If you’re in-the-know, you’re very well aware that traveling to Iran is the trending next big thing.
It might come as a surprise to many that visiting Iran is, in fact, quite safe and extremely cultural with beautiful cities to explore and fascinating landmarks to Instagram. Not to mention, the locals are ecstatically friendly.
It used to be that only foreign business travelers and pilgrims would make a trip to Iran. But in recent years, the Iranian government has launched major efforts to expand hotels while working closely with travel agencies to promote the country as a popular tourist destination. In 2013, 4.76 million international travelers visited the land of the Persian Empire.
Tehran, Iran’s capital, is filled with things to do and places to see. Ladies, put on your headscarfs! All travelers should get ready for these 9 magnificent must-see’s:
1. Azadi Tower
Kuy Mehr Abad, Tehran, Iran
Also known as: Monument of Freedom, the Azadi Tower is a definitely a noteworthy stop. Yes, it’s touristic. You’ll most likely be making a 10-minute pause on the road side to snap a photo. But it’s like going to Washington D.C. and not checking out the Washington Monument. Completed in 1971, the Azadi Tower is a symbol of Tehran. So much so that many call it: The Gateway to Tehran. Built as a celebration for the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, the tower is surrounded by fountains with a museum underneath worth visiting.
Emam Khomeini Ave. Si-e-Tir corner, Tehran, Iran
The National Museum of Iran is hard to miss with its spectacular Sassanid-style front entrance shaped like vaults. Opened in 1997, the museum encompasses the country’s most complete historical artifacts and a section dedicated to pottery. Tapestries, calligraphy, statues and artwork have been gathered from different regions of Iran. If you want to be informed on Iran’s past, this is the most complete cultural education.
Pamenar, Tehran, Iran
Built in 1524, Golestan Palace is one of the most beautiful and historic sites in Tehran. With 17 different palaces, decorative halls and museums inside the Golestan, one can truly understand the glamour of the Persian Empire. The palace was the official residence of Iran’s royal Qajar family during the late 1700s. During Pahlavis’ reign in the 1920s through 1970s, the palace was used for coronations and formal parties. Spend an hour or two walking around the palace, you’ll be amazed by the Marble Throne and the breathtaking mirror mosaics.
4. The Grand Bazaar
Panzdah-E-Khordad St, Tehran, Iran
One of the fun things about the traveling to the Middle East is hitting up the bazaars! It’s a casual place to understand the local culture, and it serves as the perfect setting to stock up on souvenirs. You’ll see alleys of stands that sell anything from rugs, jewelries, household items, textiles to underwear. Don’t expect the Tehran Bazaar to be an extraordinary experience, this is merely a great option for those who want to bargain shop and interact with locals rather than visiting one landmark after another.
Ferdowsi Avenue, Central Bank of I.R. Iran,Tehran, Iran
Who doesn’t want a few hours sparkled with gems! The Treasury of National Jewels is not only Iran’s largest collection of opulent jewels, but in the world! A majority of the collection derives from the 16th century Safavid dynasty. Be on the look out for truly unique pieces including: emeralds making up a massive golden globe with oceans and latitudes speckled with diamonds, and the Imperial crown jewels of Iran. The treasury has guides who speak Persian, English, French and Russian.
6. Sa’dabad Palace
Shahid Fallahi (Zaferanieh), Tehran, Iran
There isn’t a more jaw-dropping landmark than the Sa’dabad Palace. Fascinated by how the Shahs lived during the Pahlavi dynasty? A half-day trip gazing through the White Palace and the Green Palace is a feast for the eyes. Glitter and glamour galore, the construction of the palace began in 1921, during a time when Reza Shah was in power. Afterwards, his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became the Shah of Iran and also lived on the magnificent compound during the 1970s. After he was overthrown during the Iranian Revolution, the palace – filled with 18 castles and houses – became a museum open to the public.
Near Laleh Park, Tehran, Iran
Iran is known for its stunning Persian rugs. If you want to take a closer look at how the culture of carpeting and tapestry came about, the Carpet Museum of Iran is a great place to do so. If you’d like to purchase some to mail home, there are plenty of shops throughout the streets of Tehran where you can shop ’til you drop!
8. Jamshidieh Park
Niavaran, Tehran, Iran
Tehran is full of lovely parks! If you’re yearning for a moment of peace, then stroll through the stone garden in Jamshidieh Park right on the bottom of Kolakchal mountain. There are hiking trails you can take for a nice view from the top of the mountain. There are also several restaurants and tea houses nearby the park. Be sure to snap a photo of the waterfall and the ponds inside the park, they’re divine.
30th of Tir Street, Tehran, Iran
By far, this is one of my favorites in Tehran. The mansion was originally built privately for a Persian family, and years later, the Egyptian embassy lived in the estate. Later in 1976, it was transformed into a museum. The Glass and Ceramics Museum is displayed in chronological order, through the various periods that glass and ceramics symbolize and were widely used throughout Persian history. Though my favorite part of the entire gallery is its incredible display of perfume bottles, showcasing vibrant colors of glass in multiple pillars as if a kaleidoscope has come to life.