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The 39 Best Things to Do in Iran (Bucket List for 2020)


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Are you planning to visit Iran on your next trip and you’re looking for the best places to visit?

With many beautiful cities, a rich history, stunning landscapes, mesmerizing islands, friendly people and of course delicious foods, I can say without a doubt that Iran would be one of your interesting destinations.

To help you plan your trip, we have prepared this list of the 39 best things to do in Iran, with all the highlights and must-see attractions. It will for sure give you an idea of your travel to Iran Itinerary.

So, what are the best points of interest in Iran?

You know that Iran has a vast landscape and every cities and region have a different historical background and natural attractions.

So it is not easy to cover all parts of the country and all attractions, so to make it more practical we will classify it as below;

·   Classic Route

Tehran, Kashan, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan

•   Tehran

1. Golestan Palace

2. Jewelry Museum

3. Azadi Tower

4.Tehran Grand Bazaar

•   Kashan

5.Mosque of Agha Bozorg

6. Historical Houses

•   Isfahan

7. Naqsh-e Jahan

8. Mosque of the Shah/Imam

9. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

10. Ali Qapu Palace

11. Vank Cathedral

•   Yazd

12. Shaking Minaret and the the abandoned village of Kharanaq

13. Amir Chakhmaq Complex

14. Tower Of Silence

15. Narin Castle/ Naryn Castle/ Narin Qale

•   Shiraz

16.Persepolis

17.Nasir al-Molk Mosque

18. Eram Garden

19. Vakil Complex

•   Kerman

20.Bam Citadel

21. Kalouts/ Kaluts/ Kaloots Desert

•   South Islands

22. Qeshm Island

23.Hormuz Island/ Hormoz Island

•   North- West of Iran;

24. Kandovan

25. The Saint Stepanos Monastery:

26.Tabriz Bazaar

•   South- West of Iran

27. Ziggurat Choghazenbil

28. Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province

•   Most important pilgrim sites

29. Imam Reza holey shrine in Mashhad

30. Fatemeh Masoumeh holy shrine in Qom

31. Shah Cheragh Shiraz

•   North of Iran

32. Rudkhan Castle

33. Masoule/ Masuleh

34. Badab-e Surt springs

•   West of Iran (Kermanshah province)

35.Taq-e Bostan;

36. Bistoon/ Bisotoun Historic Site;

•   Sand dune desert;

37. Mesr desert

38. Varzaneh desert

39.Maranjab desert

 

Classic route

Here we start from the classic route which most tourists in their first trip to Iran will visit it:

Tehran, Kashan, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan

·        Tehran

So we start this guide of the best things to do in Iran with the Capital, Tehran.

Most tourists don't miss visiting Tehran, despite what you might think, it isn’t the most tourist city in the country but still offers you tons of tourist and historical sites.

1.   Golestan Palace

 The magnificent Golestan Palace, it is the former Qajar complex, consists of 17 structures, including palaces, museums, and halls. Almost this entire complex was built during the 131-year rule of the Qajar kings. These palaces were used for many different occasions such as coronations and other important celebrations. It also consists of three main archives, including the photographic archive, the library of manuscripts, and the archive of documents.

golestan palace, Tehran attractions
 

2.   Jewelry Museum

The Treasury of National Jewels is a museum in Iran. It is a collection of the most expensive jewels of the world, collected over centuries.

Each piece recalls memories of victories and defeats of former kings, their power and weakness.

jewelery musuem, Tehran
 

3.   Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower is known as the Landmark of Tehran and even Iran. This tower has a unique design and has seen a lot of historical, political and social events as far as many people have chosen it as the symbol of Tehran.

azadi tower, tehran
 

4.   Tehran Grand Bazaar

Tehran Grand Bazaar is a must be seen site when you visit Tehran. This Bazaar has over 10 kilometers of labyrinthine alleyways filled with covered shops. You will find everything from jewelry to carpets and pots and pans for sale here.

It is one of Tehran’s oldest areas; you can see history and character at the same time and enjoy fantastic restaurants around. 

 

tehran grand bazaar

Click to this article and you can meet top ten sites you can visit in Tehran.

And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Tehran.

·        Kashan

A small city with a rich history, locating en route from Tehran to Isfahan lets Kashan grab the attention of tourists easily.

 

5.   Mosque of Agha Bozorg

Mosque of Agha Bozorg is famous for its precise, symmetric architecture and attractive appearance.

In Persian architecture, buildings have a central courtyard and a pool in the middle and Agha Bozorg Mosque, built in the late 18th century, shows this ancient beauty in its extreme.

 

agha bozorg mosque, Kashan

6.    Historical Houses

Kashan's merchants have built these luxurious houses to show their culture nicely. We call these wonderful masterpieces historical houses.

The most important ones are:

Borujerdi House

Tabatabaee House

Abasian House

broujerdi house, Kashshan
 

 ·        Isfahan:

One of the most remarkable cities of Iran is Isfahan. Isfahan is known for its Persian architecture. Here are the sites you can visit in Isfahan.

7.   Naqsh-e Jahan

The Naqsh-e Jahan Square (also known as Imam Square) is one of the main attractions of Isfahan that has several architectural wonders.

naghshe jahan square, isfahan

8.   Mosque of the Shah/Imam 

At the southern edge of the square, which is more than half a kilometer long, is the Imam Mosque. Completed in 1629, it is undoubtedly the premier example of Islamic architecture in Iran.

mosque of shah
 

9.   Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

On the eastern side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, you can see the mesmerizing Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Sheikh Lotfollah is distinguished for his work of creamy gold tile and its intricate decorations, not to mention the imposing central dome - enchanting inside and out.

sheikh lotfollah mosque, isfahan
 

10. Ali Qapu Palace

Opposite the Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque, there is the six-story Ali Qapu Palace, a royal residence used by Shah Abbas to host his formal meetings. It is Completed at the end of the 16th century.

ali gapu palace, isfahan
 

11. Vank Cathedral

Vank Cathedral is the most impressive worship site for Armenian subsequently is built in Iran in the 17th century. The exterior of the cathedral is of relatively simple brick, brownish-yellow. On the contrary, inside can be described as intricate and colorful wall paintings, containing some disturbing depictions of the terrors of hell.

vank catherdal, isfahan
 

·        Check this article to meet the top ten sites you can visit in Isfahan.

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Isfahan.

·        Yazd

Yazd is believed to be the world's oldest adobe city. The historic city of Yazd is the first Iran city, which is submitted on the UNESCO list.

12. Shaking Minaret and the abandoned village at Kharanaq

No day trip to Yazd province completes without a tour to the ancient village of Kharanaq. It's been inhabited for more than 1,000 years. Visitors are free to discover abandoned remains. Highlights include a Qajar-era mosque and ancient aqueducts below the valley.

kharanaq village, shaking minaret, yazd
 

You can book a city tour from Yazd to Kharanaq, Chak Chak and Meybod desert here.

 

13. Amir Chakhmaq Complex

The central architectural complex of Yazd, the Amir Chakhmaq complex, is located in the heart of the city and a square of the same name. The heavy, three-story facade shows a beautiful symmetrical stone facade that glows brightly after sunset.

 

amirchakhmagh square, yazd

14. Tower Of Silence

Tower Of Silence was a place for dead bodies, by the late 1960s, according to tradition, the bodies of the deceased Zoroastrians remained in the main pits of the towers for the selection of protective birds. Abandoned Zoroastrian buildings at the base of the hills help to breathe the unnatural air of this place.

tower of silence, yazd
 

You can book a city tour in Yazd here.

15. Narin Castle/ Naryn Castle/ Narin Qale

In the center of Meybod (56 K.m far from Yazd), crumbling Narin castle rose and reveals three layers of construction, the oldest foundations suggest some kind of the settlement was built here as early as 4000 BC.

The view from the top of the castle gives an interesting view of the town of Meybod and shows how the growing population of the citadel settled beyond the castle walls.

nazrin castle, meybod, yazd
 

You can book a city tour from Yazd to Kharanaq, Chak Chak and Meybod desert here.

 

·        Check this article to meet the top ten sites you can visit in Yazd.

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural) that you can visit In Yazd.

·        Shiraz

16. Persepolis

The most glorious sites of Iran, Persepolis, or Takht-e Jamshid  in Persian, was the capital of the great Achaemenid empire over 2500 years ago, ransacked by Alexander, this site is the culmination of ancient Iranian political and architectural achievements.

persepolis, Iran
 

You can book a city tour from Yazd to Shiraz includes visiting Persepolis here.

17. Nasir al-Molk Mosque

Nasir al-Molk Mosque, Also known as the Pink Mosque, was completed in 1888. It is celebrated for its stunningly colorful interiors: colored glass windows, intricate tiles and arches, and countless Persian carpets creating a kaleidoscopic aesthetic. Along with a row of delicately carved columns, every aspect of the Nasir al-Molk mosque is very photogenic from the past.

nasirolmolk mosque, shiraz
 

18.   Eram Garden

Shiraz is known for cultivating beautiful gardens and Eram Garden is certainly a model of excellence. At the center, there is a small pool and the magnificent Qajar palace, though closed to the public.

Eram garden, shiraz
 

19. Vakil Complex

Vakil complex includes Vakil bazaar, Vakil mosque, and Vakil bath.

-         Vakil Bazaar:

The wonderfully photogenic Vakil Bazaar is Shiraz’s main market place and home to hundreds of shops and stalls. 

-         Vakil Mosque:

Vakil Mosque is one of the most prominent Zand dynasty monuments and shines like a diamond in the heart of Shiraz because of its stunning architecture.

-         Vakil Bath:

Iranian traditional bath is deserved to be known as one of the symbols of ancient Iranian civilization. They are perfectly adapted to the dry climate of Iran to optimize the usage of water. Vakil bath, no doubt is one of the best designed and best-preserved baths of its kind (together with Kerman Ganjali Khan bath). Now it uses as a cultural museum.

vakil bazzar, kerman
 

·        Check this article to meet the top ten sites you can visit in Shiraz.

 ·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural)  you can visit In Shiraz. 

Above sites were some important ones you can visit in the classic route.

If you have more days for more cities don't miss the next cities and the next attractions;

·        Kerman

20. Bam Citadel

Bam Citadel (Arg-é Bam) is the world's largest mud-brick building. It is located near the city of Bam in Kerman province in southeastern Iran and its Cultural Landscape is an outstanding example of a Central Asian trading settlement.

The ancient citadel of Arg-é Bam probably has a history dating back around 2000 years ago but most buildings were built during the Safavid dynasty.

Bam was almost destroyed in an earthquake in 2003. Many countries as well as UNESCO and, of course, Iran contributed funds and expertise to the Citadel's restoration.

The restoration is impressive not the least for the way the ruins are incorporated into the restoration.

Bam is 190 K.m (2 hours far) from Kerman, and unfortunately, many tourists skip from visiting it but it is worth to be visited.

arge bam, bam castle, bam, kerman
 

21. Kalouts/ Kaluts/ Kaloots Desert

130 K.m driving from Kerman, we will visit Shahdad Kalouts and these glorious high and strange cliffs that are shaped by centuries of water and soil erosion create spectacular desert scenery giving a real scene of isolation.

Observing starry sky of the Kalouts is a unique experience for everybody.

kalout, shahdad kalout, iran kalout
 

·        Here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural) that you can visit In Kerman.


·        South Islands

22. Qeshm Island

Qeshm Island, the largest Iranian island, is located in the Strait of Hormuz.

Qeshm is fringed with biologically diverse landscape from mangrove forests, attractive beaches, and 60 Harbor villages to geologically significant canyons, hills, caves, and valleys, most of which are protected as part of the UNESCO-recognised Qeshm Island Geopark

 

qeshm islan, south OF iran

23. Hormuz Island/ Hormoz Island

Hormuz Island located in the Strait of Hormuz, it is the land of color and wonder. This magnificent Island offers you wonderful views, untouched natures, special traditions and lifestyles.

Most important attractions in Hormuz are;

Salt Goddess, rainbow valley, the valley of statues and red beach and Portuguese castle.

Hormuz island, hormoz island
 

·        Read here one trip diary to Qeshm Island.

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In BandarAbas and Hormozgan Province.

·        North- West of Iran

24. Kandovan

Kandovan Village is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of East Azerbaijan Province. There are three rocky villages in the world, the village of Capadokiya in Turkey and the village of Dakota in the US and the third one is the beautiful village of Kandovan in Iran. Unlike the other two villages, local people are living there, who are mostly farmers or ranchers. There are currently about 3 families living in the village.

kandovan, tabriz
 

25. The Saint Stepanos Monastery

The Saint Stepanos Monastery, also known in Armenian as Maghardavank, is an Armenian monastery located about 15 km northwest of the city of Julfa in the province of East Azarbaijan, northwestern Iran. The St. Stepanos Monastery is one of the most ancient churches in the world which was built back in the ninth century.

The whole area of the monastery is located in the heart of mountains and the middle of the green nature of Jolfa and the Azerbaijan Republic borderline. It is situated in a deep canyon along the Araxes, on the Iranian side of the border between Iran and Nakhchivan.

saint stepanos monastrey, jolfa, tabriz
 

26. Tabriz Bazaar

The Bazaar of Tabriz is a historical market situated in the city center of Tabriz, Iran. It is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world.

Tabriz Historic Bazaar The complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran.

bazaar of tabriz, Tabriz
 

·        Here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Tabriz and East Azerbaijan province.

·         South- West

27. Ziggurat Choghazenbil

Ziggurat Choghazenbil is a temple that the Elamites built for their gods around 1250 BC. Choghazanbil is located 45 kilometers south of Shoush near the ancient area of Haft Tapeh in Khuzestan province.

The Choghaznebil Temple is the largest surviving architectural work of Elamite civilization to date. Ziggurat Choghaznebil building is made of brick and on its bricks, many inscriptions can be seen in the Ilam line. Throughout the ziggurat, waterways can be seen, perhaps because of their protection against flooding. Inside the enclosure is also a large solar clock.

On the opposite side of the city and on the northwest side there is an external fence for water, and the ziggurat has the world's oldest water treatment plant.

Chogaznebil was the a first historical monument in Iran to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The international community values? it exceptionally and universally.

ziggurat, chogha zanbil, shush
 

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Ahvaz and Khuzestan province.

 

28. Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province

Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province is located in the Zagros Mountains, in the southwestern part of Iran. Because of high altitude and having a considerable amount of snow, the province is home to numerous natural tourist attractions in the form of rivers, jungles, waterfalls, and springs.

So if you want to experience something different and you are a nature fan, I recommend checking one proposed itinerary for this area here; A Trip to off the beaten parts of Iran


 
karun dam, shahrekord

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Chahar Mahal.

·        Most important pilgrim sites

29. Imam Reza holey shrine in Mashhad

Imam Reza is the 8th Imam of Shiites and his holy shrine is the largest mosque in the world. And at the same time involves the most important and prominent religious center of Iran that consists of the most features of Persian-Islamic architecture.

 The Imam Reza’s holy shrine is a complex of Shrine, dome, finial, Ravagh, Bast, courtyards, porches, mosques, Saqa Khaneh which are the most worthwhile of architectural decoration.

imam reza, mashhad
 

·        And here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Mashhad and Khorasan Province.

30. Fatemeh Masoumeh holy shrine in Qom

Fatemeh Masoumeh is the sister of Imam Reza and her holy shrine is the second important one in Iran, since it is between Tehran and Kashan (the classic route) many tourists have the chance to visit it and absorb the spiritual and relaxing atmosphere of the environment. Tourists are accompanied by a guide for necessary explanations.

qom shrine, fatima masoumeh shrine
 

31. Shah Cheragh Shiraz

Shah Cheragh is a holy monument in Shiraz. It is the tomb of Ahmad and Muhammad the sons of 7th Imam of Shiite. The beauty of this building is increased by the use of small colored mirrors, tiling, with Persian and Arabic hand-writings in the shrine. There are some rooms decorated with mosaic tiling around the yard. Shah Cheragh means King of lights and it refers to this beautiful interior design and reflection of lights with all these tile mirrors.

shah cheragh, king of lights, shiraz
 

·        North of Iran

32. Rudkhan Castle

Rudkhan Castle is located in Gilan province, North of Iran.

This monument is built mostly by brick and stone and stands on top of a strategic mountain at the elevation of 715m. To reach the castle, there are hundreds of stairs to climb and that is one of the reasons this castle is also known as “The Thousand Step Castle”.

It takes 1-2 hours to get to the castle depends on how are you prepared for this hiking.

The castle consists of several parts, like the water reservoir, the prison, twelve gates, 42 watchtowers, housings, and the king’s quarters. The king’s quarters are located on the highest point of the castle and feature breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

rudkhan castel, gilan, iran
 

33. Masoule/ Masuleh

Masouleh village in Iran is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Rasht and one of the most famous samples of stepped architecture in the world. Of course, in Iran, there are other stepped villages, such as Saragha Sayed village.

Masouleh village is located on the slopes of Alborz forest, at a height of 1050 meters above sea level, although the stepped architecture and historical texture of the village and the difference of 120 meters height between its lowest and highest point, its main feature.

You also will find pristine and spectacular forests, lush waterfalls, high mountains and many other natural attractions in the village of Masouleh.

masouleh village, iran, gilan
 

·        Here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural) that you can visit In Rasht and Gilan Province.

34. Badab-e Surt springs

Badab-e Surt springs are located in Mazandaran province, south of Sari. They include two springs with completely different colors, odor, taste, and volume. The spring is rich in saline water and has a pool of about 4 feet in diameter and is used mainly for a bathe in summer and is useful for the treatment of low back and leg pain, skin diseases, rheumatism and especially migraine headaches.

It also does not freeze due to the salinity in winter. The second fountain, located upstream and northwest of the fountain, is sour-tasting, reddish-orange, and Iron deposited there.

The sedimentary and mineral water flows of these springs over the years have resulted in hundreds of floors and dozens of beautiful pools of orange, yellow and red in various sizes on its downhill slope. These floors and ponds are the main attraction and a unique feature of Badab-e Surt springs. The beauty of these classes and the special location of the fountain in the mountains and the surrounding landscape are especially impressive at sunset.

badabe surt, mazandaran, sari
 

·    Here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In Sari and Mazandaran Province.

·        West of Iran (Kermanshah province)

Kermanshah is a province that has much to say about the history and culture of the country and is known as one of the oldest historical settlements in the world.

35. Taq-e Bostan

Taq-e Bostan (Arc of the garden), a reminder of the city from ancient times and the Sassanid era to the third century AD, was created 5 kilometers far from Kermanshah. This complex in the northwest of Kermanshah and on the mountain slope is named as.

In Taq-e Bostan, you can see a stone sculpture so you can see the Sasanian kings. The monuments are a spectacular part of this monument.

taqe bostan, kermanshah
 

36. Bistoon/ Bisotoun Historic Site

Bistoon Historic Site is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the province, with Darius's inscriptions being globally recognized.

Works such as Darius the Great's World Scrolls, Hercules Statue, Sasanian Dam and Paul Remnants, Sarab Bistoon, Ilkhanid Monuments, Safavid Monuments, Ancient Caves, Goddess II and Blash's Stones, King Abbasi's Carvings, etc., which is one of the richest and most prestigious They constitute the most historic sites in the world.

Perhaps the reason for the accumulation of so many works from different historical periods in one place is the great sanctity that Mount Bistoon has had for many years among Iranians.

bistoon, bisotun, kermanshah
 

·        Here you can have the list of other sites (Cultural, Natural), you can visit In West provinces: Kermanshah, Kordestan, Lorestan.

 

·        Sand dune desert

Whether you are coming from a green nature or not, Iran deserts will mesmerize you.

In the heart of Dasht-e Kavir, a large desert in Iran, there is an enormous area of dunes. 

Most popular ones are

37. Mesr desert

Mesr desert is as beautiful as you can take several hours there and you are mesmerized by its beauties such as yellow sandhills. You can stand up the place and watch endless yellow hills. Touching warm sands between your toes is an unforgettable memory that you ever have had.

You can book a tour to Mesr desert here; Mesr desert tour 

mesr desert, sand dunes


38. Varzaneh Desert

Varzaneh Desert is one of the beautiful deserts of Iran.

This area is located 100 kilometers east of Isfahan. One of the attractions you can find around this desert is the Gavkhoni Wetland and the Gourtan Castle. There are also local lodgings where you can spend the night and enjoy the beautiful desert night sky.

You can book a tour to Varzaneh desert here; Varzaneh desert tour

sult lake, varzaneh desert
 

39. Maranjab desert

It is only 4 hours away from Tehran, there is a desert full of tourist attractions. This area is such famous that you can never see them without tourists. So it can be concluded that if you are looking for a safe destination that is not too crowded, Maranjab is the best option. you can also visit Maranjab Fortress and Wandering Island there.

Of course, there are lots of other amazing attractions that we had to skip from them to make the story short but you may know by a handful the whole sack.

 

If you have any questions from any part of Iran please send the message by contact

To get the Iran visa, just fill up the visa form. 

Join our Iran cultural tours and Iran combination tours to visit any of the above sites you are interested in.