Many people are scared to travel to Iran. I’m here to tell you – don’t be! It’s a country which takes your breath away with absolutely beautiful landscape, super interesting history and the world’s most hospitable people. Iran makes you see the world from different angle and even if western media makes you feel insecure, keep in mind that generally you should be just safe and sound.
Location: A country in the Middle East. Iran is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. To the north it is opened to the Caspian Sea, to the south there is Persian Gulf.
Population: around 81 million
Language: Persian. Younger generation can generally speak some English as well. Of course, you can always use body language, and don’t forget – smile gets you further!
People: Very, very hospitable, super friendly, helpful and curious.)
Religion: islam (official)
Currency/prices: Currency used in Iran is the rial (IRR). 1 € = 50 000 rial (April’18). PS. Due to inflation the rate can change pretty dramatically. Also, make sure you have enough cash, it’s almost impossible for foreigners to withdraw money in Iran!
Actually there’s like a double system in Iran when it comes to money. It takes a bit time to get used to it but basically the prices can be said in rials or in tomans. For tomans just remove one 0 from the rials. For example, 10 000 rials = 1000 tomans. To go shopping or eating first make sure if the price is written in tomans or rials to avoid inconvenient situations afterwards.
SIM-card: To get a local number can be a bit difficult but of course not impossible. I suggest you to use some locals to help you – they can use their passports for that as foreign passport might not be accepted by the electronic systems.
Visa: To go to Iran most of the nations need to have a visa. If you arrive by plane you can get a visa on-arrival. Tourist visa is issued for a maximum of 30 days (can be extended). The visa is not date-specific which is a huge plus – you can enter the country within 3 months.
Clothing: There are some rules for clothing in Iran you need to follow if you don’t want to have troubles with police.
Woman: Cover your hair. Also make sure you are wearing long-sleeves and at least tunic-long blouse. Cover your shoulders. Clothing is not so strict as it comes to tourists but DO NOT experiment too much! PS. Cover your hair already when you step out of the plane. Yes, generally you need to wear fully-covering clothes also while swimming, except some private beaches in the south 😉
If you enter a mosque you need to cover yourself with chador – something which looks a bit like a bed sheet. You’ll get it there for free to use. Do you need to wear hijab indoors? If it comes to public places, then YES, if you are at home, then usually no.
Man: You can’t wear shorts.
Food: Traditionally Iranian people eat a lot of meat, the most popular dishes are kebab and stews with rice. In bigger cities cafes and restaurants offer traditional food as well as sushi and pizza. Well, be ready that pizza can differ a bit from which you’d imagine to be a pizza, but it’s still delicious 😀 In bigger grocery stores you can find almost everything you need, it is possible to get fresh vegetables at the markets (bazaars) all year around.
As a snacks you’ll eat a lot of nuts and drink a lot of tea.
Be ready to wait long while at the cafes and restaurants, especially when it comes to coffee. A mystery I never solved 😀
Plane: You can enter Iran by plane via Tehran and smaller cities. Domestic flights are also really affordable, between islands in the south and capital in the north for example.
Shared taxi: Between bigger cities (and also to the border crossings) you can also take a shared taxi, which is more expensive than a bus, but generally faster.
Bus: The most common way to get around. It’s cheap and comfortable, they also offer some drink and light snack in the buses. You can choose between VIP and ‘normal’ buses, the price difference is small so I’d recommend VIP ones. The seats are super comfy to sleep when it comes to longer ride.
Trains: You can take a train between some cities but the buses go much more often.
Accommodation: What ever you are looking for you can find: really fancy hotels, laid back hostels, camping is allowed almost everywhere. CouchSurfing is active. Mostly you are able to find a place in a hostel for 10-15 dollars.
Nature and economy: Iran has everything when it comes to nature: from sea to desert and mountains. The climate is diverse. One of the highest temperatures was measured in Iran last year – almost 54 degrees (Celsius). In the mountains it can get really cold as the highest peak is around 5600 metres.
A country of oil and gas.
The best time for travelling is from April to June.