Iran Travel Guide

With an area of 1,648,195 km², Iran is located in the southwest Asia in the Middle East. It shares its borders with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Caspian Sea. The variety of its ethnicities and the hospitality of its nation are among the most enchanting factors for its travelers. Here we’ve listed a few facts about Iran which will be useful to know before visiting Iran.

History of Iran

Iran covers 1,648,195 sq. kilometers in southwestern Asia. Its strategic position, along with vast resources, including petroleum, natural gas and minerals, population of more than 80 million, and its unique cultural aspects make it a country of high importance.

The history of Iran can be divided into the Pre-Islamic period and the Islamic period. The pre-Islamic period includes six civilizations: Elamites (4th millennium to 1st millennium B.C), Maiden (1st millennium B.C), Achaemenids (550-330 B.C), Sulucids (312-247 B.C), Parthians (247 B.C-224 A.D), and Sassanians (224-651 A.D).

In 651 A.D, Muslim Arabs conquered Iran and declined Zoroastrianism. It was the beginning of the Iran-o-Islamic period which lasts until today.

ToIranTour-Gate of Nations-Persepolis-Shiraz

Pre-Islamic Period

Iran is a cradle of human civilization. In the late 4th and early 3rd millennium, B.C. Elamite civilization flourished on the lowland Khuzestan, in the South-west of Iran. In the late 2nd millennium B.C. the Iranians migration southward from the Central Asian Steppes Iranian plateau began. By the mid-9th century B.C. two major groups of Iranians have been dominant forces on the plateau: the Medes and the Persians.

In 550 B.C., the Persians defeated the Medes, and the Achaemenid kings appeared on the international scene. The Parthian and Sassanian dynasties ruled Iran successively. In 625 the Muslim armies defeated the Sassanians and the majority of Iranians converted to Islam, attracted by the divine teaching of this religion.

Islamic Period

After the Arab invasion of Iran, the Tahirids were the first independent Iranian Muslim dynasty established in Iran (820 A.D). The Samanids and the Buyids also made great attempts to bring to fruition the Iranian Renaissance. In 1216 the Mongols, sweeping in with a relentless fury, obliterated many Iranian cities.

In the Safavid period (1501-1736) when Iran gained a powerful dynasty, the country made great progress. The Afsharids and Zands were the next dynasties that ruled Iran successively in the 18th century. The 19th century, when the Qajars reigned over Iran, was a time of disintegration for the country. Many events, both internal and external, caused it to fall into decay. In 1925, after the deposition of the last Qajar shah, Reza Khan transferred sovereignty to himself.

Under the reign of Reza Shah and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the increasing political and economic dependence on western countries as well as disrespect to religious values raised hatred of people for the Pahlavi regime. This hatred was manifested in demonstrations against the government under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1978. Eventually, these demonstrations lead to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Iran Climate

Both the history and geography of Iran make it highly popular for visitors. The former gives it numerous spectacular monuments and the latter provides it with a climate full of variety.

The northern coastal region with luxuriant forests; southern coasts with forests of tidewater (mangroves); deserts with their mysterious calmness; impressive lake such as Urmia, Hammun, Parishan, Ne’ur, Sama and Zarivar; and snow-clad mountains of Damavand, Dena, Karkas, Sabalan, and Tochal are among the beauties of Iran’s nature.

Iran’s complex climate ranges from subtropical to subpolar. It is mild and humid in the Caspian region, but warm and humid in the southern shores. The north-western and north-eastern areas are cold and dry, while the central part has a desertic climate. In the heights of Zagros and Alborz, you can enjoy mild weather in summer.

Despite all these, two-thirds of Iran is covered with deserts. Lut desert which is the hottest spot in the world is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, salt lakes located in this dry climate, such as Qom Salt Lake and Aran-o Bidgol Salt Lake are other examples of Iran’s natural attractions.  

ToIranTour - A Beautiful Landscape of Mountains and Rivers in Kazaj Village - Ardabil
ToIranTour - Amazing view of the moon and Kalouts in Shahdad Desert - Kerman - Iran Desert Tour
ToIranTour - A small town's landscape in Northern Iran - Rasht - Iran Nature Tour

Iran Culture

Iran is a vast and historical country with a varied culture. By moving from north to the south or east to the west you can see and feel this diversity in every aspect of Iran culture, like music, architecture, art, etc.

During history, Iran inspired other cultures and also has been inspired by neighboring countries. This is why Iranian culture became a dynamic one. The following are some brief descriptions of each aspect of this rich culture.


There are several festive occasions in Iran. The most important one is the Nowruz celebration. The Persian New Year is on the 21st of March. The main iconic tradition of Nowruz is a table with seven symbolic objects all beginning with the character of “S” in Persian. This is why it is called the Haft-Sin Table; meaning seven S.

The celebration continues until the 13th day of the new year. The 13th day is called Sizdeh-be-Dar, which somehow means “outdoor thirteen”. As it could be understood from its name, Sizdeh-be-Dar is a family outdoor day; people appreciating nature by going to picnics and camping.


Since Iran is a country of great antiquity, it’s architecture is wonderfully rich in variety. Some of its best examples are Takht-e Jamshid or Persepolis, historical buildings of Isfahan like Naqsh-e Jahan Square, and historical bridges of Si-o-Se-pol and Khaju, Castle of Bam, Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil, villages of Abyaneh and Masuleh (in Kashan and Gilan respectively), and many majestic mosques.

ToIranTour-Nowruz-Photo by Behnam Norouzi-Unsplash
ToIranTour-Iran Architecture- Photo by Pedram Raz


When it comes to arts, carpet weaving is the best example of Iranian arts. Each region has a special design and quality of carpet that bears its name, such as Kashan, Kerman, and Isfahan. The most widespread techniques for ornamentation are engraving, chiseling, gilding, damascening, encrustation, and embossing, Potteries are also widely scattered throughout Iran.


In addition to arts, Persian literature is another aspect of significant Iranian culture. Hafiz, Sa’di, Khayyam, Rumi, and Ferdowsi are some of the very well-known Iranian poets. English readers know Khayyam especially through the translation of his Rubaiyat (quatrains) by Edward Fitz Gerald. Hafiz is considered the greatest name in Persian Lyric poems.

If you are dedicated to culture or simply love it, Iran, the land of One Thousand and One Nights and the heir of ancient Persia is a good destination.


Iran is one of the main origins of music in the world. History of Persian classical music and its wonderful instruments goes back to the Sassanians period or maybe even further. Despite European classical music which is note-based, Persian music is based on the Dastgah system. It means there are some specific Dastgahs in Iranian music that are repetitive in all the musical pieces.

In addition to classical music, each region of Iran has its own folklore music. For example in Baluchistan, in the border of Pakistan, you can enjoy the Baluchi music which is inspired by Asian and Indian music. On the other hand, in the west of Iran, Kurdistan, Kurdish music mesmerizes any visitor.

ToIranTour - Men Playing Iranian Musical Instruments - Tehran

Iran Holidays

Iran recognizes 27 public holidays per year. The majority of Iran’s holidays are based on Islamic religious culture as well as political milestones commemorating a long struggle to obtain political freedom and equality. But, Iranian New Year is based on a Pre-Islamic ancient tradition called Nowrouz.

ToIranTour-Iran Calendar

Iran Calendars


Three calendars are commonly used in Iran. These calendars include:

  • The Persian Solar calendar as the main and national calendar,
  • The Gregorian calendar for international events,
  • The Islamic calendar (Lunar calendar) for Islamic holidays.

Iranian solar calendar which is a direct descendant of the ancient Zoroastrian calendar is based on the immigration of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in AD 622 and this is why it is called Hijri (immigration). The new year (Nowruz) in this calendar is on the first day of spring falling on 21 March according to the Western calendar. Generally, the Iranian Solar Calendar is synced with the earth`s circulation around the sun and seasons changes and this is what “solar” is originated from.

Iran Weekends


In Iran, the common working week is a 5-day workweek. It runs from Saturday to Wednesday beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. In fact, Iran is the only Islamic country with its weekends on Thursdays and Fridays. Friday is prayer day in Iran and other Islamic countries​ so it is a holiday. But Thursdays are more flexible. Hence, public offices close on this day but, some companies work a half-day on Thursday. Furthermore, shops, supermarkets, and malls are open seven days a week on most public holidays. Transport functions fairly normally and hotels remain open.

Museum work time depends on national holidays. Places like squares, cemeteries, and urban symbols which considered public are always open. But, places with specific protection framework (museum, palace museum, and cultural-historical places covered by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts), ticket sales, manpower such as guide, guard and etc. are closed only seven days per year. These seven days are Demise of Ayatollah Khomeini,  Martyrdom of Imam Ali, Martyrdom of Imam Jafar Sadegh, Tasu’a and Ashura, Demise of the Prophet Mohammed, and Revolution Day.

Iran Currency

ToIranTour - Iranian currency - Rials

When you decide to travel to Iran or when you get an Iran visa, you will probably have questions about Iran’s currency exchange. “What is the rate of converting Iranian Rial to my currency?”, “How much cash should I have?”, “Which international credit cards are in use in Iran?”.

The most important though a little confusing  thing about Iran currency is Rials vs Tomans. As you might know, The official currency is Rial, however Toman is what you hear at the stores and streets. The difference is one zero. if you drop out a zero from Rials, you will have Tomans. As an example, a bill of 50000 Rials is called 5000 Tomans in everyday use!

According to reports such as the World Economic Forum, Iran is one of the cheapest destinations in the world. So no worries about your budget. Of course, due to restrictions imposed by US sanctions, there is no possibility to use international credit cards like Visa Card and MasterCard in Iran.

Therefore, it is recommended to use internal credit cards (called Tourist Card in Iran) to cover your expenses in Iran. You can either convert a portion of your currency to Rial -To the rate of the day- at the airport or at the city by visiting banks such as Mellat Bank, Saman Bank, Pasargad Bank or Tourism Bank and receive a credit card. This card is usable in all stores, ATMs, shoppers. So you should not worry about having cash. At the end of the trip, you can also convert the remaining money into your preferred currency.

Important tips about Iran’s currency exchange

– Do not use Bank currency conversion Services. There is still no single-rate policy in Iran, and the bank’s exchange rate is slightly lower than the market exchange rate. Therefore, conversion through the bank will not be for your benefit.

– To convert your currency only refer to valid Currency Exchange. Before you convert your currency, be informed of the Day rate of currency (See the link below). Of course, you can ask your travel agent to provide these services through a currency exchange office.

– Most exchanges are located in Ferdowsi Square, Tehran. If you have a city tour, you can convert your currency on the tour day.

– Avoid street vendors to convert your currency.

ToIranTour - Iran Currency

To ensure the conversion rate, you can refer to the link below and get an idea of the rate updated in different currencies.

Power Sockets & Electricity in Iran

Type of Electrical Sockets in Iran

If you are planning to visit Iran, you should check if you need a power plug adapter or voltage converter for the power sockets (outlets) used in Iran. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Iran are one of the two European standard electrical socket types. The “Type C” Europlug and the “Type E” and “Type F” Schuko. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance’s plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. 

If the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa), you can use them in Iran. Manufacturers take these small deviations into account. But, if the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada, and most South American countries), you need a voltage converter in Iran.

ToIranTour - Power Sockets - Electricity in Iran

If the frequency in Iran (50 Hz) differs from your country, we do not advise using your appliances. Otherwise, there is no voltage difference, you could (at your own risk) try to use the appliance for a short time. Be especially careful with moving, rotating and time-related appliances like clocks, shavers, and electric fan heaters.


Different Labels

To be sure, check the label on the appliance. Some appliances never need a converter.

  • If the label states ‘INPUT: 100-240 V, 50/60 Hz’ the appliance can be used in all countries in the world.
  • If your device is 220 volts or is dual voltage and your plug will fit in an Iranian power outlet then it will work in Iran.
  • Whether your device is 220 volts or is dual voltage but your plug won’t fit in an Iranian power outlet you’ll need to bring suitable a plug adapter for Iran. For example Type F plug adapter. Please note that a plug adapter for Iran (or power adapter) is designed to change the actual shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in Iran. But is unable to convert the voltage from 220 volts to use with another voltage.
  • If your device is unable to run on 220 volts and isn’t dual voltage you will also need a power converter for Iran to convert the voltage from 220-volt volts to the correct voltage on your device. You’ll still need to use a suitable plug adapter for Iran if your power converter doesn’t include the correct Type F plug adapter.
  • In case you want to power one or more USB devices such as a cellphone or tablet then a USB travel power adapter is recommended. Also, it should be dual voltage. However, make sure that you choose a USB travel adapter which includes a Type F plug adapter. Otherwise, you’ll also need to use a suitable plug adapter for Iran.

Explore All Iran Tours

8 Days Persia Classic Tour

12 Days Persia Classic Tour

8 Days Iran Silk Road Tour

3 Days Kerman Tour

10 Days Yoga into Classic Iran Tour

1-Day Tour of Ancient Bishapur

1-Day Camel Riding in Maranjab Desert

5 Days Dizin Ski Tour

13 Days Iran Classic Tour with a Taste of Persian Gulf

10 Days Eco Yoga Retreat in Iran

Pasargadae & Persepolis Tour

1-Day Abyaneh Village Tour

Got a Question About Iran Travel Services?

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask us and our travel expert will get in touch with you shortly. Please also call us or email us before visiting to make sure that you will be served with our best services.