The Unexplored Iran Roadtrip

May 13, 2024
May 26, 2024
14 days


10 years in the making. After travelling to this amazing place for the last decade, we're finally doing a tour to Iran and we’re very excited to show you all these places that we’ve explored ourselves and fallen in love with. Of course we’ll follow the main tourist trail so that you can see all the highlights of Isfahan, Shiraz, and such-like, but we then head far off the tourist trail into the west of the country to some places that barely ever see tourists, let alone foreign ones.

Beginning in Tehran we’ll visit the former US Embassy, the Holy Defence Museum, Nature Bridge, and experience the night-life and the hipster café culture. We’ll then stop at the famous red village of Abyaneh before seeing all that Isfahan, Meybod, Yazd and Shiraz have to offer, including gardens, mosques, ruins, stunning views, Persepolis and much more.

In there you’ll get a chance for a really unique desert experience where we’ll go dune bashing and ride buggies, before staying with locals in a small village where we’ll spend the night cooking shashlik, smoking shisha, and perhaps even having a little drink.

Heading more into the unknown, we’ll visit towns you’ve never heard of like Ramhormoz, Shushtar and Dezful. You’ll see the amazing Fire Mountain, a rocky hill literally on fire, go on some truly spectacular drives, visit ancient ruins, and eating in restaurants where they’ll be so confused by your presence you’ll be lucky if you get fed.

The tour will be topped off with our last stop being the awe-inspiring cave of Ali Sadr, before we return to Tehran. If you want to keep traveling through the Middle East with us after this, check out our Lebanon and Syria Summer Tour.

View the full itinerary

If you like the look of this tour but the dates don't work for you, or you'd like to do part of the tour, please get in touch and let us know. All our tours are able to be split into smaller sections, we're always scheduling new tours and your dates might work for one of them, or we can always organise an independent tour.

If you'd like to see some more of the Middle East while you're here, check out our Middle East Extravaganza Tour , which continues on to Syria and Lebanon .


Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels, breakfast included

Transport as per itinerary

Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in itinerary

SAIGA guide and local guides



Visa fee

Visa support if necessary

Meals other than breakfast at accommodation

Transport to and from the start and end of tour

Personal expenses such as souvenirs or any optional activities

PCR Tests and any other COVID related expenses


Stare into the mesmerising flames of Tashkooh, Fire Mountain

Soak in the unbelievable colours at the cave of Ali Sadr

Enjoy shashlik in the desert with locals

Day 1Mon May 13
  • Arrive in Tehran for a quick tour briefing, then head straight out to explore the amazing city that is Tehran. You’ll be shocked at how cosmopolitan Tehran is, so don’t worry you’ll be able to get a flat white! We’ll make sure you can change some money as well at the black market rate.
  • We’ll first head to the former US embassy that was taken over by protestors in November 1979. Today the former embassy is known locally as the US Den of Spies and is home to a wonderful museum.
  • We’ll then head to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest markets in the entire world with over 10km of walkways. The Bazaar is like a city within a city, with banks, mosques and hotels. We’ll pick up some lunch here.
  • In the afternoon we’ll head to the Holy Defence Museum which tells the story of the Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Right next to the museum is the Tabiat Bridge, known as Nature Bridge, the beautiful modern structure connecting two of the post popular parks in Tehran. Here we’ll see Iranians doing what they do best, picnicking and relaxing.
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Day 2Tue May 14
Tehran, Abyaneh, Isfahan
  • Today we’ll hit the road, with our first stop being just south of Iran at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, the man who led the 1979 revolution to overthrow the Shah and establish the modern Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • We’ll then continue to the town of Abyaneh, known as the red village as all the buildings are built using the local red soil. Like an oasis in the desert, this small cool paradise is atypical of the surrounding areas and inhabitants live in a very traditional manner. Local rules mean any new construction must continue to be built using the red clay of the area.

  • Finally, we’ll continue on to Isfahan, where you’ll have the evening free to wander around possibly the most beautiful city in Iran.

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Day 3Wed May 15
  • Today we’re exploring Isfahan which has a lot to offer. We’ll start off by visiting the UNESCO listed Imam Square which was previously used as a polo field! We’ll visit Square Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque which was completed in 1619 after nearly 20 years of work. Today, the mosque stands as a magnificent and detailed public work. However, when it was originally built it was a private and luxurious place of worship for Shah Abbas I and the women of his court.
  • Surrounding Imam square is the bazaar of Isfahan where you’ll get a chance to walk around and if you’re so inclined try some Iranian ice cream! We’ll have lunch at one of the coolest restaurants in Iran, Azadegan Teahouse, with every centimetre of wall space displaying an eclectic array of nostalgia and memorabilia.
  • After lunch we’ll head to the Armenian Vank Cathederal. Yes you read that right, a church in Iran!
  • We’ll then finish the day by taking a walk along the river to get a look at the two most famous sites in Isfahan, the Khaju Bridge and the Si o Se Bridge. You’ll get a chance here to wander around and mingle with locals, who, you guessed it, are picnicking and relaxing.
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Day 4Thu May 16
Isfahan, Varzane Desert, Khoramdasht
  • Today we’re going to say goodbye to Isfahan and have some fun doing something a bit different. We’ll head out to the Varzane Desert for some dune bashing, quad biking and other exciting activities.

  • We’ll then stay in the small village of Khoramdasht where we’ll throw a little party with some of our Iranian friends.

  • There might even be some intoxicating beverages!

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Day 5Fri May 17
Khoramdasht, Meybod, Yazd
  • On the way to Yazd we’ll stop in Meybod, a lovely little desert town, parts of which are millennia old, some of which are abandoned which gives us the opportunity to do a little exploring. Urb-ex, but ancient. Much of it is left in its original state rather than being reconstructed so we’ll get a real idea of life past.
  • Continuing on to Yazd which is the centre of the original religion of Iran – Zoroastrianism. Here we’ll learn about this unique ancient religion by spending the afternoon firstly visiting the Eternal Flame. This brick Zoroastrian temple holds a fire that has burned for more than 1,500 years. The ancient flame has been kept alive throughout various centuries and relocations and continues to burn today.
  • Next we’ll head to the Dowlatabad Garden which is a classic example of Persian gardens. Its 33.8 meter tall windcatcher is the tallest adobe-made windcatcher in the world. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, as part of the Persian gardens.
  • Lastly we’ll head to the Tower of Silence. Until 40 years ago, corpses could still be found on top of the Towers of Silence in Yazd, Iran, slowly disintegrating or being picked apart by desert vultures.
  • In the Zoroastrian tradition, once someone has died, their body can immediately be contaminated by demons and made impure. To prevent this infiltration, Zoroastrians purified the dead body by exposing it to the elements and local fowl on top of flat-topped towers called dakhmas in the desert.
  • Although the towers are no longer used in ceremony, they can be visited along with a number of the ossuaries in the area.
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Day 6Sat May 18
  • Today is a relaxing day and we can have a late start, as we’ll be exploring the old town and its winding narrow alleyways.
  • Yazd has an extreme and arid climate. It can get very hot in the daytime and cool down considerably at night. Long before electricity and air conditioning were invented, back when Iran was called Persia, staying cool in these conditions required ingenuity; that’s how windcatchers were born.
  • Windcatchers are a traditional Persian architectural design that creates natural ventilation in buildings. The basic design consists of a tower that rises from a building below, with openings at the top. Yazd, one of the largest cities i n Iran, is known as the “City of Windcatchers”.
  • Yazd is also known for having a large network of qanats , which are underground channels that transfer water from a well to the surface. The windcatchers and qanats often worked together to create an amplified cooling effect.
  • Yazd is also amazing for its sunset views, so make sure you’ve got plenty of space left on your memory card.
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Day 7Sun May 19
Yazd, Persepolis
  • Today we’ll drive to Persepolis, one of the great ancient sites of the world, and spend the afternoon there. Persepolis was once the richest city on earth – the glittering capital of the Achaemenid Empire. At the heart of the city lay the royal palace – a wonder of gold and silver, ivory, and precious stones. From there, Xerxes planned his war against Greece – and the treasure of a vast empire piled up in the store-rooms.
  • In 330 BCE, Persepolis was captured by Alexander the Great. Before he left the city, he ordered the palace be burned to the ground – whether through drunken malice or sober calculation, it is impossible to be sure. Today the haunting, spectacular ruins of Persepolis reveal both the glory of the Achaemenid Empire, and the abruptness of its passing. The palace is still marked by Alexander’s fire: three feet of ash covered the floor in some places when it was first excavated – and many of the columns are still visibly scarred by those flames which burned over two thousand years ago.
  • There are plenty of places to sit down and have a cold drink meaning that those who want extra time to explore are able to do so while others who feel they have gotten the most out of it can relax.
  • Since we’ll be staying near to the ancient site we won’t be in a rush and can even stay to enjoy the sunset over the ruins.
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Day 8Mon May 20
Persepolis, Shiraz
  • It’s a short drive today to Shiraz, which most of you probably know from one of your favourite wine varieties.
  • Today we’ll visit Nasir al-Mulk mosque, also know as the Pink Mosque. There’s a chance you will have seen pictures of this online as it has possibly the most beautiful stained glass window display in the world, making the interior dazzle with colour.
  • As if that wasn’t beautiful enough, next we head to the Shah Cheragh mosque, which is completely covered in mirrors. Rather than being inside a religious building, it feels like you’re inside a disco ball.
  • Despite being damaged by human hands and natural disasters over the centuries, the mosque has been maintained and repaired and shines brightly even today. The increasingly sprawling site is still an extremely important pilgrimage location for Shia Muslims, however visitors of any faith are likely to marvel at the sheer beauty of this glassy wonder.
  • Lastly we’ll head to the Eram Gardens. Another example of a classical Persian garden, it’s possibly the most famous in all of Iran. With their beautiful flowers, refreshing air, aromatic myrtles and towering cypress trees, including one tree which is said to date back to 3000 years ago, the Eram Gardens are a major tourist destination, especially during the spring. Locals flock here and no doubt you’ll end up striking up a conversation with some and being asked to join in photos.
  • In the evening we’ll head to the main square to enjoy some alfresco dining at one of the popular hip cafes.
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Day 9Tue May 21
Shiraz, Ghalat, Fire Mountain, Ramhormoz
  • Leaving Shiraz, we’ll head to a village which has recently gained notoriety and earned the nickname “Little Amsterdam”. Known for its open attitude towards marijuana and large fields growing it , Ghalat is now a popular destination for a quick day trip for local Iranians. I wonder why? Ghalat was previously famous for its vineyards, but with the Islamic revolution they needed to find a new crop to make money, so cannabis it was.
  • We’ll then continue to Ramhormoz, on a beautiful mountain drive. You’ve probably never heard of it, because, well, there’s no reason to have heard of it. No foreigners come here because there’s nothing to see. The reason we’ll be stopping here is twofold. Firstly it’s a convenient stop on our grand tour around Iran, and secondly we can use it as a base to visit Tashkooh, otherwise known as Fire Mountain! Plus, we also like to visit little-known places that never see any tourists!
  • After checking in we’ll drive to Tashkooh at that perfect time when it’s still daylight but we’ll be there for sunset, and then also be there when it’s dark, allowing us to see it in all its glory. Gas seeping out of the side of the hill catches on fire in the extreme heat of the area, allowing us to see a hillside that’s literally on fire.
  • The place is a popular spot for locals, and during the weekends it’s not uncommon to see people picnicking and cooking food above the flames.
  • After we’ve taken all this in, we’ll head back to Ramhormoz for dinner.
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Day 10Wed May 22
Ramhormoz, Shushtar, Shush, Dezful
  • Heading north today through the Arabic part of Iran, this area is hot desert. The province is called Khuzestan. You’ll feel the difference compared with the normal tourist trail as we head through areas not used to foreigners.
  • Our first stop is the Shushtar Hydraulic System. Doesn’t sound like much, but this labyrinth of dams, bridges, canals, and other structures dates back to the 5 th century BC and is seriously cool and almost looks like an aqua theme park. UNESCO describes it as ‘a masterpiece of creative genius’.
  • We’ll then continue to St Daniel’s tomb in Shush. There are several places in the world that claim to hold the remains of the biblical prophet Daniel. These include Samarkand, 4 different sites in Iraq, 1 in Turkey and even another in Morocco. All we know is that Shush is a weird small town and this pilgrimage site is a bit different to your classic sites.
  • We’ll then finish our day in the city of Dezful. The name Dezul means Fortress Bridge and is a colourful vibrant town considering its very regional nature. There’s a beautiful waterfront, with ruins literally in the middle of the river, and lots of locals relaxing on the picturesque waterfront, so we’ll join in  and head down to the riverfront for a great local meal and even a shisha.
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Day 11Thu May 23
Dezful, Ali Sadr
  • Today is a long drive through some very varied terrain as we head back towards Tehran. We’ll leave the desert and head up into the mountains through Lorestan. All of a sudden out of nowhere green pastures appear and even snow-capped mountains.
  • We’ll stop for lunch in Korramabad as we make our way further north, arriving in Ali Sadr in the afternoon.
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Day 12Fri May 24
Ali Sadr
  • After yesterday’s long drive, today will be a slower pace, visiting the Ali Sadr cave, one of the largest subterranean water complexes in the entire world, arguably the largest. We’ll explore this amazing place by boat, travelling through numerous grottos, witnessing fantastic rock formations, and definitely getting our quota of stalactites, some several stories tall.
  • The water itself is crystal clear and if it weren’t for the movement of the boat, would look like a pane of glass. The colours are sure to mesmerise as we head through tunnels and winding passages. Caves such as the Wedding Room, known for its 1000 stalactites, and the Freedom Hall, at a whopping 600m long are sure to amaze in this natural wonder.
  • Ali Sadr was only found in 1963 but had been used by humans thousands of years ago with the oldest cave painting dating back 12000 years.
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Day 13Sat May 25
Ali Sadr, Tehran
  • We’ll head back to Tehran today and if we have time in the afternoon, we’ll head to the Tehran Aerospace Exhibition Centre. It’s not really an exhibition centre, but more an aeroplane graveyard with Boeings, Lockheeds, Cessnas and other planes left rusting in a large open field next to Tehran’s Mehrabad airport. For lovers of all things retro, you’ll also appreciate the old-fashioned livery and colour schemes while being envious of the much more spacious cabins of years past.
  • Tonight we’ll have our last dinner all together and reminisce over the great tour of this fantastic country we just had.
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Day 14Sun May 26
Tehran, End of Tour
  • It’s time to bid farewell unless you’re planning to stay on in Iran in which case let us know and we can help suggest other activities to do or help you organise your onward travel.
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