Written by Peregrine Travel Centre SA team member Monica.
Iran is a destination most people don’t even consider for their next holiday, which is a shame because it has so much to offer travellers and is safe to visit!
Our team member Monica recently returned from visiting this incredible part of the world, she absolutely loved her experience, so we asked her the questions we all want to know about visiting Iran.
1. When is the best time of the year to visit Iran?
You can travel to Iran at any time of the year, however, it is best to visit from September/October to April, as you will avoid the heat of their summer in the middle of the year.
2. How long would you recommend people allow to travel here?
There is so much to see in Iran, I would recommend 15 days as the minimum amount of time. You can see the main cities in around 8-10 days, but 2 weeks will allow you more of an in-depth experience.
3. What money do travellers need for Iran? Is it an expensive country to visit?
You must use the local currency in Iran, which is the Iranian Rial. You must arrive with US Dollars or Euro cash to exchange for the local currency. There is no access to ATM’s and credit cards cannot be used. It’s not an expensive country to visit, meals are very cheap ranging from US$2 to US$20 (at a very nice restaurant). Water and soft drinks are around 0.50₵
4. Do visitors need to make sure they pack certain clothes? Specifically, if I am a lady visiting Iran?
For both male and females clothing should be conservative – no tank tops or shorts. Women especially need to cover their hips and wear long loose tops and pants/skirts and also wear a headscarf in all public places. If you make an effort to dress appropriately, the Iranians appreciate this and understand we are tourists who may not get it completely right!
5. There’s so much out there that makes us all think visiting Iran isn’t safe, how did you find your experience?
When you are there, Iran feels very safe and welcoming and in fact is one of the most refreshingly genuine countries to visit. The local eople want you to visit – they continuously say “tell all your friends and family Iran is safe”.
6. Would you recommend visiting on a small group tour? Or is it ok for independent travel?
I travelled on a small group tour and I can definitely recommend it as the best way to travel. Having a tour leader and local guide provides you with a wealth of information; an insight into local customs, meals explained and menu’s translated, transport and accommodation all pre-arranged, sightseeing and entrance fees included, and someone to answer any queries along the way.
7. Do I require a Visa? Are there any implications I should know about?
Australian passport holders need a visa to enter Iran. This can be obtained on arrival or online, after you complete the appropriate forms and provide necessary documentation and meet application criteria. Keep in mind, once you have visited Iran this prevents you from applying for the US Visa waiver online, and you will need to visit a US Consulate (not in Adelaide) to obtain a visa. Currently this applies for 5 years after your visit to Iran.
8. Can you access the Internet in Iran?
Wifi is available in Iran and most hotels will have a password for you to access the internet. Connection can be slow, but not unlike a lot of hotels worldwide. Some social media sites are not available, so you will need to have alternative options if you wish to stay in contact with family and friends back home.
9. What sort of food/ drinks can people expect?
Iranians love their meat kebabs! Fish, chicken, and lamb skewers are served everywhere, with saffron rice and plenty of side salads (try the tomato, cucumber and mint salad – it’s delicious). Rice is always a generous serve so you can share a plate between two. There are fish dishes, vegetable stews, eggplant dishes, feta style cheeses, breads and carrot jam.The sweets are super sweet, and you can try faloodeh in Shiraz (thin noodles made from starch and a syrup of rose water and sugar) or visit the well-known sweet stores in Yazd for their boxed goodies made with pistachios, rose water and coconut.
Alcohol is not served in Iran, however there are plenty of juices, teas, soft drinks, and water.
10. Did you find the locals friendly and welcoming of travellers?
The Iranians we met in our travels were so friendly and so welcoming with big smiles. They wanted to chat to us, or if they couldn’t speak English, try and communicate with hand signals. They want to know where you’re from, what you think of Iran, and what cities you have visited and to tell you all about the city they are from. We were asked to be in lots of photos and the universal word ‘selfie’ always made us laugh.
11. What were your top 3 sites in Iran?
Picking just 3 is incredible difficult, but 3 highlights were:
Persepolis – easily the most well-known site in Iran. It’s truly a marvel to see the size of the ancient city and to imagine its grandeur and popularity as the ceremonial capital of the known world. The local guides here certainly bring the site alive with their passion and knowledge.
Isfahan – has truly one of the greatest squares in the world. Surrounded by bazaars with two mosques and a palace facing the square, it is magical. Families bring their rugs for a picnic on the grass, children play in the fountains, horse drawn carriages do circuits, and the ice cream sellers do a great trade. You can just sit and watch and take it all in, then go to the Palace for an almost 360-degree view over the square; or get lost in the bazaars and test your negotiating skills.
Isfahan also has wonderful bridges spanning a dry river. These bridges have many arches and local men gather here on the riverbed under the arches to sing traditional songs and play music.
Shiraz – there are so many beautiful things to see here, and Nasir al Mulk mosque with its stained-glass windows is magnificent. The Naranjestan Museum with its pretty fountain gardens, tilework, and mirrors is an oasis in the city, and the tombs of well-loved poets, Hafaz and Saadi bring many people to visit.
12. Any other comments/ tips/ advice?
Iran is a truly wonderful destination, the people are so incredibly friendly, and there is so much to see and experience in a safe environment. Please consider Iran as your next travel destination, I cannot rate this country highly enough! Go and see if for yourself!
If you’d like to know more about travel to Iran, you can contact Monica on 08 8223 5905