Through the years Yazd has become one with its environment and the people there managed to somehow survive the harsh conditions. But nonetheless it’s truly a mesmerizing place, blue-tiled domes, minarets, bazaars, and old courtyard homes with moving wind towers, and of course, the famous qanats or (underground water channels) are just a taste of what this city has to offer. Some of the homes have been renovated and converted into traditional hotels and hostels. A large number of tourists say that Yazd is their favorite city in the whole country, for a number of reasons but mostly for the fact that it displays elegance in the middle of the desert.
Something more than just Kabab
Iranian food is the best there is. There are some Iranian foods that you cannot say no to, for example, kabab, khoresht (stew), ash (soup) and flatbread, fesenjun (chicken in walnut and pomegranate sauce) or anything with bademjan (eggplant), or the Gilan cuisine. After these, you must try the shirini (sweets)… So many things to eat, so many different varieties, you basically can’t get enough of it.
Mingle with the locals
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Iranians are known for their hospitality all around the world. At the end of every trip to a foreign country, it’s the people who stand out, and in case of Iran, you can be sure that it’s the defining factor. They are warm and hospitable in any way possible, and the best thing is that they set aside enmities between countries and welcome you with open arms. No matter what race you are, or where you come from, you’re always welcome. If there is anything you can’t get out of is the old “come, have some tea” sentence. Spending time with the people, quite simply, is the best thing you’ll remember about Iran.
There are a few moments in one’s life where you just want to freeze time and stay there forever, well seeing Esfahan’s majestic Naqsh-e Jahan square for the first time, is one of those moments. The square is home to arguably most of the great works of art in the Islamic world: the perfectly proportioned blue-tiled dome of the Masjid-e Shah, the elegant Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah and the lavishly decorated Ali Qapu Palace. The square is far more than just some old buildings, the whole place has an air of excellence to it, life seems to be more meaningful around the square, and it wouldn’t be remiss to say that it’s the best place in the world.
This ancient site is so glamorous, so grandiose, and so rare that you’ll find nothing like it in any corner of the world. These days it’s Iran’s only show-off, the last remnants of a time long ago. Darius and Xerxes built this monument as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It is listed as a World Heritage. Nowadays, the ruins of the city testify to Alexander the Great’s merciless destruction of that empire. Little side note, don’t forget to take a look at the monolithic tombs at nearby Naqsh-e Rostam.
Nomads of the Zagros
Around two million Iranians from different ethnic groups, still live a nomadic life. They travel with the goats they own in any condition whatsoever, in spring and autumn to search for pasture. Qashqa’i and Bakhtiyari nomads spend summer in the Zagros Mountains, before heading down to the coast for winter. If you want to get a taste of the nomad life you can go on a day trip just outside Shiraz. You can stay with the Khamseh (and eat their delicious handmade yogurt) in the hills above Bavanat.
Skiing in the Alborz Mountains
You would think that Iran and skiing wouldn’t go together, but you’re most definitely wrong. Iran has more than twenty ski fields and most of them are located around Tehran. Dizin and Shemshak resorts are the favorable picks amongst the skiers. Steep downhills and lots of untracked powder keep skiers of all types interested. In Iran Chalets and ski passes are more inexpensive compared to the Western countries. Not sure if it’s the weather or something else, but people seem to be a lot more open-minded around here. More info: About skiing in Alborz
Choqa Zanbil, Susa & Shushtar
Even if you don’t happen to have a taste for ancient ruins, these three World Heritage sites ought to make you reconsider. Choqa Zanbil (Ziggurat) is one of them, an interesting history and a breathtaking view are the two factors that define this site. It goes back a mere 34 centuries and the good thing is there are more of them in the region. You wonder how does such a thing endure the passage of time, but suffice to say that it looks exactly the same as 34 centuries ago. Susa (Shush) has its own castle, Acropolis and palace remainders, while in Shushtar all of the things we talked about are in one place.
Mashhad’s Haram-e Razavi
Iran is considered to be an Islamic republic, regardless of all that goes on in the country, at the end of the day everybody is going to abide by the rules of Islam, and that means everybody. One of the most recent and popular attractions of Mashhad is the Haram-e Razavi. Imam Reza is the only Imam buried in Iran, and due to that year-round people visit the shrine and pay homage to the ways of Islam. The city is known for its hospitality, all around the country, people from every walks of life come to see the Imam’s grave.
Tehran’s Art Scene
Tehran’s excellent museums, provide a great insight into Iran’s past but do not let that fool you because there are a lot of cafes and art galleries in almost every corner of the city. This is what modern Iranian life looks like– the old and the new, challenging each other and trying to survive – but you can get that from pretty much every news channel and media outlet. It might be interesting to know that Iran’s Holy Defense Museum and Qsar Garden Museum which are government-sponsored institutions make use of contemporary art just as the cafes and art galleries do.