Planning a solo trip to Tehran, Iran? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital city of Iran, with a population of around 9.3 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.
- 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
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Tehran: Zee Hostel. Exceptionally clean, with great modern facilities and very helpful & friendly staff that will make you feel right at home. The best part is the central location – perfect for exploring the city (walking distance to Valiasr Street).
- Zafaraniyeh is by far the most elegant and classiest neighborhood in the city, with a generous mix of local and foreign boutiques, cafés and bars.
- Valiasr 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’d like to meet people in Iran, try the Bumble app.
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 civilizations.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Great restaurants to try: Gilaneh Restaurant (North Tehran), Shandiz Restaurant (fine dining – best kabobs), Shandiz-e-Golnar Restaurant, Rocco Park, and Iranshahr Restaurant.
- 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 trip duration: 3-4 days