Your comprehensive travel guide to Iran - All in one place!
One of the most attractive places to visit is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran, also called Persia, is situated in Western-Central Asia in the area commonly referred to as the Middle East. With 82 million inhabitants, it is the world's 18th most populous country. The capital of Iran is Tehran (located in its titular province).
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE. It reached its territorial height in the sixth century BC which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley.
One of the largest empires in history Iran's political system has elements of a presidential democracy with a theocracy governed by an autocratic “Supreme Leader”. It has been described as authoritarian.
Geography and Environment
Iran is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan (not to be confused with its own Iranian Azerbaijan region), Armenia and the autonomous Nakhchivan enclave. To the West lie Turkey and Iraq. Its southern boundaries extend to the scenic shores of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It is adjacent to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the East and Turkmenistan to the Northeast.
Iran's bio-diversity ranks 13th in the world. There are 272 conservation areas around Iran for a total of 17 million hectares, variously named national parks, protected areas, and natural wildlife refuges, all meant to protect the genetic resources of the country.
Iranian culture is one of the oldest in the region, and it has influenced cultures like Italy, Macedonia, Greece, Russia, the Arabian Peninsula and the parts of Asia. It has a great art heritage in architecture, paintings, calligraphy, and poetry.
What do Iranians eat? Due to the range of culinary traditions across the Iranian provinces, food in Iran is extremely diverse. Common to all the Iranian provinces, however, is the fact that Iranian food tends to be both healthy and nutritious.
It includes a wide variety of foods ranging from Chelow Kebab (rice served with roasted meat), Khoresht (stew served Iranian rice), Āsh (a thick soup), Kuku (vegetable soufflé), Polo (rice alone or with addition of meat and/or vegetables and herbs), and a diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers, and desserts is extensive.
Incredible efforts are made when making sweet foods in Iran. Every Iranian province has its own traditions and approach to produce these exotic desserts of which fruits such as dates and nuts are common ingredients. However, Iranians generally eat sweet food and desserts only on special occasions.
Festivals and Events
There are three major national festivals (religious festivals not included) being celebrated nationwide every year. These festivals have their roots in Iranians ancient culture and customs and are celebrated over the centuries. The most favorite festival in Iran is undoubtedly Nowruz (literally the new day). It’s the Persian New Year celebrated at the beginning of the spring. Chaharshanbeh Suri (or The Festival of Fire) is the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (the New Year). It is a special day for Iranians dating back to at least 1700 BC. Nowadays, people, usually families, and friends, celebrate this day by making bonfires and jumping over them. Iranians also celebrate the first night of the winter, Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh, the longest and darkest night of the year. Iranians – friends, and families- gather and celebrate this night by reading poetry and eating nuts, pomegranate, and watermelon.
The best time to visit Iran is spring, people still enjoy the clement spring weather in May. This month is perfect for enjoying nature, as all the greens have covered the fields, the flowers have blossomed, and the weather is ideal for activities such as hiking. You can easily find and book hotels in any city and prices would be more reasonable due to the low season.
Tourism in Iran is diverse, providing a range of activities from hiking and skiing to beach holidays by the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Actually, a great number of tourists visit various destinations in the country. Generally, the area also attracts many non-Iranian Muslims who like to have beach holidays with Islamic style beaches where men and women use separate beaches. The most popular tourist destinations are Mazandar Province, Yazd, Isfahan, Mashhad, Gilan Province, and Fars Province. There is undoubtedly a great scope for increased visitors due to which Iran is developing business and political links.
Shopping in Iran
There is a variety of shopping places in Iran where you can buy numerous things from malls, street markets and bazaars as well as old shops which are deemed among the best places in Shiraz to buy all kinds of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts, and antiques.