Axes Apart: Iran & Cuba

Iran | Cuba

Culture

Delve into two beautiful, friendly & contrasting pariah sites

Dates & Prices

Intro

Embark on a unique journey through two fascinating, friendly and very different pariah states - Iran and Cuba. Begin in the poet's city - Shiraz, and wander its charming markets before exploring the ancient Persian capitals of Persepolis - and the site of Cyrus the Great’s tomb, Pasargadae. In Isfahan’s lovely squares and palaces you will encounter the pinnacle of Islamic art and architecture, before taking in the bustle and superb museums of Tehran. Next you will travel to a very different land for a completely different experience. Soak up the colonial charm of Old Havana and immerse yourself in the Caribbean culture and lively music scene of Trinidad. Discover Ché Guevara’s tomb in Santa Clara, and learn the history of the world’s most famous revolution. Visit the Bay of the Pigs to learn about Cuba’s uneasy relations with the US today.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The poetic city of Shiraz
  • Persia’s ancient capital, Persepolis
  • The tomb of Cyrus the Great
  • Ancient mosques and palaces of Isfahan
  • Shopping for crafts in bazaars
  • Isfahan's stunning Friday mosque
  • The gardens & khans of Kashan
  • Colonial charm of Old Havana
  • Explore colonial history of Old Havana
  • Eclectic architecture in Cienfuegos
  • Visit museum commemorating the Bay of Pigs invasion
  • Cobbled colonial streets of Trinidad
  • Visit Che Guevara's mausoleum in Santa Clara

Places Visited

Shiraz - Persepolis - Naghsh-e-Rostam - Naghsh-e-Rajab - Pasargadae - Isfahan - Izadkhvast - Tehran - Kashan - Sialk Mounds - Havana - Cienfuegos - Bay of Pigs - Trinidad - Playa Ancón - Santa Clara

What's Included

Iran Visa authorisation code
Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Breakfasts
English-speaking guide
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary
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Day 1 : Departure

Depart your home country on a flight to Shiraz. On arrival a hotel room will be available to you.

NOTE: If you arrive on this day (as opposed to the early hours of the following day) it is not a problem. The hotel room will be available from 2pm.

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Shiraz

On arrival into Shiraz airport in the early morning hours you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. After some sleep meet in the hotel lobby at 11am sharp. Today's tour will visit Khan Madrassa, the Narenjestan gardens and house, the 19th century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, and the Holy Shrine of Ali Ebn e Hamze Shrine. You will also have the chance to visit the tomb of the famous Iranian poet Hafez. There will also be an opportunity at some point today for any ladies to buy suitable clothing for their time in Iran (if required). In the evening visit the famous Vakli Bazaar. Overnight stay in Shiraz.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Khan Madrassa, a theological school in Shiraz, was founded in 1615. After being partly destroyed by earthquakes, only the elaborate entrance portal remains of the original building. Still in use and having been rebuilt, the roof offers excellent views over the Baazar. 

Vakil Bazaar is the most famous of Shiraz’s markets. With its wide brick avenues, it is more roomy than most and was originally intended to enhance Shiraz’s role as a trading centre in the Zand era when it was built by Karim Khan. It acts as a living ethnographic museum and is a great place to people-watch, with frequent visitors from the Persian Gulf, various Nomadic tribes and people from all over Southern Iran. The lovely Serai Mushir is a caravanserai near the Southern Vakil Bazaar that is also worth visiting. 

Shiraz is the capital of Fars province in Iran and the fifth most populous city in the country. The earliest references to the city date back to 2000 BC and it has been an important trading centre for over a thousand years. It was briefly the country's capital on two occasions in the Zand and Saffavid eras. It is famous for its poets, including Hafez and Saadi.

The poet Hafez is buried on the north bank of the Khoshk River in Shiraz, his hometown. Hafez wrote poetry with numerous references to wine and love in the 14th century and is recognized as the master of the Ghazal, a form of poetry composed of five to fifteen couplets. Built in 1953, Hafez's tomb is engraved with some of his works. It is a place of pilgrimage for Iranians, who treat their poets the way rock stars are treated in the West.

Ladies clothes shopping opportunity - as clothing in Iran can be difficult for ladies we will take you for a short visit to a market to pick up some items of clothing appropriate to the local customs, fashions and, of course, restrictions. 

Nasir Ol Molk was a wealthy governor of Shiraz during the Qajar era and built this private mosque to his own personal taste. It is a very colourful affair known as the “Pink Mosque” for its liberal use of pink tiles. Its design follows advanced mathematical and geometrical patterns and the wooden elements are made from expensive walnut wood. Some bricks are also made of wood and were designed to insulate the building from earthquakes. There is also a well that used cows to pull up water. The mosque, however, is most famous for its stained glass windows. 

Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze is a 19th century shrine built on the site of older shrines. The current incarnation boasts a huge bulbous Shirazi dome, stained glass windows that allow plenty of light to enter and mirror work that is truly dazzling.

Narenjestan-e-Ghavam (also known as “Qavam House”) is a beautifully-set historic house built by the Qavam Family who were originally merchants from Qazvin (west of Tehran). The inside is ornately decorated with mirrors, inlay work and hand-painted tiles. The gardens, Bagh-e-Ghavam, boast seven types of orange trees and display beautiful symmetry.

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Day 3 : Persepolis - Naghsh-e-Rostam

Full day excursion to Persepolis and its museum. There will also be the chance to visit Naghsh-e-Rostam and Naghsh-e-Rajab. Overnight stay in Shiraz.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings that tells the story of the Archaemenid Empire’s magnificence and grandeur, as well as its demise. The city wasn’t recovered until the 1930s, which is partly why it still survives so intact today. Construction of the site began under Darius the Great, but the complex was expanded upon by subsequent rulers and contains the remains of the palaces of Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. The Tachara Palace is decorated with famous bas-reliefs depicting kings, courtiers and other gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire. The Persepolis Museum, thought to have once been a harem to the king’s consorts and concubines, displays a stone foundation tablet and other artefacts recovered during excavations.

Naghsh-e-Rostam, a mooted UNESCO world heritage site, is a series of four rock-tombs, fashioned out of a cliff. Archaeologists think the tombs are those of Xerxes I, Artaxeres I, Darius I and Darius II. The tombs copy the model from Persepolis, showing the kings supported by figures of surrounding nations. Also carved into the cliff are seven Sassanian reliefs that show images of imperial conquests and royal processions, including Shapur I’s famous victory over the Roman Emperor Valerian.

Naghsh-e-Rajab is a magnificent archaeological site dating back to the early Sassanid era, located near the ruins of the ancient Achaemenid city of Istakhr. It is the site of four limestone rockface inscriptions and bas-reliefs that feature the investitures of Ardeshir I and Shapur I, as well as Shapur's military victory over the Romans.

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Day 4 : Pasargadae - Isfahan

Drive to Isfahan and visit Pasargadae, the tomb of Cyrus the Great and Izadkhvast en route. Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Pasargadae was established as a city by Cyrus the Great (the founder of the Persian Empire) in about 546 BC, predating the famous site of Persepolis. The city houses Cyrus the Great’s simply-constructed tomb, which consists of six stone tiers supporting a modest rectangular burial chamber. The tomb has an unusually imposing architecture which combines styles of its contemporary civilizations. Also in the serene plain of Dasht-e-Morghab are the remains of Cyrus the Great’s several palaces made of black limestone plinth. Just north of the Palace is the Prison of Solomon, often mistaken for a sundial or fire-temple. 

The Complex of Izadkhast is located in the Fars Province of Iran, roughly 135 km south of Isfahan. The complex consists of Izadkhast Castle, a caravanserai, and a Safavid-period bridge, with interesting archaeological styles from the Sassanid to the Qajar.

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Day 5 : Isfahan

Take a full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, including the Grand Square, the Friday Mosque and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Finish by admiring the local crafts of the Qeisarieh Bazaar. Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

With a myriad of stunning boulevards, ornate gardens and some of the most impressive architecture Iran has to offer, Isfahan was once the 17th-century Safavid capital of Persia and still retains a high status in the country today. It was referred to as ‘Nesf-e-Jahan’ in ancient Safavid sources, which translates to 'Half of the World'. 

Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e-Jameh ('Friday mosque') can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in 841AD. It is the oldest-preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. The complex, covering more than 20,000 square metres, is also the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region. The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art.

Built by Shah Abbas the Great, the magnificently-tiled Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-e-Jahan Square in Isfahan. Built between 1603 and 1619, the mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The mosque is also known as Imam Mosque or Jameh Abbasi Mosque.

Isfahan’s Grand Bazaar (a.k.a. Quesarieh or Imperial Bazaar) links the Shah mosque in Imam Square with the Jameh Mosque. Parts of it date back over a thousand years, but the majority dates to the Shah Abbas period (16th Century). The bazaar is a maze of alleyways, madrassas and caravanserais and is probably the best place in Iran for souvenir and gift shopping including many arts and crafts for which Isfahan is famous.

Naqsh-e-Jahan Square (meaning 'pattern of the world', a.k.a. Imam Square) was built at the centre of Isfahan between 1598 and 1629. It measures about 160m wide by 510m long and is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era including the Shah Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the Ali Qapu palace. The creation of the square by Shah Abbas the Great was key to centralising power in Iran. It was this square that inspired French poet Renier to describe Isfahan as 'half the world', a tag that has stuck with Iranians. It is the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square. 

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Day 6 : Isfahan

Half-day sightseeing in Isfahan where you will visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan, Khajou and Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter and the Chehel Sotun Palace. There will be free time to spend in the Bazaar. The rest of the day is for you to spend as you please. Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Chehel Sotun Palace was built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century. The 20 wooden columns of the palace are reflected in the surface of the pool and give rise to its nickname, 'Palace of Forty Columns'. The Throne Hall has a fascinating series of frescos with imposing historical scenes above them on the upper walls. The perfectly-manicured palace garden Bagh-e Chetal Sotun is UNESCO listed. 

Isfahan’s Armenian Quarter (a.k.a Jolfa or New Jolfa) dates back to the era of Shah Abbas I, who transported Christian craftsmen from the town of Jolfa in Northwest Iran. Today it boasts 13 Armenian Churches, the most important and interesting of which is Vank Cathedral. Its interior  mixes Islamic and Christian styles. It  is a riot of Biblical scenes, many of which are gloriously gruesome.

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Day 7 : Isfahan - Kashan - Tehran

After breakfast drive to Kashan and explore the city, visiting the Royal Gardens of Fin, a traditional house and the Sialk Mounds. Then continue to Tehran for overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Found on the rim of the central Salt Desert, Kashan dates back to prehistoric times. It is the city of carpets, velvets, glazed tiles, pottery and rosewater. Kashan is home to the Royal Gardens of Fin, with their abundant water supply, garden, pool with numerous spouts and an old historical bathing-house. Kashan also boasts numerous old khans (private residences, the Agha Bozorg Mosque, a covered bazaar and the ancient Sialk Mounds - a settlement dating back to approximately 4,500 BC.

The Sialk Mounds, or Sialk Ziggurat, date back to the 6th millenium BC. The mounds which you can see today were built around 2,900BC. The area surrounding the mounds has been linked to the Zayandeh Rud Civilization. There are two hills at this site, about half a kilometre apart, with two cemeteries, where some 5,500 year old skeletons have been unearthed.

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Day 8 : Tehran

Today visit Iran's National Museum, Golestan Palace and the Crown Jewels museum. Overnight in Tehran.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Golestan Palace Complex is the oldest of all the historic monuments in Tehran, belonging to a group of buildings once enclosed within the historic Arg of the ancient city. The Arg itself was built during the Safavid dynasty between 1524 and 1576. It later became the royal residence of the capital during the Qajar dynasty, first lived in by Agar Mohamed Khan Qajar. The Palace today appears as it did in 1865 when it was rebuilt by Haji Abol-hasan Mimar Navi, but parts of the original structure still remain. As a complex of 17 different palaces built over a time span of 200 years, the Golestan Palace has historically been the place of coronations and important ceremonies. The Tahkt-e-Marmar or marble throne is particularly stunning, and the palaces are adjacent to beautiful gardens.

Tehran has been Iran's capital since 1778 and is its biggest city, with over 14 million people living within its metropolitan area. It also boasts countless museums and is at the heart of most of Iran's cultural and artistic events. The city is on an upwards slope going North, with the city centre at about 1,200m and parts of North Tehran rising up to 1,700m. 

The National Archaeology Museum of Iran was completed in 1928 by the French architect Andre Godard. It contains ceramics, pottery and other archaeological gems from excavations all over Iran, including Persepolis, Susa and many other significant sites. The exhibition displays are charmingly chaotic, but stuffed with authentic artifacts, including pottery dating back to 6-7th millennium BC. Striking finds include a human-headed capital from Persepolis and some stunning friezes from the Apadana Palace. The museum is an absolute must for anyone interested in archaeology or the history of Iran.

The Crown Jewels Museum houses the largest set of crown jewels in the world. Its displays include splendid crowns and expensively decorated thrones, swords and shields, aigrettes and a vast number of precious gemstones used to make exquisite jewellery. Highlights include the world's largest pink diamond and the famous Peacock Throne. Open Saturday to Tuesday (afternoons only).

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Day 9 : Tehran - Havana

Transfer to Tehran airport for your flight to Havana (connection may vary). Arrive into Havana airport and transfer to your casa. Overnight in Havana.
 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 10 : Havana

In the morning, take a walking tour of the Old Havana district, known for its pastille-coloured colonial buildings and its elegantly crumbling facades. Visit the some its enchanting plazas, including the beautiful neoclassical buildings in the Plaza de Armas and the baroque cathedral in the Plaza de la Catedral. After lunch, the rest of the day is free to explore Havana at your leisure. Stroll through its cobbled streets, shop for revolutionary literature or stop off for a cocktail in a local bar. Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in the 16th century by the Spanish, Cuba’s capital Havana became the springboard for the Spanish conquest of the Americas because of its strategic location. It is often seen as being three cities in one with Old Havana, Vedado and modern suburban districts. Old Havana boasts a variety of different Western architectural styles such as Baroque and Neo-Classical and different features such as palaces, fortresses and squares. Its buildings and fortress walls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and sit comfortably next to art deco and more modern styles.

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Day 11 : Bay of Pigs - Cienfuegos

In the morning, leave for Cienfuegos, driving through many citrus fruit and sugar plantations on the Zapata Peninsula. On the way, stop at Cueva de los Peces, a large sinkhole containing hundreds of multi-coloured fish. Continue on to Playa Giron and visit a museum dedicated to Cuba's victory at the infamous Bay of Pigs Invasion. Drive on to Cienfuegos and check into a casa close to the Punto Gorda. Evening is free to spend as you wish. Overnight in Cienfuegos.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a botched attempt to overthrow the Cuban Communist government. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Castro became increasingly antagonistic towards the US who saw his close relationship with the Soviet Union as a threat to their interests. After many failed attempts to usurp Castro, on 17th April 1961, CIA trained Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs armed with American weapons. It was hoped that the exiled force would act as a rallying point for Cuban Citizenry. However, the plan quickly fell apart as the exile force was met with an unexpected Cuban counter-attack and the small Cuban air force sank their supply ships. As a result, 100 soldiers were killed, over 1,100 captured and the uprising never happened. This failure cost the US dearly as Castro used the attack to solidify his power and requested Soviet aid which eventually sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis. It also affected US relations with other countries in Latin America as Castro was now considered a hero for standing up to US interference and imperialism.

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Day 12 : Cienfuegos - Sierra del Escrambray - Trinidad

Morning sightseeing tour of Cienfuegos. The focus of this tour is the city's main square Parque Marti, recently declared a UNESCO heritage site, which is surrounded by the impressive Palacio del Ayuntamiento, the elegant Italian style Teatro Tomas Terry and the neo-classical cathedral. Stroll through the bustling Paseo del Prado, which is lined with colonial buildings and shops. You may also hear music from Benny Moré, Cienfuegos' most famous musician, being played on the public speakers. 

Leave for the tropical mountains of Sierra del Escambray, just 30 mins from Cienfuegos. Have lunch there and then take a soft trek (2-3 hours) around El Nicho, which has waterfalls and natural lagoons. Pack your bathing costumes and towel should you decide to take a dip in one of the lagoons (note, water is cold). Look out for endemic birds and enjoy panoramic views of the lush green mountains. Late afternoon leave for Trinidad. Evening free to stroll around the cobbled plaza in Trinidad. Overnight in Trinidad.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Cuba's ‘Perla del Sur’ (Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos was officially founded in 1819 by Frenchman Don Louis de Clouet and the influence the European settlers had on the city is still clearly evident to this day. The historic old town, cited as an outstanding example of 19th century urban planning, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Day 13 : Trinidad

Morning walking tour around Trinidad, a justifiable UNESCO heritage site, with a charming colonial central plaza, cathedral, pastille-coloured buildings that line the cobbled street. Afternoon, visit the Valle de los Ingenios, or Sugar Valley as it's known. Climb the watch tower for panoramic views of the stunning landscape. Stop off at other vantage points and at the local pottery making workshop where you can buy handicrafts. Return to the centre of Trinidad. Evening free. Overnight in Trinidad.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in 1514, Trinidad prospered from the sugar trade in the 19th Century. Set between the Escambray Mountains and the beautiful Caribbean coastline, the city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Its architecture is a mix of 18th Century Moorish and Andalusian influences and 19th Century European neoclassical forms. The irregular pattern of the city’s squares and cobbled streets make it a great city to explore. It is a perfectly preserved example of a Spanish colonial settlement with its illustrious colonial style mansions full of Italian frescoes, wedgewood china and French chandeliers which hark back to the city’s heyday.

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Day 14 : Trinidad

Free day in Trindad. Options to explore more of the city or take a local taxi to nearby Playa Ancon (11km). It is a beautiful stretch of white sand with some of the best diving and snorkelling on the island. Overnight in Trinidad.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Located near the city of Trinidad, Playa Ancón is a tourist only beach that boasts nearly 6 kilometres of white sand which is ideal for relaxing on. The beach is also a hotspot for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. It has 21 scuba-diving sites where you can see concentrations of black coral, sponges, common sea fans and a wide variety of other colourful fish.

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Day 15 : Trinidad - Santa Clara - Havana

After breakfast leave for Santa Clara (2.5 hours), home to Ché Guevara's Mausoleum, where the Latin American hero was re-buried. Learn about his influence on Cuba and why he is so revered. After lunch, continue the drive on to Havana (3.5 hours). Evening free. Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Located in the heart of Cuba, Santa Clara was founded in 1689 by citizens of the coastal city of Remedios, who wanted to escape regular pirate attacks. One of the city's famous former inhabitants was the philanthropist, Marta Abreu de Estévez, also known as the Benefactress of the city. Wishing to improve the lives of Santa Clara's citizens, Marta Abreu donated large sums of money to the city, and her influence can still be seen throughout Santa Clara today; an asylum, several schools and a theatre still stand. The city is most well-known as the final resting place of Ché Guevara, who captured Santa Clara during the final battle of the Cuban Revolution in 1958, toppling Batista's regime.

Ernesto 'Ché' Guevara was a revered and controversial historical figure. Born in Argentina, he became radicalised when, as a medical student, he witnessed the terrible poverty, hunger and disease during his travels around South America. This fused with his interest in Marxism and he realised that the only way to solve South and Central America's problems was through armed revolution. In 1954, he travelled to Mexico, met Fidel Castro and joined his 26th July Movement. He played a key role in the guerrilla war against the Cuban dictator Batista, capturing Santa Clara in the final battle of the revolution and toppling the dictator's regime. He guided the country towards a friendship with the Soviet Union which, thanks to US sanctions, damaged Cuba's economy and, along with some unsuccessful reforms, caused him to fall out with Cuba's leaders. He left the country in 1965 to spread revolution to parts of the developing world. After an unsuccessful guerrilla campaign in the Congo, Guevara travelled to Bolivia to lead forces fighting against the government. He was captured with the help of the CIA and executed on 9th October 1967. His remains were exhumed in 1997 and reburied in Santa Clara. During his life, Ché Guevara was a prolific writer and wrote a manual on guerrilla warfare as well as a memoir of his time travelling as a student. Today, he is still a hero in Cuba and has become a worldwide symbol of anti-imperialism and revolution. His image has become a commodity over the years and is found on an endless array of items that contribute to the consumer culture that he hated.

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Day 16 : Departure

Transfer at appropriate time to airport for return flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Homa Hotel

The Shiraz Homa Hotel is located right next to the Azadi Park, with spectacular views of the Zagros Mountains. The hotel offers both garden and mountain view rooms. The Homa Hotel boasts several restaurants serving various cuisines, including Iranian and Western. A tennis court, swimming pool and shopping arcade provide guests with ample activities to fill their leisure time. There is also free wireless internet.

Visit hotel's site
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Abbasi Hotel

The Abbasi Hotel is well known as the location of the 1974 Agatha Christie-based film, Ten Little Indians. The 300 year old complex was built as a Caravanserai for travellers journeying along the Silk Road. The bedrooms include air-conditioning, satellite television and a fridge. Wifi available.

Visit hotel's site
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Espinas Hotel

Espinas is a modern hotel in the heart of Tehran. Boasting a traditional Persian restaurant and a breakfast bar which commands wonderful views among the treetops of Keshavarz Boulevard. The hotel also has a fitness centre with sauna, steam room and swimming pool for guests use.  All rooms have contemporary furnishes with a range of modern amenities including; a safety deposit box, mini-bar, LCD TV and tea/coffee making facilities. 

Visit hotel's site
Extensions

Isfahan Extensions (1 days)

Extend your trip from Isfahan

Mashhad Extensions (3 days)

Extend your trip from Mashhad

Kerman Extensions (4 days)

Extend your trip from Kerman

Shiraz Extensions (4 days)

Extend your trip from Shiraz

Tehran Extensions (8 days)

Extend your trip from Tehran

Classical Iran (14 days)

Discover the history and culture behind modern Iran

Essential Iran & Armenia (15 days)

Discover ancient traditions, rich culture & sublime landscapes

Axes Apart: Iran & Cuba (16 days)

Delve into two beautiful, friendly & contrasting pariah sites

Troglodytes & Assassins (14 days)

Get off-the-beaten-track in Northwest Iran

UNESCO Sites of Iran (25 days)

Discover the unique wonders of Iran

Glories of Persia (Archaeology tour) (16 days)

Journey into the history and archaeology of ancient Iran

Silk Road through Persia (19 days)

Ancient routes of merchants, scholars and smugglers

Grand Tour of Iran (21 days)

In-depth tour to get under the skin of modern Iran

Reviews

When people say "Why Iran?" say "Why not?". We will never forget all of the amazing sites we saw and the beauty of the countryside but the enduring thing we will take away from this trip is the warmth and friendliness of the people we met. We sat down after an amazing tour around Persepolis and were immediately part of an Iranian picnic. We don't speak Persian, they had little English but we were welcomed like old friends. Not only is Iran the cradle of civilisation it is also the most welcoming place we have ever been.

Julia & Clive Stephen , Classical Iran

A thoughtfully organised and fully educative trip into, what was for me, substantially the 'unknown'.

Andrew Sanders , Classical Iran

We've been fortunate enough to travel a great deal in our lives and only recently (in our 70's) have we come to accept the fact that for some destinations that we have long wanted to visit an organised tour is the best solution. This is exactly what we experienced in Iran and your flexibility and excellent planning made it possible for us to do what would otherwise have been impossible. We still have our eye on Central Asia and your "Stans" tours are at the top of our list.

Robert Lamberton , Glories of Persia

Our Classical Iran tour covered all of the wonderful sights in Iran in a logical sequence from South to North. We were well escorted by our great guide and our very capable driver. The pace of the tour was leisurely, while covering most of the key sites and the knowledge about the history of the sites by our guide was great.

Cliff Boyt , Classical Iran

Travel The Unknown were very easy and professional to deal with in planning my trip to Iran. They catered to my needs and customized my solo private trip, and sent me all the required reading material and information I'd need while abroad. I'd definitely recommend and use them again in the future.

Dana Zubaid , Tailormade Iran

This was probably the best holiday I have ever had. There was so much to see and do and we received the warmest of welcomes everywhere we went. Every aspect of the trip worked out as planned with no delays or changes.

Nigel Semmens , Tailormade Iran

We have recently returned from a wonderful trip to Iran. The size of the group (12) was just right and staying several nights in each place a bonus. An interesting and varied itinerary and our experience of the welcoming people made for a very memorable holiday. We’d be happy to book with Travel the Unknown again.

Margaret & David Baker , Classical Iran, Iran

This is the first time I have journeyed with Travel The Unknown. We had a hitch in the itinerary and we contacted David - he was immediately on the phone to sort it out despite the fact we were in Iran. That is what I call serivce and I was very impressed.

Patrick Lau & Alan Davis , Glories of Persia, Iran

This was my first experience with Travel the Unknown, and it exceeded my expectations. The itinerary was comprehensive, the local guide exceedingly knowledgeable, and hotels carefully selected for convenience and comfort. Staff were readily accessible to answer pre-trip queries, and the visa application efficiently handled.

Peter Adams , Glories of Persia, Iran

Very moving, life-changing experience. Iran is a fascinating, complex place with a long, dramatic history. The itinerary of three days in each significant city (Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan) follows the chronology of the empires beautifully. Three days in each place gives you time to relax and explore. The hotels are first class and quite spectacular. A small group gives you the chance to respond to group ideas, and also to go to local restaurants, off the beaten track from the large tour groups.

Madeleine Murray , Classical Iran, Iran

We wanted a holiday with a difference and Travel the Unknown gave us it. From our holiday experience I would recommend not only Iran, but also Travel the Unknown to anyone.

Andrew & Sandra Doyle , Glories of Persia, Iran

Excellent trip - off the beaten track, as their name implies, but offering a wonderful overview of the country. Very good organisation - everything went smoothly, prompt replies to any queries.

Chris & Sue Fleckney , Troglodytes & Assassins and Classical Iran, Iran
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