Journey through the history, geography and contemporary culture of Iran
Wander one of the many bazaars, and experience the organized chaos of sights, sounds, and smells that will tempt you at every turn. Discover the 2,500-year history of Persian carpets. Marvel at the bridges and squares and other gathering places, and witness a thriving culture where people enjoy spending time together. Consider life under a theocracy, with no separation of church and state, where actions are closely controlled. Meditate at one of the mosques or temples, reflecting what daily spirituality means to this culture. Experience the history, the architecture, the ruins, and their inspiration. Imagine travel along the Silk Road via camel. Take pleasure in the landscape, from grandiose mountains to high plateaus to desert valleys, baked in the sunlight and illuminated at night by millions of stars.
Iran is a fascinating place. Once--and by many still--it was deemed too dangerous to visit. But look beneath the veil of politics, and we discover an incredible warmth emanating from the people. A people who would very much like to be our friends. Visitors are considered a gift of God, and are treated with generous hospitality. Join us and be one of the few lucky travelers to receive a warm welcome from this exotic and unfamiliar destination.
15 days moderate touring, some long drives
- Journey through Iran and visit five UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Persepolis, Saint Stephanoes, Soltaniyeh, Pasargadae, and Meidan Emam
- Travel with expert guide Saied Haj Hadi (aka Hadi), who has been leading tours in Iran for almost 20 years
- Immerse yourself in 2500 years of continuous history
- Wander the bazaars and experience the cacophony of sights, sounds and smells
- Experience the warmth and friendliness of the Persian people
Duration: 15 days Start Location: Tehran End Location: TehranDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Tehran (This entire trip is below 6,000')
Arrive in Tehran, the capital city and modern heart of Iran.
Day 2 : Tehran - Tabriz
After a buffet breakfast, we drive to the city center to visit one of the gates of old Tehran, then spend the rest of the morning visiting the National Museum of Iran which contains items dating from the 5th millennium BC, pre-historic, Median, Achaemenid, Selucid, Parthian, and Sassanid periods, After lunch we pay a visit to the Crown Jewels Museum of Iran, by far the largest and most dazzling collection of jewels in the world located in the National Treasury of Iran, inside the Central Bank of Iran. We then transfer to Mehrabad airport to fly to Tabriz.
Day 3 : Tabriz
Visit the 15th-century Masjed-e Kaboud (Blue Mosque), one of Iran's most celebrated mosques, the Azarbayjan Museum, and the bustling medieval Bazaar of Tabriz.
Day 4 : Tabriz - Zanjan
After breakfast we’ll drive 30 miles southwest of Tabriz through a scenic valley to Kandovan, in the foothills of Mount Sahand (12,162'), in the Osku district of eastern Azerbaijan. Kandovan (plural for kando, which means bees’ nest) is a scenic and unique volcanic village, set with rock dwellings reminiscent of Turkey’s Cappadocia. Then we take a lovely drive through the passes, villages, and cities of Azerbaijan in the northwestern part of Iran via the Alborz mountain range. We stop for lunch on the way and arrive in Zanjan later in the day.
Day 5 : Zanjan - Tehran - Shiraz
This morning visit the 14th century tomb-tower, Soltaniyeh, with wonderful Islamic calligraphies and decorations. It is recognized as the tallest religious building of the time and is considered to be a peer of Santa Maria Del Fiore in Florence, Italy. Our next stop is in Qazvin where you’ll see the 11th century Seljuq period Jame Mosque and the 17th to 19th-century art of tiles and mirrors in the mausoleum of Shazde-Hussain. After lunch, we take the freeway to Tehran (2 hours driving) to catch our flight to Shiraz
Day 6 : Shiraz
This morning we’ll head out on a full-day tour of Shiraz, “the town of roses and nightingales." We’ll begin with Bagh-e Eram (Eram Garden) with its collection of magnificent roses, followed by a visit to the tomb of Hafiz, the 13th-century mystic and the most celebrated Persian poet. Later we’ll enter the old quarter of town, with its heavy traffic and noise, to pay a visit to the 9th-century old Jame’ mosque, Khan theological school, and the colorful nomadic bazaar.
Day 7 : Shiraz
Today is a highlight of our trip, with visits to Achamenid, Persepolis, and Naqsh-e Rostam, plus the Vakil Bazaar and Saray-e Moshir.
Day 8 : Shiraz - Yazd
Leaving Shiraz we’ll drive to Yazd visiting Pasargadae, the first Achaemenid capital and the site of Pardises, the ancient Persian royal city-gardens 135 kilometers from Shiraz. We then turn right in Surmaq to cross a kavir (a desert without any vegetation), and have a stop at the Grand Mosque of Abarqu and walk around a 4,000 year old cypress tree. Our picnic lunch here will become another of the “memories” the tree will now hold. As we leave Abarqu we’ll go via Shirkuh ("Lion") Mountain toward the Zagross mountain ranges.
Day 9 : Yazd
Full day excursion to the Zoroastrian monuments of Yazd.
Day 10 : Yazd – Isfahan
Drive to Isfahan. Upon arrival, visit one of the early 11th century Seljuq mosques, an 18th century Safavid Persian traditional house and take a walk around the town’s ancient citadel and old neighborhoods in Na’in. We'll enjoy lunch in a traditional mud-brick restaurant.
Day 11 : Isfahan
Explore Isfahan (Esfahan), a colorful city of Islamic art and architecture, including the Vank Cathedral and Chehel-Sotoun Palace.
Day 12 : Isfahan
Visit the Hasht Behesht Palace; Naqshe-Jahan (Royal) Square, the second largest square in the world; Ali-Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah, the first ladies' mosque in the Islamic world; and the Meidan Emam.
Day 13 : Isfahan – Tehran
We drive through the Karkas Mountains of Iran, then on to Tehran via Kashan and Qom. Visit Fin Garden and the beautifully tiled and mirrored mausoleum of Emamzadeh Ebrahim in Kashan and the main Shi cleric center of Iran in Qom.
Day 14 : Tehran
Tour of Sa'ad Abad Palace Complex and the Reza Abbasi museum.
Day 15 : Departure
DATES: Best time to go: April, September Departures: Sep 21, 2014 - Oct 5, 2014
$400 internal airfare
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Saied Haji Hadi (goes by Hadi)
Saied Haji Hadi (aka Hadi), a native of Iran, always dreamed of traveling and interacting with other cultures. He started his career as an air traffic controller, including three years of education in the United States. After 20 years, Hadi completed a tour guide course, and traded in his sky-watching days for tour guiding in his home country. Now, after 23 years in tourism, Hadi has led over 285 tours for Western groups, along with a position of leadership as Chairman of the Iranian Tour Guide Association (ITGA) for six years. Aside from leading tours, he spends considerable time exploring the nooks and crannies of Iran and other parts of the world. Hadi has returned to the US on many occasions, and leads tours in incredibly diverse destinations in Africa, Europe, and the Far East. Hadi keeps up his passion for the skies by collecting war-bird planes, building and flying RC model aircraft, and seeking out aviation museums abroad. A diligent student of cultures and of life, Hadi is a warm and incredibly knowledgeable resource, the perfect person to impart understanding of Iranian culture on this cultural odyssey.