Captivating Culture On the Cusp of Change

Iran

Once the seat of the mighty Persian Empire, today’s Iran is a complex place of searing beauty with its shapely domes, mosaic-clad minarets and arched madrassahs set against a brilliant blue sky.  With a culture that prizes hospitality above all, the people of Iran pride themselves on being friendly and warm to travelers, wherever they are from.

Why Travel with MIR to Iran
  • Over 15 years of Iran travel experience
  • Educational and alumni travel programs from the US, New Zealand and beyond have chosen MIR to guide them to Iran
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Signature Experiences

We regularly garner raves from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the distinctive art, architecture and accomplishments of the age-old country of Iran.  Below is just a sampling of the Iran experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

  • Walk the rooftops of Masuleh Village
    Explore the perfectly preserved ancient village of Masuleh, where the rooftops of one tier of houses serve as the streets for the houses above....
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    Walk the rooftops of Masuleh Village

    Iran

    Masuleh, Iran

    Explore the perfectly preserved ancient village of Masuleh, where the rooftops of one tier of houses serve as the streets for the houses above.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Explore Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings
    Awaken to ancient history as you stand in the shadow of the colossal marble pillars of Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings and a celebrated...
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    Explore Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings

    Iran

    Persepolis, Iran

    Awaken to ancient history as you stand in the shadow of the colossal marble pillars of Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings and a celebrated UNESCO Site.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Wander the splendid Shazadeh Garden
    Wander UNESCO-listed Shahzadeh, or Prince Garden, a walled oasis with a stairway of terraced pools flowing one into the next below a white palace....
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    Wander the splendid Shazadeh Garden

    Iran

    Mahan, Iran

    Wander UNESCO-listed Shahzadeh, or Prince Garden, a walled oasis with a stairway of terraced pools flowing one into the next below a white palace.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Contemplate the Eternal Flame
    Visit the Fire Temple in Yazd to see its eternal flame, said to have been burning since 470 AD; then contemplate the Towers of Silence, where Zoroastrians placed their dead....
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    Contemplate the Eternal Flame

    Iran

    Yazd, Iran

    Visit the Fire Temple in Yazd to see its eternal flame, said to have been burning since 470 AD; then discover the Towers of Silence, where Zoroastrians placed their dead.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

    X
Ways to Travel to Iran with MIR

We love traveling to Iran. We have found that the differences our governments may have with each other don’t filter down to the people on the street, who are fascinated with and hospitable toward foreign travelers.  We design every one of our Iran trips to help you discover for yourself that the Iranian people are like people the world over – unique yet universal.

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent, custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours
Ancient Persia – Modern Iran

Ancient Persia – Modern Iran

Iran From Top To Bottom

Travels to: Iran

18 Days / Departures in April, September, October 2015

Small Group land tour from $6,195, plus $190 internal air

See Trip

Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran

From Tashkent To Tehran via Turkmenistan

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

20 Days / Departures in April, November 2015

Small Group land tour from $7,195, plus $250 internal air

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Rail Journeys by Private Train
Jewels of Persia by Private Train: Eastbound

Jewels of Persia by Private Train: Eastbound

Budapest to Tehran Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Travels to: Bulgaria, Central and East Europe, Central Asia, Hungary, Iran, Romania, Turkey

15 Days / Departures in March, September, October, November 2015

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $13,595

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Jewels of Persia by Private Train: Westbound

Jewels of Persia by Private Train: Westbound

Tehran to Budapest Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Travels to: Bulgaria, Central and East Europe, Central Asia, Hungary, Iran, Romania, Turkey

15 Days / Departures in April, September, October, November 2015

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $14,695

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Legendary Turkey & Persia by Private Train: Eastbound

Legendary Turkey & Persia by Private Train: Eastbound

From Istanbul to Isfahan Aboard the Arabian Nights Express

Travels to: Iran, Turkey

14 Days / Departures in May, September 2015

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $7,995

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Legendary Turkey & Persia by Private Train: Westbound

Legendary Turkey & Persia by Private Train: Westbound

From Iran to Istanbul Aboard the Arabian Nights Express

Travels to: Iran, Turkey

14 Days / Departures in May, October 2015

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $7,995

See Trip

Heart of Persia by Private Train

Heart of Persia by Private Train

Around and About Iran Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Travels to: Iran

12 Days / Departures in October 2015

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $13,595

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Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries that make the most of Iran’s formidable number of fantastic sights for over 15 years; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

For ideas, peruse one of our Regional Travel Planners, a roundup of the must-sees from our savvy staff.

Take a look at our suggested Private Journey, Essential Iran, or read more about how to design your own trip.  Also, consider this: You can customize our Ancient Persia – Modern Iran small group tour or other MIR small Group Central Asia tour to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our Iran signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR offers itineraries that are available on a private departure basis with your choice of dates. They can also serve as inspiration for your own custom itinerary.

Our itinerary, your dates – great for solo travelers, couples or small groups.

Essential Iran

Essential Iran

Persian Odyssey to Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran

Travels to: Iran

Departures in November 2014

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip
Essential Iran

Essential Iran

Persian Odyssey to Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran

Travels to: Iran

Departures in March, April, May, June, November, October, September, August, July 2015

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip

Weather
Our Favorite Places in Iran
Iran

Isfahan

Under the rule of Shah Abbas the Great of the 16th century Safavid dynasty, Isfahan became a celebrated and beautiful city, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan, meaning “half of the world.”  Even after centuries of turmoil and destruction at the hands of foreign invaders, Isfahan’s grace is palpable. Explore one of the largest public squares in the world, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, surrounded by the blue mosaic-tiled Ali-Qapu Palace, where Safavid Kings watched polo games from the balcony, and the mosques of Sheikh Lotfollah and the Imam, some of the finest in the country. Visit the Armenian Quarter and the graceful arched bridges over the Zayandeh River, lined with relaxing teahouses.

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Iran

Shiraz

The fabled city of Shiraz has a remarkable history stretching over 2,500 years. It is the capital of Fars province where the Persian language of Farsi originated. One of the most important cities of the Islamic medieval period, Shiraz has reigned as the capital of two Islamic dynasties. A major artistic, religious, and academic center, the city is famed for its poetry, its luxuriant gardens, its learning centers and extravagant architecture. Beautiful, romantic, and hospitable, Shiraz is the favorite of many travelers, and remains one of the most enjoyable places to visit in all of Iran. Shiraz is the gateway to UNESCO-listed Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World and the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings.

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Iran

Tehran

After the Mongols destroyed the Silk Road city of Rey, Tehran rose in its place as the region’s most important trading center. By 1789 Tehran had become the capital of Persia under the Qajar ruler, Agha Mohammed Khan. While the city grew in prominence, it remained basically unchanged until the massive modernization efforts of the 1920s. Since then, Tehran has grown in population from less than 300,000 to a metropolis of more than eight million. Modern Tehran is full of shops, museums, mosques, minarets, restaurants, teahouses and sprawling bazaars.

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Iran

Yazd

Stretching between two deserts, the ancient town of Yazd has a quiet history most notable for its reputation along the caravan routes as a silk weaving center. Founded in the 5th century AD, its isolated location and desert climate proved to be the city’s greatest assets, concealing it from the waves of invaders that destroyed other more favorably situated cities.

Yazd means “to feast and worship” and many people here maintain the Zoroastrian traditions that this word expresses. Zoroastrians fleeing Arab invaders found safe haven in Yazd, as did artists and poets escaping the Mongols. Together, they made Yazd a city of tolerance and beauty. A tour of Yazd includes a visit to the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence and Fire Temple, the Dowlat-Abad Garden, the Friday Mosque and Alexander’s Prison.

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Iran

Kerman

Located in southeastern Iran, Kerman enjoys a relatively cool climate because of its 5,900-foot altitude. Set in a high valley between the huge massif of the Zagros Mountains and the Dasht-e Lut Desert, Kerman has been geographically isolated for much of its existence. In spite of centuries of upheaval, the city encompasses many architectural treasures and an exceptional bazaar. It is best known for its brilliantly-colored carpets and tapestries. The Friday Mosque, built in 1348 and decorated in polychrome tiles, the Turkish Imam Mosque and the Vakil Bazaar are Kerman’s most interesting sites.

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Iran

Masuleh Village

Masuleh Village, founded in the 10th century, is the oldest continually inhabited village in Iran. The village is built into the side of a steep hill 3,500 above sea level, with an elevation gain of almost 1,000 feet. The rooftops of one tier of houses serve as the street for the houses above. Protected as an Iranian Cultural Heritage Site, Masuleh is a fascinating place to wander. Visit the local shops to see the brightly colored socks and dolls that are handmade by the women of Masuleh.

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Journeys that travel to Masuleh Village

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Iran

Persepolis

The ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings, Persepolis, was one of the most important sites of the Ancient World. Arguably the greatest of the Persian dynasties, the Achaemenids ruled from the 7th to the 4th century BC, and saw the empire at its zenith. Darius the Great initiated the building of Persepolis, a huge undertaking of art and architecture. UNESCO says, “Persepolis was the example par excellence of the dynastic city, the symbol of the Achaemenid dynasty…”

The complex was built over a century on a colossal 40-acre terrace, partly natural and partly constructed of limestone. After conquering the Persians and plundering the city’s riches, Alexander the Great set the stately capital on fire. The abandoned ruins were called, for generations, only the “place of 40 columns.”

Persepolis encompasses some of the most fascinating ruins in the world. What remains is not only those 40 marble columns, but the wide ceremonial staircase, monumental carvings and the famous bas-reliefs showing kings, courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of the Persian Empire's tributary nations.

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Iran

Mashad

Mashad began as a small village called Sanabad. In 817 the eighth grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, Imam Reza, died here suddenly on a journey. Word spread that he had been poisoned, and pilgrims began arriving at his burial site, renaming the city Mashad, meaning “Place of Martyrdom.” The Imam’s tomb has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, and is now one of the holiest Shi’ite shrines in Iran, visited by 12 million Shi’a Muslims a year.

The “Holy Precinct,” or Haram-e Motahar, is a beautiful circular complex surrounded by a boulevard, and is composed of Imam Reza’s Tomb, several madrassahs, spacious courtyards, blue-tiled and copper-clad domes, libraries and minarets. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the tomb or the 15th century Great Mosque of Gohar Shad, but can admire the gilded domes and tiled portals of the exteriors. Three museums are open to non-Muslims – the Main Museum, filled with art and fabulous artifacts, the Carpet Museum and the Koran Museum.

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When to Travel to Iran

Iran festivities Photo credit: Devin MitchellIran’s festivals are mainly in conjunction with religious holidays. The most important are described below. In addition, there are often several theater and art festivals during Dahe-ye Fajr or the“10 Days of Dawn,” a ten-day period leading up to the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s assumption of power.

Navruz (March 21), throughout Iran

The tradition of Navruz started as a Zoroastrian festival to celebrate the spring equinox. The ancient people closely followed the celestial cycle and noticed that when the hours of daylight started to equal the hours of darkness, the seasons changed and new life was born.

The Persians celebrated the start of the new year at this time, and spent the thirteen days following Navruz settling debts and mending relationships in order to set a positive tone for the upcoming year. In Iran, celebrations often begin on Charshanbeh Souri, the last Tuesday of the year. People light bonfires and firecrackers. The festivities continue with the traditional New Year spread, called Haft-Seen, which is made up of seven dishes symbolizing various aspects of life, eternity and faith. The period of Navruz ends with families picnicking on Sizdah Be Dar, or what is affectionately nicknamed “national picnic day.”

Ramadan (dates vary by year), throughout Iran

The Islamic holiday, Ramadan, is a time when Muslims focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and strengthening their relationship to God. The holiday lasts a month, and during this period, Muslims fast during daylight hours, eating only before sunrise and after sunset. Islamic teachings explain that without the distraction of attending to physical needs and worldly distractions, one is better able to focus on reforming one’s spiritual self. The religious pray more often than the rest of the year, and dedicate themselves to acts of charity. Some scholars believe the name is derived from the Arabic word for “scorching,” referring to the holiday’s power to “scorch” away past sins.

Moharram – Tasua and Ashura (varies year to year), throughout Iran

The Mourning Period of Tasua and Ashura memorializes the martyrdom of Husein ibn Ali, the grandson of Mohammed and a famous Shi’a imam. The imam and his followers were killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The holiday mourns the loss and commemorates the fallen through prayers and passion plays. Mosques and gathering places customarily provide food to the mourners.