and Darkeh river. Due to its good climate and location in the highlands and rural context, the roads leading to the mountains (Darcheh Darcheh Tochal) are considered to be the heart of tourist attractions in Tehran. Major tourist attractions in this region include Niavaran cultural center, Sa’ad Abad Complex, Niavaral Palace, Darband, Darake, Tochal, Jamshidie Park, Melat Palace, and many other natural and cultural attractions that worth a visit.

Tehran’s second district is located in the northern and central parts of Tehran, on the fringe of Alborz to Azadi Square. Just like district One, district two has a high potential for living, amenities, and luxury houses. The area is mainly residential and offers green areas as well. Milad Tower, Tehran Jurassic Park, Pardisan, Nahjol-Balaghe, and Parvaz Parks and also many beautiful gardens are some of the main tourist attractions of Tehran in district two.

Turning to Tehran’s third district is located in the northeastern part of Tehran and is one of the largest urban areas in Tehran. One of the most important attractions in the area is Mellat Park. Its cultural areas include Arasbaran Cultural Center, Allameh Amini Library, Ustad Shahriyar Library, and Water Museum Garden located on Yakhchal Street.

Tehran

To see and download the high-quality infographic, click here: Tehran 1-3 attractions

travel to Iran

Is it safe to travel to Iran?

I always wanted to travel to Iran, otherwise known as Persia, this amazing land of many ancient civilizations, some of them going back to 6 000 BC, while the universally accepted birth of the Persian Empire happened “only” just over the 2500 year ago.

travel to Iran

I can say that Iran is definitely a very safe, tourist-friendly country. I met lots of international tourists who share a positive opinion on travel to Iran.

So, once I had the possibility to go for a longer journey, I decided to choose Iran.

 

I must say, I was afraid for safety – and I was going here alone! On our TVs, we have only bad news about this country. In Western media, Iran is presented as an evil, aggressive and hostile nation, a treat to the region and the world, same as North Korea… Not to speak about Hollywood productions showing Iranians in the worst possible way. The terrible news and images we see in our TVs from wars in Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan, most Western people associate also with Iran.

I knew that there was no ongoing war here, but it was hard to forget the image of Iran we get from the European media – a dangerous place, full of fanatics that hate Westerners and the secret police just waiting to put you in prison under any pretext. Also, with economic problems and many Iranians going across hard times – perhaps there will be lots of common crime targeting supposedly rich foreign tourists?

That’s why, when I told my family, friends about my plans to travel to Iran – all misconceptions surfaced! So, there would be a war here, the country would be full of Afghan Taliban, or Arab terrorists, or both of them)) just waiting to cut off our heads. Explosions on daily basis, evil and hating Europeans local populace – to say it short I was a kind of crazy kamikaze looking deliberately for big problems or just bored with being still alive.

When my plane landed in Tehran, I was indeed afraid – how will it be at the border?
Will I get a visa? Will police check all my things, my emails, confiscate my laptop or phones?
Perhaps they are just waiting for a reason to put me in jail or in the best case, deport?

Well, I was among some 20 foreigners that needed Visa on Arrival – and it happened that …nothing happened. I mean nothing extraordinary, everyone paid for insurance and visa fees, then within half an hour, we all got our 30 days tourist visas. No police interrogation, luggage, or phone checks, it was an easy simple process – as in any average airport.

I started my journey from Tehran, then I went to several other places. Yazd, Bandar Abbas, Qeshm, Shiraz, Isfahan, Caspian Sea towns…After few weeks I discovered (at least in a small part) the land of great diversity, for nature and climate, peoples and languages, local traditions, and gastronomic delights. While one can expect professional smiles in hotels or hostels, I was surprised by the sympathy and friendly attitude of so many common people towards me, an obvious foreign traveler. Iranians, even those whose English skills are limited, were happy to say “Welcome in Iran” and curious about my opinion of their country, sometimes about life abroad, and, most important, always offering help when seeing me somehow lost or troubled. I walked across main capital avenues and small streets of villages, always welcomed by smiles and nice words, on some occasions even invited to their homes for tea, lunch, or dinner. In no other country, I enjoyed such attention – and I visited more than 20 countries in Europe and Asia until now.

I can say now, after being around for several weeks in various cities – and it is what I heard from all those who visited Iran – it is one of the safest places on Earth. The huge majority of locals are very friendly, honest, and respectful, especially toward women, that comes as from old Persian tradition and culture as for the laws of the Islamic Republic.
I think that it is much more probable being mugged, robbed in any Western city than in Iran; here I could walk everywhere, evening or night, and never saw anyone threatening.
Of course, there exist some pickpockets or motorbike thieves, but in my opinion (I saw what goes on in Rome or Naples), where this phenomenon is very limited. And of course, some taxi drivers will try to cheat you! So – use Snapp, the local Uber)

I never had any problem nor heard of typical tourists being bothered by uniformed or other police – one would need to work really hard to merit their attention – rather the opposite, I saw patrol police helping and giving a ride to foreigners. I mean “typical” – unless someone comes to Iran to make political activism, take photos where prohibited, or… “incidentally” fly drones over military installations.

Over 3 times bigger than France, with more than 80 mln inhabitants, the incredible variety of big and small places to visit and admire, starting by Tehran megapolis, going across high mountains and seas, deserts and lush forests of the North, ski resorts and diving-friendly islands of the Persian Gulf, Iran is an excellent destination for “slow tourism”. Because, aside of hundreds of old palaces, mosques, churches, traditional villages and towns, caravanserais, bazaars, its greatest treasure, often missed by rushy travelers, are Iranians themselves – an incredibly friendly and hospitable people, with elaborated culture and percentage of high education better than in many Western countries.

Now, after a month of intensive traveling, I can say that Iran is definitely a very safe, tourist-friendly country. I met lots of international tourists who share a positive opinion on Iran, some really astonished by their experience – they expected all kinds of possible troubles – and only good things happened! Definitely I want to travel to Iran again; next time I will explore Western Iran. I think honestly it is the greatest long trip I ever made until now!

North of Iran

Mesmerizing Places to visit In North of Iran

The North of Iran is rich in terms of attractions. Having the Great Caspian Sea as one of the main destinations of Iran, gains an incredible amount of visitors each holiday. Mazandaran, Gilan, and Golestan, are three provinces that bring this opportunity for Iranians to visit the Caspian Sea with their family and friends and have the most fun out of it. Here are some of the most popular places among Iranians in the North of Iran, which you can visit anytime you travel to Iran.

Mazandaran Attractions

1. Ramsar

Although Ramsar might be a little city, comparing to others in the north of Iran, but you will have the most fun time in this city. You can experience an enjoyable ride on cable cars over the jungle while facing the sea. When you get off of the cable cars, you will meet a marvelous silver sea. A calm and peaceful moment by the sea is all you need to wash away all of your exhaustion. Other than that, the Ramsar Museum Palace, Casino Boulevard and, Dreamland Amusement Park are other choices to spent a day on in Ramsar city.

2. Badab-e Surt

An absolute photogenic natural site, with amazing changing colors of water, is a great photography opportunity. Badab-e Surt owns one of the unique scenery in Iran that is the natural springs of water. This fascinating place is the second largest spring saline water in the world that changes color over the sunset or sunrise. So if you want to experience the best moments of your trip, visit this natural creation during sunset while the sunlight makes the water glow. Ice cold water and soft drinks will be sold on the hill while you’re taking your time making an unforgettable memory.

3. Elimalat Lake

Make a beautiful memory with beautiful scenery! Elimalat is one of the stunning forests in Iran in which you can find a lake among its gigantic trees. The reflection of mountains along with the trees, aligns with the lake and water waves, creating a relaxing sight to enjoy. There are some facilities for your entertainment, such as pedal boats and restaurants near the lake. If you enjoy mountain biking and have access to one by chance, you will love riding through the forest paths.

Gilan Attractions

1. Gilan Rural Heritage Museum

This place is more than just a museum. The heritage, culture, and history behind the closed doors of the old and traditional houses are much more worth it than it seems. You can find out so much about Gilan in only this one museum. Various kinds of ceremonies will be executed in different times of the years like Yalda, the longest night of the year, or Arous Baran that is a tradition for weddings. While walking along the paths and listening to some of the old songs of northern regions, you will see people in colorful traditional costumes baking bread, serving drinks, or making products that you can only find in the North of Iran. So make sure to treat yourself with some delicious cookies or buying some souvenirs as a memorial.

2. Masouleh Village

Masouleh is famous for the spectacular architecture that its village owns on one of the steep hillsides. The yard of the houses above is the roof of the houses below. This fact makes this village unusual in a way but pleasing to look at as well. Every single has colorful flowerpots on their balcony that spreads a great vibe to the environment besides giving the village a beautiful look. Among the houses you can find shops, restaurants and cafes in which you can take a break, trying some Persian tea or local foods. The locals are very kind and generous. You can buy products and handicrafts that are for sale from them.

3. Rudkhan Castle

Wear your sport shoes and get yourself ready because there’s a long way to reach your destination. Rudkhan Castle has more than a thousand steps that you need to climb so you could reach the top of the castle. But when you do, you will be fascinated by the breathtaking view. It’s worth visiting Rudkhan Castle, especially on a beautiful spring day, the trees are a delight to walk through. You will need 4 hours to visit the whole castle. And at the foot of the castle, you can find plenty of places where you can eat and refresh yourself.

Golestan Attractions

1. Khalid Nabi Cemetery

The Khalid Nabi Cemetery is believed to be the most mysterious cemetery in Iran and is well-known for its strange-looking grave. Not only the cemetery, the surrounding landscape, the scenery on the way is breathtaking. When you take a look at all the surroundings, you might think you walked into a place that seems to be far away from this planet. It is beautiful here in all seasons, but visiting in spring gives you an unforgettable memory.

2. Qabus Dome

You can find one of the tallest brick towers in the World in Golestan Province. Gonbad Qabus is an ancient monument that is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. This tower used to act as a sign for people passing through the silk road so they could use it to find the right way. There is a spot outside the tower marked by a white stone that makes a strange echo to everything you say. Local traditional foods and costumes can be found around the tower as well, which will be a pleasing experience.

3. Alangdarreh

If you’re looking for a place to relax and ease your mind while cycling in between pathways of trees, then you can consider Alangdarreh a choice. You can have a pleasant picnic with your family and friends and enjoy the cool weather around you. There are barbecue accessories around in which you can cook yourself a tasty food. You can hear the water flow sounds from a nearby river that is so pleasing and relaxing and calms you down in an instant. Take your time and lie down in this mesmerizing place and enjoy.

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

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.

Top 4 off the beaten path places to visit in Iran

There are hundreds of wonderful places, some of which are well known to all visiting tourists, but there are a few rather less-known places to visit in Iran. I will introduce four of these off the beaten path places I have loved visiting in Iran.

Qeshm Island

The largest Persian Gulf island does not make part of the standard Iran tour most tourists follow – but nevertheless is among the most interesting places for those who can stay for more than one week in the country. Located in the Hormuz Strait, close to Bandar Abbas port, the island offers several unique amazing spots as well as the possibility of practicing sports, snorkeling and diving, watching turtles and dolphins – or simply relaxing on its warm beaches.
Its main wonders include the unique geological natural wonder Stars Valley, Mangrove Forest to visit by small boat, and a huge colorful salt cave. You can stay in traditional Hormuzi guesthouses, try local fish-based food and you definitely will meet many lovely camels, a frequent sight on this island, and in some parts of the Deep South of Iran. In the main city, also called Qeshm, is located an old Portuguese fort – in fact, Portugal controlled the Strait of Hormuz for more than 100 years and a couple of their castles survived until our days.
Curiously Qeshm, as well as smaller and more luxury-oriented Island of Kish, enjoys a kind of tax-free regime, hence it is a destination of shopping trips for many Iranians.
Definitely not a place to go during very hot summers, Qeshm will charm you from early fall to late spring. You can arrive by fast ferries or by place. Once there, you can visit nearby Hormuz and Hendan islands, too.

places to visit in Iran

Qeshm: The largest island in the Persian Gulf.

Khararanagh adobe ghost town

Situated not far away from Yazd, this incredible place consists of hundreds of small adobe houses, usually connected between them, slowly degrading with each year passing…Hundreds of years old dwellings, still bustling with life some 30 years ago, were left by its inhabitants for modern homes with gas and water. Others left for big cities… It is a strange sensation, walking around and inside these domes, so small for our standards, aware of generations that passed their lives just there.
Kharanagh has situated some 80 km from Yazd, usually, you can visit it on “3 in 1 tour”, together with Chak Chak Zoroastrian holy place and the ancient city of Meybod. Iran, Yazd province, the edge of the Dasht-e Kavir desert, Kharanaq old village with its mud bricks (adobe) houses overlooking the Andjir valley.

places to visit in Iran

Situated not far away from Yazd, Khararanagh adobe ghost town consists of hundreds of small adobe houses.

Makhunik “Liliput village”

For some factors, during a couple of centuries, like lack of green land to feed animals, that forced people to a rather poor vegetable diet for all their life, and near-total isolation of the small population – when “discovered” about 100 years ago, the Makhunik villagers became quite famous for their small stature – having in average about 130 cm. For that reason, you can imagine their adobe houses were also very low, often round and have usually only one small window –  to keep warm and save heating during harsh winters. Actually, with a road finally open, changed diet and mixed marriages, more and more inhabitants are average tall, but while visiting Makhunik you will surely meet older people proud of their unique look and living in those picturesque little houses.
The village is located in South Khorasan province, best to visit in spring or fall time.

 

Ray, the ancient city in Tehran metropolitan area

While for most tourists Tehran is the point of entry to Iran and the place they stay first few days visiting its museums and landmarks – it is very easy to miss a much older city, that actually makes part of the huge and growing Tehran metropolis. Fortunately, Shahr e Ray (City of Ray) is now easily connected thanks to the metro network, and it takes less than half an hour to reach it from the center of the capital. While Tehran itself was a small town until becoming Persia’s capital in 1795, Ray located south of it was a thriving big city for over 2000 years. Although destroyed heavily during Mongol invasions, Rey offers several interesting landmarks, as wonderful Emamzadeh Abdol-Azim shrine (place of prayer and pilgrimage, but open to anyone), Rashkan Castle on the hill, Chesmeh Ali rock reliefs and famous Seljuk period Tughrul Tower.
The simplest way to reach this ancient city is by metro Red Line direction south, station Shahr e Rey. To stations further south there is a really huge, beautiful, recently build shrine (some decoration works inside and outside are still ongoing) of Emam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran (also open for everyone).

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.

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.