Travel to Iran: 30 Tips for Traveling to Iran

Unlike what you can see in the media, Iran is one of the friendliest countries I’ve ever visited. I think everyone should travel to Iran to experience incredible hospitality, see vibrant cities, discover mystic deserts and eat delicious food. Why?

Did you know that Iran hosts nineteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites? There’s so much to see that even if you spend a month traveling around the country, you won’t see everything that the country has to offer. Iran has it all. If you plan to travel to Iran, here are my best tips.

I traveled to Iran independently, on my own and without a tour group. While I was able to travel around the country on my own due to my EU passport, even if you’re from the UK or US and require to do an organized tour you could hire a guide and create your own itinerary. So not all is lost! 🙂

Many blogs are blocked in Iran, so if your VPN isn’t working for some reason you won’t be able to access some sources again. Fortunately, my website isn’t blocked, so you can re-read my articles when you’re already in Iran as well.

Traveling to Iran: Things to Know Before You Go
(updated for 2019)

travel to Iran

1. Iranians Aren’t Arabs

One of the most important things to remember is that Iranians aren’t Arabs, they’re Persian. They speak Farsi (and other dialects), not Arabic, and some people might feel offended if you great them with Arabic words.

Since the Arab invasion of Iran, Farsi has been written in Arabic letters with slight differences. While a lot of Arabic words have made it to the Persian dictionary, it doesn’t mean that an Arab can understand Farsi or the other way around.

2. What’s The Best Time to Travel to Iran?

Iran is a big country, so temperatures differ. For instance, when I was visiting Iran in late March it was freezing cold in Tabriz and Tehran, but very warm in Esfahan.

During the summer, temperatures frequently break into the 40’s (C), so it might not be the best time to visit. Especially since you need to be covered up head to toes.

I’d say that the best time to visit Iran is spring (late February – late May).

The worst time to travel is the 2-week long Iranian New Year holidays called Navroz (for 2018: 21st March – 4th April) . I was actually in Iran during these holidays and it was, in fact, the worst time to visit. You won’t be able to stay with many locals as everyone is visiting families and many places are closed.

3. Iranian Don’t Hate Americans

One of the biggest myths in Western Media is that Iranians hate Americans. I only encountered one posted at a mosque in Tehran. But after a few conversations with people around the mosque, I quickly realized that they all agreed that some group of weirdos put it there and no one really thinks that.

I had endless conversations about it with many locals and none of them expressed any hate towards Americans. In fact, American movies were shown on a local bus and people love to drink Coca-Cola.

4. Iran Is a Great Place for Backpacking

Many people don’t consider a country like Iran to be good for backpacking. But they’re wrong. Iran is the ultimate backpacking destination. Iran is cheap, it has hostels in major tourist places, cheap hotels and guesthouses in others, comfortable buses, and friendly locals. What more can you want when you backpack…?

I’m usually not a fan of backpacking and hostels. But backpacking in Iran is different than in some other popular places. Travelers were more mature, interested in different cultures, and not just in partying and taking usual selfies in the morning. I might be biased, but when I backpacked in other places I was rarely able to find people who wanted to join me for a trip to the museum. Not in Iran.

5. How Much Money Do I Need to Travel to Iran?

Iran is a country that offers great value for money, even more so these days. But money is one thing you really need to plan on if you’re going to Iran, as foreign card won’t work in any ATM and you cannot pay by card. Similar to Cuba, Iran is a cash country.

Bring EUROS, not US Dollars. Many websites and travel blogs will tell you to bring only Dollars. Thankfully, I had Euros too. Dollars were very unwanted (I imagine after Trump’s travel ban). While some people still accepted them, it wasn’t easy.

I spent approximately $20-40 per day while traveling solo and with a friend, I met on my first day. It wasn’t an extreme budget trip and we weren’t restricting ourselves. I recommend planning on bringing more, just to be safe. This will allow you to book a double room in a budget hotel, local meals, taxis and taking buses everywhere.

Remember that Iran has beautiful Persian carpets and you might want to buy one. My friend and I both bought carpets, so I was happy that I had some spare cash with me. Prices for a rug range between $100-800 depending on the size.

Click Here for official / street exchange rate history.

NOTE: Iran recently introduced a special pre-paid debit cards for foreign travelers called Mah Card. It’s a great solution for those who don’t want to carry too much cash around. You can sign up online and they’ll meet you at your hotel upon arrival, issue your card and deposit your foreign currency into your Mah Card.

trip to Iran

6. Currency in Iran is Very Confusing

Rial is the official currency, but all prices are in Toman. It gets a bit confusing and you’ll most likely get a real hang of it right before you leave.

1 toman = 10 rials

But it’s not just that simple. If someone asks you for 20 it means you need to pay 200 rials, but I also encountered 20 meaning 20,000 as they just don’t want to deal with zeros.

7. You Can Get Iran Visa at the Airport OR Beforehand

If you’re worried about the hassle of getting a visa to Iran, fear not! Citizens of many countries are eligible for a visa on arrival for up to 30 days. See rules and documents required in my other post.

If you’re illegible to travel around Iran on your own, you can consider taking the Discover Persia 14-day G Adventures tour, which I’ve heard good things about. The tour doesn’t chaperone you 24/7 and you’ll have some free time, so even if you’re not a group trip person, you’ll be fine. Check here for the latest Discover Persia tour prices and itinerary.

Another option would be Iran tours from Intrepid. They have a few options available, so check the latest dates and prices here.

If you’re a US citizen or resident I suggest contacting 1st Quest to obtain a visa. They’re the best and quickest when it comes to arranging visas online, not only to Iran.

Travel Insurance for Iran:

You won’t be granted a visa without valid travel insurance. And in case you’re wondering EU insurance cards won’t work, as they do check whether your policy is actually valid for Iran. While you can technically buy insurance at the airport, you’ll have to stand in another line to do so. This is why I recommend 1st Quest. It’s valid for Iran and it’s reliable.

8. Iran is Safe to Travel

Apart from what media portrays Iran is safe. I actually felt safer in Iran than during my last visit to NYC. Also, once you meet some friendly Iranian (within 10 minutes of your walk outside of the hotel), they’ll make sure that you as a foreigner have everything you need.

I never encountered people being so helpful anywhere else in the world.

Random strangers will get off the metro with you at the wrong station for them to show you the right way. They’ll escort you to your seat on the bus to make sure that you find everything right and don’t miss it. They’ll guard your stuff too.

I only felt unsafe once, in Esfahan at night, but nothing happened.

visiting Iran

9. Crossing the Road is Probably the Most Dangerous in Iran

Crossing the road in Iran is terrifying. Seriously, I’d never want to drive in Iran as traffic rules seem to be some sort of general guidelines. If you want to cross the street, whether it’s a crosswalk or elsewhere, you need to just start walking and pray that the cars will stop.

If you’re going to wait till cars stop you might as well be waiting until next year, as they’ll never stop before you’re actually halfway through. Your best bet is to maintain eye contact and look like you know what you’re doing.

10. Be Prepared for Some Crazy Drivers

You might get a heart attack in a taxi, as Iranian drivers are crazy. So don’t even attempt to drive yourself, even if your new friends offer. I mean, just take a look at this photo below proving that it’s totally fine to stop in the middle of a roundabout to have a chat…

Two white cars stopped in the middle of a roundabout…

11. Hotels Will Keep Your Passports Until You Check Out

Hotel receptions will keep your passport and give it back to you upon check out. Some people might be afraid of that, but they really keep it safe. Make sure you always have a copy of your passport though!

12. There’s No Good Guidebook for Iran

I’m usually not a fan of traveling with a guidebook. I did it once with Rick Steves’ guide to Slovenia and Croatia and every place mentioned was either overcrowded or overrun by tourists. But I understand that some people prefer to have a guidebook and for a country like Iran, it might come in handy.

While Lonely Planet’s Guide to Iran is still a bestseller, it’s also very outdated. The newest edition came out in September 2017. Many restaurants and guesthouses mentioned there closed down and I found that often travel times and bus schedules are wrong. BUT and I thickened and underlined ‘but’ on purpose, the guide is still all right and helpful when traveling to Iran.

I still recommend getting a copy, but taking into consideration that some things might not be up to date and double-check.

13. Women Must Wear a Headscarf

Iran is officially the Islamic Republic and both women and men must follow the dress code rules (yes, it’s not just for women). Men shouldn’t wear shorts, and women need to cover up their hair with a headscarf and their body.

I was quite worried about having my entire scalp covered at first, but I quickly realized how ‘relaxed’ the rules are. Many young women just cover only the top of their hair.

Iranian women are super stylish, so if you’re wearing baggy elephant pants you’ll feel out of place – believe me! Also, bring a short skirt or dress as well, as in private homes women quickly change into tight shirts and skirts. You’ll look ridiculous in your conservative clothes inside and everyone will ask you why don’t you change.

what to wear in Iran

14. You Need a VPN to Browse the Internet Freely

While there’s the internet in Iran, similar to China, you’ll need a VPN in order to see certain websites. You’ll need to install a VPN (a virtual private network) in order to access a certain website. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked in Iran. Travel blogs who wrote about Israel are also blocked in Iran.

What’s not blocked? You’ll be able to access your Gmail account without any issues. The most popular social network in Iran is Instagram which isn’t blocked. I find it slightly ironic, knowing that Instagram is owned by Facebook that’s blocked in Iran.

Make sure to do your research and check out my other post, as not all VPNs will work in Iran.

All you’ll see when you access a forbidden website without a VPN

15. Get an Iranian SIM Card

Iranian SIM is cheap and you might find yourself in sudden need of Google Maps, so I highly recommend it. You can ask at your hotel/hostel where is the nearest Irantel. The basic SIM costs 10 Euros and includes 2 GB of internet.

You might also download the Telegram app if you want to make staying in touch with your new Iranian friends as smooth as possible. Iranian use this app to communicate, instead of texting, as it’s encrypted.

16. Toilets are Everywhere, but…

First things first, don’t ask for a toilet. Ask for a WC, as that’s the word used by Iranian.

Prepare yourself for squat toilets. Even many hotels don’t have western toilets and you can forget about them even in fancy restaurants. Don’t forget to bring a roll of toilet paper with you. It’s rarely provided outside private homes, and even in less expensive hotels, I was lacking a roll in my bathroom quite often.

17. Stay with Iranians if you can

Without a doubt, the most enjoyable part of backpacking Iran is having the opportunity to stay with locals. While Couchsurfing is technically illegal is widely used, so even if you’re not a couchsurfer you might give it a go. YES – it’s safe to interact and stay with locals in Iran. Everyone is extremely hospitable and they’ll invite you to stay multiple nights.

My friend and I were stopped on the street by locals on many occasions who were offering us to stay with them, wanted to buy us lunch, inviting us to birthday parties and weddings. While it obviously doesn’t happen in the Western world and might seem strange at first, it’s Iranian culture. Just say yes. You’ll see a completely different Iran – trust me.

Note that Americans, British, and Canadians citizens are forbidden from entering local homes, leave alone staying with them.

18. Don’t be Afraid of Asking Iranians Some Personal Questions

If you’re curious about something, don’t be afraid to ask Iranians about it. My friend and I met a group of girls in Kurdistan with whom we had some deep conversations about cultural differences, their lives, and our lives. It was really eye-opening and I’ve learned a to Iran

19. If You’re Vegetarian, I Hope you Like Eggplants and Lentils

While my opinion can be totally bias and connected to the fact that I visited Iran during national holidays, I was having issues finding some vegetarian dishes in Iran. Leave alone if you’re vegan. Outside of the popular tourist route, vegetarian options were out of questions and even a milk cinnamon soup contains meat.

But if you’re sticking to the tourist route (Tehran – Kashan – Esfahan – Yazd – Shiraz) you’ll be able to find restaurants offering eggplant ragout, or eggplant mousse. I also saw lentils on the menu quite often, but double-check with the waiter if they contain meat as some portions might.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Iranian food at all apart from a few dishes. I blame it on bad timing of Navroz holidays and the fact that I’m not a big meat eater and all salads and yogurts were served with cucumbers that I’m allergic to, so I couldn’t eat them either.

But you might change your might if you attend some home-cooked meals or food tours. I found out about Persian Food Tours from locals, but unfortunately, I already left Tehran when I did. Let me know how is it if you decide to do it!

20. Forget About Alcohol in Iran

If you’re into traveling and getting drunk on the way, Iran might not be a place for you. There is no bars and alcohol can’t be found normally, unless you really know how to look for it (not recommended). If caught drinking alcohol, you could be looking at some jail time or a fine. But don’t worry – water bottles look like flasks of vodka.

Having no alcohol doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to party and have fun. I’ve attended a birthday party and it was great to see how Iranians can entertain themselves without a drop of alcohol. We danced, we talked – it was fun!

You’ll actually often see a beer on the menu, but it means nonalcoholic. It also has different flavors, so you might as well try it.

tap water in Iran
It’s water!

21. Restrain Yourself from Public Affection as a Couple

As in any other conservative country, PDA is not well seen. While it’s technically not illegal, you shouldn’t be holding hands with your loved one, or kissing in public places.

22. Everyone Will Approach You and Talk to You

While having random strangers approach you isn’t common practice in other countries, it is in Iran. People often strike up random conversations with foreigners to practice their English.

23. Take Your Shoes Off Everywhere in Iran

No matter if you’re staying at a fancy hotel, guesthouse, hostel or someone’s home, take off your shoes. No one wears shoes inside. At restaurants with traditional seating, you’re required to take your shoes off before jumping on a seat.

24. Shop at Iranian Markets

Bazaars play a huge part in Iran’s day-to-day life and you can find them pretty much in every city and small town. The largest bazaar in the world (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is in Tabriz, where I actually bought my carpet.

If you don’t want to shop, don’t skip the markets as they’re usually beautiful even to wander around. With high ceilings and mosaics, you can walk around for a while admiring the architecture.

Tabriz Bazaar

25. There are Men and Women Sections in the Metro and Buses

I often compare the situation in Iran to Mexico, where you also have co-ed carriages and women-only carriages. It’s marked special on the platform with a yellow line on the floor.

But that’s just in theory, as during rush hour in Tehran I’ve seen many men entering women-only carriages with their wives and people telling us that it’s ok for our male friend to come with us. Why? I’m not sure.

26. Prepare for Selfies & Celebrity Treatment

Iranian love taking selfies and they’ll often ask you to take one with you too. I probably ended up on over 500 selfies over the course of 2 weeks, so be prepared for it even if you hate them. Iran was probably the only country where selfie sticks are the best item to sell.

As a foreigner, you’ll also be the center of everyone’s attention. In less or almost no-visited places, like Sanandaj, I encountered a woman who literally screamed with excitement ‘OMG tourists are here!’ when she saw my friend and me on the street.Kurdistan

27. Don’t Blow Your Nose in Public

Thankfully, it was a rule I read about before as I’d have totally humiliated myself. Don’t blow your nose in public. It’s considered gross. If you must, do it in the bathroom.

28. Don’t Believe that Buses Don’t Stop for Toilets and Food

Before going to Iran I read many articles telling me that long-distance buses don’t stop for anything unless it’s specifically requested. As someone with a small bladder, I was quite terrified.

It turned out not to be true. Every bus I was on (and I’ve really taken many) has stopped for a toilet break many times and sometimes even for an hour for dinner. Don’t worry about it, but remember that there’s no toilet on the bus!

29. Learn to Drink Tea in an Iranian Way

Forget about the way you drink your tea at home. In Iran, you need to try to drink it with locals, which means that you’ll drink some sweet tea. By that, I don’t mean you put a sugar cube in your teacup. You need to put a sugar cube in your mouth and drink the tea ‘through’ that, holding it in.

30. Iran Has the Creepiest Mannequins in the World

Chucky Doll was an angel comparing to Iranians mannequins. I could seriously create an entire collection of Children of Corn in Iran, and if you’re passing some clothing stalls for kids in the dark beware – you might have some nightmares!shops in Iran



If you like it subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly travel videos!

Movies About Iran:

A Separation

Under the Shadow – Something slightly different as it’s a horror taking place in Tehran during Iraq-Iran war.

Books About Iran:

A Prisoner of Tehran – A story of a woman surviving in an Iranian prison during the Iranian revolution.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree – A store about a political prisoner who gave birth inside Evin Prison in Tehran in 1983. The book traces the characters to present day, teaching you a lot about Iranian revolution.

Tips for Traveling to Iran

Tips for Traveling to Iran

Any questions on travel to Iran? Check out my ultimate guide to Iran page.


I hope you enjoyed my tips for visiting Iran! Hopefully, you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

142 thoughts on “Travel to Iran: 30 Tips for Traveling to Iran”

  1. I visited Iran also in March and what you wrote is completely true! and I agree that Iranians are the nicest and kindest people I have ever met, amazing country

  2. Although there is no travel guide for Iran but I think this post is just a complete mini travel guide for Iran , thanks for sharing tips which will help for first time traveler to Iran

  3. Great article Anna…. loved they way you have enjoyed the culture. I always want to travel but Being a Pakistani Traveler, i would not be allowed to travel in US or Europe if i have Iranian visa on my Passport. They take this thing suspiciously.

    • Are you sure about that? Everyone who’s traveled to Iran is just ineligible for a visa waiver and has to apply for a visa to the US, but that doesn’t mean they can’t travel to the US.

  4. #6 is so funny, about them not wanting to deal with zeroes! Currency around the world is so interesting. This is a really amazing article, lots of great information. I’m curious about the headscarf… I was surprised to see in your photos that it seems to be okay if the top part of your hair is showing. Why is that ok, but it’s not ok to leave your hair uncovered?

    • Head scarf is coming from 2500 years ago and it is culture for iranian . peaple who are not moslem also have heascarf

      • its not true !! before islam invasion iranian ppl were free to choose what to wear.and also after iran revolution they force us to wear hijab!! its a rule in here not a believing
        many many women in iran hate hijab and believe in freedom

  5. Wow, this post is so detailed and informative. I’ve never been to Iran, but would love to go one day. I’m glad I found your blog because I always feel better visiting a new place if I can learn a little bit about their customs beforehand. That way I can be respectful as a guest in a foreign country.

    I’m very impressed by your blog and inspired by your adventures. I definitely need to up my travel game!

  6. From the two other travel bloggers I’ve read about who have been to Iran they too said it was the most friendly place they’ve been to in the entire world. What did you mean when you said American, British, and Canadian citizens aren’t allowed in local homes? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

    • American, British and Canadian citizens aren’t allowed to go to Iran unless they go on an organized tour. There are way around it, like hiring a local guide, but that’s the official law. They also aren’t allowed to enter any local homes. Again, I know people who did it, but legally it’s forbidden and if police catches you you’ll be in trouble.

      • Does that apply if you know an Iranian person and they invite you to stay with them? I have a growing friendship through old cars and they are keen for me to go?

        What exactly does an organised tour mean?

        • Yes, officially you cannot enter houses of your Iranian friends. Unofficially I know many Brits and Americans that stayed with locals on a regular basis.

          An organized tour means that you’re required to have a certified Iranian guide that will issue you a voucher. With this voucher, you need to go to the Embassy to get your visa. Again, unofficially I know many people who paid some money for a voucher and never actually took the tour and traveled on their own.

  7. I love this post, but I don’t think as an American I’ll be able to go to Iran anytime soon. :-/ I think the visa application is too crazy, and with Trump in office I feel like it’s just a bad time to go, lol. I’ll have to save it for a few years away. Hey, maybe we’ll have some world peace by then? Okay, probably not, but it’s a nice thought

    • Actually, I found out that since the travel ban got revoked visas are still being handles. You just need to go with a tour group but that hasn’t changed 🙂

    • I am American and received a visa to Iran with relative ease. The process was time consuming but in the end, it came through quickly! I go in mid-April. I am excited.

  8. hi, Im from IRAN, Shiraz city, i liked the comments and ur blog, i like to offer our Guesthouse in Shiraz, and also tour package, if its ok you can publish it in tour page,
    I’LL be happy to answer your questions,,,,

  9. AS A Iranian im so happy to see that travelers from all around the world enjoyed their trip to Iran .
    unfortunately still lots of cities ,valleys and monuments still unknown for the most travelers . such as qazvin and valley of assassins.
    we would be more than happy to help anyone need information about these places and help them is this adventure.

    • I would be very interested in visiting some “off tourist path” places in Iran and seeing the country through the locals’ eyes, but I am a US passport holder. Can you give me any information about what my options are? I don’t want to insult locals when I visit or get myself in trouble.

  10. Thank you so much for the great and useful article, it has answered some of my questions! Good job! However, I still have a few questions I’d like to ask you or anyone else who might read this comment.
    I am planning to visit Iran next year and I have been collecting useful information on what to do / not to do, what to see and so on… Those basic things. The fact that we foreigners can’t pay by card in Iran is really a pain in the ass but we have to deal with it and take enough cash with us (hoping that it will be fine and nobody will steal it). I am curious about transportation around the country. How did you travel around Iran? Did you use just buses or also trains? What is your opinion on the transportation (fares, efficacy, distance, etc.) and how did you purchase the tickets? Did you purchase them in advance or on the very same day? And where did you buy them? Were they sold at the bus stations or did you have to buy them at local travel agencies? I hope you can help me out with some tips. Thank you in advance!

    • I wouldn’t worry about keeping cash too much. It’s safe enough 😉

      I used just buses, no trains. They’re comfortable, cheap and easy. You purchase tickets either at the bus station or through your hotel/hostel (which they basically call for or book on the website and print you a ticket). Same day is totally fine unless there’s a big holiday coming and everyone is traveling.

    • hi
      im from iran.. its nice to hear you’re going to visit our country, but if you are worried about paying by card there are some safe agencies which can help you. you can visit this site:
      its in persian but you can make a phone call or email them(at the end of their webpage you can see the information) hope that would be helpful.. at least on some emergency cases if you need more cash. however iran is not an expensive country. we are waiting on you visiting here 🙂 sure you will enjoy the time.

      • Hi Atusa,

        Greetings from Chicago!
        Could you recommend any guesthouses in Isfahan?
        I am planning to visit your great country early next year.
        Best Wishes,


        • Hi AL
          Im glad you’re gonna visit our country. There are many guesthouses in Isfahan. I live in Ahvaz, and i will be happy if you come to visit our city too. The ancient city Susa is close to ours. I can provide you a place to stay.

    • You can change your money to Rial and transfer it to an Iranian bank card at a bank for example there is a card called Mahcard for foreigners. Also you may use visacard or Mastercard on currency shops.

      The other note for countries don’t need visa to enter USA is that the Iranian visa won’t be stamped on their passport in order to foil US travel ban and not require to apply US visa for these free visa countries as well as you can emphsize the officials to not stamp it on your passport.

  11. Awesome tips Anna. I’m planning to go to Iran too and your article is very useful especially for a female traveller like me.

    I just want to ask though, is it alright to take random photos of places with people in it or is that a no-no in Iran. I’m fond of taking candid shots of people as well as landscape shots with people in it but I’m wary I might get in trouble for it.

    Also, what camera are you using for your vlog? Did you use any selfie sticks or monopod for it? Your selfie video looked seamless 🙂

    • Yes, you totally can take photos of people. They actually love it and they’ll most likely pose for you 😉

      I used iPhone 7 Plus with DJI Osmo Gimbal for my video. I usually use a normal camera for photos and phone for videos these days.

  12. Great article Anna! Very insightful and up to date. As someone that has lived outside of Iran for the past 30 years I still jump at the opportunity to go back any chance I get. I hope that educated and open minded travellers like yourself open up more borders throughout the world.
    Thank you for visiting Iran… I hope you had a great time!

  13. Hi,
    I am a mexican citizen and I am traveling to Iran next month with my boyfriend but I feel really nervous about the VISA and also have a lot of questions.

    First I am going to Paris and I am doing transit in USA so i don’t know if having Iran visa affect my transit in USA and second I don’t know if I can get the Visa of Iran in the airport or is better to get it in embassy.

    Ill be waiting for your answer.

    Thank you,
    Fernanda Rivera

    • Hi Fernanda,

      Since you’re a Mexican citizen I assume you have a B1/B2 (tourist) visa for the US, right? A visit to Iran affects only those who normally don’t require a visa for the US and are on a visa waiver program. So that won’t be an issue at all 🙂

      I’d always say that it’s easier to get a visa on arrival.

  14. I am a female, I was invited to visit Iran by an Iranian friend. Planning to stay with mamma joon. I have a Mexican and USA passport. Which passport should I use for visa. Is it a long process to get visa? Can I apply for a visa myself or hire a tour company. Any help is appreciated. Visiting Iran would be a dream come true, I truly Love the culture nd it’s people. Thank you

    • If you’re going to visit your Iranian friend then not the US one as US citizens can’t stay or enter local homes. You can apply for visa on arrival with your Mexican passport – check my article on this issue, it’s super easy to get 🙂

  15. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for your nice report about Iran.
    I am an Iranian and there is no problem holding hands with your loved one.
    Please correct it if possible.


      • hi anna
        you really make me happy to night thank you for all of these things.
        i think he is right it’s not a problem to get hand that you loved one. i have a girlfriend that we are together for 6 years and i get her hand for all time in streets and we had not any problem these years. its okay trust me????

  16. Traffic in Tehran is a safety hazard as footpaths are taken over by bikes. City is overcrowded and polluted. Not easy to exchange currency and out of Iran it is difficult to exchange Irani Riyal. You can end up with millions of worthless Riyal if you don’t spend them in Iran. Limited variety of food for foreigners. Scarce public conveniences. Metro is very crowded. Taxi drivers triple the cost for foreigners.

    • I agree with you. I went to the independence tower, it looked beautiful from the distance. But inside its walls were dirty, broken tiles, ground lights and litterred with rubbish. You are spot on about the traffic jams in Tehran and I inhaled my fair share of exhaust fumes. Certainly limited choice in food and Irani food is not gourmet food.

  17. What else is there to see in Iran apart from the old palaces, mosques, museums, bazars and gardens.? Not everyone in interested in their history.

  18. These are awesome tips, and I’m always surprised at how easy and delengo it seems to be to travel in Iran. Such a shame that the visas are so short, I can imagine taking weeks on end to explore everything!

    • OK if we are going for detail, it’s the Aryan race, (current Iran, India and German are descended from Aryan race i mean they are mix now) but the north of Iran (Gilan, Mazandaran & golestan) are Aryan, i mean, they’re still speak the Aryan language and Persian is the second language for them.

      • Dear Nick,
        Iran means “The Land of Aryans”. Almost all Iranian ethnic groups including Persians, Kurds, Lors Balouches, Sistanies, Gilaks, Mazandaranies, Azaries, Bakhtiaries, Kermanjes Tats, Larestanies, Armenians and other minor groups are Aryans (Except Arabs, Turkmans, Turks and Jews).
        All of these groups have their own languages or accents but Persian which is the mother tongue of more than 50 percent of Iranians is the official language of the country.
        Persian and other Iranian languages are one of the branches of Indo-European languages.

  19. Hi there Anna!

    I love this post so much, so informative. I was wondering about if there were rules or regulations on taking cameras/camera tripods in mosques or other historical buildings. Thanks so much!

  20. Hi Anna:
    Thank you for your good opinion about our country.Your article is an eye opening one.We warmly receive every person from every country.One of the most magnificent monuments to visit is Persepolis( Takhte Jamshid )as it is called by Iranians. Please visit our Instagram moonlight6940 post.

  21. Dear Anna,

    This post was pretty useful for me too as a guide to my trip in Iran. Esfahan is really safe, compared to going really West or East of Iran in the outskirts. Also, it becomes hard to backpack there due to the lack of transport options.

  22. I Live in iran. It,s All True About iran.but About Alcohol. It,s not hard to find Alcohol. You should just Ask some iranians that you think they are not religious.they will you help in This meander way 🙂

  23. Very happy to find this blog I will go to ispahan in one week with my husband and my 2 daugthers . do you know if the application snap is working in Iran this is the big question of my daughter

  24. I’m an Iranian girl , and when I was reading your article I was surprised how small things ( to us ) are considered weird to foreigners . but then I remembered the same thing about myself . first when I noticed ppl don’t actually take off their shoes before interning the home in a movie , I was like whaaaaat? How that can be possible ? Hahaha
    Anyway I liked the article . I mean it was a true one , u know , when u see what media around the world show about Iran , u feel like : am I really like that ? Is Iran actually a unsafe country? These just leave u speechless . but this article shows you have literally been in Iran !!
    ( I apologize for any possible mistake ( grammar or spelling ) in my comment . cuz I’m really not good at English 🙂

    • It’s funny that you mention shoes, because I was literally reading something yesterday that it’s a very American thing NOT to take them off. I never thought about it, but it’s true. It annoys the crap out of me with my husband haha!
      P.S. Your English is fine dear 🙂

  25. It is truly a shame the way a beautiful country like Iran is portrayed all around the word. It is truly an amazing place with a rich and diverse culture.

  26. Hi, I am an name is shadi.meaning happy in english????.I have read your letter and I was surprised ????by your intelligence and accuracy????????. You know the Iranians, we realized our concern. But I wish that you travel to my city, Hamedan, which is the capital of Iran’s first civilization, but I am very pleased that you are satisfied. We love❤ you and all the people of the( world) I hope to meet you again.????have a good life my friend

  27. Hi, I’m an Iranian & i am happy that you have shown people for who we really are, in section 21 you said no holding hand . you can hold hands it’s fine, just no kissing and sexual touching :), sorry about that, also if you are here make sure visiting Isfahan & Shiraz, these places have been build by all different race people (Iranian, Indian, Germany, roman, east Asia & …) it was a symbol of peace between all countries.
    (my English is terrible, sorry)

  28. Hi Anna. My name is Mohsen. I am an Iranian living in Germany. Thank you very much for the information about my country.
    I visit Iran every year, espacially the amazing nature of Iran. There are many beautiful and different sites to see. I am planing with my freinds to offer amazing nature tours. We are going to launch a website. I would be glad to help people who are looking for an exciting trip to Iran.

    Let us travel the world, a way to loose our prejudices about other people…
    The iranian poet named Saadi says:
    All human beings are in truth akin
    All in creation share one origin

  29. I am 72 and my wife 70 years old. We plan to visit Iran next month. Kindly inform about special amenities available to senior people in Iran.

  30. Iran is nice country. I found this much useful information, as to what I was exactly searching for Iran information for traveling. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.

  31. Hi Anna!! Great blog! loving it!
    I am going to Iran in September (and then to Georgia, Armenia and Paris). I was thinking on doing Tehran – Kashan – Abyaneh – Isfahan – Xiraz – Persepoli – Yazd and then back to Tehran. Im coming with my boyfriend. Do you recommend a site where I can search fro trains between the cities in a clear way? Also, do you recommend guides in these cities? Is it better to take euros right now? Thank you very much!!

    • Definitely better to bring Euros! I used a bus between Tehran and Kashan and then to Isfahan and it was great, any hotel or hostel in each place can book them for you as you go. If you want to take a train, here’s an unofficial website, but it’s being frequently updated:

      All these places are rather touristy, so I wouldn’t worry too much about finding a guide upon arrival if you wish. In my case, many people offered to show me around and tell me about these places, which felt more natural than having a guide.

      Btw I’m heading to Armenia in July, so tune in for some tips on Insta Stories 🙂

    • Hi it’s Tina I am Iranian . I live in TehrAn , I am 32 years old and I am married☺️
      My husband a I can be your host I you can send me email. We will be happy to be your host, you can stay woth us and we can offer you many fantastic places????

  32. Hi Anna,
    Your information about Iran is very helpful for those who wish to visit Iran. Thank you to spend time on introducing my country “Iran” to the travel lovers.
    Wish to meet you in Iran:)

  33. Hi my name is Tina and I am iranian, I live inTehran , and I am free these days, I can speak english and a bit french, I am so approciate to be your host , please dont hesitate to contact me if you have a plan to cisit Iran,I can provide you with all information and etc
    Contact me:[email protected]

  34. Awesome and exhaustive article, thank you!

    I’m a dual citizen (Poland and Canada), and I’m trying to figure out if it would be possible to travel to Iran on my Polish passport, as a Polish citizen, without the restrictions imposed on citizens of Canada. I currently live in Poland and my place of birth is Gdańsk, so there really isn’t anything to identify me as also being a Canadian aside from my obvious North American accent. In theory, I imagine it would be, but it would be good to hear from people who can confirm this.

    • I know many people who used their EU passport to travel to Iran freely, even though they had a second US passport. You will be fine 🙂

      • What recommendations do you have for someone with only a US passport or only a Russian Federation passport? That describes my girlfriend and I. We would love to visit but the very last thing we want is for me to get separated from her by police because I broke a special US restriction and leave her to fend for herself.

        • To tell you the truth, the police isn’t scary for tourists. In fact, tourists can get away with more than locals do. Many people got a travel authorization from a company and just traveled on their own and didn’t encounter any issues, but they couchsurfed. I’m not sure about checking into hotels because you always need to leave your passport for registration, but I’m guessing if you say you have a tour guide it should be fine.

  35. This is a great post for the people who wants to visit Iran. You answered all the questions on my mind. Thanks for sharing all the information. They are so useful…

  36. Hi.This post was very beautiful and absolutely honest.I am grateful to you as an Iranian????????
    I am farhad and I live in the beautiful city of a very old city with many places to visit and explore
    The longest blue cave in the world You can go by boat around the cave.
    Visit the city of Laljin, the capital of pottery in the world with abundant handicrafts
    A beautiful waterfall called Ganjname in the mountainous region called Amaday and stonework related to several thousand years ago, writing stones with the Achaemenid sword, under the Alwond Mountain
    Abundant and old tombs,tomb of Esther and Mordecai.
    Tomb of Abu Ali Sina Iranian famous doctor.
    Tomb of Baba Tahir, a poet of Hamedan,and many more

    I started to build a traditional home.Bake a variety of organic and local cuisine!Crafts making.From any country from around the world, with any age and gender,
    I promise you will be amazed!!
    I love this!
    Strangers are our friends whom we have not met yet.and I hope all tourists from all over the world travel to hamadan as a beautiful city with a very old history and very hospitable and friendly people, which will surely be amazed.
    I and the family will be happy to be your host.
    I love guests from all over the world.I hope to see you
    And lastly, I wish that all those who arrived in our city Hamedan left our city as our friends.

  37. Thank you for this article!

    I really liked Iran. However as a woman I was asked to better cover my head by some local police. It is true that it was not in Tehran but more in one small city.

    Also, something that could really help although it is quite new it is the mobile app Fairswap. It allows to exchange cash currency in real-time by connecting people and let them meeting with each other at a pre-agreed location. 
    Widely, you can post your need in foreign currency and if there is someone nearby facing the reverse need, then he/she can contact you and you will meet him/her and make the swap. That would have been helpful in my case.

    Could also be a good way to get rid of some leftover after holidays.

  38. Thanks you so much Anna for sharing your beautiful experience in Iran.
    It’s so helpful for Tourists.

    Thanks & Regards

    Javaid Akhtar Khan – Mumbai , India

  39. Hi Anna,

    I’m a 22 year female from New Zealand and am incredibly keen to visit Iran. As a solo female traveller did you find that there were a lot of other people travelling by themselves? I’ll be going alone but am hoping to meet people when I first arrive and travel with others from that point onwards. Do you think that’s possible or should I be prepared to be doing a lot solo?

    Also when locals invite you to stay the night at their homes were you paying them or are the Iranian people just that friendly?

    Thanks, you’re blog has been really informative and helpful.

    • Yes, most people I met were traveling solo. I met a girl in a hostel in Tehran and we decided to team up and travel together for most of our route. Locals won’t accept any money from you, I tried many times.

    • Hi Belinda,
      Don’t hesitate to visit Iran and don’t worry about being as a solo female traveler. I am a independent tour guide that can help you. Please let me know if you need more information. You can contact me at [email protected].

  40. thank you very much for these useful information, we always welcome everyone here. we have no problem with anyone and any nationality. it’s only politics not people

  41. Hi Anna
    Thank you for your kind comments about Iranian people and Iran .The information on your blog is absolutely true and very comprehensive. The Media only shows the dark side of Iran which is not related to Persian people. We welcome any people from any country in the world. Come and see real Iran . Iran is amazing and different.

    I live in Tehran and you can contact me if you need any info. or help about Iran .

  42. Iran is a very unique country, unique in an amazing way. It’s great to visit this culture rich country. Thank you, it helped a lot.

  43. Hello, I have a book recommendation for you its called Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. It’s my favorite book of all the time. It’s not actually about modern Iran but it is set in Iran. Because of that book I really want to visit this country, I hope I could do it some day 😀

    • hi Muhammad
      The city of Isfahan has the most beautiful architecture, and the city of Golestan has the greenest plains. Traveling to Iran is a pleasure to recommend to everyone.

  44. I was in Tabriz last week. The people are really kind and helpful. The 3 star hotel I stayed was really clean and comfortable, the staff was too kind as well. The currency exchange rate is not stable and changing daily.Taxi drivers try to cheat you to change your money. I advise you to change your money either in bank or in black market.

  45. I am an Iranian. And i have read this article twice! It’s all true and very detailed. And i would like to add some more hints:
    1- About the sentence “Iranians are the most friendly people” is true but unfortunately it varies from your nationality!
    for example, Iranians love Americans and Europeans and also Eastern Asians, but when it comes to the subject of Arabs or Afghanistanians… I don’t really agree with that sentence. But don’t be afraid because you are very welcome as any nation.

    2- This one is very important: Stop saying Iran is to cheap! it is true but people get offended by that!

    3- Please don’t trust everything you see media about Iran not in your country and not even in Iranian media!

    4- And there is an advantage of staying in Iran (if you would like of course): there is no copyright rules! it means downloading any song,movie,app,game and many things for free which you had to pay a lot for them in your country. Not pleasant for the artists and people who make movies and games but cool for us…

    Thanks for reading all and excuse me if you see any wrong word or sth like that.


    • Dear Ebrume,
      Unfortunately unemployment rate in Iran is one of the highest in the world and many university degree holders are unemployed.

  47. thank’s for your post. im iranian . this is true about iran. not that news in tv about iran . everyone thinks iran is not safe in the middle easth. but we are living with clam in iran. and we are so love tourist arount world and all of countries not diffrent (american-british- candian..).
    becous we learn it kindnees is roud of advensed in we life.! to now 70% iranian’s can speak english and we can relationship with any people around world for example i can speak spanish and english ! i live in kermanshah

  48. Hi Anna
    i have read this article twice! It’s all true.
    I’ve read about you, You are successful and strong, I realized that you love traveling, And you’ve traveled to Iran too.
    thank you, And thanks for writing everything about real Iran, I’m waiting for email from you, my dear friend

  49. Thank you for the useful information which you release about traveling to Iran.
    We help tourist to experience specific holidays in Iran. Eye-catching vacation spots which are totally wild and untouched for whom love to get more close to nature and also unique mysterious ancient sites inside one of the oldest country in the world for who believe in history. We are a couple who love traveling and we do this as a second job (no tax), so our price is half of the normal price and our tours are double friendly.

  50. hi , I just wanted to say it’s “Nowrooz” , not “Navroz” .
    and thanks for telling the trouth about Iran to the world .

  51. hey
    when I was planing to go to Iran I read your article it was so helpful thank you, Iranian are vary open and kind the best part of our travel was Local2r tours, it was amazing and their tour was different from another country tours, It was affordable and tour was friendly so you didn’t get bored at all personally I learn so much with them, whoever like to visit Iran I recommend Local2r tours they are best, you will have amazing trip

  52. Hi dear Anna,
    I’m so glad you introduced my country. There were lots of amazing informations even for me! I hope tourists from all around the world come and visit Iran and share their experiences as you did. By the way it is so helpful to have some friends in here, so they could recommend you where to go .meanwhile you got someone to be in company with????

  53. although Iran is a cash country i’ve recently been there and experienced an easy way not only in exchanges but also in paying everywhere with a debit card, i think it is similar to Mah card which u introduced it the article, i used Daricpay which has a great customer care and also invited me to a coffee as a goodbye party!!!

  54. Dear Anna

    It was our honor to be your hostel in Iran, I, as a tour coordinator, hope to see travellers around the world. Despite the media shows Iranian people in front of other countries, I say it loudly and proudly everybody from anywhere can trip to Iran as the safest country in the middle east!

  55. No.21 is not right, I don’t know about ur experiences in Iran , but holding hand , hugging, small and short kissing in public is not odd, maybe in very very small cities ppl feel it is strange but not in big cities.

  56. Thanks. I leave for Iran next week, March 14. I especially like your referral to Iranians as friendly. I asked a girl wearing a hijab where she bought it. (I was in Macy’s shopping center in Palo Alto, Ca). She told me Iran. I asked her if she knew somewhere nearby where I could buy one. She didn’t understand me so brought over a gentleman she was with. He said he would give me one. I said I would pay him but he said it was his honor to give me one and it was something he was obligated to do. He gave me his phone number and first name. Three days later we met in the street outside a library in San Francisco. He gave me 3 hijabs he said we’re gifts from his wife. I gave him a tunic I had bought to give to her. He hopped back into his SUV and left never even knowing my name. So cool ! So nice!

  57. Your blog was one of those I read before I made the epic trip to Iran myself. It’s now on my list as one of the most fascinating trips to visit…. cheers!

  58. Hi, thank you very much for your beautiful text. I hope you always enjoy traveling to Iran. Iran is a very beautiful country, but unfortunately there is a lot of negative publicity about this country.
    Unfortunately, at the beginning of the new year, a destructive flood came from part of Iran and destroyed parts of this beautiful country. Many children and families have been displaced. The people of the country have helped flood victims, but unfortunately, due to US financial sanctions, international aid is not flood-hit. That’s why I set up a site and collect funds using Bitcoin and bring it to the flood (through the Red Crescent).
    Flood victims need our help. Please refer to this address:
    Excuse me that I wrote this here, but the severity of the flood damage is more than the aid of the Iranian people and international assistance is needed.
    Thank you again

  59. Hi Anna, I recognize a lot in so many of these points! I always had troubles with the currency and all the zero’s of the prices. And indeed the current guidebooks are difficult to keep up to date, glad we can share some information about our experiences!

    • Carlies, people in Iran usually use Toman for currency which is 10 times greater that Iranian Rial (official currency of Iran: IRR). Means if you see something in the market with a label on it wrote:

      – or –
      15,000 Toman
      – or –
      15,000 تومان
      – or –

      They are all same as each other. And you need to add an extra Zero (0) to them if you want to read it in IRR:

      – or –
      150,000 Rial
      – or –
      150,000 ریال
      – or –

      Hope it helps.


  60. partly true.but there are many things that you dont know,yes apparently they are kind,but with little notice you can find out about their motivations.also they are cruel and unforgiving to each iranian myself, and its always annoy me to see how people treat foreign tourists and even worst that tourists would never get idea. trust me,very small number of them are that good.people treat you like that because you are sth new there ,and they hope to somehow get some MONEY out of could buy that simcard with 2 euros and …..some times you see that men try to be closer to you or somehow touch you or ….of course if you are a woman!ive been hearing many times that they were talking in farsi about women specially tourists and how much they like to … know!

    what im saying is dont be naive and again dont let their appearance trick you.and make sure you know exactly about PRICES in markets and bazaars.

    personal expreiance of living in IRAN

  61. Awesome article Anna!!! Looooved it! So grateful to have bumped into your article.

    Planning to visit Iran in December but I’m sure it’s going to be too cold. I’m just not sure how offensive the cold in December can be though.

    Also, if someone has experienced entering Iran from Turkey, I would greatly appreciate it. As I my point of entry will be from Turkey, Istanbul to be specific.

    Thanks guys!

    • If you’re heading south it won’t be too cold. Tehran will be cold, but it’s almost always colder there than in other places.

      Are you flying in or crossing the border near Tabriz? If you’re flying it doesn’t matter where are you coming from 🙂

    • Hello.i’m Iranian.all the things you wrote are true.and Iranians love the tourists.but you don’t know what problems do they have and what do they do in case of them.we are happy in every situation. Iranians ore so educated too.for example.i’m just 14!!!

  62. Please write more about south of iran and the islands in persian gulf. like Hormuz Island, kish, qeshm, hengam. Which are the best choice for winter trips when other cities are cold you can go inside the sea

  63. Very great and comprehensive post.
    You already answered many questions we face as a travel agency in Iran.
    Great Job!
    I just can add about squatting in the Iranian toilet, that don’t forgot to check your pockets before squatting to avoid falling all your properties down :))

  64. WOW! What a bunch of great information. Thanks for taking your time to share this.
    My boyfriend is Iranian, but I have never been in Iran, from his words it is really contrasting country, hope to visit one day.

  65. U forget to say If u ever get sick in Iran, doesn’t matter what u’re suffering from and what the hell is wrong with u , u definitely have to drink some “Chai Nabat”

  66. thank you for your great website. im iranian and i decided to make a video about tourism in iran as my english project. your website is very useful👍


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