The number of travellers in Iran has risen exponentially over the past few years, leading many adventurous people to attempt solo travel around the country. Although it must be said that travelling alone in Iran is not particularly common, there are certain places that are definitely more suited for travelling alone than others. Generally, it is best to stick to cities that are accustomed to receiving tourists and it is also advisable to prepare your trip well before setting off on each part of your journey. Here is our guide to the best places in Iran for solo travel.
Isfahan is a popular destination for tourists, making it one of the most well-adapted cities for solo travellers. Another bonus of heading here is, of course, its magnificent sights, which are among the most impressive in the country. Make sure you head to Naqsh-e-Jahan, also known as Imam Square, located in the middle of the city where many sites like the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the Ali Qapu Palace are. Also located nearby is the Masjed-e-Jameh, one of the best-known mosques in the country with exquisite architecture.
Aali Qapu, Isfahan, Iran, +98 31 3222 2173
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan, Isfahan Province, Iran, +98 31 3222 5486
It goes without saying that Tehran is well accustomed to receiving many travellers and tourists from all around the world. In a very densely populated metropolis of a city with a population of over 12,223,598 people, it’s very hard to ever feel lonely. Head to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA) to indulge in modern artworks from both Iranian and international artists. The museum is located on one of the edges of Laleh Park, which is a lovely place for taking a stroll and engaging in some serious people-watching. Other must-visit places in the capital include the Milad Tower and the Grand Bazaar.
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran, +98 21 8898 9374
In the province of northwestern Iran lies Tabriz, the capital of the East Azerbaijan Province. The Tabriz Bazaar was once a major Silk Road market that still sells everything from spices to jewellery and carpets – it’s well worth a wander around. Also located in Tabriz is the Kabud Mosque, or the Blue Mosque, a stunning mosque built in 1465, which is now a city landmark. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the city, then head to the Azerbaijan Museum, which is home to pre-historic artifacts as well as some sculptures by Iranian artist, Ahad Hosseini.
Another very popular destination for tourists, and thus a suitable one for your solo travels, is Shiraz. It is best known as being home to two of the most revered Iranian poets of all time, Hafez and Saadi, leading Iranians from all over the country to travel here to pay their respects and show their appreciation. Shiraz is also home to the Nasir ol Molk Mosque, famed for its enchanting stained glass windows, which project kaleidoscopic-coloured shapes around the room as the light passes through them.
Hafez Tomb, Fars Province, Shiraz, District 3, خیابان حافظیه، Iran, +98 71 3228 4155
Persepolis, or Takht-e-Jamshid, is one of the most famous historical sights in Iran, and well worth a visit. Built sometime between 550-330 BC, it was once the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. Nearby, you can also pay a visit to Naqsh-e Rostam, an ancient necropolis located just 12 km outside of Persepolis. These tombs belonged to four Achaemenid kings and are carved out of the rock face from a very high point. One of the tombs is identified as being that of Darius I, the others are thought to be Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II.
Naqsh-e Rostam, Fars Province, Iran, +98 81 6720 9275
Perhaps a little more off the beaten track, the city of Kashan is located in the province of Isfahan and is roughly divided into two parts, the mountains and the desert. According to some scholars, it is believed that the Magi (or the three wise men) who came to visit baby Jesus bearing gifts came from the city of Kashan. Nowadays, Kashan is well-known for its beautiful traditional architecture, such as some of the old houses including the Khane Boroujerdi and the Khane Tabatabai. Their interiors are particularly dazzling with mirrors, stained glass work and frescoes adorning the buildings.
Tabatabayis House, Alavi Street, Kashan, Isfahan Province, Iran, +98 31 5522 0032
Located at the foothills of the Payeh mountains, the city of Kerman dates back to the 3rd century AD. The city has gained fame for its intricate qanat water system, which brings water into the city. It is also particularly famous for its carpet and kilim industry, which are handmade in hundreds of small workshops and factories all over the city. Some attractions worth visiting include the Sheketeh Farsh carpet factory, the Bazar-e Vakil, parts of which date back to the Safavid period and the Imam Mosque (Malek Mosque), built in the Seljuk period.
Thought to be Iran’s oldest continuously inhabited city, the city of Yazd is famed for being the centre of the country’s Zoroastrian community. Visit the Towers of Silence, where the dead were taken in ancient times to be decomposed and devoured by birds! The husseiniyeh located at the Amir Chakhmaq Square is also worth a visit. Its impressive facade has become a landmark of the city.
Amir Chaqmaq Complex, Yazd, Yazd Province, Iran, +98 990 547 0090