15 Reasons to Visit Iran

15 Reasons to Visit Iran

Why Visit Iran

Iran is not on many travelers lists of countries to visit these days due to negative press, unstable neighbors, and questions about safety. These are valid concerns, however, Iran can be a safe travel destination. Traveling there as an American is as simple as applying for a visa and planning ahead with a reputable tour company. It is home to 19 UNESCO world heritage sites and waiting to be explored by new visitors.

Persepolis, Iran

As an American, I’ve never been treated so well by complete strangers. Local Iranians went above and beyond to make sure I was enjoying myself. When they found out I was from the U.S. they were even more excited to speak with me, invite me over, and show me around their cities. I don’t think I will need to book a hotel or find a restaurant when I return to Iran. I have more new friends across the country than anywhere else I have visited.

The local Iranian hospitality I had heard about met my expectations and created a wonderful environment to travel in. Not many Americans make this trip but for nearby Europeans Iran is a far more common destination so don’t let them keep it all to themselves. Explore Iran and enjoy an amazing part of the world on your next adventure.

These are 15 reasons to visit Iran but there are countless more.

Persepolis

The literal translation of Persepolis is “City of Persians” and it is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Iran. This ancient city dates back over 2,500 years and is located outside the city of Shiraz in southwest Iran.

Persepolis

The Tomb of Hafez

Known for it’s poets and beautiful gardens Shiraz is must-visit in Iran. One of the highlights is the Tomb of Hafez. This Persian poet wrote about love and wine and his writings are still popular today.

Tomb of Hafez- Shiraz, Iran

The Mosques

No matter your religious affiliation it is hard to deny mosques are some of the most beautiful structures to photograph. The Vakil Mosque in Shiraz contains 48 monolithic pillars in the prayer hall and creates an incredible setting.

Vakil Mosque Shiraz, Iran

The Kaluts

The Kaluts is a desert in southeastern Iran located 75 minutes drive northeast of Kerman. This desert is filled with with sand castles towering 5-10 stories high. It is a perfect place for a morning hike to catch the sunrise over the desert or just sit back and enjoy the view.

Kaluts, Iran

The Citadels

The ancient citadels of Rayen and Bam are located in the Kerman province of Iran. The citadel in Bam was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 2003 but the mudbrick citadel of Rayen still stands after more than 1,000 years.

Raeyen Citadel, Iran

The Holy City of Qom

It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not because the city of holy city Qom can be appreciated by anyone. Qom is 125km south of Tehran and is a picturesque place to stop for the afternoon. The shrine of Fatema (the sister of Imam Reza) is the highlight of this city.

Qom, Iran

Hiking to the top of Isfahan

Isfahan (or Esfahan) is considered a favorite city by many visitors to Iran. It is very green, a river runs through it, and it is Iran’s third largest city with almost 1.8 million people. Sofeh mountain isn’t a tall mountain but makes for a nice morning hike to look over the city. A cable car will take you half way to the top if you choose not to walk. A second cable car was being built when I visited to take you to the top but it is more fun to climb it yourself. It will take around 2 hours to reach the top. The signs aren’t well marked but old hiking paths make it an easy walk and offer great views from the top.

Sofeh Mountain Isfahan

Vank Cathedral

A church in Iran? Yep, and it’s a beautiful one to visit in Isfahan. The Vank Cathedral was built in the 17th century by the Armenians and is located in the Armenian quarter of Isfahan. Visit the museum, church, and don’t forget to look up at the incredible frescoes covering the walls and ceiling of the church.

Vank Cathedral

The Gardens

There are a lot of desert landscapes in Iran void of green and water which must be exactly why they value their gardens so much. Isfahan streets are lined with green trees making it a very picturesque city but one of my favorite green spaces was located inside the Abbasi hotel. Enjoy tea, dinner, or just enjoy their speedy WiFi 🙂

Abbasi hotel

The Green Streets

I mentioned Isfahan’s green streets and they really surprised me. I love tree lined streets and that is partially why I really enjoyed this city. Tehran has some nice streets as well but many I saw were closer to the mountains in Darband (another favorite spot).

Isfahan, Iran Streets

The Sunsets

I love a good sunset and Iran offered some amazing ones. From the deserts to the cities the sunsets were incredible. Here is one of my favorites from my rooftop in Isfahan.

Sunset in Isfahan, Iran

Tea Time in Iran

Tea culture is big in Iran and since I love tea this was always a highlight throughout the day. Here we are enjoying the sunset in the Kaluts desert with some delicious tea.

Tea in the Kaluts

The Architecture

The architecture of Iran is impossible to summarize in one photo but is one of the major highlights when visiting Iran. The Persian domes, the minarets, and colorful tiles are only a few of the amazing examples of architecture you will see in Iran.

Persian Architecture

Naqshe-e Rustam Tombs

These Persian crosses are home to Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I, and Xerxes I and date back roughly 2,500 years. They are located near Persepolis outside of Shiraz.

Naqsh-e Rustam

Bafq Desert

Located 120km southeast of Yazd you will stumble upon the Bafq desert. It is the perfect place to ride into the sunset on the back of a camel and make new friends over some tea.

Bafq Desert

Traveling to Iran

Traveling to Iran with Uppersia was the trip of a lifetime. I will definitely return to Iran and I recommend traveling there before more people discover this beautiful place. Tourism is growing as sanctions are lifted and you can expect to see a lot of changes in tourism over the next few years.

See: How to Travel to Iran as an American

I have been traveling to over 100 countries by using the methods I share on this site. My goal is to maximize every trip and make the most of my adventures. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram

  • Adil Maheri

    OMG you’re a great photographer! You should go to Istanbul too to take greater photos 🙂

    • Thank you and I was there earlier this year. Definitely want to go back soon.

  • Frank Thomae

    Beautiful! I have no moral/political issues about visiting Iran – the only thing actually is the alcohol issue (I need my liquor!). Otherwise I’d for sure go.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Well you’re in luck because almost everyone I met drinks! Private parties and homes serve alcohol it’s just not exactly legal but it is easy to find if you make some friends.

    • Frank Thomae

      Not to sound like an alcoholic or anything…but do you have a ‘fixer’ you can hook me up with? 🙂

      Frank

    • Haha well I can’t name any names since it is illegal. But trust me it isn’t hard to find something to drink in Iran.

    • Frank Thomae

      Ok, good to know otherwise I’m not going 😉

  • Barca o muerte

    Thanx.. Great report..

  • Beautiful photos! My old neighbors were from Iran. I have flown over it, but am yet to set foot there.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Charles Lawrence

    I was thinking of going to Iran but need access to internet. Did you have internet access in the cities you visited? Thanks in advance!