The Most Beautiful Places in Iran – A Guide
It’s no secret that we fell head over heels in love with Iran on our first visit there, so we’re very excited to show you what we think are the most beautiful places in Iran, such that you can get an idea of what makes the country so special!
Our 30-day Iran itinerary include some of the most beautiful places in Iran in different parts of the country. At times we would be the only people at some of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Iran, whilst at other times, locals and tourists alike would be competing for selfie spots!
Here’s our list of the most beautiful places in Iran!
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Si-o-se Pol Bridge, Isfahan
To say that we were impressed with the beauty of the 33-arched Si-o-se Pol Bridge and its reflection during the long evening hours, is to put it mildly. The bridge is actually the largest of 11 bridges crossing Isfahan’s Zajandeh River (Zajanderud).
Works on the bridge were completed in the 17th century to function as both a bridge and a dam. It is almost 300m long and previously had paintings in its interior. We loved walking along the river during our evenings in Isfahan, and we thought that Si-o-se Pol Bridge was the most romantic part of the area and one of the most beautiful places in Iran!
The Troglodyte village of Kandovan
Somehow few people, even those who have actually been to Iran, have heard of Kandovan, a troglodyte village in the north west of the country, similar to Cappadocia in Turkey, but far less popular and smaller.
We thought that Kandovan was one of the most beautiful places in in Iran, and pretty unique too! The stone into which the dwellings are dug out, is said to be an insulator, keeping the heat out in summer whilst retaining it in winter.
We made our way to Kandovan from the city of Tabriz. You can find all the details about how to visit Kandovan and what to do there in our post about How to visit Kandovan and other things to do in Tabriz.
The Lut Desert (Dasht e Lut)
The breath-taking landscapes of the Dasht e Lut (also called the Shahdad Desert and the Lut Desert) will be forever imprinted in our memories, leaving little doubt that it is one of the most beautiful places in Iran!
The Dasht e Lut is home to the Kaluts, large ridges of sand formed by erosion which stand tall in different parts of the desert.
We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise in the desert, despite the blistering cold in November! We also witnessed a salt river running through the desert and went on a desert safari using a 4×4 to take us up and down the sand dunes.
The Lut / Shahdad Desert is not one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iran, although it is not going to be devoid of tourists either. You can read all about getting to the Lut Desert and how to organise a desert safari in our post about exploring the Kaluts and the Shahdad Desert in Iran.
All of Hormuz Island
The rainbow island of Hormuz has to be one of the most fascinating and beautiful places in Iran. The small island in the Persian Gulf, is home to some pretty unique landscape and formations, including the brightly coloured rainbow caves, and a bright red sea bordering shimmering black sands.
We were absolutely mind-blown during our short time on the island, not only by the unusual views and sights but also by the beauty of the coast and beaches of the island.
Our Hormuz island travel guide will show you how to organise a trip there and what to look out for!
The archaeological wonders of Persepolis and Pasargadae, near Shiraz
The world-famous UNESCO heritage sites built by Darius I and Cyrus the Great respectively, are large areas of impressive archaeological ruins which give testimony to how well-structured Persian cities were. They really should not be missed on your trip to Iran!
The sites can both be accessed from Shiraz, although we found it easier to stop there on our way from Isfahan to Shiraz. They both deserve a few hours of your time, though you can spend 1-2 hours in each, however we do recommend staying longer to fully take in and imagine their former magnificence.
More details about visiting Persepolis and Pasargadae can be found in our Shiraz travel guide.
The Alamut Valley near Qazvin
The beauty of the Alamut Valley in north of Iran should not be ignored! Although we went there in bad weather, we still managed to witness and capture some very beautiful scenery with dramatic fall colours!
Unfortunately, we missed the spectacular views that the Alamut Valley is well-known for, especially those from the Castle of the Assassins, since everywhere was covered in thick fog, but the little we saw, convinced us that the Alamut Valley with its allure of nature, must be one of the most beautiful places in Iran!
You can get to the Alamut Valley from the city of Qazvin, but unless you intend spending a few days there, you will need a driver and guide to show you the area.
You can read all about exploring the Alamut Valley here, including details about organising a trip and how to choose a guide.
The Historical Houses of Kashan
With so much beauty in the country, it’s not easy to select the top most beautiful places in Iran, however we feel that the historical houses of Kashan are worthy of a spot on our list!
The historical heritage of Kashan and the city’s strategic location throughout the Iran’s history, is mostly noticeable in the many mansions found all over the Kashan, built by wealthy merchants who settled there.
Our favourite of the three we visited was Tabatabaei historical house, a fine example of the magnificent Persian architecture found in Kashan. The house has 40 rooms decorated in stucco, stained glass and paintings which are sure to impress most visitors!
Follow our blog post about things to do in Kashan, Iran in one day for details about the Kashan attractions and how to visit them.
The Towers of Silence, Yazd
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although the towering burial pits used to dispose of corpses in the Zoroastrian religion may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of subjects, especially given the strong link to death, we just loved learning about their use in the practice of excarnation, i.e., having corpses (considered unclean after death) succumb to the forces of nature.
The tradition of leaving bodies out in the open for birds of prey to feed on has been made illegal in Iran, and Zoroastrians are now buried in tombs lined with cement. We felt that the mysterious-looking towers of silence in the desert outside the city of Yazd, represent a sombre kind of beauty which should be experienced.
Read more about how to travel to Yazd and top things to do in Yazd.
To the west of Iran, lies Iranian Kurdistan, a region which is distinct from the rest of the Iran by the presence of Kurdish people as a majority. Although we only had the time to visit Palangan village, we were immediately swept away by the wonderful views and scenery that greeted us as we traveled across Iranian Kurdistan.
Palangan village itself, is a pretty stepped village lying on two sides of a river whose inhabitants live a distinct rural lifestyle. Although we only spent a couple of days in the area, we feel that it must be a wonderful place for trekking and probably one of the most beautiful places in Iran!
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan
We’ve already made reference to the Si-o-se Pol Bridge in Isfahan, but truth be told, Isfahan has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Iran. The massive Naqsh-e Jahan Square is not only a lovely aesthetic itself, but is also home to some of the most beautiful structures in all of Iran.
The Ali Qapu Palace, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the Imam Mosque are all located in Naqsh-e Jahan Square, with each building being worthy of an individual entry on this list, but we’ve just grouped them up, given their similar location.
If you want to be mesmerised by Persian architecture, head over to Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan and spend some time visiting the mosques and palace within the vast enclosure. We can assure you that you will fall in love in the same way that we did!
Read more about all the Isfahan attractions in this post.
The Nasir-al Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque), Shiraz
One of the most beautiful places in Iran is located in Shiraz. The Nasir-al Mulk Mosque, more popularly known as the Pink Mosque is featured in almost all guide books and tourist literature about Iran because of its great beauty.
The apertures of the mosque are decorated in stained glass which project shades and colourful patterns in the morning sun, and which makes the mosque a very popular selfie spot among tourists and locals alike!
When we were there, we were rather shocked at how busy this particular attraction was, and at how tourists only seemed to be interested in taking the best pictures, without apparently giving any thought to the architecture and historical importance of the mosque.
You can read more about the Pink Mosque and Shiraz on our Shiraz Travel Guide.
The Bas-reliefs at Bisotun
Mount Bisotun, lying on the west part of Iran, close to the city of Kermanshah, is not only a lovely place, but is also of great historical importance. We visited whilst we were staying in Kermanshah, and we are so glad that we got the opportunity of seeing some pretty fascinating inscriptions and carvings, and then taking a walk to a very well-restored caravanserai at the side of the mountain!
One of the inscriptions was written by Darius I of Persia, in three different scripts and languages and it is believed that Darius actually placed the inscription on the inaccessible mountain side so as to preserve it. There’s also a life-sized carving of King Darius and other figures next to the inscription depicting his power and greatness.
Chahkooh Canyon, Qeshm
The very surreal Chahkooh Canyon on the island of Qeshm in the south of Iran, close by to Hormuz island, mentioned previously in this post, has to be one on the most beautiful places in Iran, especially for nature lovers.
The unique shapes and rock formations in the canyon, as well as the narrow passages left by erosion and water canals, make for a very interesting walk through the canyon which is not difficult to access at all, once you’re on Qeshm island.
Read all about getting to Iran’s Qeshm island in our dedicated post.
One of our favourite adobe attractions in Iran, the Citadel of Bam, is quite a sight! The actual ruins of Bam Citadel were flattened by an earthquake, but have now been meticulously (almost) restored. Bam was originally the largest adobe building in the world.
Some tourists are disappointed by Bam, claiming that the restorations are not identical to the original citadel, however we thought that they were quite impressive, and still consider it to be one of the most beautiful places in Iran.
Details about getting to Bam Citadel and entrance fees can be found in our post about exploring the Kaluts and the Shahdad desert in Iran.
Fin Garden, Kashan
Almost every city in Iran is home to some very pretty Persian gardens, which we loved exploring! Fin Garden in Kashan, has to be one of the most delightful! The sparkling turquoise pools, fountains, tall trees and colourful flowers all contribute to the fairy-tale setting of the garden.
The water engineering aspect of Fin Garden is just as remarkable. The ducts carrying the water around the garden are laid at different elevations and are of varying thicknesses so that the pressure differences give rise to naturally engineered fountains throughout the gardens!
More details about Fin Garden can be found in our post things to do in Kashan, Iran in one day.
Another mudbrick building, Saryazd fortress can be found near Yazd on the way to Kerman. The ruins are the remains of what was probably the world’s first ‘bank’ since it was used to store food and later valuables within its walls.
It is now a highly intriguing maze of chambers and stairways leading to different parts of the castle. The tunnels are such that only one person can pass at a time, making it difficult for enemies to attack. The tallest tower provides great views over the desert!
Read more about Saryazd in our post about how to travel to Yazd.
The National Jewellery Treasury, Tehran
Having no photo to vouch for, given the extremely tight security of the attraction, it is hard to describe our fascination to such a rich collection of historical jewels and precious artifacts. Housed in the basement of the Iranian Central Bank, the collection is considered as the world’s richest jewel collection.
Besides displaying the many jewels collected throughout history by the many Iranian kings, the collection holds as its centre piece, a 45cm globe, covered in 35kg of gold and about 51,000 gemstones, set so as to depict the various land and water bodies.
The collection is highly guarded, security is tight, visits are meticulously coordinated, and roaming around freely is, understandably, not possible, so expect long queues and delays upon entry. Still, it is very much worth a visit.
Read more in our post dedicated to Tehran.Read more about Iran!