By Afshin Majlesi

12 off-the-beaten-track destinations even Iranians don’t know about

December 2, 2020 - 22:38

Welcome to some hidden gems you never thought to visit, but really should if you’re planning a trip across Iran.The ancient country is home to thousands of historic and architectural beauties on offer in famed cities like Isfahan and Shiraz, Tabriz, Kashan, Kerman, and Yazd in such a way that its diverse landscapes could be easily overlooked.

Here are twelve epic places that the average Iranian might not even know about.

Mamraz Lake

Mamraz Lake offers visitors breathtaking sceneries with thousands of dried trees inside, which may seem scary at first glance.

Situated some 12 kilometers away from Noshahr city in Mazandaran province, the lake is 700 meters long and 300 meters wide and is listed as one of Iran’s National Heritage sites.

Because of its horrific landscape and strange silence of the lake, it is known as “The Ghosts’ Lake”.

Next to the lake, a lush forest is located and there are many dry tree trunks in the water, known as dead trees. The water of this lake is very clear and the reflection of the trees’ images on the lake adds to the beauty of the site. It is a pristine area and a spectacular natural attraction which is less known to tourists and adventurers.


Pamenar is a captivating village in Dezful, located in the southern Khuzestan province. Tiny islands rich with vegetation and wildlife are surrounded by the clear waters of a lake formed by Dez Dam, persuading visitors to dive right in, but given the best time to travel is winter, the water may still be a bit chilly!

Enjoy the absolute silence at night and marvel at the stars above. Springtime travelers will be rewarded with mother nature’s carpet of corn poppy flowers surrounding the lake, creating even more epic scenery.

Shadegan Lagoon

Shadegan Lagoon, which is situated in the Khuzestan province, exemplifies the diversity of both Iranian geography and its people. The Arabic-speaking inhabitants earn their living through the production of meat and dairy products and, to a lesser degree, tourism.

A sense of calm and quiet may be broken by the sound of migrating waterfowl or the crashing of a water buffalo deciding to join alongside your boat. Further down the lagoon are Mozif inns; houses with round roofs made entirely of cane.


The remote village of Filband, located in Mazandaran province, is known for its untouched nature and the sense of being lost above the clouds. You’ll cherish every second in this rural idyll where chickens and hens roam freely and carefree locals tend to their daily chores, while enveloped in puffy white clouds.

Full of hillside meadows dotted with grazing sheep and cottages peeking out from behind the trees, a weekend here promises to quiet your mind and sweep away your troubles from big city life.

Karshahi Fortress

Also known as Thieves’ Castle, Karshahi Fortress was once the operational center of a gang of robbers infamous for spreading fear and panic throughout the 19th century until the end of the Qajar dynasty.

This deteriorating adobe structure is adorned by five watchtowers and invites visitors to imagine the hustle and bustle of its heyday. Local legend has it that a maze of secret passageways exists under the fortress itself with three tunnels running to the mountains behind. The oasis of pomegranate trees tempts adventurers into a night of camping under a star-lit sky at the foot of this forgotten fortress.

Shadegan Wetland

A rich habitat for wildlife, Shadegan Wetland is situated southwards of a town of the same name in Khuzestan province. This wetland illustrates the biodiversity of Iranian people and geography. Arab-speaking residents of the area produce meat and dairy products for a living and you will see houses with round ceilings made of sugar cane in this wetland.

Animal life in the Shadegan ponds consists of two species of amphibians, five species of reptiles, and some 150 species of birds. You will have the chance to observe pelicans and flamingos there. The area is also known for its birds of prey and an important spot for migratory birds. Shadegan is also home to 40 species of mammals, including Iranian wolf, river otter, jungle cat, and wild boar.

Raqaz Canyon

Located Fars province, Raqaz Canyon, which embraces countless waterfalls and natural pools, is one of the most breathtaking in Iran. The 2.5 km-long journey begins easily with short jumps down into crystal clear pools.

Trekking deeper into the canyon with its higher waterfalls, however, especially the highest at 65 meters, requires some technical equipment and a bit of experience. But whether you climb down or stay to plunge a few times in the easier parts, this canyon won’t disappoint.

Dalikhani Forest              

Overlooking the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, Dalkhani Forest is one of the natural attractions of Ramsar city in Mazandaran province. This beautiful, semi-alpine forest, with a height of approximately 800 meters above the sea level, offers spectacular natural sceneries. Because of its height, Dalkhani could be a good choice for hikers and climbers and the thick fog in this forest create dreamy landscapes.

“The Corridor of Paradise” is the nickname given to this amazing forest due to its tall lush trees and pleasant climate. In mid-summer when the temperatures in the coastal cities of the Caspian Sea reach up to 35 degrees, the Dalkhani Forest can be a great option for escaping the heat. During the summer, the temperature in this forest is very cool (around 18 degrees). If you are visiting the forest during the cold season, be sure to bring warm clothes, blankets, and hot water to enjoy drinking tea or coffee.

Kal-e Jenni Canyon

Jinni Canyon, or as local people say Kal-e Jenni, is one of the most mysterious and stunning valleys in the country situated in South Khorasan province.

Located some 30 kilometers north of the city of Tabas, a bunch of palm trees and marches in a wide valley, mark the scenic start of the journey, however, romance mixes with horror as the trip continues.

This name consists of two parts: Kal + Jinn. ‘Kal’ is referred to any valley which has been formed by a water stream in the long run. And according to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘Jinn’ is “an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans.”

There are many reasons to attribute this 16-kilometer-long valley to jinns. Firstly, many mysterious-looking arcs, columns, and walls in the canyon are made by erosion but local people could not find a better constructor than jinn for them.

The next reason is related to wind. When the wind sweeps through the valley, it makes strange sounds due to the structure of walls which can make you think that supernatural entities are living around. Also, pebbles will hit your face as you walk in the valley in windy weather; locals believed that jinns are throwing the pebbles to defend their territory.

Dareh Haft Ghar (Seven Caves Valley)

Dareh Haft Ghar (which literary means “Seven Caves Valley”) is a spectacular wonder of nature in the northwestern city of Neyshabur, northeast Iran.

As the name implies, visitors must hike through about seven rocky caves before reaching the site of a natural spring.

In his most famous work Conference of the Birds, the poet Attar, a native of Neyshabur, describes each of the seven stages of spirituality as a valley. It’s rather befitting, then, that this cave is located in his hometown.

The name sends a chill down one’s spine and the sight of it a few more. Ghost Lake in the Mazandaran province is full of dead trees reaching out from beneath the water giving it a super creepy vibe. Although residents don’t believe that it’s haunted now, they do believe that their ancestors named it as such for a reason. Those into a good ghost story may be able to dig something up!

Loveh Waterfall

Despite the fact that majority of the Iranian soil is classified as arid or semi-arid, there’s no shortage of waterfalls in the country, and you’re bound to be delighted by whichever one you visit.

One that has seemed to fly under the radar, though, is Loveh Waterfall, sitting on the edge of Golestan National Park in the Golestan province. Visitors will find this a conducive spot to meditate or clear their heads as they are ensconced in thick trees and moss-covered rocks with nothing but the sound of flowing water.

Rainbow Valley

Situated within Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf, Rainbow Valley is a geologist’s dream and an inspiration for artists and nature enthusiasts. Imagine a narrow valley with multi-hued earth and sand and colorful mountains in shades of red, purple, yellow, ochre, and blue – the result of the uneven cooling of molten rock. On all sides, patches of color form geometric patterns. This awesomely photogenic natural site is at its best in the late afternoon.

The entire of southernmost island is made of Rainbow Mountains and you can freely walk through most of the middle of it. But this spot is a good place to stop and check out all the colors. In close vicinity of Silence Valley, lies the mesmerizing valley of more than 70 shades of minerals, rendering the valley a perfect subject of Geology studies.


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