15 places that deserve a place on your bucket list

January 27, 2023 - 18:27

TEHRAN - If you plan to experience the most epic travel destinations in Iran, make sure that these must-see cities are among them.

You can hop between relaxed coffee shops and modern art galleries in Tehran or look for majestic madrasahs in cities like Isfahan and Yazd. At Dizin, you can carve the pistes, and at Persepolis, you can follow in the footsteps of Xerxes and Darius.

The Achaemenid Persians, the Parthians, and the Safavids are just examples of the rising and fading civilizations that came before the modern country.

Here is a selection of 15 places to visit while traversing the ancient country:


Shiraz is a city rich in history and culture that has been extolled time and time again by romantic poets and travelers. It is also revered as the birthplace of the great Persian poets Hafez and Saadi.

Visitors will be able to spot the great tombs of those writers nestled between the palm-dotted, flower-sprouting gardens of Afifabad and Eram, along with the intricate arabesque interiors of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque and the 1,000-year-old Quran Gate.


Apart from the rugged wall of snow-capped Alborz Mountains, which rises like a phalanx on the northern edge of the metropolises, the area is largely dominated by concrete and jam-packed with traffic that contributes to smog.

However, like it or loathe it, this sprawling metropolis is the epicenter of the country’s politics and economy, and that surely counts for something, right? Well, a lot.

Great monuments like the Azadi Tower have been raised here, while the glimmering wonders of the Treasury of the National Jewels and the mummified princes of the National Museum of Iran are just some of the awesome relics to see.

Add to that a clutch of stylish teahouses and coffee shops, frantic bazaars and youthful student energy, and


Unquestionably one of the most beautiful cities in all of Iran, Isfahan is gilded with the wealth of more kings, sultans, and Muslim caliphs than you can shake a cobalt-blue ceramic pot out of a Zagros Mountain village at.

Its heart is dominated by the colossal Naqsh-e Jahan Square; a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s ringed by ceramic-fronted mosques and gorgeous Safavid palaces.

Elsewhere and babbling fountains give way to tree-dotted avenues, legendary madrasahs pop up on the streets, and arabesque souks burst with multi-colored stacks of spices and tassel-fringed carpets from the east.


The small hill town of Dizin has solidly cemented itself as one of Iran’s top winter sports destinations. It is perched nearly 3,000 meters up in the snowy heights of the Alborz Mountains, where the European Caucuses crash into the Asian ranges.

With its winding lanes, a forest of badgirs (wind-catchers), mud-brick houses, and delightful places to stay, Yazd is a ‘don’t miss’ destination.  Perched nearly 3,000 meters up in the snowy heights of the Alborz Mountains, where the European Caucuses crash into the Asian ranges, the small hill station of Dizin has firmly established itself as one of Iran’s top winter sports destinations.

With a clutch of well-groomed pistes ranging from moderate difficulty to challenging runs and a selection of cableways and chairlifts that were first installed in the 1960s, the soaring resort is one of the top places to don the skis and salopettes here.

There are also some alpine-style hotels and awesome views of the cone of massive Mount Damavand in the distance.


With its winding lanes, a forest of badgirs (wind-catchers), mud-brick houses, and delightful places to stay, Yazd is a ‘don’t miss’ destination.

Turrets adorned with intricate geometric designs and gilded here and there soar above the domes of mosques as the aromas of incense and mint tea waft from nearby cafes.

Meanwhile, the middle of the city is dominated by mysterious Zoroastrian fire temples and the spiked minarets of the Shia Hussainia, which is the 19th-century Amir Chakhmakh complex.

And then there are the souks, where dust devils twirl between the cotton and silk emporiums, and shisha pipes puff in the background.


Tabriz is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, with a history spanning more than 4,500 years, according to the available evidence.

That deep past now reveals itself in the layers of architectural majesty the place is known for at spots like the colossal Blue Mosque of 1465, which comes gutted with shimmering ceramics of a deep cobalt blue.

Another real must-see is the sprawling Bazaar of Tabriz, which is known as one of the great trading outposts of the old Silk Road.

Today, the vaulted ceilings and alcoves of this ancient merchant center still burst with shimmering gold jewelry and blood-red carpets, sweet-smelling Turkic pastries, and oodles of spice from the east.


Mashhad is hallowed ground for many Iranians. It embraces the revered shrine of the eighth Imam: Imam Reza (AS).

The glorious shrine complex sprawls over nearly 600,000 square meters in the middle of the city; a glimmering mass of gold-clad minarets that go over 30 meters into the sky and great domes inlaid with precious metal. It’s definitely one of the country’s most breathtaking pieces of architecture.

Away from that must-see, Mashhad also has clean streets and curious sculpture art, not to mention some saffron-infused curries that are sure to set the taste buds a-tingling!


For Iranians, Rasht serves as the entryway to the Shomal, an area known for its lush hills and heavy rainfall that is truly unique to Iran.

The unique climactic conditions of the high ridges that surround the town are made possible by its enviable location on the edge of the Caspian Sea, which also happens to imbue it was an array of other curious attractions.

The gorgeous Golestan National Park is one of the magnificent destinations where the misty forests house Persian leopards, which usually come up trumps!


Ramsar is perfectly positioned between the rough rises of the Alborz Mountains and the lapping waters of the Caspian Sea.

Ramsar sits neatly sandwiched between the rugged rises of the Alborz Mountains and the lapping waters of the Caspian Sea.

It’s a truly enviable location; one that imbues this town with neo-classical hotel fronts and palm-peppered avenues with a wealth of good beaches and some seriously jaw-dropping panoramas of the hills that rise to form the Caucasian chains of Azerbaijan to the north.

The place has long been one of the top seaside retreats for Iranian luminaries and continues to draw with its bubbling hot springs and fabled healing waters.


The old trading outpost of Kerman, which is encircled by the expansive deserts of southern Iran, has retained its vibrant commercial character since the times when important trade routes between Arabia and India passed through this area.

Check out the sprawling bazaar in the heart of the city, where five-spice mixes with chili and coriander powder between the vaulted emporiums.

There are also earthy Turkic hammams to bathe in, and a warren of mud-brick streets to wander.

And once the city’s done and dusted, be sure to strap on the boots and go intrepid into the ochre-hued hills of greater Kerman Province.


On the halfway point between Isfahan and Tehran, Kashan emerges from the northern Iranian deserts. It is an oasis town that is teeming with blooming pockets of date palms and lush gardens that are nourished by bubbling irrigation streams.

Kashan sprouts from the deserts of northern Iran midway between Isfahan and the capital Tehran. An oasis town, it’s packed with blooming pockets of date palms and green gardens that are fed with babbling irrigation streams.

The buildings are distinctly adobe and brown though, except – of course – for the elegant mansions of the Tabatabaie House, the Ameri House, and the domes of Aqabozorg Mosque.

These are remnants of the Qajar royals, who came here and raised magnificent residential structures in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are also beautiful views of the mountains on the horizon.


More than a million people annually discover the island of Kish, which is located in the Persian Gulf just 19 kilometers south of Iran’s coast.

They come to wallow in a place that’s quite unlike its mother country in many ways; a place where huge casinos converge on the palm-dotted gardens of opulent resort hotels.

However, two other attractions ensure a steady stream of visitors to Kish: shopping and beaches.

The first of these comes with the duty-free malls that ring the main town, and the latter comes in the form of sparkling white sands and coral reefs.


One of Iran’s holiest cities is regarded as Qom. It is crowded with towering mosques with turquoise-hued domes and towering minaret spires. It is one of the country’s major centers for culture and religion, has some highly regarded madrasahs, and receives a huge influx of pilgrims every year.

Most come to wonder at the filigrees and pay their respects at the Shrine of Hazrat Masumeh (SA), which is the resting place of the sister of the eighth Shia Imam.


The mighty Persian Empire lived here from the 5th century to the 3rd century BC, amidst the arid former vineyards of Shiraz and the babbling Pulvar River. Great kings by the names of Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes all stepped foot between the sun-scorched streets of Persepolis at one point in time.

Today, only traces of this once feared power in the east remain, with a clutch of looming marble columns and a couple of steles all that’s left to mark the great compound out amongst the rising hills of Rahmat Mountain.


This great city was initially developed by the Medes, Assyrians, Persians, and Parthians. It may no longer be the legendary metropolis it once was, but it still boasts all the culture you’d expect from a location with such a long history.

It’s perhaps most famed as the home of the Tomb of Avicenna, which chronicles and honors the life of arguably the most totemic scientific thinker in the Islamic world.

And there are other awesome sights to see too, like the Ali Sadr Cave, which is the largest in-cave lake on the planet, and the inscriptions of the Ganjnameh, made by the ancient Persian kings Darius and Xerxes.


Leave a Comment