TEHRAN TRAVEL GUIDE

The city of colorful lights, intriguing sounds and never-ending motion

Understand

Tehran is the capital of Iran, The population of the city is almost 14 million with a metropolitan area population of approximately 17 million.

Human settlement of the region dates from Neolithic times, but the development of Tehran was very slow and its rise to prominence largely accidental. From the mid-16th century, Tehran's attractive natural setting and good hunting brought it into the favor of the Safavid kings. It developed from a moderately prosperous trading village into an elegant, if dusty, city, and European visitors wrote of its many enchanting vineyards and gardens. In 1789, Agha Muhammad Khan declared Tehran his capital, and six years later had himself crowned as Shah of all Persia. The town continued to grow slowly under later Qajar rulers.

From the early 1920s, the city was extensively modernized on a grid system, and this period marked the start of phenomenal population growth and uncontrolled urban development that continues to this day. Today Tehran is so vast that getting hopelessly lost at least once in a year is certain, no matter what form of transport you take. If you need landmarks, the Alborz mountains, known as the ‘North Star' of Tehran, are to the north; and the huge telephone office at Emam Khomeini Square dominates inner southern Tehran.

Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.

The city can be roughly divided into two different parts – north and south. The northern districts of Tehran are more prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan and expensive while southern parts are less attractive but cheaper.

At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a little town that was significant from a strategic point of view. The first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named Tehran as the country's capital in 1778, and most of its growth started during the reign of a subsequent Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The castle which Agha Mohammed Khan had built was to contain the new majestic buildings.

Get around

Getting around traffic-clogged, sprawling Tehran is a true test of patience. While taxis are your best bet, they are pricier here than the rest of the country. A large local bus network will also take you almost anywhere you need to go, as long you can make sense of the routes and Persian line numbers. The true star of Tehran's transport system however, is the brand new metro.

TEHRAN BUS

The buses in the Tehran are quite efficient in Iran and it is by far the most preferred transport for women, who deem it safer than taxis. Buses operate throughout the city but timetables and routes are not readily available. Bus stops, in particular along Vali Asr Street, are clearly marked and numerous. Otherwise, you can ask a passerby for the nearest stop. Day services are frequent, but in the evenings (some buses do not run after 21.30) and on Fridays these are more sporadic. Always buy a ticket either at the kiosk or from the driver himself, paying at the end of the journey. Female travellers may need to exit the bus and then come up to the driver at the front to pay for the ticket (around 3,000 rials).

TEHRAN METRO

BY METRO The first line of the Tehran metro opened in February 2000. There are now five lines in operation connecting the far-flung parts of this huge city. One-way and return ticket costs are 3,500 rials and 5,500 rials respectively, regardless of the distance. Travel passes are the cheapest way to use the metro and useful if you plan to use trains regularly. Like the Oyster card on the UK London underground, you purchase a card at the ticket office and charge the card with funds and swipe in and out of the barriers at the stations. Rush hours, best avoided, are from 06.00 to 09.00 and 1/1.00 to 17.00. Metro carriages are also gender-segregated, but metro travel is safe and efficient and indications are written in both Persian and clear English. While metro services are not as frequent as in European cities, the carriages are clean and you can always purchase a little something from one of the sellers along the way. See a map of the Tehran metro.

TEHRAN TAXI

Traveling by taxi in Tehran is easy and inexpensive. A shared taxi (savari) costs around 5,000—10,000 rials and private hire (darbaz) costs up to 80,000 rials, depending on where you are going. Do remember that Tehran is not a pedestrian-friendly city and a short savari ride up Vali Asr Street may save a great deal of energy.

See

The National Jewelry Treasury

Treasury of the National Jewels is the largest collection of jewels found anywhere in the world. You'll get to see the collection of jewels including Darya-e-Noor diamond, the sister diamond to the Kuh-e-Noor diamond. Other highlights include the world's largest uncut ruby and a free standing golden globe made from 34 kilograms of gold and an astounding 51,366 precious stones. Read more…

Tabiat Bridge

The Tabiat bridge is called the nature bridge because of its design. It is built like a steel tree. There are lovely parks either side, great views and nice restaurants, tea places and an ice cream parlour inside. Read more…

Golestan Palace

The lavish Golestan Palace is a World Heritage Site. The palace built during the Qajar Dynasty that rose to power in the late 1700’s, this fabulous walled complex is centered on a landscaped garden with tranquil pools. Many of the elements you’ll admire today date to the 19th century when local Qajari architects and artisans were looking to integrate traditional Persian style with elements of Western and Russian origin. The palace buildings are among the oldest in modern Tehran and they are still regarded as a crowning achievement of the Qajar era. Read more…

The National Museum of Iran

The National Museum of Iran houses a marvelous collection including ceramics, stone figures and carvings dating from around the 5th millennium BC.

Many of the relics are taken from excavations at Persepolis, Shush, Ray and Turang Tappé and will probably mean more to you if you come here after you've visited the archaeological sites. Read more…

The Glass & Ceramics Museum

The Glass & Ceramics Museum is one of the most impressive in Tehran, not only for its professionally organized exhibits, but also for the building itself. Read more…

The Reza Abbasi Museum

The Reza Abbasi Museum, another stunner, contains examples of Islamic painting, pottery and jewelry. The National Palace (White) Museum used to be the last Shah's palace and is now a complex of museums. Read more…

Sa’ad Abad Palace

Sa’ad Abad Palace was the coronation and marriage palace of the Pahlavi Dynasty – and the residence from which the last Shah of Iran fled after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Now a museum, its extensive collection includes period furnishings and décor, and even the personal effects of the last Shah. Read more…

Milad Tower

Milad Tower, also known as the Tehran Tower, is a multi-purpose tower in Tehran, Iran. It is the sixth tallest tower and the 17th tallest freestanding structure in the world. Read more…

Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower. has been the longstanding symbol of Tehran. It was constructed to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire, combines elements of Sassanid and Islamic architecture. Read more…

Do

Tochal Sport and Recreational Complex, end of Velenjak St. (take the Metro line 1 to Gheytarieh, then any bus or taxi to Tajrish Square (about 5 minutes). Ask the driver to let you off at Meidan Tajrish.  If you visit on a holiday when Tehranis flock to the mountain, you should be able to jump in a shared taxi to the telecabin entry gate for 4,000 rials.

The Darband chair lift is an alternative to the one at Tochal. Taxis to Darband go from Tajrish Square.

Darake is another entry point into nearby mountains. Like Darband, Darake hiking trail begins with tens of open-air restaurants alongside a stream. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi or minibus from Tajrish Square.

Wander around Tehran's massive bazaar in the city's south (Metro: Panzdah-e-khordad). The main entrance on 15 Khordad Ave leads to a labyrinth of stalls and shops that were once the engine room of Iran's commodity markets and one of Imam Khomeini's greatest sources of conservative, pro-Revolution support.