For our honeymoon trip we wanted to pick something unusual – and here we came up with a great idea: Iran. First we decided to visit the capital city Tehran. We could observe funny reactions among our friends and family when we were announcing about our honeymoon destination: “Iran?! Is it safe to go there?” Hmm, let’s see! :) Now we know and want to share our experience with you. It’s not only very safe for tourists to be there, but it’s also something unforgettable and can be a trip of a lifetime!
Tehran Travel – 2 Days In The Capital City Of Iran
As we already wrote, the first destination during our honeymoon trip was Tehran. Altogether we planned to spend 8 days in Iran and two of them in the capital city. Just after we arrived at the airport, we had to apply for visa. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to deal with it quickly. At first we had to stand in a queue to show that we’d bought insurance for our stay. Then we went to fill in a short form and paid for our visa (for us it was $86 per person). After that we were waiting for application almost an hour to get the visa and could finally go (it was 2am in the morning and we took a taxi straight to the city center for 750 000 IRR).
You can read more on how to get a visa to Iran in our post: Iran Visa on Arrival – Practical Info.
TAKING A TAXI
At the airport, there are spots with currency exchange, so we exchanged some money there. There were also many taxi drivers coming to us and asking if we need a taxi but the majority of them were not formal taxi drivers and locals say that it’s better not to take them. That’s why we found a spot with yellow taxis (official ones) and took one of them to the city center to get to our hotel.
If you take a official taxi, it’s not possible to haggle over the price as prices are fixed and pretty high at the same time. At the time we visited Tehran, there was no other possibility to get to the city center in the middle of the night than by taking a taxi. Recently they opened a metro line that enables easier getting to the city. The distance between the city center and airport is rather big (it takes at least 45 minutes) and that’s why it’s expensive to take a taxi there.
As it was very late, we wanted to get very quickly to the hotel to finally go to sleep.
On our way we observed the surrounding, which was far different from what we were used to and we could feel an unpleasant smell of the air pollution – it’s the only bad thing we can tell about Iran :)
As we wrote – everything looked different so we couldn’t wait until the next day to see Tehran. And after we got to the hotel, we were so tired that we went straight to bed.
Tehran Travel – Day 1
UNPLANNED VISIT TO HOSPITAL
We came to Tehran from Baku (we had a transfer there) and it’s important to mention that Agata crushed her tooth there while we were waiting for our plane to Tehran. It changed our plans a little because we had to go to the dentist at first. As we were still in a hotel, we asked at the reception how to find a way to the dentist and were advised to go to the hospital because it was very close.
The receptionist wrote us a Persian word for ‘hospital’ on a small piece of paper in case we got lost. In fact, it was a very smart thing because later we needed to use it. After couple minutes of walking, we weren’t sure where to go next and showed our sign to some shopkeeper. He didn’t understand English but when he saw our paper, he knew what we were looking for. It was very surprising for us that he left his shop to go with us to show the way and make sure we get to our destination :)
AT THE HOSPITAL
At the hospital he told something to a guy sitting in the reception and after 5 minutes there came a girl who spoke English. She took us to the dentist and we explained what happened. The dentist asked to wait a while because she had a patient at that time.
Still we weren’t waiting long – after about 10 minutes she was free and told Agata she can heal her tooth. The whole thing costed only 900 000 IRR (about $21). We were afraid that it would take long but fortunately everything went smoothly and were very satisfied with the service. Everything was so professional! We could see that the health care is on very high level in this country :) That should be a very good news for you – if you ever need to go for health care in Iran, you know now not to be afraid.
And another surprise: as we wanted to leave the hospital, we saw that the shopkeeper was still waiting for us. He just wanted to make sure that everything was fine and it was the first time we met the kindness of the Iranians – very quickly actually :)
At the hospital we got professional help very quickly. We wouldn’t even expect that someone would handle us that quickly. Everything went in a nice and professional atmosphere. For us it was also very important that the service didn’t cost a lot. We can reccommend in good conscience to go for Iranian health care :)
After our tooth adventure, we could finally focus on Tehran. The biggest difference between Iran and European countries is probably the organization of traffic. We had to learn how to cross the streets because the traffic is very chaotic. And it’s not an easy task :)
Couple of our first crossing the roads really wasn’t easy and fortunately there were always some locals nearby that helped us with it :) But after one day we got the general rule how to do it. If you have for example 4 lanes, you only care at first about the nearest one and after you crossed it, you can stand in the middle of the street and focus on the second lane and so on… We got used to it very quickly :)
FORMER EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES
Eventually we managed to get to our first attraction – the former Embassy of the United States. We chose to go there because of the interesting historic events connected with this place. It was associated with strong control of Iran by the USA and was a center of American too strong and negative influence on the country. It was in the period when the Shah was dependent from American government. After the revolutions, Iranians severed ties with the USA and the embassy of the USA became the symbol of this event. Presently there is no embassy of the USA in Iran, as diplomatic relations between these countries don’t exist.
Next we went to the tram station and ordered chelo kebab on plate. It was very tasty and we felt encouraged to order in the food court because lots of locals were eating there. After that we took a train to Yazd city.
It took long to get to Yazd (8 hours) but it was a sheer pleasure. Train was comfortable, views amazing, free tea, little carton of juice with biscuits and the best: great company. We’ve met three persons on our way: Mohammad that spoke fluent English and one nice lady and man that were very interested in talking with us but unfortunately that couldn’t speak English. But we tried and we learned a couple of words in Persian. For example we learned how to say ‘water’ and it was later useful :)
Mohammad was from Yazd and offered to show us around the city on the next day. We exchanged phone numbers, but we still didn’t have a Persian card and couldn’t use ours. We told him that we will contact him on the next day but we need first to buy a card.
And that’s how our first day looked like :)
Traveling the train is pretty comfortable in Iran – one compartment for 4 persons and there are 2 bunks down and 2 up, if someone wants to go to sleep.
The second day in Tehran was at the end of our stay in Iran, when we came back from other cities.
Tehran Travel – Day 2
It was our last day in Iran and it started after we came from Isfahan. That day we had a plane to Baku very late at night and that’s why we could plan the whole day to visit some attractions.
At first we went to Golestan Palace. It’s located close to Amir Kabir Street, where we had our hotel, so we went there by walk. Tehran is a very big city so it’s possible to get lost and we had to ask some locals how to get there. Luckily, locals are always very helpful and they wouldn’t let us get lost :)
When we got to the spot, we bought entrance fee to the Main Halls. But we wanted to see the gardens first. The surrounding was very pleasant – lots of greenery and amazing architecture. A real feast for photographers. However, there is a sign the professional photographers aren’t allowed to make pictures there as well as people with monopods and tripods.
After seeing the gardens we went to see the interior of the palace. It’s not necessary to plan much time for it. We could see only a couple of comnats but the most interesting of all was definitely a chair on which the Naser Al-din Shah was murdered.
The whole interior is very rich and luxury. Unfortunately, it’s prohibited to make any photos there. You have to see it by yourself :)
PLACE TO EAT
Although it didn’t take as much time so visit Golestan Palace, we got sooo hungry. That’s why we had to find something to eat straightaway. There was a place to eat on the area of Golestan Palace but as you already know we always prefer to find something hidden from tourists :)
During our whole stay in Iran we saw many locals, especially shopkeepers owing some really good-looking take-away food.
And on our last day we got lucky. We asked some sellers in the nearby shopping mall where to eat. They showed us the way to local food. It took us probably 5 minutes or even less to get there.
And here it is:
Ok, in the picture maybe the place doesn’t look that good and encouraging but don’t let appearances confuse you! The food is delicious and cheap. There were so many locals that it was definitely fresh. The sellers were in a big hurry and barely handled all the orders. They didn’t understand English but when some of the ordering locals heard ‘chicken’, he helped us and told what we wanted :)
And the service was so nice that even gave us a free big bottle of coca-cola. We couldn’t get over the kindness and hospitality of Iranians again. There was no place to sit because it was so crowded but one of the sellers came and found us a place to sit. We were so delighted! The food came and it was so delicious – if you plan to visit Golestan Palace, you should go there too. Especially if you travel on a budget just like us. There’s no better combination than cheap and delicious food :)
In our note Visit Tehran, Iran – Dangerous or Safe we described how to get there :)
Happy und full we headed to Azadi Tower. We were surprised because at the time we got there, there were not many people – especially that the place makes great impression. Apart from us there were also two other tourists from abroad. And later there came some Iranians. They were very friendly and we had a talk for a while, which is nothing unusual. Local people in Iran always find some time to talk to foreigners.
That day was very hot so the shadow of the Tower gave us a pleasant relief. The Tower is an important symbol for Iranians as it was the place where people gathered to protest during the Iranian Revolution. Its architecture is one of a kind and we definitely recommend to see it while being in Tehran.
We spent in that place more time than we expected because we talked to some locals and tourists from Afghanistan (with whom we still keep in touch). But the whole Iran is like this – you need to plan some more time for every attraction because you may meet many interesting and friendly people.
In the evening we took a metro to the Tabiat Bridge – our last attraction in Tehran. It was nice to have a walk there by the sunset. The construction is very modern and was designed by the Iranian architect Leila Araghian. It shows a different face of Iran – a more futuristic one.
Many locals and tourists also visited the bridge – in the evenings more people go out as the weather is more tolerable than during the day. The views very beautiful – on one side the view of the moss green, which no one would expect from Iran and on the other side on the mountains. However, sometimes the view of the mountains is not so clear because of the huge smog in the city.
And that’s it! That’s how we spend 2 days in Tehran. Of course it would be better to spend in Iran some more time, but even one week (because that much time we spend in Iran altogether) can be enough to see the most important attractions and get to know the culture and many, many interesting people :)
Then we went to the airport because late at night we had a plane to Baku, Azerbaijan. We were very positively surprised at the airport because they had very comfortable places to have a nap before the flight :)