Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran

Highlights of Iran

9 days
from
£1,899
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Trip code: 
AXQ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

The depth and breadth of Iran’s treasures is broad with millennia of history and culture having shaped this land. Without a doubt, the highlights of this rich nation, however, are found in and around the cities of Shiraz, Yazd and Isfahan. From the ancient wonders of Persepolis and Pasargadae to the gardens of Shiraz and the resplendent Imam Square of Isfahan. Armenian cathedrals, exquisitely tiled mosques and sumptuous palaces, are also uncovered on this fascinating week-long journey.

Highlights

  • Persepolis’ Grandeur
  • Isfahan’s Majestic Square
  • Yazd’s Towers of Silence
  • Iran’s traditions and hospitality
  • Shiraz’ bazaar

Key information

  • 9 days land only/ flight inclusive
  • Travel by air-conditioned bus
  • 8 nights hotel

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts included
  • London flights (if booking incl flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Airport transport for Land Only bookings

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly to Shiraz

    Those making their own way can arrive at the hotel at any time today. Those on the group flights will be arriving late at night. There are no activities planned today.
    Eram hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Shiraz City Tour

    Following our initial briefing we spend the day exploring the sites of Shiraz, the city of ‘roses and nightingales’. The university city is known for its gardens such as Eram and Narenjestan and its poets including the great Persian poets Hafez and Saadi, both of whom have tombs here. Another famous phoenomenon is that of the morning sunlight coming through the painted windows of the Nasir ol Molk mosque which we visit before heading to the buzzing Vakil Bazaar. Wander through alleyways crammed full of goods from every-day objects to intricate enamel crockery, embossed boxes and other crafts.
    Eram hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Persepolis, Naghse Rostam and more Shiraz sites

    In its day, during the Achaemenid Dynasty (550 – 330BC), Persepolis was one of the world’s great cities. A ceremonial capital, Persepolis housed the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes and is famous for its resplendent bas-reliefs depicting kings, courtiers and representatives from tributary nations, ranging from Ethiopia to India.

    After visiting the ancient city we continue to nearby Naghsh-e-Rostam with royal tombs dug into the rock itself high up a cliff face. The site also has seven Sassanian rock-reliefs, including one of King Shapur and his first famous victory over the Roman Emperor Valerian.

    We later return to Shiraz where, time depending, we may visit some sites we were unable to see yesterday.
    Eram hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Pasargadae, Faragheh and onto Yazd

    Our first stop, after leaving Shiraz, is the Archimedean site of Pasargadae where we find the tomb of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. As we continue on our way we stop by the village of Faragheh, home to nomadic Bakhtiari and Quashquai people where we gain a glimpse of Iranian rural life.

    We eventually arrive in Yazd, a city known for being the centre of the country’s small Zoroastrian population. (total drive time about 6.5hrs plus stops).
    Hotel Mehr or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Yazd - Towers of Silence, Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Jame Mosque and Old Town.

    We spend all day exploring Yazd. We learn about Zoroastrianism as we visit the 18th century Towers of Silence which were still in use as burial towers until about 70 years ago. Here bodies would be brought to decompose and be devoured by birds. We also visit the Fire Temple, another sacred Zoroastrian site, with its flame which is said to have been burning for 1,500 years. We also explore Yazd’s picturesque old town and visit the sumptuous Jame Mosque as well as the Amir Chakhmagh complex.
    Hotel Mehr or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Meybod, Na'in and on to Isfahan

    We break up our drive to Isfahan with stops at Meybod and Nain. Meybod is believed to be 1,800 years old and is dominated by Narin Castle which dates back to Sassannian times and is thought to be the oldest mud-brick building in Iran. Continuing, we arrive in Na’in with its early Islamic Friday Mosque and Pirinia House/Ethnographic Museum.

    Eventually, late afternoon, we arrive in Isfahan, possibly the jewel in the Iranian crown. (about 4-5hrs driving plus stops)
    Hotel Isfahan or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Explore Isfahan's many wonderful sites

    It was once said of Isfahan that it is half the world (“Isfahan nesf-e jahan”). The capital city of Shah Abbas I is full of gems including some of the most spectacular examples of Islamic architecture found anywhere. We spend the next 1.5 days exploring some of the city’s top sites including the immense Imam Square which is surrounded by Imam Mosque, Ali Ghapu’s Palace, the mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah and the Bazaar. Nearby are the 10th century Jame Mosque (Friday Mosque) and Shah Abbas II’s Chehel Sotoun with its beautiful and diverse frescos.

    We also visit the Armenian quarter and the Vank Cathedral as well as some of the city’s emblematic bridges including Si o Se Pol Bridge and the Khaju Bridge.
    Hotel Isfahan or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Visit more of Isfahanl on to Tehran Airport

    We spend the morning exploring Isfahan some more. This afternoon we travel on towards Tehran Airport for our final night spent near the airport in preparation for our early morning flight tomorrow. (about 6.5hrs driving plus stops)
    Ibis Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Fly to London.

    Those on group fligths are normally scheduled on an early morning flight. The land only portion of the trip ends after breakfast. Please note that the last night is spent near the airport, if you want to extend your time in Tehran you may wish to move to a more central hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Iran

Nearly all nationalities need a visa for Iran and the whole process can take up to 8 weeks. Before applying for a visa an authorisation number is required (which we will obtain for you through our partners in Iran – we will need a copy of your passport 12 weeks in advance). We will send your tourist number as soon as we have received it from the relevant authorities (usually 4-6 weeks prior to travel). The visa application process includes having fingerprints taken so everyone applying for a visa needs to go in person to apply. The cost of the visa is GB£150 for UK nationals and generally takes 10 working days, it is possible to get an express same-day visa for a cost of GB£225. British, American and Canadian nationals need to obtain a visa before travelling to Iran. Most other nationalities including EU, Australian and New Zealanders can obtain a 30 day visa on arrival at Tehran Airport. We still recommend getting the Authorisation Number in advance as this will save time at the airport. The Iranian authorities now require people planning on getting their visa on arrival to pay for the visa in advance at the same time as getting the authoristaion number. The costs is payable through Exodus and can vary so please contact our customer operations team for details. You may also wish to obtain the visa in advance. Some nationalities, including Americans, may be asked to be processed separately at immigration and give finger-prints. This is not a long or complicated process and should not be of concern. It appears that with the Iranian consulate in London now issuing visas it is no longer possible to apply for the visa abroad if you live in the UK. Please note that the visa situation for Iran may be changeable. More information is available on our Iranian Information Sheet (https://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Iran.pdf)
Please note that visiting Iran may result in you needing to obtain a visa to visit the Unites States in the future.


Vaccinations

Iran

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts included

Persian cuisine has always been highly rated. Breakfast usually consists of Iranian flat bread (nan-e-lavash) jam, yoghurt, goat's cheese, eggs, olives and lots of tea or coffee. The usual main meal is rice (excellent quality), served with kebabs, mild curries, fish (particularly Shiraz and in the North), salads and yoghurt. Dessert, where available, usually consists of fresh fruit, particularly melon, or ice-cream. Iran is also known for its spices and pistachios (which come plain, roasted, roasted in saffron, roasted in salt and lemon) and has an impressive array of delicious homemade biscuits. Fruit juices are generally very good and it’s worth trying the carrot juice and icecream. Alcohol is banned but there is non-alcoholic beer as well as various fizzy drinks that you’d get at home. Iranian cuisine does not cater for vegetarians particularly well. Most restaurants will do their best to oblige but it will sometimes mean simply having the prepared meal but without the meat.

Weather

Iran has long, extremely hot summers, but the winters are cold. Most departures are in spring and autumn when the temperature should not be below 5ºC at night and will be between 20 and 30ºC during the day; in June and September these may go up to 35ºC, particularly in the desert. It should be sunny weather most of the time, but there can be some rain at these times of year.

Tehran

Tehran

Is this trip for you?

Iran is an Islamic state and fairly conservative. There is a strict moral and dress code for both men and women. Men should wear trousers and cover their shoulders. Legally women need to wear a head-scarf (which can be worn fairly loosely) and a long shirt, cardigan or manteau which covers them down to their thighs. Trousers or long skirts which go down to the ankles should be worn, though leggings are fine if worn along with a skirt that goes below the knees. Sleeves should be no shorter than ¾ length. Feet don’t need to be covered and sandals are fine. Iran is a ‘dry’ country and alcohol is strictly prohibited. The trip is graded as leisurely spending two or three nights in most places. There are some long distances to cover, with drive days being between 5-7hrs (plus stops). These drives are broken up with site-seeing stops, however. The weather can get very hot, though most of our departures are in spring and autumn which avoids the worst of the summer heat. Please note that there are numerous religious holidays throughout the year and these may, on occasion, interfere with some of the visits though every effort is made to avoid this when setting the dates the trips run. There is considerably walking around some of the sites.

Accommodation

Hotels

The hotels used on this trip are generally have an Iranian 3 star rating. They’re all en suite and are clean but may look tired in places. Wifi is normally available at all hotels and they normally offer laundry facilities.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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