10 Iran travel destinations you must see

June 23, 2021
tourism

Famous for its splendid architecture, rich traditions, and warm hospitality of the locals, Iran is known to be one of the friendliest countries which speak of ancient civilizations and glorious days of the past.

With its lovely Persian gardens and labyrinth bazaars, and a myriad of old mosques, it is one of those countries in West Asia that should be on every traveler’s list.

Such a list would have to be filled with hundreds of places, starting from every grain of sun-kissed sand in the north to the crimson-colored mountains, deserts, beaches, and islands of the south. However, here is a tight selection of the best places to visit in the country:

Persepolis

An ever-present name on all Iran tourist destination lists is Persepolis, which was once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 -330 BC).

In 1979, Persepolis was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage for its immeasurable value, both as an archeological city and as the representative of a once glorious culture. It was completed over several decades at the foot of Kooh-e Rahmat which translates into “Mountain of Mercy”.

The main structure of the Persepolis had several great halls, throne rooms (Apadana palace), and stairways each of which with delicate eye-catching architectural elements unique to themselves. Travel insiders believe traversing Iran without visiting Persepolis is most definitely a missed opportunity.

Arg-e Bam

The UNESCO-registered Arg-e Bam (“the citadel of Bam”) is one of the oldest and most substantial adobe structures in the country and even in the world. After a massive earthquake brought this citadel’s walls to the ground, tens of archeologists and engineers worked on the reconstruction to revitalize its elements like the single most significant remaining of a once fortified, medieval town.

Arg-e Bam holds more than just magnificent history and architecture within its adobe walls; it yields stories of a civilization older than 2500 years and the lifestyle of the people who were surprisingly well-adapted to the harsh environment of the barren desert.

Shahr-e Sukhteh

Called “Shahr-e Sukhteh” in Persian, the Burnt City is one of the most historically awe-striking Iran tourist destinations. It is associated with four rounds of civilization, all burnt down by catastrophic sets of fire. It is located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau. The remains of the mudbrick city represent the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran.

Founded around 3200 BC, it was populated during four main periods up to 1800 BC, during which time there developed several distinct areas within the city: those where monuments were built, and separate quarters for housing, burial, and manufacture.

The historic, UNESCO site city of Shahr-e Sukhteh lies just next to the Helmand River and is the most significant touristic destination of the Sistan region. For years, archeologists and historians have studied what has remained of this town, to uncover the mysteries of this burnt city.

According to UNESCO, diversions in watercourses and climate change led to the eventual abandonment of the city in the early second millennium. The structures, burial grounds, and a large number of significant artifacts unearthed there, and their well-preserved state due to the desert climate, make this site a rich source of information regarding the emergence of complex societies and contacts between them in the third millennium BC.

Abyaneh

The ancient crimson-colored Abyaneh is at the foot of the Karkas mountain, and it is one of the oldest and most beautiful stair-stepped villages in the world.

This matchless touristic destination is painted with reddish mud-colored houses from top to bottom, making it famous among tourists as “The Red Village”.

Nestled at the foot of Mount Karkas, Abyaneh is situated at a distance of about 80km to Kashan and 40km to Natanz in Isfahan province. It draws thousands of domestic and foreign tourists year-round, mainly when it hosts special feasts and ceremonies.

It seems like an open-air anthropology museum that showcases architecture and traditions from the Sassanid era (224–651) onwards, for instance, an ancient temple, the ruins of a fortress, a mosque with a unique altar from the Seljuk period (ca. 1040–1196) to name a few.

Hyrcanian forest

Hyrcanian forest in the northern regions of the country is one of the most amazing and ancient of its type, which has made them very popular Iran tourist destinations.

Since this forest has survived between 35 and 50 million years, Hyrcanian forests are among the most ancient forests on the planet.

The presence of over 3000 vascular plants and 58 mammal species, including the famous Persian panther and the endangered wild goat, are just two of the reasons why the Hyrcanian forest was inscribed as a natural UNESCO site. Rare plants such as Beech (Fagus), Alder, Elm, and wild cherry are reported to still exist in the forest.

The Hyrcanian forest, as described by Succow Foundation, extends from the south of Azerbaijan to about 900 km to the east to the Iranian northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan. This forest forms the outermost boundary of the west-Eurasian nemoral deciduous forests to alpine thorn cushion corridors and forest-free dry vegetation of the Iranian highlands and Central Asia.

Hormuz island

Hormuz island is one of the most eye-catching islands near Qeshm, known for its red soil and gorgeous rocky shore. Walking along the shore, one will encounter sections where the sand turns glittery, like a red sky filled with numerous stars at night. This site is especially mesmerizing at the times of sunset or sunrise, making the southernmost island, according to many, a must-visit Iran tourist destination.

However, the mountainous beaches of Hormuz have more than just beauty to offer. It comes as a surprise to many people that residents of Hormuz use this islands’ bloody soil to make local dishes or spices with them. Once a year, both local artists and artists from all over the country gather in Hormuz to make a breathtaking carpet from the colorful sands of Hormuz alone. For any traveler interested in taking the off-the-beaten-track tour in Iran, visiting Hormuz is a must.

Darak beach

Darak beach is the meeting point of the mesmerizing blue waters of the Sea of Oman with the golden sands of Chabahar in southern Iran.

Hiking, swimming, and photography are among the best activities that tourists could enjoy while traveling to the scenic beach. It is known for its extraordinary beaches and has a pristine shoreline.

Amazingly crisp and fresh weather, untouched nature, clear waters, and the conventional lifestyle of the local people all add to this place’s inherent beauty.

The starry sky of Chabahar and the delicious traditional Persian cuisine of the people of this city also contribute to the popularity of the beach among nature and adventure lovers.

Bagh-e Shahzdeh

Arriving at this handsome garden is like being beamed onto a different planet as it is a lush gem in the middle of its surrounding harsh deserts. This mesmerizing contrast is the cause of awe and wonders for the people who rush in to see the beauty of this garden on the daily basis.

Constructed in the 1870s, the garden rises to a small villa that was once the residence of Abdul Hamid Mirza, one of the last princes of the Qajar dynasty. It now houses a handicraft shop, restaurant, and teahouse. In the early evening, it looks charming when floodlit.

Similar to other Iranian gardens, both the natural and architectural elements of this garden represent Persian culture, philosophy, and religion in every small detail. Not only is this garden one of the most beautiful touristic destinations of Kerman, but it is also one of the places every tourist in Iran must visit.

Khan-e Tabatabaei

Located in the oasis city of Kashan, Khan-e Tabatabaei is nationally renowned as a masterpiece in both architecture and style and is visited yearly by tourists from all around the world.

The building of this touristic destination took around years to complete by the masterful hands of Ostad Ali Maryam. The interior and the exterior design of the house are among the most prominent of their kind, and some even have meanings beyond simply beautifying the house.

The seven elaborate windows of the main courtyard are a particular wonder, designed to illustrate the high social status of the original owner. The house is arranged around four courtyards, the largest of which boasts a large pond with fountains, helping to keep the courtyard cool. From mid-afternoon (depending on the month), sunlight and stained glass combine to bathe some rooms in brilliant color.

Masjed-e Kaboud

The blue mosque of Tabriz, which also goes by the name of Kaboud Mosque, is one of the greatest architectural wonders of Iran. Its magnificent tile work, tall curves, unique design, and symmetrical arches are just several things that make Kaboud mosque so extravagantly beautiful.

The mosque survived a devastating earthquake in 1727. However, many parts of it caved in due to a quake struck later in the same century. Many parts of the structure were rebuilt in 1973.

Nowadays, Kaboud mosque stands tall and glorious as one of the oldest mosques of Tabriz and as a gorgeous Iran tourist attraction, drawing fascinated onlookers in during all times of the year. This touristic destination is well worth a place on your must-visit destinations while traveling to Iran!

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