Path to Persia: Tehran, Kerman, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan
On this trip to five Iranian cities you’ll discover the splendors of Persia, both ancient and contemporary. Each destination reveals a different side of Iran’s multifaceted culture, from the cosmopolitan buzz of Tehran to the romantic charm of Shiraz to architectural grandeur of Isfahan.
MIR’s expert guides will show you seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Persepolis, the ceremonial city of the Achaemenid Empire that’s now one the world’s most impressive ancient ruins, and Isfahan’s Friday Mosque, the largest and most architecturally diverse mosque in all of Iran. Among the places you’ll explore are the Zoroastrian holy sites of Yazd; the enormous, thriving bazaar of Kerman; the graceful pools of Shahzadeh Garden; and the tranquil, verse-engraved tomb of Hafez, Iran’s most revered poet.
Travels to: Iran
Days 1-2: Tehran (Iran)
Arrive in Tehran, Iran’s bustling modern capital, where in the past 100 years the population has grown from under 300,000 to over 9 million. On your one full day here, get a window into Persian culture at two major museums, gaze at the spectacular Crown Jewels, and have your first experience of splendid Persian architecture at Golestan Palace.
- The wide-ranging collection of art and sacred relics, including calligraphy, textiles, carvings, and carpets, at the National Islamic Museum of Iran
- Tools of Neanderthals, prehistoric pottery, artifacts from Persepolis, and other archaeological treasures at the National Museum of Iran
- The spectacular Iranian Crown Jewels, including Darya-ye-Nur, the world’s largest uncut diamond, and the Peacock Throne, covered in over 23,000 gems
- The grand buildings and elegant garden of Golestan Palace, the 16th-century fortress of the Safavid Dynasty, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Days 3-6: Kerman, Rayen, Mahan, Yazd
An hour-and-a-half flight takes you from Tehran to the mile-high city of Kerman, home to a classic bazaar and the base for visits to the ancient citadel Arg-e Rayen, the mausoleum of revered Sufi teacher Shah Nematollah Vali, and UNESCO-listed Shahzadeh, one of Iran’s grandest Persian gardens. The next stop is Yazd, a desert city of such beauty and cultural significance that it’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety. Yazd is a traditional center of Zoroastrianism; its Fire Temple remains an important pilgrimage site, and its Towers of Silence, central to Zoroastrian death rituals, loom on the hilltops outside of town.
- Rayen Castle, one of the finest examples in the world of ancient mudbrick architecture
- The vibrant blue-tiled dome and minarets of the Shah Nematollah Vali Mausoleum
- The terraced pools gracing UNESCO-listed Shahzadeh Garden
- Kerman’s huge, bustling covered bazaar
- The many treasures Yazd, including the UNESCO-listed Dowlat Garden, the Friday Mosque, and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Towers of Silence
Days 7-9: Pasargadae, Shiraz, Persepolis
Departing from Yazd, stop at the ruins of the city of Pasargadae, founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, and then arrive in Shiraz, one of Iran’s most beautiful and historically rich cities, renowned for its gorgeous gardens and intricate architecture. In the “City of Roses and Nightingales” you’ll explore a stunning, light-dappled mosque and people-watch at the shrine of a beloved poet. From there, travel to Persepolis, one of the world’s great ancient archaeological sites.
- The limestone mausoleum of Cyrus the Great at the UNESCO-listed ruins of Pasargadae
- The verse-engraved tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet, Hafez, a site of pilgrimage and reverence surrounded by a lovely garden and a teahouse
- The exquisite tilework and stained glass at Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, where sunlight creates bursts of color
- Shiraz’s Narenjestan Ghavam Museum, a grand 19th-century house set amid meticulously maintained gardens
- The ornate columns and beautifully rendered bas-reliefs of UNESCO-listed Persepolis, a remarkable archaeological site that served as the ceremonial capital of the ancient Achaemenid Empire
Days 10-12: Isfahan
Past and present majestically intertwine in the city of Isfahan, where beautiful, historic public spaces buzz with local activity. Stroll through the centerpiece, UNESCO-listed Imam Square, and explore the spectacular buildings that surround it—the Imam Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Ali-Qapu Palace. Other Isfahan attractions include the Friday Mosque, the Chehel Sotun Palace, the elegant bridges over Zayandeh River, and the Armenian and Jewish quarters.
- Taking in the scene at 22-acre Imam Square, one of the largest city squares in the world
- The turquoise minarets and intricate tilework of the magnificent Imam Mosque
- The frescoes and the giant reflecting pool of Chehel Sotun Palace
- Eight hundred years of Persian architecture on display at UNESCO-listed Friday Mosque, the largest and most eclectic mosque in all of Iran
- Discovering the legacies of minority cultures in Isfahan’s Armenian and Jewish quarters
Dates & Prices
- Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
- Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
- Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.
Land tour price, per person, starting from:
- Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
- Meals, as noted in the itinerary: 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 1 dinner.
- Restaurant tips for included meals.
- One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
- Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
- Services of a National Guide with local guides at specific sites.
- Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips and more.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
- Electronic final update bulletin with any late news, updates, and important information.
- International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
- Internal airfare. (Internal airfare is quoted separately and subject to change by airlines.)
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement if requested or required.
- Baggage handling.
- Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
- Gratuities to National Guide, local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
- Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccinations, and other medical costs.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Travel-related insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
Level 2: Moderate, but Customizable
This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.
There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate streets of packed dirt, cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums rarely have elevators.
Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.
Accommodations in the basic program are generally three- to four-star hotels. Upgrades are available, please call for details.