2 weeks independent in Iran (1 of 4: Tehran & Shiraz)

Iran classic tour from Tehran to Shiraz organized independently. I will tell you where to go, what to see, how to get around and how much you will spend.
Here I tell you about useful things to know about Iran and a post about food is coming soon.

Versione in italiano

Iran – once known as Persia – is a country with a bad reputation, for political reasons, but it is rich in art and culture wonders. But above all I was looking forward to get in touch with the people in this civilization so different from ours.

Indeed, we decided to go for Summer holidays, self organizing the so-called “classic tour”. August is not the ideal time to visit Iran, it is very hot (above 35 degrees celsius), but being dry it can be endured by drinking a lot and avoiding being in the sun for a long time.

My tour featured these stages:

1. Tehran
2. Shiraz
3. Yazd
4. Varzaneh
5. Isfahan
6. Kashan
7. Qom

At the end I write about organizational details and costs.

1. TEHRAN (2 nights)

Most guidebooks don’t praise Tehran and various Iranians have told me “Tehran is beautiful only for those from Tehran”.
Here you will start your experience in Iran,  and therefore start getting used to Iranian culture.
A few things, however, well deserve to be seen.
Imamzadeh Saleh shrine is one of my favorite mosques in Iran. It is located in the North of the city (you can easily get there by metro). Best time to visit is at sunset and then go to the nearby Tajrish bazaar – in Iran bazaars are often near the main mosque -. This one is maybe less impressive than others in the country but I have a sweet memory of the shop making and selling gaz and sohan, two traditional Irani sweets.The symbol of the city is the Azadi tower, which we can consider the Iranian Eiffel tower. It is located to the west, and you will surely pass it if you take a domestic flight from Mehrabad airport, but it can also be reached by subway. The place is suitable for selfies. Golestan palace (UNESCO site) is also interesting, especially from outside, but inside displays an incredible marble throne and beautiful paintings.
There are two places well known for evening social life. Si Tir street, a 300-meter-long street in the centre with “international” street food stands and drinks that gets lively after dark, especially with young people. It wasn’t a “wow” experience. The cool area, however, is north to the city (the richer part) and is called Darband. It is located on the hill and therefore has the great advantage of being cool in the Summer and is characterized by many outdoor bars and restaurants.
In the capital I ate in some very interesting places, but I’ll tell you about it in a dedicated post.

2. SHIRAZ (2 nights)

The classic tour goes from Tehran to Shiraz. You can travel either from north to south or the other way around. We chose the second option, flying a domestic flight from Tehran to Shiraz.

Getting to Shiraz I understood why so many told about the beauty of Iran. 
Atiq mosque shining at sunset was unforgettable, also because we had the chance to mingle with the crowd of visitors.
We had an amazing experience also at the famous “pink mosque” (Nasir ol Molok) at sunrise, with striking color effects from the windows.

The Citadel is beautiful from the outside – a tower is leaning just like in Pisa – but the interior is not worth to visit. Eram garden (Unesco site), on the other hand, did not impress me, but I am absolutely admired by the care with which Iranians maintain plants and flowers in the torrid Iranian Summer.
Hafez tomb is in fact a park and here locals gather in the evening for leisure. There is not much to do, actually, but it was fun that many asked us to take selfies.

PERSEPOLIS

When you are in Shiraz you must make the excursion to the UNESCO site of Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid in Farsi language), the capital of the Persian Empire conquered and destroyed by Alexander the Great when Rome was still a small village.
It takes about an hour by car to get there. We found the taxi driver by ourselves (communicating via google translator). I highly advice arriving at the opening time (8 am) because in Summer it gets hot quickly and you will enjoy the site almost alone for some time.
The city has impressive walls, but inside it is about ruins (like Roman antiquities in Italy). The remains of the gate of all nations, of the double hippogriff and the bas-reliefs are wonderful. The museum inside is also worth a visit. Do not waste time with the tombs in Persepolis and go to the necropolis (10 minutes by car), where Darius, Xerxes and Cyrus were buried: the view is stunning.

The tour continues on the next pages:
Yazd and Verzaneh
Isfahan, Kashan and Qom
Organisation and costs

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