I’ve been planning my Iran trip since May of 2016 when I found a super cheap ticket from Atlanta. I couldn’t believe it when the deal came through from Qatar Airways – just $571, including all taxes and fees, round-trip from Atlanta. It’s a long flight, but I have a stop-over in Doha Qatar before making the 2 hour flight to Tehran. I thought I would take a moment to tell you why I am going and to share my Iran 9-day itinerary.

Iran 9-day itinerary: MY flight receipt

Why am I going to Iran?

A lot of people ask me this, and I completely understand it. Iran is part of the so-called “Axis of Evil,” after all. It’s even featured in a Lonely Planet book called “Badlands.”

Lonely Planet should know better.

Every day, we hear something about why Iran is so dangerous. But if you look behind the hyperbole, Iran is considered a safe country. Yes, it is a theocracy and has very strict rules, but I don’t consider it any more dangerous than spending 10 days in New York City .

Tony Wheeler's Bad Lands (Lonely Planet Travel Literature)
Tony Wheeler’s Bad Lands (Lonely Planet)

We all feel better in our comfort zones. But sometimes, you have to get out of that zone and experience something that challenges you. Fact is, there is no one who is truly familiar with Iran who considers it dangerous to visit.

Just follow the rules and you will be fine.

The people there reject terrorism on the whole. In fact, they are some of the friendliest people on the planet. Persians, along with their Arab neighbors, consider taking care of strangers and visitors the rule – not the exception.

Don’t let fear dictate

Why would anyone be frightened of people like this? Well, our news media is culpable. You rarely see news stories on TV about the tremendous people of Iran because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

Rick Steves, the highly rated U.S. travel host, was even nervous about going. Until he did. You should watch his Iran special and read about it.

Rick Steves (right) and his crew in Persepolis.
Rick Steves (right) and his crew in Persepolis.

I refuse to limit my travels. If I only listened to governments and others with agendas, I would never have traveled to Indonesia, Jordan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos – I’d be sitting in a chair at home, watching FoxNews, and melting into a puddle of goo.

Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain – Mark Twain

Until people broaden their horizons and start learning about the people they condemn, they should stop telling the rest of us where we should and shouldn’t go. Your information is appreciated, but I have better information, thank you very much!

My Iran 9-Day Itinerary

So, back to the post! Here’s what I am going to be doing during my Iran 9-day itinerary:

Is Iran safe for tourists - The botanical garden in Shiraz
The botanical garden in Shiraz

Day 1: Arrival in Tehran. Today, I do a city tour of Iran’s capital and visit Azadi tower and the Grand bazaar. I’ll be pretty tired after the flight, so this is a short day.

Day 2: A full-day tour of Tehran, including Golestan palace and the National and Jewelry Museums. Fly to Shiraz

Day 3: I’ll do a full-day city tour of Shiraz, including the Nasirolmolk mosque and Zand Complex. After that, we visit shahcheragh and see its magnificent mirror works and Aliebne hamze with its huge dome. Overnight Shiraz.

Is Iran safe for tourists - The Pink Mosque in Shiraz
The Pink Mosque in Shiraz

Day 4: Excursion to Marvdasht to see Persepolis and Necropolis. After that, back to Shiraz and visit the Quran gate. We’ll visit the Hafez and Saadi temples, too.

Day 5: Drive to Yazd. En-route, visit Pasargadae, the great city of the Achaemenid Empire. When we arrive in Yazd, we will visit Amir Chakhmaq square.

Day 6: Full-day tour of ancient Yazd. Visit the Tower of Silence, Jame mosque, and the Zoroastrian Fire temple. Dowlat Abad Garden and Zoorkhaneh, the place for Iranian sport, is also included.

Khaju Bridge, Isfahan, Iran
Khaju Bridge, Isfahan, Iran

Day 7: Leave Yazd for Isfahan. Isfahan is what I am most looking forward to. Naghsh-e Jahan Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. Our tour includes the Naghsh-e-Jahan Complex and Chehel sotoun palace. Looking forward to the food here!

Day 8: Visit Vank cathedral in Julfa. We’ll also see the Jame mosque and the Armenian quarter. After that, drive to the Abyaneh village where people are still living the way they did 2500 years ago.

Day 9: After breakfast, drive into Kashan. This old Iranian city has lots of historical sites, like Tabatabaie and Borojerdi House and Fin Garden. Kashan is one of the oldest cities in western Iran. Its unique houses are famous. Here, they also manufacture carpets, silk and other textiles.

Finally, and sadly, my Iran 9-day itinerary ends and we drive to the airport for my departure flight.


Doha, Qatar (image by Rob Potvin)
Doha, Qatar (image by Rob Potvin)

It’s not just an Iran 9-day itinerary! My trip includes a couple of stop-overs in Doha, Qatar. And, as luck would have it, Qatar Airways offers transiting visitors a free city tour that includes a complementary visa. So in addition to my Iran trip, I get to see part of an entirely different country.

The downside: It’s too short

An Iran 9-day itinerary is better than no time there at all, but I feel as though the trip should be longer. Of course, with “longer” comes more expensive, and this trip was such a great deal that I bought it knowing it wouldn’t cost much.

My entire trip – including flights, tours, entrance fees, many meals, and internal transportation, will cost exactly $2,000. So that’s not bad, considering it will be both a trip of a lifetime and an education. I’m not much for souvenirs, so a few fridge magnets will do.

Azadi Tower – Tehran. Image © gato-gato-gato on Flickr.

And I’m excited about it. Naysayers aside, I believe everyone should get out of their comfort zones and see the places others won’t go. Check out this post by Matthew Karsten, who recently got back from his trip to the middle of Afghanistan, for example.

Not all places are safe, of course. There are places you just shouldn’t go, right now anyway.  But Iran isn’t one of the places you need to fear – no matter what the media and uninformed people want you to believe. It’s a place with incredible food, architecture that is unmatched, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

Is Iran safe for tourists - A group of children found me in Shiraz
A group of children found me in Shiraz

My goal in the beginning was just to go on a cheap trip to a very different place. But the reaction to it has made me think that a better goal is to show others that there is nothing to be afraid of.

And I can’t wait to board the flight! But first, I guess I need an Iranian visa, don’t I?

Thinking about going? Here are some things you need to know before you go to Iran.

Post trip update: I’ve created a section for Americans and Canadians who want to visit Iran.

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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert and has traveled to over 40 countries to date. Currently saving all his money for a Round the World adventure.

15 thoughts on “Iran 9-Day Itinerary – Tehran to Shiraz on a Guided Tour

  1. I’d love to visit Iran! But I do have to agree with you, not that many people understand why – I always get weird looks from my friends when I tell them that I would like to go to Iran once. Have a great trip!

    1. I know how you feel. But cut them some slack. After all, what do you expect when the media bombards us with information that only shows Iran as a threat?

      I’ve been watching dozens of travel videos in preparation for my trip. I have yet to see one showing every day life in Iran where people are mean and rude. Not. One. 🙂

      People believe Iran is a dangerous place for the same reason they think 6 “Friends” with mediocre jobs can live in huge apartments on Central Park in NYC. LOL!

  2. After reading your itinerary even I am keen to travel to Iran! I have heard it has a lot to offer to traveller’s but as you mentioned in the post, people ( myself included) have reservations to visit Iran. It is sad that once a country thriving with rich heritage and culture is considered as one of the riskiest place to visit. Anyways all the best for adventures in Iran, hope you enjoy your time there and make some happy travel memories :).

    1. Hi Suma:

      Most people who’ve traveled to this area of the world consider Iran to be one of the LEAST risky places to visit. If you decide you want to go, then GO! You’ll be safe. Give the news the consideration they deserve – very little. You never hear anything about Iran except political stuff – and it’s all from a Western point of view. Sure, they have a theocratic government, and sure, it’s not exactly a free country, but most of what you hear and see on the news is not an accurate portrayal of life in Iran.

  3. Your post is a fantastic example how positive traveling and discovering new places truly is.
    Of course it doesnt make sense just because other define places as good or bad, not to visit them and as your post proof, there are amazing places and people in Iran as well like in any other places. Even though Iran might not be in my Top 3 of next places to visit anyway, I really enjoyed reading your post.

  4. There’s something special about Iran…
    The country I never thought about visiting, it has become on my list!
    Great that you share your itinerary and your tips 🙂 It’s always useful!

  5. You’re absolutely right about not giving in to fear and visiting Iran.It’s a gorgeous country with so much to offer.People there are so generous!I totally understand why you felt that 9 days wasn’t enough to really explore the country.This place has so much to offer that one could stay there for a whole month and it still wouldn’t be enough.Good luck on your trip

  6. Thank you for sharing you thoughts about Iran! I was afraid to go before reading about it – like you said, the news and media often portray it as a dangerous terrorist country that everyone should avoid. But we should always keep an open-mind!

  7. For office-goers like us, i am pretty sure this itinerary would be ‘IT’. We cannot extend beyond 9 days trip at once and I am definitely going to bookmark this one for my future plans! Thanks!

  8. Hello Michael,

    I am so glad that you had a wonderful time in Iran. I am an Iranian-American second generation and I have been wanting to go back to Iran and live there for about 6 months of so to really dwell into the countries beautiful landscapes and culture. Every year when I go, I usually visit family so I am limited to actually exploring the country. But this time I want to go and take a tour. Did you have a specific tour that you used when traveling within the country? Or did you play it by ear as you were there? I would love to hear more about it so that one day when I go experience it for myself, I can really connect with my heritage and culture! Thank you!

    Shirene Tabarestani

    1. I was there this month. I had to plan ahead because I am a Canadian citizen and I am required by the government to have my itinerary completely planned before I got to Iran. For US, Canadian, and UK citizens, the rules are different, sadly.

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