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Getting Around in Iran

Different Transportation Methods

Farzad Hosseinpour
7 minutes read

Iran is a vast country dotted with spectacular attractions. This means you will have to travel around the country a lot to get the most of your visit to the ancient land. For many of us the real joy of travel lies as much in getting to a destination as it does in the destination itself. Depending on your itinerary and personal preferences, you will always have several transportation options to choose from in order to move around in Iran.

Generally, quality transportation in Iran is easy to find and often much cheaper than other parts of the world. Domestic flights, intercity shuttle coaches, trains, taxis and cars are all available and each has its own upsides and downsides. In this article, we will discuss different methods of getting around Iran and explore different aspects of each one.

Plane

It is the safest, fastest and probably the most convenient way. Some might be concerned about the safety of air travel in Iran but incidents rarely happen. You can read “Is Air Travel Safe in Iran?” if you want to know more about air travel in Iran. You can find airports in major Iranian cities and several smaller towns. Iran also boasts an extensive network of domestic flights. More than a dozen airlines connect cities within the country through frequent flights. You can find a list of Iranian airlines and their fleet here.

Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport
Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport

The main upside of traveling by air in Iran is the unbelievably cheap air fares. This is really important if you are planning a budget trip.

Domestic flight in Iran
A domestic flight in Iran

It had been previously very difficult to buy domestic flight tickets from outside the country. Many wondered how they could book a domestic flight in Iran. But today, HelloPersia’s domestic flight booking service makes it as easy and reliable as it could get. So if you want to get to your destination as fast as possible, you should not hesitate.

Tip Always be at the airport at least one hour prior to the departure. You might need some extra time to find your way around the airport. Moreover, if you are looking to book airport transport service you can visit this page.

Train

For many, getting around Iran by train could be the perfect method as it is an inexpensive and safe method. In fact, many Iranians prefer train over other options.

Traveling by train in Iran
Traveling by train in Iran

There are many train services between the capital Tehran and cities like Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas and Kerman. There are different train travel classes. They include first-class travel in carriages with 4-seat compartments, travel in 6-seat compartments, and seats in compartment-less carriages.

Iran train
Traveling by train is a popular transportation method in Iran.

You can find some of the best train services on the Tehran-Mashhad route offering full meals in the compartments. These VIP services are more expensive than the regular ones but they are still quite cheaper than flight tickets.

First-class train
First-class train

Tip: If you are a woman you might prefer traveling in a women-only compartment. You can choose a seat in the women compartments while making your reservation.

Coach

Intercity shuttle coaches also offer a safe, reliable and economical option. There are dozens of companies providing intercity coach services. You can book your seat in advance or go to the coach terminals to find the next coach going your way. The coach terminals are usually on the edges of each city.

Bus terminal in Tehran
Coach terminal in Tehran

There are two types of coach services you can choose from: The regular ones which operate regular coaches with cheaper fares. The coaches carry some 40 passengers and you might find them a bit cramped and uncomfortable over longer journeys. The other type of coach service is called the VIP service. VIP coaches are usually newer and cleaner with 25 passenger seats. This means you will have plenty of legroom and a more comfortable journey. Snacks are also offer on the VIP coaches.

An intercity VIP bus
An intercity VIP coach
VIP intercity bus
An intercity VIP coach

Minibus

Minibuses are available between larger cities and neighboring towns and villages. They are sometimes packed with passengers who could find no other inexpensive way to get to their destination. In comparison with other methods, minibuses seem to be less comfortable but sometimes they are the only option.

You can ask locals about the location of the minibus terminal in each city. They usually leave when they are full. While the minibuses have not been designed to carry standing passengers there are always some people who prefer to travel standing when there is no seat available.

Taxi

There are, of course, intercity cab services between Iranian cities. The shared taxis usually leave from the taxi station outside coach terminals. They are more expensive and less comfortable than VIP coaches but they are the better option if you are looking for a faster method. They usually leave with four passengers on board, one in front and three in the back seat.

Intercity cab service
Intercity cab service
Intercity cab service
Intercity cab service

You can also take a private taxi from one of the cab service companies at the terminal. Most taxis are Samands or Peugeot 405s but you can find Toyota or Hyundai taxis in some routes.

Private Vehicle

You can drive your own car in Iran. Travelers with their own car need to have a Carnet de Passage and a valid international driving license. Carnet the Passage is a customs document which allows you to temporarily import your vehicle to Iran. It guarantees that you will pay the customs duty and taxes in case you decide to keep the vehicle in Iran beyond a specific date. You can obtain the document from the national automobile association in your home country.

Driving your car in Iran
Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Iran

Traffic in Iran drives on the right-hand side of the road. You need to observe a speed limit in every Iranian road and there are usually speed cameras along the way. But you should think twice before deciding to drive your car in Iran. Iranians are not the best drivers. Some like Michael believe:

“In Iran, no one obeys anything when it comes to traffic. Lane markers, stop signs and lights – all mere suggestions -meaningless. It was awful. Fortunately, Iranians are experts at navigating terrible traffic. Leave the driving to them!”

However, things are not this bad. You might see some caress or haphazard driving in Iran but an increasing number of people drive safe these days.

Hitchhiking

Finally some may wonder how about hitchhiking. The concept is foreign to many Iranian drivers but travelers have generally managed to hitchhike their way around Iran. Travel blogger Will Haton has described hitchhiking in Iran as unbelievably easy in his blog post about Iran:

“It never takes long to get a lift in Iran, many drivers are not familiar with the concept of hitchhiking but as soon as they see somebody by the side of the road they tend to stop; partly out of curiosity and partly out of the fact that everybody is just so damn nice. Backpackers in Iran are not a particularly common sight and hitchhikers in Iran are even rarer, although it is very easy to hitch, so plenty of friendly and curious Iranians will be bound to stop and pick you up.”

Hitchhiking in Iran
Hitchhiking in Iran

Others, however, believe hitchhiking can sometimes be a challenge in Iran especially for solo female travelers.

Conclusion

Traveling between cities in Iran is quite easy, and you will have several options when it comes to choosing the transportation method. The cost of moving around in Iran could range from unbelievably cheap to rather expensive for tourists visiting the country. Whether you are planning a budget or a luxurious trip to Iran, HelloPersia is striving to be the most reliable go-to place for your all travel needs.


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