Take a chance on this beautiful and fascinating country
Iran is not the most obvious choice when it comes to planning a holiday, but this diverse and enigmatic country has plenty to offer tourists looking for a new travel experience.
Iran may not currently be on your holiday radar- but it certainly should be! This diverse and enigmatic country has plenty to offer travellers who are prepared to give it a chance, combining rich ancient empires, modern metropolises, beautiful beaches and scenic snow-capped mountains.
So, for a holiday with a difference, consider heading to Iran this year. We’ve rounded up some of the best attractions and tourist sights this beautiful country has to offer.
For a fascinating insight into an ancient Persian Empire, head to Persepolis in Fars Province. The ancient city of Persepolis was founded in 518 BC and was once the capital of the Achaemid Empire. Today it is one of the world’s greatest and most famous archaeological sites, earning it a place on the UNESCO world heritage list. Its magnificent ancient ruins make it a must-visit destination for any visitor to Iran.
When you’re thinking of tropical beaches, Iran is probably not the first place that springs to mind – but you might be pleasantly surprised. Qeshm is the largest island in the Persian Gulf and is home to beautiful beaches, traditional villages and mangrove forests, as well as the canyons and valleys that make up the UNESCO-recognised Qeshm Island Geopark. The island is a favourite of nature lovers, offering an array of native wildlife, including gazelles, sea turtles, and a variety of resident and migratory birds.
The historic city of Isfahan is one of Iran’s most popular tourist destinations – and with good reason. Visually attractive with tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens and important Islamic buildings, the city is also a treasure trove of traditional culture. Wander through the historic bazaar, stroll across the picturesque bridges that line the waterways, and pay a visit to the central square of Naqsh-e Jahan – a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
While it may lack the historic buildings of Isfahan or Persepolis, the Iranian capital of Tehran is certainly worth a visit. Located at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, Tehran is a modern metropolis that is relatively secular and liberal in comparison to other Iranian cities. Culture can be found in the form of some fantastic museums, and art-lovers in particular are well-catered for, with the impressive Museum of Contemporary Art which houses works by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock amongst many others.
Most people don’t equate Iran with winter sports. However, the country actually has some fantastic ski resorts. One of these is Shemshak in the Alborz mountain range, just 35 miles from Tehran. While the ski areas may not be as extensive as many Alpine resorts, the snow conditions are excellent and the resort’s steep runs make it perfect for more advanced skiers. Shemshak also has the advantage of cheaper prices and less crowded slopes than its Western equivalents.
Iran is a fascinating country that has something for everyone, whether you want to experience ancient history, take to the ski slopes, relax on the beach, or simply wander around and take in the local culture. Iranians are also incredibly friendly and hospitable, so you’re sure to get a warm welcome wherever you go.
Planning a trip to Iran does take a bit more forward planning than other more familiar destinations so make sure you check the Foreign Office’s latest travel advice before booking, and look into visa requirements and any potential travel restrictions. You should also research regulations and customs to ensure you don’t cause offence or fall foul of any local laws.
While it may take a bit of extra work, visiting Iran can be a hugely rewarding experience, giving you a holiday with a difference that you are sure to remember forever.