Iran is becoming a tourist hotspot this year, with tour operators reporting significant increases in tourists booking trips to the Middle Eastern country.Perhaps that’s because of a slight thaw in its relationships with the West, or simply because of the allure of exploring a little-known tourist destination with few other tourists around.Americans are allowed to visit Iran. In fact, Iran is actively encouraging visits from them. But U.S. citizens who do visit must travel with an official tour guide and get their itinerary approved by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to get a visa. Travel within Iran is considered safe if you tour responsibly, even though the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning to Iran.
From ancient cities with breathtaking mosques to gorgeous natural landscapes, here are some of Iran’s most beautiful, and untouched, tourist attractions.
Isfahan, located in the center of the country, is perhaps Iran’s most touristy city, famous for its Islamic architecture, covered bridges, palaces, and mosques.
It’s home to several major tourist sites, such as Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan Square), one of the largest — and most beautiful — city squares in the world. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that features gorgeous Iranian and Islamic architecture.
There are also beautiful mosques here, like the dreamy Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
Tehran, the nation’s capital city, is surrounded by snowy mountains.
The Azadi Tower marks the entrance to the capital city.
Marvel at the incredible craftsmanship and detailing of Persian carpets at the Carpet Museum of Iran.
Or buy a carpet. Haggle with locals while shopping at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.
Here, vendors sell all sorts of Western clothing, like bras, jeans, and T-shirts.
There’s lots to choose from.
Tea is a huge part of Persian culture.
Locals meet in outdoor cafes in Tehran.
Grab a quick meal: Vendors sell fresh kebabs all over the city.
Pair a kebab with a slab of fresh-baked chewy Persian bread.
Shemshak Ski Resort is less than an hour from Tehran. Wealthy Tehranis love to escape here on the weekends.
Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, dating to 515 B.C. The ancient city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
suronin / Shutterstock.com
Incredible reliefs are carved into the rocks at Persepolis.
Shiraz, known as the city of love and Persian poetry, is another city tourists love. It’s home to the historic Eram Garden (Garden of Paradise).
Several famous Persian poets are buried in Shiraz in elaborate tombs. This is the mausoleum of Saadi, a 13th-century poet.
There are also gorgeous mosques here, such as the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.
Ko.Yo / Shutterstock.com