When planning a trip to Iran, one of the main things that make travelers freak out is the packing list, especially when it comes to clothing items. When deciding what to pack for Iran, there are a few things to keep in mind, and while the Iran dress code is a very important point for your list, it’s not the only one.
For Iran, you don’t need to pack items like your own towels, bedsheets, pillow, or pillow cover. The higher-end the hotel, the more services, but I have also booked some very affordable accommodations and always found my room, facilities, and equipment very clean. Daily-use items such as wet wipes, soap, or sanitizer can be easily found everywhere in Iran, be it a pharmacy or a local shop, so if you’d rather travel light and are still wondering what to pack for Iran, we did our best to draw a list of essentials you are better off carrying from home.
Essential Items You Need to Pack for Iran
Passport and Visa
To enter Iran, you are likely to need a visa. Many nationalities can apply for a visa on arrival at Tehran’s airport, so I suggest you check beforehand if you are one of those, otherwise, you need to sort out all your papers and documents in your home country. Even though I can obtain a visa on arrival, I still prefer to land with my papers ready so I don’t have to queue at the local office.
Wherever you come from, never forget to pack your passport when traveling to Iran.
This is what female travelers should pack for Iran because on top of leggings, trousers, and even long skirts there needs to be a manteau, which is a thigh-length garment, or tunic. Colors don’t matter, they can be as bright as you like, and also the fabric is not imposed, so if you travel in summer, it can be light cotton or linen.
To be honest, I never bought a specific manteau in Iran, I have always managed to adapt the pieces of clothes I have at home. Most of the time, I would wear a dress but instead of tights, with underneath a pair of jeans. I haven’t found Iranian authorities too strict, I have seen many women just wearing long trousers or shirts. In winter, there is no issue because a regular coat will do.
A shawl or scarf is also what to pack for Iran for women because they always need to cover their heads. Similarly to the other pieces of clothes, for the headscarf, too, colors are not important. If winter maintains its darker shades, as soon as Spring starts, right for the Nowruz festival, you will see bright colors in the natural landscape and in the women’s clothes all over the country, not only in the ancient village of Abyaneh where the traditional headscarf has a pattern of red roses all year long.
Whether you are staying in the city or visiting more rural areas, be ready to walk and take stairs. One of the items I recommend packing for Iran is a pair of good, comfortable shoes. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pack also a pair of elegant shoes, essential if you are planning a nice dinner out sometimes.
If you are exploring Tehran, you are likely to walk a lot, if you are visiting Shiraz, there are plenty of stairs in many of its landmarks including the tombs of poets Hafez and Saadi, and long walks await also in the popular Persepolis archaeological site as well as the desert city of Yazd, where many hotels are traditional houses and sometimes not equipped with a lift. If it’s summer, you can totally wear your most comfortable sandals. Open shoes are allowed and yes, women can paint their toenails.
I was never robbed nor have I assisted to such a scene, but one of the things I suggest packing for Iran, or whenever you travel abroad, is a fanny pack or safety clothes. This way you can easily hide the money, cards, and papers you are carrying, especially when you are in crowded areas such as the beautiful Iran bazaars, always historical places finely decorated that are a must-see.
If you are planning to travel to different areas and popular Iran destinations, chances are you are going to spend a long time in buses, trains, airports, or even private cars. A pair of headphones is lightweight and handy to carry, perfect if you like to listen to your favorite songs, the local radio, a podcast, or even an audiobook, so a great addition to your Iran packing list.
Your Favorite Book
Your favorite book is definitely what to pack for Iran if you are not into listening to music when traveling. Whether it’s a book about Iran, a fashion magazine you read to relax, or crossword puzzle magazines, keep in mind that transfers in Iran can take long hours, so you’d better use something you enjoy. And if this means studying a new language, why not seazing the great opportunity of taking a DIY Persian course and practice instantly in-loco by striking up a conversation with locals along the way? They will love to help.
With some pretty large desert areas, something I strongly suggest you pack for Iran is a strong moisturizer. Of course, the best way to get hydrated is by drinking a lot, but a rich cream can also help, especially at night, after a whole day under the sun. I didn’t add a rich cream when I packed for Afghanistan and I noticed my skin was suffering after a few days in Herat, which has very dry weather. An eye cream might also be a good idea, and if you are not staying longer, you can pour a little in a few travel-size containers and carry all you need in a handy toiletry bag.
Either in the place of your day cream or on top of it, one of the items to add to your Iran packing list is definitely a strong sunscreen, especially if you are going in spring or summer. Sun can be really unforgiving in the region, so whether you have sensitive skin or not, be careful not to get burnt. Depending on your skin and on the season, you can pick a more or less strong sunscreen to add to your list of what to pack for Iran.
Can you travel to Iran and miss taking pictures? I didn’t think so. After landing, you will soon realize that Iran is a very photogenic country. Blue domes, tapering minarets, dramatic desert landscapes, opulent royal palaces, and lively bazaars are some of the subjects you can zoom in with your lenses. This, to me, is one of the best ways to bring home a piece of Iran and the travel memories you built during your trip. I loved capturing Tehran’s flavors as well as the UNESCO-listed Chogha Zanbil in the Khuzestan province, so if you ask me what to pack for Iran, I would definitely suggest a travel camera.
Iranian pharmacies are well equipped with every medicine, but if you have known conditions or if you know that you have a delicate stomach and need some help when out of your comfort zone, maybe it’s better you carry your own remedies so that you are more prepared.
If you catch sudden flu, don’t worry, in Iran, you will find the equivalent of aspirin, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotics without problems.
Collapsible Water Bottle
Carrying your own water bottle is always a good thing when you travel so that you can fill it and never stay dehydrated. If the bottle can fold and become tiny, it’s a plus not to underestimate. Having light suitcases and backpacks is very convenient when you move from a region to another, and your own collapsible bottle is what to pack for Iran especially if you travel in the hot season and in desert areas.
A good idea wherever you travel is to have a universal adapter easily available. When packing for Iran, make sure your electricity adapter can be used with power plugs and sockets of type C and F. In Iran, the standard voltage is 220 V so before going and depending on your electronics, make sure you don’t need also a voltage converter. Sometimes, I found the Italian and international sockets in my hotel, but this was mainly when I was staying at 4 or 5-star accommodations.
To avoid staying without your phone or camera, pack a strong power bank. Ideally, your portable power bank will have a long charge and will be wireless so that you can recharge your devices on the go wherever you are. I have seen electricity stations in some coffee shops and sometimes on the train, but I wouldn’t fully rely on it. Carry your own to stay on the safe side.
If you know you are staying at 4 or 5-star hotels, you won’t have to worry about a hairdryer, but if you are planning to book budget hotels, guesthouses, or hostels, a small hairdryer is something to pack for Iran. This is the case in summer, too, because even if your hair dries out quickly under the sun, remember that you will always wear a headscarf. So, to prevent your hair from staying wet all day, a small, easy-to-pack hairdryer is something to consider.