The top things to do in Yazd, Iran come in a variety of local culture, exploring the adobe desert towns, foodie experiences and the must-visit attractions of Yazd. Yazd, situated in the heart of the desert and best known for its skyline of wind towers, exceptional water reservoirs, and mud-brick buildings is by far my favorite Iranian city hands-down. From the first time I set foot in the city and now after a couple of trips to here, Yazd seems to always have a new surprise in hand.
Yazd, Iran | Iran’s largest adobe city
Yazd is calm, serene and intimate. Its people are humble, tend to be quite religious, and if the extreme heat and lack of water have taught them one thing; it’s to be hardworking.
For hundreds of years and generation after generation, Yazdis have learned to cope with the environment of their homeland. They’ve come up with exquisitely light and airy fabrics to cover themselves in the heat which has resulted in one of the finest textiles industries in the country. They’ve created wind catchers to cool their houses during hot summer days, used Ab Anbars (water reservoirs) to keep every drop of water and invented an exceptional water supply system called Qanat dating back to over 2500 years.
The people of Yazd are known to be humble in their appearance and social interactions, but many with great economical backgrounds. They’re pretty much like their houses; humble and plain from the outside and extravagant on the inside.
Yazd has one of the most scenic skylines in all of Iran. Its panorama of wind towers, flat rooftops and tall minarets with the backdrop of its always blue sky evoke the feeling of a silk road traveler. Few cities have the power to beguile travelers like Yazd and from my own experience, it’s the pinnacle of many people’s trip to Iran.
The cities history claims it to be one of the oldest cities along the Silk Road and well known for being a trading post, especially in terms of textile. Marco Polo describes Yazd in his book in the following way:
It is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of.
Yazd is also home to the biggest population of Zoroastrians in Iran. It used to be mainly Jewish-Zoroastrian back in the old days. Later many Jews migrated to Israel and most Zoroastrians left the country. Today it has a majority Muslim population but still with the biggest population of Zoroastrians in Iran.
Your first trip to Iran? Read our Ultimate Iran Travel Guide
Best time to visit Yazd
Yazd is well known for its tremendous summer heat and harsh winter nights. As expected from any desert city, temperatures change dramatically from day to night no matter the season. Summers are extremely hot and winters are dry and cold. Early spring and mid-autumn are probably the best time of the year to visit Yazd. Winters are still doable if you’re wrapped up in proper clothing and spend most of the day under sunlight but summers are truly hard to bear.
How to get to Yazd
Yazd is easily reachable by bus, train, and plane from major Iranian cities.
Trains from Mashhad, Bandar Abbas, Kerman and Tehran come here frequently. Flights from the same cities also reach Yazd and the city is well connected with Mashhad, Tabriz, Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Kerman, Bandar Abbas, and Kashan via buses.
You can book all your bus tickets in advance through 1stQuest
Top places to visit in Yazd
Yazd old Town
The old town is definitely the most charming part of visiting Yazd. A UNESCO world heritage site, Yazd old town is an absolute delight with its narrow alleyways filled with mudbrick-walled houses and sturdy-looking wooden doors. Many of the city’s main attractions are also located within the old town. The district is full of old traditional houses with heavenly hidden courtyards, Qanats, water reservoirs, bazaars, Hamams, Zoorkhanehs, mosques, shrines and wind towers.
Jameh mosque of Yazd
Constructed on the site of a former fire temple, the 12th-century Jameh mosque of Yazd is an exquisite work of art epitomizing oriental opulence. Its exceptional tilework is a tribute to craftsmanship and artistry. It’s one of the finest examples of mosques within Iran and absolutely not to be missed.
Located within the old town, its tall blue entrance portal and high minarets soar into the sky making the highest minarets of the country visible from every rooftop within the city.
Dowlat Abad garden
Among one of the 9 Persian gardens registered by UNESCO, Dowlat Abad garden is home to the tallest wind tower (Badgir) in Iran – 33 meters high. It was built in the 18th century but later reconstructed after its collapse in the 1960s. Its long pool runs in between pine trees reaching a pavilion that is adorned with latticework and intricate stained glass windows.
Amir Chakhmaq complex
Amir Chakhmaq complex located within a square with the same name includes an elaborate 3 storey facade with symmetrical alcove arches built in the 15th century by the city’s governor Jalal-al-Din Amir-Chakhmaq, a mosque, caravanserai, Tekyeh, and bathhouse. The wooden palm structure (seen on the right of the picture) is used during the commemoration of Ashura and kept here all around the year.
A visit to the square at night is highly recommended as it gets even better when the structure lits up.
Atashkadeh | Zoroastrian Fire Temple
Yazd Atash Bahram fire temple is home to the Victorious Fire burning since 470 AD and brought here after the temple’s construction in 1934. This fire is one of the 9 Victorious Fires in the world and the only one in Iran as the rest are kept in India.
The structure is a plain brick building. With a winged goddess illustration of Ahura Mazda (The Zoroastrian God) on the front entrance. Non-Zoroastrian visitors can see the fire from behind the glass while Zoroastrians can enter the room itself. There’s also a small museum if you’re interested to learn more about the religion.
Zoroastrian Towers of Silence
Zoroastrians considered dead bodies as unclean and to prevent the contamination of earth and fire which are sacred, they would take the corpses to the top of towers to be exposed to the sun and scavenging birds. What remained of the body was covered in wax and buried. The ritual is obviously not practiced anymore and Zoroastrians prefer burial or cremation today.
The Yazd towers of silence are rested on top of a hill and currently accessible to visitors.
The water museum of Yazd is within a restored mansion with a visible qanat running underneath it. It showcases the history of water in Yazd through wax figures and photos and drawings. The building itself is absolutely stunning and a must-see.
Seyyed Roknoddin Shrine
The shrine of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi in the heart of the old town was built around 700 years ago. The dome and interior are both impressive and definitely worth a quick visit.
Saheb Zaman Zoorkhaneh
Zoorkhaneh is basically a traditional gym in Iran originally made to train warriors where men practice a mix of martial arts and strength training to the beat of drums and gnostic songs sang by the Morshed praising the Shi’ite imams or singing verses of the Shahnameh.
Saheb Zaman Zoorkhaneh is actually inside an old Ab Anbar (water reservoir) to the left side of Amir Chakhmaq complex. Its 4 wind towers are easily visible and it’s open to visitors during the rituals. If you go there after the evening prayers, there’s a good chance you’ll get to witness the practice.
Top things to do in Yazd
Zoroastrian themed cooking class
If you’re interested in local food and feel curious to experience a day with Zoroastrians, Persian Food Tours offers a great Zoroastrian themed cooking class. You’ll be picked up from Yazd and taken to Taft which is a small town 30 min from Yazd well known for its pomegranate gardens and Zoroastrian community. From there you’ll be guided on a food tour and follow up with a cooking class.
Witnessing Yazd during Ashura
Ashura is a huge ceremony held in Iran commemorating the death of Imam Hussein during the battle of Ashura. You read all about the ceremony of Ashura in the related blog post but if you’re curious to witness it yourself, Yazd just does Ashura at a whole different dimension.
Best accommodation and hotels in Yazd
- Budget: Friendly hostel, Good Feeling hostel, Badgir hostel, Yazd RestUp hostel
- Mid-range: Silk Road hotel, Seneek home, Kohan hotel، Yazd Rain House، Narenjestan hotel
- High-range: Safayieh hotel (garden suits), Dad hotel, Arg hotel
Best cafes in Yazd
Best restaurants in Yazd
- Talar-e Yazd
- Sib o Nar
- Silk road hotel restaurant
- Ras Tooran located within Safayieh hotel
- Kohan hotel restaurant
- Emarat Vakil
Want to know what to eat in Yazd? Read our ULTIMATE IRAN FOOD GUIDE
Souvenirs from Yazd
- Termeh: Termeh is a beautiful handwoven piece of fabric originally from Yazd. The fabrics you find nowadays are obviously not handwoven but they’ve kept the design along with a lot more variety. The traditional Termeh is the jujube red colored one and the best place to buy them would be at Termeh Rezaieh situated within Amir Chakhmaq square.
- Pastry: Yazd is well known for its delicious sweets, anything from baklavas, Ghottab, and Pashmak. The place to buy them is at Haj Khalifeh Rahbar, the oldest confectionary located on the left side of Amir Chakhmaq square.
- Cotton towels: Yazd is extremely well known for its light fabrics and textile. You’ll see a bunch of soft cotton towels sold in fabric shops which are absolutely great in absorbing water, take very little space and make for a great traveling towel.
- Shamad: Shamad is light airy fabric used as a blanket in hot summer nights. They have amazing quality and there’s no way you’d sweat in them. Perfect for travel and also just using at home if you’d like to always have a blanket despite the heat.
- Gold: Gold jewelry in Yazd is still pretty much handmade and is a fine piece of work. There’s a huge gold bazaar within the Khan bazaar of Yazd with a huge variety of designs. If you’re thinking about buying one, check out Kheirollahi gold shop, the oldest gold shop in Yazd within the Khan bazaar.
- Nabat (Sugar canes): Yazd has the best sugar sticks in all of Iran. There are even handmade ones that can be bought in kilos.
Best day trips from Yazd
If you’re interested in experiencing a stay at a caravanserai, I’d highly recommend Zeinodding. It’s a little over a 100km from Yazd on route to Kerman but definitely worth it. You can read all about my experience staying at Zeinodin Caravanserai.
Fahraj is a small village 30 km from Yazd that is home to one of the oldest mosques in Iran where you can visit a fine example of early Islamic architecture.
Meybod is an ancient desert city that was once the capital of Iran during the Mozzafarid period. Narin Castle, one of the oldest Iranian castles dating back to the Sasanid period is located within the city. Meybod is well known for its ceramic and pottery and has some major Safavid examples of architecture such as the Abbasi caravanserai and Chaparkhaneh.
Kharanaq is a deserted old mud-brick village dating back to over 1000 years ago most famous for its landscape of dilapidated buildings, 17th-century shaking minaret, small mosques, and caravanserai. There are very few people still living in the village. Most of the population left after the water supplies dried up and abandoned one of Iran’s biggest adobe villages.
Kharanaq is among the best day trip from Yazd in my humble opinion. It’s a gorgeous place to wander in the tunnels, passageways, and allies and also offers some scenic views.
Chak Chak is the most important Zoroastrian shrine in Iran and can read all about in our dedicated post.
Sar Yazd is mainly known for Sar Yazd castle, the world’s largest and oldest treasury!! Sar Yazd Castle is mighty citadel dating back to the 7th century, the Sasanid period. The fortress was used to store food but also worked as a bank where the wealthy left their valuables buried in pots hidden in the mud brick structure’s cells spread across passageways, floors, and doors. Some pots have been broken, some still intact but the jewels and treasures have long disappeared to hunters & taken to museums across the world.
The castle has been made difficult to navigate with narrow passageways, hidden entrances, and small openings so it would be good to go with a guide. Nevertheless, make sure you climb up to the tallest tower for a rewarding view of the surrounding desert and Shirkuh mountain.
- Kharanaq, Chak Chak, and Meybod and be all visited within a one day tour.
- Fahraj, Zeinodin, and Saryazd can be visited in less than a day as they are pretty close to Yazd.