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Time to Discover: 12 Things To Do In Iran

Time to Discover: 12 Things To Do In Iran
Kirthana
Kirthana
Published Jul 28, 2016

When thinking of a travel destination, Iran is surely not the first choice that comes to mind for most. But with the recent nuclear agreement with the UN Security Council, Iran may well see an influx of intrepid travellers waiting to discover this vibrant country with stunning architecture. There is, in fact, a lot to be surprised about Iran. It is home to 19 UNESCO sites, a rich history, and really warm and welcoming folks. If you decide to make Iran your next destination, be sure to read on for the top things to do while you’re there:

Tehran

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1. Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace is perhaps the crown jewel in the capital of Iran. This palace was built during the Qajar era to make an impression, and it certainly does dazzle even up till today. It embodies the meshing of traditional Persian designs with some Western influences. The interior of the palace is stunning, needless to say. The architecture is exquisite, and it is built around a garden with long pools that stretch along the walkway, lined with plants. This building has great historical significance as well, being the first seat of government for the Qajar family in 1779. It was once at the centre of Qajari arts, and its architecture is an outstanding example and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this very day. It is one of the famed UNESCO heritage sites of the world.

Golestan Palace

Address: Pamenar, Tehran, Iran

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm

Contact: +98 21 3311 3335

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2. Artists' Forum

This is the ultimate artsy hub of Tehran. There are eight gallery spaces across 2 levels, and they all exhibit art pieces that are changed monthly. The works of art also cover different mediums.

It’s a very cool place to hang out, because the surrounding neighbourhood is very vibrant and has a lot to offer. There are many eateries around, from cafes to authentic local food in restaurants. This art forum is a great place to get an insider’s view on the political ideals, societal issues, and various stances within Iran, as well as just a wonderful place to meet and mingle with locals.

Iranian Artists' Forum

Address: Park-e Honar, Mousavi St

Opening Hours: 1 pm - 8 pm. Closed on public holidays

Duration: around 2 hours required

Access: 5-minute walk from Valiasr Square Subway

Website: Iranian Artists’ Forum

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3. The Grand Bazaar

If you’ve travelled all the way to Iran it would be unforgivable not to check out one of their bazaars. The Grand Bazaar at Tehran is not only of the best and biggest in all of Iran, but it’s the biggest in the world. The Grand Bazaar is almost an endless maze, although admittedly, it’s the best place to get lost. Rows of shops filled with Iranian goodies, food, spices, cloth, music, and culture all await. If you really do get lost, don’t worry, just ask a local and they’ll be very helpful. It’s also a great place to buy souvenirs for the people back at home.

The Grand Bazaar

Address: Panzdah-E-Khordad St, Tehran, Iran

Opening Hours: 8 am - 1 am

Contact: 989123346008

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4. Treasury of National Jewels

The Iranian Central Bank owns the Treasury of National Jewels, and it’s possibly one of the biggest draws for tourists. In the art gallery of Tehran’s Golestan Palace, the paintings and photos show the fascinating array of jewels worn by monarchs through the times. At the Treasury of National Jewels, you can see and gawk at the real deals for yourself.

Some of the highlights of the treasury are the Darya-ye Nur (Sea of Light) and a pink diamond weighing 182 carats, which is said to be the largest uncut diamond in the world.

Treasury of National Jewels

Address: Ferdowsi Ave. Tehran, Iran

Price: from 6.50 USD (200,000 IRR)

Opening Hours: Saturday to Tuesday, 2 pm - 4.30 pm. Closed on Wednesdays, weekends, and public and bank holidays

Contact: (+98 21) 6446 3785

Website: Treasury of National Jewels

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Iran and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Iran

Mashhad

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5. Almas Shargh Mall

Source: Flickr

If you want to go somewhere with a bit more familiarity, be sure to visit the Almas Shargh Mall. This massive shopping centre houses over 1,000 shops selling a variety of different things. Granted, you won’t find items or shops sporting world-famous brands, but it’s a very unique, quirky place where you won’t really know what you’ll find. There is also a games centre for kids, and an ample number of parking spaces, which really makes the shopping experience quite easy and hassle free.

Almas Shargh Mall

Address: Bahatestan Blvd., Mashhad, Iran

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays

Duration: around 2 hours required

Contact: +98 711 31 11

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6. Imam Reza Shrine

People consider this to be a piece of heaven on earth, considering how holy this place is. The Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, Iran, is a complex that contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza, and it is the largest mosque in the world by dimensions. The breathtaking beauty of this place is incomparable, with both religious and non-religious people. While within close proximity of the shrine, it is easy to forget the rest of the world. It’s a very complex feeling, with the surrounding people chanting and praying, the high spiritual levels, and the beautiful Iranian architecture. It’s definitely something you’ll have to see and experience for yourself, and an experience that’ll be etched on your mind for years to come.

Imam Reza

Address: Khorasan Razavi, Mashhad, Holy Shrine, Iran

Opening Hours: 7 am - 2 pm. Closed on public holidays

Duration: around 2 - 3 hours required

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7. Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse

The Iranians take their tea quite seriously, and they do it very well too. Tea is one of the most important cornerstones of the Iranian culture, and it is an experience you’ll have to try for yourself while you’re there. Tea houses are scattered everywhere, but this one, in particular, is one of the best in the city. They lay out a whole platter of morsels and food along with the tea, and each dish has been carefully selected to complement the tea, and to bring out the different layers of the type of tea put in front of you. The tea house is located within a museum of sorts, and the ambiance is really beautiful.

Traditional Teahouse

Address: Jannat Mall, Mashhad, Iran

Price: from 20 USD

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays

Duration: around 1.5 hours required

Contact: 2222943

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Shiraz

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8. Persepolis

Yet another UNESCO heritage site, Persepolis is literally translated to ‘the Persian city’. The wonder of this place is that its advanced archaeological expertise in fields of architecture, urban planning, construction technology, and art rank it as having no equivalent for its time. While there have been restoration works, they have been carefully executed to respect the authenticity of the place. The present location of the Persepolis terrace and its related buildings has not changed over the course of time, and they are there for you to enjoy.

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9. Gardens of Shiraz

Afifabad or Golshan Garden is one of the most enchanting gardens of Shiraz. It extends to 13 hectares (32 acres), and is centred around a two-storey building. The building itself is decorated with beautiful plasterwork. There is a large pond with a stone edge in front of the building, which really enhances the magnificence and beauty of the whole garden.

The Eram Garden is famous for its unique style, having streets lined with citrus and cypress trees. While citrus trees perish during cold weather, cypress trees have stood the test of time for a staggering 50 years.

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Kermanshah

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10. Tagh E Bostan

This UNESCO-declared Heritage Site breathes life into the Sassanid era. It is located in the Zagros Mountains. It displays bas-reliefs (carvings) that show the Investiture of Ardeshir II, as well as the the crowning of his son Shapur III and Khosrow Parvez.

The sculptures depict the battles that happened on this very ground, and are some of the finest surviving rock carvings of the Sassanid period. They are permanently set in the rocky terrains of the Zagros Mountains located on the Silk Route. Right next to these sculptures sits a sacred spring, which fills the lake by the mountain’s base.

This place is a great hideaway from the city, and people frequent here to have a quiet picnic, or just to unwind with all the surrounding beauty. There are also little pop-up stalls that sell food, tea, souvenirs, and books.

Tagh E Bostan

Address: Taq-e Bostan, Kermanshah, Iran

Opening Hours: 8 am - 10 pm

Duration: around 2 - 3 hours required

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11. The ancient city of Bisotun

As with Taq E Bostan, the city of Bisotun is an area filled with archaeological objects and monuments, and is known as being a place of ceaseless wonder. In fact, the name ‘Bisotun’ translates to “place of the gods” from Arabic. The city of Bisotun is linked to Afghanistan, and the route used between these two areas has been used since 10,000 BC, especially for trade.

Some of the inscriptions are so high up, at least 100 metres (328 feet) above ground level, probably so that people could not touch these valued sculptures. There are many, but among the famous ones is the life-sized bas-relief​ of Darius I. This massive sculpture is accompanied by Ahuramazda, the winged god. Be sure to walk around this untainted terrain and discover other amazing sculptures.

The city of Bisotun

Address: Province of Kermanshah

Opening Hours: 7am - 7pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.

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12. Ganjali Khan Bath House

This particular bath house is world-renowned, and is considered to be an architectural feat. It boasts unique architecture, with tile-work paintings and sculpted arches. The entrance of this bath has been artistically decorated with features from the Safavid era. To blend architecture with culture, the entrance of this bathhouse is staggered into 6 corridors, separated to accommodate different social classes, such as the seyyeds, members of the clergy, khans, wealthy merchants, and the common people. There are statues in each section depicting typical scenes usually associated with each class. The narrow passages lead to a row of halls, each of which had a specific use, such as those offering massages and hot and cold baths. Above all, the Iranian sun pours and spills into this architectural wonder, creating an ethereal glow.

Ganjali Khan Bath House

Address: Ganjalikhan Square, Kerman, Iran

Opening Hours: 8.30am-6pm, until 7.30pm summer

Duration: around 3 hours required

Contact: +98 341 222 5577

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Iran and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Iran

Iran: the time to go is now!

For avid travellers who are looking for destinations far off the beaten path, Iran is the top destination. The city boasts gorgeous landscapes, rich ancient cultures, spectacular deserts, and fascinating sculptures. Iran is highly welcoming, and the time to go is now!

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Kirthana is currently studying at the National University of Singapore, pursuing a degree in Political Science. In her free time, she enjoys writing for leisure and loves to travel whenever the...Read more

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