Why You Should Drop Everything and Travel to Iran Now! — The Shooting Star


About this post: I had many questions on my mind before my trip to Iran. Why go to Iran? How is Iran as a country? Is it safe to visit Iran? What is Iranian culture like? A month in Iran later, I think it might be one of my favorite places in the world. This post is my humble attempt to show you why.

Most people think that now is a terrible time to visit Iran. The renewed US sanctions on the country mean that popular travel websites like Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com don’t work in Iran. International debit and credit cards can’t be used to make payments or withdraw money from ATMs. Most travel insurance policies don’t cover Iran. And social networks like Twitter and Facebook are technically banned.

And yet, spending a month exploring Iran in Feb-March 2019 – thanks to the local all-women team of travel company Uppersia – filled me with immense wonder at its architecture and natural beauty. I fell in love with the country’s people, culture, poetry and language, and believe that NOW is the best time to visit Iran.

The renewed US sanctions have sent the Iranian Rial into a free fall, making it the most affordable time to explore the country – and contribute directly to ordinary citizens suffering the economic consequences. Tourism has been badly hit, which means you can have the exquisite Nasir-ol-Molk of Shiraz, the awe-inspiring Naqsh-e Jahan Square of Isfahan and the other-worldly Kaluts Desert, pretty much all to yourself. If you pick only one international travel destination this year, pick Iran, for this is a country where:

You’ll discover landscapes so unimaginable, you’d think you’ve landed on Mars

(like on Hormuz Island, with yellow rivers, white mineral peaks and red sand)

hormuz island iran, why go to iran, how is iran as a country, travel iran blog

Yet human creations will leave you in greater awe

(Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, said to be created by the gods of art)

sheikh lotfollah mosque, how is iran as a country, why visit Iran, Iran travel 2019

And compel you to reconnect with the poet in you

In an antique bookshop in Kerman, with works of great Persian poets S’aadi, Hafez and Rumi

Kerman iran, why go to Iran, Iranian culture, travel Iran blog

As you walk amid 900-year-old Cypress trees

(at Bagh-e Eram in Shiraz)

eram garden shiraz, Iran travel blog, how is iran as a country, iran travel safety

Take in the awe-inspiring sight of a 12th century shrine

If you see only one thing in Iran, let it be Shah Cheragh in Shiraz by night

Shah Cheragh Shiraz, why visit Iran, Iran travel tips, how is iran as a country

Hear a sufi mystic sing within a shrine’s ancient walls

(at Shah Nematollah Wali Shrine in Mahan)

Shah Nimatullah vali shrine, why go to Iran, travel Iran blog

And explore some of the world’s most incredible cities like Isfahan and Shiraz

Move over New York, London, Paris!

Naqshe jahan square, isfahan iran, why visit Iran, Iran travel tips

You’ll slowly forget everything the media told you about Iran…

iran travel blogs, how is iran as a country, travel iran 2019, why visit iran

Make an effort to speak a bit of Farsi

I highly recommend the Chai and Conversation podcast.

Iranian culture, learn farsi podcast, why visit iran

Because you’ll not only fall in love with the language

❤

Persian calligraphy gift from a local friend 

persian calligraphy, why go to iran, iran travel blogs, iran travel tips

But also with the locals you meet along the way

Iran people, iran culture, why go to iran

You’ll learn to picnic in the outdoors like Iranians

(at the Naqsh-e Jahan Square of Isfahan)

iranian culture, why visit iran, how is iran as a country

Tuck into a “howzkhaneh” on a winter day

A sort of winter lounge in old Persian houses for cosy gatherings.

howzkhaneh iran, khalvat house isfahan, iranian culture

And let “taarof” surprise, confuse and amuse you!

Taarof is Persian etiquette where you put others first; read more about it here.

(with Assad and his family at Assad’s B&Bon Qeshm Island)

Assad homestay qeshm island, iranian culture, iran taarof, why go to iran

On a rainy afternoon, you’ll slip in to a hipster cafe with a Persian twist

(at Balo Persian Cuisine in Shiraz)

balo persian cuisine shiraz, why visit iran, iran travel blogs

And warm up over “do pyaz alo” and dal adasi

Both accidentally vegan.

iran vegan food, vegan travel iran, why visit iran, iran travel tips

If you’re lucky, you’ll even connect with passionate vegan Iranians

(at Khalvat House, a vegan guesthouse in Isfahan)

khalvat house iran, vegan travel iran, vegan travel blog, Iran travel blogs

And sample Persian food that will blow your mind

Vegan dizi, anyone?

vegan food iran, khalvat house, how is iran as a country, persian cuisine

On a VIP bus, you’ll traverse the ancient Silk Route

iran travel tips, why go to iran, how is iran as a country

Sleep in a “Caravan Serai” to feel like a traveller of yore

Caravan Serais were inns built in the 16th century for travellers along the ancient Silk route.

caravan serai iran, travel iran blog, iran travel safety

Take in the sights and smells at a historic bazaar

The one in Tabriz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Vakil bazaar shiraz, why you should visit Iran, Iran travel safety

Taste the most incredible dates and nuts

And wonder what you’ve been eating all along…

Iran bazaar, how is iran as a country, visit Iran, Iran travel 2019

Go back in time at an excavation site dating back to the second Iron Age

When women and men were buried with their pots and pans, and weapons. This one is in Tabriz.

iron age museum tabriz, iran travel tips, iran travel blogs

And land up in a desert oasis bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan

(at Shefiabad near the Lut Desert)

kaluts desert iran, iran travel blogs, why visit iran

To see the Kaluts, the most surreal desert formations

(and home to Gandom Beryan, the hottest place on earth)

kaluts desert iran, luts desert iran, why go to iran

And gaze at a star-studded night sky 

iran night sky, kaluts desert stargazing, why go to Iran

The compulsory hijab might annoy or disturb you

iran hijab for women, iranian women, iran culture, how is iran as a country

But you’ll meet badass, independent, free-spirited women across the country

 iranian women, iran culture, iran people, why go to iran

Come to empathize with your Iranian friends and their yearning for personal freedom

 iranian women, iran culture, life in iran, how is iran as a country

And when time comes to say goodbye, you’ll be glad you picked Iran

chahkooh canyon qeshm island, why go to iran, iran travel blog, iran travel tips

Because it’s only here that you’ll find Nesf-e Jahan – half the world!

kaluts desert iran, iran travel 2019, why visit iran, iran shivya nath

Also read:

Bahrain: Land of a Thousand Friends
Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Your Travel Dreams
Travelling Abroad First Time? 10 Questions on Your Mind

Is Iran among your dream travel destinations? What are you most looking forward to?

*Note: I travelled to Iran in collaboration with Uppersia. Opinions on this blog, as you can tell, are always mine!

Join my adventures around the world virtually on InstagramFacebook andTwitter!

Order a copy of my bestselling book, The Shooting Star

Advertisements