Iran, or the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Persia, is a country in Western Asia; in modern culture, we refer to Iran as being part of the Middle East. It is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman. It is the only country to be bordered by both the Indian Ocean and Caspian Sea; this makes it a very strategic point, both geographically and politically.
The capital of Iran is Tehran, which is also the largest city and economic centre. Other cities include Yazd, Kerman, Mashhad, and Shiraz.
The international airport, Imam Kohmeini International Airport, is in Tehran; it sees flights from most international destinations. If you plan to get from city to city and are on a budget, buses are the way to go. Entry visas are required, but visas on arrival are available to passport holders from many different countries. *IMPORTANT: AS OF FEBRUARY 2014, AMERICANS, CANADIANS, & BRITISH CITIZENS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A GUIDE DURING THEIR TRAVELS and will NOT be issued a visa on arrival.* *Please check entry requirements for your own country before travelling*
The currency in Iran is the Iranian Rial, and the economy in Iran is constantly fluctuating. *Another important note: ATMs and currency exchange will NOT work with any foreign credit or debit cards; you will need to bring enough US cash or Euros to cover the entire cost of your trip and then exchange it once you are in Iran.*
The climate in Iran is subarid or semi-tropical (closer to the Caspian Sea.) In the Caspian coastal plain, temperatures rarely fall below freezing and stay humid year-round. The mountains see extreme winters, while in the southern deserts, summers are extraordinarily hot. The geography of Iran is mainly mountainous; it is one of the world’s most mountainous countries with ranges extending across much of the southern two-thirds. In the north, dense jungles cover much of the land, while in the east desert basins and salt lakes are plentiful - because the mountain ranges are too high for the rain clouds.
Budget accommodation in Iran is limited to guesthouses and budget hotels, rather than hostels. As traditional, European-style hostels are nonexistent in Iran, you are better off seeking out a guesthouse or budget hotel where you have a private room but a shared bathroom. You will find accommodation like this in Tehran, Yazd, Mashhad, Esfahan, and other cities in the country.
Once you have your accommodation sorted, you can begin to explore what to do in this fascinating country. Travellers keen to visit Iran are likely going for the rich historical and archaeological heritage that the country has. As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, Iran is chock full of Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine ruins, as well as many others. Modern-day Iran is a kaleidoscope of cultures. Iran is full of ancient history and culture, from gorgeous mosques to mausoleums, mudbrick cities to clutter bazaars, and more. Some don’t-miss places include: the Pink Mosque in Shiraz, Persepolis, a 2,500 year old vast city complex near Shiraz, the city of Esfahan, the desert at Garmeh, and the Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad.
Whatever you choose to do in Iran, you will enjoy it. The people are entirely friendly, the cities are busy and energetic, and the history is fascinating.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Iran hostels. Welcome.