Reasons to Visit
scattered throughout the country are the ancient glories of the Persian empire, from the awe-inspiring site of Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam to the austere Tomb of Cyrus.
Iran is home to a dazzling array of ancient and modern architecture from palaces and qajar houses to thousand year old world heritage listed sites.
Carpets are synonymous with Iran and browsing through the dusty and vibrant local markets to pick up a bargain is a great insight into Iranian culture.
Iran's most famous export, carpet weaving forms an essential part of Persian art and culture and you'll find plenty of examples in Tehran's carpet museum.
Famous for its geometrical shapes and complex floral patterns Iran is home to some of the world's best examples of Islamic art.
Although the strict customs and rules of the Iranian Muslim faith can seem daunting at first, a deeper look into the culture will reveal a more contemplative and considerate attitude.
Extremely friendly, Iranians are very aware of their perceived image in the west and are keen to re-dress the balance. Iranians are rightly famous for their warm hospitality.
Yazd, Hamadan and Tehran are all synonymous with the Silk Route and still inspire the same excitement and allure as they have done to Silk Road travellers for hundred of years.
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Our Iran specialists are experienced and passionate about the country - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know Iran inside out.
A direct consequence of the international sanctions on Iran is a paucity of high-end accommodation. International hotel chains are unable to operate in the country, thereby restricting visitors to Iranian-owned establishments, many of which are a little shabby these days.
We always try to put our clients in the accommodation best suited to them, and most towns make up in interest what they lack in international-standard comfort.
Following an EU ban we no longer recommend travelling by plane in Iran. As a result of this you may well have a number of long distance drives, however and on the plus side you'll see more of the country this way, roads are in very good condition and we only choose the best cars assuring you of a smooth ride.
Iran's population is around 50-60% Aryan (Persian), 30% Azeri and around 10% Kurdish, with other minorities dotted around here and there. The official language is Farsi, and very few people speak English - if anything, German seems to be the main European language spoken.
In general tipping is not expected in places such as local restaurants and taxis, and it is up to your discretion whether you wish to do so. In the larger international style hotels, Western style tipping is the norm. For guides and drivers, tipping is a part of their salary, and, although not compulsory, tipping is an excellent way to show your appreciation of their services.
The Iranian custom is to refuse a tip three times before accepting.
Most restaurants serve traditional kebabs made of lamb or chicken as their main dish, with the other option being the ubiquitous fast food restaurants dotted throughout the country. Traditional meals tend to start with a helping of olives, salad, nan bread and yogurt, with a main course of meat or occasionally fish. Aubergines also feature extensively.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and anyone found in possession of alcohol of any type is liable to punishment, however, non-alcohol beer can be purchased everywhere.
Traveller's cheques and credit cards are not accepted in Iran, and ATMs do not accept Western cards. The only option is to take Euros or US Dollars with you in cash to change on arrival, and you can do this in most hotels and banks (your guide will be able to advise you). The Iranian currency is the Iranian rial.
Iranians often refer to their currency as tomans, with one toman equal to ten rials. Before making a purchase you should always clarify whether you are dealing with tomans or rials and have them write it down if necessary.
A strict dress code is enforced in Iran, and this must be observed at all times whilst in public. Women are obliged to wear the hejab, which entails wearing a headscarf at all times as well as a long top over trousers. Arms must also be covered and it is advisable to avoid wearing bright red colours.
For men, the dress code is much less restrictive and you will see most men wearing Western style clothes. However, please note that shorts are forbidden even during the summer.
'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi is a moving yet humorous autobiographical tale of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The story is told in cartoon format, but don't let this put you off - it's a fascinating read. The book comes in two volumes - Persepolis I and II, although it's possible to get both copies in a single volume.
'Night Silence Desert' by Kayhab Kalhor and Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a modern-day fusion of Iranian classical and folk-music forms.
'Persepolis'. A film adaptation of the book that brings the cartoons of the novel to life.
Particularly delicious in Iran are the locally produced pomegranates, melons, dates and pistachio nuts, and you're bound to try some of each during your stay. Try out the local sweets - Kermani Gaz is a wonderful type of nougat.
Tea houses are very popular, with tea and cakes (or a qalyan pipe) being a popular way to spend the afternoon.
Persian culture, revolution, Islamic architecture, carpets, welcoming people.
Carpets, pistachios and dates.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to Iran by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in IranWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
Other countries in North Africa & the Middle East:EgyptJordanLebanonLibyaMoroccoOmanSyriaTunisia
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