places Visited: Tehran | Rasht | Ardabil | Tabriz | Zanjan | Hamedan | Kermanshah | Ahvaz | Shiraz | Yazd | Isfahan | Kashan
On this unusually comprehensive 22-day tour, visit some of Iran’s finest UNESCO World Heritage Sites and museums, and travel through beautiful, rugged landscapes to visit its most important towns and cities. This itinerary also includes some of the country’s less-visited though still significant sights and reveals many facets of Iranian culture and history.
Persepolis and other UNESCO World Heritage sites
Spectacular Masouleh Village and Gilan Rural Heritage Museum
Tomb of Ester and Mordecai in Hemdan
Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Towers of Silence in Yazd.
Julfa, Isfahan’s historic Armenian neighbourhood.
Arrive at Tehran’s international airport and transfer to hotel. Rest of day/evening at leisure.
Visit the world-class National Museum showcasing the art and artefacts of Ancient Iran and an astounding collection of treasures of Islamic Iran. Also visit the Glassware and Ceramic Museum, the vast 18th– and 19th-century Golestan Palace complex and the Carpet Museum. Overnight Tehran
Drive to Rasht visiting the Gilan Rural Heritage Museum and Masouleh village en route. In Rasht, which is famed for its cuisine and recognised by UNESCO as a ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’, enjoy a gastronomic feast. Overnight Rasht
Take the scenic 258km-long road to Ardabil in the morning and pause at Anzali Lagoon en route. Overnight Ardabil
In the morning visit the magnificent Sheikh Safi mausoleum complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to mineral-rich Shorabil Lake and continue to Tabriz. Overnight Tabriz
Full day exploring this major city including a stroll in the ancient Tabriz Bazaar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a visit to the 15th-century Blue Mosque. Overnight Tabriz
On the 559 km drive to Hamedan, break the journey nearly half way to visit the 14th-century Soltaniyeh Dome – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning mausoleum and landmark in Persian architecture ̶ near Zanjan. Overnight Hamedan
Morning visit to the Tomb of Ester and Mordecai. Afternoon drive to Kermanshah pausing at the Temple of Anahit and Bisotun (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) en route. Overnight Kermanshah
Drive to Ahwaz through the rugged Zagros Mountains and rolling agricultural landscapes, pausing for a picnic en route. Overnight Ahvaz
Full day excursion to Susa and nearby region visiting the Chogha-Zanbil Ziggurat and Daniel’s Tomb. At Shushtar see one of the world’s oldest man-made hydraulic systems. Overnight Ahvaz
Drive to Shiraz. En-route visit the ancient walled city of Bishapur and the Palace of Ardeshir, and examine the bas-reliefs of the Temple of Anahita. Arrive late evening. Overnight Shiraz
Walk through some of Shiraz’s legendry gardens, visit the tombs of Hafiz and Saadi (the great Iranian poets), stroll in the city’s famous covered Bazaar, visit the Vakil Mosque and bath complex, and the beautiful 19th-century Nasir al-molk Mosque with its stunning tilework.
Explore Persepolis (about an hour from Shiraz and probably Iran’s most impressive pre-Islamic monument) with its majestic columns, ceremonial staircases, chambers and stunning bas reliefs celebrating the triumphs of the Achaemenid Empire. Visit the nearby necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, the burial place of Achaemenid emperors. Overnight Shiraz both days
Early-morning start for the long drive to Yazd passing through the breathtaking landscapes of the rugged Zagros Mountains. En route visit Pasargadae, the first Achaemenid capital and the tomb of Cyrus the Great. Pause at Abarkuh, a small town boasting fine examples of early Islamic architecture and home to the incredible Abarkuh Cypress which, at 4000-plus years old, is believed to be among the world’s oldest trees. Overnight Yazd
Yazd is the historic centre of Zoroastrian culture – visit the famous Atash Behram ‘fire temple’ and the ancient ‘towers of silence’. Stroll through the old town visiting its main monuments and historical sites: the stunning Friday Mosque, Amir Chachmaq square and pavilion, and the magnificent Dolat Abad garden with its unique wind tower. Overnight Yazd
Early morning start for Isfahan. Drive through the starkly beautiful desert dotted with monuments and settlements. Pause at Narin Castle, the caravanserai complex in Meybod. Stop at the small town of Nain which is famed for its carpets and has one of Iran’s earliest and most beautiful mosques. Continue to Isfahan for early evening arrival. Overnight Isfahan
One of Iran’s great destinations, Isfahan is sometimes known as Nesf-e Jahan (meaning ‘half the world’) and is graced with some of the country’s finest and most celebrated architecture. Stroll through the great Naqsh-e Jahan Square (or Maidan-e Imam) and its ensemble of domed mosques and delicate palaces. The nearby 17th-century bazaar is a masterpiece of urban design and still thronged with locals and small, almost boutique-like shops. Visit Julfa, the historic Armenian neighbourhood whose churches display a distinctive mix of Christian symbols and liturgy with an Iranian architectural style. Overnight Isfahan both days
Early morning drive to Kashan; en route visit Natanz and Abyaneh, one of Iran’s oldest and most picturesque villages. Overnight Kashan
In the ancient city of Kashan visit Fin Garden, a 16th– to 19th-century classic Persian walled garden with channels of flowing water and pretty pavilions. Also explore the bazaar and a traditional ‘palazzo’, townhouse. Continue to Tehran. Overnight Tehran
City tour focussing on modern Tehran ̶ Contemporary Arts Museum, House of Artists, Nature Bridge and the city. Overnight Tehran
Transfer to airport for departure flights.