places Visited: Tehran | Shiraz | Yazd | Isfahan | Yazd | Kashan | Meybod
This 12-day itinerary is designed for visitors seeking to visit Iran’s main sights at a more relaxed pace and with some leisure time yet gaining a full flavour of the cultural glories of ancient Persia, the atmosphere of Iran’s modern cities and its wonderful desert and mountain scenery.
Tehran’s spectacular National Museum displaying artefacts and treasures of ancient and Islamic Iran.
Visit Iran’s principal UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan and Yazd
Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Towers of Silence in Yazd.
Julfa, Isfahan’s historic Armenian neighbourhood.
Enjoying local cuisine and café tea-drinking culture.
Arrive Tehran’s international airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight Tehran.
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 Tehran’s impressive Bazaar. Overnight Tehran.
Early morning flight to Shiraz. Situated in the heart of Fars Province, Shiraz is widely regarded as the cradle of Persian civilization. Famed monuments include the Vakil Mosque and bath complex, and the beautiful 19th-century Nasir al-molk Mosque with its stunning tilework. Walk through some of the city’s celebrated gardens and visit the tombs of Hafiz and Saadi (the great Iranian poets). Take an afternoon stroll in the city’s famous covered Bazaar – an ideal opportunity for shopping and to try local foods, refreshments and sweets.
Drive to nearby Persepolis, 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 necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, the burial place of Achaemenid emperors. Return to Shiraz. 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 Tehran pausing in the ancient city of Kashan to visit Fin Garden, a 16th– to 19th-century classic Persian walled garden with channels of flowing water and pretty pavilions. After lunch visit a traditional Persian ‘palazzo’ townhouse. Arrive in Tehran late evening. Overnight Tehran.
Visit the modernist, purpose-built Carpet Museum to see its array of traditional Persian styles and patterns. Afternoon at leisure but transport can be arranged for those wishing to see more of modern Tehran. Farewell dinner Overnight Tehran
Transfer to airport. Depending on flight timings, day at leisure or additional pre-departure excursions in Tehran with guide.