Newly open for travel, holidays in Iran offer discerning travellers a captivating insight into Ancient Persia and the modern day Middle East. No longer marred by extensive travel restrictions or headlining the news for tales of conflict, Iran’s doors and borders now cast an alluring invitation in the direction of intrepid travellers.
Begin in Tabriz to visit the Blue Mosque and wander around the stalls of the UNESCO-listed bazaar before driving east to elegant, mountainous Azerbaijan province. Stop for a while and you'll have the opportunity to explore traditional villages, hike up to the ruins of Babek Castle, and visit the Sheikh Safi Od Din Mausoleum, a remarkable Saffavid complex in Ardabil.
This tour then continues north to reach the coastal town of Mahmoud Abad overlooking the Caspian Sea, where you'll see an entirely different side to Iran than the bustling Persian towns and ochre desert; here people travel to visit the seaside. On your way towards Isfahan explore Golestan National Park, home to rocky wildernesses and wild wolves, and spend the night in the welcoming home of a traditional family.
Arrive in to Tabriz early this morning and transfer to your hotel, after a rest head out to visit the Blue Mosque, originally built in the 15th century over 25 years and the UNESCO World Heritage bazaar.
This morning takes you in to the countryside and mountains close to the border with Armenia to visit Jolfa, an Armenian region home to impressive 14th century St Stepanos Church. (B)
Driving to the east brings you to Azerbaijan Province, climbing in to the mountains again you will arrive at the small town of Kaleybar, the starting point for the walk up to Babek Castle. The castle is in ruins and involves a 2 hour walk up to the top of the valley, including some steps. The views are dramatic along the way. Continue on to Ardabil and visit the Sheikh Safi Od Din Mausoleum, a remarkable Saffavid complex. (B)
A pleasant journey through the mountains today takes you to the small village of Masouleh, an old traditional village stepped up the hillside with the roof of one house forming the floor of the courtyard of the one above. The village sees a few domestic tourists as well and has plenty of tea shops and small stalls. This afternoon you can walk around the village to explore or if you prefer take a more strenuous walk in the mountains. You will stay overnight in a local home. (B,D)
Roodkhan Castle whilst in ruins is one of the most impressive in the region, a walk up 1000 steps brings you to the top with views out across the valley. Explore the castle and then head back down, after the morning’s walk you may like to return to Masouleh to enjoy an afternoon drinking tea in the village and meeting some of the locals or you may like to continue with a further walk in the beautiful surrounding landscapes. (B,D)
Leaving the mountains today you head down to the coast of the Caspian, taking the coastal road you will pass through the small holiday towns and the ports until you reach the seaside town of Mahmoud Abad for an overnight stop. You may like to take a stroll along the beach in the evening. (B)
The Golestan National Park is one of the largest in Iran and covers various different landscapes from rocky areas, steppe and forested hills. It is home to leopard and wolves however these are very seldom seen. On arrival at your eco lodge you can head out this afternoon with a local guide to spot some of the smaller animals and the birdlife the park is known for. (B,L,D)
A second day in the park with your guide gives you a further day to explore the park, the different terrains and hopefully spot some more of the fauna. The eco lodge may also offer you the chance to meet some of the local people and see some of the crafts they produce. (B,L,D)
Leaving the park this morning your drive takes you back to the city of Gorgan and on to the village of Damghan, between the mountains and the desert. Your homestay tonight is very basic (B,L,D)
Your drive today takes you right through the Dasht e Kavir desert, stop in a couple of desert villages along the way. You will arrive to the guesthouse in the late afternoon. (B,L,D)
The simple guesthouse at Gharmeh has provided employment for the village, welcoming tourists to the desert oasis where they can head out on hikes in the desert, ride camels and visit nearby salt flats as well as meeting the villagers and experiencing life in a rural village. Today you can head out on some of the activities from the guesthouse in to the desert or just take it easy and explore the village. (B,L,D)
A long drive today takes you from the desert to the historic city of Isfahan. One of the most beautiful cities in Iran built predominantly in the 17th century under Shah Abbas I. (B)
Today you will explore the highlights of Isfahan including the Chehel Sotun Palace and Masjid e Jameh before heading to Naqsh e Jahan Square to visit the Ali Qapu Palace and the impressive Imam Mosque and Lotfullah Mosque. Take some time in the afternoon and evening to wander through the bazaars in the arcades surrounding the square. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)
14 day tour, from £3295 per person
- Return flights in economy class with Turkish Airlines from London via Istanbul
- All airport taxes & security charges
- Accommodation as stated on a bed and breakfast basis
- Meals as specified (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Private airport transfers
- All touring with English-speaking driver/guide
- Visa authorisation support
- Travel Insurance
- Tips and gratuities
- Any meals not mentioned
- Visa and consulate fees