Iran is a classic case of books and covers.

It’s hard to reconcile the country you’ve heard about on the news with a place where iPhone-toting locals carve up the Alborz piste, old women invite you in for a hot Chelow kebab and Tinder dominates the dating scene. Conservative and unconventional, deeply religious and deeply surprising, Iran tours don’t fit into any easy pigeonhole. Which is kind of why we love them. Our local guides will show you all the highlights – the Golestan Palace, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Esfahan’s bustling bazaars – but they’ll also show you what it means to be a modern-day Iranian. And that’s one thing you won’t get from your average news bulletin

Our Iran trips

Iran tour reviews

Our Iran trips score an average of 4.78 out of 5 based on 60 reviews in the last year.

Iran Adventure, November 2016

michelle noetzig

Iran Adventure, September 2016

Val Gledhill

Articles on Iran

Iran travel highlights

Transport in Iran

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Iran, you may find yourself travelling by:

Caravanserai

Step into the exotic shoes of a Silk Road merchant while staying in a caravanserai in the desert. Over the centuries, little has changed about this experience.

Metro

Carrying more than a million passengers a day, the trains of Tehran are fast, efficient and affordable. Have fun getting around the city like a local.

Accommodation in Iran

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Iran you may find yourself staying in a:

Nomad Tent

Spend an unforgettable night sleeping in a communal tent, just as local nomads have done for centuries.

Travelling to Iran podcast

Travelling to Iran with Intrepid is a 30-minute interview with Intrepid travellers who share their experiences after recently travelling to Iran. This podcast will provide tips and insights about travel in Iran including dress code for men and women, considerations when organising your visa, issues with money exchange and accessing cash, as well as our highlights.

Download the podcast directly here or 

 

Iran holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Iran

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Beautiful Buildings of Iran

Shopping

Festivals and Events in Iran

Health and Safety

Further reading

Travelling to Iran Podcast

Iran travel FAQs

IRAN:
All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Egypt and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months without a visa.
For all other nationalities Iran visas can take from 6-8 weeks to be processed. Please allow sufficient time for this.

Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process:

  1. An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  2. A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued.

For your nearest Iranian Embassy please check the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website: www.mfa.gov.ir. Please note your nearest embassy might be outside your home country.

Authorisation code/Visa Approval number and Iran Invite Number all have the same meaning but can be displayed as different names on different forms.
Please note the Iranian Embassy also now require a letter of authorisation to be submitted with your visa application form. Please speak to your agent to arrange this.

Step 1- How to apply for your authorisation code: 

A visa authorisation application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete and return this to our sales team. 

If you are arriving early or staying on afterwards this needs to be written on your application form. Please note due to government regulations citizens from Britain, Canada, USA, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan can only stay one day before and/or one day after the trip start date.
As you are technically the responsibility of our Intrepid operator for your entire stay, only Intrepid-booked activities/accommodation are able to be nominated as part of this visa application. 
If you do not receive this form at the time of booking please enquire with your agent. 

For U.S, Canadian and British passport holders only, all Iran authorisation code applications must be accompanied with a detailed resume.
This must be a document that lists the passenger’s education and employment history – similar to what you would prepare for a job application. Due to heightened security measures, the name of the passengers' father and his employment history is also required.

Return the visa authorisation form together with a scanned copy of the first page of your passport and your confirmed flight details via email to your booking agent immediately. Please ensure all details are correct before sending. Any errors may result in your visa being denied or delayed. It is vital that you provide us with an email contact at the time of booking.

Our local operator in Iran will submit all visa authorisation code applications to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2 months prior to the travel date. Visa authorisation codes generally take up to 3 weeks depending on your nationality (this process can be much longer for Canadian, British and US citizens). Important note: our local operator can only apply for the authorisation code from 2 months prior to departure to ensure that the visa will be valid.
When approved, your visa authorisation code will be faxed to the Iranian embassy processing your visa (nominated on the authorisation form). Your booking agent will notify you of your authorisation code. Once the code is received please apply for your visa directly with the nominated Iranian embassy (see Step 2 for further instructions). 

Step 2 - How to obtain your visa stamp:

Once you have received your emailed authorisation code and letter, immediately apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy. You will need to provide a visa application form (usually you can download it from the embassy website), your passport, the visa fee, photos and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements. You must check this before submitting your application. The cost of an Iran visa is approximately US$110 depending on your nationality. Please check with your nominated embassy for visa costs. We recommend all women provide a photo with their hair covered by a headscarf (not a hat). If you wish to personally collect your visa at the designated embassy you must also arrive wearing a headscarf. In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry your travel insurance policy that covers you whilst in Iran. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but can take longer. 
Please check with your nominated Iranian embassy for their opening times and processing times for visas (some embassies will say that it takes up to a month). Please note that Iran embassies and consulates worldwide may only open for 3 or 4 days a week and have very limited opening hours. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. We will do our best to secure your authorisation code, however the final decision rests with the government of Iran, therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
Please check that the embassy issues you with a tourist visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). If you are issued with a business visa, hotels will charge you business traveller rates, which are often far higher than the tourist rates.
While not common, there are occasions where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects a visa application for a variety of reasons (usually unknown to us). Unfortunately we have no control over the success of your application and have little recourse if it is rejected. It is not uncommon for Iran authorisation codes to be submitted very close to the actual time of travel. Obviously this can be an anxious period but again unfortunately we have little authority to speed up the process. 

A visa will be flatly refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. Note: this is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or loose long top and pants may be refused entry into the country. Men must also be conservatively dressed, wearing long trousers upon arrival, or they too may be refused entry.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry usually closes over the Iranian New Year period (approx 12 March to 2 April) and will not receive visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.

Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to get the visa processed for these nationalities.
In addition, the following travel restriction applies: Passengers of the above nationalities must visit Iran on a guided tour and must pre-book all extra accommodation (up to one night pre accommodation and one night post accommodation only) and airport transfers with the same operator. Additional sightseeing can only be booked through Urban Adventures on either the day before or after the trip start/finish date. Return airport transfers are mandatory and they will only be issued with a visa authorisation code once all services are confirmed and only for the exact time they have booked the relevant services. Passengers of this nationality must also remain the in the trip leaders company at all times whilst in Iran.

Please note that any cancellations after the authorisation code paperwork has been lodged, will incur a $100USD cancellation fee . This is to cover the application lodgement fees.
Additionally, if for whatever reason, passengers need to apply for a second authorisation code, the above fee may also be applicable.

It's customary to tip service workers in Iran, so set aside small amounts for porters, local guides, waiters, drivers and cleaners.

You'll be able to access the internet in Iran's cities, with many major hotels and cafes having internet access. Expect little to no access in rural and remote areas.

Mobile phones from other parts of the world may not work in Iran, although it's possible to buy a low-cost prepaid SIM card in most of Iran's large cities.

Squat toilets are the most common variety in Iran, although flushable western-style toilets can be found in some tourist areas and hotels. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.

Squat toilets are the most common variety in Iran, although flushable western-style toilets can be found in some tourist areas and hotels. Carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.

Tap water is considered safe to drink but due to the high mineral content, visitors should avoid drinking tap water which can cause stomach upsets. For environmental reasons, try to avoid drinking bottled water - ask your leader or hotel where access to filtered water can be found.

Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards or travellers cheques while in Iran. A handful of tourist-orientated shops accept credit cards; otherwise, cash is the main method of trade in Iran. US dollars and euros are the only hard currencies accepted at Iranian banks and money-changers. Having those notes changed into Iranian rials is a fairly simple exercise.

As with the question above, ATMs in Iran rarely accept foreign cards, so cash is the main form of currency. Bring US dollars and euros, which can be exchanged into local currency.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 10 Feb Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution
  • 2 Mar Martyrdom of Hazrat Fatemah
  • 19 Mar Oil Nationalisation Day
  • 21 Mar Noruz (Iranian New Year)
  • 22 Mar Noruz
  • 23 Mar Noruz
  • 24 Mar Noruz
  • 1 Apr Islamic Republic Day
  • 2 Apr Sizdehbedar (Nature Day)
  • 11 Apr Imam Ali's Birthday
  • 25 Apr The Prophet's Acension
  • 12 May Imam Mahdi's Birthday
  • 4 Jun Demise of Imam Khomeini
  • 5 Jun Khordad National Uprising (1963)
  • 16 Jun Martyrdom of Imam Ali
  • 26 Jun Eid Al-Fitr
  • 27 Jun Eid Al-Fitr
  • 20 Jul Martyrdom of Imam Sadeq
  • 1 Sep Eid Al-Adha
  • 9 Sep Eid Al-Ghadir
  • 30 Sep Tassoua
  • 1 Oct Ashura
  • 10 Nov Arbaeen
  • 19 Nov Martyrdom of Imam Reza
  • 6 Dec Birthday of Muhammad

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Iran go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/iran/public-holidays