Backpacking Iran

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

Fancy a trip to Iran? Grab your backpack and discover Persian culture, admire palaces and mosques straight from tales of the One Thousand and One Nights, stroll through colourful bazaars, discover mystical mountain villages, vibrant metropolises, or dusty desert cities, and experience a unique blend of the traditional and the modern!

So, leave all prejudices behind and your travel dreams will come true. We’ll show you the best backpacking itinerary through this exciting country.


Important Basics

Official Language (Persian)
EnglishPersian
HelloSalam
GoodbyeXodâhâfez
Thank youMamnun
YesBale
NoNa-xeyr
Capital City

Tehran

Form of Government

Parliamentary republic

Best Time to Visit

March to May and September to November

Fun Facts
  • In Iran, the weekend is on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Black tea is popular and people often drink it without milk.
  • Archaeologists discovered settlements dating back to 7,000 B.C.
  • There are 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran.
  • Saffron is one of the main export of the country. You can even try saffron ice cream!

Cities

Tehran

Salaam! The first stop of your journey is the Iranian capital. Tehran has a population of almost 8.5 million people, so a certain culture shock from the magnitude of this metropolis is not unusual. But don’t worry – you’ll get used to the hustle and bustle and end up falling in love with this vibrant capital.

Explore the modern center, visit exciting museums, fight your way through chaotic traffic, and stroll through the colorful bazaar with its array of impressive aromas and colors. Tehran’s surroundings offer a bit of peace and greenery, where you can relax from the hubbub of the city. Take a hike up Tochal mountain and enjoy the view at over 3,000 meters. Depending on the season, you can even go skiing. Another spot to go trekking is Mount Damavand, a stratovolcano which is 5,604 meters high and the highest peak in Iran and the Middle East.

In Tehran, you can stay in one of the modern hostels and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €5 a night.

Rasht

Continue by train to Rasht for around three euros. Located on the Iranian Caspian Coast, the city is the perfect starting point for trips to the nearby Gilan Province – a favourite holiday destination for Iranians because of its varied landscape and colorful tea and fruit plantations.

An absolute must-do is a hike to the medieval fortress of Qaleh Rudkhan (Rudkhan Castle). The castle was built in the 13th century between two mountain peaks and offers exciting insights into Iranian history. On the lush green mountain slopes, explore and visit more than 40 watchtowers, a cistern, and the beautiful ruins of historic stairs and gates. 

Another popular day trip is Masuleh, a picturesque mountain village with traditional mud houses arranged in steps on a steep mountain slope. There are hardly any roads in town, and instead, you have to pass from one level of houses to the next via the flat roofs and terraces.

In Rasht itself, there are also some sights worth visiting, such as Qods Park, Safi Mosque, and the Rasht Museum with its exhibitions of archaeological and anthropological finds from the area.

Stay in a single room in a hotel for €10 a night.

Ardabil

Next stop: Ardabil. Continue your journey by bus to the cold north-western Iran for approximately five euros. Ardabil is known for its traditional silk and carpet production and has been of great importance to Iranian industry since the Middle Ages due to its location on major trade routes. The Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardebili, the founder of the Safavid dynasty.

Other popular attractions include the traditional bazaar, the Azam Mosque, the Ardabil Anthropology Museum, and the Shater Gonbadi Tower. In addition, Ardabil’s cityscape is characterized by numerous historical buildings and bridges, such as the seven-arched Qarah Soo (Zaqan) Bridge. We also recommend a visit to the thermal baths of Sareyn and an excursion to the surrounding hot springs, like Gol Ali spring, located in the middle of an idyllic nature reserve.

Stay a single room at a hotel in Ardabil’a city center for €13 a night.

Tabriz

Take a five-euro bus trip to reach Tabriz, the sixth-largest city in the country. Located near the Turkish border on the slopes of Mount Sahand, this city is famous for the Blue Mosque and magnificent Khaqani Garden, where you can see Persian architecture in all its glory. The Qaisariyeh Bazaar of Tabriz is also world-famous and fascinates visitors with its 7 square kilometers of authentic oriental flair and huge range of traditional food and goods.

The Arg Ali Shah Fortress, the Qajar Museum, Elgoli Park, the German-inspired Town Hall, and the Carpet Museum are also all worth seeing. Make sure to also take a trip to Lake Urmia’s healing saltwater or visit the small village of Kandovan and its cave-homes located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations that are still inhabited today.

In Tabriz, stay in a guesthouse for €15 a night for a single room.

Isfahan

Travel to Isfahan by night train for 11 euros. Known as the Pearl of Iran, the city is considered the embodiment of the Orient. Naghsh-e Jahan Square lies at the heart of the city and is one of the largest squares in the world, boasting a magnificent ensemble of buildings, like the Masjed-e Shah Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Ali-Qapu Palace, meaning you can admire the Iranian architecture in its full splendor. Afterwards, visit the beautiful bazaar, where you can buy handicrafts, Persian carpets, and copper-works, as well as local specialities such as gaz (Persian nougat). Make sure to check out the traditional Azadegan Tea House, hidden in the bazaar’s center.

Another highlight in Isfahan are the stone arched bridges over the river Zayandeh, which are beautifully illuminated in the evening and make for the perfect backdrop for a coffee or live music by the river. It’s also worth it to visit Chehel Sotoun (Forty Pillars) Palace; New Jolfa, the city’s Armenian quarter; and Atashgah, the Fire Temple of Isfahan, which offers a magnificent view of the city center and surrounding mountainous surroundings.

Sleep in the city center at a hostel for €7 a night in a 10-person dorm.

Yazd

From Isfahan, you can take the bus to Yazd for around five euros.

This enchanting oasis city is characterized by earthen architecture and wind catchers, which direct wind into the buildings and cool them down from the desert heat. In the old town, magnificent light blue mosques contrast vividly against reddish earth houses, many of whose rooftops are accessible, making a perfect spot to watch the sun set over the desert. Yazd’s large Jameh Mosque, built in the 12th century, is particularly worth seeing.

The city’s water museum is also interesting, and you can learn how these desert dwellers supplied themselves with drinking water. Make sure to see the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, located on the outskirts of Yazd, which are considered to be a sacred place as they were formerly used as burial pits. These towers also offer an impressive view of the city. Check out the Zoroastrian fire temple, too, where a sacred flame has been burning for centuries.

Spend the night in the city center, where you can get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €10 a night.

Shiraz

Take a bus to Shiraz for about 7 euros. The city is known for its magnificent gardens, which give the city a distinctive rosy scent. Eram Garden is particularly beautiful and is the most famous Persian garden in all of Iran.

Shiraz’s main attraction, however, is the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, because – unlike traditional mosques – it has not blue, but reddish-pink tiles. A visit is worthwhile in the morning, as the rising sun shines through the mosaic windows of the prayer room in a colorful play of different shades.

Stroll across the beautiful Vakil Bazaar, marvel at palaces straight out of tales from the One Thousand and One Nights, or take a day trip to the ancient ruins of Naqsh-e Rostam and Persepolis.

A single room in town costs only €8 a night.

From Shiraz, you can either fly back to Tehran or take the night bus for around €12 to catch your return flight home.


Tehran

Tehran

Salaam! The first stop of your journey is the Iranian capital. Tehran has a population of almost 8.5 million people, so a certain culture shock from the magnitude of this metropolis is not unusual. But don’t worry – you’ll get used to the hustle and bustle and end up falling in love with this vibrant capital.

Explore the modern center, visit exciting museums, fight your way through chaotic traffic, and stroll through the colorful bazaar with its array of impressive aromas and colors. Tehran’s surroundings offer a bit of peace and greenery, where you can relax from the hubbub of the city. Take a hike up Tochal mountain and enjoy the view at over 3,000 meters. Depending on the season, you can even go skiing. Another spot to go trekking is Mount Damavand, a stratovolcano which is 5,604 meters high and the highest peak in Iran and the Middle East.

In Tehran, you can stay in one of the modern hostels and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €5 a night.

Rasht

Rasht

Continue by train to Rasht for around three euros. Located on the Iranian Caspian Coast, the city is the perfect starting point for trips to the nearby Gilan Province – a favourite holiday destination for Iranians because of its varied landscape and colorful tea and fruit plantations.

An absolute must-do is a hike to the medieval fortress of Qaleh Rudkhan (Rudkhan Castle). The castle was built in the 13th century between two mountain peaks and offers exciting insights into Iranian history. On the lush green mountain slopes, explore and visit more than 40 watchtowers, a cistern, and the beautiful ruins of historic stairs and gates. 

Another popular day trip is Masuleh, a picturesque mountain village with traditional mud houses arranged in steps on a steep mountain slope. There are hardly any roads in town, and instead, you have to pass from one level of houses to the next via the flat roofs and terraces.

In Rasht itself, there are also some sights worth visiting, such as Qods Park, Safi Mosque, and the Rasht Museum with its exhibitions of archaeological and anthropological finds from the area.

Stay in a single room in a hotel for €10 a night.

Ardabil

Ardabil

Next stop: Ardabil. Continue your journey by bus to the cold north-western Iran for approximately five euros. Ardabil is known for its traditional silk and carpet production and has been of great importance to Iranian industry since the Middle Ages due to its location on major trade routes. The Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the tomb of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardebili, the founder of the Safavid dynasty.

Other popular attractions include the traditional bazaar, the Azam Mosque, the Ardabil Anthropology Museum, and the Shater Gonbadi Tower. In addition, Ardabil’s cityscape is characterized by numerous historical buildings and bridges, such as the seven-arched Qarah Soo (Zaqan) Bridge. We also recommend a visit to the thermal baths of Sareyn and an excursion to the surrounding hot springs, like Gol Ali spring, located in the middle of an idyllic nature reserve.

Stay a single room at a hotel in Ardabil’a city center for €13 a night.

Tabriz

Tabriz

Take a five-euro bus trip to reach Tabriz, the sixth-largest city in the country. Located near the Turkish border on the slopes of Mount Sahand, this city is famous for the Blue Mosque and magnificent Khaqani Garden, where you can see Persian architecture in all its glory. The Qaisariyeh Bazaar of Tabriz is also world-famous and fascinates visitors with its 7 square kilometers of authentic oriental flair and huge range of traditional food and goods.

The Arg Ali Shah Fortress, the Qajar Museum, Elgoli Park, the German-inspired Town Hall, and the Carpet Museum are also all worth seeing. Make sure to also take a trip to Lake Urmia’s healing saltwater or visit the small village of Kandovan and its cave-homes located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations that are still inhabited today.

In Tabriz, stay in a guesthouse for €15 a night for a single room.

Isfahan

Isfahan

Travel to Isfahan by night train for 11 euros. Known as the Pearl of Iran, the city is considered the embodiment of the Orient. Naghsh-e Jahan Square lies at the heart of the city and is one of the largest squares in the world, boasting a magnificent ensemble of buildings, like the Masjed-e Shah Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Ali-Qapu Palace, meaning you can admire the Iranian architecture in its full splendor. Afterwards, visit the beautiful bazaar, where you can buy handicrafts, Persian carpets, and copper-works, as well as local specialities such as gaz (Persian nougat). Make sure to check out the traditional Azadegan Tea House, hidden in the bazaar’s center.

Another highlight in Isfahan are the stone arched bridges over the river Zayandeh, which are beautifully illuminated in the evening and make for the perfect backdrop for a coffee or live music by the river. It’s also worth it to visit Chehel Sotoun (Forty Pillars) Palace; New Jolfa, the city’s Armenian quarter; and Atashgah, the Fire Temple of Isfahan, which offers a magnificent view of the city center and surrounding mountainous surroundings.

Sleep in the city center at a hostel for €7 a night in a 10-person dorm.

Yazd

Yazd

From Isfahan, you can take the bus to Yazd for around five euros.

This enchanting oasis city is characterized by earthen architecture and wind catchers, which direct wind into the buildings and cool them down from the desert heat. In the old town, magnificent light blue mosques contrast vividly against reddish earth houses, many of whose rooftops are accessible, making a perfect spot to watch the sun set over the desert. Yazd’s large Jameh Mosque, built in the 12th century, is particularly worth seeing.

The city’s water museum is also interesting, and you can learn how these desert dwellers supplied themselves with drinking water. Make sure to see the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, located on the outskirts of Yazd, which are considered to be a sacred place as they were formerly used as burial pits. These towers also offer an impressive view of the city. Check out the Zoroastrian fire temple, too, where a sacred flame has been burning for centuries.

Spend the night in the city center, where you can get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €10 a night.

Shiraz

Shiraz

Take a bus to Shiraz for about 7 euros. The city is known for its magnificent gardens, which give the city a distinctive rosy scent. Eram Garden is particularly beautiful and is the most famous Persian garden in all of Iran.

Shiraz’s main attraction, however, is the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, because – unlike traditional mosques – it has not blue, but reddish-pink tiles. A visit is worthwhile in the morning, as the rising sun shines through the mosaic windows of the prayer room in a colorful play of different shades.

Stroll across the beautiful Vakil Bazaar, marvel at palaces straight out of tales from the One Thousand and One Nights, or take a day trip to the ancient ruins of Naqsh-e Rostam and Persepolis.

A single room in town costs only €8 a night.

From Shiraz, you can either fly back to Tehran or take the night bus for around €12 to catch your return flight home.

Iran Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Tehran
Home – Tehran
Flight
125
6-person dorm
5
2. Tehran
Tehran
-
6-person dorm
5
3. Tehran
Tehran
-
6-person dorm
5
4. Tehran – Rasht
Tehran – Rasht
Train
3
Single room
10
5. Rasht
Rasht
-
Single room
10
6. Rasht
Rasht
-
Single room
10
7. Rasht
Rasht
-
Single room
10
8. Rasht – Ardabil
Rasht – Ardabil
Bus
5
Single room
13
9. Ardabil
Ardabil
-
Single room
13
10. Ardabil – Tabriz
Ardabil – Tabriz
Bus
5
Single room
15
11. Tabriz
Tabriz
-
Single room
15
12. Tabriz
Tabriz
-
Single room
15
13. Tabriz – Isfahan
Tabriz – Isfahan
Night bus
11
Night bus
14. Isfahan
Isfahan
-
10-person dorm
7
15. Isfahan – Yazd
Isfahan – Yazd
Bus
5
6-person dorm
10
16. Yazd
Yazd
-
6-person dorm
10
17. Yazd
Yazd
-
6-person dorm
10
18. Yazd – Shiraz
Yazd – Shiraz
Bus
7
Single room
8
19. Shiraz
Shiraz
-
Single room
8
20. Shiraz – Tehran
Shiraz – Tehran
Night bus
12
Night bus
21. Tehran – Home
Tehran – Home
Flight
125

Total price.

Flights 250,00
Transportation 48,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 179,00
Total477,00

Du möchtest 

deine eigene

Reise erstellen?

Du möchtest deine

eigene Reise erstellen?

Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Khame Moraba Ba Asal: This Iranian fruit salad is a delicious breakfast. It’s served with cream, jam, and bread.

Sobhaneye Sonati Irani: This breakfast consists of cheese and flatbread. A mix of nuts and some vegetables and melon are often added.

Soups

Ash e Reshteh:  This soup is made with greens, beans, herbs, and noodles and is a specialty in Iran.
Morgh Zaferani: If you like chicken, you’ll love Iran. This golden saffron chicken soup is an absolute must eat.

Main Courses

Kabob Koobideh: A classic in Iran: a plate with meat, rice, and vegetables, served with bread and traditional herbs for a typical Iranian taste.

Zereshk Polo ba Morgh: A sweet and sour rice dish prepared with chicken and hot spices.

Morgeh Zaferani: wenn du auf Hähnchen stehst, bist du im Iran genau richtig. Dieses Safran Hähnchen ist so ziemlich das A und O auf deiner Reise durch den Iran und ein absolutes Muss.

Mast Moosir: This is a yogurt dip made with herbs and chili spices, typically served with vegetables and bread. It can be a starter, or a side dish and tastes fantastic!

Polo Ba Tahdig Sibzamini: This simple rice dish with potatoes is the ultimate comfort food. It may sound boring but tastes exceptionally good.

Drinks

Doogh: A sour yogurt drink famous in Iran. It consists of yogurt, water, and mint and is very refreshing.

Chai siah: The traditional Iranian black tea!

Iran

The exchange rate for 100 000 Iranian rial is around 2.27 euros (as of May 2022). However, you can usually pay for things in US Dollars, thus the prices below are in US Dollars. See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living 

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Respect the photo ban: In many public places, especially if they are political, you’ll notice a sign prohibiting cameras. Respect this rule – even photos taken secretly can have negative consequences.

Say salaam: You’ve probably heard this greeting before – get used to it when you travel to Iran as it’s quite common and you’ll make a good first impression if you use it.

Decline another serving when you're full: You all probably have eaten another helping because you don't want to offend the cook. But in Iran, it is exactly the opposite. It’s considered polite to say refuse more food when you’re full. This way, the cook knows that you are satisfied and that he has served his purpose. But don't forget to always smile and refuse while saying thank you!

Be generous: Tipping is part of the culture in Iran, so if you get good service of any kind, you should always leave a small tip. It doesn't have to be much because the gesture is what counts.

Don'ts

Don’t drink alcohol: All alcoholic beverages are completely prohibited in Iran. That means you should also avoid it during your trip, even if that sounds rather hard at first.

Don’t shake hands with the opposite gender: The locals are very strict about this rule, and if you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation, you'd better not do it. The rule is based on religion and social structures. If you shake hands with the same gender, for example, as a greeting or a thank you, it is extremely important that you keep your other hand to yourself. A pat on the shoulder, while OK in other countries, is inappropriate here.

Never mention the Gulf or the Arabian Gulf while in Iran. It’s best to never talk about this topic as it is a sore point for locals. The Gulf is a conflictual topic as it officially belongs to Persia.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Yes

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for six months from the date of entry. Entry or application for a visa with a passport containing an Israeli entry stamp may be denied. Travel to Iran may affect subsequent entries into the United States. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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