kami

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Top 5 things to do in Tehran (and my impressions of the city)

194 Flares Twitter 118 Facebook 0 Google+ 12 Pin It Share 0 StumbleUpon 64 194 Flares ×

I went to Iran totally unprepared. Since I didn’t know if I will be let in to the country I didn’t really want to read too much about the place and to get my hopes too high and then maybe be devastated I had to go back home. But after a really smooth visa process at the airport I officially set my foot in Iran. And then it hit my hard I really am there, and I have no clue about the place! With a minor panic attack I’ve spent way too much time at the airport, trying to quickly set my mind into the new place mode. Finally, with millions of rials in my wallet I got a taxi that took me to the city. And so when I was crossing the desert, getting closer and closer to the capital, I was quickly browsing through my guide book, trying to figure out what are some must things to do in Tehran, those I cannot miss in the 1.5 day I have there. The more I read, the more I knew it will be a tough introduction to Iran…

Tehran street scene

I heard that Tehran can’t be called a beautiful city. But I kind of felt I will like it there, after all I usually enjoy places that are not the prettiest (just look how crazy I am about Yerevan or how much I loved Amman). But in this case I was really too optimistic. My hotel was located more or less in the middle of the city hence I was expecting to see some kind of the center in the neighborhood. Well, as it turned out there is no such thing as downtown in Tehran. With the population over 8 millions the city is spread on the huge area where south part of the city is considered dodgy and it gets better and better the further you go north. And then there’s the mysterious northern Tehran with its cosmopolitan vibe, fancy restaurants and liberal inhabitants, at least behind the gates of their expensive houses (remember the whole buzz about the rich kids of Tehran? That’s exactly how this part of the city is!).

Tehran street scene

Most tourists’ first encounter with Iran will be Tehran. And well, the city doesn’t give the best impression of the country, unfortunately. It’s crazy busy and getting from one side of the street to another is a huge challenge. Even if there’s a crossing you need to run between cars as they don’t even intend to slow down to let you through (forget about completely stopping). And the typical street in Tehran has at least 4 lanes one way… Every time I had to cross the street I was counting to 3, breathing deeply to calm down and run hoping I will make it – and it didn’t get any better with the number of attempts I did.

Tehran street

Then Tehran is really exhausting. Even if it’s located on a pretty high altitude and some spectacular mountains are right there, for the asking, the air you breath is really terrible. Being outside makes you super tired, for no reason and spending much time walking around the city is a huge challenge (for the first time ever I really don’t recommend that). Fortunately there’s a really good and cheap metro system which, in the city with that many cars, traffic and pollution, is a real life saver! As for the mountains: every time I could see a glimpse of it through the smoggy air I was really surprised they are there! There are days when you can see them really well but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky to experience that view.

Tehran mountains

And then Tehran is just dull. The city is overwhelming, especially for the first moments in Iran, and many of the streets look very similar. There’s nothing really spectacular about the place, the walk around will take you through the rows of small shops and houses with an official building or a mosque here and there. Of course I covered just a small part of Tehran but everywhere I went I got this impression.

Tehran street

So anyway, what are the most important things to do in Tehran?

The former US embassy known also as Den of Espionage

The murals surrounding the grounds of the embassy – especially the skeleton of the Statue of Liberty – are probably the most known image of Tehran. It feels just weird to see such an open antipathy to another state but the history of Iranian-American relations is a really tough one and eventually resulted with 52 US diplomats being hostage for 444 days (04.11.1979-20.01.1981). You can visit the former embassy on a few very rare occasions (but it is possible, Yomadic and Becki from Borders of Adventure did it) and unfortunately I wasn’t there at the right time… But you can always take a look at the murals, just be careful with taking pictures. I didn’t have any problems but I heard sometimes it happens and even some cameras got broken…
(metro station: Taleghani)

Things to do in Tehran - US embassy

Things to do in Tehran - US embassy

Azadi Tower

Second most known attraction in Tehran, after Den of Espionage. It takes a while to get there by metro (and is confusing with the station names, don’t go to Azadi but to Meydan-e Azadi), then some crazy streets to cross but it’s worth the effort. The structure itself shows a great mix of modern architecture of 1960s (I’m a fan of this, to be honest) and a Persian influence. I didn’t go inside and up as I figured it’s not worth the money but still really enjoyed the place and the surrounding oasis of green. Also that was one of the places from where I could see mountains.
(metro station: Meydan-e Azadi, entrance 150.000 rials)

things to do in Tehran - Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower Tehran

Golestan Palace

The complex of several impressive buildings set around a neat garden are definitely worth a visit if Tehran is your first stop in Iran and not worth bothering with if it’s the last one. The palaces have some incredible tiles and patterns on the outside and those two I visited inside were kind of jaw-dropping too. Golestan Palace is a perfect preview to what the rest of Iran will be about: amazing architecture with some wonderful patterns. The admission is pretty confusing: the entrance to the garden itself is 150.000 rials and then every single palace is another 50.000 – altogether you can spend 600.000 rials there which is definitely not worth it! I only went to see interior of two buildings and it was perfect. The good thing is: the tickets to the palaces all look the same so even if at the ticket counter you need to say which one you want to see you can change your mind afterwards
(metro station: Panzdah-e Khordad)

things to do in Tehran - Golestan Palace

things to do in Tehran - Golestan Palace

things to do in Tehran - Golestan Palace

Tehran Bazaar

Just few steps away from Golestan Palace the Bazaar is a quintessence of Iran. The maze of alleys, hustle and bustle of customers and sellers and this exotic, fairy-tale vibe. You can get just about everything here but my absolute favorites were spices and tea, I brought pretty much of these back home with me!
(metro station: Panzdah-e Khirdad)

things to do in Tehran - Bazaar

things to do in Tehran - Bazaar

Parks

In the city so busy and with such a bad air like Tehran green oasis are like a bliss. There are numerous parks here and there, strewn around the city and it was always such a pleasure to visit them. Not only it’s a great place to relax after the exhausting sightseeing but also the best way to observe how Iranians like to spend their free time. The parks are full of the whole families having a picnic together (if you get lucky you might be invited to join them) or young couples on secret dates.
Some parks I’ve visited: Park-e Shahr (metro station: Hassanabad or Immam Khomeini), Park-e Honar Mandan (metro station: Taleqani)

Tehran park

So Tehran may not be the most attractive city you can think of but it is still worth stopping by, even if just for a day or two. It is nothing like the rest of Iran, in almost every possible way. I just wish it was less exhausting and more tourist friendly as then I’m sure I’d have enjoyed it so much more. Otherwise it was just an ok place and left me with no desire to come back. Actually one of the best things to do in Tehran is getting a bus ticket and set off to explore incredible Iran!

Golestan Palace Tehran

Would you like to visit Tehran? What was the most exhausting place you’ve been to?


LIKED IT? PIN THIS POST!

things to do in tehran pin (1)       things to do in tehran pin (2)


If you think of visiting Iran or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!

love, kami 2

If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 18.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss any news from me sign up to my monthly newsletter!

194 Flares Twitter 118 Facebook 0 Google+ 12 Pin It Share 0 StumbleUpon 64 194 Flares ×
11 Cze '15

Related Posts

There are 60 Comments.

  1. I really like your point of view and photos. For sure when I finally visit Iran will come back to your tips.
    Magdalena latest post…Kiszyniów. Najbardziej zielona stolica Europy.My Profile

  2. Oooo ja Cię, jestem fascynatką mozaik. Te są wyśmienite. Idealnie oddają moje wyobrażenie o wschodzie…

    Azadi Tower, niesamowita budowla!
    Dolnośląski Podróżnik latest post…Instagram w majuMy Profile

    • kami
      23:11 19/06/2015

      akurat te mozaiki były jedne ze słabszych w Iranie :) zachwycona byś była jakie tam perełki na każdym kroku można znaleźć!

  3. The mosaics of Golestan Palace are simply incredible!
    Ibazela | Love Traveling latest post…Suomenlinna, the Sea FortressMy Profile

  4. Four lanes?? At least? Luśka would’ve hated it for sure ;) But the Teheran Baazar seems to be a paradise!
    Aleksandra latest post…Z Luśką w krainie łosi – mały blogMy Profile

    • kami
      23:12 19/06/2015

      I can imagine, it was insane! ;) All the bazaars in Iran were pretty amazing, you’d love them for sure!

  5. Teheran zawsze był kulturalną perełką Iranu. Szkoda tego co się wydarzyło w Iranie 30 lat temu – dziś miasto (jak i cały Iran) mógłby być naprawdę prężnym kosmopolitycznym ośrodkiem i kulturalną stolicą Bliskiego Wschodu.
    obserwatore latest post…Alabastrowy księżyc. VolterraMy Profile

    • kami
      23:13 19/06/2015

      a no niestety, ale teraz trzeba mieć nadzieję, że krok po kroczku wróci Iran na światowe salony…

  6. Martyna
    12:03 12/06/2015

    Great article, beautiful pictures. Now I know where I’ll spend my future holidays… Cheers! :)

  7. My experience of the city was rough due to the air pollution, but overall I found it quite fascinating, especially when yoiu talk to people about politics and society. I know from them that the only time when Tehran is so nice and peaceful is the Persian New Year when everybody leaves the city! Worth coming back to check it out!
    Marcin Wesołowski latest post…Wjazd do Izraela z wizą irańską. Historie graniczneMy Profile

    • kami
      23:14 19/06/2015

      definitely something to consider! I wish I had more time in Tehran to get to know it better as there must be something fascinating, I just didn’t discover it!

  8. Sebastien D
    22:07 12/06/2015

    No Darband!

    • kami
      23:15 19/06/2015

      sadly didn’t have enough time! Guess I need to go back!

  9. I probably shouldn’t make this comparision, but it does look a bit like Tel Aviv ;)

  10. I am currently dealing with high altitude in China and it is the worst feeling when you cannot breathe. Even right now, I would love a bottle of water but I am not going to climb back up four flights of stairs just to get one. It is such a weird feeling to be so exhausted from doing nothing other than walking for a few minutes.

    Your pictures are gorgeous though and hopefully one day I will see Tehran for myself!
    jennifer latest post…Ganzi, Tibet: A Nice Place to Visit, but I Don’t Want to Live Here.My Profile

    • kami
      23:21 19/06/2015

      ah, it’s the worst! and it’s funny how our body behaves then… hopefully by now you’re feeling better in China and got used to the tough situation!

  11. I have impression that now everyone goes to Iran because it is in fashion, and then they exaggerate their delight to make the trip more adventorous..
    Natalia zlotaproporcja.pl latest post…Industriada 2015 – święto śląskich zabytków technikiMy Profile

    • kami
      23:22 19/06/2015

      I have a very similar impression! And for my defense: I was planning a trip to Iran for past few years and even had tickets before but had to cancel the trip… but now everyone seems to go there just because it’s cool

  12. Fabulous street art and even more fabulous architecture. I wouldn’t have known what to expect so thank you for that insight
    Fiona @ London-Unattached latest post…Father’s Day – a RetrospectiveMy Profile

    • kami
      15:16 23/06/2015

      you’re very welcome :) Iran is one of these places we usually don’t know and don’t hear much about :)

  13. i would love to visit Iran, but I think I might leave Tehran off the list. Thanks for the honest insight!
    Megsy latest post…Moroccan Hammam – Getting naked with strangers in Eranouk Hammam, EssaouiraMy Profile

    • kami
      15:17 23/06/2015

      yeah, from all the places I’ve seen there it was the last one on my list. Still it was interesting to see it…

  14. The Golestan Palace is beautiful and your photos make Tehran look interesting but you say you arrived with no plans for your short stay, what drew you to travelling there in the first instance?
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers latest post…Eikan-do Temple in KyotoMy Profile

    • kami
      10:14 27/06/2015

      I had this uncertain visa situation and until the very last moment at the airport I didn’t know if they will let me in or not. That’s why I didn’t plan anything as I didn’t want to have my hopes to high and then be disappointed. Iran has been my dream destination for years and I finally made it there

  15. Iran is actually crawling to the top of my bucket list. Thanks for this post, very good information!
    Claudia latest post…Eleven persons I have met during a guided tour and you would not want in yours – warning, some may well be me!My Profile

    • kami
      10:15 27/06/2015

      you definitely should visit it, it’s an amazing country!

  16. I have the same question as Toni. Was it like a visa run from somewhere else? I dont think i will ever go to iran actually. Have never thought about it.

    • kami
      10:16 27/06/2015

      I had a very uncertain visa situation and didn’t know if I will be let in or not hence didn’t want to make any plans. Iran has been my dream destination for years and it is pretty amazing so you should consider a trip there, you won’t be disappointed for sure!

  17. Golestan Palace is just the most stunning building I have seen in a long time. Thanks for putting it in my radar!
    Inma latest post…Travel Bloggers Pick The Coolest Music Festivals in EuropeMy Profile

    • kami
      10:17 27/06/2015

      It was actually pretty average in Iranian standards so you should imagine what other places look like :) I will be soon posting more about them! :)

  18. Great post Kami. I can’t wait to go to Iran so I’m really enjoying reading all your posts about it.
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family latest post…10 Tough Things About Travelling in Europe with Kids (And How to Make It Easier)My Profile

    • kami
      10:18 27/06/2015

      Thanks! There’re still so many more posts to come! :) you’ll love Iran for sure!

  19. Mhmmm nope, I don’t think I’d want to go, especially if you say it’s dull. Plus I would feel super self-conscious with my American accent :(
    Valeria latest post…Central Park: a haven of peace in bustling ManhattanMy Profile

    • kami
      10:19 27/06/2015

      Only Tehran was dull, the rest is pretty amazing! And hate towards American is just another misconception about Iran, people would love you there. just like everywhere we shouldn’t confuse politics with what normal people think.

  20. Tehran is somewhere I would want to see for myself, but it does sound a bit like a sprawling mess! I’m sure having a local guide would make a big difference. Great photos of the Azadi tower Kami!

    • kami
      10:21 27/06/2015

      Thanks! Tehran is a mess but if you give it some time apparently it turns out to be amazing, unfortunately I didn’t have that time. Couchsurfing is really popular in Iran so finding someone to show you around is not a big problem. I hope you will get there soon Peter!

  21. I think I read this article when you first published it, and forgot to comment…

    My comment:

    KAMI! TEHRAN IS NOT DULL :)

    (but, I love that you visited there, you’re such an adventurer!)
    Nate latest post…Is Iran The Most Important Travel Destination in Our Lifetime?My Profile

  22. Hey Kami, I’m planning to head to Iran and I really enjoyed all your posts about this amazing country. I was wondering if you could share with me a little about your budget – how much you spent for two weeks in Iran? It’ll be of great help to me. Thanks in advance, Kami! :)
    Dina latest post…24 Awesome Experiences to Have in Chiang MaiMy Profile

    • kami
      15:19 14/09/2015

      I’m glad you enjoy posts and I’m sure you will love Iran! I think I wrote somewhere about the costs but anyway: I had 550$ and 50€ with me (you know you need to carry the whole money with you as you cannot use ATMs in Iran) and spent only 350$ from this, and I didn’t really save money. That was for 10 days of travelling there. Soon I’m planning to write a practical post about Iran, hopefully you will find it useful too!

  23. I’m planning to head to Iran next year. You are not selling Tehran but I imagine the rest of the country is super
    Ross latest post…What to do on Valentia Island, IrelandMy Profile

    • kami
      09:29 26/09/2015

      I hope you will go! Iran really is amazing and Tehran also has its moments, just the rest of the country is so much better!!

  24. Hami
    08:35 13/11/2015

    I suggest you to visit Alisadr cave which is in Hamedan a city only 330 km far from tehran , that cave is the world’s largest water cave .
    to find more about it just google it.؛)

    • kami
      19:46 15/11/2015

      oh wow, it looks incredible! Thank you for this recommendation, if I make it back to Iran I will visit the cave for sure!

  25. Ashkan
    16:12 10/12/2015

    Hello
    dear Ms.Kami
    I thank you for useful and beautiful website.
    please if you want to come back to Iran, visit the cities of Mashhad and Tabriz.
    The two cities are very beautiful.
    Warm regards
    Ashkan

    • kami
      09:28 13/12/2015

      Thank you for your recommendations Ashkan. I definitely would love to return to Iran and see more of the country! Best regards!

  26. Masoud
    21:12 12/12/2015

    Tehran is actually pretty fascinating. Yes, it is extremely spread out and very busy at all times, but the clash of different socioeconomic classes, neighborhoods, etc truly create an amazing experience. However, you do need someone that will show you all around because it is so big, and like you said without a downtown, that you can’t go to just the well known places expecting to enjoy all that the city has to offer. I was born in Tehran but have spent majority of my life stateside but I am taking a friend of mine to Tehran for New Year’s and I am delighted to be her tour guide and show her the city from my eyes. Keep in mind, my family is from the very posh Northern Tehran areas but I still appreciate the various parts of the city.

    • kami
      10:40 13/12/2015

      Thank you for your interesting comment Masoud! I found Tehran really fascinating and I wish I had visited it at the better time (for myself) or had more days to explore, then I’d have found a true beauty in it. I still enjoyed it, I just found other places in Iran better :) Still I hope to come back there one day and fully appreciate the capital! Visiting the city with a local person must be amazing, your friend is a lucky person :) Have fun!

  27. stella
    08:18 16/06/2016

    dear kami Im an Iranian MA student OF English literature, living in Tehran .please contact me if you visit again . it may be ruff on the outside but i could help with a few locations that might change your mind. Im full aware of the many difficulties we have in Teheran. especially the unfriendly part. BUT their are a few sights that u forgot , a few places where their is nothing but the beautiful mountains and endless fields.

    • kami
      22:18 21/06/2016

      Thank you Stella for your kind offer! I’m sure Teheran has a lot to offer and I haven’t even scratched the surface but I’d love to return and discover the city better. Hopefully one day!

  28. Alejandra
    08:21 16/07/2016

    Hi Kami, great post, very interesting and usefull!
    I am flying to Teheran next week and was wondering if I need to do something prior flying there in order to get the Visa upon arrival. Getting a pre approval or anything like they ask you for in other countries. Thanks for your help.
    Ale

    • kami
      21:40 21/07/2016

      Hi Alejandra! You may need an authorisation code (but it takes a while to get one) but don’t worry if you don’t have it, they will check you at the border and the whole process will just take longer that with the code. Other than that you should be fine. Enjoy Iran!

  29. Rahman
    07:45 07/08/2016

    Kami, your exposure to Iran without any preparation is very nicely explained. I’m happy you’ve liked it.
    It’s giving me good feelings that Tehran’s tourist attractions aren’t so hard to find and locate for a newcomer. You must have been well-equipped by some guidebook as well.
    I wonder what’s the most enjoyable experience you’ve had in Tehran. Can you mention it please? I’ll be thankful to know it.

    • kami
      23:10 23/08/2016

      Thank you for the comment! I indeed enjoyed Tehran even if it was a little bit overwhelming at times. And a guide book was definitely a good help! I can’t name one attraction that was the best for me, it was a mix of all the places that made me like Tehran. The city was a great introduction to Iran!

  1. Pingback: Things to do in Iran - Iran Embassy

Leave a Reply

*

CommentLuv badge

Let’s become friends!

Join me on Facebook for even more travel updated!