Before I started reading more into Iran, all I heard about this country were stories about its politics. In the media, Iran seemed like a place where no one would ever want to visit. Can you imagine solo female travel in Iran?
After my trip to Iran, I can tell you now that Iran has the most hospitable people and great architecture. Traveling to Iran as a solo female traveler has been safe, rewarding and fun.
Is It Safe to Travel to Iran as a Solo Female Traveler? (2019/2020)
Iran is safe, accessible and totally easy to navigate as a solo female traveler. Sure, you might experience some inconveniences, but for every annoying man you get 3 nice ones, just like anywhere else.
Despite what you hear about Iran disliking the West, as I explained in my other article, its government’s politics. Which isn’t representative of its people. Iran is a destination you must see for yourself to see what I mean.
While organized tours are still dominating Iran’s tourism, it’s not uncommon to find another person traveling solo. Backpackers and hostels can be found anywhere on a tourist route from Tehran to Shiraz and Yazd.
Plus, if you can’t find a hostel, a cheap guesthouse is also an option. No matter which way you travel in Iran, you can always find an affordable place to stay for less than $30 a night for a double room.
Iran in Western Media
Traveling to Iran or anywhere in the Middle East independently, especially as a woman, isn’t perceived well these days. Some time ago an article about a woman cycling through the Middle East alone went viral. People were wondering whether it’s safe for a woman to cycle alone across the Middle East? The comments weren’t pleasant:
‘It’s foolish and she was very lucky not to get herself raped or killed or both. I hope this article won’t encourage other solo female travelers to visit these countries alone’ – 400 upvotes
‘Not impressed. Putting oneself in harm’s way, which then puts potential rescuers in harm’s way makes little sense.’ – 170 upvotes
But how can we talk about media coverage of safety in Iran when BBC, that published the article, doesn’t even bother to check the facts. The article states: ‘in Iran, I was given more freedom. Yet foreigners are not permitted to stay with locals without permission, and several of my hosts endured an intense grilling by police.’ None of the above is true.
Staying with locals is only forbidden for British, Canadian and American citizens. Anyone else can stay with locals wherever whenever and no police will come and check on you.
U.S. government currently warns against travel to Iran for obvious reasons, these two countries don’t get along. It says that US citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling in the country.
Again, I’d say that this statement is very exaggerated. Especially after Argo – the film exaggerating the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
My Advice is: don’t believe what you hear on the news. Explore the place, talk to locals and come to your own conclusions. Come to Iran with an open mind and I guarantee you’ll make many great friends in Iran.
Is It Safe to Travel to Iran in 2020?
Many travelers, including myself, describe it as one of the ‘safest countries I’ve ever been to’. You’ll be much more likely to get mugged in Europe than in Iran.
Violent crimes against foreigners are extremely rare and, indeed, if you do your best to fit in with local customs (read more on the dress code and how local women fight it), you are unlikely to be treated with anything.
In fact, I’ll be returning to Iran in 2020 to explore even more of its natural beauty.
My Experience Traveling Solo in Iran
I traveled to Iran solo and later teamed up with another girl whom I met at the hostel. I traveled around the country, in the same way, I would anywhere else in the world.
Wandering around in the evening, taking the metro, using local taxis and buses, going to markets etc.
I met many women whose lives didn’t seem very different from the women I know at home. At the birthday party, it was actually men who had to clean after, not women.
Young girls told me they date the same way people date in the Western world, they just don’t announce it anywhere and keep it to themselves.
I only felt uncomfortable twice in Iran – once in Esfahan and once in Kashan. In Esfahan a man in a car started driving next to me and my friend in the evening. Every time we moved, he moved. It scared my friend and me for a bit, but the moment we approached another traveler the car left.
Another unpleasant situation I encountered was while walking around the narrow streets of Kashan. I was filming with my DJI gimbal with my iPhone attached to it when I fell someone approaching me on a scooter.
I got scared at first that he was going to rob me from what I was holding in my hand, but nope – he just wanted to grab my butt. Comfortable it was not, but the guy also didn’t grab me or anything. Again, this could have happened in the US, UK or any other place.
To me, being uncomfortable once or twice doesn’t mean that the place is dangerous. I never once felt physically threatened, unsafe, or at risk, even when I was wandering the streets of Iran.
I felt safer in Iran than if I was walking around in NYC. Even the tap water was safe in Iran!
People believe that Iran is full of moral police watching your every step, ready to arrest westerners at the slightest provocation. In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While cases or reporting and arrests occur, it’s not as common as it’s being portrayed outside of the country.
Everyone I met was extremely helpful and treated me like I was an expensive piece of jewelry. Escorting from one place to the other, while feeling responsible for me. And that’s the people I met on the street for 5 minutes! So unless you’re planning on running around naked with a bottle of smuggled vodka in hand, don’t be afraid.
If you don’t believe a single person’s opinion about safety in Iran here are some other fellow solo female travelers in Iran who had a great time:
Solo female travel in Iran is safe and I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Want to read more about Iran? Check out my ultimate guide to Iran page.
Wednesday 31st of March 2021
Iran is a very good destination for cosmetic surgeries such as rhinoplasty due to its weak economy and highly professional surgeons. Some Iranian companies are very active in this field, including Mediranco.
Tuesday 23rd of April 2019
Hi, As an Iranian I really was upset that u had trouble in your trip, I strongly advise you to have a local companion in your trips or at least a guide to help you out with some info that it can help you in your trip(I mean familiarizing you with area and giving you few notes on your security) ! As you said there are stupid ppl around the world so you need to be prepared for such scenarios & a little bit knowdlage of Farsi can help you alot ... and make sure how to seek police in case of trouble or asking ppl to help you out ! Our women in such situation quicly film the aggressor and yeal to get help from others in crowded areas which depend on your analyze of the area incase if yealing and any reaction doesnt expose you to more danger ! There are always tips from a local that can buy you some more safety ... It can happen to an Iranian too if she/he doesnt be careful, you need to avoid less crowded patchs its dangerous anywhere in the world and walking like Alice in a strange land require camouflage, to look like a locals and in less touristic style, I never got robbed in my life because I analyze the field before steping in a land mine if you know what I am trying to say ! You can get even robbed specially if thiefs are around and if they think you have dollor or any forigen cash with you u can be in a serious threat specially if you resist and I am not trying to scare you because you can expriance this in any part of the world if you get to much comfertable or careless in some places !!!! Not everywhere is switzerland ;) If you guys ever needed tip for your trips feel free to contact and I will help you with your questions if you like so , peace and love from Iran
Wednesday 20th of March 2019
Hi Dear Anna, I was just surfing the web and visited your wonderful website by chance. Since I'm an Iranian and live in Iran, I was so curious to know about your opinion about my country as a foreigner tourist. So, I read all your experiences in Iran and also all visitors comments. First of all, I have to appreciate your honesty in expressing your experiences. Yes, real Iran is far different from whatever western medias try to illustrate. Although Iran is considered as a Moslem country and is ruling by mullahs, but in fact Iran is different from all other Moslem countries. Iranians are the most secular nation in the Middle East. Inspite of what westerners think, most Iranians feel themselves more close to the western countries than their Arab neighbors. Iran is the oldest country of the world! Iran is the country of wine, poem and music, Iran is the country of fantastic architecture, Ian is the country of fine arts. So, how can such a nation can be wild and savage as your medias try to show?
Ahmad Amirazodi - Shiraz, Iran
Wednesday 20th of February 2019
Hey. Take a look on Polish solo female cyclist's blog - Ewcyna. In Iran she experienced rape attempt twice :( Also on her blog she shares experience of few other females she met who had bad, or terrible memories from Iran. So before you put another women in uncomfortable situation, think about situation in wider perspective (men-women relations in Muslim countries), and warn them that they should to avoid rarely visited places.
Tuesday 3rd of March 2020
This is what this cyclist says about iran at the end of her blog;
« I want to emphasize, that is not my goal of writing the bad things about Iran. It's a fascinating country full of wonderful people, who willingly acceded to the sky to make you happy, and many of them will remain forever in my heart. But solo travel by bike in the country as a solo women should be thought over twice., not overground bike, but moving solo to Iran ladies recommend extreme caution (another entry in the topic).«
Wednesday 20th of February 2019
Let's not put Muslim countries in one basket. Any country that isn't Muslim also has idiots who might try to rape women. I can present you with thousands of women who traveled solo to Iran and had a great time, so please stop.
Saturday 9th of February 2019
Amazing blog. I live in Oman Khasab Musandam. You should check out here if you are planning on your next trip.