Travel to Iran would probably be like none of your previous trips, it is certainly a unique destination you never expect. There are loads of unique experiences waiting for you here, including cultural attractions, natural beauty, warm-hearted hospitable people, and tasty local foods.
Well, the next issue might be your safety. While you are searching is it safe to travel to Iran, it is never easy to distinguish between propaganda and genuine information. The two risk assessment institutions “International SOS” and “Risk control” evaluate Iran’s risk to travelers to be comparable to that of most European countries’.
Iran Doostan Tours Co. is a reliable Iran travel agency for incoming tours to Iran. No difference whether you are aiming to travel to Iran from Canada or travel to Iran from India, or any other country, we are honored to offer high-quality services in terms of diverse package tours. As a tour operator and travel agency in Iran, we provide all travel services including itineraries, visa, tour guides, transportation, accommodation, and whatever our tourists may need while traveling to Iran. If you are looking for some self-drive tours like travel to Iran by car, we are also ready to provide you with all you may need.
It is good to know that the Iran visa process is quite fast and convenient and the tourists can also apply for a visa online. However, if you intend to travel to Iran from the UK or US, your visa may take a bit longer to be issued.
If you have a call for an independent traveling to Iran, we wholeheartedly respect your decision; then all you may need to have except an Iran travel guide book and a map would be reading some tips for traveling to Iran in our Iran travel blog. For any travel to Iran experience, you are recommended to visit our guest blog and also our trip advisor page, it may be helpful. You may also like to spare some time watching interesting Iran tourism videos to whet your appetite for traveling to Iran.
Our professional colleagues are ready to help you if you have planned to travel to our country. Contact us via info@idt.com. We will be back to you soon.

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Iran travel budget

Iran travel budget – part 2: Accommodation, Food, and Telecom

Well, once we arrived and changed some precious money avoiding traps described in Iran budget travel – part one, several next challenges appear – mainly where to stay, how to move in the cities and inside the country, find good and inexpensive food, and telecom service.

In Iran, Couchsurfing is very popular and many will be happy to host a foreign traveler; if someone likes this kind of experience, it can be a good idea. Just remember, you will need a VPN app to use it in Iran. If however, it is not your preferred way – in Iran, there are hundreds of hostels and cheap hotels.

The main international resource in the case of hostels is www.hostelworld.com, full description and lots of travelers’ reviews will help in your choice, but you can check also the local smaller web www.hostelsiniran.com.

As of December 2019, there are lots of hostels, also in Tehran, offering stay with unlimited breakfast for 4 or 5 euros/night; in dorms of course. The hostel staff is usually very well informed about all your possible questions, speaks good English and can give you advice about local landmarks and how to get there.

As for the typical hostel breakfast, you can have a look here (based on Heritage Hostel, Tehran): My Persian breakfast experience in Iran.

Interestingly, while dorms are now incredibly cheap – these hostels have also some private rooms offered on rather prohibitive 20 to 30 euro prices. Just in case a desire for a small luxury becomes irresistible – there are cheap “1-star hotels” in many less touristic places – in Tehran for example in South Saadi street (close enough to metro Saadi and Great Bazaar). Just asking for curiosity (without trying to bargain), I was offered private rooms for 800 000 rials, some 7 euro – but no breakfast included. These hotels serve mainly locals and hardly you can find them on English language websites, so if interested – ask Iranians (in case you do not find them walking around).

Next comes the transport. About the Tehran public transport, taxi and Snapp you will find more here: Public transportation in Tehran

In other Iranian cities using public transport, consisting mainly of common buses will be a bit difficult without a local helpful to tell you which line of local bus is best for you. I stayed several days in Shiraz and found out how to use to my benefit 2 or 3 bus lines, avoiding kilometric marches. There is always one linking bus terminal in the city center, others to run along main streets, it is good to use them, tickets are very cheap, people pay for drivers.  If you need to go to a specific place far away and have no way to use the city bus – try in first place Snapp, the local Uber-like service. Try to avoid a regular taxi if possible!

By the way, in other big Iranian cities there is a limited metro service, (networks are under construction), actually consisting of 2 lines in Mashhad and just one operating in Tabriz, Esfahan, and Shiraz. On some occasions it can be also useful for tourists, so – why not try?

The most budget-friendly way to travel across Iran is without any doubt by using intercity buses. Even more, the night buses – saving you a hostel fee and also a full day for a new destination.

Tehran has 4 bus terminals, other cities just 1 or 2 – from each one you can pick a normal (Maamuli) or luxury (VIP) intercity bus. Maamuli is a typical tourist bus, usually not the newest one, with some 50 passenger capacity. Another story for VIP – luxury extra large seats, lots of space for legs, great comfort during the journey, some 25 seats altogether – obviously the best choice for a long journey. Unfortunately, there is the price tag – VIP costs around 80% more than a normal bus, to give a fresh example, my recent trip Babolsar – Tehran, some 200 km: Maamuli 240 000 rials vs. VIP 420 000 rials…Btw in any Iranian bus voyage, there is a bottle of water and a small snack included!

The best way is to ask an Iranian to book for you using local websites – or doing yourself a trip to terminal, there are at least several companies and their hawkers, initially insisting you should take a VIP bus. If you resist and insist on Maamuli, you will be able to buy the cheaper one, of course!

Avoid English language bus booking sites directed to tourists – it is easy, but you’ll pay double or triple. For example on one such “helpful” website, my Tehran – Babolsar tickets were for “only” 5 euro – in real exchange 700 000 rials at that moment –  for Maamuli bus – while I paid for the same ticket 240 000 rials, like normal Iranians, at the bus station.

There is quite a good railways network, but tickets are more expensive, and often no places available in immediate days. As for local airlines, it can be an idea in case you want to do a really long jump –  f. ex. Tehran – Bandar Abbas flight can cost around 30 euro (at this time). Always ask an Iranian to help you, using local booking sites; if you do it by an agency or English language website – you will pay more.

BlaBlaCar does not include Iran, unfortunately (neither AirBnB).

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.

solar eclipse

Iran sky witnessed the last Solar eclipse of the century

Today, on June 21, 2020, Iran observed an annual solar eclipse starting at 9:05 and finished at 11:37 in the morning.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth which fully or partially blocks sunlight.
In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.

Today’s eclipse was a kind of ring eclipse that make it partially invisible for most people around the world. Unlike, lunar eclipse, it is important where you are standing on Earth when a solar eclipse occurs.

solar eclipse

Solar eclipse in Iran- 21 June 2020. Photo by: Mehr News Agency

The eclipse starts from central Africa, passes through Yemen and southern Iran, and moves toward Pakistan, India, China, and the Pacific Ocean. In Iran, the eclipse was mostly visible in Chabahar, a city in the far southeast of the country.

This was the last solar eclipse of the century in Iran, happening on the first day of summer.

A solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon, which is considered a natural tourist attraction. Since it looks different in various parts of Earth, many astronomy lovers travel around the world, often to the spots where the eclipse is most observable, not to miss this phenomenon. However, the present lockdown situation barely let people travel to see this event.

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.

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.

Nasirolmolk mosque

Shiraz the city of love and poem

You may have heard Shiraz’s name in case of talking about drinks. But this wonderful city is a lot more than that. Shiraz is a city that is easy to travel and very difficult to return from, viators miss it even before the end of the trip. Shiraz is known as the city of love and poetry in which some of the great poets such as Hafez Saadi, Biddle, and many others have been born and grew.

Some Iranians believe that the mild and unique climate of Shiraz makes people fall in love. Everything is more pleasing and vivid in Shiraz, even mosques that are places of worship and are usually decorated in other Iranian cities with a few meaningful colors such as turquoise and azure are decorated in Shiraz with the most vivid colors.

The first few seconds of video which demonstrates the lovemaking of light and colorful glass is filmed in Nasir Al-Molk Mosque in Shiraz, which is made with a lot of genius and artistic taste. This pink mosque is where Instagrammers and photographers rave about. it seems that it’s not only us, the man of the contemporary generation who has discovered all the beauty and delight of living in Shiraz. But also Zandian, Safavian and even Syrus the great! Yes, you’re right, this city has been a civilized one for thousands of years! The magnificent parts of the unique and rocky city of Persepolis including Stone solid pillars and the delicate stone-carved sphinx (protectors of the palace); well remained throughout the three millennia, survived despite floods and earthquakes, brings up the question of whether this precise and engineered work could have been the work of terrestrial humans of thousands of years ago, or whether there was another secret behind it.

All short and simple this one-minute video gives a perspective of historic Shiraz city: from the astonishing pink mosque with all those colorful glassworks to the well-constructed Persian gardens. I’m afraid you’ll miss the scent of heaps of orangery blossom in Shiraz’s garden which is preventable with making the reservation for tours on the Irandoostan website.

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.

kermanshah, Iran

Visit Kermanshah Tourists Attractions

Known as one of the oldest settlements of the world, there are so many cultural and historical sites in Kermanshah that you can delve into and be able to touch this rich culture and civilization. The pleasant weather, eye-catching landscapes, marvelous sites, delicious souvenirs, and hospitable people are some reasons why you must visit Kermanshah.
Kermanshah is the capital of Kermanshah Province located in the west of Iran at the foot of Zagros Mountain Ranges. There are so many astounding attractions in Kermanshah for tourists. Not only are there beautiful sites in the city, but also you can find staggering landscapes and historical attractions outside of Kermanshah. In 2006, Bisotun Inscription in Kermanshah was registered as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. Besides, Taq-e Boustan, Temple of Anahita, Moaveon-ol Molk Tekieh, Dokan-e Davood Rock Temple, Parau Cave, and Niloofar Lagoon are some of the must-see attractions of Kermanshah.

Attractions in Kermanshah City

Ancient Bazaar of Kermanshah

This is the capital hub for trade in Kermanshah and has an age of more than 150 years. This covered bazaar has different stuff that you might find interesting. Do not miss out on visiting the local lifestyle of people in the bazaar.
You can find the bazaar on Modarres Street close to Azadi Square.

Jameh Mosque of Shafei (Shafi’i Mosque)

Dating back to 1945, the staggering Shafeii Mosque has been built liken the Turkish mosques. You will undoubtedly like the tall minarets of the mosque. Note that this mosque is built for Sunni Muslims and not Shia.
Close to the junction of Motahari Boulevards and Javaدrshir Boulevard, you can see this mosque.

Dowlat Shah Mosque

Being built in the Qajar Dynasty, the mosque possesses a portal, courtyard, and a Shabestan. It is a beautiful mosque in Feizabad County and has been recently renovated. Right on the Javanshir Square, you can see the Dolatshah Mosque.

Emad-ol Dowleh Mosque is another beautiful architectural site that dates back to the Qajar era as well.

Biglar Beigi Takieh

In Persian rituals, Tekieh is a place where Shia Muslims commemorate Imam Hossein’s death (the third Shia Imams). Ornate mirror tiles in the dome room, decorated hall, and inscriptions belonging to King Mozaffar are some of the features of Biglar Beygi Takieh. This is also another architectural masterpiece in Kermanshah that goes back to the Qajar Dynasty. In Feizabad County, on Modares Street, you can go to the Biglar Beig Tekieh.

Moaven-Ol Molk Takieh

If you are so into the monuments belonging to the Qajar period, you must visit the Tekyeh of Moavenol Molk. Religious leaders’ funerals and religious ceremonies were used to be held in this monument. Admittedly, it used to function as a center for solving ethnic conflicts. This Takieh has been built 100 years ago and contains carved illustrations on tiles depicting the battles of Muslim prophets and Imams. On Shariati Street close to Vaziri Square, you can visit this Takieh.

Moaven-Ol Molk Takieh

This Takieh has been built 100 years ago and contains carved illustrations on tiles depicting the battles of Muslim prophets and Imams.

Museum of Anthropology

This museum has started its work since 1990 including thirty halls showing various significant agricultural and anthropological items. Musical instruments, equipment for writing, gears of hunting, and traditional customs are some of the items exhibited in the Kermanshah Museum of Anthropology. A few meters away from Vaziri Square, on Shariati Street, you will find the museum.

Khaje Barouk House

During the Qajar Era, this eye-catching monument was possessed by a Jewish merchant. If you want to get acquainted with ancient Persian houses’ architecture, this house is a well- rounded representative. You can find this house in Faizabad County as well.

Magnificent Attractions Outside of Kermanshah
While visiting Kermanshah, do not miss out on the wonderful attractions outside of the city since they carry a marvelous history and architecture behind their facade. Besides, if you are more of a nature lover, here are some amazing places which you should not miss.

Taq-e Bostan

Meaning the “Arch of the Garden”, it is located in the northeast of Kermanshah within five kilometers to Kermanshah. Taq-e Bostan holds a great treasure of Sassanid Empire rock reliefs. These relics depict the ceremonies of kings Ardeshir II, Shapour II, Shapour III, and Khosrow II. This is the cornerstone of Kermanshah tourist attractions. Bear in mind that this complex has a National Park which you can enjoy resting for a while.

Taq-e-Bostan - Kermanshah

Taq-e Bostan holds a great treasure of Sassanid Empire rock reliefs which is considered as the cornerstone of Kermanshah tourist attractions.

Bisotun World Heritage Site

Another remarkable site in Kermanshah Province is the Bisotun complex which has been registered in the UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site’s List. The complex includes monuments, rock reliefs, caravansaries, and bridges. Bear in mind that it holds one of the most famous yet tragic Persian love stories. The story of Farhad and Shirin belongs to this place. Farhad – a well-known artist and craftsman- was famous for carving rock and fell in love with Shirin -Armenia Queen-. Khosro -the King of Iran- assigned him an impossible task to carve a tunnel through Mount Bisotun -the current Bisotun Inscription- in order to dissuade him from his love. Farhad succeeds in his job but again got deceived by the King Khosrow that told him that Shirin has passed away, so he committed suicide.
Additionally, in Mount Behistun, you will find the Shekarchian Cave which dates back to the Paleolithic Era. This inscription has been written in three languages namely Elamite, Babylonian, and ancient Persian. Bisotun inscription has an autobiography of Darius the Great. You can see Farvahar symbol, last vestiges of Sassanid Palaces, Ilkhanid and Safavid Carvansaries, and Temury clay ovens in this complex.

Bisotun - Kermanshah

Bisotun, the UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site, represents one of the greatest Iranian love stories.

Temple of Anahita

Within a 100- kilometer distance to Kermanshah, you can reach the temple in Kangavar. Anahita was a Persian goddess of fertility, water, health, healing, and wisdom. Anahita Temple has an area of about 2.5 hectares and was built during the Sassanid Period. That is why you can see various Sasanid symbols and words engraved all over the place. If you are into Parthian Style, note that the temple has this style as well.

Dokan-e Davood Catatomb (Goordakhmeh Dokan-e Davoud)

If you wonder what a catacomb is, well it is an area dug into the mountains to bury a dead person. This masterpiece goes back to the Achaemenids Era and is located right across the Pol-e Zahab City.

Ghoori Ghaleh Cave (Quri Qal’eh Cave)

Salt deposits and rocky mountains are magnificent remarks of this site which makes it to be an exceptional attraction. It is located on Shahou Mountain within a 90- kilometer distance to Kermanshah. It is said that Quri Qale Cave is 65 million years old. Nature has formed so many astounding halls in the cave.

Ghoori Ghaleh Cave - Iran

Ghoori Ghaleh Cave: Nature has formed so many astounding halls in this 65 million-year-old cave.

Parau Cave

Known as one of the world’s most famous caves, which is both vertical and large. It is located in Mount Parau.
If you like visiting caves, you might take a tour in Do- Ashkaft Cave.

Niloofar Lagoon (Sarabe Niloofar)

This is a wetland only in a 25-kilometer away from the city. This is an untouched natural site which you would enjoy visiting.

Hashilan Wetland

In the northwest of Kermanshah, in a 36-kilometer distance, you can see this wetland. The Hashilan Wetland possesses an area of 450 hectares. The number of small islands in the area reaches to more than 100. Each island has an area from 100 square meters to one hectare.

hashilan-wetland- Kermanshah

Hashilan Wetland: Kermanshah, Iran

Kermanshah Flower Garden

The garden has about 4000 different species and demonstrates different plants belonging to Japan, France, and Italy.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any experience visiting Kermanshah or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. We would be glad to help.