Tehran, Iran - City View
Looking out over Tehran (Photo credit: Frank Furness)

Tehran Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • The capital city of Iran, with a population of 12.2 million.
  • The largest city in the country and the Middle East, Tehran is a thriving metropolis burrowed between the Alborz Mountains and the desert.
  • Tehran is the 32nd capital city of Iran, historically known as Ray.
  • Nickname: The city of 72 Nations

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Iranian Rial (IRR).
  • Spoken languages: Farsi and Turkish.
  • Best time to visit: from April to September for the best climate. The hottest month of the year is July, with temperatures reaching 26ºC (79ºF) although nights are generally cool.
  • Arriving via airport: Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) is connected to the city centre with a shuttle bus with single fares at Rls20,000 while taxis charge upwards of Rls150,000.
  • Visa restrictions apply for passengers found to be affiliated with Israel and its bordering lands.

WHERE TO STAY

Zafaraniyeh is by far the most elegant and classiest neighbourhood in the city, with a generous mix of local and foreign boutiques, cafés and bars. Vali-asr Street is the longest street in the Middle East and Tehran’s main thoroughfare, a hub of commercial and retail activity. Amir Kabir Street has an array of budget hotels, guesthouses and youth hostels.

GETTING AROUND

  • Tehran’s public transportation system consists of city buses, BRT buses, trams and metro rail. The system can be crowded and confusing, but cheaper than hiring a taxi. Tickets are priced according to zone and trip, with a single ride costing Rls3,000 and a return Rls4,500.
  • Taxis are supposed to run on meter but will often if not always require negotiating on fare. Always settle on final fare for the run before boarding; dial 1812 to pre-book.
  • Women may avail of the services of Women’s Taxi Company, who only pick up women passengers; dial 1821 to pre-book.

TEHRAN NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is never (for Muslim citizens), while visitors are allowed alcoholic consumption in private. Last call is 1 AM.
  • Tehran’s nightlife consists primarily of the café and restaurant scene and private parties.
  • Darband hosts a collection of open-air cafés and chic restaurants.
  • Gandi is favoured by the student and artist crowd for its bookshop-cafés.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • National Jewels Treasury houses the Iranian Crown Jewels, a dazzling collection that reflects the history of one of the world’s longest living civilisations.
  • Golestan Palace is the oldest historic monument in the city, belonging to the royal Qajar citadel. The complex is made up of 17 palaces, museums and arcades.
  • National Museum of Iran is a proud collection of the nation’s history with a focus on archaeological relics as well as pottery, ceramics, textiles and calligraphy.
  • Azadi Tower is the symbol of Tehran combining Sassanid and Islamic architecture. Built with 8 thousand blocks of stone, it guards the west entrance to the city.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Tehran Bazaar is the perfect place to get lost, with stalls selling everything from produce to books, jewelry, clothes and shoes.
  • Discover Tajrish Square one of the focal points of the city, ripe with shops, cafés and restaurants including the popular Tandis Centre.
  • Gandhi Shopping Centre is one of the best places in town to find coffee shops.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • The Alborz Mountain range is considered a prime skiing destination.
  • Doogh is the quintessential Persian drink, a refreshing blend of yoghurt, water and spices.
  • Strict regulations are imposed on homosexuality, which should be kept private as by Islamic law – it is punishable by the death sentence.
  • All women (including foreigners) should don a headscarf and take care not to bare their arms and legs down to the ankles.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: Khordad Avenue and Valiasr Street for local food stalls selling the ubiquitous falafel.
  • Dangerous areas: Iran is generally safe for foreign (especially Western) tourists. No matter what, check for travel advisories for Iran before arriving – the political and social situation can be very unstable.

RECOMMENDED TEHRAN GUIDE BOOKS

It is difficult to find good guidebooks on Tehran (and Iran in general). Much of the books out there have outdated or incomplete information. This is the best one we could find:

Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days


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Tehran Travel Guide was last modified: September 26th, 2016 by Nick
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