Most foreigners who visit Iran do not get the opportunity to enjoy the Persian food variety. Actually in most cases, they get fed up with Kebab, and chicken and rice quite prevalent in all Iranian restaurants. Perhaps, lack of local dishes in famous restaurants is one big problem. Even when some limited choices are available, the quality is not that good to give you the taste of original Iranian food. The wrong taste may give the travelers the wrong impression.
There is certainly a need for improvement in variety of local dishes offered in the hotels and restaurants. But the best alternative can be trying Iranian food in locals house. This gives the tourists the chance to enjoy homestays, eating best quality Iranian dish as well as getting familiar with Persian recipes.
Iranian food! What to expect?
Most travelers who visit Iran have no idea what the Persian food may taste like. Some think it is more or less similar to the kind of food found in the Middle East as they mix Persians for Arabs. But the variety found in Persian food and the tastes are very much different from Arabic dishes. They are not just a number of Kebobs served with rice which may sound like Turkish food. There are a myriad of various food including stews, rice and dessert which make Iranian cuisine different and unique. While Iranian tastes are different, in almost all cases it won’t be anything weird whatever your nationality is. Some travelers may be cynic about trying a new taste but be sure you won’t taste anything strange but scrumptious food. That is what makes Iranian food especial.
There are numerous Persian dishes that make water drip from your mouth but to name a few:
Khoresht Sabzi (stew made with vegetable and kidney beans)
Khoresht Gheymeh (stew made with lentils)
Khoresht fesenjan (stew with walnuts and meat)
Khoresht Bademjan (stew made with eggplants)
Tahchin (pancake with chicken and saffron)
Baghali polo (rice with fava beans)
Lobia polo (rice with black-eyed beans)
Zereshk polo and Chicken (rice with barberry and roast chicken)
Halim Bademjan (a special dish with eggplant and walnuts)
Beryani ( a special mixture from Isfahan)
Different salads, pickled fruits, and desserts like Ranginak, Shole Zard, Faloudeh, etc.
For those interested in green eco-tourism, Jungles of the north and twisty road of Chaloos are most commonly known tourist destinations. But Iran is such a big and vast and there are still many areas less known. A bit further to the North-east you will some even more beautiful and amazing forests. There are several parks and intact jungle which are dream destinations such as Golestan and Gorgan impressive jungles.
Naharkhoran is located just few kilometers far from the city of Gorgan so the access is very easy. You can go camping for budget but there are many guesthouses and hotels for staying at night so accommodation is no big deal.
Alangdare is another amazing Jungle a few km south of Gorgan which is also very beautiful for visiting and trekking.
Golestan national park is the biggest natural park in Iran which covers an area of 90 sq. acres. Golestan national park is located 150 km east of Gorgan, 55 km to the east of Gonbad. Another access is 115 km to the west of Bojnourd. One of the nearest access routes to get to Golestan national park is through Minoodasht which is located just 45 km on the east of Golestan national park.
This park is famous as the habitat of many birds and animals and hosts a diversity of rare species. It is such an intact area which was nominated to UNESCO to be considered as one of the world natural Habitats. There are a number of rivers, springs and waterfalls in the area. Golestan waterfall and Aghsoo waterfall are two of the most beautiful waterfalls located in Golestan national park.
There is a nice Touristy place near Kolaleh Village beside Golestan National Park called Boom Kolbeh (a traditional house) which is also nice to visit and stay at. You can enjoy and experience living with Turkmans life and get acquitted with their customs and beauties.
If interested in trekking in the green Eco-tourism of north of Iran, try visiting one of these wonderful places. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Shiraz is definitely a name always recalled whenever somebody talks about Iran. It is a melting pot with so many things to offer; culture and art, heritage and archeology, poetry and music. So many variant aspects make Shiraz a must-see destination along with other beautiful cities in Iran. Persepolis, the Achamenian most important Palace, Pasargadae, Necropolis, Some Ilomite carvings, Sassanid palaces and carvings, Safavid and Qajar gardens and mosques are a few examples of the ancient heritage that can be found in or around Shiraz. Shiraz is also associated with culture. There are many famous poets coming from Shiraz like Hafez, Saadi, Shoride Shirazi, Khaghani, Ahli Shirazi, etc. Many craftmen and architects come from Shiraz, like the ones who constructed Taj Mahal in India or craftmen who make inlaid work or carvings on silver and donate it to the famous Shiite shrines in Iran and Iraq. Besides all this historical and cultural aspects, modern Shiraz is also a beautiful place to visit. The flowers, trees and in general gardens which abound in different parts of the city look incredibly nice at this time of the year. The people being famous for hospitality and joy hang around in different sites, gardens and parks and enjoy the nature. They are typically famous for being the most joyful people in the country, caring for leisure more than for work. It is very common to see people picnicking in every space every evening. Probably, this type of moral, the unique climate (and needless to say the world famous wine) has given them the inspiration for becoming widely known poets and artists.
When is the best time to visit Iran particularly Shiraz? Spring is the best time to visit most part of Iran. Although you can visit any time during year as the country is famous for having four different seasons at the same time. While that option is available any time and you can visit the North West in summer or the south including Kish and Qeshm Island in winter, try to visit Shiraz and Isfahan in April and early May. Shiraz is famous for its flowers and gardens during this month. The weather is generally very pleasant during this time of the year. This is particularly true this year (2011) because of the good rainfall in 2010 and early 2011. Some rivers were dried out and waterfalls lacked enough water to run. It is so exciting to see them back. After getting some showers even in early April, it seems that April and May are going to be really pleasant. The temperature is currently between 10 – 21 degrees C during the day which is very pleasant for walking around. It seems spring 2011 is a great start for Iran tourism as the nature has become so hospitable and beautiful tantalizing any travelers to spend some time in Iran both enjoying the nature and history.
Actually I haven’t been to Iran. Actually my foot didn’t step on its territory. According to VT rules I shouldn’t mark this country at my VT-map as the country I ever visited. But I decided to make an exception out of this rule. Three hours of flight over this country (one and a half hour on the way from Moscow to Dubai and one and a half hour back) made me think that I should build the separate page on Iran. Really, very often I made VT-pages about destinations where I had been for shorter time - even an hour or two. But these two flights over Iran I'll remember for a long time because of two reasons.
The first reason is brilliant views at the Elburz Mountains and the Damâvand volcano out of an airplane window. I want to share with you my photos and videos which I was lucky to take during this flight.
The second reason is a very friendly Pakistanian crew on the back way to Moscow whom we happily got acquainted, especially the captain of the crew.
That’s why I decided to construct this page with a dream to step on the Iranian ground one day and to continue this page like other pages which I'm planning to create after the trip to UAE.
You may watch my high resolution photo of Iran on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 27° 52' 40.54" N 55° 43' 21.56" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Iran bird eye.
I have been to Iran 3 times by now. The first time I must admit I was definetely not very comfortable going, but all my worries turned out to be irrelavnt!
We wnt to Esfahan, definetely my favorite place to go. The city is so beautiful and still not very touristed by foreigners.
We stayed at Abazzi hotel - probably the best in town. Do not expect western luxury, but it is still so cheap that you do not need to worry.
Rent a taxi for a whole day to explore the sights outside the city - remember to bargain!!!
Do not be surprised if people contact you in the street only to practise even a few words of english
Favorite thing: Most travellers that go to Iran forget to realize that the country does have atms but none of them are linked to any western bank. Your credit cards are absolutely useless and you wont be able to pay for hotels, any shopping purchases etc. This was def one of the biggest hassles while travelling around Iran because if you have ever seen an Iranian rial you know that the bills are massive and not easy to carry around. You can take foreign currency to exchange so I highly recommend taking Euros and getting some rials in a foreign airport so that your first few nights are covered. Good luck.
Favorite thing: The best advice I received from travellers and guide books was to plan my trip around Shiraz and Esfahan as my visa was about to expire. You usually cant extend your visa if you still have 3 days of validity left and your new visa begins from the date of issue. If you are in the above cities then you can usually get a 30 day extension without any major problems. Most offices close early and obtain a visa extension form. You will have to go to the Melli bank and pay 100,000 IR and get a receipt and take back to pay the office with additional 2500 IR for paperwork. Provide one or two copies of your passport and another 2 or 3 passport photos. Stay away from Tehran and Mashhad and you should be ok. Again, good luck :)
The visa issue is without a doubt the biggest reason why travellers dont go to Iran and it is a shame. I thought that I could get one within reason meaning a few weeks but after it was all said and done , it took me nearly 6 weeks in total. Americans/Canadians and British will have to do backflips to get a visa or find an agency that is 'well connected' and even if the agency is connected that doesnt mean anything. US and Canadian citizens are recommended to join a tour as of late due to political turmoil between the UN and the governments involved. The situation changes from Embassy to Embassy and it also changes week to week depending on the meetings held by the UN and foreign leaders. Many Iranian embassies have their own websites so you can download the correct forms and send them off. You have to provide four or five photos (women should be in a hijab) and according to the nationality you can pay anywhere from $50 US to $100 +. The three best websites that Ive found and used were
www.key2persia.com (worked for me twice)
Goood LUCK !!
Favorite thing: Most people you cant bring anything into this strict country but the customs are not as strict as it may seem. You are unlikely to be searched but that doesnt mean you should try and take vodka or beer into the country. You shouldnt take anything that is semi revealing with regards to womens or mens magazines including Mens Health etc. On arrival, you will fill out a form declarning what you have and you will get a yellow receipt which you should keep until you leave the country. If you do lose it , it is a big hassle. You can get away with most books other than covers with women on them or the obvious 'Satanic Verses' ;) . You are supposed to declare anything over a grand US but nobody really cares. Just be sensible and you wont have any problems.
The Iranian currency is rial, but it can be very confusing as you often will get the price mentioned in tomans, ten rials is one toma. So if you ask for the price and get the answer 1000 it is probably IR 10 000 that it cost.
I have heard people calling the 10 000 rial bill for one Khomeini (even if he is on all other bills as well).
There are no ATMs accepting foreign bankcards in Iran, and you can’t use travellers cheques. So, your only option is to bring cash.
I mostly brought 100 dollar bills, which was easy to change at banks (you will need your passport) or exchange offices. From the money exchangers on the street you will get a bad rate.
Banks close early in the afternoon and not all banks change money. If you ask in one bank they will hopefully direct you to the right bank.
Favorite thing: By law, all females over the age of nine must wear a hijab. Signs in public show that you can wear either the hijab(scarf) or chador(tent like covering) in public places. Today the religious police dont roam the street looking for foreigners to punish. Even socks are no longer required and few people dont even look if you show your hairline and wear sandals. A long baggy shirt with baggy pants is fantastic for Iran (similar to shalwar Kameez in Pakistan) . Women must wear a chador when they visit shrines in Mashhad and Qom etc. The best advise for women is to show up in Iran with a long baggy shirt and pants and go immediately to the first bazaar your first day. You can buy a manteaux (long and comfortable rain coat (thin layered) ) from any Bazaari for $10 US and they are quite fashionable in Tehran an Esfahan. Walking around in the spring and summer with a bra or tank top covered by a manteaux is a great option.
Favorite thing: Contrary to popular belieft, many conservative attitudes in Iranian Islam (Shia) are more openly enforced by elderly women than men. If a womans hijab is not appropiate the elderly women are more likely to tell you to fix it than men. Even if you are not properly dressed, men in Iran will look at you out of curiousity if more than anything else. They will look at you or even make a suggestive remark and will likely show you more respect than in countries such as Egypt or Turkey. These distorted ideas are in part due to a perception in Western movies that women are easy. Also, Iranian women dont traditionally travel alone so to see a young girl is quite a surprise to most Iranians. The other problem is that if you are travelling with a man, most Iranian men will speak directly to the man and ignore the woman. This is not rude behavior in Iran but quite the opposite. Foreign women will get invited into Iranian homes by women, jump to the front of lineups with no problems and and treated with overall respect. I travelled with my better half (from Scotland) and she had absolutely no complaints about the treatment of foreign women in Iranian society. It was actually a blessing because I got to experience some of Iran that as a single Westerner would be virtually impossible.
Favorite thing: Travelling in Iran as a woman means stepping into a culture likely to be dramatically different than your home country. The easiest way to have fun in Iran as a woman is to go with the flow and enjoy it. There are obvious inconveniences such as wearing a hijab in the summertime or being less of a person if travelling with a man. If you dont take them personally then you will have a great time. The Iranian experience will be only as good as you are willing to accept the culture and adapt to it. The best advice is to be patient, calm and dont take it personally.
you see one of the gold handmades of achaemenid's priode (550 b.c) .
it's a medal for posting on clothes or hats and it made according to iranian art basics.
there are many same things that are showing in museums in tehran and major cities in iran.
for more information and enjoing go to "national mueseum of iran " in tehran.