Iran Express, 9 Days
What you get...
- 9 Day tour departing Tehran.
- 8 Nights accommodation in a hotel.
- 8 Breakfasts & 2 Dinners.
- Services of a professional and experienced trip leader.
- Transport by Bus, Private Mini Bus, Train.
- Tehran - Iran National Museum - Entry Fee Only.
- Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd, Water Museum - Entry Fee Only, Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit, Amir Chakmaq visit.
- Shiraz - Cooking class.
- Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour.
- Shiraz - Hafez Tomb, Nasir al Molk Mosque, Zand Citadel, City tour.
- Esfahan - Home cooked meal, Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace visit, Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges, Jameh Mosque, Vank Cathedral, City walking tour, Imam Square.
Tehran - Yazd - Shiraz - Esfahan
Day 1 Tehran.
Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is exciting, noisy and chaotic, and where the country's true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. The locals love nothing more than to chat, so prepare to be stopped to discuss anything and everything. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at midday on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Afterwards, head out with your group to visit the Iran National Museum and be at its priceless pieces. Later, you could try some fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (soup stew mashed into paste) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant.
Day 2 Yazd.
Take some free time to explore Tehran this morning. Your leader will be on hand to help organise any activties, and we suggest checking out the magnificent Golestan Palace and the National Jewelry Museum. The museum contains the Iranian Crown Jewels, which include thirty tiaras as well as historical artefacts such as Nader Shah's dagger. Transfer to the train station in the afternoon to travel to the city of Yazd, a journey that will take approximately five hours.
Day 3 Yazd.
This ancient desert city was a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period and it still retains a rustic feel. Yazd is also the heart of Zoroastrian religion, which you'll learn more about during visits to the Fire Temple and Towers of Silence. The fires within the Fire Temple are said to have continuously burned since AD 470. Enjoy a hearty local breakfast then set out on a walking tour to visit the Jamesh Mosque and the older parts of the city. Walk the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and ornate doors on mud-brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd is the presence of wind towers, that capture the softest of breezes and send them to the buildings below in a forerunner of modern air-con. The water museum shows how the underground channels brought water to the city from the mountains for thousands of years.
Day 4 Shiraz.
Say farewell to Yazd and jump on the bus to journey to Shiraz, the city of poets. Iran's public buses are extremely comfortable and provide a great opportunity to chat with the locals and learn more about this fascinating country. The trip will take approximately 6.5 hours, and you'll pass through some incredible desert scenery on the way. After arriving in Shiraz, the group will transfer to the hotel then head out for dinner. This, however, is dinner with a difference - you'll make it yourself while learning some of the secrets of Persian cuisine.
Day 5 Shiraz.
Rise early and drive to the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient city that was sacked by Alexander the Great. It was once the centre of the Persian Empire, one of the truly great cities of the world, which took 150 years to build under the reign of Darius I. The imposing gateways, exquisite carvings and towering columns will leave you in doubt that this was once the centre of the ancient world. Return to Shiraz and spend the afternoon on a walking tour, visiting Nasir-al-molk mosque and Shahcheragh, one of the most important and beautiful shrines in Iran. There'll also be time to pay respects to Hafez, the great Shirazi poet. Tonight, mix with locals at a popular hang out - a boardgame cafe. This cafe, the first of its kind in Iran, boasts a library of over 200 games so bring your A-game.
Day 6 Esfahan.
This morning we highly recommend an early return visit to Nasir-al-molk mosque, where the morning light provides a quite incredible glow in the building. Then it's back on the bus for a 5.5 hour journey to Esfahan, one of the finest cities in the Middle East. A 16th-century rhyme called it 'half the world' and, after spending a few days here, you may well agree. There are many fine Islamic buildings covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is famous for, as well as an enormous bazaar, superb palaces, tranquil gardens and picturesque bridges crossing the Zayandehrud. Arrive in the later afternoon and visit the picturesque Safavid Chehelsotoon Palace and then, in the evening, enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family. Being invited into an Iranian's home for dinner is a highlight for most travellers, and the traditional food is carefully prepared for hours, sometimes even days. Prepare yourself for plenty of food and some truly incredible hospitality.
Day 7 Esfahan.
Spend today discovering the wonders of Esfahan. You'll have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere during a tour, starting at the immense Imam Square, which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is the second-largest square in the world. Many grand buildings surround the square, including the Ali Qapu Palace, which covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas. Continue on to the atmospheric bazaar, complete with exotic scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining at the stalls. Walk the covered lanes of the sprawling marketplace, where shafts of light filter through ceiling and lattice, then visit the astonishing Armenian Vank Church before an evening stroll along the river.
Day 8 Tehran.
Journey from Esfahan to Tehran after breakfast, which will take approximately four hours. Enjoy free time on arrival to visit or revisit any sights and pick up some last minute souvenirs, then relive this unforgettable adventure over an optional farewell dinner with the group at a local restaurant this evening.
Day 9 Tehran.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart at anytime. Check out time at the hotel is 12 pm.
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