What To Buy In Iran

what to buy in iran
| 4 min read

A war-torn past should not prevent you from discovering the dazzling country of Iran. You will be amazed by the beauty of the surroundings and the hospitality of the people. Iran is often dubbed as one of the friendliest places on Earth, and the nation itself is filled with many attractions that you can see and enjoy throughout your visit. You will be going home with stories and a longing to return to Iran to search for more adventures and stories. Before you leave Iran, make sure you have something that will remind you of your days in this colourful destination. Check out our list of what to buy in Iran and happy hunting!

1. Spices

Spices in Iranian market
Source: Pxhere

Persian food is famous for the distinctive aromas and flavours of its spices. Spices are important in Persian cuisine, but Iranians don’t use as much as in Indian food. They tend to have moderate use of spices, giving a mild taste to their cuisine—which makes it more suitable for everyone. One famous spice that comes from Iran is saffron—for its versatile use in food, drinks, cosmetics, even drugs, and also for its high value in the market. It is said that the price of saffron exceeds the price of gold, and this doesn’t come with no reason. Harvesting saffron from its flowers is usually done by hand and takes much labour-power—not to mention that the heritage value of saffron also contributes to its price.

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2. Qhalam kari tablecloths

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user rajaraman sundaram used under CC BY 3.0

Also famous with the name ghalam kari, this is one of the most famous Iranian souvenirs that you can get. Qhalam kari is handprinted using a patterned stamp crafted from pear wood, and there are many shapes and sizes of this tablecloth that you can purchase. There are many places where you can buy qhalam kari for souvenirs—or to bring a Middle-Eastern touch into your dining room. Two popular spots to get them are Grand Bazaar of Isfahan and Naghshe-Jahan Square stores.

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3. Pashmak

Source: Photo by user whity used under CC BY 2.0

For those with a sweet tooth, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this Iranian cotton candy, pashmak. Its texture is very similar to regular cotton candy, but some versions are garnished with pistachio nuts. Mind you, although pashmak can be consumed on its own or as your dessert, the amount of sugar it contains is high. So you might want to practice moderation when snacking on it.

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4. Minakari art

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sr3207 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Iranian handicrafts are the hidden jewels of the Middle East; they are colourful and have brilliant details. If this is something that’s on your lane, then a minakari item might be something that will catch your eyes. Minakari is one of the oldest art forms in Iran, which originated from ancient Persia. It’s the art of micro-painting ornamental patterns on metal or ceramics. Since they’re mostly handmade, it is almost impossible to find two identical minakari patterns. You can go to Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts to see the most expensive and unique minakari artworks exhibited there, and then visit the city bazaar of Isfahan to see minakari artists working on new pieces.

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5. Ceramic tiles

Iranian Ceramics
Source: Photo by user A.Davey used under CC BY 2.0

Pottery is one of many handicrafts that have a history in Iran. Just like minakari, the art of ceramic painting is one of many specialities that people in Iran are proud of. If you have Hamedan in your itinerary, then you’ll be spoilt with a range of beautifully painted ceramics to choose from to bring home—and with the best prices as well. Of course, you probably shouldn’t shy away from Grand Bazaar of Isfahan for the more familiar Persian-blue plates, and you can also practice your skills in haggling there.

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6. Ghalamzani art

Islamic Astrolab
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jacopo188 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you still have space in your luggage, then don’t hesitate to purchase a ghalamzani artwork. It’s made using the traditional Iranian method of decorating metal objects—mostly done on gold, silver, copper, and brass. If you visit Esfahan Bazaar, where ghalamzani artists are at work in their shops, then be prepared to be in awe at how they create magnificent pieces using a pen and a hammer. If you’re lucky, you might get a one-of-a-kind work—personalised by an artist.

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7. Gaz

Gaz nougat
Source: Piqsels

Another souvenir treat for dessert-loving people, gaz—or Persian nougat—is one of the most popular sweets and souvenirs from Iran. These days, vendors sell gaz that is already mixed with a variety of flavours, such as pistachio, almond, or rosewater. Some recently produced gaz varieties don’t even have the original ingredient of manna from the gaz plant but instead contain sugar or corn syrup.

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8. Miniature paintings

Persian Miniature - Detail
Source: Photo by user A.Davey used under CC BY 2.0

There are so many styles of art that can be found in Iran. One of them is miniature painting, where the artist creates a picture of nature in such small sizes that it’s almost impossible to see the details. Most of the objects in this style of painting are natural elements, birds, flowers, leaves, and many others, and the colours used are almost surreal.

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9. Termeh

Iranian termeh (termeh hashemi)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user M.haghshenasi used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Get your hands on this beautiful woven cloth from the desert city of Yazd. High-quality termeh can be found in Yazd as scarves, mats, cushion covers, and many more. The price of this luxurious fabric woven with natural silk and wool fibre also varies depending on the number of colours. Pieces with linings and more colours tend to be pricier. The trims also contribute to the price range—the wider the trim and the more expensive the material used, the higher the price. You can find termeh at Naghsh-e Jahan Square.

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10. Pistachios

Pistachio nuts from Iran
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Amin used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pistachios have a unique green colour and a particular taste that will leave you wanting for more. When you’re in Iran, you’re in the home of pistachios, and you can find them everywhere. Note that since they are available all over the city, you might want to be extra cautious in purchasing. Ask the seller if the pistachios were harvested in the same year as your visit—since the old ones don’t taste as good and tend to have worms in the seeds. Good-quality pistachio nuts also don’t make a sound when you shake them. You can purchase pistachios with shells or not. Also, you can decide if you want to buy them salty, roasted, sour, or raw. Tehran Grand Bazaar is an excellent place to find good-quality pistachios.

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Bring a bit of Iran into your home

Bird migration, Tehran, Iran
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mehran Riazi used under CC BY 4.0

Iran is a county with many dazzling handicrafts, so it’s hard to resist taking home some of Persian arts. Take some time to do souvenir research with this list on what to buy in Iran during your next visit. Don’t forget to spare some room in your luggage on your flight home.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Elmira, also known as Elmo, is a dedicated travel writer who lives by the belief that visiting at least one new place each year broadens knowledge and enriches the heart. Her passion for exploring...Read more

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