Be enchanted by Iran in the quiet of winter

Embark on an express journey through the mysterious world of Iran. Not only is this fascinating country a world apart from what’s often represented in the media – it’s a delight to visit in the winter. The weather can be surprisingly pleasant, especially towards the south, and fewer tourists at this time of year means a more immersive experience. Discover refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, and shimmering deserts. Whether you're relaxing in a teahouse in Tehran, enjoying guided tours of ancient cultural sites, or hanging our a local board game cafe in Shiraz, the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people is endearing and the profound beauty of their land is mesmerising.


Start
Tehran, Iran
Finish
Tehran, Iran
Destination
Iran
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
HPSW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll 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

  • Be invited into an Iranian's home for dinner; a highlight for most travellers. Traditional Iranian food is carefully prepared in the home and can take hours, even days to prepare. Be prepared for plenty of food and the most incredible hospitality.

  • 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

  • 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

  • Enjoy the experience of meeting and mixing with locals in the many popular teahouses through the country and a popular board game cafe hang out in Shiraz!

  • Surround yourself with beautiful landscapes and amazing architecture – from breath-taking mosques to stepped hillside villages, cleverly designed wind towers and the macabre Zoroastrian Towers of Silence

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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 nine days, so be prepared for some long travel days with lots of opportunity to take in the great landscapes.

  • Please note that we use a local supplier for our arrival transfer. As tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is exciting, noisy and chaotic, and where the country's true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. The locals love nothing more than to chat, so prepare to be stopped to discuss anything and everything.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at midday 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. Afterwards, head out with your group to visit the Iran National Museum and be at its priceless pieces. Later, you could try some fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (soup stew mashed into paste) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tehran - Iran National Museum
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.


Take some free time to explore Tehran this morning. Your leader will be on hand to help organise any activties, and we suggest checking out the magnificent Golestan Palace and the National Jewelry Museum. The museum contains the Iranian Crown Jewels, which include thirty tiaras as well as historical artefacts such as Nader Shah's dagger. Transfer to the train station in the afternoon to travel to the city of Yazd, a journey that will take approximately five hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This ancient desert city was a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period and it still retains a rustic feel. Yazd is also the heart of Zoroastrian religion, which you'll learn more about during visits to the Fire Temple and Towers of Silence. The fires within the Fire Temple are said to have continuously burned since AD 470. Enjoy a hearty local breakfast then set out on a walking tour to visit the Jamesh Mosque and the older parts of the city. Walk the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and ornate doors on mud-brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd is the presence of wind towers, that capture the softest of breezes and send them to the buildings below in a forerunner of modern air-con. The water museum shows how the underground channels brought water to the city from the mountains for thousands of years.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Water Museum
  • Yazd - Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say farewell to Yazd and jump on the bus to journey to Shiraz, the city of poets. Iran's public buses are extremely comfortable and provide a great opportunity to chat with the locals and learn more about this fascinating country. The trip will take approximately 6.5 hours, and you'll pass through some incredible desert scenery on the way. After arriving in Shiraz, the group will transfer to the hotel then head out for dinner. This, however, is dinner with a difference – you'll make it yourself while learning some of the secrets of Persian cuisine.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shiraz - Cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Rise early and drive to the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient city that was sacked by Alexander the Great. It was once the centre of the Persian Empire, one of the truly great cities of the world, which took 150 years to build under the reign of Darius I. The imposing gateways, exquisite carvings and towering columns will leave you in doubt that this was once the centre of the ancient world. Return to Shiraz and spend the afternoon on a walking tour, visiting Nasir-al-molk mosque and Shahcheragh, one of the most important and beautiful shrines in Iran. There'll also be time to pay respects to Hafez, the great Shirazi poet. Tonight, mix with locals at a popular hang out – a boardgame cafe. This cafe, the first of its kind in Iran, boasts a library of over 200 games so bring your A-game.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
  • Shiraz - Hafez Tomb
  • Shiraz - Nasir al Molk Mosque visit
  • Shiraz - Zand Citadel
  • Shiraz - City tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we highly recommend an early return visit to Nasir-al-molk mosque, where the morning light provides a quite incredible glow in the building. Then it's back on the bus for a 5.5 hour journey to Esfahan, one of the finest cities in the Middle East. A 16th-century rhyme called it 'half the world' and, after spending a few days here, you may well agree. There are many fine Islamic buildings covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is famous for, as well as an enormous bazaar, superb palaces, tranquil gardens and picturesque bridges crossing the Zayandehrud. Arrive in the later afternoon and visit the picturesque Safavid Chehelsotoon Palace and then, in the evening, enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family. Being invited into an Iranian's home for dinner is a highlight for most travellers, and the traditional food is carefully prepared for hours, sometimes even days. Prepare yourself for plenty of food and some truly incredible hospitality.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Home cooked meal
  • Esfahan - Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Spend today discovering the wonders of Esfahan. You'll have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere during a tour, starting at the immense Imam Square, which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is the second-largest square in the world. Many grand buildings surround the square, including the Ali Qapu Palace, which covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas. Continue on to the atmospheric bazaar, complete with exotic scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining at the stalls. Walk the covered lanes of the sprawling marketplace, where shafts of light filter through ceiling and lattice, then visit the astonishing Armenian Vank Church before an evening stroll along the river.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Jameh Mosque
  • Esfahan - Vank Cathedral
  • Esfahan - City walking tour
  • Esfahan - Imam Square
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Journey from Esfahan to Tehran after breakfast, which will take approximately four hours. Enjoy free time on arrival to visit or revisit any sights and pick up some last minute souvenirs, then relive this unforgettable adventure over an optional farewell dinner with the group at a local restaurant this evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart at anytime. Check out time at the hotel is 12 pm.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Transport

Bus, Private Mini Bus, Train

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights)

Included activities

  • Tehran - Iran National Museum
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Water Museum
  • Yazd - Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq visit
  • Shiraz - Cooking class
  • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
  • Shiraz - Hafez Tomb
  • Shiraz - Nasir al Molk Mosque visit
  • Shiraz - Zand Citadel
  • Shiraz - City tour
  • Esfahan - Home cooked meal
  • Esfahan - Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace visit
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Jameh Mosque
  • Esfahan - Vank Cathedral
  • Esfahan - City walking tour
  • Esfahan - Imam Square

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. An arrival transfer is included on this trip.
2. This trip starts at noon (12pm) on Day 1.
4. Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our Terms and Conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit per person for your booking to be confirmed
5. A single supplement is available on this trip. 

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 our online visa information for more details. Simply select the relevant nationality in the drop down list to access detailed visa information http://www.intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form

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.

Reviews

Our Iran Express trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews in the last year.

Iran Express , March 2018

Xue Wei Quek

Iran Express , March 2018

James Hartley