Visiting Tehran’s Grand Bazaar could be an intimidating attempt. It’s humongous and easy to get lost in and has nothing to do with the bazaars of other Iranian cities. Even as a local I would have to ask multiple times for directions if I’m visiting any specific area and I’m yet to find a decent map.
But there’s nothing to worry about. After all you’re there to wander and perhaps shop some souvenirs and these areas tend to be very straight forward and apart from that I’m here to give you a fully guided route which you can take on your own. 😉
How to get to the bazaar?
The most convenient way to get to Tehran’s Grand Bazaar is by metro. Stop at Panzdah-khordad station (red line) and any of the exits will take you where you need to be. Once you’re out, join the crowds by walking towards Sabze Meydan square where you’ll find the main entrance leading to this somewhat wonderland.
Once you enter, the first few hundred metres are all souvenir shops. Here you’ll find anything from anywhere. A huge variety of Yazdi Termeh and lots of stuff you’re bound to find in Esfahan. Now if you are going to other cities, I really think you should buy everything from its original town. This is not because you’re not going to find the equal quality in Tehran but because I personally believe it’s a better way to help the local economy. Not to mention nothing is going to be cheaper in Tehran, if not more expensive. And on the bright side it also gives you an excuse to shop in every city you visit. 😉 I’ve written a very explicit guide on souvenir shopping in Iran which you should read before going anywhere.
Let’s get back to the Grand bazaar. There are a few places which I believe are definitely worth a visit: The carpet section, Imam zadeh Zeid Shrine, the Imam mosque and the smallest tea house of Tehran.
Here’s the route I would personally recommend:
Once you enter the bazaar go straight and right at the beginning you shall find Iran Termeh house on your left. This shop has the biggest variety of Termeh I’ve seen and they even have a little workshop on their second floor where you can see the work being done. They are super friendly and will approach you quickly if you show some interest. It’s likely that they will also take you to see their workshop which you should definitely check out. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to buy anything so don’t let that stop you from getting a tour of their place.
Once you’re out keep going straight until you reach the carpet section on your right. Make sure you get inside the whole area and explore the different levels. This part can be a little annoying as shop keepers are eager to get you inside their shops. You might want to try one or two and more if you’re planning to buy an actual carpet but it’s fine to just refuse them if you’re ok with just window shopping.
Once out of the carpet section, get back on the main street and keep going straight until you reach a point where there’s a wide road on your left. Turn left and you’re in the fabrics section. A little further and you’ll reach Imam Zadeh Zeid Shrine on your left. The shrine is absolutely beautiful and ornamented with mirror work. Keep in mind that entrance for men and women are different and women are required to wear a chador which you can just borrow at the entrance on your right.
Once you’ve had a good look at the shrine, get back on the road and keep going straight until you’re required to make a turn. Turn left and keep going straight. At this point you’d be passing some very narrow straights. It’s ok if you want to sneak into different sections and explore. In fact I highly recommend it. But to avoid getting lost make sure you come back to the main route. If you ever felt confused, just ask for the Imam mosque and you’ll be back on track.
Now just before reaching the mosque there’s a little tea house which I absolutely adore. I never miss a cup of tea from this gentleman whenever I’m here. Here’s where you can read my full post on Tehran’s smallest tea house right in the grand bazaar.
A little further from the tea shop and you shall find the entrance to imam mosque on your right. This mosque is one of the oldest in Tehran and much of it has been restored just recently. The courtyard is a fabulous place for chilling out and people watching. Make sure you get a look of the dazzling tile work inside. Everyone’s allowed to go in and there are no chadors required.
Once you’ve visited the mosque you can either go back to where you came from and follow the route until you reach the exit or simply take the northern exit of the mosque itself and you’re arrive on panzdah Khordad street.
Here’s a map of the route I’ve just explained.
Where to eat?
There are quite a few places to eat around the bazaar. I’ll be mentioning 4 of my favourites.
#1 Gol Rezaieh restaurant
I’ve written a complete post about this place and why it’s famous. While it’s located around 20 min walk from the bazaar, I think it’s be worth it if it’s the type of place you’re seeking. Make sure you read my post to know what to expect.
#2 Moslem restaurant
Right before reaching the square that leads to the bazaar, you’re likely to see a long line of people waiting to get into a not to fancy looking restaurant. They’re in line to get into Moslem! This restaurant has been mentioned in almost any guidebook and for a good reason. The food is good and the price is reasonable. Don’t fear the long line as you’re likely to get in sooner than expected.
The food served here varies from Kebabs to other traditional dishes. The Tahchin is highly recommended.
Food portions in Moslem are huge so you could easily order one dish for two. If you had any left overs make sure you ask for a plastic container for takeaway. It’s extremely common to do so and it’s the right thing to do since your left over will be thrown out anyway.
This restaurant is extremely crowded and there are always people waiting to be seated right at your side. I sometimes find it very stressful as you’re pressured into finishing off your food rather quick and giving your seat to others. Don’t expect a chill environment or long chats over lunch.
#3 Sharaf-ol Eslami
This restaurant works exactly like Moslem and it’s just located within the bazaar next to the entrance of the Grand Mosque. The food is equally good the price is just the same. My tips for Moslem also apply here.
#4 Oudlajan Dizi Sara
If you’re in for Dizi in stone bowls and looking for a chill non touristy place, check this place out. It has a long history and a unique interior. Dizi and kashk-e Bademjan are the only items on the menu and the food is very cheap. Again you can read my full post about it to get a clear idea of this place.