I just got back from an 8-day trip to Iran and this is the first time that I write a post about my latest travels so quickly. I’m really excited to share my impressions about Iran here and now and in some upcoming posts.
Iran has been on my bucket list for quite some time as I have a few friends who visited it and only had the best to say about this country and its people. That made me curious especially since the media seemed to tell a different story. When I told family and friends about my travel plans most were concerned about my safety. I was only concerned about the dress code which eventually was easy to apply. So let me tell you with all my heart, I have never so felt so safe and welcomed anywhere in Europe and North America. And I have never met friendlier and curiouser people than in Iran.
So, why you need to go and visit Iran now?
Here are the best reasons to stop whatever you are doing and travel to Iran right now…or at least for your next vacation:
Be surrounded by laughter
Honestly, there won’t be a minute without somebody smiling, waving or welcoming you while you travel through Iran. Iranian people are truly friendly and happy that tourists visit their country. Don’t mistake their friendliness as sales tactics that you might know from other nations. We have been greeted and approached by all kinds and ages of people and non wanted to sell us anything…except maybe to tell our friend to visit Iran.
One moment you feel the heat of a desert town and just a few hours by bus later, you see snow-covered mountains. Iran’s landscape is as diverse as the four season and as beautiful. So, if you are into hiking, climb a mountain in Iran. If you are into camping, spend a night in the desert. If you are into sunbathing, stay at a beach resort at the Caspian sea. And if you are into people watching, sip a tea in any of the many tea houses.
A textbook example of courtyards
If you ever thought that these pictures of beautifully arranged courtyards are too good to be true, come to Iran. And book yourself into one of the many small and big hotels with a garden or just any kind of unroofed area. Or look out for restaurants with this particular open space concept. Chances are you find a picturesque courtyard with a little pool in the middle, lots of greenery and flowers and big benches decorated with colourful blankets and pillows.
Cheap local transport
A wonderful way to travel through Iran is by bus. Coach buses are surprisingly comfortable (think business class on a domestic flight), fast (6 hours from Shiraz to Tehran) and don’t cost much (around 12 USD pp). The Iranian transport network is very well-developed and there is probably no route that is not covered by it.
Another option of going from A to B is to take a domestic flight. Again, prices are doable (Tehran to Shiraz for 25 USD pp) and easy to book through a local travel agency or your hotel.
All the non-kebab food
Let’s be honest here: Before I travelled to Iran I thought I have to leave behind my meat-free diet and be forced to eat kebab all day every day. Turns out there is so much great vegetarian food in Iran and although the choice is limited, it is great for a week or two. The falafel sandwiches are pretty amazing, the vegetable stews are one of the best I ever had and there are loads of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Be surprised everyday, again and again
For me, there is one element in particular that makes a travel really worthwhile: the unexpected. Iran was surprising me in so many way: the openminded and friendly people, the contrasty nature, the stunning Persian architecture but most of all I didn’t expect that my idea of Iran was so wrongfully influenced by the Western media. Iran and its people are truly beautiful and visiting it has been one of the most rewarding travel experiences in my life.
To share your experiences back home
I’m not here to preach and tell you that everything you might know about Iran should be reviewed but it has become a matter of my heart to tell people that it’s totally worth to visit Iran. It’s not just me who realised how surprisingly different Iran is. Our families and friends were all stunned by our travel tales and photos, too. So pack your bags, go to Iran and tell everyone about it 🙂
Get lost in the Persian blue
It’s no secret that blue is probably the favorite color of most people. If that is the case for you and even if it isn’t, the Persian blues are still an impressive reason to come to Iran. Let me put all my cards on the table and tell you that we probably spend most of our sightseeing-time taking pictures of the amazing blue shades and patterns, with and without us.
Switch from coffee to tea addiction
Like most of the other Middle Eastern nations, Iranians love tea. It found its way to Persia through the Silk Road from India and still is a national drink. Funny thing, even so-called coffee shops only serve tea. It can be quite difficult to get your daily fix of coffee (excluding instant coffee), especially in smaller towns. So I recommend to immerse in Iran’s tea culture because it’s not just healthier. There is a high probability that you stumble into one of the very traditional & creatively decorated tea houses.
To enjoy spending time alone
Iran was the last place I ever expected to find inner peace. I currently live in Cairo (Egypt) and life here can be very hectic and crowded sometimes. It’s not that we had to go far into the countryside to be alone. We walked for hours through Yazd (one of the oldest cities in the world) and only met a handful of people. There are the occasional German-speaking tour groups (yes, German retirees like to travel to Iran) but we didn’t see and meet many independent travellers in Iran. International tourism is still very small, yet domestic tourism is one of the largest in the world but you’ll still experience a very peaceful journey.