Iran’s Cultural Treasures
Tehran – Shiraz – Persepolis – Yazd – Isfahan – Kashan – Qom – Tehran
11 Nights/ 12 Days
Explore fabled capitals of ancient empires with our expert Trip Leader, well-spoken and experienced in sharing his native land with travelers. Stroll in magnificent Persian gardens that trace their design principles to the days of Cyrus the Great.
Mingle with local residents and vendors in three colorful markets including the only bazaar in the world recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover Pasargadae and Persepolis, cities of the Achaemenid Empire that rank among the world‟s greatest sites of antiquity.
Get to know the warm Iranian people as you dine in fine local restaurants we’ve selected for their delicious Persian food and friendly ambience.
Day 1: Arrive Tehran
After arriving in Tehran from Imam Khomeini International Airport. Our VIP Services will whisk you to a comfortable lounge where you can relax while entry formalities are handled – and your checked luggage is retrieved and brought to you.
After clearing immigration and customs our professional tour guide will meet and greet you then you will be transferred to hotel for rest.
O/N Tehran – Esteghlal International Hotel
Day 2: Tehran
This morning we take you north of town into the mountain foothills to a lovely park-like setting to visit the Sa’ad Abad Palace. This was the coronation and marriage palace of the Pahlavi Dynasty – and the residence from which the last Shah of Iran fled after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Now a museum, its extensive collection includes period furnishings and décor, and even the personal effects of the last Shah.
Our guests also enjoy an exclusive tour through an intimate gallery dedicated to the 20th-century art collection of Iran’s last Empress.
Today you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Then we move to a World Heritage Site, the lavish Golestan Palace. Built during the Qajar Dynasty that rose to power in the late 1700‟s, this fabulous walled complex is centered on a landscaped garden with tranquil pools. Many of the elements you’ll admire today date to the 19th century when local Qajari architects and artisans were looking to integrate traditional Persian style with elements of Western and Russian origin. The palace buildings are among the oldest in modern Tehran and they are still regarded as a crowning achievement of the Qajar era.
Overnight at hotel Esteghlal International Hotel
Day 3: Fly to Shiraz
After breakfast, leave Tehran behind, we‟ll fly to Shiraz and you will be transferred to hotel for rest immediately. Today, you will visit Eram Garden with its aromatic myrtles, beautiful flowers, fruit trees, and towering cypress (one of which is said to be 3,000 years old). You will also visit Karim Khan Citadel. Built during the Zand Dynasty.
Then you‟ll have time to explore and shop in the bustling Vakil Bazaar, home to hundreds of stores, beautiful courtyards, and even an ancient caravanserai.
Today you‟ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on your own then, you will visit Nasir-al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque). It built by the order from one of the lords of the Qajar Dynasty, Mirza Hasan „Ali Nasir-al-Mulk, it took 12 years to complete in 1888. Its interior reveals a magnificent masterpiece of design with stunning colors. This is a space where light and worship intertwine. The mosque comes to life with the sunrise and colors dance throughout the day like whirling dervishes. It reflects on the ground, walls, the arches and the towering spires. It even reflects on the visitors as if a colorful ball is hit by the first sun ray and explodes to thousands of butterflies all around.
Tonight’s dinner in a local restaurant on your own. Overnight at Shiraz – Zandiyeh Hotel
Day 4: Shiraz
After Breakfast rest of the day is at leisure.
In evening, you can visit Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh. Shah-e-Cheragh is the most important place of pilgrimage within the city of Shiraz. The tombs became celebrated pilgrimage centers in the 14th century when Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school in the vicinity. Ahmad (Shah-e-Cheragh) came to Shiraz at the beginning of the third Islamic century (approximately 900 AD), and died there. During the rule of Atabeg Abū Sa’id Zangi (1130s AD) of the Zengid dynasty, the chief minister to the monarch by the name of Amir-Muqarrab-al-din Badr-al-din built the tomb chamber, the dome, as well as a colonnaded porch.
Then we will visit Darvazeh Quran of Shiraz (Quran Gate of Shiraz). Darvazeh Quran is located in northeast of Shiraz in the canyon of Allah-o Akbar between Chehel Maqam Mountain and Baba-Koohi Mountain located at the exit of Shiraz towards the city of Marvdasht. This monument is located near Tavoosieh square in Shiraz. Darvazeh Quran is less than 10 meters far from Khajavi Kermani tomb, less than five hundred meters far from Jahan Nama Garden, and less than a thousand meters far from the shrine of famous Persian poet Hafez-e Shirazi and Jahan Nama Garden. This is one of the most beautiful Islamic gates.
Tonight’s dinner in a local restaurant offers a local Shiraz food.
Overnight at Shiraz – Zandiyeh Hotel
Day 5: Shiraz – Yazd
After breakfast we have a full day of driving today to reach our destination of Yazd; it is a good idea to stock up on locally bought and easily found dates and pistachio nuts for the journey.
We will have some stop in our way to visit legendary city of Persepolis, former capital of Darius the Great and founded in 512 BC. There was no more impressive construction in the ancient world, except perhaps Karnak in Egypt,
Darius built the terrace, the Apadana (great audience hall), the Tachra (palace), the monumental staircases and his son, Xerxes, added the harem and the Hall of 100 Columns. Alexander the Great entered Persepolis in January 330 BC and then committed an uncharacteristic act of wanton destruction that still mystifies historians today, burning the mighty city to the ground. Though a shadow of its former self, the soaring pillars, terraces and sculptures of Persepolis still remain, but probably most impressive are the bas reliefs which line the site, telling the story of ancient governors and kings that came to Persepolis to pay tribute to the Persian Emperors.
From here we will drive a couple of miles to Naqsh-e-Rustam, the Necropolis where Darius and his successors are buried. Carved into the side of a cliff, the site is extraordinary in its magnitude and sheer ambition and does not disappoint even after the impressive Persepolis. Continue to Shiraz and check in to our hotel.
Then visit Pasargadae, UNESCO World Heritage Site, tomb of Cyrus the Great and former capital of the Achaemenid Empire. We will spend some time exploring the site and though not as striking as Persepolis, there is a great viewpoint where we can look over the site and the surrounding area.
Continue to Yazd and check in to our hotel.
Overnight at Yazd – Dad Hotel
Day 6: Yazd
Today we start our day in Yazd. Yazd is one of Iran’s oldest continuously inhabited towns, its silhouette punctuated by minarets and the ingeniously-designed wind towers that capture desert breezes to cool homes during the hot summer months. Yazd is also the center of Iran’s Zoroastrian community, which is where you’ll begin the day’s sightseeing.
At the Tower of Silence, you’ll learn about one of the traditions of this ancient pre-Islamic religion: Until the mid-1900‟s, the dead were transported to this tower where they were left to decompose and be devoured by birds.
Zoroastrian tradition considers a deceased body to be “unclean” and this process of excoriation prevents contact with either fire or earth – both of which are considered to be sacred. At the still-active Zoroastrian Fire Temple , you’ll see a flame that is said to have been burning for the past 1,500 years. It’s an important pilgrimage site for the faithful and here our expert guide will offer additional insight into one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
Overnight at Yazd – Dad Hotel
Day 7: Yazd
After breakfast, continue your exploration in Yazd to visit the Amir Chakhmaq Square that is a very impressive Hussainiya – a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies. With three tiers of recessed alcoves, all perfectly proportioned, its façade is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. Then visit the Friday Mosque, built in 1324, where you can gaze upon the tallest minarets in the country.
At Zendan-e Eskandar, you’ll find an ancient domed structure with a deep, circular brick-lined pit that resembles a dungeon. According to legend, the complex was built by Alexander the Great to hold prisoners during his conquest of Persia. Others believe it was constructed by the Persians to hold Alexander himself. Among the many other historic sites to be seen in Yazd are beautiful old homes and the Dowlat Abad Garden. Standing by the garden’s long reflecting pool; you’ll be shaded by ancient cypress trees. Ahead of you is an 18th-century hexagonal pavilion with a beautiful stained glass window and a graceful wind tower – the tallest in Iran. All around are flowering fruit trees and other ornamental plants and trees.
Overnight at Yazd – Dad Hotel
Day 8: Yazd – Isfahan
After breakfast leave Yazd behind, your first stop this morning will be in Meybod, where your first impression might be its striking monochromatic architecture of desert brick. But set along an ancient trade route, Meybod also offers a number of fascinating sites to visit including its caravanserai. Built in typical Safavid style, this ancient desert inn features verandahs, shaded passageways, and nearly 100 rooms – some of which are now used as artisan workshops. At the local icehouse, you’ll learn about the thick-clay construction and subterranean chamber that allowed local residents to have ice and food storage before refrigeration – even during the intense desert heat of summer!
Your overland journey continues to the small town of Na’in, an ancient community with origins dating back to the 8th century. At the local Ethnographic Museum , set in an erstwhile private residence of the Safavid era, you’ll learn more about the region’s cultural traditions.
Continue to Isfahan and check in to our hotel. Overnight Isfahan – Abbasi Hotel
Day 9: Isfahan
As the 17th-century capital of the Safavid Empire, Isfahan was one of the world’s greatest cities – architecturally striking, wealthy beyond imagine, and politically powerful with Europeans, Ottomans, Indians and Chinese coming to its court – the heart of a vast Persian Empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq to the Oxus River in Afghanistan.
Indeed, its grandeur inspired the rhyming proverb, Isfahan Nesf-jahan (Isfahan is Half the World). You’ll join our expert guide to begin your exploration of the city, starting with some of the centuries-old, still elegant bridges that span the
Zayandeh Rud, Sio-ce-pol and Khaju. There are sluice gates below the bridge to let the water runoff from Zayandeh River in the spring, and there are beautiful stony archways above each gate.
These archways provide a great acoustic place for every man who wants to sing. You can always find a man or a group of men singing under the bridge. The songs are usually about betrayal or unrequited love. You have the chance to chat with these men and listen to their songs.
In the city’s Armenian quarter, you’ll delve more deeply into the region’s complex history as you visit several churches including the 17th-century Vank Cathedral with its lavishly decorated interior and unique blend of Islamic and European Architectural elements. Tonight’s dinner in a local restaurant .
Overnight at Isfahan – Abbasi Hotel
Day 10: Isfahan
After breakfast continue your exploration in Isfahan at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Simple at first glance but wondrous in its rich detail and bold design, the Masjed-e Jamé is another masterpiece of Iranian architecture, covering nearly 5 acres in the heart of this historic city.
This is one of the oldest congregational mosques in the country, and its construction and embellishment over the past twelve centuries illustrate a number of important periods in Islamic architecture.
Next up is Chehel Sotun. Set in a landscaped and forested park in front of a tranquil reflecting pool, this graceful pavilion was built by Shah Abbas II for entertainment and court receptions. Entering through a portico with twenty slender wooden columns, you’ll discover soaring halls embellished with frescoes, paintings and mosaics; the Hall of Mirrors is especially breathtaking!
This afternoon, your exploration continues in Imam Square. This 17th-century site is one of the largest public spaces in the world. Here in the square, you’ll visit the 17th-century Shah Mosque and architectural marvels of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, revered as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and easily recognized by its magnificent tile-work and soaring cupola and minarets.
You’ll end your day exploring the Qeisarieh Bazaar that surrounds Imam Square. With hundreds of local vendors that specialize in traditional arts and crafts, it’s a wonderful place to shop for pottery, enamel, jewelry and delicately inlaid board games. Tonight’s dinner in a local restaurant .
Overnight at Isfahan – Abbasi Hotel
Day 11: Isfahan – Kashan
Leaving Isfahan behind, we drive for a few hours to the Kashan, a town originally famous for its textiles and ceramic production, but now better known for the Fin gardens and extensive bazaar .
The Fin gardens are our first stop, a relaxing and visually impressive Persian garden with water channels all passing through a central pavilion, there is also the chance to buy some rose water, a local specialty – outside of the site.
From here we will visit the bazaar area, a widespread complex filled with hamams and mosques; one hamam has been converted to a traditional tea house where we will stop for those who need a break from shopping.
Overnight Kashan –Saraye Ameriha boutique Hotel.
Day 12: Tehran Departure
Leaving Kashan behind, we come back to Tehran. On our way to the Capital, we can stop in Qom. The famous thing about Qom is the Fatima È Masoumeh Shrine which is a highly respected shrine. You are not allowed entry in the holy shrine unless with a Muslim companion or guide.
Tonight you’ll be escorted to the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) for your departure flight.
Per person on twin Sharing USD 3120
Tour Price includes
- 11 Nights’ accommodation as per hotels mentioned above.
- All return airport transfers and intercity transfers as per itinerary.
- Daily breakfast.
- Internal flights if any.
- All sightseeing as per itinerary with entrance fee and service of English speaking guide.
Above rates exclude:
- Meal – Which is not mentioned in inclusion
- Visa Fee
- Any items of personal items like, tips, laundry, telephone calls etc.
- Government Service Tax of 5%
- Tour cost is based on the best available prices at the time of costing and are subject to available at the time of booking.
- High Season Surcharge will be applied wherever applicable.