Right in the heart of the city, the Grand Bazaar is an essential visit for any tourist in Tehran. With over 10 kilometres of labyrinthine alleyways filled with covered shops, haggling customers, and general commotion, you will find everything from jewellery to carpets and pots and pans for sale here. One of Tehran’s oldest areas, this commercial centre is teeming with history and character, and there are some exceptional restaurants dotted around. Prepare for a sensual bombardment; not for the agoraphobic! Be sure to check out the nearby Jomeh bazaar for antiques, every Friday on Jomhuri Street.
The bazaar in the northern district of Tajrish is smaller, prettier, and altogether less stressful than the Grand Bazaar (although prices are higher). There is a colourful market of fresh fruit and vegetables, and some excellent touristy shops selling traditional crafts and kitschy memorabilia. Check out the kebab restaurant in the centre of the bazaar, and the teahouse just off the main drag. It’s also worth visiting the stunning adjacent shrine, the Imamzadeh Saleh.
The National Museum of Iran is filled with an impressive range of treasures and objects from the 30,000 years of human habitation in the Iranian plateau. From Stone Age tools to primitive art, from decorated capitals from Persepolis to coins and pottery, the museum features items from the length and breadth of Iranian history. The building itself, designed in the early 20th century with nods to Sassanian architecture, is one of Tehran’s more interesting modern constructions.
The Milad Tower is one of Tehran’s most iconic structures, and the most prominent feature of the city’s skyline. Completed in 2007, it stands at an impressive 435 metres, making it the sixth tallest tower in the world. Trips to the head of the tower are inexpensive and worth the effort on a clear day, for nowhere else can beat it for panoramic views of the city. If you want to push the boat out, the tower also boasts a fancy, revolving restaurant.
Built in 1971 to commemorate 2500 years of Persian monarchy, this iconic tower fuses elements of Sassanian, Achaemenid, and modernist architecture. Literally meaning ‘Freedom Tower’, the ivory-coloured, Y-shaped building is situated in a park in east Tehran, and features a well laid out underground museum. Though not as tall as the Milad Tower, it nevertheless boasts fantastic views of the city from the top floor.
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art boasts the most extensive (and valuable) collection of artworks outside Europe. Although some items have not been exhibited since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, works by big names including Picasso, Monet, Andy Warhol, and Henry Moore are on display, as well as pieces by Iranian artists. The building itself, inaugurated in 1977, is a striking modernist structure, and a great place to meet young, artsy Iranians.
Located in the most northerly reaches of the city, Jamshidieh is a large park in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains. Fresh air and lush surrounds are enough to merit a trip to this out-of-the-way spot, but the outstanding views of the city below are what makes it a must-see. The higher you climb, the better the views become but if you don’t feel like a hike, there are plenty of nice spots for picnicking and drinking tea. It is particularly picturesque in the winter months, when it often receives the first snowfall of the year.
Just a few minutes from the Grand Bazaar, you will find the magnificent Golestan Palace, a 19th century Qajar royal abode. The palace complex consists of 17 structures in total, including reception halls, museums, throne rooms, and royal quarters, and boasts impressive, well-kept gardens too. The intricate tile work, mirrored interiors, symmetrical fountains, and marble thrones demonstrate the pinnacle of Qajar-era architecture, and provide a sense of the level of opulence the monarchs would have enjoyed.
Mount Tochal sits in the mountain range to the north of Tehran, with its peak reaching a staggering 3,993 metres. An excellent challenge for mountaineers, trails set off from Darakeh and Velanjak, with tea houses staggered along the way. If you lack the time or inclination for the trek, a telecabin service will take you all the way up the mountain for a reasonable fee. The top of the mountain also has a small ski piste, with equipment available to rent. Not as impressive as Dizin or Shemshak ski resorts, but ideal for a quick afternoon getaway.
An important political and religious centre that predates Tehran, Shahr-e Rey lies just to the south of the capital, and is accessible by the metro (it’s the most southerly station). Its highlights include a quaint traditional bazaar, the ruins of a Sassanian fortress, and a Seljuk tomb, but the main draw is the Imamzadeh Shah Abdol Azim, a shrine for a descendent of the second Shia Imam which attracts pilgrims all year round.
A 270-meter three level bridge connecting two parks in Tehran, the Tabi’at Bridge is probably the most beautiful piece of urban architecture built since the Revolution. Opened in 2014, the Tabi’at Bridge (also known as the Nature Bridge in Tehran) is a popular hang out for Iranian’s who come to enjoy a variety of dining options, views and relaxation areas. Even more incredibly- the Tabi’at Bridge was the brainchild of Iranian architecture student, Leila Araghian, who was only 26 at the time.Winning design competitions all over the world – the Tabi’at Bridge should not be missed, and we can’t wait to see what Leila Araghian comes up with next!
If the inevitable smog of Tehran gets a bit too much for you – why not head to the mountains with the Tochal Telecabin / Sky Lift! Located in the north of Tehran.
You can make a 45 minutes trip straight up and then couples with a short scramble you can easily summit Mt Tochal (3933m). As you would expect, the views are out of this world – both of the mountains and back down over the chaos that is Tehran – and if you’re really feeling fit there is plenty of hiking opportunities at the different stations along the way!
Super popular with local Tehranis during the weekend, but don’t make the same mistake as us and try to visit the Tochal Telecabin during the week – We were told it is closed for the first three days after the weekend, every week?! So that means the Tochal Telecabin opening hours are supposably Wednesday – Saturday, but best to call ahead before making the trip out there (best reached by taxi) and to go early as the last car back down is apparently 3pm…
A sprawling 300 hectare complex built by the Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs in a similar pattern to the oil-rich rulers of Saudi and the Gulf States today…
Now open to the public the Sa’dabad Complex, while expensive by Iranian standards, is a beautiful place to wander and admire the natural forest, qanats and buildings. Each museum is individually chargeable and in our opinion – not at all worth it, except for the famous Green House (with its hall of mirrors) which is currently under-renovation. There is also a collection of royal cars if you have a passion for vintage sports cars but you can see them in only a few minutes. Look out for the President of Iran who has taken up residence in a private section of the Sa’dabad Complex.
Next door to the above Museum of Ancient Iran and far better, the Museum of the Islamic Era is one of the top museums in Tehran.
Recently reopened after a nine year renovation this three story building displays over 1500 items and relics from the early Islamic period as well as Seljuk, Ilkhanid, Teymurid, Safavid, and Qajar eras. Beautifully done, you won’t want to rush through as you take in all the details of the ancient rugs, painting, plates, pots and more .
There is also a temporary exhibition space on the ground floor changing every six month.
The largest church in Tehran, the Saint Sarkis Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic varsity was completed in 1970.
While a Cathedral might not be top of your list of things to do in Tehran, you should not miss the opportunity to see Christian life play out in the Islamic Republic – complete with imposing giant walls, barbed wire and strict security, though as a foreigner you will be welcomed in.
Forbidden from practising their faith in public, the spires of the church are barely visible outside the compound the surrounding area is intensely covered in pro-Islam murals and billboards.
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Persiansurfing as full-service travel holding located in Isfahan, Iran, offering a variety of travel packages and services. Our team consists of a group of young Iranians, who have educated in tourism as well as tourism management . We are aiming to present Iran in a different light and promote the country’s rich culture heritage and architecture to the world.
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