Our Tour in Focus blogs take a look at what makes our Signature Trips special and tries to answer common questions our travellers ask us.
Iran Unveiled is our 15 day classic tour of Iran. Over the last couple of years it has been phenomenally popular for us and has become our bestselling trip.
In this blog, we pick apart the tour and let you know who its ideal travellers are, what are its highlights and answer some practical FAQs, from the food to drive times.
For general questions about travelling to Iran.
What is the top highlight?
In terms of sightseeing, probably Persepolis – the old capital of the Achaemenid Empire, built by Darius the Great in 550 BC. The whole site is stunning, but particularly interesting are the wonderfully carved bas reliefs depicting the various kings of conquered territory who would meet at Persepolis each year bearing gifts to their King. These carvings really highlight the extent of the Persian Empire at the time, showing Ethiopians, Egyptians, Medians, Armenians, Babylonians, nomadic tribes and more in their local dress. Outside the sightseeing, the people of Iran are another highlight – the friendliest, most welcoming people you are likely to meet anywhere.
What does the tour do differently from other tours to Iran?
The unique and rewarding experience of spending time with nomads. Both in their hand-made summer tents in the Bavanat Valley, and likely too Qashqai nomads while trekking in the Dena Mountains.
The tour also showcases some of the natural beauty of Iran, by spending time outside the cities in the Bavanat Valley and the Dena Mountains. Parts of Iran are green, fertile and rather beautiful, and visiting the countryside also offers a different view of the culture of Iran, with rural Iranians generally being more conservative in both dress and outlook than those in the urban areas.
Who is the tour suited to?
This tour is ideal for anyone with an interest in ancient history, with its wonderful sites from the heyday of the Persian Empire. Also anyone with an appreciation of architecture, with the stunning mosques and palaces of Isfahan and Shiraz. Those seeking to get behind the news headlines and discover what Iran is really like will also be generously rewarded.
Is there much walking involved? How fit should I be?
There is an optional 5-hour walk at the Dena Mountains, which is at a relaxed pace. If you do not want to take this walk you can either relax and read at the local picnic area, where locals will offer you tea and you will be unlikely to be left on your own, or spend the day at your hotel. There are other shorter walks of one hour here and there, but in general you do not need a high level of fitness for this tour.
What’s the food like?
Iranian food is delicious on the whole, although some of it can be quite samey. You will get kebabs and pomegranate rice fairly often, but other local specialities include fesinjan – a walnut and pomegranate stew – and dizzee, a hearty lamb and chickpea soup. Iranian yoghurt, honey and dates are absolutely delicious, and the tea is very refreshing- with no alcohol available you will drink plenty of it! The tour is also filled with plenty of picnics.
Any hygiene issues?
Jut the usual precautions needed in terms of hand washing – a small bottle of hand sanitiser is an essential as some of the bathroom facilities are a little bit basic.
Do I need a visa?
Yes – we’ve outlined the process here.
Are there many long drives?
Iran is a big country and there is a lot of ground to cover - there are around 4 five-hour drives, and one seven-hour drive, but these are broken up and you generally spend two nights in each place so it doesn’t seem too much.
What do those that have done this trip think?
"A perfect way to blow away the prejudices of the western media! An awe-inspiring country with a welcoming population." Helene and Philip Bland
"This is a fantastic tour to get an understanding of Iran – it’s not for the faint hearted with regard to toilets and plumbing (!) but if you can overlook this it's fantastic." Nikki Walter
"Iran Unveiled is the ideal way to experience Iran, visiting the historical and cultural highlights and the countryside together with visiting nomad communities and interacting with ordinary Iranian people." Maggie Irving
"I feel immensely privileged to have visited such a country as it starts to open up to British visitors - such a treat to be able to see it now, rather than when I fear it will be overrun with tourists. We had Persepolis almost to ourselves in the setting sun which was simply magical." June Addison
"This wonderful trip dispels any preconceptions people have about Iran. More people should take the plunge and find out for themselves what a hidden gem Iran is. It offers - interesting historical sites, vibrant clean cities and delicious food. Magnificently fertile valleys and fields contrast with arid desert scenery, with wonderful mountain walking by clear, clean streams and rivers. And above all the most welcoming and good-natured people all keen to try speaking English. Visit before others discover this gem." Jillian Bacon