Iran

I really don’t know why I’ve decided to visit Shiraz

Pink Mosque Shiraz
(Last Updated On: 04/12/2018)

I’m a very well organized person, especially when it comes to travels. I always do a major research before visiting any place, print out maps, find out the attractions etc. But my trip to Iran was a completely different one. Due to my uncertain visa situation and the fact that until last moment I didn’t really know if I’ll be let in to the country or not I haven’t planned a single thing, I didn’t even do my usual amount of reading and I went completely unprepared. With no plan or confirmed accommodation I found myself leaving Tehran for a crazy long bus ride to the south of the country. 16 hours and one adventure with the famous Iranian hospitality later I was approaching my final destination. Looking outside of the window there was just one thought in my head: why did I decide to visit Shiraz in the first place?

Pink Mosque Shiraz


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Arriving to Shiraz

My first impressions from Shiraz weren’t the best. The city was crazy busy, dusty and the hotel were I was supposed to stay sold out my room (the whole reservation was arranged over the phone via hotel in Tehran and I was just supposed to show up before noon, which I did, back then it was still basically impossible to book hotels in Iran online). Fortunately they quickly fixed me with another, even better place so after leaving my things I was ready to discover the city. All I knew about it at that point were bazaars, a tomb of the great Iranian poet – Hafez, the citadel and the Pink Mosque. As it turned out – that’s exactly what I needed to focus on in Shiraz.

Finally planning a trip to Iran is so much easier! I remember how much I’ve struggled not being able to plan anything ahead. Fortunately it has changed!

Happy Iran travels!

The citadele of Shiraz

A walk along the main street took me from my hotel to the citadel. Arg of Karim Khan, as that’s how the place is called, was built in 18th century and served as a king’s residence. Some sources say that the citadel has a lot of similarities with Spanish Alhambra (can’t say as I haven’t been to the second one). In later years it was transformed into the prison and that’s when the building lost most of its greatness. These days it’s possible to visit the citadel, however I skipped it. The problem with foreign tourists in Iran is pretty high prices of tickets to just about everything, usually 2.5 or 4€ – when you sum it up at the end of the day it comes to a pretty high amount. I quickly did my judgment and figured there’ll be better attractions to spend my money in Shiraz on. But Arg of Karim Khan looks pretty impressive from the outside, especially the leaning tower catches the attention. Next door from the citadele the best ice cream in Shiraz can be found so after buying these I just sat in the shadow and observed the world passing by, families having picnics on the lawn in front of the citadel and tourists taking silly pictures with the glorious scenery.

Shiraz bazaar

Full with ice cream I was ready to hit the famous bazaars. I didn’t even want to buy anything, I just wanted to experience this part of Iranian life and culture. And I wasn’t disappointed here, even if at first it was hard to see the real beauty of the place. Vakil Bazaar, the most popular one, was full of tour groups (that was one of 3 times when I met Polish people in Iran) and I had the impression it’s there mostly for foreigners who could buy carpets and other souvenirs there. But as soon as I started getting deeper and deeper into the bazaars the atmosphere and the clientele have changed and I was the only non-Iranian around. The stalls offered just about everything: from spices to chadors and kitchen equipment and it was really fascinating to observe this aspect of life in Iran.

The Pink Mosque – the highlight of Shiraz

From the bazaars some random streets and wrong turns took me to probably the biggest attraction of Shiraz – Nasir ol Molk Mosque known also as the Pink Mosque. From the outside it looks like nothing special, yet another gate with a pretty Persian tiles. The yard is already better, with a pond in the middle and so many various shapes and patterns that keep you occupied for good few minutes. But the best is still to happen. A very random door you would never pay attention took takes you to a completely different world – the mosque itself. It’s one of those places when you have to pinch yourself to believe this beauty really exists. And I was there at the wrong time of the day as apparently the biggest magic happens there in the morning when the light plays a big show. But even in the afternoon it was pretty spectacular and I spent maybe an hour just sitting on the floor and looking around, trying to remember every single detail and to enjoy it to the fullest! There were moments when I was inside all by myself and it was a pure bliss.

Surprisingly interesting Hafez’ Tomb

On my second day in Shiraz, after visiting Persepolis, I still had the whole afternoon to myself and decided to go to Hafez’ tomb. At first it wasn’t in my plan as I figured I know nothing about the grand poet and his work. But as it turned out I’d have missed so much if I didn’t go there! Not only the whole park with the tomb is a lovely place, the atmosphere there is kind of spiritual. People are sitting around, reading or reciting Hafez’ poetry, and his tomb stands proudly in the middle. Even if I understood nothing from what was said I could feel it is a special place for every Iranian and it’s a big deal for them to visit. Again, I spent much more time than I expected, just enjoying the place and its magical vibe. And now I know that when you visit Shiraz Hafez’ tomb is a must!

Is it worth to visit Shiraz?

So yes, Shiraz might not be the greatest of Iranian destinations and it’s usually treated just as a getaway to nearby Persepolis but for me it turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable place. After not really feeling Tehran I found Shiraz to be a perfect city to get into the Iranian pace and to observe how life goes by there (it didn’t take much to step out of the tourist path). And while I found Persepolis highly overrated Shiraz made up for that and saved my trip down south, making it worth all the hassle. Even if until last moment I didn’t really know why I’ve decided to visit Shiraz I’m glad I did and you should go there as well. Just don’t expect anything mind blowing!

Shiraz bazaar


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO IRAN

With over 15 years of independent travelling I’ve learnt which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – Finally it’s possible to book accommodation in Iran online (that’s what I’ve strugled with the most during my trip). You can do that at 1stQuest website. Click here to see the hotels and book the place for yourself!

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). In Iran you need to get the insurance from the local agency and you have to have one for the visa anyway. Fortunately you can do it online! Click here to check the options and book your insurance for the trip to Iran!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebooks for Iran here: Bradt / Lonely Planet

Day tours in Iran – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that save you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Iran


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

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


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love, kami 2

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54 Comments

  • Reply
    Marcin Wesołowski
    10/08/2015 at 17:51

    After all it’s not that bad out there! Now when I look back to those days in there, I kind of like it!

  • Reply
    Łukasz Szoszkiewicz
    10/08/2015 at 18:50

    Różowy Meczet rozpoznaję :) Sziraz moim zdaniem warto, no bo blisko jest Persepolis, ale już ten meczet czy grób Hafeza to nic wielkiego. Zdecydowanie bardziej przypadł mi do gustu Jazd z tych standardowych miejsc :)

  • Reply
    Natalia Malec
    10/08/2015 at 19:49

    wygląda całkiem fajnie,a na tych bazarach coś czuje bym się nieźle obkupiła!

  • Reply
    Nate
    10/08/2015 at 22:52

    All right, that does it, next time you’re coming with me!

    Shiraz is my favourite city in Iran, there is an absolutely endless amount to see, do, eat, and experience. But I do agree – those new entry fees add up quickly. In 2012, entrance was about 20 Euro cents – for every “attraction” including the “highly overrated” Persepolis ;)

    I still think you’re an adventurer, and I’m so glad you visited Iran to experience it for yourself.

    • Reply
      kami
      13/08/2015 at 22:00

      What can I say? I was really disappointed with Persepolis and really positively surprised with Shiraz. And I really felt it has much more potential than I’ve discovered! Maybe it was easier for you as a men to get into certain places and situation, I felt like the Iranians don’t really understand the whole concept of “solo female traveler” ;) And well, thank you :)

  • Reply
    Magda Biskup
    11/08/2015 at 05:21

    Uwielbiam takie bliskowschodnie klimaty

  • Reply
    Magdalena
    11/08/2015 at 15:13

    And seriuosly you didn’t buy anything? -) I would love to go to Shiraz, az I am archaeologist Persepolis is on my short list in Iran!

    • Reply
      kami
      13/08/2015 at 22:01

      seriously :) but I blame my carry on only for that ;) Persepolis is interesting, I just expected something much grander!

  • Reply
    Ewa
    11/08/2015 at 17:40

    That bazaars remind me of Istanbul… But what I really wanted to point out that it looks like you were completely alone in the Pink mosque, is that right or you just are a master of taking pictures without people? ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      13/08/2015 at 22:02

      nah, the one in Istanbul was way too touristy!! I am a master of taking pictures without people ;) but there were moments when I was there on my own, that was a pure magic!

  • Reply
    6kroków
    12/08/2015 at 08:40

    This place looks amazing! I hope I could visit Shiraz in the future..

    • Reply
      kami
      13/08/2015 at 22:03

      fingers crossed!

  • Reply
    Nick
    12/08/2015 at 15:41

    I’ve been dying to go to Iran for a long time. My father’s business is antique carpets, so I grew up hearing stories about the place from his Persian colleagues. Not being able to travel solo there is maybe my biggest complaint with my American citizenship (other than all the government spying, but that’s another can of worms altogether).

    Thanks for sharing your stories from Shiraz – it looks beautiful and alluring in that somewhat nondescript way that mid-size/secondary cities of a nation can be!

    • Reply
      kami
      13/08/2015 at 22:04

      thank you Nick! I really hope the situation will change soon and you will be able to travel there independently! As that’s where the whole fun in Iran is, you never know what kind of adventures might happen. The politic situation between Iran and US is improving so hopefully this will affect travelers too!

    • Reply
      Sanaz
      05/03/2019 at 08:43

      Hi there i’m Sanaz from Tabriz ( persian rug and carpet center) .I’d like to invite you to my city. I wish you could come .

  • Reply
    Ania Szymiec
    13/08/2015 at 21:12

    Świetny tekst! Naprawdę można wczuć się w ten klimat! ;)

  • Reply
    Kirdan
    14/08/2015 at 06:27

    Na takie klimaty ostatni raz natknąłem się chyba w Syrii przed wojną. :(

    • Reply
      kami
      03/09/2015 at 21:59

      Na Bliskim Wschodzie jeszcze trochę takich miejsc się ostało. Ale tej Syrii tak bardzo szkoda!

  • Reply
    Marta
    14/08/2015 at 15:53

    Bazaar is a place where everyone should go to feel the reality of specific country, but I don’t really like this experience, because of sellers’ impudence. The city looks very interesting.

    • Reply
      kami
      03/09/2015 at 22:00

      I’m like you, don’t really like visiting bazaars for the same reason. But those in Iran were fine, no one really bothered me and everything around was just so amazing!

  • Reply
    sekulada.com
    14/08/2015 at 16:11

    Oh! The architecture you present here looks really amazing! Leaves me without breath, I didn’t even imagine that there would be such a beautiful place like this!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/09/2015 at 22:02

      and this is still not the most beautiful place I’ve visited in Iran! I think you’d really like it there!

  • Reply
    Ollie
    14/08/2015 at 16:51

    Nigdy się nie nadziwię tej niesamowitej architekturze i misternym zdobieniom. Pięknie i jak kolorowo.

    • Reply
      kami
      03/09/2015 at 22:02

      mam dokładnie tak samo! chociaż po kilku dniach tam już mi się opatrzyło, ale teraz, jak emocje opadły, zachwycam sie od nowa!

  • Reply
    Artur
    15/08/2015 at 00:14

    Beautiful photos! I am charmed wall decorations. Geometric, intricate patterns are beautiful and very different from the European figurative art. Are such views are frequent there? Is it only a single historic streets?

    • Reply
      kami
      03/09/2015 at 22:04

      Thank you! And these views are very common, Iran is full of such incredible architecture!

  • Reply
    Lauren Marinigh
    17/08/2015 at 17:17

    I want to go here so bad! Looks amazing :)

  • Reply
    Kasia & Victor Sanchez
    15/09/2015 at 07:14

    Thank you for a very interesting insight! Iran is still ahead of us with no visas at the moment in our hands (we’ll try to get them in Turkey), but after having read books about Iran (I recommend specially Czwarty pożar Teheranu by Marek Kęskrawiec and Miasto kłamstw by Ramita Navai) we’re really looking forward to it. You’ve just confirmed our idea about Hafez’s grave. It’s a must! :)

    • Reply
      kami
      15/09/2015 at 22:22

      I’m sure you will enjoy Iran, it’s a great country! And yes, I read both books, such a good reads :)

      • Reply
        Kasia & Victor Sanchez
        17/09/2015 at 14:44

        We just can’t wait! :) But first we have to get visas in Turkey. Hope everything goes smoothly. BTW – I find you’re blog really interesting. And it’s not just an empty word. Trust me! All the best, Kasia.

        • Reply
          kami
          22/09/2015 at 14:32

          Thank you for your kind words Kasia!! Good luck with visas! It can be nerve wrecking but definitely is worth all the hassle!

  • Reply
    Józef
    15/09/2015 at 10:10

    One of the most interesting countries in the world. Putting aside politics and religion – it’s simply culutrally unique.

    • Reply
      kami
      15/09/2015 at 22:23

      exactly! too bad not many people tend to see it!

      • Reply
        Józef
        19/10/2015 at 12:38

        I’m very interested in zoroastrian community in Iran, or – what’s left of it. They are, i suppouse, guardians of original Iranian (Persian} identity. And cuisine – this is one of the oldes countriest in the world – so i’ts cuisine, as i suppouse should be great.

        • Reply
          kami
          15/11/2015 at 10:52

          I’m a vegetarian so didn’t have many choices in Iran but what I ate was still very good!

  • Reply
    Nima
    30/09/2015 at 22:07

    Hi,
    I am from Shiraz, I hope you had a great visit, but if these are all you have seen I think you missed places. There are many places like: Eram garden and palace, Afif-Abad garden and palace, Shah-e-Cheragh Mausoleum, Tomb of Saadi, Khajoo , Shapoori Palace, Naranjestane ghavam… I am not sure if you saw enough, but anyways it’s too late now!

    • Reply
      kami
      02/10/2015 at 12:02

      Thank you for your comment! I’m sure I’ve missed lots of places! After all I didn’t have all that much time (and I really needed to relax) and Yazd is so fascinating and full of history! Thank you for all the recommendations! I hope I will be able to come back one day so all of them will be really useful!

  • Reply
    sana banoo
    25/01/2016 at 10:29

    Dear kami
    I am from shiraz.
    I have never thought that a mosque can be so attractive to a tourist and now iam very happy.It seems you must have had the same feeling in “Shah-e-Cheragh Mausoleum”
    Any way i am very happy that you chose my city for your visit and you have had enjoyable times there.

    • Reply
      kami
      28/01/2016 at 22:58

      Hi Sana,
      thank you for your nice comment! Unfortunately I didn’t go to the Mausoleum, it was closed for some reason. But I really enjoyed visiting Shiraz anyway, such a lovely city it was! I’m really glad I went! All the best to you!

  • Reply
    António
    23/05/2017 at 19:23

    Thank you very much for sharing!

    • Reply
      kami
      27/05/2017 at 09:19

      you’re welcome!

  • Reply
    masoud
    25/09/2017 at 16:01

    We were very happy to travel to Shiraz

    • Reply
      kami
      11/10/2017 at 11:51

      I’m glad you liked it there!

  • Reply
    Sara
    01/10/2017 at 14:26

    If u visit shiraz in naraniestan qavam garden u can find the traditional tiles of shiraz “seven color tile”

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 17:41

      that’s one place I’ve missed in Shiraz but really would love to see! I need to go back!

  • Reply
    emile
    26/11/2017 at 00:32

    hi,
    how about Iranian how you describe them I’m from Austria but I don’t know any Iranian i would like to visit there?

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 17:42

      They are super friendly and hospitable! People were the best part of my trip to Iran!

  • Reply
    shirin
    26/11/2017 at 00:34

    i’m happy you visited Iran I wish you had the great time we knew Iran is not very familiar with tourist is just because of our dictator’s government hope you coming again

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 17:42

      I’m sure I will be coming back to Iran, I had such a good time there!

  • Reply
    Emad
    09/04/2018 at 13:15

    Well, I guess you have missed some places of Iran
    The Persepolis,(500BC,destroyed by the Alexander) Choghazabil(more than 5 thousand years, a tomb which were believed by sacrefising animals the God will be pleased)
    The oldest or at least the second old tree in world, located in yazd
    Alisadr cave (the biggest cave which includes water in the world)
    And the whole city of hamedan
    These were only few places that I had in my mind

    • Reply
      Emad
      09/04/2018 at 13:18

      And also Kerman which offers the biggest khsehst-structure in the world built 500 BC

    • Reply
      kami
      12/05/2018 at 11:01

      I was in Persepolis! But as for the rest – yes, I haven’t visited them. Iran is too big and too full of amazing places that it’s impossible to cover it all during one trip. But at least I have reasons to go back there!

  • Reply
    Ela
    23/07/2018 at 13:27

    I believe you were not really satisfied with your travel to Iran, next time, if you happen to come back, instead of booking a hotel, go to hostels or ask for hosts in Iran, and will find things in a really different way.

    • Reply
      kami
      11/08/2018 at 12:54

      No, I really enjoyed my trip to Iran, it was just a rough beginning but overall I really had a great time there! And I did stay with locals, in Esfahan – you are right, it was a completely different experience! I’m actually hoping to go back there soon!

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