Iranian border towns, beautiful yet underrated

July 14, 2021 - 2:1

TEHRAN – Countries are defined geographically and politically by their borders.

Borders are fundamentally linked to tourism, as travel almost always entails crossing a political or another boundary, and borderlands are often the first or last areas of a country visited by travelers.

Iran has a total of 5,894 kilometers of land borders with its neighbors Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. It also borders the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman. Several border cities dot Iran, owing to the vast size of the country’s land borders.

The border cities of Iran, however, have limited tourist numbers due to their long distances from the country’s center, as well as the fact that they have not been properly promoted for foreign visitors.

Here are some of the most beautiful border cities that have always gone unnoticed.


Astara, an Iranian border city and port, offers a wide range of tourist attractions. It is a major tourist and economic center on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, in the Gilan province. It is the last point of the border between Iran and Azerbaijan.

Hakim Nezami School and Shindan Castle are two of the city’s historical sites.

Astara Lagoon, Astarachay river, Qarasu river, Chelvand river, Darband river, Lavandvil river, and Espinas mountain are some of the city’s natural attractions.

Among Iran’s border regions, Astara is the only area that has not experienced any tensions in the last 80 years, making it one of the safest.

There is a great deal of tourism in this region because of the natural beauty and the weather.


Located in northwestern East Azarbaijan province, Jolfa borders the countries of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan to the north.

Jolfa has a semi-desert climate with warm summers and partly cold, moderate winters.

The special importance of Jolfa is due to its historical monuments, strategic location, and appropriate geographical features, as well as its proximity to the commercial and industrial free zone of Aras (one of Iran’s most important commercial centers).

Seyyed Abolqasem Nabati tomb, Duzal tower, Saint Stepanos Monastery, Nane Maryam church, ruined mill, Ushtibin village, St. Mary church, Baba Yaqub shrine, Ali Beyg fort, Jolfa historical bath and etc., are the most significant monuments and tourist attractions in this area.

The region’s economy is fueled by the abundance of water resources, grasslands, and forest reserves, as well as its high potential for growth and industrialization. Minerals, agriculture, livestock, services, and scientific and training development also play an important role.

There are a lot of cotton fields in this city, and weaving is the major activity of the locals.

Jolfa people are Azeri and they speak in Turki Azerbaijani in their own local dialect.


Maku is located northwestern province of West Azarbaijan and enjoys a unique geographical and natural location.

In a valley passes through which the Zangmar River divides Maku into two parts, the city is located 1294 meters above sea level.

The city is surrounded by the Qarasu River and Turkey from the north, the Aras River (the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Armenia) from the east, Khoy from the south, and Turkey from the west.

Due to the surrounding stony mountains, this city has a moderate climate in winter and a hotter climate in summer.

Mountainous landscapes, flourishing pastures, hot water springs, waterfalls, protected areas, and hunting grounds are some of the tourist attractions of this area.

Maku is located on the main Tabriz-Bazargan road and has an excellent strategic location.

Among the city’s most significant features is its role as the country’s only land border business and a link to Europe. As part of Maku’s economy, there is an industrial complex on the Maku-Bazargan road.

Maku people rely on cross-border trade, agriculture, and animal husbandry for their livelihood.


The city of Zahedan is located in eastern Iran close to the Pakistani border.

There are high lands around Zahedan, so it looks like a pit. The city is home to the mountains of Oshtoran Koh, Anjir Dan, Jico, Pir Khan, and Mulk-e Siah.

Climates in this area are characterized by intense heat, aridity, and warmth. Zahedan consists of 4 parts: "Markazi", "Mir Jave", "Nosrat Abad", and "Korin", three cities, and eight rural districts.

It is an academic, cultural, historical, and religious city that has a service structure. Zahedan enjoys a privileged geographic and border location which makes it an ideal place for trade with India thanks to its convenient location on the Afghanistan-Pakistan route.

Pakistan’s railway enters Iran from the Mirjaveh border and Iran’s railway ends in this city.

By being located among the Khorasan, Kerman, and Chabahar land routes, Zahedan is one of the Iran transit routes. Zahedan’s economy depends on agriculture in addition to trade.

There are subterranean, spring, and river wells that supply the water this city needs.

This area is full of color in its literature, clothing, and music. Zahedan’s cultural diversity results from migration.

A good example of Baluch handicrafts is the klim bafi, needlework, seke dozi, and pottery. Zahedan architecture is influenced by Iran's ancient architecture due to its tropical weather.


One of the border cities between Iran and Iraq, Baneh is located in the western province of Kordestan. The city is located 20 kilometers from the Iranian-Iraqi border, 60 kilometers southwest of Saqez and 70 kilometers southeast of Sardasht.

The city is known for its large and natural oak forests.

In 1984, Iraqi planes bombed Baneh and some nearby settlements during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988).

Dul Arzan village, Shevi cave, Baneh Dam, Sorin complex are among the city’s tourist attractions, however, most of its reputation comes from its border malls and its status as a trade center.

Local people speak Kurdish with Slemani accent.


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