Stretched along the Zagros mountain range, veiled with wheat fields and dotted with oak trees, Lorestan Province is sure a looker at first sight. With striking mountains, numerous mysterious canyons and waterfalls by the dozen, it’s no wonder why Lorestan is known for the most staggering canyons and waterfalls in Iran.
A trip to Lorestan had been on the back of my mind since forever. Somehow things had never worked out at the right time but as soon as we found a few days of holiday to skip work, I knew it was now or never.
When’s the best time to visit Lorestan Province?
We actually didn’t visit at the right time. Despite being late spring, Lorestan was already extremely hot and dry which didn’t help when visiting valleys and fields with little to no shade. The good thing was that a trip to Lorestan involves a lot of getting wet. We found ourselves near waterfalls, brooks and meandering rivers way too often. Hiking through canyons also involved a lot of river crossing which soothed the heat. But if you’d like to see Lorestan in full bloom and luscious greenery, I’d suggest visiting from late October to early January or from April to mid-May.
How to get to Lorestan Province?
We travelled to Lorestan province by car which gave us a lot of freedom and comfort in planning our own route. Most natural attractions of Lorestan are quite distant from each other and the best way to visit them would be having your own car. Tehran to Khorramabad is around 490 km which can take up to 6 hours drive but the roads are all in good condition and the drive is easy. Buses also run frequently from Tehran South Terman and Beihaghi Terminal.
There’s also a train from Tehran to Dorud which can be efficient if you don’t plan on renting a car. The train ride is also known to be one the most scenic in Iran and you could always hire a driver guide in Dorud to take you elsewhere.
Flights from Tehran to Khorramabad run every other day and normally depart in the morning or around noon depending on the day.
Where to Stay?
We had 4 nights in Lorestan. 3 was spent in Khorramabad and one was kept for Kuhdasht. There are a few decent hotels in Khorramabad but don’t expect too much. I’d personally suggest planning out your itinerary and then choosing the cities or villages in which you’d like to stay as it would really help with the distances.
Here’s a list of recommended hotels in Khorramabad:
- Shapoor Khast hotel
- Rangin Kaman hotel
- Azadi hotel
- Mohammad Pour Family ecolodge located 5 km from Khorramabad in Qale’h Sangi village (+09163603797)
If you’d like to stay in villages or prefer local homes like us, we’d highly recommend getting in touch with Bahram Jafrasteh (+98-9166617985). He’s a licensed tour guide who can not only guide you during your visit to Lorestan but also arrange for accommodations and plan your itinerary. Sina Heidari is also another local guide to rely on. You can reach him on this number: +98-9165533578
Places to visit in Lorestan:
- Falak-ol-Aflak Castle: The main attraction of Lorestan is a Sasanid fort standing in the centre of Khorramabad for over 1800 years. Falak-ol-Aflak has recently been converted into a museum with wax figures depicting Lorestani culture and traditions along with historic items belonging to the first settlements in the region.
Just so you know, Lorestan has a long history dating back to 3rd and 4th millennium BC. Some of the most precious historic items from this region are the Lurestan bronze artwork usually dating back to 1000 to 650 BC currently on display in museums all around the world.
- Makhmal Kooh: A mountainous region with beautiful greenery and waterfalls which is perfect for hiking.
- Brick Minaret: You can see the famous brick minaret in the city center on your way to Falak-ol-Aflak castle which was used to guide caravans in the dark. There used to be a few of them in Khorramabad but this one’s the best preserved.
- Broken bridge (Shapuri bridge): Lorestan has numerous brick and stone bridges and the stone Broken bridge is the most famous of them all. Built by Shapur I Sasanid around the same time as Falak-ol-Aflak castle, there are 6 arches remaining from this 28 arch bridge constructed to give way to caravans from Susa to Ecbatana.
- Bisheh waterfall: This waterfall is probably the most famous and easiest to access in all of Lorestan. It’s absolutely stunning and definitely worth the 45 min drive from Khorramabad. Just make sure you don’t visit on weekends or holidays as it can be overcrowded with little to enjoy.
- Gerit waterfall: A smaller waterfall close to Bisheh that you could visit on your way.
- Nozhian waterfall: A super high waterfall, in fact, one of the highest in Iran that would require a short hike to access.
- Keeyow lake: This place is mentioned in a lot of places as one of the main attractions of Khorramabad. To be honest, I was not impressed a bit. I found it to be just a normal-looking lake. Nothing too crazy and worth the miss.
- Bam-e Lorestan: A high viewpoint in Khorramabad which makes for a perfect sunset view of the city.
- Vark waterfall: Vark waterfall is one of the best in Lorestan but you’d need to do a 2-hour hike to reach it. It’s highly recommended but make sure you hire a guide to lead you to the waterfall.
- Gahar Lake: Located on the sloped of Oshtoran Kooh, Gahar is a beautiful lake with turquoise blue water and stunning views. To reach the lake you need to get to Cheshmeh Khorram which is 45 min drive from Dorud and then hike for 3-4 hours to the lake. You’d have to camp for at least one night beside the lake which is a whole feast of its own. Make sure you contact one of the local guides mentioned in the post if plan on going here as they can arrange for food, tents and animals to carry your belongings to the lake.
Our short stay in Lorestan didn’t allow us to do the trek or visit much of Dorud, but it’s a whole different journey we’re planning on doing later.
Espar waterfall, Leili canyon and a hike to Oshtoran Kooh can all be arranged when you’re visiting Dorud.
Shirez canyon: Hiking through Shirez canyon on our visit to Lorestan was definitely the cherry on top. The canyon is massive and unbelievably stunning. We had to make stops every once in a while to take in all the beauty surrounding us. Shirez canyon is 2 hours drive from Khorramabad and an hour less if you’re coming from Kuhdasht. We’d highly suggest visiting here early in the morning to avoid crowds on weekends or the sun hitting on top of your head. The hike is not simple but you don’t need to be a professional to do it. Most people hike up to Pol-e Khoda which is basically a beautiful cave. The hike up to here takes up to 2 hours but it’s definitely worth it.
There are two routes, one that goes through and besides the river (perfect to escape the heat) and another along the canyon which is shorter and easier but doesn’t give you the same beauty. We took the river route up to the cave and took the latter to return back to the parking.
If you head south from Kuhdasht to Pol Dokhtar, you can visit Kogan cave, Kashkan bridge, and Khazineh valley known for its horseshoe curve along the way.
If you happen to visit Lorestan during summer by any chance, I’d also suggest a visit to Hald canyon 90km from Khorramabad on route to Andimeshk. The canyon is absolutely beautiful but the water was way too high for us to cross it in late spring. We did have a good swim though but I’ve heard it only gets more and more beautiful once you hike through it. Go there prepared as it takes up to 4 hours to cross the whole canyon.
Where to eat in Lorestan?
Unfortunately, I was very much disappointed in terms of food in Lorestan.
Lorestan is a big exporter of meat so you can imagine there were lots of kebabs and meat-based dishes. What I struggled to find was decent restaurants and local food that could almost be found nowhere. The restaurant of Gap Hamam, Azadi hotel and Zafaran Talaei restaurant in Khorramabad are among the best you can find.
Lorestan hasn’t really been doing well in promoting its tourism in Iran or the world and therefore it stays rather neglected and unknown. It is only recently that I find more and more Iranians traveling to the region. The potential is honestly mind-blowing and it could easily become a popular destination among nature-lovers but there’s so much that needs to be done. The infrastructure (read hotels, restaurants, cafes, …) needs a heavy push and there’s hardly much content available to help travellers find there way around the province.
We had a very short time in Lorestan (4 days) and the weather wasn’t one our side, so we didn’t get to visit as much as I had anticipated. But I knew for sure that I need to do whatever I can in introducing this fascinating region. The locals in Lorestan were some of the friendliest I’ve met and we were constantly greeted and thanked for our visit.
To write this guide I tried to add my own experience along with recommendations of local guides to make it as practical as possible and hopefully, it will be updated once I return to Lorestan for more.