Sloping down from the Alborz Mountains in the north is Iran’s capital, Tehran. It attracts many students to its educational centres, bringing with them a mixture of colourful and fashionable lifestyles, and offers a contrast between tradition and modernity.
You’ll find many museums, parks, shopping, dining and heritage sites to explore, alongside modern architecture and cosmopolitan life. Tehran’s roads are renowned for being hectic, and while taxi is a popular way to get around, there is a metro and railway to avoid the traffic. Tehran is Iran’s transport hub, with good bus connections to take you further afield.
The climate is mild around April to May, and September to November, with cold winters and hot, humid summers.
Restaurants in Tehran range from chic to traditional and meet all budgets, with a choice of delicious international cuisine.
If you’re looking to sample the local dishes, try the chelo kabab - skewered lamb served with steamed rice and grilled tomatoes. The popular Alborz Restaurant on North Sohrevardi is regarded by many locals as serving the best chelo kabab in town. Follow this with a doogh, a traditional drink combining yoghurt, mint, water and salt, which can also be made fizzy.
A must-do in Tehran is to explore the eclectic mix of goods in the traditional bazaars. Visit the dizzying Tehran Bazaar in the city centre, a covered market where you can find just about anything you want, from textiles and spices to jewellery, clothes, food and more – but be prepared for the crowds. Or experience the huge Jomeh Bazaar – a flea market held on three levels of a car park on Joumbouri Avenue.
Near the bazaar in Tajrish Square are some of Tehran’s main malls. Tehran’s many malls offer luxury to value shopping, such as the popular Golestan Shopping Centre and Tirajeh Shopping Centre among others.
Pop into one of the coffee shops scattered across the city for a taste of Tehran’s culture. Often
Wi-Fi connected, they are generally informal, frequented by Tehran’s vibrant young people and make a relaxing retreat from Tehran’s streets.
Whether you’re looking for culture, history or adventure, Tehran has much to offer the curious traveller.
Its most famous attractions include the iconic Azadi Tower in the west of the city, a majestic work of architecture completed in 1971. Explore the Azadi Museum inside and enjoy views of Tehran from the upper windows.
South of the commercial centre of Jomhuri-ye Eslami Avenue is where you’ll find the best museums, including the National Museum of Iran and the glittering jewels of the Treasury of National Jewels on Ferdosi St.
Learn more about Tehran’s foundation at the stunning royal Golestan Palace, a complex of 17 palaces and museums set in a tranquil park in the centre of Tehran. Its European influences can be seen in the beautiful architecture and decorative designs.
Tehran’s many parks and gardens offer peace and tranquillity, such as Park-e Laleh or Mellat. On the west side of Park-e Laleh you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses art by the greats including Van Gough, Matisse and Picasso.
View Tehran from above on a hike up the mountains to the north. A well-trodden trail starts from Darband, where the locals flock on a Friday and where you can also hop in a cable car for a journey up the mountainside. There are many cafés here to fuel your walk, and restaurants light up in the evening for a romantic dinner.
There’s more to explore on land and sea beyond the bustle of the city.
Enjoy the slopes at one of several ski resorts in the Alborz Mountains, two of the most famous being Dizin and Tochal only around 30 minutes from town. Taxis will take you from Tajrish Square to the cable car gate. Even if you don’t fancy skiing or snowboarding, you can still experience great views of the mountains and Tehran from the top.
Explore a little further north and you’ll reach the Caspian Sea coast, with its natural scenery, forests and woodlands in striking contrast to the city, only around four hours away by car or bus.