You may be surprised to hear that Iran has one of the fastest-growing tourism industries in the world. For those who know or have previously visited the country, this shouldn’t come as a shock as this country is home to some of the most hospitable people, old and fascinating history, and stunning architecture, not to mention landscapes that include deserts, green mountains, and islands.
In other words, Iran is an incredible destination for travelers, and it is exciting that more people are realizing that it can be part of their list of places to visit.
If you are looking to get off the beaten path in your worldly explorations, but are unsure how to organize your trip, then here are the ultimate insider tips for traveling to Iran.
Obtaining an Iran tourist visa is becoming more and more simple as the government welcomes an increasing number of travelers. In fact, Iran now has an online e-visa application process that is available for tourists who are eligible for visa on arrival (citizens of over 180 countries can utilize this service).
For those who are not eligible for the online e-visa application, getting an Iran tourist visa is still straightforward, and typically, visas are valid for 30 days.
There are plenty of options for hotels in Iran, but not all of them are the same! Make sure to do thorough research on the possibilities and use an online hotel reservation service that can assist you in finding hotels in cities such as Mashhad, Tehran, Kish, Isfahan, Shiraz, Qeshm, Tabriz and Yazd.
One of the most unique options for accommodation in Iran is to stay in a traditional house. These are generally located outside of the major cities, offering you a chance to add a more local stay to your itinerary.
While it is possible to travel independently around Iran (apart from the US, the UK, and Canadian tourists), it is recommended that all visitors have a tour guide in order to get the most out of the experience. Iran is a complicated and fascinating country and having a local explain things to you will help you to have a more thorough understanding of the culture and the society.
That being said, the bigger cities in Iran are increasingly tourist-friendly, and it’s very safe, even for solo female travelers. But if you want to venture out to some of the smaller locales or less traveled provinces, then having a tour guide will help immensely.
4. Food & Drink
Iranian food is next-level delicious and is sure to be one of the highlights of your time in the country. While you are in Iran, you must try local street food dishes such as Jigar (liver kabob), Balâl (street corn), Châghâle bâdum (skinless baby almonds), and Lavâshak (fruit leather in exotic flavors).
Additionally, Iranians love to drink fruit juices — especially in the summer months. So, take advantage of these healthy beverages, and sip on pomegranate or barberry juices while you are there.
Other drinks to taste include Sekanjabin with Cucumber (one of the oldest Iranian beverages) and Sharbat-e Zaferoun (saffron sharbat) which is comprised of boiling water, saffron, rosewater and sugar.
One of the most critical customs to respect when traveling to Iran revolves around your wardrobe. For females going to the country, make sure you fill your suitcase with loose-fitting and long-sleeved tops and long pants. Ensure you have a scarf ready to cover your head with before getting on the plane. For males, you want to be wearing a T-shirt and jeans or long pants.
Also, understand that cash reigns supreme in Iran so bring as much as you need. And, while on the subject of money, “Taarof” is a cultural custom that requires politeness as a form of respect. If a restaurant owner or taxi driver refuses to accept your money, this is due to Taarof, and you must continue insisting on paying until they take your money. It can be confusing at first!
Are you interested in traveling to Iran? What is intriguing to you? What is stopping you? Let us start a discussion in the comments below!
Raheleh Rasouli is a content creator at Snapptrip, a full-service travel booking company based in Tehran, Iran with a mission to empower customers’ choices in booking their whole travel online. Raheleh is a veteran journalist with an aptitude for precision and a passion for new media.