10 reasons why you should visit Iran now

Should I or should I not visit Iran?

You’ve been pondering, mulling over, thinking about it, even planning, yet you still haven’t booked your trip to Iran. You don’t even know why, maybe holidays for you are synonymous with beach so you head to Thailand, maybe you think spices are only available in India, or maybe you think ancient history can only be experienced in Rome.

Whatever has been keeping you from booking that flight, here are my ten reasons why you should visit Iran as soon as possible and overcome all of your doubts.

Ten reasons to visit Iran now

1. Travelling to Iran is safe

Is Iran a safe country to visit? Whether you travel alone or in a group, whether you are a woman or a man, or whether you arrive day or night time, Iran is very safe. I travelled for two weeks with a friend of mine (woman, Iranian), and apart from one flight, we moved from city to city and province to province by night buses, night trains, and taxis, and given the large number of women travelling solo, I can only gather this is a common practice.

The Iranian government devotes plenty of resources to keep their border safe so terrorists and drug dealers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq don’t threaten Iran’s security. It’s without hesitation that I can say that Iran is the safest country in the tormented region.

Reasons to visit Iran
Tehran’s railway station, we were ready to embark on the night train to Tabriz

2. It’s hitting the headlines all over the world

Let’s face it, now it’s totally Iran moment. Listed by many publications as one of the most popular travel destinations for 2014, after soaking in tourist crowds for two weeks I can only say that this year is the beginning of what will finally be an era of never-ending tourism flow for this west Asian country.

Among the reasons people are flocking in Iran, curiosity is definitely a big draw. If you add the pride of saying you have travelled to the Islamic Republic, saw that things are not as mainstream media say, that you challenged all prejudices and warnings from family and friends, I say, book your ticket now.

If you ask me, one of the reasons why you should travel to Iran soon is to go before the crowd gets too big!

Reasons to visit Iran
Tourists in Yazd

3. Visit Iran for its hospitality

Iran is also the country of warm hospitality, the kind I’ve only seen in Sardinia so far, and not just because “welcome” is possibly the most popular English word there, but because it’s an essential feature of their culture. From Tehran to Tabriz we took the night train, and one of our cabin mates was a woman from Tabriz who, within the first two minutes of the conversation, has managed not only to invite us to her house but also to insist. And if you think this degree of hospitality is reserved for foreigners only, you clearly haven’t come across any taarof moment, which is understandable as this is a very “between-Iranians” prerogative.

I had the chance to come to grips with taarof because I was travelling with an Iranian, and this is really the only reason why after each and every single ride the taxi drivers suggested we didn’t need to pay. I really doubt with foreigners they would try such a stunt, they probably know we would simply thank and leave, albeit pretty startled.

Whatever city or province you go, friendly locals will be a great part of your Iranian journey.

Reasons why you should visit Iran
During a picnic in Iran, the best occasion for sharing each other’s food

4. Travel to Iran to learn about its long history

Hardly in need of any introduction, Persepolis is possibly Iran’s most famous ancient site, even though not the only one. From ancient Persia to modern Iran, from the Achaemenid Empire to the Sassanian era, from the Safavid period to the Qajar dynasty, to finally the Pahlavi family and the Islamic Revolution, Iranian history is as stormy as it gets.

With so many historical places to visit in Iran, travelling all around the country you can soak in every period and delve into the nation’s tangled past. After you enjoyed your Persepolis tour, don’t forget to add to the list also other Iran points of interest such as the Golestan Palace in Tehran, Ali Qapu Palace in Isfahan and the Fire Temple in Yazd, just to mention some.

If this is not a reason to visit Iran, I don’t know what is.

Reasons why you should travel to Iran
Famous Gate of Nations in legendary Persepolis

5. Visit Iran for its architecture

Be it a mosque, a palace or a bazaar, Iranian buildings are finely decorated and glow with ornamental elegance. Pastel colours gracefully interact with bright hues, tapering minarets and seemingly ubiquitous domes outline the landscape, symbols and traditional calligraphy coexist in a charming interplay.

Whether inside or outside a building, the sophisticated Persian architecture is always something tourists marvel at every time they visit Iran.

Also, the architectural styles and features evoke the dynasty they belong to. For example, Nasir al Mulk mosque in Shiraz is clearly Qajar dynasty with all its pink roses and small images of French churches, while the stunning Yazd Grand Mosque is all about overlapping styles, symbols and eras.

Getting enchanted by mesmerizing decorations, fine carvings, and elaborate paintings is one of the best reasons why you should visit Iran.

Reasons why you should visit iran
Pastel hues and fine art at Nasir ul-Molk mosque in Shiraz

6. Travel to Iran for their handicraft

Each province, each city, each village has their own handicraft. In Yazd, you will certainly buy the beautiful termeh, handwoven silk and wool fabric (and baklava sweets), in Isfahan tiles and blue chalices and plates to decorate your home or use to offer sweets to your guests with a Persian touch.

Different cities different handicraft. Visit Tabriz (and everywhere else) for their particular carpets of all sizes, colours, and patterns, or their nuts, get to Hamedan for their colourful pottery or spend a day or two in Nishapur for their turquoise stone jewellery.

Wherever you travel in Iran, rest assured that you’ll get back home with the loveliest of gifts and Iranian souvenirs.

Reasons why you should visit Iran
Persian rugs at Shiraz bazaar

7. Plan a trip to Iran to try Persian food

From pistachio to black tea, from saffron to kebab, from Mirza Ghasemi to Ghormeh Sabzi, the heavy presence of aromatic herbs makes Iranian cuisine appetizing and addictive, especially when it comes to pistachio and baklava if you ask me.

While there are national dishes that you can find everywhere, like herb stew Ghormeh Sabzi, there are others that are exclusive, or at least typical of a particular region. Among these are the aforementioned eggplant-based Mirza Ghasemi, typical from Gilan province, or Dizi, too meaty and heavy for me but still a national treat, typical from Ardebil.

If for food you consider also the single ingredients, Iran is famous for its saffron, much cheaper than in Europe in case you are thinking about some Persian gift shopping or their delicious pistachio.

Reasons why you should visit Iran
Delicious saffron rice with sour berries, zereshk polo in Persian language

8. Visit Iran because it’s still cheap

Be it for the sanctions or for the dropping of their currency, travelling to Iran right now will turn very cheap. With the cost of public transport ranging from the 8 euro (roughly 10$) of the night train from Tehran to Tabriz to less than 3 euro (4$) of the bus from Ardebil to Lahijan, and the accommodation, usually 4-star hotels, around the price of 30 euro (40$) per night per double room, you can spoil yourself with a royal treat without spending too much, saving enough for your inevitable shopping spree.

It mostly depends on the exchange rate, by since now euros, dollars and pounds are still strong compared to the rial, try to visit Iran as soon as possible before things change too much.

Reasons why you should visit Iran
Iranian currency rial

9. In Iran, you will have a truly authentic experience

Probably due to sanctions that allow little commercial exchange with other countries, especially in the West, Iran can boast its own products on a variety of manufacturing areas, from food to textiles to ceramics. Apart from goods on sale, Iranians are very proud of their culture and traditions. This is why they will never miss the opportunity to illustrate what you might be seeing, eating, drinking, listening to, and so on and so forth.

This will give anyone who decides to visit Iran a great chance for a genuine local experience. This is also what allows you to better delve into the local society and understand an ancient culture preserved with pride.

Iran tourism is living its boom season, and all Iranians are taking part in showing off their country that for too long has remained isolated from the travel industry.

Now that travel agencies are literally being created every day, you have a lot of Iran tours and packages to choose from. However, if these are too expensive or you are more into independent travel, locals will make you feel welcome and for sure will add to the value of your trip.

Reasons why you should visit Iran
Narghilé (Hookah, Sheesha in Arabic, or Ghelyan in Farsi language) is always present on café tables

10. You will enjoy a relaxed atmosphere

Contrary to common belief, anyone who decided to visit Iran has talked about the laid-back atmosphere. Contrary to many places at least in Italy, you can take pictures pretty much everywhere. Obviously, when it comes to people it’s always better to ask for their permission, but often they will agree, sometimes they will also show up in front of your camera with a “V” pose even before you have the chance to ask.

Vital to complete the breezy and somehow devil-may-care scene is obviously the Iranian friendly attitude. People will always be up for a chat, seldom if ever worried about timetables, surprisingly happy to be the subject of your next photo, and always willing to have you as guests in their house.

» Are you convinced to travel to Iran? Check out our tips and our full guide to make your planning easy and smooth.

» You are not convinced yet? Read some fantastic books about Iran to get some more inspiration!

Reasons why you should visit Iran
Relaxing in the park in Shiraz

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Reasons why you should travel to Iran

94 Comments
  1. Perfect Angela !

  2. Loved it :D

  3. Reply
    saeed shiralizadeh June 9, 2014 at 10:20 am

    hello im saeed from iran you you are welcome here anytime :)

  4. I’m finally going to Iran at the end of the year (booked flights last week!) and I’m more than excited! All you wrote are exactly my reasons why I’ve been dreaming of visiting it for years!

    • hi
      dear kami
      this is ehsan from iran
      i live in karaj near to tehran.
      i can be at your service if you want to come to iran as a person who is fluent in english and knows all historical and seesights of iran.

    • I see on your webpage that you travel to Israel but I think the goverment won’t allow the people who travelled there .So check again to face not any problem. Thanks for your comment

      • what are you saying?
        there is no problem if you have visa you can visit iran and you wont face any problem

        • Hi “an iranian” & everybody,
          As a professional doing inbound tours to Iran, I must indicate that there is no written rule about this case “visit iran with an Israel stamp/visa in your passport” but it depends on the immigration officer at the point of entry to allow yu or not, however if it’s min. 1 year after your trip to Israel, then it would be no issue 90%.
          Should you need furthur info, you can skype me (I hope it’s not againts the rules to disclose my contact details)
          my ID: sh.nazarian
          my h/p: +989123389074 (also available on Viber, WhatsApp and Telegram)

          Wish you have nice trip to Iran, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised on my woooonderful country.

          Cheers
          Shahab

      • Actually, I’ve never been to Israel..

        • I replied to Kami that she wants come to Iran.

        • It is, that’s how I know I can do it :) how was getting a visa on arrival? I heard usually it’s hassle-free

        • Yes, it is hassle-free, it’s the same procedure you do at the embassy, you fill in a form with your contact and address in Iran, and they glue the visa to your passport, you also need to bring 3 or 4 passport-size photos, although not always they use them, and pay the same amount that you would at the embassy. It’s fast, say about 15-20 minutes depending on how many people are there, but it’s not just a stamp like say in Turkey or Lebanon, this is why next time I think I’ll do it at the embassy in Rome anyway, at least I’ll save time at the arrival in Tehran!

        • Good eye, Alireza, I hadn’t noticed she had been to Israel!

        • I tried very hard (and succeded!) not to have any stamps in my passport from Israel or Jordan border with Israel as I knew about the issue and I want to go to Iran really badly. I will also hide all the posts about Israel and will try to get a visa at the border so they won’t be able to check me very well. I’ve heard of people who did that and managed to get in and I’m really hoping I will be able to visit Iran too as it’s one of my dream destinations! Thank you for the comment!

        • Check if Poland is one of those countries that can get visa on arrival, Italy is and that’s how I did it this time.

  5. Absolument d’accord avec Kami!Moi aussi je suis impatiente de voir les merveilles que tu décris!

  6. It is ironic that the writer bothered to convert the euro costs to us dollars – since us citizens can NOT go to Iran. Not that there are many of us who would want to – I have lived in China since 2001 and am very welcome HERE. It is also very informative to think of the three nations that ban Americans – North Korea, Cuba, and Iran. On behalf of my fellow Americans, I wish to thank this terrible trio for banning us – you are undoubtedly the three worst nations in the world and no desire to ever visit you would be entertained by a thinking human being.

    • Dear Michael, Dear crowd,

      Although you speak arrogantly and negative about Iran and Iranian, but me as an Iranian who is in travel and tourism business since 2000 and specially involved in inbound tourism to Iran from other countries, want to clarify it for those thinking like you. The only pasport holders who can’t enter Iran are those from Is-rael. That’s because Iran government down;t recognize any country in the world in this name and call it occupied Palestine. So the other nations can easily travel to Iran, unless they visited Is-rael or been in Is-rael-Jordan border (within 1 year before their travel to Iran, however I never tested those who traveled to Is-rael more than 1 yr before their travel to Iran).
      Very few nationalities must obtain visa before arrival incl. US, UK, Canada, Indi, Pakistan, Afghanistan (at the moment 11 countries in total). Others can enter Iran and get upon arrival or on arrival visa, if they enter from the IKA (Imam Khomeini International Airport) in Tehran.
      Iran is mostly visited by people from following countries: Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, US, UK, Japan and China, Russia.
      Iran is one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of tourism attractions (Culture, History, Nomads, Nature and wildlife) and has many unique attractions, you can’t find anywhere in the world.
      FYI, although Iran is a dry country in average, we have rich jungles and rain forests. We have sun, sea and sands. We have endangered animal and botanic species like Persia Panther, Crocodile, etc.
      We have the unique and wide range of real and original nomads (not gypsies) all over Iran with different costumes, cultures, living styles and languages.
      We have a real and complete 4 season climate in Iran. While during March in Yazd people use air-conditioners to cool their houses, just, just 40 km away, people sleep by heaters to warm their houses.
      In a simple sentence, Iran is a “must see before you die” destination, for those who are OK to ignore drinking alcohol and open sexual relations during their stay in this woooonderful country.
      Everybody is welcomed to Iran and nobody can resist the guest-friendly people of Iran. Please read blogs by those US citizens who visited Iran already to belive what I said.
      Thanks for your time,
      Shahab

      • Hi Shahab, thanks for your comment. I agree with everything you said, except for your advice on reading US bloggers in order to believe that Iran is a country worth visiting. They can read bloggers of any nationality, they are as, if not more, reliable than US ones :)

    • Reply
      North Atlantic Pirate June 30, 2014 at 6:03 am

      Good thing all those US citizens I met in Cuba, didn’t have your knowledge and wisdom.

    • I feel sorry that such ignorant creatures such as u still exist, putting Iran in a group with North Korea and Cuba well explains your level of knowledge and information BTW :

      There is no ban for Americans in Iran and every year many bright minded Americans visit Iran (those ones who are not brain washed by weapons of mass deception).

    • It is prohibited for US Americans to go to Cuba – by the US government – but I met some open-minded who could manage to go trough Panama. I loved the people there, and Cuba is not a bad nation! And I´m sure the Iranians are great people to, I´d love togo there!!!

    • Anthony Bourdain -an American chef, author, and television personality- is now in Iran and tweeting right now https://twitter.com/Bourdain

    • Americans are not banned in Iran, a visa is all that is needed. And Michael why don’t you just stay in China

    • Hey Michael
      Who says that US citizens are banned? I have a cousin in America who visits here every year.
      You got the wrong information.
      By the way my cousin’s name is Michael too!

    • Well, Michael you just shown your individual lack of knowledge.
      we are friends of all nations especially Americans, you are not banned and you are always welcome to enter Persian soil.
      If you expect respect, you should respect others first!

    • Well, if you don’t like cultural travel, you don’t have much to do in Iran. Besides, Americans are not “banned”, try to get better information sources.

  7. although Iran is safe but you should avoid 100 km of borders near Afghanistan, Pakistan. Thank you for your travell

  8. Wow!
    Thank you Angela, even I didn’t looked that way. it’s so nice to see people (especially foreigners) enjoy being in Iran. I hope you visit here soon again.

  9. Dear Angela,

    As an Iranian tour giude it’s my pleasure to read your nice article.
    I really enjoyed your point of view, and your pictures are nice too…

    We are ready for welcome all the tourist who interesed in discovering our old culture and beautiful nature.

    Best regards and hope to see you here again… :)

  10. That was a nice review, thanks Angela :)

  11. Great information, thanks! Can you recommend which time of the year is best to go?

    • Hi Irene, thanks for stopping by. As I’m usually told, the best time to travel to Iran is either right before or right after Nowruz, which is their spring festival, both for the weather and because it’s less expensive. During Norwuz you are bound to find higher prices in both flights and hotels. Normally, Iran has the four season, so winter can be very cold and summer stifling hot, especially in southern regions. Do let me know if you need more info, I’ll be happy to help!

  12. Ennesimo bellissimo e suggestivo post!

  13. Hi Angela,
    Excellent summary on why you should go to Iran – We were there over Easter (2014) and immensely enjoyed this country! I couldn’t agree more.
    What surprise me is that you made it from Shiraz to Tabriz… We had to let the whole north for another trip (and also had 16 days at hand).
    I will put a link of this article on my website, if you don’t mind.
    Cheers
    Gilles

    • Hi Gilles, I went to Tabriz first, then went to Gilan province (north) because my friend was from there and could show me around, and because she knows I like non-touristy places! After Gilan we flew to Shiraz and visited more the southern regions. But yeah, it was a roller coaster really, next trip I’ll stay longer and take my time to hit less traveled roads :)
      Do link, thanks a lot, I’m glad you liked the post and that you agree!

  14. hi, love your stories. i have been to Romania travelling myself 3 years ago and plan a trip on short notice now to Iran.

    Can you tell me if visa upon Arrival (I’m German) works out as you have just been there?

    If you are in Transilvania try to visit a Little town called viscri – a beautiful village with a stunning church Castle.

    Looking Forward to Hearing from you.

    Safe travels always,
    Steffi

  15. hello Angela,

    sounds great.. I was in Romania 3 year ago too. Try to go to Viscri – a beautiful Little village.

    i have a question regarding Iran as I would like to go there on short notice next week:

    I have a german passport and was wondering if you did visa upon Arrival? did it work?

    Thanks for any help and always safe travels.

    Steffi

    • Hi Steff, thanks for dropping by! Yes, in Iran I did visa on arrival, it doesn’t take long, when you land, just before the passport control you’ll see the visa office. They will issue your visa there, it takes 10 minutes. The only thing, I arrived at night, so maybe if I had done it in Rome at the consulate I wouldn’t have wasted time at Tehran airport. I think next time I’ll do it in Rome, the process is the same anyway, you have to fill in a form and pay the same fee.

  16. Hi:
    I am living in Iran. Mashhad. I am a teacher. My English not very good.
    I like a tourist in my house guests. And live with us for a specified period. Free.
    I like familiar with the life and culture of other countries.
    My Email: shokohih@yahoo.com
    Facebook. Shokohihasan

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  18. hey mates I really appreciate it to be ur host in Iran for free Because I really be grateful to keep in touch with foreign ppl so feel free and say what comes to ur mind I live in an ancient city of Iran That named Shushtar, In province of Khozestan. I take down my social acc just feel free to know anything about my country : Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Mehranstr
    Mail address:Sadimehran1991@gmail.com
    best regards

  19. Hi Angela! I read you can get a visa at your arrival at the airport, but that is only if you stay 15 days or less, right?
    How many days did you spend on your last trip to Iran?

    • I was there for 15 days and I did visa on arrival at the airport. Process is the same as you do it in Italy though, form and fee, so next time I’ll do it at the consulate in Rome just to avoid wasting time at the airport in Tehran!

      • Yes, you’re lucky because you live in Rome. I live in Vicenza and both me and my boyfriend should waste a day to go to Milan to leave our fingerprint.

        Anyway, we’re going next week and hopefully there will be no problem regarding the Visa (I read that they do send people back seldomly).

        I’m so excited about this upcoming trip! And looking at your pictures and your articles makes me even more impatient!

        The only thing that “worries” me a bit is that it’s going to be COLD! I didn’t realise it’s as cold as in Italy there, when I booked the flights :P

  20. I visited Iran in October 2014 and I can only agree with everything you said. What a wonderful experience! Now I try to convince everybody around me how Iran is a great destination despite all the bad press…
    A truly eye-opening trip!

  21. Thank you for this awesome article, Angela..! I’m going to Iran with friends in 3 months and can’t wait! Of course I have some tiny worries, but I’m also incredibly excited and believe I’ll have an experience of a lifetime :)
    Ok, now I’m off for a photoshoot in a headscarf for the visa application (they recommended it, even though it’s not 100% necessary)

    • Hi Veronika, thanks for dropping by! You’ll love Iran, I’m sure, do ask if you have any question! Absolutely not necessary wearing headscarf for the visa application, I’ve done it three times and never wore headscarf for the visa!

  22. Perfect!

    At the rate at which people are visiting Iran, I am afraid it will be just like any other ‘tourist’ destinations in the coming years :( .

    The right time to visit the country is now! Or at-least, as soon as we can.

  23. Lovely post Angela. It’s always nice to read about the more obscure destinations. Well done!

  24. Seriously Angela? How much and who has paid you to right that the Islamic Republic of Terror is a “safe place” and a place where you can relax? What have you been smoking? I am Iranian and I refuse to go to Iran. Not because it’s not beautiful and not because the food is not great, and people not hospitable; but because Iran thank you those who have paid you to write this garbage is a dangerous place that Iranians are leaving by hundreds and you are talking about a safe place for a single woman to travel to? Seriously? Get a grip and write the truth!

    • You refuse to go to Iran and still dare to comment on Iran safety situation! Anahita, Get off U.s and West controlled media and get a life…
      Anahita might be Iranian but there is something you need to know about them, Angela.. There are two different types of Iranians. Ones who rather live under sanctions, sacrificed and die for true freedom and safety of their people but not bend for US, Saudis and West and then you have Anahita type of Iranians who choose slavery over a bottle of alcohol and a beach to party because that is what safety and freedom means to them. Since we are well aware of US Plans on Media I have no doubt she and thousands like her are being paid to go through Media and spread hate and wrong ideas about Iran..

    • Actually, dear Anahita, seems like you don’t know anything about Iran, and since you even say you don’t go, that would explain much about your absurd conceptions. As a matter of fact, I can ask you who’s paying you to pollute other websites with the rubbish you write, you do seem one of those trolls paid to spread the wrong ideas about Iran. To be honest, I know many Iranians, and given your uncivilized language I even doubt you are Iranian yourself. Unfortunately, I go to Iran very often, so I know what I’m talking and writing about. And no, when I travel I’m not escorted by the Iranian government’s bodyguards.

  25. Nice articles about Iran Angela,

    Thank you for showing the real Iran and its culture. Iran has been there for thousands of years, many governments have come and gone but the great culture has survived.

  26. Hi Angela.
    Thanks for your article.
    Regarding the insurance, I believe you have the option to buy insurance on your arrival with one of the local companies. It could be a cheaper option as I think the price for one week is less than 20 Euros.

  27. Best cities :Shiraz -Isfahan -kish
    Search about them and choose the best one
    Have nice Trip

  28. Hi Angela !!!!!!
    Thanks for article !!!
    I am from Iran !!!

    Do you want to visit Iran again???

  29. hiii there..im nahal ebrahim from iran,,live in tehran,,i would like to be your host here,,,
    for more information pls text me
    nahalebrahim@gmail.com
    skype:nahal ebrahim

  30. Greetings! Very helpful advice iin this particular article!
    It is the little changes which will make the most important changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  31. It’s perfect . Thanks alot.

  32. After having read how Iran is totally safe even for solo female travelers, Iran has moved higher and higher on my travel wish list! I am mostly intrigued by the culture and the people. It seems like one spectacular travel destination.

  33. Iran is the country you are looking for to visit. Iran is the right choice. I can assure you weather you are girls or boys, Jweish or Christian, black or white, you will be safe. Follow me on Instagram , Jalal1995r

  34. Hello
    Thank you for promoting iran as one of top travel destinations in recent years and hope to see you at our place soon.

  35. Hi

    Angela you should visit “Rasht”(The City of Rain) Next time ;)

  36. hey there
    im hossein from Tehran
    if there is any visitor who wants a companion while in Tehran, I, as a persian man that knows english very well would like to be at your service!
    contact me if you’re interested:
    mhr13792000@yahoo.com

  37. Hi there, Iran sounds fabulous – is this information still applicable in 2019 please?

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