Places to Visit in Iran, Top 20: Unforgettable Journey through Persia

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Places to Visit in Iran

Iran is a country waiting to be explored, far different from what you might have heard. It’s a place where history, friendly people, and stunning buildings come together to create something truly special. This guide will show you the places to visit in Iran – a land of breathtaking scenery, intricate architecture, welcoming locals, and timeless traditions.

Iran is a mix of history and hospitality. Its ancient mosques and palaces tell stories, while its people greet you with open arms. As you journey through Iran, you’ll discover not just beautiful buildings, but also the kindness of its people. It’s a unique experience that goes beyond what you’ve seen in the news. Let’s have a review of the top 20 places to visit in Iran:

1. Golestan Palace, Tehran

ToIranTour - Golestan Palace
Photo by Sina HN Yazdi on Unsplash

One of the great royal palaces of Tehran is Golestan Palace which is massive, and it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when you arrive. Here are some must-see spots to start with: The Karim Khani Nook, once the home of the Zand dynasty’s founder from 1751 to 1779, and the stunning Mirror Hall, where royal weddings and coronations took place.

Don’t forget to check out the Edifice of the Sun, which used to give Shahs a panoramic view of the city, and the Brilliant Hall, famous for its incredible mirror work by Iranian artists. It’ll take about 2 to 3 hours to explore the whole palace. After all that walking, take a break by the peaceful pond in the main garden. Right next door, you’ll find the other bustling places to visit in Iran like Tehran Grand Bazaar, a great spot to see how locals live their lives.

2. Azadi Tower, Tehran

When you’re in the Metropolitan of Tehran, don’t miss the Azadi Tower (meaning Liberty Tower) – it’s one of the most famous places to visit in Iran. Built in 1971 to celebrate 2,500 years of the Persian Empire, this tower is pretty unique.

Azadi Tower blends old Persian style with a modern touch. Look at its big arch covered in 8,000 pieces of white marble – that’s something special. The tower sits in Azadi Square, which has seen its share of history. People protested there during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and they still gather there for demonstrations today.

You can get a great view of the city from the top of Azadi Tower, whether you take the elevator or climb the stairs. And if you want a break and experience other places to visit in Iran, there are galleries and a café at the base of the tower to check out. It’s not just a landmark; it’s a cool place to explore.

3. Imamzadeh Saleh, Tehran

ToIranTour - Imamzadeh Saleh
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If you find yourself with extra time in Tehran, consider a visit to the beautiful Imamzadeh Saleh, also known as the Tajrish Mosque. It is one of the top religious destinations in Iran where Saleh, the son of Musa al-Kadhim (the seventh Shia Imam), is laid to rest.

Once you step inside, you can’t miss the stunning tile decorations on the mosque’s tall structures and dome. Inside, the walls dazzle with intricate mirror designs, a common sight in Iranian shrines. While you’re in the area, take a walk to Tajrish Bazaar, one of the top traditional Iran bazaars. You’ll find unique souvenirs and get a taste of local life bustling with activity.

4. Shah Cheragh Shrine, Shiraz

ToIranTour - Shah Cheragh Shrine
Photo by Hadadinejad on Wikimedia

Not far from Nasir Ol Molk Mosque, you’ll come across one of the special places to visit in Iran, Shiraz – the revered Shah Cheragh Shrine, which translates to “King of the Light.”

Here’s an intriguing story: around 900 AD, a traveler noticed a mysterious light in the distance. Following it, he stumbled upon a grave that emitted a remarkable glow. Inside, they found the remains of an important Muslim figure, and as a tribute, they built a tomb.

Over time, this site grew and became one of the significant places to visit in Iran for Shia Muslims. Today, after several renovations, the Shah Cheragh Shrine stands as a wonder that draws tourists from around the world. The inside is even more impressive than the outside. When you step in, you’ll be amazed by the intricate mirror art that covers the walls and ceilings, shining and sparkling like priceless jewels. It’s truly a sight to behold.

5. Eram Garden, Shiraz

ToIranTour - Eram Garden
Photo by Mohsen Taheri on Unsplash

Shiraz has more than just beautiful mosques and shrines. It’s also home to one of Iran’s most wonderful gardens, Eram Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Quran, ‘Eram’ means a heavenly place, and as you walk through this garden, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise.

Eram Garden is filled with over 45 types of plants, 200 kinds of roses, and lots of fruit trees, including a famous 3,000-year-old cypress tree. With birds singing and the scent of flowers all around, it’s a peaceful and enchanting place.

Nobody knows exactly when Eram Garden was built, but they think it started in the 13th century during the Seljuk dynasty. It changed hands and got fixed up many times over the years before the University of Shiraz took over. The big palace by the pool even has poems by the famous Persian poet Hafez written on its tiles, making it one of the more special places to visit in Iran.

6. Vakil Mosque, Shiraz

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Right by the western entrance of the historic Vakil Bazaar, where you’ll find charming courtyards, old shops, and traditional bathhouses, lies one of the most remarkable places to visit in Iran, the Vakil Mosque.

This mosque, considered one of Iran’s seven wonders, was built back in the 18th century by the Zand dynasty and later fixed up by the Qajar dynasty in the 19th century. What makes it special? Well, take a look at its 48 pillars; they’re carved in spirals and adorned with these fancy acanthus leaves. It’s these unique details that make Vakil Mosque one of the true architectural places to visit in Iran.

7. Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz

Found within the peaceful Musalla Gardens in northern Shiraz, you’ll discover the serene Tomb of Hafez, one of the best places to visit in Iran, cherished by the locals and brimming with poetic inspiration.

Born in Shiraz in 1315 and passing away in 1390, Hafez is adored as one of Iran’s greatest and most beloved poets. He’s like Iran’s version of Shakespeare—a national hero and a guiding light for Iranians. His verses, collected in the famous Dīvān, resonate widely among people of all ages in Iran, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a home without a copy of his book.

Today, Hafez’s Tomb lies beneath an open pavilion adorned with a beautiful dome adorned in intricate mosaic tiles. The garden surrounding it creates the perfect ambiance to reflect on the significance of this place, and if you’re in the mood, to enjoy some of Hafez’s heartfelt poems. You’ll also see locals gathering around the tomb to pay their respects to this literary giant, especially on October 12th, celebrated as the National Day of Hafez. Keep in mind Tomb of Hafez is definitely one of the best places to visit in Iran.

8. Persepolis, Shiraz

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Situated approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Shiraz lies one of the most significant historical places to visit in Iran: Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the magnificent ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550 – 330 BC), a source of immense pride for the people of Iran.

Venturing on a day trip to explore the ancient remnants of this city is one of the foremost experiences in Iran. As you stroll amidst the pillars, archways, and vestiges of what were once majestic palaces, you’re bound to feel a profound sense of awe and humility in the face of ancient Persia’s vast history.

Persepolis is believed to have been commissioned by Darius I around 518 BC, with construction spanning approximately 120 years. Darius I was an unusual king of his time, renowned for his kindness towards the workers; he regularly paid and treated them well. Yet, the primary purpose of Persepolis remains shrouded in mystery, though it’s conjectured to have functioned as a grand ceremonial complex, likely occupied only seasonally.

Tragically, in 330 BC, Alexander the Great invaded Achaemenid Persia and, in a fit of drunken revenge, laid waste to Persepolis. The city was set ablaze, and he carried away an astonishing trove of gold and silver using thousands of camels and mules. It wasn’t until the 1930s that a French archaeologist, in a quest to unveil its secrets, embarked on the excavation of Persepolis.

9. Naqsh-e Rostam, Shiraz

ToIranTour - Naqsh-e Rostam
Photo by Diego Delso on Wikimedia

A mere 10-minute drive from Persepolis lies Naqsh-e Rostam, the regal necropolis of the Achaemenid Empire. Given its proximity to Persepolis, your taxi driver or tour guide often includes this site in your day trip itinerary, and it’s unquestionably worth a visit to marvel at the four magnificent rock-cut tombs of ancient Persian kings.

Historians still debate the identities of the kings interred within these tombs. They are certain about one, the builder of Persepolis, Darius I, but the other three are believed to be Darius II, Artaxerxes I, and Xerxes I. Carved into the cliff faces above each tomb are depictions of the kings as god-like figures.

Among these carvings, you’ll also find representations of victorious battles of the Achaemenid Empire. But perhaps the most intriguing of them all is an exceptionally ancient carving that hints at this site’s use even before the emergence of Achaemenid Persia. All in all, don’t miss Naqsh-e Rostam; it is one of the unforgettable places to visit in Iran.

10. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, one of the distinguished places to visit in Iran, unfolds as a captivating and immense gathering place nestled in the heart of Isfahan. It easily claims its spot among the most stunning destinations in Iran.

This square is not just any ordinary space; it houses the enchanting Grand Bazaar, a colossal labyrinth that has stood since the 11th century. Inside, you’ll get lost in a world of vibrant handicrafts, intricate carpets, rich textiles, fragrant spices, and so much more.

Furthermore, within this mesmerizing square, you’ll encounter other fabulous places to visit in Iran, Isfahan including the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace, the Shah Mosque, and the Qeysarie Gate. The Qeysarie Gate, in particular, stands as the primary gateway to Isfahan’s bustling bazaar. As you wander through this treasure trove of Persian culture and history, take your time to soak in the sheer beauty that surrounds you.

11. Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan

The Ali Qapu Palace, found in Isfahan, is one of the significant places to visit in Iran, built during the time of the Safavid Dynasty.

This beautiful palace is proudly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in the day, it served as the home of Safavid kings and the place where they held important royal meetings.

One of the most amazing parts of this palace is the terrace on the fourth floor, which gives you an incredible view of Naqsh-e Jahan Square and two of Iran’s most stunning mosques: the Sheikh Lotofollah and the Shah Mosque.

What really caught my eye was that each floor had its own special decorations. From the colorful tilework on the stairs to the detailed floral patterns and delicate stucco designs, each level had its unique and beautiful decorations to admire.

12. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan

ToIranTour - Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Photo by J.salehifar on Wikimedia

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, found in the famous Naqsh-e Jahan Square, is one of the architectural places to visit in Iran from the 17th century, built during the Safavid dynasty. It’s considered the most beautiful and stunning building in Isfahan.

Originally, this mosque was made for Shah Abbas as his private royal place of worship. Because it was only meant for the king and the ladies in his inner circle, it’s smaller than other mosques and lacks a minaret. However, what truly stands out is the incredibly detailed tilework, which is even more impressive than that of the other mosques in Naqsh-e Jahan Square.

To maintain privacy, Shah Abbas constructed a secret tunnel connecting the Ali Qapu Palace to his private mosque. This allowed him and the ladies in his court to move between the two places without being seen by the public. Don’t miss Jame Mosque of Isfahan as well; it is one of the best places in Iran.

13. Khaju Bridge, Isfahan

ToIranTour - Khaju Bridge
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Khaju Bridge, gracing the Zayenderud River in Isfahan, is one of the stunning historical places to visit in Iran. This bridge spans one of Iran’s largest rivers, even though in dry seasons, the river may run nearly dry, with only a trickle of water. It’s during a brief period in the winter that the river comes to life.

This architectural gem, with its unique design, was constructed in the late 17th century during the Safavid era under the reign of Shah Abbas II. Adorned with delightful tilework and paintings, the bridge itself is a work of art. Its centerpiece is a magnificent octagonal pavilion, showcasing some of the bridge’s most exquisite tile designs.

The real magic happens at night when Khaju Bridge is bathed in light, casting a captivating glow in the darkness. During this time, you’ll encounter scores of young people and families gathered around, socializing by the bridge.

In the summertime, locals often gather beneath the bridge to sing traditional songs and dance, creating a vibrant atmosphere. It’s a surefire way to make new friends and create lasting memories during your visit to Iran.

14. Chehel Sotoun, Isfahan

Chehel Sotoun Palace is not just any old building; it’s one of the special places to visit in Iran recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and it’s a part of Iran’s historical legacy. This fancy Persian palace was built in a lovely park, right at the end of a long pool, back in the 17th century by a king named Shah Abbas II during the Safavid dynasty. He used it for all sorts of things like parties, ceremonies, and welcoming important visitors from other countries.

Now, what makes this palace so interesting? Well, both the outside and the inside are pretty amazing. People like to call it the “Palace of Forty Columns” because of the cool trick it plays. The front porch has 20 wooden columns, and when you look at them in the reflection of the pool in front, it seems like there are actually 40 columns holding up the palace.

But the real magic happens inside. The walls are covered in beautiful paintings that show important moments from the history of the Safavid Empire, with brave warriors and all. Plus, the ceilings and the spaces between the paintings have intricate designs of flowers and animals, making the inside of the palace a true work of art. Do not miss Chehel Sotun, one of the unforgettable places to visit in Iran!

15. Vank Cathedral, Isfahan

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Photo by Ali Karimi on Unsplash

In Isfahan’s Armenian neighborhood known as New Julfa, you’ll discover the Vank Church, also called The Holy Savior Cathedral, a remarkable Armenian church that ranks among Iran’s seven wonders.

This church was built in the early 17th century during the Safavid era, alongside 12 other churches, as part of a unique history. Armenian immigrants, who were forced to relocate to Isfahan by Shah Abbas I during the Ottoman War of 1603-1618, were the builders.

What makes the Vank Cathedral special is its blend of Armenian and Persian architectural styles. Step inside, and you’ll be captivated by colorful frescoes depicting stories from the Bible, ornate gilded carvings, and rich Persian-style tilework.

This place isn’t just a beautiful church; it also houses a museum and library with biblical manuscripts and historical documents. These documents mainly tell the story of the Armenian community in Isfahan and the tragic Armenian Genocide, a dark period when the Ottoman Empire systematically persecuted nearly one million Armenians. As a result, the Vank Cathedral is globally recognized as a significant Armenian center.

16. Abyaneh Village, Isfahan

Abyaneh, one of Iran’s most ancient places to visit in Iran, has a history dating back a staggering 2,500 years. It’s famously known as the ‘Red Village’ due to its charming collection of red clay buildings.

This village is a UNESCO treasure, celebrated for its remarkably preserved local culture, language, architecture, and traditional attire, which have endured through centuries and dynasties. In fact, the villagers here speak a distinctive dialect of Farsi, unique to Abyaneh, with some words dating back to the 3rd century BC!

One of the top experiences in Abyaneh is simply wandering through its winding alleyways. This is where you’ll uncover hidden gems, and nearly every corner is a photo opportunity. Some of the red houses even have rooftops accessible by stairs, offering breathtaking views of the Karkas Mountains.

Strolling through Abyaneh, you’ll soak in an authentic ambiance. Locals go about their daily lives with few tourists around, and you’ll often spot local women wearing traditional floral headscarves. If you’re eager to immerse yourself in Iranian culture, Abyaneh is an absolute must-visit, offering a unique glimpse into the past and present. Do not miss Abyane Village, one of the most unparalleled ancient places to visit in Iran.

17. Agha Bozorg Mosque, Kashan

ToIranTour - Agha Bozorg Mosque
Photo by Akbar Nemati on Unsplash

When it comes to one of the famous places to visit in Iran, the Agha Bozorg Mosque from the 18th century is refreshingly different. It may not have the grandeur of the Shah Mosque in Isfahan or the vivid colors of the Pink Mosque in Shiraz, but that’s what makes it stand out.

Personally, this mosque is one of my favorite places to visit in Iran. Its unpretentious exterior, well-balanced design, and peaceful atmosphere create a sense of calm. What made it even more special was the fewer tourists compared to other popular mosques in Iran, allowing for a more intimate experience.

Inside, you’ll find a school alongside the mosque, with student rooms surrounding a lovely sunken courtyard. It’s a spot where local families often come, adding to the relaxed and lively atmosphere that enhances the mosque’s unique charm.

18. Fin Garden, Kashan

ToIranTour - Fin Garden
Photo by Diego Delso on Wikimedia

Dating back to the 16th century, Fin Garden, one of the famous places in Iran, proudly holds the title of Iran’s oldest Persian garden. Among the nine Persian gardens designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Fin Garden stands as a cherished gem.

Here, you’ll encounter one of the most beautiful places to visit in Iran which is adorned with architectural wonders, intricate fountains, serene pools, lush trees, and vibrant flowers. These elements serve as a testament to the fusion of architectural styles from renowned Persian dynasties, including the Safavid, Zand, and Qajar dynasties.

19. The Historical Houses of Kashan

In Kashan, you’ll discover grand traditional houses with magnificent gardens and courtyards, all hailing from the 18th and 19th centuries. These are essentially some of the ancient places to visit in Iran where affluent families once dwelled, now revered as historical landmarks.

Among the most famous places in Iran are renowned historical houses of Kashan including the Tabatabaei House, Borujerdi House, Mahinestan Rahib House, Ameri House, Manuchehri House, and Abbasi House.

Each of these traditional places in Iran stands as a splendid testament to Persian architecture. Both inside and out, these houses are adorned with intricate decorations. Particularly captivating are the vibrant stained-glass windows, remarkable mirrors, and breathtaking frescoes that grace these architectural gems.

20. Lut Desert, Kerman

ToIranTour - Lut Desert
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Deep in the Kerman province lies Lut Desert, a UNESCO salt desert home to mesmerizing clay-rock formations called Kaluts. To truly embrace one of the magical places to visit in Iran, I highly recommend camping overnight, especially if you enjoy gazing at the stars.

The best way to do this is by hiring a tour agency, which provides a 4×4 vehicle, a must for desert exploration. Your journey can include a visit to Rayen Castle, about a three-hour drive from the desert. Arriving in time for a night’s stay allows you to witness a breathtaking sunrise among the Kaluts.

These unique Kaluts, with their stunning and unusual shapes, were shaped by the forces of nature – strong winds and water erosion. Some of these rocky structures are easy to climb, offering a fantastic view of the desert below. Lut Desert, considering all, is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places to visit in Iran.

FAQs about Places to Visit in Iran, Top 20

Q1: What are the amazing places in Iran?

A1: Some remarkable places to visit in Iran are Azadi Tower, Golestan Palace, Azadi Tower, Imamzadeh Saleh, Shah Cheragh Shrine, Persepolis, and Lut Desert.

Q2: Where do people like to travel to in Iran?

A2: Most travelers opt for cultural tours in Iran, visiting renowned destinations like Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd, and Tehran. The more adventurous ones decide to enhance their cultural experience by combining it with an Iran desert tour, where they can explore the desert areas near Kashan and Isfahan.

Q3: What Iran is famous for?

A3: Iran is renowned for its abundant cultural heritage, encompassing diverse art forms like literature and architecture, among others. The country boasts impressive architectural wonders, including royal palaces, ancient mosques, and historical museums.

Q4: Is Iran a cheap country to visit?

A4: Iran is known for its affordability, making it one of the most budget-friendly destinations. Adequate financial preparation is necessary for the trip, which is why a detailed breakdown of expenses from the visit and guidance on managing currency in Iran will be provided.

Q5: Which city of Iran is beautiful?

A5: Shiraz is often described as a charming city of gardens and poetry. When you inquire with travelers about their experiences in Iran, many will praise Shiraz as the most beautiful city they’ve explored. Situated in the southern part of Iran, in the Fars region, it’s one the most essential places to visit in Iran.

Experience the Best Places to Visit in Iran with Customized Tours

When planning a trip to explore the best places to visit in Iran, and of course other places, it’s a great idea to consider a customized tour. Iran tourist spots are fascinating destinations with a lot to offer, but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to go and what to see on your own. Opting for a customized tour, like the ones offered by To Iran Tour, can make your journey more enjoyable and tailored to your preferences.

At To Iran Tour, our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to organizing unforgettable journeys to experience the most captivating Iran tourist spots. Whether you dream of exploring the ancient city of Persepolis, admiring Isfahan’s beautiful architecture, or savoring the delicious Iranian cuisine, we’ve got you covered. Contact To Iran Tour today, and let us create the perfect itinerary to make your Iran adventure truly special.

Explore the Amazing places of Iran with To Iran Tour

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