With opulent mosques and palaces, crumbling ancient ruins, and locals eager to make your acquaintance - you may be surprised by Iran’s hidden treasures.
Iran’s pious Muslim society might seem impenetrable to foreigners, but it is, in fact, a little known gem. Be welcomed into this fascinating place by the curious locals as they show you their land and their customs. Among Iran’s attractions, the long-dead city of Persepolis and the vast palaces of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Discover a slice of paradise in gardens like Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin and get an authentic experience mingling with the locals at the buzzing bazaars.
Iran travel highlights
Go museum-hopping in Tehran
Tehran’s myriad museums include the Sa'd Abad Palace, the Archaeological Museum, and the luxuriant carpet and jewellery museums.
Be mystified by the beauty of Esfahan
It was the jewel in the crown of Persia and the Imam Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace Qeysarieh Portal are no less stunning than the time they were built.
Stroll through the Garden of Paradise in Shiraz
Two Persian poets rest here, beneath the Cyprus trees and the turquoise pond, in a mausoleum of marble stone.
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Iran travel FAQs
All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Egypt and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months without a visa.
For all other nationalities Iran visas can take from 6-8 weeks to be processed. Please allow sufficient time for this.
Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process:
1. An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued.
For your nearest Iranian Embassy please check the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website: www.mfa.gov.ir.
Authorisation code/Visa Approval number and Iran Invite Number all have the same meaning but can be displayed as different names on different forms.
Please note the Iranian Embassy also now require a letter of authorisation to be submitted with your visa application form. Please speak to your agent to arrange this.
Step 1- How to apply for your authorisation code:
A visa authorisation application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete and return this to our sales team.
If you are arriving early or staying on afterwards this needs to be written on your application form. Please note due to government regulations citizens from Britain, Canada, USA, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan can only stay one day before and/or one day after the trip start date.
As you are technically the responsibility of our Intrepid operator for your entire stay, only Intrepid-booked activities/accommodation are able to be nominated as part of this visa application.
If you do not receive this form at the time of booking please enquire with your agent.
Return the visa authorisation form together with a scanned copy of the first page of your passport and your confirmed flight details via email to your booking agent immediately. Please ensure all details are correct before sending. Any errors may result in your visa being denied or delayed. It is vital that you provide us with an email contact at the time of booking.
Our local operator in Iran will submit all visa authorisation code applications to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2 months prior to the travel date. Visa authorisation codes generally take up to 3 weeks depending on your nationality (this process can be much longer for Canadian, British and US citizens). Important note: our local operator can only apply for the authorisation code from 2 months prior to departure to ensure that the visa will be valid.
When approved, your visa authorisation code will be faxed to the Iranian embassy processing your visa (nominated on the authorisation form). Your booking agent will notify you of your authorisation code. Once the code is received please apply for your visa directly with the nominated Iranian embassy (see Step 2 for further instructions).
Step 2 - How to obtain your visa stamp:
Once you have received your emailed authorisation code and letter, immediately apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy. You will need to provide a visa application form (usually you can download it from the embassy website), your passport, the visa fee, photos and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements. You must check this before submitting your application. The cost of an Iran visa is approximately US$110 depending on your nationality. Please check with your nominated embassy for visa costs. We recommend all women provide a photo with their hair covered by a headscarf (not a hat). If you wish to personally collect your visa at the designated embassy you must also arrive wearing a headscarf. In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry your travel insurance policy that covers you whilst in Iran. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but can take longer.
Please check with your nominated Iranian embassy for their opening times and processing times for visas (some embassies will say that it takes up to a month). Please note that Iran embassies and consulates worldwide may only open for 3 or 4 days a week and have very limited opening hours. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. We will do our best to secure your authorisation code, however the final decision rests with the government of Iran, therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
Please check that the embassy issues you with a tourist visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). If you are issued with a business visa, hotels will charge you business traveller rates, which are often far higher than the tourist rates.
While not common, there are occasions where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects a visa application for a variety of reasons (usually unknown to us). Unfortunately we have no control over the success of your application and have little recourse if it is rejected. It is not uncommon for Iran authorisation codes to be submitted very close to the actual time of travel. Obviously this can be an anxious period but again unfortunately we have little authority to speed up the process.
A visa will be flatly refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. Note: this is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or pants may be refused entry into the country. To avoid this problem, bring a thin full-length raincoat with you if you choose to buy a manteau after you arrive. A manteau is a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees and is required by law to be worn by all women in Iran. Men must also be conservatively dressed, wearing long trousers upon arrival, or they too may be refused entry.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry usually closes over the Iranian New Year period (approx 12 March to 2 April) and will not receive visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.
Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to get the visa processed for these nationalities.
In addition, the following travel restriction applies: Passengers of the above nationalities must visit Iran on a guided tour and must pre-book all extra accommodation (up to one night pre accommodation and one night post accommodation only) and airport transfers with the same operator. Additional sight seeing can only be booked through Urban Adventures on either the day before or after the trip start/finish date. Return airport transfers are mandatory and they will only be issued with a visa authorisation code once all services are confirmed and only for the exact time they have booked the relevant services
Tipping is common practice in Iran, so add a few extra rial in restaurants, and for porters, guides, drivers and cleaners.
You’ll have internet access at big hotels and in internet cafes in Tehran, but internet access is hard to come by in rural and remote places.
Your international phone might not work in Iran, however you can get affordable prepaid SIM cards in major cities.
While Iran does has some western-style toilets, squat toilets are the norm. Soap and toilet paper aren’t always provided so you may like to carry some with you.
- Street snack = 4,000 IRR
- Pot of tea in a tea house = 4,000-6,000 IRR
- Short taxi ride = 5,000 IRR
- Meal in a budget restaurant = 20,000 IRR
Drinking tap water is not considered safe in Iran. For environmental reasons, avoid buying bottled water and bring a bottle or canteen with you. Ask your leader where you can access filters to refill your supply, or carry your own purification tablets with you.
You won’t be able to use your credit card in many places in Iran, except for a few tourist establishments. You’ll require cash to pay for most things. US dollars and Euros are the only currencies that can be exchanged in Iranian banks.
ATMs are plentiful but they rarely accept foreign cards. It’s best to bring US dollars of Euros with you and exchange them at a bank.
Yes. All peregrine passengers are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Your insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day.
For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Iran/public-holidays