Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £2625 per person
Places Visited: Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan
This tour is perfect for anyone short of time who wishes to experience Iran’s signature sights in a focused week. It starts and ends in the capital, Tehran, and proceeds south to take in the wonders of Shiraz and Isfahan, with detours to the ancient Achaemenid site of Persepolis en route. You’ll get to marvel at the country’s most awe-inspiring mosques and tombs, shop in a succession of fabulous bazaars and experience traditional Persian culture in numerous old-world tea shops and crafts markets. The trip involves a fair bit of travelling, but we’ve devised the itinerary to ensure your drives and flights allow for the maximum amount of sightseeing.
With an extra few days to spare, we’d recommend a foray east to Yazd for a taste of the desert and disappearing world of Zoroastrian Iran, or a stopover in a rural location, such as Abyaneh village, to experience life away from the cities.
Fly from the UK to Tehran International airport.
On arrival you’ll be met by your TransIndus representative and driven to your hotel. Spend the morning recovering from your journey. In the afternoon, you could travel out to the hilly northern suburbs of Tehran to visit the home of the Iran’s last Shah – the opulent Sa’adabad Palace – followed by supper at a traditional restaurant in the Grand Bazaar.
A full day’s sightseeing in the Iranian capital begins with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Golestan Palace, official residence of Persian royalty since the Qajar era of the 18th century, followed by a tour of the National Museum’s archaeological treasures and priceless collection of gemstones on display at the Treasury of National Jewels (whose prize exhibit is the world’s largest uncut diamond, the Darya-e Nur). In the evening visit to an old-style Tehrani gym to watch a Pahlevani ritual, in which participants perform synchronised exercise routines to classical Persian music – a must see!
In the morning you’ll transfer to Tehran’s domestic airport for the short flight to Shiraz Iran’s culture capital, where you’ll be staying for two nights. Having freshened up and enjoyed a spot of lunch at your hotel, your TransIndus guide will accompany you to the tombs of the Sufi poets Sa’adi and Hafiz, and on to the beautiful Bagh-e Eram (Eram Garden), a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose centerpiece is an elegant Persian mansion swathed in date palms and flowering plants, where the American scholar Robert Nelson Frye and his family lived in the 1960s.
A full day’s sightseeing in this most elegant of cities begins with a visit to the Vakil complex, constructed by Karim Khan, founder of the Zand Dynasty, in the 18th century. The enclave comprises a grand mosque, noted for its exceptionally fine haft rangi tilework, a hamam bathhouse and atmospheric covered bazaar with vault-arched ceilings. After lunch, you’ll pay a visit to the much photographed Nasir al-Molk (better known as the ‘Pink Mosque’), whose stained-glass windows cast pools of rich colour on the finely carved pillars and polished marble floors. Time permitting, the rest of the afternoon will be taken up with a trip to Karim Khan’s castle, followed by a tour of the Shah Cheragh tomb, a revered Shia shrine noted for the glittering mirror work adorning its central dome.
Today you’ll drive 500km north on Highway 65 from Shiraz to Isfahan , pausing on route to explore the monuments of Persepoli, Naqsh-e Rostam and Pasargadae , three of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. Photographers may wish to build in an extra night to their tour in order to be able to visit the ruins at sunset, when the desert light works wonders on the Achaemenid marble. After your long road trip you’ll be more than ready for a hot bath and relaxing meal at your hotel, though some may be tempted out to see Isfahan’s great Naqsh-e Jahan square under floodlights, or for tea at one of the city’s delightfully old-fashioned tea houses.
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted by your guide to the Naqsh-e Jahan square, where some of the most marvelous buildings ever constructed in the Islamic world form a breathtaking spectacle. Begin with a tour of the Imam (or ‘Shah’) Mosque, the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Persian architecture, noted for its ‘stalactite’ tilework and exquisitely proportioned dome and minarets. Nearby, the Aliqapu Palace, where Shah Abbas used to welcome foreign dignitaries before proceeding through the gardens behind to the Chehel Sotoon Palace. Murals depicting the lavish banquets and recitals of music and dance held inside the great hall enliven the building’s interiors. On the opposite side of the square, the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque is widely regarded as the apogee of Safavid architecture, with its sublime mosaic tilework and calligraphy. As the shadows grow long in Chehel Sotoon gardens, you’ll walk over the covered bazaar of Ghdeisarieh. Centred on a mile-long arterial passage, the market holds ranks handicraft shops selling traditional, high-quality, hand-made Persian artefacts, from carpets to pieces of framed calligraphy and musical instruments.
Today you’ll visit the Friday mosque, next to the bazaar, and Vank Cathedral, in the New Julfa quarter on the south side of the Zayande River, which Shah Abbas built for the Armenian Christians the resettled in Isfahan in the early 17th century. Its ceilings are festooned with wonderfully vibrant frescoes and gilded wood carving. An hour before sunset, join the strollers who congregate on the beautiful bridges over the river to enjoy the reflections of the changing light. The most famous of the bridges is the 33-arched Sis-o-She Pol, floodlit to spectacular effect after dark. In the evening, you’ll have time to laze in the Azadegan Teahouse, on Chah Haj Mirza alley at the north side of the Imam Square, where the walls and ceilings are covered in old photos, coloured lamps and other antique curios. Their doogh (Persian lassi) is legendary.
Today features a long drive north back to Tehran. You’ll break the journey midway at Kashan to visit the city’s famous Persian khanehs (mansions) and Bagh-e Fin garden. Today is your final chance to do any last-minute souvenir shopping before you fly home the following day.
You will be transferred to the international early this morning, for your return flight to UK.
Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £2625 per person
Places and Experiences in this tour
At the foot of the Alborz mountains, Tehran is Iran’s sprawling capital, and one of the most spectacularly situated cities in the world. Wherever you are, shining snow fields shim...
Famed over the centuries for its nightingales, poetry and wine, Shiraz has traditionally been regarded Iran’s cultural capital. Two of Persia’s greatest Sufi poets are both entomb...
Former capital of the Safavid Dynasty, Isfahan became the seat of Shah Abbas the Great in 1598, and at its zenith blossomed into of the most magnificent and cosmopolitan cities in...
Visits to Persepolis are nearly always combined with a detour to this extraordinary necropolis, where a collection of colossal reliefs dating from the Achaemenid, Sassanid and Ela...
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