Regardless of what you see on biased media, Iran is one of the most hospitable and friendliest countries in the world. Iran is a country with beautiful and different landscapes. If you have planned to travel to Iran, you must know that 2 weeks is not just enough time to visit all the things Iran has offered to you. we recommend this Iran travel guide for those who are ready to travel to Iran on their own or with a tour agency.
Questions about traveling to Iran
If you are reading this Iran travel guide that means you have a lot of questions about traveling to Iran. In this article we try to answer these questions:
- What is included in this Iran Travel Guide?
- What is the best time to travel to Iran?
- Is Iran a safe country to visit?
- Can I visit Iran as a solo female?
- Can Americans or US citizen travel to Iran?
In this guide, we will answer these questions and all other question you have in mind by giving you everything you need to know and things you need to do before your trip to Iran. Let’s begin. (also you can have a pdf version of this Iran travel guide when you are offline)
Is Iran a safe place to travel?
At a press conference on the sidelines of the 40th Plenary Session of the Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in the western city of Hamedan, Secretary-General of UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili praised Iran’s security and said the United Nations agency is seeking to introduce the country to the world as a safe tourism destination.
Iran is one the safest country in the world and last time there was a war going on in this country was 1980 when Iraq attacked Iran. If you want to know more about Iran safety, we recommend you to read this article too.
Who can travel to Iran?
It doesn’t matter which country you are born or coming from, you always are welcome to Iran but unfortunately if you born in Israel or you lived there once or you worked for Israel government you can’t travel to Iran. If you ever visited Israel, you can’t travel to Iran either.
Iran and Israel are in the cold war and political considerations for 40 years so Israelis or anyone related to Israel cannot travel to Iran. We hope so one day these political considerations come to an end because nothing is more pleasant than peace and happiness. The people of these countries don’t have any problem with each other, it’s their government who have problems with each other.
You can download this Iran travel guide if you want to read it offline.
Can Americans or US citizen travel to Iran?
As mentioned above everyone with any nationality except Israel can travel to Iran. USA and Iran have political issues since Iran’s revolution which lasts about 40 years. In these years the USA applied a lot of sanctions against Iran like nuclear sanction, medical, banking and money sanctions that’s why you can’t use your credit card or debit card in Iran.
Because of the history between these two countries, traveling to Iran as American or US citizen is kind of different than other countries. In order to get your visa, you have to have an invitation letter or get a tour package. For more information, you can contact INTERESTS SECTION OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF Iran
You can find more information about how to get the Iran Visa and How to apply for it.
Can Canadians, British citizen Travel to Iran?
Yes, but Canadians and British citizens are not eligible for VOA (Visa On Arrival). In order to get your visa, you have to get Authorization Number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of I.R. Iran. Applicants may obtain their authorization number via relatives, host parties for business in Iran, or via travel agencies related to Iran in the UK or Canada. For more information regarding how to get the Iran visa. Contact us.
Who is eligible for visa on arrival?
All European passport-holders except UK passport-holders can obtain a visa at the airport on arrival in Iran for a 30-day stay. According to newly enacted laws, the Passport Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the authority to issue visas at the:
- Tehran international airport (IKIA)
- Mashhad international airport
- Shiraz international airport
- Tabriz International airport
as well as other designated points of entry into Iran to citizens holding ordinary passports of the following countries:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cuba, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France – Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan- Ukraine, United Arab Emirates- Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, USA, UK are the countries who are not eligible for visa on arrival.
If you want to make sure that you are eligible for visa on arrival or have any question, contact us and we will answer your question in 24 hours. We recommend you to double check with us before planning your trip, in order to keep our customers happy, we do it for free 🙂
The citizens of these countries don’t need to get a visa for traveling to Iran!
citizens of some countries are exempt from applying for a visa to enter Iran. They include the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Venezuela, Egypt, and Malaysia.
Cost of Iranian visa
The cost of the visa and Authorization Number depends on your country. It varies on which country do you come from. The price starts from 10 euro to 180 euro. For European countries, the average cost is about 70 Euros and for Asian countries is less than 70 Euros.
Don’t worry, you won’t receive passport stamp on your entry to Iran
If you are worried about getting a passport stamp on your passport. If you are worried that you get into the trouble in the future because you have visited Iran which is very rare; Iran’s government has solved this problem and you will receive entry/exit stamp your visa paper, not your passport.
You must obtain a traveling insurance
Like other countries, in order to travel to Iran, you must obtain traveling insurance. Some insurance companies do not support your expenses in Iran so it’s better to have insurance for if something unpleasant happens during your trip to Iran. So please make sure to get your travel insurance before traveling to Iran.
There are many insurance companies that we don’t review them in this article but you can order your travel insurance from us online. We hope this would not happen to you, If you are on your bad luck, don’t worry we will help you to arrange a great treatment in order to have a great time in Iran.
Don’t book your flight ticket before you get your visa
In case of visa refusal, you don’t need to pay any cancellation fee. If you ever visited Israel or you have written an article for this country, you have the chance of getting a visa refusal.
Is Iran safe for Americans to travel?
Despite all biased media against Iran’s safety especially for Americans, Iran is a safe place to travel for Americans. USA and Iran have a tension between each other for a long time and this caused unfair propaganda against Iran. if you have watched ROBOCOP, the 300 or other anti-Iranian movies, just forget it because all of them are biased propaganda and it’s not true. If you want to know more about Iran safety read this article.
Find best travel agencies before traveling to Iran.
If you traveling to Iran it would be one of the greatest experience you ever had. Iran has a lot of beautiful places to visit and it would be impossible to see all of them in one month. It is better to find a good tour guide because it offers you better and more adventures which fits your time.
If you want to travel to different cities, it’s better to find a travel agency because you don’t know any information about public transportation in Iran. However, you can travel to Iran and different cities as a backpacker but be sure to use a good Iran travel guide or ask someone to help you out with the best route.
Use VIP Buses for traveling to different cities.
If you plan to travel between two cities, we strongly recommend you to take VIP buses because they are so comfortable and quieter than other buses so you can enjoy your trip. If you need any help with buying VIP bus tickets don’t hesitate to contact us.
Iranian are not Arab!
Most of the people of Iran are Persian and they are not Arab. If you tell them that are you Arab, it’s kind of insult because they are so proud of their 7000 years old Persian ancient. If you travel to the south of Iran, you are going to find half-Iranian half-Arab.
Courchsurfing in Iran is Illegal.
Couchsurfing in Iran is illegal but you can do it anyway and don’t worry, nothing is going to happen. You can ask the Iranian to stay at their place and because of their hospitality, they get happy to have you. In small cities, this is more common than in large cities.
However, make sure to ask someone trustworthy and don’t trust everyone. If you want, we can arrange a visit to an Iranian family to get to know more about Iran’s culture.
Most young people in Iran can speak English.
Iranians speak Farsi or Persian but don’t worry about communications, most young people know how to speak English and can help you out if you ever need any help. the signs and street signs are written in English too.
As a solo female traveling to Iran is safe and easy.
Traveling to Iran as a solo female, it’s easy and safe. You would not face any problem, however, in my opinion, traveling alone is hard. As a female, you have to obey a dress code which is not that much hard as TV and media says. Iranians women love to wear colorful and fashionable clothes.
Basically, you just have to cover your body with a shirt, pants and have a scarf on your head which covers your hair. if your foreign, they (government) will be nice to you and they won’t take it hard on you, so don’t worry about it you won’t be arrested for dress code.
We know the dress code is hard and most of Iranians are against it, but believe me, it worth it when you traveling to Iran. You know every country has its own wired laws. Men have dress code also but it’s not that strict as women. I have explained more about the dress code here.
Shaking hands between men and women are strange
Usually, it is fine to shake hands between men and women, especially young people. Usually, old people, they don’t shake hand with each other if they are not family related. So if somebody refuses your handshake; don’t take it personally, it is their culture.
As a female tourist, it’s better to wait for men to extend his hand towards you. But if you did it, don’t worry nothing will be happening.
Don’t hire a car. Driving in Iran is crazy.
People in Iran drive so badly. There are crazy drivers who stop in the middle of the street or highways. They don’t stop at the crosswalk, so you have to just walk by carefully. You see some motorcycle in the pavement. If you need to hire a car, ask for the driver too.
What time is the best time to travel to Iran?
It depends on what part of Iran you want to explore; Iran is a four-season country which means you can have different climate at the same time. Iran has different mountains, deserts, seas, and jungles, so you have to decide which part of Iran you want to travel to.
If you want to travel to these cities, it’s better to visit in spring and autumn which is from March until the end of May and September until end of November. Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Mashhad, Qom, Kashan, Golestan, Gilan, Mazandaran provinces. These cities have different things to offer to you like historical, cultural places and different jungles, deserts. Usually, in the summer, the temperature gets high enough and makes travel to these cities a little uncomfortable.
If you travel to the west and northwest of Iran because of the cold climate the best time is April until November. These cities are Ardabil, Tabriz, Zanjan, Hamedan, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj.
If you want to travel to the south of Iran to see beauties of the Persian Gulf and its islands, deserts or ski resorts of Tehran the best time is in winter which will be November until March. These cities are Ahwaz, Bushehr, Bandar Abbas (Kish, Qeshm, Hormoz and Hengam islands).
Don’t travel to Iran in Ramadan!
The only reason that we say don’t travel to Iran in Ramadan is that the fast foods and restaurant are closed on the day and they open afternoon. This is because most people are fasting and they are not allowed to be open. It is better not to eat or drink in public. You don’t want to lose all the fun with Persian foods.
Traveling to Iran in Muharram!
In Muharram, most people wear black to respect the grief of Imam Hossein and they don’t wear colorful clothes, especially red because it is disrespectful. In Muharram, you can find grieving carnival around the city in day and night.
Every shop or place is closed for two days in Muharram which is Tasu’a and Ashura, so you can watch these carnivals only. These days are very important to Muslims so you will see big line carnivals around the city.
Currency in Iran is confusing!
There is one currency but with two names Toman and Rials. Rials is 10 times bigger than Toman. The official currency is rials but local remove last zero and called toman for easier calculations. It is kind of hard to get understand this currency but you’ll get used to it.
Master Card or Credit Card are not accepted in Iran!
Because of sanctions against Iran master card or credit card in Iran are not accepted in Iran. Your solution is to bring enough cash or use our Tourist Prepaid Travel Card (IntravelCard) which is accepted country-wide.
Basically, you add funds to your Iranian prepaid Travel Card in your home currency and it will be exchanged to Iranian rials. You can purchase any goods or withdraw cash from ATMs, so you don’t need to look for exchange offices. Read more about our service.
You need a good VPN server in Iran.
When you travel to Iran, you will notice that some sites won’t load and you will be redirected to a Persian website. Some websites are blocked by the government and some websites blocked Iranians from accessing because of the sanctions; so you need a good VPN service to access them.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Viber Messenger are blocked by the government. eBay and PayPal blocked Iranians to access their site, so if you are in Iran you can’t use these sites unless you get a good VPN Service.
Public Transportation in Iran!
Based on if you want to travel inner-city in Iran or inter-city in Iran, you have different options. Usually, you can use Metro, Bus, and taxis in Iran for inner-city transportation. Public transport is very cheap in Iran.
Metro in Iran
You can access Metro in major cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Shiraz. There are two kinds of tickets; one-way ticket or an electronic card which you add funds to it and you can use it on bus and Metro.
Buses in Iran
There is a lot of bus stations around each city. There are two types of the bus; one is like regular bus which you can find in your home city and one which is express and have its own private path that makes the bus to bypass heavy traffic.
The express buses are called BRT. You need a Metro card to access BRT but regular buses usually accept cash if you don’t have Metro Card. you can see public transportation maps and all pricing in here.
Taxis in Iran
There are different types of taxi in Iran and you have a lot of options:
Uber is not allowed to work in Iran but there are 2 apps which are like Uber and easy to use. Tab30 and Snapp are two major internet taxis that you can use. They are not available in google play or Apple store, you can read how to download and install them.
Shared or pool taxis
There are plenty of shared or pool taxis which called “Khatti” by locals. They usually are green or yellow cabs. They have a fixed destination with the fixed fare. You have to wait until the taxi is filled. They are very cheap.
These taxis are called “Darbast”. They look like shared taxis but they drive around the city, they don’t have a fixed rate. You have to negotiate with them about the price. By saying “Darbast” you can easily access these taxis. It is more expensive than pool taxi.
Private car taxis
There are many private cars who drive around the city to earn some money by giving people a ride. They are not taxis or internet taxi drivers. They usually honk to pick you up if you stand next to the street.
We recommend you not to take these types of taxis because they are not registered.
You have four options to travel to different cities in Iran:
VIP and regular buses
The regular buses are more crowded and less comfortable. They have more people on board, a little noisy and not safe. As I told you before, VIP buses are more comfortable and have more space for in your seat. The price varies between different city but the average price is $15.
Domestic flights are more quick and expensive than other public transportations. if you are short on time you can use these flights. Sometimes domestic flights have a delay which takes much more than train or bus.
You can buy your ticket the same as a bus or buy online from us. The price varies depending on your destination. You can learn more about the safety and price of domestic flights here.
You don’t have too many options for traveling in Iran by private car. A driver who does not speak English or a registered driver who guides you in your preferred language. You can go to a local travel agency to hire a driver or contact us to help you. The price varies depending on the distance, car, and driver. I recommend you never take “pride” which is a low-quality car in Iran.
Traveling in Iran with train is comfy and safe. There are two types of train, regular and express which has more quality and features. Usually, they have 4-bed and 6-bedrooms. If you want to be more comfortable on the train, you can buy a room with all the beds. Like others, you can buy tickets from hotel front desk service, local travel agency, terminal station or reserve your ticket online through our website.
You need internet access while traveling to Iran
Irancell is the best option for buying a sim card in Iran. It has a country-wide area coverage. You can buy it at Iran international airports. You need to have Iranian rials in order to purchase this sim card, but as we mentioned before don’t exchange your money in airports.
We can provide you with an Irancell sim card at your hotel room with different packages.
Forget about alcohol when you travel to Iran
Iran is an Islamic country which means you are not allowed to drink, sell or buy alcohol. You will be arrested if you don’t follow this rule. you are not allowed to drink in public however you can drink in your hotel room.
Never drink alcohol in Iran, if you find it. Usually, alcohol is homemade or it is not original which can cause you a lot of health problems. You can find standard alcohol in your embassy of your country in Iran but I’m sure they are not going to sell it to you.
Persian food is great
You can find great restaurants to try Persian food. Before trying any Persian food, ask locals to show you how they serve their food. It is a new and fun experience. it’s going to be hard if you are vegetarian because most of the Persian food comes with meat. we have provided an Iran travel guide for vegetarians to find appropriate restaurants.
You can apply for Iranian prepaid tourist debit cards
If you are going to travel to Iran, you should know carrying cash and finding exchange offices is a little hard and too much work. You can load your original currency in IntravelCard, so you will have Iranian rials in your prepaid debit card and shop with it like your master card in your home country. Learn more about our service.
You can download our Iran travel guide to access it offline.