By Morteza Alehashem

A glance at tourist attractions, must-see sites of Ardabil province

April 5, 2020 - 10:19

Ardabil Province is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. It is located in the northwest of the country, bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan, the provinces of East Azarbaijan, Zanjan, and Gilan. This province is home to many cultural and historical sites as well as tourist attractions with breathtaking views in a way it attracts a huge number of tourists from both inside and outside the country every year.

Ardabil province is situated in a mountainous region whose altitude averages 3,000 meters above sea level. It is very cold in winter and mild in summer. The city of Ardabil is usually recorded as one of the coldest cities in the country in winter.

Ardabil Province attracts a large number of tourists every year due to its favorable cool weather. The northwestern province has natural wonders, historical monuments, many tourist attractions as well as scores of mineral water springs.

The province is divided into 10 counties: Ardabil, Bilasavar, Germi, Khalkhal, Kowsar, Meshginshahr, Namin, Sarein, Nir, and Parsabad. District of Arasbaran was transferred to the province of Ardabil from East Azerbaijan in 2010 and now appears on the more recent maps of Ardabil Province produced by the Iranian official organizations.

Hereunder are must-see sites in Ardabil province with breathtaking views.

Fandoqlou Forest

Fandoqlou Forest is located 10kms southeast of the city of Namin. It is the largest hazelnut hub of the country and annually hosts tens of thousands of visitors.

Neor Lake

The slopes of Baghru Heights, which is 35kms to the southeast of Ardabil, have a beautiful lake named Neor Lake, which is located 2,500 meters above sea level, has a unique biodiversity.

Shorabil Lake

Shorabil Lake boasts healing minerals and a picturesque landscape. It is a sightseeing site and the main habitat for migratory birds.

Sabalan Heights

Sabalan, with an altitude of 4,811 meters, is the third highest peak in Iran. It is an inactive volcano. There is a small lake on top of the summit. Sablan is also home to Alvares Ski Resort.

Sarein

Sarein is located 25kms from the provincial capital of Ardabil on the slopes of Sabalan Heights. It is considered one of the top ten tourism hubs of Iran. Most of the tourists to Ardabil Province stopover in Sarein.

Ardabil Village

Ardabil Village is located near the city of Khalkhal. Ardabil Ski Resort is located in the northeast Khalkhal. Several winter sports festivals have been held there in recent years.

Ardabil mausoleums

The mausoleums of Sheikh Safieddin Ardabili and Sheikh Kalkhoran are symbols of Islamic-Iranian architecture.

Sheikh Safieddin Mausoleum is located near Ardabil’s Aali-Qapu Square. It also includes a mosque, library, and school.

The mausoleum has an Islamic architecture.

Sheikh Kalkhoran Mausoleum belongs to Aminoddin Jebreil, the father of Sheikh Safieddin Es’haq, the ancestor of Safavid kings. It is located in Kalkhoran Village in Ardabil.

Souvenirs

Ardabil is well known for its carpets, honey, sweets, roasted sunflower seeds, felt products, woodwork, and earthenware. Its traditional food is 'Aash-e Doogh'-a sour yogurt soup with chickpeas and vegetables.

Ardabil climate

Ardabil province is situated in a mountainous region whose altitude averages 3,000 meters above sea level. It is very cold in winter and mild in summer. The city of Ardabil is usually recorded as one of the coldest cities in the country in winter.

Ardabil, a getaway from scorching hot days

The summer has set in for a few days now and the blazing, baking sun seems to be always shining in the cloudless sky and you could no longer fight back the urge to plan a getaway to places with a cool temperature.

For our family, the best destination was the northwestern province of Ardabil, which is characterized by cool climate during the hot summer months and lures a lot of tourists, who like us, try to escape the hot weather for a couple of days.

We set off on a road trip from Tehran to Ardabil, intending to take Heyran route. The route, connecting Astara, northern Gilan province, to Ardabil, is well-known for its scenic views. However, since you have to pass through Gilan province to get to Astara and Heyran route, it is best to spend a night in picturesque villages in Gilan. That’s why despite the hot temperatures we decided to spend a night in a village in Talesh near Siah Daran forest park.

In case you don’t want to spend a night in Gilan you can make a pit stop at Gisoom forest park where the jungle meets the Caspian Sea and has perfect tasting fish kebabs in small outdoor, sea view restaurants.

The next morning we headed to Astara to get to Heyran route. Driving along the road you could see the fenced borders between Iran and Azerbaijan. The road was surrounded by beautiful trees and emerald green paddy fields. Every now and then there were vendors selling corn on the cob kebab and ash-e doogh (a soup usually made with doogh, a yogurt-based beverage, as well as different kinds of herbs and chickpea).

Our great ride throughout the road culminated with arriving at Heyran gondola lift. Getting on a cabin we traveled 1,500 meters through a beautiful landscape of the Alborz mountain range. At some point during the ride, everything vanished in the thick fog and this meant we have arrived at the next station.

The cold breeze and the small drops of water on your face makes you feel alive again. You can even take a short walk up the hills and plains surrounding the region. The plains are beautifully covered in wildflowers and the everlasting fog gives it greater vibes. There are restaurants, coffee houses, and tea houses which offer traditional foods and drinks in the area as well.

It was so hard to say goodbye to Heyran and leaving it to get to our main destination, Ardabil.

Once we reached Ardabil we decided to visit Shorabil Lake. The lake is located south of the city and offers a dazzling and peaceful atmosphere. There is no need to do anything there, you can just sit near the lake, gaze upon the view and inhale the fresh air.

However, facilities have been built around the lake for the leisure, entertainment, and comfort of the coming visitors as well. There are several restaurants and coffee shops, indoor and outdoor amusement parks, a couple of international hotels and a zoo in the proximity of the lake.

There are also running track and bike lanes around the lake, so activities such as running, cycling and also sailing on small boats are also available.

This lake, with a surface area of 16 acres, is the largest lake in Iran within a city. Originally the basin was covered with mud and high concentrations of salt and other minerals so that no fish could survive. In 1998, in order to dilute the lake, rivers were linked to it and reduced the amount of salt. Now, lots of salmons are living in Lake Shorabil.

While dozens of hotels are available in the city of Ardabil to stay in we preferred to camp out in Fandoqlo forest.

Stretching over some 85,000 hectares of land, Fandoqlo (literally meaning filled with hazel trees), is very well-known for its spectacular, stunning sceneries. Dog rose, German chamomile, wild pansy, and wild strawberry are some of the plant species found in this area. It is also a habitat to the brown bear, marten, pheasant, partridge, and golden eagle.

Fandoqlo is located 25 kilometers from Ardabil so it is a short drive from the city to the forest. You can either set up a camp in the forest or rent a cottage in case you don’t feel like sleeping in a tent.

However, the beautiful sky ornamented with hundreds of stars might tempt you to decide to sleep in a tent. On the first night of our stay in the forest, the weather was pleasantly cool, so that we put up a tent and had a cup of tea under the blinking stars.

There are guard dogs and also a security guard in the area so that you can feel pretty safe to sleep in a tent. There are also lots of parking spaces available for parking your car.

In the morning, we woke up with the horses’ happy neigh and dogs barking at them. In front of us was a plain surrounded with dense trees and the light wind spreading the fog. Smell of damp, freshly cut grass and the fresh earthy smell filled our lungs and again made it harder to leave the forest for visiting another resort destination.

For me, Sareyn, a city located in the southwest of Ardabil, is a city of lights. The streets are jammed with food carts selling corn on the cob kebab, ash-e doogh, and tea. There are also big restaurants selling kebab and other mouth-watering foodstuffs. It sounded like the pool of lights would never fade.

The city is well-known for its hot springs and attracts hundreds of tourists especially during summer. The hot springs in Sareyn are near an inactive volcano in mount Sabalan and its water contains sulfur particles which is believed to have therapeutic properties and is good for bone and joint pains.

However, it is not just the hot springs that makes you want to visit this city. Walking down the streets at dusk while the cool breeze gently blows and listening to people’s carefree laughter tells you that the trip has paid off.

The massive suspension bridge, inaugurated in 2015 in Meshgin Shahr city, also worth visiting. At 345 meters long, 3 meters wide and 80 meters high, the bridge is said to be the largest of its kind in the Middle East. However, a word of advice: do not go there at noon. Despite the cool breeze, the sun is up and strong.

If you decided to take the Heyran pass to get to the city, it is best to travel back from Khalkhal-Asalem road. A cool mist fills this road too. Driving through the mist you get to the beautiful city of Asalem in the province of Gilan. The enchanting beauty of the road, starting from Khalkhal, located in Ardabil, and ending in Gilan, would be a perfect end to a perfect trip.

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