Traveling to Iran is a truly unique experience on the whole. There is something fundamentally sublime about Iran which has fascinated travelers throughout history but cannot be attributed to a single factor. However, one can count a host of particular reasons that can inspire people to travel to Iran. There are also definitely things that you should not miss in Iran. Following is a concise travel guide where we touch upon 5 particular reasons why you should consider traveling to Iran right now.
Travel to Iran for its rich history
Iran was once home to one of the oldest and biggest human civilizations in the world: the Persian Empire. Achaemenid kings established the Persian Empire 25 centuries ago. They ruled over a vast stretch of land covering modern-day North Africa, Turkey, parts of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western regions of the Indian subcontinent. This was an important period in Iran’s history. Today, you can see the remnants of this period in museums across Iran as well as the ancient ruins of Persepolis and Pasargadae.
But the history of human civilization in Iran dates back to much earlier. There have been discoveries in several parts of Iran that suggest human beings lived in this area some 800,000 years ago. These findings are on display at many museums in Iran including the National Museum of Iran and the Zagros Paleolithic Museum in Kermanshah.
Due to its strategic location, Iran has witnessed many invasions throughout its history. In 334 BC, Alexander III of Macedon invaded Persia and began a series of campaigns that lasted 10 years. Next, there was the Arabic invasion of Iran in the 7th century before Seljuqs from Turkic tribes arrived in the 11th century. They were followed by the Mongols in the 13th century and the Ottomans 3 centuries later. This much of upheaval led to diversity and added to Iran’s colorful past.
Iran’s recent history was marked by the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The revolution put an end to the rule of the Mohammad Reza Shah from the Pahlavi dynasty. You can learn about the Pahlavi dynasty at Tehran’s Sa’dabad Palace. Following the revolution Iran fought an eight-year war with its neighbor Iraq. You can learn more about the war and the post-revolution period at the Museum of the Holy Defense.
Travel to Iran for its architecture
Architectural landmarks abound in Iran. In Isfahan, beautiful mosques boasting awe-inspiring architecture are tourist magnets in themselves. Iranian architecture has been influenced by various factors including the taste and cultural backgrounds of its ruling dynasties.
Generally speaking, one can study the Iranian architecture in two eras: pre- and post-Islamic periods. The pre-Islamic styles draw on thousands of years of architectural development. The ruins of Persepolis, Pasargadae, Naqsh-e Rustam, Jiroft, and Sialk bear witness to the elegance of these styles of Iranian architecture. Some of these sites are now on Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage list.
The post-Islamic architecture borrowed ideas from its predecessor and employed new elements to create splendid designs. These elements include geometrical and repetitive forms, surface decorations like glazed tiles, carved stucco, floral motifs, and calligraphy. Isfahan, once known as the cultural heart of the Islamic world, hosts many wonders of the Islamic architecture including Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Shah Mosque, and Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
Travel to Iran for the hospitality of its people
“So if you’ve ever wondered whether it was true that Iran had some of the friendliest people in the world, I can confirm it most definitely is! If the beauty and rich history of this country weren’t enough to attract you, then let the kindness and spirit of the people draw you in. I for one can’t wait to return!”
This how a foreign tourist described the Iranian people following her trip to the country. And the majority of those who have traveled to Iran share this view. When it comes to hospitality, Iranians are second to none.
It is not uncommon to see locals inviting you for a lavish meal with their family which is really heartwarming. You might also encounter total strangers willing to spend hours with you and take you around the city to show you the attractions.
Travel to Iran for its handicrafts
Iran’s rich and diverse culture is evident in its handicrafts. These handicrafts tell a lot about the creativity and aesthetic taste of different communities. Intricate metal work (minakari), wooden objects with a special kind of inlaying (khatamkari), and Persian carpet are well-known across the world.
By taking a walk through a traditional bazaar in cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Yazd you can see how Iranian artists have mastered different crafts over ages. Iranian handicrafts are the best souvenirs to take home. You can buy high-quality handmade objects for a fraction of the price you need to pay for them in Western countries.
Travel to Iran for its food
Last but not least is Iranian cuisine. For some it is the first reason to travel to Iran. The great ethnic diversity in Iran also translates into diverse food options accommodating both meat lovers and vegetarians.
In fact, as some say food is a wonderful vehicle for discovering Iran:
“Those unfamiliar with Iranian food often assume that it is fiery or spicy, perhaps befitting the country’s climate or politics. But it is, in fact, gentle and soothing, a poetic balance of subtle spices such as dried limes, saffron and rosewater. Slow-cooked stews, known as khoresh, and elaborate rice dishes layered with herbs, vegetables, nuts and dried fruit are the bedrocks of Persian cuisine.”
Whatever your food preferences, Tehran won’t let you down. It is a city where you can find great food relatively easy. Vegetarians will also appreciate the diversity of food options available. Tabriz is also famous for its authentic and traditional dishes. You can find delicious Kebabs and grilled lamb among other treats in almost every restaurant in Tabriz.
Meanwhile, villages on the outskirts of Mashhad draw tourists who seek a calm place to get some rest and tasty meals. People in Kerman have remained true to the traditional cuisine of the region. A mouth-watering array of foods and pastries in Kerman won’t let foodies down. If you have a sweet tooth, then Yazd is the place you should visit. You will find all sorts of traditional sweets and candies there.
History, architecture, hospitality, handicrafts, and food make great reasons to travel to Iran. But Iran’s attractions are by no means limited to them. Iran could also be the perfect destination for many other reasons. For instance, many find the country’s natural attractions or its cultural diversity quite captivating. Learning about these different aspects will make traveling to Iran much more rewarding and enjoyable. We have prepared a comprehensive Iran travel guide which you can read here.