By Afshin Majlesi

On two wheels: 10 best bike routes in Iran

February 11, 2023 - 19:26

TEHRAN - The main appeal of a bicycle is that, in its most basic form, it is merely a very effective method of transportation for humans.

Simply grab the bike, hop on, and pedal quickly to the store, the bar, or wherever you need to go. However, some cyclists prefer to add a little more excitement to their rides via more scenic, remote, and arduous routes.

Since Iran has a varied climate, you can ride between mountains, deserts, forests, and the coastal roads of your choice, from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea.

Due to the vastness of the ancient land and the different weather conditions from the north to south, it is possible to cycle in the ancient country at any time of the year.

There are no dedicated cycling lanes on the roads in urban areas like Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan. Cycling is not appealing on the roads because of how congested they are with so many motorcycles and cars.

Although there is a problem with air pollution, the majority of the roads connecting the cities are highways or motorways. On these roads, cycling is not suggested for safety reasons.

You can choose from a variety of cycling routes in Iran depending on your schedule, whether you have three days or one week. Here is a selection of the 10 most beautiful places for cycling in Iran:

Shiny southern coasts

There are numerous off-the-beaten-path cycling destinations in Iran's south. Small towns, villages, and hamlets can be found in great numbers along the Persian Gulf coastal road.

About 2000 km of coastline stretch from Pasabandar, in the southeast of Iran, near the Pakistani border, to Abadan City, in the west.

Along this coastal road, there are four distinct provinces, each with its own terrain, cuisine, culture, language, traditions, and tourist attractions. In this area, winter is the ideal time to travel.

Shemshak to Dizin

North of Tehran, there is a village and a ski area called Shemshak. It is about 65 km outside of Tehran and takes about one and a half hours to get there via a mountainous road.

Shemshak is surrounded by a plethora of mountains that rise to elevations of at least 4000 m. The village is located at an altitude of about 2600 m.

There is an old hotel, a few private lodges, and a few local homes available for lodging. The mountain road leading to the Dizin Ski resort is pleasant.

The two ski resorts of Shemshak and Darbandarsar can be seen beautifully from the road. The road leads to a 3300 m mountain pass, which connects to a different valley and the Dizin Ski resort.

Two well-known peaks in central Alborz can be seen in stunning detail from there. You can ride a bicycle on this beautiful road from mid-spring to mid-autumn. There is a chance of an avalanche in some areas of the road in the spring if the snowfall is heavy.

Alamut-Tonekabon route

Alamut is the name of a valley in the Qazvin province that is west of the Alborz mountains. Reaching the village of Gazorkhan, which is close to Alamut Castle, from Tehran takes about 4 to 5 hours. From there, cycling to Tonekabon and the Caspian Sea requires two to three days. Up to a pass that is about 3100 meters above sea level, the road is a combination of a partially paved and dirt road.

Village houses are occasionally used as lodging. On the road leading to the Caspian Sea, there are a few eateries. One of Iran's most fascinating regions is passed through while cycling along this route. The view of the road winds through the mountains and canyons is breathtaking.

Mid-spring through mid-autumn mark the best time of year for cycling the route. The pass will be snow-covered in the early spring. In the spring, it is important to confirm the opening hours of the road.

Kavir National Park

The Kavir national park, which is a section of the Dasht-e Kavir desert (also known as the Iranian Central Desert), is another desert area in Iran.

The Environment Organization of Iran has designated it as a protected area, and it is located to the southeast of Tehran.

Entry into the park requires permission, which must be requested one month in advance. The desert's combination of sand dunes, a dry salt lake, and mountains with striking rock formations makes it the ideal location for cycling. The park is home to seasonal birds and a wide range of wild animals. The best times to go cycling in Kavir national park are in the spring and fall.

Hyrcanian Forests

There are thick forests all over the region to the south of the Caspian Sea. It is partially covered by the Hyrcanian forests, which are listed as a natural UNESCO World Heritage site.

Various roads cut through the forests in the direction of the Caspian Sea, depending on which area of the forests you choose to cycle through. Kandelus to Noshahr is among the most gorgeous sections.

60 kilometers south of Nowshahr, in the heart of the Alborz mountains, is the mountain village of Kandelus. Cycling in this area is most enjoyable in the spring and fall. Summer is also enjoyable, but the forest gets a little warm at noon. Your cycling trip in Iran's north would be complete if you went swimming in the Caspian Sea and spent one night there.

 Qeshm Island

Iran has numerous islands, with Qeshm being one of the most beautiful and largest. The island in the Persian Gulf is listed as a Global Geopark by UNESCO.

Depending on how many days you want to spend on the island, you can cycle for up to a week. It is about 120 km long. The island is ideal for cycling because it has so many towns and tourist destinations.

Qeshm Island is home to a scenic salty lake, mangrove forests, stunning canyons, and arrays of spectacular coastal roads. The best riding season starts at the end of autumn and finishes at the beginning of spring.


Tehran's Lavasanat district is just 40 minutes away from Tehran by car on a mountain road and is situated in the Central Alborz Mountains.

Lavasanat contains the main town of Lavasan, which is now a wealthy neighborhood where residents prefer to live outside the capital. With a population of over 15 million, Tehran is a sizable capital city, so many residents who can afford to do so prefer to commute to work instead of living there.

Lavasan, a rural and mountainous area of Tehran, has experienced a recent surge in population. Various paths connect to a collection of villages all around the town of Lavasan. An insignificant lake and dam can be found nearby, and the summer is the best time to visit them.

Early spring through mid-autumn is the ideal cycling season in the Lavasanat region. Although there are no hotels nearby, there are locals who provide local homestays in the area.

Maranjab Desert

South of Tehran and east of Kashan is the Dasht-e Kavir desert, which includes the region of Maranjab. There are two ways to approach the desert. Both routes originate in the towns of Aran-Bidgol and Abozidabaad.

The amazing renovated caravanserai in Marajab is the perfect place to stay while on an adventure cycling tour through Iran's desert. A dirt road connects the caravanserai and the center of the desert from both sides.

Sometimes, a sandstorm or rain can cause the road to vanish. On your way to the caravanserai, it's also possible that a tiny muddy lake will appear. The best seasons for the Maranjab cycling tour are spring and fall.

Yazd-Isfahan direction

The two main tourist destinations in Iran are Yazd and Isfahan, along with a few UNESCO sites, which are where the majority of visitors to the country want to go.

Cycling through the Dasht-e Kavir desert is one of the best experiences you may have in the spring or fall.

Depending on the timing of the journey, you might require a support vehicle for transfer to complete this route. Between these two cities, you can cycle on paved roads, dirt roads, or a combination of both.

When traveling through the desert, there are a few oases that add adventure to your journey compared to taking the road.

Cycling from Tehran to Caspian Sea

Following a straight line on the map, the distance from Tehran to the Caspian Sea is less than the 90 km you can see on the road. Between central Iran and the Caspian Sea, the 900 km-long Alborz mountains form a snowcapped wall. This makes the journey more difficult and requires crossing the range from the southern to the northern slopes to reach the Caspian Sea.

There are many options, even though there isn't a designated cycling route from Tehran to the Caspian Sea. You can choose between a moderate level of cycling and challenging adventure cycling, depending on when you want to start your journey.

A few nights must be spent traveling to have a unique experience. You need a support vehicle on every route because each part requires a few transfers. Spring, summer, and autumn are the seasons for this route. You might encounter rain in the early spring and the end of the fall. Weather conditions can change quickly, so you must be ready.


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