kamila

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!

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

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 book anything ahead. Fortunately it has changed with 1stQuest website!

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

Iran practical information

How to get to Iran?

I flew from Tbilisi to Tehran and then back to Berlin, with a stopover in Doha, with Qatar Airways. I booked my ticket some 3 weeks before the departure and it was just 300USD which I think is a really good deal, considering the short notice. Qatar Airways has another advantage – while the majority of flights arrive to Tehran in the middle of the night and the queue to visa on arrival is rather long and time consuming my flight from Doha landed around midday and there were two people in line ahead of me. You can also check and book flights via SkyScanner. I always use it when looking for flights as it has this cool option of choosing “anywhere” destination or “anytime” date.

There is no public transport from Teheran airport to the city, you have to use the taxi. There’s an official price list and how much you pay depends on the car you use. From Tehran bus station you can get just about everywhere in the country. I used mostly VIP buses as they were the most comfortable and still not that expensive.

Where to stay in Iran?

Most important – you need to have at least the first night of your accommodation booked when applying for visa on arrival. Finally it’s possible to book accommodation in Iran online! On 1stQuest website you can choose from over 500 hotels all over Iran! You can book your accommodation in Iran here!

Iran packing list

If you are a woman first and foremost when traveling to Iran you need a scarf to cover your hair and a tunic to wear. They are an absolute must there! You have to wear both from the moment you exit the plane till the second you enter it again. Since the sun is very strong I actually found the scarf not that bad as it protected my head from the heat. Because of the sun I also can’t imagine going to Iran without the sunglasses! I strongly suggest getting the air pollution mask as the traffic and smog in Shiraz are insane there.

Everyone visiting Iran, including me, uses Lonely Planet guide book and it really was useful! I wish I had Farsi Phrasebook too, it would make getting around so much easier! That said I really recommend learning at least numbers before your trip!

Iran is a photography paradise, it’s just too amazing to describe! You would need couple of memory cards and battery sets to be prepared to capture all the beauty around! I always have some extra ones so I know I can take picture whenever I want to. I also travel with powerbank so my mobile phone won’t run out of the power. As for the equipment: recently I’ve switched from DSLR to mirrorless camera, now I have Fujufilm X-T10 and I can’t recommend it enough! Not only it’s very small and light but it also takes wonderful pictures! Now I’m just saving for some better lenses

I never travel without an insurance as you never know what might happen. In countries like Iran, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t even imagine not having an insurance! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!


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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10 Sie '15

There are 43 Comments.

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

  2. 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 :)

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

  4. 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.
    Nate latest post…I’m Sorry, But This is What Bulgaria Really Looks Like in 2015My Profile

    • kami
      22:00 13/08/2015

      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 :)

  5. Uwielbiam takie bliskowschodnie klimaty

  6. 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!
    Magdalena latest post…Warszawa: Śródmieście. Dolina Szwajcarska, czyli park przy czterech ambasadach.My Profile

    • kami
      22:01 13/08/2015

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

  7. 17:40 11/08/2015

    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? ;)
    Ewa latest post…Śniadanie po kenijsku: chai i chapatiMy Profile

    • kami
      22:02 13/08/2015

      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!

  8. 6kroków
    08:40 12/08/2015

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

  9. 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!
    Nick latest post…How I Survive Long Haul Air TravelMy Profile

    • kami
      22:04 13/08/2015

      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!

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

  11. Na takie klimaty ostatni raz natknąłem się chyba w Syrii przed wojną. :(
    Kirdan latest post…Tylko frajerzy płacą za bilety wstępuMy Profile

    • kami
      21:59 03/09/2015

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

  12. 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.
    Marta latest post…Hotel 1231 – Cykl Gościnne Zabytki – PolskaMy Profile

    • kami
      22:00 03/09/2015

      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!

  13. 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!
    sekulada.com latest post…Kolegiata w Tumie – Gniazdo orła białegoMy Profile

    • kami
      22:02 03/09/2015

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

  14. Nigdy się nie nadziwię tej niesamowitej architekturze i misternym zdobieniom. Pięknie i jak kolorowo.
    Ollie latest post…Sipadan – najbardziej niesamowite nurkowanieMy Profile

    • kami
      22:02 03/09/2015

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

  15. Artur
    00:14 15/08/2015

    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?

    • kami
      22:04 03/09/2015

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

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

  17. 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! :)
    Kasia & Victor Sanchez latest post…Po co nam tyle rzeczy? Czyli co zrobiliśmy z rzeczami, których nie zabieramy w podróżMy Profile

    • kami
      22:22 15/09/2015

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

  18. Józef
    10:10 15/09/2015

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

    • kami
      22:23 15/09/2015

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

      • Józef
        12:38 19/10/2015

        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.

        • kami
          10:52 15/11/2015

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

  19. Nima
    22:07 30/09/2015

    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!

    • kami
      12:02 02/10/2015

      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!

  20. sana banoo
    10:29 25/01/2016

    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.

    • kami
      22:58 28/01/2016

      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!

  21. António
    19:23 23/05/2017

    Thank you very much for sharing!

  22. masoud
    16:01 25/09/2017

    We were very happy to travel to Shiraz

  23. Sara
    14:26 01/10/2017

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

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