Ancient Persia in Depth
Discover Iran in a 15-day tour
Experience the allure of Iran’s rich history and its awe-inspiring architectural wonders on a mesmerizing two-week journey. Embark with us as we reveal the hidden treasures of this enchanting country. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure through the heart of Iran! Join our exploration today.
Visit the ancient city of Pasargadae, stroll through the stunning Persian gardens of Shiraz, explore the oasis city of Yazd with its distinctive architecture and Zoroastrian community. The trip also includes a full-day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most significant ancient sites in the world.
DAY 1: TEHRAN
After arriving at Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) in Tehran, our representative will meet and greet you; then, you will be transferred to the hotel to rest.
DAY 2: TEHRAN
Today, we will take you to a lovely park-like setting to visit the Sa’d Abad Palace. This was the coronation and marriage palace of the Pahlavi Dynasty – and the residence from which the last Shah of Iran. Now a museum, its extensive collection includes period furnishings and décor, and even the personal effects of the last Shah. Our guests also enjoy an exclusive tour through an intimate gallery dedicated to the 20th-century art collection of Iran’s last Empress.
Then, we will visit Tajrish bazaar and Imamzadeh Saleh Mausoleum. They are located in the northern part of Tehran.
Afterwards, we will go to Darband. Darband is an old village in Shemiran. This is 1700 meters above the sea level, and is one of the main starting routes taken by mountaineers for reaching the central Alborz Range. This place has many modern and traditional cafes and restaurants, located both indoors and outdoors, we will have a delicious lunch in one of them.
Later, visit Nature Bridge. and cross the award-winning Tabiat Bridge. Enjoy a stroll on the impressive steel-and-concrete structure, take a break on the benches, and admire the view of the busy highway and lush green parks it connects.
DAY 3: TEHRAN
This morning, we will take you to a World Heritage Site, the lavish Golestan Palace. Built during the Qajar Dynasty, that rose to power in the late 1700s, 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.
Then, we will walk around Tehran Bazaar. In the afternoon, you will visit National Museum of Iran, where you can see fabulous historical items from 5000 BC to the advent of Islam in Iran which shows a brief history of our land.
Day 4: TEHRAN – KASHAN 3 H (245 KM)
Leaving Tehran behind, we’ll travel south to Kashan, a town originally famous for its textiles and ceramic production, but now better known for Fin Garden and its extensive bazaar and hammams.
Fin Garden (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) is our first stop; a relaxing and visually impressive Persian garden with water channels all passing through a central pavilion. There is also the chance to buy some rose water, a local specialty, outside of the site.
Then, you will visit Boroujerdi Traditional House. It was built about 130 years ago in the reign of Qajar dynasty (1857) by Iranian famous architect Ustad Ali Maryam. The owner was Haj Seyed Hasan Natanzi, a well-known merchant who mostly dealt with people of Boroujerd city. That’s why the house is known as Boroujerd’s House.
Afterwards, we will visit the bazaar area, a widespread complex filled with hammams and mosques; one hammam has been converted to a traditional teahouse where we will stop for those who need a break from shopping.
Day 5: KASHAN – ABYANEH – ISFAHAN 4 H (269 KM)
Leaving Kashan behind, your first stop this morning will be in Abyaneh village. Abyaneh Village is known as the Red Village because of its red soil and houses. The houses of Abyaneh bear an ancient architectural style, featured by the use of clay as the construction material and latticed windows and wooden doors.
Your overland journey continues in Isfahan. As the 17th-century capital of the Safavid Empire, Isfahan was one of the world’s greatest cities– architecturally striking, wealthy beyond imagine, and politically powerful with Europeans, Ottomans, Indians, and Chinese coming to its court– the heart of a vast Persian Empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq to the Oxus River in Afghanistan. Indeed, its grandeur inspired the rhyming proverb, Isfahan nesf e jahan (Isfahan is half of the World).
Together with your expert guide, you will begin your exploration of the city by visiting some of the centuries-old, still elegant bridges that span Zayandeh River.
For example the famous bridges of Sio-ce-pol and Khaju. There are sluice gates below the bridge to let the water runoff Zayandeh River in the spring, and there are beautiful stone archways above each gate.
These archways provide a great acoustic place for every man who wants to sing. You can always find a man or a group of men singing under the bridge. The songs are usually about betrayal or unrequited love. You have the chance to chat with these men and listen to their songs.
DAY 6: ISFAHAN
Your exploration continues in Imam Square. This 17th-century site is one of the largest public spaces in the world. Here in the square, you’ll visit the 17th-century Shah Mosque, revered as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and easily recognized by its magnificent tile-work and soaring cupola and minarets. You will also visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, also known as the Ladies Mosque, as it was built for the Shah’s harem, renowned for the brightly colored domed ceiling, where the light creates the image of a peacock.
In the Ali Qapu Palace, you’ll marvel at its beautiful music rooms and the balconies where Safavid kings would sit to enjoy the polo matches unfolding in the square below. You’ll end your exploration of the square by visiting the Qeisarieh Bazaar. With hundreds of local vendors that specialize in traditional arts and crafts, it’s a wonderful place to shop for pottery, enamel, jewelry, and delicately inlaid board games.
Next up is Chehel Sotun Palace. Set in a landscaped and forested park in front of a tranquil reflecting pool, this graceful pavilion was built by Shah Abbas II for entertainment and court receptions. Entering through a portico with twenty slender wooden columns, you’ll discover soaring halls embellished with frescoes, paintings, and mosaics; the Hall of Mirrors is especially breathtaking!
DAY 7: ISFAHAN
Continue your exploration in Isfahan at a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Simple at first glance but wondrous in its rich detail and bold design, the Masjed-e Jamé is another masterpiece of Iranian architecture, covering nearly 5 acres in the heart of this historical city. This is one of the oldest congregational mosques of the country, and its construction and embellishment over the past twelve centuries illustrate a number of important periods in Islamic architecture.
In the city’s Armenian quarter, you’ll delve more deeply into the region’s complex history as you will visit several churches including the 17th-century Vank Cathedral with its lavishly decorated interior and unique blend of Islamic and European architectural elements.
In the same quarter, we will also visit the Music Museum where you will find a collection of local and national Iranian instruments.
In the afternoon, we will visit Hasht Behesht Palace and Garden. At this octagonal palace, you can see gangs of retired men who pass their free time chatting with the visitors.
Day 8: ISFAHAN – NAEIN – CENTRAL DESERT 6 H (440 KM)
Leaving Isfahan behind, your first stop this morning will be in Naien, an ancient community with origins dating back to the 8th century. Over there, we will visit the Jame mosque of Naien.
After that, we’ll continue our journey to the magnificent Central desert of Iran or as locally called “Kavir-e-Markazi”, where you will explore the edge of the sandy desert and makes your stay especial since most other places in that region have some distance from the real desert.
In that place, you’ll have the chance to visit the Mesr desert, the historic villages and its local people, enjoy their homemade food and become familiar with their customs and way of living.
Day 9: CENTRAL DESERT – MEYBOD – YAZD 4 H (300 KM)
Your overland journey continues to the small town of Meybod, where your first impression might be its striking monochromatic architecture of desert brick. But set along an ancient trade route, Meybod also offers a number of fascinating sites to visit including its Caravanserai.
Built in typical Safavid style, this ancient desert inn features verandahs, shaded passageways, and nearly 100 rooms– some of which are now used as artisan workshops. At the local Icehouse, you’ll learn about the thick-clay construction and subterranean chamber that allowed local residents to have ice and food storage before refrigeration– even during the intense desert heat of summer!
Tonight’s dinner in a local restaurant offers a chance to experience daily Iranian life in a city that’s smaller than Tehran or Isfahan. The ambience is a bit more laid back and the residents may seem a bit more reserved. But, you’ll find them warm, friendly and eager to meet tourists.
Day 10: YAZD
Yazd is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns of Iran. Its silhouette punctuated by minarets and the ingeniously-designed wind towers that capture desert breezes to cool homes during the hot summer months. Yazd is also the center of Iran’s Zoroastrian community, which is where you’ll begin the day’s sightseeing.
At the Tower of Silence, you’ll learn about one of the traditions of this ancient pre-Islamic religion. Until the mid-1900s, the dead were transported to this tower where they were left to decompose and be devoured by birds. Zoroastrian tradition considers a deceased body to be “unclean” and this process of excarnation prevents contact with either fire or earth– both of which are considered to be sacred.
At the still-active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, you will see a flame that is said to have been burning for the past 1,500 years. It’s an important pilgrimage site for the faithful and here our expert guide will offer additional insight into one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
In Amir Chakhmaq Square, you’ll see a very impressive Hussainiya– a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies. With three tiers of recessed alcoves, all perfectly proportioned, its facade is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks.
The next place to visit is the Jame Mosque, built in 1324, where you can gaze upon the tallest minarets in the country.
Among the many other historic sites to be seen in Yazd are beautiful old homes and the Dowlat Abad Garden. Standing by the garden’s long reflecting pool, you’ll be shaded by ancient cypress trees. Ahead of you is an 18th-century hexagonal pavilion with a beautiful stained glass window and a graceful wind tower– the tallest in Iran. All around are flowering fruit trees and other ornamental plants and trees.
Tonight, we will watch a Zurkhaneh performance. Zurkhaneh is a form of traditional martial arts in Iran, where men practice calisthenics and other body-building exercises in a ring. In 2010 Pahlevani and Zoorkhaneh rituals inscribed on the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Day 11: YAZD – SHIRAZ 5 H (440 KM)
Today, we have a full day of driving to reach our destination of Shiraz; it is a good idea to stock up on locally bought and easily found dates and pistachio nuts for the journey.
Over our drive, we will pass through Abarkooh where we will visit the traditional Ice-House, an adobe building used to store ice and food prior to the invention of the refrigerator. The town is the home of the world’s second oldest tree called Abarkooh Cypress, its age is estimated over 4000 years. We can see the tree on our way.
Next, you will visit Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tomb of Cyrus the Great and former capital of the Achaemenid Empire. We will spend some time exploring the site and though not as striking as Persepolis, there is a great viewpoint where we can look over the site and the surrounding area.
Continue to Shiraz and check into the hotel.
Day 12: SHIRAZ – PERSEPOLIS – SHIRAZ 2 H (120 KM)
After breakfast, we will drive to the Legendary City of Persepolis, the former capital of Darius the Great which was founded in 512 BC. There was no more impressive construction in the ancient world than Persepolis, except perhaps the Karnak in Egypt. Darius built the terrace, Apadana (great audience hall), Tachana (a palace), and the Monumental Staircases; his son, Xerxes, added the Harem and the Hall of 100 Columns.
Alexander the Great entered Persepolis in January 330 BC and then committed an uncharacteristic act of wanton destruction that still mystifies historians today, burning the mighty city to the ground. Though a shadow of its former self, the soaring pillars, terraces and sculptures of Persepolis still remain, but probably most impressive are the bas reliefs which line the site, telling the story of ancient governors and kings that came to Persepolis to pay tribute to the Persian Emperors.
From here, we will drive a couple of miles away to the Naqsh-e-Rustam, the Necropolis where Darius and his successors are buried. Carved into the side of a cliff, the site is extraordinary in its magnitude and sheer ambition and does not disappoint even after the impressive Persepolis.
You will end your day on a tranquil note in the lovely garden-tomb of Hafez, one of our most outstanding poets to feel the taste of Persian Literature. Hafez is one of the great poets who has impressed everyone with his mastery. His poems give us a special feeling and the peace in his tomb is really outstanding.
Day 13: SHIRAZ
After breakfast, you will visit Nasir-al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque) which is a few steps far from Vakil Bazaar. It was built at Mirza Hassan Ali Nasir-al Mulk’s command (one of the lords of the Qajar Dynasty); it took 12 years to complete it in 1888. Its interior reveals a magnificent masterpiece of design with stunning colors.
This is a space where light and worship intertwine. The mosque comes to life with the sunrise and the colors dance throughout the day like whirling Dervishes. It reflects on the ground, walls, the arches, and the towering spires. It even reflects on the visitors as if a colorful ball is hit by the first sun ray and has exploded into thousands of butterflies all around.
Continue your exploration in Shiraz at the beautiful orange-scented Narenjestan Garden, laid out in the 19th century during the Qajar Dynasty.
Then, you will visit Karim Khan Citadel from outside, which was built during the Zand Dynasty.
You’ll have time to explore and shop in the bustling Vakil Bazaar, home to hundreds of stores, beautiful courtyards, and even an ancient caravanserai. Beside bazaar, we will also visit the famous Traditional Vakil Bath. A distinguishing fact about Vakil Bath is that its light is provided by the goblets that are designed in the ceiling. There are also some special platforms for changing rooms.
In the afternoon, we prepare and have dinner together with a Shirazi family. This is an interesting experience of experiencing the life of a Shirazi family.
Day 14: SHIRAZ – TEHRAN (FLIGHT) 2 H
After breakfast, we will continue our exploration of the city. Shiraz is famous for its gardens and we’ll visit Eram Garden with its aromatic myrtles, beautiful flowers, fruit trees, and towering cypresses (one of which is said to be 3,000 years old).
Next, you will visit the Tomb of Saadi, who was one of the major Persian poets and literary figures, born in Shiraz in the 12th century. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest poets of the classical Iranian literary tradition around the world. His wisdom is ever present in the Iranian culture and language as people frequent his tomb, recite his poems and use his aphorisms in their daily conversations.
After here, we will go and have a look to the Pars Museum, known as “Shiraz Pavilion and the oldest museum in Fars province”. Pars Museum or Nazar Garden is the homage of numerous valuable items and objects from different historical eras, from pre-Islamic to post-Islamic. Let’s take a closer look at this exciting museum.
Before we back to Tehran, we will visit the Shrine of Ali Ebne Hamzeh. Built in the 19th century over the tomb of Emir Ali, a nephew of Shah Cheragh who also died in Shiraz while en route to Khorasan to help Imam Reza, this shrine is the latest of several earlier incarnations destroyed by earthquakes.
Later in the afternoon, you will fly back to Tehran.
DAY 15: TEHRAN (DEPARTURE)
Our representative will transfer you to Imam Khomeini International Airport according to your flight time.
I did the 15 day ancient Persia history tour. I had a really good time, the people were very nice and I felt very safe. I enjoyed the bazaars a lot. Read More
I dealt with Saye, who was super helpful and pretty quick with responding to my emails. She was very informative and helpful, especially with the process of getting the visa. Which for someone from the UK took a little while to sort out.
Overall i would recommend visiting Iran, just remember credit and debit cards don’t work there due to sanctions, so take euros!
15-days tour in Iran, August 2022. Everything was excellent, guide , driver , hotel , places . Iran is my 61th countries visited. Highly recommend this tour and this agency.
Going to Iran was a lifelong dream for me. I had wanted to go since I was a teenager and coming up to fifty years of age, I decided to go for it. I had looked into a few other travel agencies but for one reason or another they weren’t offering what I wanted. Read More
SURFIRAN answered my emails very quickly and were very helpful and polite (thanks Paria). I decided to plan for May 2023 and was told I would be joining a very small group of just three. Following the advice via email from SURFIRAN I was able to take the steps towards booking my holiday. The only problem I encountered was with obtaining my visa; the Iranian embassy was not very responsive either by email or by phone and I wasted a lot of time phoning without any luck. I decided to just turn up at the consulate and I was greeted by helpful staff. This was of course not in any way the responsibility of SURFIRAN but some help in obtaining a visa, as medical tours offer this service, would be very valuable.
Paria was very helpful and patient in providing me with links to make my payments. I received emails with information such as buying souvenirs, which documents to bring, buying travel insurance which was invaluable. I think the information about bringing various currencies to exchange came slightly later than I might have liked but I was able to ensure everything was ready in good time.
I was met at the airport by guide Sohail who assisted me with buying an Iranian SIM card and exchanging currency (dollars or euros are best). We were driven to our hotel and assisted to check in before having a much needed rest. The hotels we stayed at were reasonable and included the use of a fridge and minibar. The hotels in Shiraz and Esfahan were nicer and cleaner, breakfast was included and was good.
We were able to see Teheran via car and by foot. It was an amazing experience with really good restaurants and fantastic views and things to do. Sohail was a very knowledgeable guide.
We flew next to Shiraz and we’re met by Yasna who was knowledgeable, very friendly and cool. She stayed with us until the end of the trip and she made us feel comfortable and we visited some very interesting places including Persepolis, Pasargadae and mosques and palaces.
I had the time of my life. I was able to realise a dream I’d had for over thirty years; to visit Iran. I felt like I blended in and didn’t feel like a tourist looking in. People were very friendly and respectful and I felt safe at all times. Locals were glad to see Europeans visiting their country. I was very sad to leave and I would happily return at the earliest opportunity, albeit on a trip with a different itinerary. I loved every minute and I have the happiest memories. I long to go back and I would heartily recommend the trip to anyone with an interest in Iran.
We have spent 19 days in Iran from late March to early April and had really enjoyable time there. Besides the typical route covering Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Persepolis, I visited the north-western part of Iran. Each city has its own characteristics but I like Tabriz much. Read More
After back home, I recommended Iran to all my friends as there are friendly people, good food, rich historical background and many interesting places to visit.
Saye of SURFIRAN responded to my emails promptly and all my requests were fully entertained, came up with a packed itinerary. Even though, there are still many more to see and I dream of revisiting the country again very soon.
Thankful to Mehdi and Yasna who were our guides and showed us around with many interesting things.
Going to Iran was for me and my friend a long term project. We booked a luxury train trip in 2019 but unfortunately the tour was canceled because of covid. Surfiran offered us a 9-day tour this year and Saye cooperated with us wonderfully in preparing our trip. Read More
We especially appreciated her help in securing a visa for my girlfriend.
We were also lucky that we were the only ones registered in our time slot, so we had an excellent guide, Mehdi, all to ourselves. He knows a lot about Iran’s rich history and current social and cultural life and he willingly answered all our questions.
We visited a lot of very interesting places, learned a lot about the rich historical background of Iran, the hotels were very luxurious, comfortable with fabulous breakfasts, people were very friendly, they smiled at us, established communication, were interested in where we came from and wanted to take a photo with us.
Back at home we recommended Iran to all our friends.
Majid was an excellent guide. Enjoyed Iran thoroughly. He seemed to judge what I wanted. Went and hiked in the mountains. All the historical places. Loved his enthusiasm and openness. Really enjoyed my trip to Iran. Would love to go go again in a heart beat.
Anil Kashyap from Los Angeles USA
I am a budget travel photographer, and I decided to go with SurfIran because they were so friendly and had the most affordable prices. Good thing I did, because I had the best experience with them. Read More
Saber and Sarah (she is no longer with SurfIran) were excellent at answering all of my questions about traveling to Iran! I felt a bit uneasy traveling as an American, but they reassured me that everything would work out. Though it took me just over three months to receive my authorization code (due to Ramadan holidays), I was able to receive it right before my trip to the Caucuses and the Middle East.
Majid was my tour guide, and he was the BEST!!! I got really sad when we had to say goodbye at the airport.
We organized a 3 weeks tour in Iran through SURFIRAN. SURFIRAN is a very Professional travel agency who understands their customers needs and expectations. Our stay in Iran was just fabulous, the program built by SURFIRAN was great, we have seen many and many very interesting sites and locations.
We visited Iran on October 2016 with SURFIRAN travel and tours company. Organization of round trip, hotel accommodation and flights were perfect. Our guide Mostafa was absolutely excellent, helpful, friendly and his information about Iran were very informative. Thanks a lot ! Will come back soon.
Guide name: Ali Jadidian
Guide name: Nima Fallahi
Dates & Prices
We regularly run this small-group tour. All departures are guaranteed to run if a minimum of 2 travelers is reached. If we do not reach this minimum number, we will offer you to either pay a supplement to do the tour exactly as planned, to change your date, to take another tour, or we will provide you with a full refund. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and in our brochure. Please check the website for the most up-to-date prices and special offers.
Passports and Visas
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller. For more information about how to get an Iranian visa please visit this page.
We use good quality hotels rated at the Iranian Local House and 3-star level on this tour. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards. Accommodation is based on double or twin en-suite rooms with air conditioning.
All couples will have a private double room.
Single travelers must pay extra to have their private room.
We use a private AC van, middle bus or bus throughout this tour, subject to the final size of the group.
The tour includes a 24-hour airport meet & assist service in Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.
Booking & Payment
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by making a bank transfer. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Prefer speaking to us over the phone? Our Specialists would love to help you out!
Or simply drop us an email at [email protected]
8:30am – 5.00pm Sunday to Wednesday
Talk with a SURFIRAN travel specialist who can help organize your trip.