Iran’s that one country on your list that you’ve been giving it a lot of thought. Your feet have been itching to tick it off but warnings and daily news headlines make you to think otherwise. While things are not all roses in this part of the world (where is?), take it from an Iranian: You’re missing out on A LOT from not making that trip to Iran!

#1 Expect to be surprised!!

This is a no brainer. You hear it from every-single-travel blogger who’s made the big decision of travelling to Iran. They come back home stunned. Shocked in fact! A lifetime mentality of a country that’s always been making it to the controversial headlines has collapsed. Their 2 week trip to Iran is spent questioning what they knew and gradually building that new mindset of one of the most misunderstood countries in the world.

Be the people, the safety, the food or the fact that no one’s going to spit out “Death to America” slogans when they hear you’re from that other country, Iran’s going to surprise you! And it won’t have anything to do with your political ideology of the Middle East, or your choice of Media. It just will!

Kish Island - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Gorgeous sunset at Kish island, Persian Gulf.
Naqsh-e Rostam - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Tombs of four great Persian kings of the Achaemenid empire at Naqsh-e-Rostam.

#2 Expect to be treated like a celebrity

Since old times, when travelers or merchants would make stops in Iran’s part of the Silk Road, Iranians were accustomed to having guests and knew how to treat them well. But then “things” happened and that number of visitors and tourists decreased to the minimum. This left the few coming to stand out like the shiny new toy, and so they were treated like royalty.
Iranians will come up to you and say hello, they will want pictures with you, they’ll invite you to their home or even offer you a free guided tour of their hometown. Where else are you going to find that?

Pasargad - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Resting place of Cyrus the great!
Persepolis - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
The enchanting Persepolis!

#3 Expect to be questioned!

Let’s put it this way. Iranians are “curious”. Sometimes a little too much. When they see you, they might just randomly come up, greet you and ask you where you’re from. There’s one other thing that you’re bound to be questioned: ‘What do you think of Iran?’ You’ll be asked this question over and over again, so be prepared.

But here’s what they really want to know. Iranians know well how their country is portrayed in the media. By that question they really just want to know how much influence that media has had on you. Then they’ll start talking politics, and they’ll continuously ask for your opinion. So if you’re into getting deep with the locals, it’s recommended to do some reading on Iran’s revolution, important political incidents and be able to name at least the last 3 presidents of the country before a trip to Iran.

#4 Expect to be fed until you can’t take it anymore!

It’s not because you’re a foreign guest, but Iranians, specifically the oldies see their guests as if they’ve come from a land that’s been hit by famine for years and now’s the time to stock up! They’ll feed you and insist that you try out everything. They’ll grab your plate and pour in the rice until you’ve declared ENOUGH for the third time! If you’re on a diet or thinking of losing weight, you might as well do everyone a favour and forget it on a trip to Iran. Not happening! No, No!

Iranian food - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
A very usual table when you’re invited by an Iranian for lunch. Yum!

#5 Expect great food on a trip to Iran!

Despite the force-feeding, you’re in for a treat. If Iranian food had been advertised better, it would have easily been the new Chinese. All foods in Iran are categorized as either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ and every dish is balanced according to that philosophy. Sometimes a particular side dish like pickles or yogurts helps to balance the meal. Your body is also categorized as either one. So for example if your body is ‘hot’ it’s best to eat cooling foods to keep yourself healthy. It’s a bit confusing at first but leave it to the Persians and they’ll bring you the perfect meal.

Iranian food - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran

#6 Expect to be safe

In a region where blowing up bombs make the headlines way too often, Iran has been able to keep it safe. Very safe indeed. Crimes against tourist are extremely low in Iran. But this doesn’t mean you should throw cautions to the wind. Take care of your belongings, don’t over trust people and you’ll be just fine. And I mean solo-female-travel kind of fine!

But if you want to get deep into how safe Iran really is, then make sure you read my complete guide to safety in Iran.

10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
We felt perfectly safe having the streets of old town Yazd to ourselves at night.

#7 Expect exquisite architecture and sublime gardens

Where shall I start? From the majestic structures of Persepolis that date back to over 2500 years ago or the dazzling tiles and stucco adorning mosques, palaces and wealthy homes. It’s all here. And they’ve come up with a genius idea for every type of geology and weather conditions. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the gardens. That famous Persian garden that you’ve seen in Alhambra in Spain or Taj Mahal. You’ll see a lot of that here.

Check out these top 10 historical gardens in Tehran!

10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Dance of lights!
10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Fin Garden, a must-see!
10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Tomb of Saadi, the famous Iranian poet. Iranians love to spoil their poets with lovely gardens!

#8 Expect variety in every form and shape

Iran is a big country and comes with a huge variety. While you can ski in the northern mountains of Tehran, weather conditions are beyond perfect for a swim in the Persian Gulf. The people are just as like. White, Olive colored skin or dark, different clothing, different cultures, cuisine, even way too many different languages. If it wasn’t for the national language, most Iranians would have not even understood each other. During a trip to Iran, expect new doors to open in every region. Arm yourself with curiosity and patience and cherish a whole world squeezed into one country.

10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Women of Hengam island in their colorful traditional clothing and of course the mask!

#9 Expect breathtaking natural landscapes

While Iran’s reputation is mostly for it’s long lived history and cultural tourism, the country’s natural beauty is excessively underestimated. Most people think of Iran as a desert, while almost 50% of the country is covered with mountains!! Iran’s geological variety leads to luscious green forests in the north, golden sand beaches in the Gulf, canyons, yardangs, mangrove forests and a huge diversity in wildlife.

10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
On the road to Chak Chak.
10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Amazing Salt lakes!
Qeshm island - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
Dolphin watching in Hengam island.
Qeshm island - 10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
At the stars valley in Qeshm.

#10 Expect to meet the most photo friendly nation

Iranians love to be the subject of your photos. It doesn’t matter if you’ve befriended them just an hour before or you’re a total stranger. Position your camera and they’ll be happy to pose. Do give them a sign before you shoot and expect a heads up in return.

10 things to expect on your trip to Iran
A humble and kind shoe maker in Tehran.

Time to pack now. Book that flight you’ve been checking for ages, take a leap of faith and leave for that adventure your family and friends have been warning you about. You’ll have tons of pictures, loads of goodies and a whole new vision to take back home. Ones you’ll cherish until that very last breath.


29 thoughts on “10 things to expect on your trip to Iran

  1. Tina says:

    What a complete list! I am an Iranian myself but I can say all of my German friends who visited Iran have mentioned what you listed here!

  2. Ali says:

    Great article. This was the first time I was visiting you blog, but it won’t be the last!
    BTW, being an Iranian, I wouldn’t be so sure about the #10 though! 😀

    • Travestyle says:

      Oh Thank you Ali! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’m sure there will be people who don’t like their photo to be taken but in general and from my experience I think Iranians take it quite easy compared to other nations. 😉 Looking forward to seeing you around here.

  3. Eniko Halasz says:

    It’s all very true and the list of good things could go on much longer. Very sad that there’s such a negative propaganda out there about Iran. It’s a lovely country, with lovely people. One of the most peaceful, friendliest people I’ve ever met.

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  8. Hanie says:

    Matin jan, Every time I click over a link in travelstyle, a new joy adds to my knowledge and taste. I really like your writing, and believe it’s not by chance although totally instinctively. And the images in the posts are very attractive and chosen best too. Thumps up and keep up the good job 🙂

  9. Rehmat Ullah Gorijo says:

    This article is awesome and correct, I’m a Pakistani and have been to Tehran for 2 weeks on Asian wall climbing competitions in Tehran. I recall my experience as the article described and wished to have more experience in to the far-flung areas of Iran.

    • Matin Lashkari says:

      No. Americans cannot travel without a tour guide. I’d personally recommend Pasargad. They are a little more expensive than others, but probably the most organized Iranian operator I know.

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