7 reasons to visit Iran in 2016

Persian cuisine comes in two categories: you’ll find the first, kebabs accompanied by basmati rice and a grilled tomato, just about anywhere, but it’s the slower dishes, like decorated mounds of rice, minced meatballs and squishy eggplant and beef stews, that deserve celebration. On the street, keep an eye out for stands selling salted green almonds or scoops of thick rosewater ice cream. Iranians also have a soft spot for American junk food, and if you’re looking for a taste of home, you won’t have to look too far to find a spot that serves hamburgers or “Kentucky” (fried chicken).

In case you weren’t aware, the United States and Iran are on good terms now, and the travel sanctions that stood in the way—until very recently—have been lifted. Iran has been a popular destination among European tourists for years. The Iranian rial has a low exchange rate with currencies like the Euro and U.S. dollar, slashing daily expenses. You’ll spend less than $10 on a decent meal.

But, Persia has far more to offer than a great deal and new political friendships. Home to one of the oldest civilizations and empires in the world, Iran boasts a rich artistic, architectural and culinary culture and brims with hospitality. And, by the way, the country is geographically beautiful.

As an Islamic Republic, Iran enforces rules unfamiliar to Americans, namely prohibition and dressing in the hijab style. As far as the dress code goes, covered extremities and a headscarf will do the trick in most places, and more conservative establishments like historic mosques offer free shawls to anyone who’d like to cover up a bit more. Travelers donning extra layers may want to avoid visiting during the summer, especially if they’re coming to the country’s warmer, southern half where temperatures can climb into triple digits. In early spring, many Iranians go on vacation to celebrate Norooz, the Persian new year, so in addition to temperate weather you’ll encounter less city traffic and lightheartedness among the locals.

This article was written by Sarra Sedghi for Paste Magezine on Feb 24,2016. Sarra Sedghi is Paste Travel’s news editor. She has been to Iran and enjoyed it very much.