Unlock the secrets of Iran on an epic two-wheeled adventure

Embark on a cycling adventure across the hidden world of Iran. Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this is a country of refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, fascinating nomads and shimmering deserts. Visit the lively bazaars of Tehran, the immaculate gardens in Kashan, the deep red mudbrick town of Abyaneh, the incredible bridges and mosques of Esfahan, the great ruins of Izad Khast and Pasargad, the cliff-cut necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam, the jaw-dropping ancient city of Persepolis and the must-see old towns of Shiraz and Yazd.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Tehran, Iran
Finish
Tehran, Iran
Country
Iran
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
HPXI
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people

  • Explore the rich history told in the ancient ruins that lie across the country. Modern Iran is a great fusion of civilisations – the Archaemedians, Alexander the Great, the Parthanians, Sassanians, Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, and Safavids – who all left their mark in innumerable ways

  • Travel to Izad Khast for a private tour of the castle ruins, and cap with day off by witnessing a traditional dance performance

  • Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world

  • As well as a support car and friendly local guidance, enjoy warm and welcoming Iranian hospitality, staying in family homes along the way

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel but it is very conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Things don't get much more different to home than this!

  • On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed.

  • Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur.

  • The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather.

  • Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks, so be prepared for some long travel days in the vehicle as well as cycling.

  • When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed (so bringing your own light inflatable mattress is recommended).

Itinerary

Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. After the initial meeting, the group will venture out into Tehran for a welcome dinner. Iran's capital is exciting and chaotic. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is where the country's true national identity is found.

Cycling distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tehran - Golestan Palace visit - Free
  • Iran National Museum - Free
  • Tehran - Shrine of Imam Khomeni - Free
  • Garden Museum of Anti-Arrogance’ (ex-US Embassy) - Free
  • Imamzadeh mosque - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Once you have provided your flight details, a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Please note that we use a local supplier for this transfer. And as tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.


Enjoy some breakfast, followed by a bike fitting and a short test ride to make sure you're good to go on your machine. The group won’t leave Tehran until after midday, which gives everyone a chance to explore a bit more of Tehran. As a result, the guide can lead the team through Tehran Bazaar for an insight into local knowledge and culture. As the only way from Tehran to Qom is by freeway, the trips starts by riding the support van all the way to Qom in the afternoon. We should arrive into Qom for a local walk and explore by 4 pm. Qom is the second most religious and conservative city in the country. Hazrat Masouma Shrine (the holy shrine of Fatima Masouma) is a must-see, and just a short walk from the homestay. Women will need to wear a chador.

Cycling distance: none
Included Activities
  • Tehran Bazaar guided walk
Optional Activities
  • Hazrat Masouma Shrine - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Straight after breakfast, jump in the van and head out of Qom. Moving away from the highway and into the countryside, begin cycling and exploring some of the smaller towns in the remote areas. The ride is about 70 km (variable depending on group) and reaches elevation of 2850 m from 1450 m. The ride finishes at 1750 m. Drive into Kashan, where the aim is to arrive before 5 pm.

Cycling distance: approx. 70km / 44 miles
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Ride out to Fin Gardens for a guided tour of this historic site. It's a classical Persian vision of paradise and one of the most beautiful gardens in the Middle East. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time to explore Kashan at your leisure. There are many optional activities on offer. Maybe wander through the historic houses area (Ehsan, Abbasian, Tabatabaei, Borujerdi), visit the Aqa Bozorg Mosque, check out Kashan Bazaar or stop in at the Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad (ancient bath house).
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens
Optional Activities
  • Kashan - Agha Bozorg Mosque and Madraseh - IRR25000
  • Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse - Free
  • Kashan Bazaar - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive out of Kashan again, off the main highway to a small town. From here we begin our cycle of only 25 km, but it starts at an elevation of 1400 m and finishes at 2200 m. Along the way there will be the opportunity to stop at tiny villages for local interactions and hospitality. Abyaneh is a historic town in itself, with rich red, mud brick walls giving the town an incredible warmth. Retire to a homestay this evening.

Cycling distance: 25–50 km (depending on where you’d like to start)
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Cycle downhill from Abyaneh all the way to Natanz. There is an option to ride further, depending on time; this will increase the cycling distance from 40 km to 56 km. Natanz is also an area where the nuclear power plant is and as a result, is a highly patrolled military area. Riders are advised not to photograph anything in this area. Continue to Esfahan (the total distance from Abyaneh to Esfahan is 172 km). The plan today is to arrive in Esfahan by 5 pm, after which you can explore the town at leisure.

Cycling distance: 40–56 km
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Esfahan is a beautiful city with incredibly friendly people. Explore the town as you please, then in the evening partake in some included activities (bridge visits). First, perhaps wander the Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World) Square, a great spot to people-watch. Be sure to visit the Shah Mosque, regarded as one of the masterpieces of Iranian architecture and an excellent example of Islamic era architecture of Iran. In the evening, check out the Khaju Bridge which, with over 23 arches and length of 130 metres, is one of the finest such structures in Iran, dating back to Persian times. Isfahan also is home to the stunning Si-o-seh pol (Farsi for the number 33) bridges, a 300m long bridge with 33 arches that has stood since 1599. Evening is the best time to view these architectural works of art, so the group will visit them by vehicle before heading out for an evening meal.

Cycling distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
Optional Activities
  • Martyrs Cementary - Free
  • Esfahan - Chehel Sotun Palace - IRR150000
  • Esfahan - Ali Qapu Palace - Free
  • Esfahan - Jameh Mosque - Free
  • Esfahan - Manar Jomban (Shaking Minarets) - IRR150000
  • Esfahan - Imam Square - Free
  • Esfahan Museum of contemporary art - Free
  • Shah Mosque - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Transit out of Esfahan to Shahreza for a morning coffee. From here you cycle out to Izad Khast. The ride is 63km along the highway. There is a nice big shoulder to cycle on and the traffic is light. Izad Khast is an absolutely beautiful small town and a common highlight of the trip. Due to the remote location, visitors are rare. Our team will be introduced to the local mayor and the gates to the deserted ruins of the Izad Khast castle will be opened for a private tour. Dinner is at a local home followed by traditional dancing.

Cycling distance: 63km
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Izad Khast castle
  • Caravansery ruins tour
  • Traditional Iranian Dancing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Pasargad is a UNESCO World Heritage site and once the capital of the sprawling Achaemenid Empire that now hosts well-preserved the tomb of Cyrus the Great. We take some time to walk around these fascinating ruins before returning to our homestay, where we will endeavour to get involved with home-made labneh produced inside the skin of a goat. It’s a 229 km transit from Izad Khast, most of which will be covered by van. A cycling stint may be possible away from the highway.

Cycling distance: 50 km–60 km
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pasargad UNESCO world heritage site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
From Pasargad, travel to a small town and take a local road parallel to the highway. This road runs along the foot of a mountain. Along the way, we’ll stop off at Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis, cut into a cliff face and reminiscent of Petra, dating back to 500 BC. On the way to Marvdasht, you also cycle passed Persepolis as a bit of a teaser to the following day. Our homestay in Marvdasht is with a local family of cyclists who will cook the group a meal (participation optional) and join the group the following day for a cycle.

Cycling distance: 70 km
Accommodation
  • Local Home (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the morning, cycle to Persepolis and explore (for approximately 2 hours) the ancient ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Iran's premier attraction, it was once the centre of the Persian Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world. It was constructed in the reign of Darius I and took an astonishing 150 years to complete. From here, say goodbye to your homestay hosts and cycle to Shiraz. It’s not an easy leg of the journey, but there is a nice 18-kilometre downhill section at the end to look forward to.

Cycling distance: 60 km

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shiraz - Persepolis guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy some riding (approximately 15–20 km) and make your way through Shiraz at your leisure. Shiraz is considered the Pearl of Persia and its very name evokes images of ancient times: tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colourful woollen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz red wine (although it's no longer found here). Shiraz is also a renowned centre of learning and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Perhaps check out the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque (also known as the 'Pink Mosque' thanks to its beautifuy stained glass windows and light), Hafez Tomb, Shiraz Bazaar or the Shahcheragh Holy Shrine.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Shiraz - Shahcheragh visit - Free
  • Vakil Bazaar - Free
  • Shiraz - Hafez Tomb - Free
  • Shiraz - Bagh-e Eram Gardens - Free
  • Shiraz - Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque and Khan Madraseh - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, settle in for the 440 km drive to Yazd. Along the way, there is a stop for lunch and to visit the Cypress of Abarkuh, an ancient Cedar Tree believed to be approximately 4500–5000 years old (and even featured in the writings of Marco Polo). Some travellers say the real highlight here is the fashionable barista serving excellent espresso coffee in the middle of nowhere.

Cycling distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cypress of Abarkuh
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Wander the narrow streets of Yazd's Old Town with your guide to lead the way. In the afternoon you are free to explore the ancient city at leisure. Afterwards, a good option is to visit the Jame Mosque of Yazd, or perhaps the Amir Chakhmaq Complex. This ancient desert city was a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period – Marco Polo visited the city on his way to China – and it still retains a rustic feel today. Yazd is also the heart of the Zoroastrian religion.

Cycling distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yazd - City walking tour including Jameh Mosque
Optional Activities
  • Entrance - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Spend the day travelling back to Tehran. Perhaps celebrate with your fellow riders over a farewell dinner (optional).

Cycling distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your adventure ends in Tehran.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

13 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights), Local home (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Tehran Bazaar guided walk
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Izad Khast castle
  • Caravansery ruins tour
  • Traditional Iranian Dancing
  • Pasargad UNESCO world heritage site
  • Entrance
  • Shiraz - Persepolis guided tour
  • Cypress of Abarkuh
  • Yazd - City walking tour including Jameh Mosque

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip involves long periods of time in a vehicle transiting between destinations.

IMPORTANT - 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 process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities. Please see the Passport & Visa section for detailed information or contact your consulate. 

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.