Art &  letteratura




Travel Guide

Enjoying a good historical, cultural and natural background, Iran has large potentials in tourism. Monuments

remained from the different eras of human life on the Iranian plateau, along with the landscaped natural views

on coasts, mountains, and deserts and the cultural and religious sites, have provided a good incentive to visit


The incentive for visiting Iran can be described as social, pilgrimage, historical, natural and entertainment


The ancient Iranian culture provides many places for sight - seeing. The modern Iran is a collection of the past

and the present time. Everybody, according to their taste and culture, can find a pretext to tour Iran. The

historical mouments of Perspolis, Pasargad, Shush, Hamadan, Kerman Shah, Firuz Abad, Siraf in Bushehr

Province and many others are attractive places, home to a variety of tourist features.

On the other hand, the Iranian territory with over 2500 Km of marine border as well as the high mountains of

Zagros and Alborz, have vast potentials of entertainment and relaxation. The coasts of the Caspian Sea in the

north, and the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf in the south provide good facilities for summer and winter

holiday makers. The islands of the Persian Gulf such as Kish, Qeshm and Hormoz with sunny coasts are a

good holiday resort even in winter. The existence of hotels and facilities in the islands and Air - transportation,

have eased travel to the islands.

The mountains, while having economic value for the nomadic animal keepers, are a summer resort for the

residents of tropical towns and villages. In winter also, the mountains are the scene of winter sports fans and


One of the major tourist attractions of Iran are the spa waters. The spa of Iran like Larijan, Mahallat, Sar'ein,

Bostan abad, Ramsar and Qutursu attract several thousand people every year. Urmieh Lake with an area of

between 4 thousand and 6 thousand square km (based on the dry and rainy seasons) with a high density of

salt nearly at 30 per cent, is one of the main centers of sanitary mud treatment. The feature, which has gained

a special position in the medical science, is a valuable capital for Iran's tourism industry. Iran's deserts also

have a good capacity for tourism. The deserts were once the route of trade caravans travelling between the

east and the west. The remainings of caravanserays and water reservoirs still lie at the heart of the desert.

The natural features of the desert with moving sands, stone plains, salt deserts, small and big hills offer dry

but attractive views with a touch of violence at times..In the Iranian culture, guest has a high position. Even if the guest is not familiar, his loneliness is sufficient to

be served by the host who offers the best for him.

Although the feature exists among all Iranians, but is more tangible in the rural areas.

Travelling to Iran


The best way for getting visa is to operate through a travel agency. The agencies arrange trips to Iran and take

care of all the visa regulations. But if you wish to travel to Iran on your own, you can get your visa from the

Iranian embassies or the representative offices of the Islamic Republic of Iran abroad. The nationals of some

coutnries including Turkey and Japan need no visas unless they want to stay more than three months. In

some cases, the visa will cost nothing and in some cases it will cost some 50 US dollalrs. You can get the

detailed information of getting visa and travelling to Iran from your nearest Iranian repesentative office.

The list of Iranian embassies and representative offices in some countries (1992)

Extending the visa is possible only through the offices of the law enforcement forces in big cities. It is

necessary to extend your visa a few days before it expires. For more information about the Passport Office in

Tehran and other major cities, see the details of every province.

Some foreign countries have offices in Tehran and other cities such as Shiraz, Tabriz and Isfahan.

The list of foreign representative offices in Tehran (1995)

How to Travel to Iran

The best way to travel to and from Iran is by aeroplane. Iran's national airline, Iran Air, has everyday flights to

major European and Middle Eastern capitals and cities.

The world's famous airlines also have offices in Tehran. Iran Air has ticket sales offices in most large

European and Middle East countries. There are no direct flights from or to African states, North America,

Australia and New Zealand, but they can be made via Dubai (the United Arab Emirates), Frankfurt, London,

Karachi and Bangkok. One can have ground trips to Iran via Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Azarbaijan, Turkmenistan,

Afghanistan and Pakistan, Presently some problems have halted ground trips to or from Iraq and Afghanistan,.but the Turkish and Azarbaijan borders are open and buses and trains can easily make cross - border trips.

The Tehran - Ankara and Tehran - Moscow trains have one trip a week, providing a good opportunity for the

interested to enjoy the woody ladscapes of Azarbaijan in north - eastern Iran.

The inauguration of the railway of Mashhad in eastern Iran to the border town of Sarakhs through to Tajan and

Ashghabad in Turkmenistan in 1996, connected the Peking railway to that of Ankara. Travelling on the train

along the route is reminiscent of the mythical trips of the Silk Road.

Along with the ground route, the marine bridges link the southern Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas to Kuwait, the

United Arab Emirates and Oman, on the other side of the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea. The marine routes

of the Caspian Sea link the port towns of Bandar Anzali, Noshahr and Bandar Torkman to Russia, Azarbaijan

and Turkmenistan.


Passengers travelling to or from Iran should declare the amount and value of their luggage as well as the sum

of money they have on. The letter of declaration is offered upon the arrival on the plane or at the customs

office in the ariport. Except for the necessary goods used by the passenger, the customs office has arranged

tax free facilities up to a maximum of 150 thousand rials (85 dollars). Goods valued at under 150 thousand

rials (85 dollars)would be cleared at the customs. And the goods exceeding the amount, would be kept at the

customs warehouse to be returned. Such a tax exemption takes place only once a year. If you wish to travel to

Iran and not use the tax exemption, you have to remind the customs agent to tick your passport. Such

equipment as some kind of ski equipment, some kind of fishing facilities, a photography camera, a filmmaking

camera and a computer notebook are listed as the personal baggage of the passenger. But you are advised to

ask the customs agent write the specifications of your equipment, so that you will not face any likely problems

of shipment. Likewise, if you carry any jewellery, it is necessary to declare them at the customs. Alcohol and

pornography are absolutely banned to arrive in Iran.

The handicrafts bought inside Iran can be shipped out of the country if their value does not exceed 150

thousand rials (85 dollars). The handicrafts imported from the overseas should not carry the brand of antique

or ancient.

Money Transfer.According to the present regulations, every passenger can take up to 1000 USD out of the country.

The money brought into the country is not usually checked. But sums of more than 1000 USD can be

transferred to the overseas only if they have been taken in from the overseas.

Therefore, if you have more money on, you should declare at the National Bank of the Airport in order to be

registered in your passport, so that you would not have any difficulty while getting out of the state.

Internal Trips

Taking a trip is so easy in Iran. There are everyday flights open between the major cities including Tehran,

Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz, and Esfahan. You can buy the ticket from the travel agencies.

Pricelist of Tehran's flights to other cities (1997)

Ground trips are made by bus, rent care or trains. In the aftermath of the imposed war, the national roads were

remarkably improved and trips by personal cars or buses are done very easily. Tehran's bus terminals are

located in the south, west and east of the capital, covering the whole coutnry. In each of the terminals, there

are some offices which give the necessary services to the passengers.

Pricelist of bus ticket from Tehran to major cities (1997)

Travelling by train is so interesting in Iran. The overall railway network connects major cities from the north to

the south and from the east to the west. Train tickets are sold at three degrees. Travelling by train will provide

you with the picturesque landscapes of Alborz mountains and the woody forests en route Tehran and Sari,

and with the warm scenes of the desert from Tehran to Mashhad.

Pricelist of trains from Tehran to other cities (1997)

Car Rent

There are some agencies renting cars with or without drivers to those who are interested. You are advised to

pick the right car according to your driving experiences. The price is different. The price of hiring a car with a

driver for tracks out of the city will cost you nearly 500 rials per km (17 cents). In order to drive the car

personally, you should have an international driving licence.

Travelling by the domestic tours is another way for visiting Iran. Such tours provide guides, special hotels and

restaurants so that your satisfaction will be guaranteed..The only problem may be perhaps to set your programs with the tour period. You may find the details of the

travel agencies offering tours on every province's traveling information section.

Pricelist and information of some tours from Tehran (1997)


The main roads of the country enjoy good technical characteristics. And the driving can be done with peace of

mind and the allowed speed. However, driving on some roads, particularly, the mountainous routes between

Tehran and Mazandaran and Gilan Province requires more care. The road signs are all in green, set 5 km

from each other with the information available in both English and Persian.

A special force patrols the roads to assure that the driving laws are fully performed.

Driving on the street is on the right side, and according to international standards.

The maximum permitted speed on the roads and highways is 115 km per hour / and on the main and side

roads 95 km / per hour for the day and 85 km per hour for the night.

There are petrol stations located at suitable distances from each other on the road.

The cost of fuel is very low in Iran. In 1997, the price of one liter of petrol was 160 rials (5.3 cents).

Accommodations in Iran (Hotels)

In large and average size Iranian cities you have access to accommodations which include hotels, motels and

inns in various gradings. Every traveller can choose the kind of accommodation he or she feels affordable. A

series of accommodations in the from of guesthouses have been set up by the government all across Iran

which provide fair services and are not expensive. These centers provide such additional services as

restaurants, tea houses, baths, air conditioning systems and parking lots which attract tourists and travellers.

In addition to hotels and guest houses, other accommodation centers like tourist complexes and camps have

been set up for travelleres in touristic regions of the country. Accommodation and catering centers in Iran vary

accordingly. There are four five star hotels in Tehran, and in each one of the following cities one five star hotel

has been established. Isfahan - Shiraz - Mashhad - and Chalus. Travel guides in every province and city

contain a list of available hotels.

The hotel rates vary according to the kind of services and catering they provide. The Iranian citizens are.charged in the Iranian Rials and foreign nationals pay in US Dollars. The rate of a five star hotel in Tehran per

night is 120,000. Rls for a double bedroom for Iranian citizens and 100 US dollars for foreign nationals. The

two star hotels would charge the Iranian citizens 50,000. Rls foreign nationals 30 dollars a night.


Useful Information

Information you will need when travelling to Iran

When travelling to another country a traveller or tourist should have enough information about special cultural

and social characteristics and laws in that particular country. As a traveller to Iran, you can contact the tourist

agencies which operate in many cities of Iran for further information concerning the above mentiond subjects.

References and telephone numbers of each tourist agency in each city are available in the city or province

travel guides.

Maps and Information

The complete map and atlas of the Iranian roads are available to you in this program. The map of many

Iranian cities are also available in paperstands, tourist and travel agencies everywhere. You can also contact

the Gita Shenasi office in Tehran for further information (Tel; 679335 - 6453603). During the recent years

much construction work has been underway in many cities of the country specially the highways and avenues

of the city of Tehran, therefore travellers are advised to have an up - to - date map of the country with them at

all times.


The official currency unit in Iran is Rials however the term Toomans is commonly used in everyday trade (a

unit of ten rials). There are coins for 250, 100, 50, 10, 5, 2 and 1 rials in circulation. Coins are only marked with

Persian script and numerals. There are notes for 10,000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200 and 100 rials. Bank

notes are printed on one side in Persian and on the other in English.

A picture of the bank notes in circulation in Iran

A picture of the coins in circulation in Iran

The exchange rate has been determined by the government since 1995 and exchange of foreign currencies

outside the banking system has been restricted. The official exchange rate at present is 3000 Rials for one US

dollar and you can exchange money at all banks rendering such services. The exchange rate in the black

market is higher but such transactions are totally illegal. Every Iranian traveller can purchase one thousand

US dollars a year for 3000 rials. Other international currencies including GB pounds, Canadian dollars,.German Marks, Japanese Yens, etc .... are exchanged in the Iranian banks.


The modern Persian solar calendar is calculated from the first day of spring in the year of Hejira, the flight of

prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina in 621 AD. The AH calendar is used for marking the religious

events and the western calendar is used in foreign trade transactions and similar occasions.

The Persian solar calendar has 365 days (366 every leap year) with its new year usually falling on 21 st of

March by the western calendar. For instance, 30 March 1989 AD was 10 Farvardin 1368 by the Persian


The names of the Persian months are as follows;

In spring;

Farvarding 21 Mach - 2- April, Ordibehesht from 21 April 10 21 May. Khordad from 22 May to 21 June.

In summer;

Tir from 22 June to 22 July, Mordad from 23 July to 22 August, Shahrivar from 23 August to 22 September.

In fall;

Mehr from 23 September to 22 October, Aban from 23 October to 21 November, Azar from 22 November to

21 December.

In winter;

Day from 22 December to 20 January, Bahaman from 21 January to 19 February, Esfand from 20 February to

20 March.

Official Holidays

Official holidays in Iran include national and religious events. Since the date of religious events is calculated

according to AH calendar their annicersary differs every year. The most important national events which are

marked as offical holidays acoross the country include;

21 to 24 March, New Year celeberations

1 April, the anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran

2 April, Sizdeh Bedar - An ancient festival.4 June, demise anniversary of Imam Khomaini

5 June, anniversary of 15 th Khordad revolution

11 February, anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution of Iran

20 March, nationalization of Iran oil industry

The most important religious events which are official holidays are as follows;

18 April, the auspicious Eid of Ghorban - 29 Farvardin - 10 Zihaja AH

26 April, Ghadir Khom festival - 6 Ordibehesht - 18 Zihaja

16 May, Tasoua event - 26 Ordibehesht - 9 Moharram AH

17 May, Ashura, martydom anniversary of Imam Hussein - 27 Ordibehesht AHS - 10 Moharram AH

26 June, Arbaein, marking forty days after martyrdom of Imam Hussein, 5 Tir AHS - 20 Safar AH

4 July, demise anniversary of prophet Mohammad - 13 Tir AHS - 28 Safar AH

23 July, birth anniversary of prophet Mohammad - 1 Mordad AHS - 13 Rajab AH

14 November, birth anniversary of Imam Ali - 23 Aban AHS - 13 Rajab AH

28 November, anniversary of the prophetic mission of the prophet - 7 Azar AHS - 27 Rajab AH

16 December, birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi - 25 Azar AHS - 15 Shaban AH

20 January, martydom anniversary of Imam Ali - 30 Day AHS - 21 Ramazan AH

30 January, Fetr festival - 10 Bahman AHS - 1 Shaval AH

11 February, martyrdom anniversary of Imam Jafar Sadegh - 4 Esfand AHS - 11 Zighadeh AH

All the above dates correspond with the 1996 - 1997 AD.

The religious holidays are calculated in the western calendar if for each year we step back 11 days in the

calendar for example the Ghorban festival in the year 1377 AHS or 1998 AD will mark 7 April.

Important National and Religious Events

Eid - e - Norouz Eid - e - Norouz

The advent of spring in Iran was celebrated even in the pre - Achaemenian eras

The new year (Norouz) festival is respected by all Farsi speaking people.

See Eid - e - Norouz for further information..Chahar Shanbeh Suri Chahar Shanbeh Suri

The last Wednesday of every solar year which is usually close to the new year is celebrated with special

ceremonies which includes jumping over fire and playing fire crackers.

Sizdah Bedar Sizdah Bedar

The 13 th day of the new year is respected and celebrated by the Iranian people who leave their homes for a

picnic in the plains and mountain skirts.

Eid - e - Ghorban Eid - e - Ghorban

Like all other Islamic states the Ghorban festival is celebrated in Iran when people victimize sheep and

distribute it among the poor and needy ones.

Ghadir - e - Khom Eid Ghadir - e - Khom Eid

91 percent of Iranians are Shiites therefore they respect this day as a time when Imam Ali was introduced to

succeed prophet Mohammad.

Moharram Moharram

Special mourning ceremonies are held by the Shiite Iranians in this month which mark the martyrdom

anniversary of Imam Husein, the third Imam of Shiites.

On the 9 th and tenth days of Moharram, religious groups perform special religious theatrical performances

(Tazieh) to mark the martydom of Imam Husein. People usually do not engage in wedding ceremonies in Iran

during the months of Moharram and Safar and refrain also from attending any entertaining parties or

gatherings and prefer to wear dark clothes. Islamic regulations are most strict in these two months.

Ramadhan Ramadhan

Like all other Islamic countries, people in Iran fast during the month of Ramadhan.

This is a month when people refrain from drinking, eating and smoking in public for certain periods of time

during the day. In hotels however the foreign nationals are catered for..Special mourning ceremonies are held from 19th to 21st of Ramadhan. Attention to the enforcement of the

Islamic regulations is more strict during this month.

Auspicious Fetr Festival Auspicious Fetr Festival

The first day of the month of Shavval which coincides with the end of Ramadhan is celebrated by moslems

including Iranians.


The electrical power in Iran is characterized to be AC system, 220 V, and 50 HZ frequency. Supply of

electrical power in Iran is regular after a number of additional power plants were commissioned in 1994.

Sockets in Iran contain two holes which stand 18 millimeters from one another.

Weights and Measurement System

The measurement system in Iran is metric and things are measured in terms of meter, Kilogram and

Centigrade. In some remote spots however the residents use such units as Sir (75 grams) and Man (3 kg) for

measurement. Also Farsang (6 km) is used verbally.

Foods and Dishes

Iranians are very much interested in using fresh foods, vegetable and less consumption of red meat. In Tehran

and some large cities also foreign dishes are served in the Japanese, Chinese and Indian restaurants,

Steakes are also served in the majority of hotel restaurants. The Iranians consume a great variety of meat and

vegetable based dishes. Local dishes constitute the eating diet of Iranians in various spots of the country,

however the following are commonly known to be traditional and national Iranian dishes;

Chelo Kabab (boiled rice with Kebab), Ab Gusht (a mixture of lamb, beans, potatoes and spices), Fesenjan (a

dish prepared by duck meat, wall nut seed and pomogranate paste), Dolmeh (preserved meat wrapped in

fresh leaves) and other choices.

In the northern and western sections of Iran famous local dishes are prepared using vegetables, meats and.beans. In Northern and Southern Iran seafood is a superb choice. Iranian shrimps are caught in the Persian

Gulf and delicious dishes contain shrimps.

Breads in Iran are thin and therefore very soft and delicious. Bread is used fresh in Iran. Lavash, Taftoon,

Sangak and barbari are various kinds of breads baked in Iran.

Doogh (yoghurt mixed with water and some salt added to it) should be used cold as a soft drink.

As the most popular dish in Iran Chelokabab is served in most of the Iranian restaurants. A dish of Chelokabab

in a cosy restaurant in Tehran will cost you almost 20,000. rials (7 USD).


Tea is the most popular soft drink in Iran among other things. Tea is the first thing with which people are

served in Iran. Tea is served dark, hot and sometimes with lime. Sugar cubes are served with tea. In view of

the traditional role of tea in the Iranian culture, tea houses were established to serve people with tea. People

get together in these tea houses and relax for sometime, a place for chit chats, listening to others' stories,

some entertainment, etc ...

Though the traditional tea houses in Iran are about to vanish gradually, in some cities including Tehran, the

municipality has refurbished some of the tea houses to preserve the culture of the past.

Coffee, soft drinks and colas, Doogh and a great variety of fruit juices are commonly used in Iran.

Alcoholic beverages are forbidden in Iran.


A vast network of water supply system distributes drinking water to almost all spots of the country. The

drinking water in Iran is quite healthy and hygienic and will cause no problems for you though the taste of

running water may differ in various places. The drinking water in Tehran is supplied from the springs, streams

and rivers flowing down the Alborz mountain skirts and is considered as the purest drinking water in the world.

In some parks in Tehran and other cities, drinking water is used for irrigation, however when using water from

valves in parks pay attention to the public warnings which infrom you whether the water is drinkable or not.

In the northern cities, Isfahan and some other spots where the water does not taste as good, mineral water

packed in plastic containers is supplied which will cost you no more than 17 cents..Climate - Clothing

Warm clothing is recommended for winter excursion in Iran. In summer however clothes in light colours and

natural thread fabric would be suitable.

Table showing the atmospheric status of the provincial centers (1995)

Dress Code for Ladies

Certain regulations should be observed by women when choosing their clothing in Iran. The Islamic dress

code which covers the whole body but hands and face is an obligation for all women travelling to Iran. The

Islamic dress code does not necessarily mean wearing a Chador. Scarves and overalls in dark or light colours

are used by women in large cities of Iran. When arriving in Iran female travellers are obliged to respect

regulations concerning a modest dress code otherwise warning will be given to them by the police or control


Sea Coasts

The Caspian sea, Persian Gulf and the Oman sea coasts are some of the most beautiful toruist attractions in

Iran. In the free ports as well as Kish and Qeshm islands appropriate tourist accommodations have been

prepared for the travellers. Men and women are not permitted to swim in the same place in Iran.

Special segregated swimming resorts have been prepared for tourists.

These resorts are complemented with additional services like life guard, etc ... The municipalities have

prepared special beaches for this, with signs which say, "The Plan For Healthy Use of The Sea,"

Useful Cues Concerning Some Iranian Traditions

Hospitality Hospitality

Iranians are characterized by their hospitality. Respect for the people who come from far away and providing

them with food and accommodations, constitute basic elements of the Iranian culture. The Iranian hosts.usually provide their guests with catering facilities and accommodations better than what their own families

enjoy. Reception venues in all Iranian houses, both traditional and modern, enjoy better facilities and


Common Compliments (flattery) Common Compliments (flattery)

Iranians give lots of compliments in their daily conversations. Many of these compliments are just words of

flattery and may seen strange to you as a tourist unfamiliar with such terms. *After You please* is used very

much by Iranians when entering or leaving a place accompanied by someone else. The same you will

observe when people insist to pay the bill in restaurants or hotels, etc...

Thanks and Appreciation Thanks and Appreciation

When receiving a service the Iranians express their gratitude through uttering a variety of words like Thank

you, I appreciate it, Iowe you a lot, etc ... for several times.

Gifts Gifts

Giving gifts in Iran is common and gifts are given in various occasions including when someone has bought a

new house, a new car, a baby is born, a wedding has taken place, etc ... . Many Iranian families do not

immediately open the gift when they have received it and express their thanks without having seen the gift and

open the wrap when the guest has left their home.

Haggling Haggling

Haggling is almost a tradition in all daily businesses and trades except in certain cases where prices have

been fixed with tags or shopping takes place in large department stores and malls. Haggling is a common

tradition when buying carpets or goods which are rather expensive.

Shopping in Iran
Handicrafts are provided in low prices and high qualities in
Iran. Carpet weaving is a fine art and the most genuine one. Carpets and Glims produced in Iran are known world over. The Iranian carpets are characterized by their designs, texture and fixed colours. Carpets are woven in large workshops and at homes. In their free time the nomad Iranian women weave simple forms of small carpets known as Jajim which are lighter and softer than Glim. Other hand woven products in Iran include Termeh, Shawl and a great variety of fabrics.          
The ceramic and clay tile industries have been best depicted in the geometrical structures of mosques and historical monumets. The colour and quality of the Iranian ceramics and tiles are so high that these glaze tiles and ceramics have for centuries resisted the hard climatic and corrosive conditions. Pottery, glass, and leather work are other industries which occupy a major portion of the handicrafts market. Metal and wooden handicrafts including copper, bronze and silver products, carving and inlaid works as well as other delicate products which are made of metals, woods and bones, and finally calligraphy and miniature enjoy antiquity in

Handicraft shops are active in Tehran and other major Iranian cities. For further information please refer to

your travel guide book.

Tourist Attractions

A list of the attractions in each city and province of Iran has been provided in the information section of each

city and province. If you are short of time to tour Iran and prefer to use your time in the best possible manner

we advise you to visit the following attractions;

As an ancient country with a rich culture and civilization Iran enjoys many ancient monuments. Three

internationally known ancient Iranian heritages include, Persepolis in Shiraz (Fars province), Ziggurat Choqa

Zanbil in Khuzistan province and Naghsh - e Jahan Square (Imam) in Esfahan.

If you are interested in ancient monuments and heritages the above cases will attract you very much. If you

are specially interested in natural features, the Caspian Sea coasts and the forest pathways, the desert trails

in Semnan, Esfahan and Kerman provinces will be attractive and finally the coastal strip along the Persian Gulf

and boating and yachting or using ferries between the beautiful Hormoz, Qeshm and Kish islands will serve.as unforgettable experiences.

Enjoy visiting the Ali Sadr cave in Hamadan associated with the ancient features from the Medes era.

If your stay in Iran is very short we recommend a museum in Tehran specially the Iran - e - Bastan museum

plus some other ancient monuments in this city. And why not engaging in an excursion in the northern streets

of Tehran, walking along the old plane - trees.

List of attractions in Iran