Steeped in history, culture, and nature, Iran is home to a wealth of attractions and things to do and see. It might be difficult to figure out which places should be your priority, but here’s a list of Culture Trip’s 20 favorite attractions that you can’t miss on your trip to this exciting country.
Once the capital of the first Persian Empire and birthplace of Persian civilization, it’s vital that you visit Persepolis. In fact, you haven’t seen Iran unless you’ve walked in the footsteps of the ancient kings.
Valley of the Stars
Qeshm offers pristine nature and a world of mystery, but if there’s one attraction not to miss, it’s the Valley of the Stars. Marl and sandstone make up the other-worldly rock formations, and with a little imagination, you can see animals, faces, and hands among other things.
The first Iranian site registered with UNESCO, Chogha Zanbil is a 13th-century BC ziggurat in the Khuzestan province. Baked bricks with cuneiform inscriptions are layered in the structure, and a centuries-old footprint of a child in the stone is roped off towards the back.
A bit of athleticism and no fear are required to reach Babak Castle. Once the stronghold of a Khurramite leader who fought the Abbasid Caliphate, this citadel, surrounded by deep gorges, sits at the height of 2,300–2,600 meters (7,546–8,530 feet). Those with a strong case of acrophobia might choose to admire it from afar.
Nasir ol-Molk Mosque
Walking inside Nasir ol-Molk is like walking inside a kaleidoscope. Nicknamed “the Pink Mosque” for its rosy-hued tiles, you’ll love discovering the hidden nooks of arguably Iran’s most beautiful mosque.
Located in the northern port city of Bandar Anzali, a boat ride on Anzali Lagoon is a must to witness the houses built on stilts, various bird species, and, of course, the water lotuses emerging to blossom through the dark waters.
Are you traveling to the north? Then definitely take the famous Chalus Road. Steep roads snaking down the mountainside, tunnels carved in solid rock, and natural springs and bodies of water make this one of the most scenic routes in Iran.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Once a royal polo field, Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan holds Ali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Imperial Bazaar. You’ll need the better portion of a day to see it all properly.