The Ultimate Guide to the City of Tehran

Named one of the top countries to visit in 2015 by Rough Guides, Iran is the new travel hot spot.

It's one of the world's last off-the-beaten-path destinations, with countless things to explore in this ancient Islamic Republic.

The city of Tehran is Iran's capital city and is hugged by the beautiful Alborz Mountains. While at first glance it appears to be just another concrete jungle, once you start scratching the city's surface, you'll realise how much it has to offer.

It's bursting with ancient buildings, excellent museums, traditional teahouses and contemporary cafes. Tehran is the place to be if you want to discover modern Iran and learn about its past.

Here's our guide to the city of Tehran!

Getting into the City of Tehran

The fastest and easiest way to get to the city of Tehran is to fly into Imam Khomeini International Airport. Located 55 km from the city centre, it's the main access point for international flights and is the central transport hub for Iran.

Just keep in mind that you may need to renew your passport if you plan to visit Iran. Citizens of Israel are not allowed to enter the country as well as travellers with any evidence of visiting Israel in their passports. This ban also includes stamps from neighbouring countries like Jordan or Egypt.

The cheapest way to get from Tehran's airport into the city is with public transportation. Catch a minivan for 48 000 Rials to Shahid metro station. The buses leave once full, and it takes about 30 minutes to arrive. Once at the metro station, you can either hire a taxi to take you to your final destination or hop onto one of the trains to complete your trip.

If you want to take a cab from the airport, drivers charge a fixed rate of 750 000 Rials. The journey takes about 45 minutes without traffic, and you can pay in US Dollars or Euros. But if you want to save money, download the app Snapp. It's Tehran's answer to Uber, and a single trip will cost around 450 000 Rial.

iran air tehran

Getting around Tehran

Bus

The bus system in the city of Tehran is extensive but can be confusing for travellers. Bus numbers, route descriptions and other information is all in Persian, so you'll need to ask a friendly local for help. Keep in mind that buses are partitioned into two sections, women sit the back and men in the front.

BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation)

If you need to get somewhere fast, hop on board one of the red BRT buses. Tickets cost between 1,000 to 3,000 Rials, and it's the best way to get around the city of Tehran during rush hour.

Metro

Tehran has a new metro system with five lines that run across the city. Trains run every 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day. Tickets cost 6, 500 Rial for a single trip and you can download the Tehran Metro app to help you get around with ease.

The best time to visit Tehran

The best time to visit the city of Tehran is from March to May and September to October. You'll avoid the sweltering heat of the summer months and the freezing winter weather. While it is the most expensive time to visit the city, if you book well in advance you'll find some great deals on accommodation and tours.

When planning your trip to Iran, be aware of local festivals. Nowruz (Iranian New Year) and Ramadan often disrupt travel which can make getting around difficult for travellers.

But if you're on a tight budget, considering visiting Tehran in early June. Prices will be lower, and temperatures have yet to reach the boiling 40-degree weather found in July and August.

For winter sports enthusiasts, the best time to visit is during the winter months. From late November to February, Tehran's famous ski resort is open with jaw-dropping low prices compared to its European counterparts.

winter in tehran

The best places to visit in Tehran

Tehran may not be Iran's prettiest city, but that doesn't mean this city is void of any charms. It's set against the backdrop of the beautiful Alborz mountains and is one of the best places to experience contemporary Iranian life.

The Grand Bazaar

Situated in the heart of Tehran, no visit is complete to Iran's capital city without a stop here. It's a 10 km labyrinthine filled with shops, delicious treats, Persian carpets and so much more. But besides it's retail therapy, the Bazaar is also in one of Tehran's oldest areas. For travellers interested in the city's history, it's a must-visit.

National Museum of Iran

The National Museum of Iran is a cornucopia of historical treasures. It boasts relics from every aspect of Iranian history over the last 30, 000 years. The building itself is also equally impressive and will impress any architecture nerd. Designed in the early 20th century, the museum incorporated Sassanian architecture to become one of Tehran's most impressive modern buildings.

Golestan Palace

Situated a few minutes from the Grand Bazaar, is Tehran's most famous attraction - the Golestan Palace. Built in the 19th century, the palace complex is filled with intricate tile work, countless rooms to explore and beautifully displays the opulence of Qajar-era.

Treasury of National Jewels

Iran's collection of priceless gems and precious metals is nothing short of incredible.

The Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs, famous for their opulence, have left behind one of the best jewel museums in the world. The museum is home to famous pieces like Globe of Jewels and the Peacock Throne.

With only a few descriptions available in English, it's worth to stick around and join a guided tour that's included in your ticket price.

Where to eat in Tehran

Tehran is the Iranian mecca for foodies. The metropolis is filled with restaurants that cater to all kinds of tastes. Whether you're looking for traditional Iranian delicacies or something more familiar, you won't go hungry in Tehran.

food in tehran

Moslem Restaurant

The Moslem Restaurant is one of the best places in Tehran to try tahchin. It's located in the Grand Bazaar and a favourite spot for locals and travellers alike. Just make sure you arrive hungry, as their portions could easily serve two people.

Elysee Cafe

If you're looking for an amazing view of Tehran, head to Elysee cafe. It's located on top of a modern shopping mall and gives its guests a bird's eye view of the city below. Try their mocktails, delicious milkshakes or freshly made cakes.

Café Shemroon

One of Tehran's best spots for breakfast is Cafe Shemroon. Situated within the grounds of the Iranian Art Garden Museum, it's one of the city's most tranquil spots to enjoy a delicious meal. After you're done enjoying your coffee or meal, spend some time exploring the gardens that are home to ancient Iranian architecture.

Where to stay in the City of Tehran

accommodation in  tehran

Tehran is full of accommodation options for the weary traveller. From glamorous hotels to basic backpackers, there's something for every kind of traveller.

But if you're looking for something unique and want to experience how Iranians live, skip the beaten track and stay in a private home.

Choose from a room in a budget downtown flat or splurge and rent out an entire apartment during your stay in Iran.

It's a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience that famous Iranian hospitality first hand.