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Discover the "Forgotten Empire"

The Classic Iran Tour

13 days / 12 Nights

Classic Iran Tour Gate of All Nations Persepolis Iran

About Iran

Iran, ranked as the 10th country in the world with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, often prompts surprising reactions when we mention our tours to this captivating nation. 

Many people express disbelief, saying, “I didn’t think Americans could travel to Iran” or “Isn’t it unsafe to travel there?” However, it’s important to note that reality often contradicts preconceived notions, and this holds particularly true for Iran.

Despite the fact that Iran and the United States do indeed have significant political differences and that Iran is home to a repressive clerical regime that suppresses dissent, a remarkable truth becomes apparent when traveling there. 

Nowhere else have we experienced such warmth and admiration for Americans on an individual level. Iranians frequently extend invitations to share tea or meals and eagerly engage in personal discussions.

Moreover, it is crucial to emphasize that Iran is an incredibly safe destination for foreign tourists, including Americans. 

Unlike places like Mexico, which attract a large number of American tourists despite their relatively high crime rates, Iran boasts an almost crime-free environment. In fact, statistically speaking, Iran is safer than most major American cities.

While it is true that there have been unfortunate instances of American citizens being detained in Iran, such cases are rare and predominantly involve dual citizens. 

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship for individuals born in Iran, which is typically irrelevant to the average American or European tourist.

Visiting Iran as an American tourist will undoubtedly shatter any preconceived notions and reveal the country’s true nature, as well as the immense popularity of Americans among its people. 

It is safe to say that among the many countries we have explored, Iran stands out as the least predictable and most eye-opening. We encourage you to experience it firsthand and witness the remarkable reality for yourself.

The Classic Iran Tour

This tour begins and ends in Tehran. You’ll spend time at particularly popular sites within the beautiful country of Iran without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. 

This tour includes one domestic flight. You can visit some of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites on this tour, and you can customize this tour to your tastes.

If you don’t have the time for the Comprehensive Iran Tour, the Classic Tour of Iran is the next best thing! This Iran custom tour is for Americans who like to travel at a more leisurely pace. 

Of course, since all our tours are customizable, you can extend, shorten, or alter this itinerary any way you want. Let us arrange the best value, the best experience, and the best satisfaction for the time you have.

Classic Iran Tour Pricing

A single supplement for all tours is $595. For example, if two people travel together but each has his or her own room, the cost is an additional $595.

Included in the Classic Iran Tour Price:

Not Included in the Classic Iran Tour Price:

Classic Iran Itinerary

Classic Iran Tour: Day 1
Landing in Tehran
Landing in Tehran
Iran Tour Aerial View of Tehran and Tochal

Arrive in Tehran (IKA Airport). Most flights from the US arrive late at night or early in the morning. After passing through customs and claiming your baggage, you’ll see your guide, holding a sign with your name on it, waiting for you outside the baggage area.

He or she will be your guide for the whole trip. Your driver will be waiting for you outside. Your hotel is around 40 minutes away. Get a good night’s sleep at the 5-star Espinas Hotel in Tehran.

  • Overnight at the Espinas Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 2
Touring Tehran
Touring Tehran
Golestan Palace Tehran Iran tour

After you enjoy a great buffet breakfast and leave the hotel, you and the guide can decide how you want to spend your time in Tehran.

There are many museums and places of interest, but obviously, you will have to pick and choose which are of the most interest to you. You won’t come close to seeing them all. Tehran is a huge city, with a population of around 12 million people.

The Alborz Mountains, snow-capped most of the year, rise just outside the city in the north. Traffic in Tehran is heavy and chaotic. The foothills of the Alborz have a number of beautiful restaurants, and you might want to tour that area and have dinner there. There is also a cable car that runs most of the year and offers some very scenic views.

Among the sites that you can visit in Tehran are the Golestan Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a complex of 17 palaces built during the Qajar Dynasty in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

There are several YouTube videos you can watch for further information about the Palace.

https://youtu.be/4qe4to3RW-g

The Archaeological Museum is a must-see in Tehran. The collection includes pottery, ceramics, stone figures, and carvings from the 5th and 4th millennia BC. Four tablets inscribed in cuneiform, the Darius I inscription, a carved staircase, tiles from Apadana Palace, and the salt man are some of the highlights.

The Carpet Museum: Founded in 1976, this museum exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran, dating from the 18th century to the present.

The National Jewels Museum: The treasury of Iranian national royal jewels accommodates the world’s most precious jewelry collection. The Treasury has an interesting history going back centuries.

The Glassware and Ceramic Museum (Abgineh): The premises have been turned into a museum where glass and clay works are on display and were built about 90 years ago. The building is a combination of the traditional Iranian style and the European architecture of the 19th century.

The collection of glass and clay works that are on display at the museum is among the rarest in Iran, and it includes clay pots dating back to the 4th millennium BC up to the present time, as well as glass works from the 1st millennium BC up to the contemporary era. European glass works from the 18th and 19th centuries are also part of the collection.

You might also decide to visit a large student art center where art students exhibit their work, and you might have the opportunity to meet some of them.

  • Overnight at the 5-star Espinas Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 3
Shiraz
Shiraz
Iran tours Eram garden

After a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel, it’s time to head for the domestic airport, Mehrabad, for the 1-hour flight to Shiraz.

Your guide will be traveling with you for the rest of the trip. Your driver, who will be with you for the duration of the trip, will meet you outside the Shiraz airport. After checking into your hotel, you will still have time to visit some of the most interesting places in Shiraz.

Among the places to see are the Karim Khan complex, resembling a medieval fortress; the mausoleum of the 8th-Century poet Hafez; the main Bazaar, established in the 11th century; and the Eram Gardens.

The Eram Gardens are a series of Persian gardens that,  as a whole, have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Video about Shiraz

https://youtu.be/S1btp-vgeHM

  • Overnight Shiraz at either the 5-star Chamran hotel or the 5-star Shiraz Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 4
Shiraz
Shiraz
Naghsh-e rostam Iran

Shiraz will be your base for visiting three famous historical sites nearby: Persepolis, Pasargadae, and Naghsh-e-Rostam. All three of these sites are within easy driving distance of Shiraz, and the day-long tour to explore them will be the major activity for tomorrow (Day 5).

But for now, we will continue touring the wonders of Shiraz. Visits can be made to the Pars Museum, the Citadel, and the Masjid-I Nasir al-Mulk (Pink Mosque). There is also time to relax since many sites are closed during the height of the afternoon heat.

  • Overnight Shiraz at either the 5-star Chamran hotel or the 5-star Shiraz Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 5
Shiraz — Excursion to Persepolis
Shiraz — Excursion to Persepolis
The Tachara Palace of Darius the Great Persepolis Iran tours

After another good buffet breakfast, prepare for your excursion to Persepolis. Persepolis is probably the most famous single historical site in the world and a Unesco World Heritage Site as well.

Persepolis, the Achaemenid Empire's capital when Darius III founded it in 518 BC, was where the king of kings built an impressive palace complex using Mesopotamian designs. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.

Persepolis was the example par excellence of the dynastic city and the symbol of the Achaemenid Dynasty, which is why it was burned by the Greeks under Alexander the Great in 330. According to Plutarch, they carried away its treasures on 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels.

What remains today, dominating the city, is the immense stone terrace (530 m by 330 m), half-natural, half-artificial, backed against the mountains.

As in Mesopotamia, the principal building material was sun-dried brick, much of which has happily survived the vicissitudes of time.

Naghsh-e-Rostam

This is one of our favorite sites in Iran. You will see four tombs belonging to Achaemenid kings carved out of the rock face at a considerable height above the ground. They are somewhat reminiscent of Petra in Jordan, but much, much easier to get to.

The tombs are known locally as the ‘Persian crosses,’ after the shape of their facades. In addition, there are seven over-life-sized rock reliefs at the site, depicting monarchs of the Sassanid period. It is believed that they were created to celebrate a great victory in ancient times.

  • Overnight Shiraz at either the 5-star Chamran hotel or the 5-star Shiraz Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 6
Shiraz — Yazd
Shiraz — Yazd
Tomb of Cyrus Pasargadae Iran Tour

After breakfast, it’s time to set out for the city of Yazd, where you will be spending the next two nights. On the way, not too far outside Shiraz, you make a stop to visit Pasargadae.

Pasargadae
Pasargadae is still another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pasargadae was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus ll the Great in the 6th century BC.

Its palaces, gardens, and mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization.

Particularly noteworthy vestiges include: the Mausoleum of Cyrus ll; Tall-e Takht, a fortified terrace; and a royal ensemble of gatehouse, audience hall, residential palace, and gardens.

Pasargadae was the capital of the first great multicultural empire in Western Asia. Spanning the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindu River, it is considered to be the first empire that respected the cultural diversity of its different peoples. This was reflected in Achaemenid architecture, a synthetic representation of different cultures.

After a leisurely visit to Pasargadae, you continue on through the desert to the city of Yazd.

  • Overnight in Yazd at either the Moshir Hotel or Hotel Dad
Day 7
Yazd
Yazd
Torre del silencio Yazd Iran tour

In the morning, after breakfast, begin your tour of the fascinating city of Yazd. Among the first things you notice are the many wind-catchers (badgirs) perched on the rooftops of many buildings. The windcatchers were an ancient form of air conditioning, and Yazd is famous for having so many examples of them. Your guide will explain how they work.

You may take a stroll through the old city of Yazd, made up of a labyrinth of narrow, winding alleys where, without a guide, it might be easy to get lost.

Yazd was known as a center of Zoroastrianism (there are still around 150,000 Zoroastrians living in Iran today). The Towers of Silence, on the edge of the city, were used to expose bodies to the elements until the 1960s, when the practice was banned by the Shah.

You can climb up the large hills where the towers can be seen, and you can also enter the ancient houses where members of the funeral parties stayed. Even in the surrounding heat, these houses are amazingly cool.

Yazd is also a place where you can learn about the fascinating ‘qanat’ water system, an ancient method of supplying water to cities and farms by means of underground channels. There is even a water museum!

One of the most exciting things you can do in Yazd is see the body-building men who show up twice an evening at the Zurkhane, or House of Strength. This is a historical martial arts ritual that lasts for an hour and has music playing in the background.

It is in the same building that houses an ancient reservoir that you can visit first. The men easily twirl 20-kilogram pins or clubs as part of their exercises. Here is a link to a YouTube video showing the men of the Zurkhane in action.

https://youtu.be/S1btp-vgeHM

  • Overnight in Yazd at either the Moshir Hotel or Hotel Dad
Classic Iran Tour: Day 8
Yazd — Na’in — Isfahan
Yazd — Na’in — Isfahan
The Khaju Bridge spring isfahan Iran Tour

After breakfast, set out for Na’in (155 km) en route to Isfahan. Na’in is an ancient town in the desert and a good place to break up the trip. In Na’in, stop to see the Jame Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran, dating back to the 9th Century.

Then continue on to Isfahan, another 145 kilometers along the desert road. Approaching Isfahan, the road starts to climb, and the scenery becomes more interesting.

For many tourists, Isfahan is the high point of the trip. It can be called the tourist center of Iran, and you are likely to run into many foreign groups there. After arriving in Isfahan and checking into your hotel, it will be time to start seeing some of the many sights of the city.

Isfahan is justly famous for its 11 Bridges spanning the Zayandeh River (although the presence of water in the river is seasonal). These bridges are beautiful architectural feats, each one distinctive and impressive in its own right.

We will be able to visit several of these unique bridges and walk across some of them.

  • Overnight in Isfahan at a 5-star hotel, such as the Abbasi Hotel or the Kowsar Hotel, both of which are very nice.
Classic Iran Tour: Day 9
Isfahan
Isfahan
Jameh Mosque of Isfahan Iran Tour

Isfahan boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You may have already seen photos of the Meidan Emam. Built by Shah Abbas l the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-story arcades.

The site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh, and the 1st-century Timurid palace.

They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era. There will be plenty of time to walk around the square, visit some of the adjoining buildings and the great mosque, and explore the nearby bazaar. The bazaar itself is huge, and you may well find some things to purchase, even carpets (see our Q&A on buying carpets in Iran).

The second Unesco Site is the Jameh Mosque. Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jameh ('Friday mosque’) can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in AD 841.

It is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. The complex, covering more than 20,000 square meters, is also the first Islamic building to adapt the four courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled, ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region.

The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art.

It may even be possible for you to meet with some Muslim clerics who speak English and are interested in having discussions with Americans. You may not always agree with what they have to say, but it is guaranteed to be an interesting discussion.

The Vank Cathedral, which Armenian immigrants built after the Ottoman War of 1603–1605, is another location in Isfahan that is well worth visiting.

The church has beautifully detailed wall paintings that retell Biblical stories. You can also visit an Armenian museum at the site.

The neighborhood around the Vank Cathedral has become somewhat “trendy” and is an interesting area to walk around and have dinner in.

  • Overnight in Isfahan at a 5-star hotelOvernight at either the modern 5-Star Kowsar Hotel or the historic 5-Star Abbasi Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 10
Isfahan
Isfahan
Naghshe Jahan Square Isfahan Iran guided tour

These are only some of the highlights of Isfahan. There is a lot more to see, and how much you see depends on how early you get up in the morning. Your guide and driver will leave as early as you like, and, taking into account your guide’s recommendations, together you can decide on your day’s itinerary.

  • Overnight in Isfahan at a 5-star hotelOvernight at either the modern 5-Star Kowsar Hotel or the historic 5-Star Abbasi Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 11
Isfahan — Abyaneh — Kashan
Isfahan — Abyaneh — Kashan
Village of Abyaneh Iran

After breakfast, set out for the ancient town of Abyaneh, 160 km away.

One of the interesting things here is seeing how the women dress. Abyunaki women typically wear a long white scarf (covering the shoulders and upper trunk) that has a colorful pattern and an under-knee skirt.

The Abyunaki people have persistently maintained this traditional costume despite pressure from time to time from the government trying to change it.

Abyaneh is one of the oldest villages in Iran, attracting numerous native and foreign tourists year-round, especially during traditional feasts and ceremonies. It is a very popular tourist destination for Iranians, and staying at the hotel here will give you a good opportunity to meet some Iranian tourists.

Here is a short YouTube.com video about the old “red” village town of Abyaneh.

https://youtu.be/c6Rm39Ss6OM

After leaving Abyaneh, it’s another 80 kilometers to Kashan.

  • Overnight at the Ameri Hotel
Classic Iran Tour: Day 12
Kashan — Tehran
Kashan — Tehran
Casa histórica de Abbasi Kashan Iran tours

Kashan is a city famous for its carpets. There are a number of things to see here, including the bazaar, which is particularly interesting.

There are also several restored 18th-century houses that you can visit.You can have a walk in the Fin Garden, which is a historical Persian garden. containing Kashan's Fin Bath, where an assassin sent by King Nasereddin Shah murdered Amir Kabir, the Qajar chancellor, in 1852. Completed in 1590, the Fin Garden is the oldest extant garden in Iran.

https://youtu.be/kxP4M680dms

After a good exploration of Kashan, it’s time to head to Tehran, 200 km away.

  • Overnight at the 5-star Espinas Hotel in Tehran
Classic Iran Tour: Day 13
Tehran — Departure
Tehran — Departure
Classic Iran Tour Azadi Tower

Today is the last day of your trip, and it can be a leisurely one, or you can still see some of the many museums or historical sites in Teheran that you did not have time for at the beginning of the trip.

Tehran is a huge city, and there is a lot to see and do there, so you can again confer with your guide and decide how you want to use your time there.

Almost all international flights leave late at night or early in the morning. Depending on your flight time, you can stop for dinner before leaving for the airport. Your guide will make sure that you get there in plenty of time to make your flight home.