Iran Tours & Tailormade Holidays
NOTE: All of our Iran tours include your visa to the country if you are UK-based or your visa authorisation code if you are not. Please ask us for details.
UPDATE July 24th, 2015 - The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) have changed their advice to allow travel to the majority of Iran on the back of warming diplomatic relations between Iran and the UK and other Western countries. See their updated advice here.
The warming relations between Iran and the West has compelled many travellers to cast aside their uncertainties and to explore this country teeming with beautiful ancient decorated temples, mosques, fortresses and striking monuments. Formerly known as Persia, Iran is brimming with archaeological treats that will enthral history buffs and art aficionados alike, as they absorb legends of ancient temples and imposing fortresses that were constructed by early civilisations (Safavids and Sassasians) and admire innovative mosque designs and ancient mountain relief paintings. The diverse natural landscapes will beguile hikers as they tackle the Middle East’s highest peak, Mount Damavund, or traverse Iran’s other impressive mountains and valleys. In any area of the country, however, visitors can look forward to engaging with warm-hearted locals, who are generous with their hospitality.
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Archaeology of Iran (see Glories of Persia tour)
Discover the beauty and splendour of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, walk the classical city of Hamadan, discover the ancient mud architecture of Yazd, and marvel at the history of Susa and carvings of Bisotun. Iran is a country with a profound and intriguing history, a vibrant culture and a warm and welcoming people. Explore the architectural wonders of ancient Persia and uncover the layers of history at the heart of modern Iran.
Western & Northern Iran (see Troglodytes & Assassins tour)
Western and Northern Iran boast ancient and medieval architecture, littered with churches, mosques, ancient temples and early Persian art. Discover the bygone temple relics at the Throne of Solomon and marvel at the mystical Sassassian rock relief carvings in Kemashah. See the mighty base belief of Darius I at Bisotun, with its inscriptions in lost languages, and the Temple of Anahita, with its serene lake pool. Explore the crumbling city of Sultaneih, `The Land of the Sultans` and its rich cultural heritage, and witness the lost civilisation of Hamadan. See the idyllic Armenian St Stephano`s Church, the mountain-set Babak Castle and admire the Blue Mosque at Tabriz. By the coast, delight in scenery and culture of Ramsar and explore the serene mountain village of Masuleh with its authentic rust-red houses.
Take a fascinating journey through Iran`s history and enigmatic architecture as you enter a world of dramatic fortresses, ornate palaces with stunning gardens, and archaeological and cultural gems. Travel the lost land of Ancient Persia and learn about the rich cultural history at the heart of modern Iran. Surrender to the chaotic energy of the Tehran Bazaar, and marvel at the circle-shaped fortress city of Firuz Abad. Discover the remains of the Zoroastrian community in Yazd, and witness the dramatic Towers of Silence and the eternal flame burning at the Fire Temple. Uncover legend at Persepolis, home of the Archaemenid Kings, and explore the stunning gardens at Kashan. Walk in the footsteps of Isfahan`s ancestors by crossing Shiraz`s spectacular river bridges, and enter a poetic maze of stunning palace gardens and boulevards. Uncover tradition in the 1000 year old mud-brick towns at Meybod and the Kharanagagh Village, and succumb to folktales at the cliff-town of Chak Chak. Admire architectural triumphs like the Islamic complex at the small town of Natanz and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini in the traditional village of Niasar.
Tailormade Iran Options
Trekking, hiking & walking
Iran offers a multitude of
excellent trekking and walking
routes to suit all levels. Mount
Damavand at 5,671 metres is the
highest mountain in the Middle
East and offers an excellent
challenge to more experienced
trekkers and climbers; likewise
Alam Kuh in the Takht-e-Soleiman
region. For village-based
walking tours, the Valley of the
Assassins, the Zagros region and
the area South and West of the
Caspian Sea afford numerous
possibilities to experience Iran’s
nature as well as gaining a real
insight into its culture, heritage
and hospitality. Desert hikes can
also be arranged. Kish island, in
the Persian Gulf, offers excellent
diving opportunities with an
abundance of sea life, colourful
corals and a multitude of sea
wrecks of varying ages to explore.
Climb to the peaks of the Middle East`s highest mountain with a beautiful trek through the Alborz mountain range. Gain fantastic views of the Caspian Sea and its ivory cliffs, as you get closer and closer to the summit. Take in the thrills of an environment shrouded by myth and folklore, and stand on the mountain known as the symbol of resistance in Persian literature. Feel the mystique that surrounds the mountain legend as you relax in its thermal springs.
Iran boasts numerous excellent
ski resorts including many within
a short distance of Tehran. Due
to the high altitude of many
resorts the ski season is longer
than in Europe – from mid-
November until May typically.
Dizin, the largest resort, also
offers grass skiing in summer.
Meet Iran`s Nomads
Iran is home to over one million
nomads from dozens of tribes.
The most distinctive and thus
most famous are the Bakhtiaris
and the Qashqais. The
Bakhtiaris summer in the high
Zard Kuh Mountains, South and
West of Isfahan, and winter in
Khuzestan, near the Persian
Gulf. They wear a distinctive
dress of wide trousers, a short
tunic and a round hat, and are
known for their unique style of
music. Qashqais summer in the
highland pastures North of
Shiraz and winter almost 500km
further South, nearer the
Persian Gulf. They are
renowned for their pile carpets.
Meet and share a meal with
these gentle pastoral people,
and get an insight into their
There are two extensive
deserts in Iran, Kavir-e-Lut, and
Kavir-e-Markazi, covering an
area of over 360,000 square
kilometres, in central Iran. These
vast expanses of sand dunes, salt
lakes, steppe-like plains, and wadis
of date palms and camel flocks are
some of the most interesting, yet
unknown areas in Iran. A vast
network of Caravansaries follow
ancient, camel-trodden trade
routes and through the scorched
salt flats of Kavir-e-Markazi.
Birding in Iran
With huge variation in habitat
and climate Iran makes a perfect
haven for wild birds. With 517
known species, the Pleske`s
Ground Jay is nonetheless the
only truly endemic species,
though the Caspian tit, Red-tailed
wheatear, Sind-Pied woodpecker,
and Caspian snowcock are near
endemic and there are more
than 50 endangered or critically
endangered species. A sample
itinerary covers the semi-arid
lands inside Touran National Park
to see Pleske`s Ground Jay and
Desert warbler, and a few days in
Parvar to see Caspian tit and
Iran Evening at the Royal Geographical Society
Travel The Unknown is hosting a travel evening with a panel of experts at the Royal Geographical Society, London. There are limited places for each talk. Details on how to register your place(s) are further below.
23 September 2015 (Wed), 6:30pm – 9:15pm
As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, Persia, as it was known, is a country simply overflowing with archaeological treats and natural wonders - from the spectacular ruins of Persepolis to the classical Islamic beauty of Isfahan and the stunning landscapes of Mount Damavand and the Valley of the Assassins.
Diana Darke (Middle East expert & Bradt author)
Amy Guttman (Travel writer & journalist)
Philip Holdsworth (Archaeologist & Historian)
Please complete our online registration form in order to reserve your places for our talks.
Tickets: £7 (RGS members); £12 (non-members)