The never-sleeping heart of Iran is how the locals describe Tehran, the capital of the country, one of the largest Asian cities with almost 14 million people. Unlike many Iranian cities, Tehran is comfortable to visit throughout the year: the surrounding snow-capped mountains bring coolness in summer and protect from cold winds in winter, an abundance of parks, gardens and irrigation canals invite leisurely walks, and noisy oriental bazaars seethe regardless of the temperature. And here you can also get lost in the halls of the richest Museum of Ancient History, be blinded by the splendor of the Shah’s treasury and try to reach the azure carved ceilings of the Golestan Palace.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Iran is 85.03 million (2021).
And yet the best month to visit the capital of Iran is April.
How to get to Tehran
IranAir and Aeroflot regularly operate direct flights from Moscow Sheremetyevo to Tehran: IranAir flies on Tuesdays, Aeroflot on all days of the week except Monday and Friday. Travel time is about 4 hours. In addition, Tehran can be reached by such airlines as Emirates (with a change in Dubai), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Alitalia (via Rome), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), Azerbaijan Airlines (via Baku), etc.
Tehran has two airports. International flights land at Imam Khomeini International Airport, located 35 km from the city center. You can cover this distance by taxi. The cost is fixed, no matter which area of Tehran you are heading to: IRR 250,000 for a regular car, IRR 300,000 for a comfortable Toyota Lumbar and IRR 350,000 for a minivan (which is convenient if you are traveling with a group).
Leaving Tehran, go to the airport as early as possible: there is a risk of spending a long time in traffic jams for many kilometers. In addition, it is recommended to allocate at least one and a half hours for customs procedures upon departure.
How to navigate in the city
Tehran can be divided into two parts: northern and southern. Northern Tehran is urban, flourishing, successful and pompous with all the characteristic attributes: from the degree of intelligence of its inhabitants to the level of restaurants and boutiques of famous brands. The southern districts of the city are more democratic, if not rustic, but the prices here are lower.
The city center is an industrial area, the cheapest hotels are located there, and in general there is nothing for tourists to do there. The most picturesque areas and comfortable hotels are located at the foot of the mountains.
You can get around Tehran by taxi, bus and metro. Ground transportation can be a real test of patience, as the city has serious traffic problems: traffic jams are not uncommon, and traffic rules are absent as a fact. Try to avoid ground travel during peak hours – from 7 to 8 in the morning and from 5 to 8 in the evening.
Tehran taxis are slightly more expensive than in other cities of the country, but by European standards they are very cheap. Taxis carry a maximum of four people, for travel alone without stopping to collect fellow travelers, you will need to pay for all the seats. However, in any case, the fare is fixed and completely negligible – from 0.5 USD. These taxis circulate on certain routes, and in some cases you will need to change a couple of cars to get to the right place, or do part of the way on foot.
Hopelessly late to somewhere, as well as thrill-seekers can use a motorcycle taxi. Perhaps, throughout the trip, it will seem to you that you are about to crash into a neighboring car or a pole, or even fly out into the “oncoming lane”, but you will get to your destination twice as fast. But at the same time, it is also extremely unsafe, a very dubious pleasure from riding an old motorcycle that is even scary to look at.
- Tehran map
Tehran buses can be recommended more as an attribute of immersive tourism than a really useful means of transport. Route numbers and names of destinations are written in Arabic letters and numbers, however, you can always ask others – the Iranians are happy to help tourists. Fare – 200 IRR, tickets are bought at stops and presented to the driver upon boarding. Red high-speed buses also run on popular destinations, the fare for them is 1000 IRR.
The bus, as a rule, is divided into two parts (visually, without any partitions and bars) – into the male and female half, so be careful when boarding.
The Tehran metro is a large-scale and ambitious project designed to somehow cope with the chaos on the surface. To date, there are 4 lines with a central transfer at the Imam Khomeini station. Tourist value is represented by lines No. 1 (south-north) and No. 2 (east-west). Trains run from 5 am to 11 pm with a frequency of 10-15 minutes. Farsi inscriptions are dubbed in English. The cost of tickets for 1, 2 and 10 trips is 2500, 4500 and 14000 rials, respectively.
For women who want to travel exclusively in the company of women, all conditions have been created in Tehran’s public transport: there are ladies’ taxis with female drivers, they have a rear compartment on buses, and at the end of each metro train two separate carriages exclusively for women are attached (however, in the last time is practically not respected). At the same time, the fair sex can also pass in the male part of the transport, but men are not allowed to enter the female half.
Cuisine and restaurants of Tehran
Opportunities to dine and just have a bite to absolutely every taste and budget in Tehran, perhaps more than in other cities of Iran. On almost every corner you will be waiting for “folk” eateries and kebabs. Use your common sense when choosing inexpensive eateries: Eat only in clean, trustworthy establishments. Unlike similar establishments in the Arab world, local “kahwehane” (coffee houses) serve not only drinks, but also simple dishes, such as meat and vegetable stews. You can also have a bite to eat at Boof and SFC fast food chains. In addition, there are many inexpensive establishments of Indian, Thai, Chinese, Turkish and Italian cuisines in Tehran.
Haute cuisine restaurants are concentrated in northern Tehran. They are worth visiting at least once to enjoy amazing Iranian dishes. A meal there will cost from 300,000 IRR.
You can order alcohol in any restaurant in Tehran, you don’t even need to make special efforts, just say that you are from Russia.
Be sure to spend the evening in one of the traditional coffee houses with a cup of aromatic coffee or tea from a samovar, sipping the velvet smoke of a hookah.
Many meals are accompanied by the popular “dug” drink, a mixture of yogurt and water seasoned with salt and spices, with a light mint flavor. Doug goes surprisingly well with kebabs.
You can order alcohol in any restaurant in Tehran, you don’t even need to make special efforts, just say that you are from Russia. What to drink: cognac, much tastier than Baltika beer at home and, if you meet, Iranian wine, which can only be found in small restaurants or hookahs on mountain tourist routes in the vicinity of Tehran (Darak and Darbant).
The average check in a restaurant will be 5-10 USD. The main dish is kebab. At first, the taste of saffron will not be quite familiar to a foreigner; it is put in meat, fish, salads, sauces and even ice cream. The most popular and delicious fast food in Tehran, and indeed in all of Iran, is subway sandwiches – make your own. Vegetarian restaurants are also very popular lately.
- What restaurants serve traditional cuisine in Tehran
Shopping and stores
National art objects, souvenirs and other things can be bought at the vast Tehran Bazaar – one of the largest markets in the country. In addition, almost everything that money can buy is sold here – from household items, clothes and shoes to gold jewelry, furniture and interior items.
Fine Iranian jewelry can also be purchased at the specialized boutiques on Geisha, Karim Khan and Miled Noor streets.
The popular shopping malls on Valiasr Street and Tarzis Square offer products from the world’s leading brands. Also visit the Golestan shopping center. All clothes of foreign brands are inexpensive, brought from the UAE.
Near the central shopping street there is an “Azerbaijani” market where you can find products more familiar to the Russian stomach that are not found in Tehran’s supermarkets: dumplings, crab sticks, condensed milk, etc.
Entertainment and attractions of Tehran
The National Museum of Iran has a rich collection of exhibits on the history of the region, ranging from archaeological finds in the sites of ancient people to the Sassanid period. There are also objects of contemporary art, masterpieces of folk crafts and examples of calligraphy.
The Museum of Modern Art presents paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Monet, Miro and other famous artists. This is one of the finest collections of Western art in Asia.
The Carpet Museum is located next to the Museum of Modern Art. There are more than 100 exhibits from all over the country, the oldest one dates back to the 17th century. Weavers work on the first floor.
The National Treasury literally takes your breath away from the abundance of the rarest jewels. Pay attention to the Peacock Throne, decorated with almost 27 thousand precious stones.
You can see the greatness of imperial Persia in the numerous palaces of the rulers of the state. The Golestan palace complex, Ivan e-Takht e-Marmar, the White and Green Palaces, as well as Shams al-Amarat and Amarat e-Badgir are among the masterpieces.
The National Treasury literally takes your breath away from the abundance of the rarest jewels.
In Tehran, you can visit the memorial places of Imam Khomeini – his mausoleum and the mosque erected in his honor (enjoy the external decoration – entry for non-Muslims is prohibited).
Among the archaeological monuments stands out the ancient fortress of Sheshme Ali (4 thousand BC) and the 20-meter tower Togrol, located on the outskirts of Tehran.
Take a walk in the Parc e Lale, in the city center. The monument on Freedom Square (Azadi Square) is also a popular concert venue, where mainly national ensembles perform.
There are no discos and nightclubs officially in Iran, but in some restaurants and establishments tourists can be offered flyers to visit a disco for tourists outside the city (something like open-air). In the vicinity of Tehran, you can also go skiing and just spend a pleasant time surrounded by snow. The two access points to the mountains are Darband and Darake.