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Concise but comprehensive, this customizable trip provides a good, unhurried look at Iran’s most galvanizing cities, from the capital to Shiraz and on to Persepolis, Yazd, and Esfahan. We begin in Tehran, of which Freya Stark wrote: “I liked it particularly, [it was] neither eastern nor western, but with a character of its own, colorless, but clear.” After discovering its highlights, including some wonderful museums, we jet to Shiraz, known for gardens and poetry. Here we walk the green spaces and vibrant bazaars, pop into tea shops, and get to know mausoleums and the Pink Mosque.
Next we drive via the ruins of Pasargadae to the desert city of Yazd, whose skyline is delightfully dotted with badgirs (slotted wind towers). We browse carpet and embroidery shops, and visit the 12th-century Masjid Jami, a mosque lauded for its minarets and stunning turquoise tile work.
Then it's off to Esfahan, beloved for its concentration of Islamic monuments. H. M. Stanley wrote in the late 1880s that Esfahan’s “gorgeous temples of pleasure, lofty minars and egg-shaped domes ... fulﬁlled my dream of the Orient.” We explore its enormous bazaar and palaces, linger in the Naqsh-e Jahan (site of the exquisite Imam Mosque), and behold Friday Mosque, a bold yet simple building that showcases 1,000 years of Iranian architecture. We soak up day-to-day life along its streets and river before making our way back to Tehran with stops in Abyaneh—one of Iran's oldest villages—and Kashan, home to fine examples of Qajari architecture.
If you have more time and like the idea of small-group travel, consider Treasures of Persia.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Days 1:
late arrival in Tehran
- Day 2:
- Day 3:
morning in Tehran, fly to Shiraz
- Day 4:
excursion to Persepolis and Naksh-e Rustam
- Day 5:
explore Shiraz, evening flight to Esfahan
- Day 6:
drive to Yazd via Pasargade
- Day 7:
Yazd walking tour, drive to Esfahan
- Days 8 & 9:
Esfahan monuments and bazaars
- Day 10:
drive to Tehran via Abyaneh and Kashan
- Day 11: