Most attractions in Tehran (the capital) can be seen within 5 to 7 days and the recommended time of visit is the Iranian Nowruz holidays when the city has less traffic, congestion and crowds.
The above are the top attraction of Tehran and the best traditional sites: Arg Tehran (citadel), the Royal palace, teahouses, Zoorkhaneh (Traditional sporting facility), baths, Saqqakhana (public drinking fountain), etc. With the passage of time and urban development, a blend of eye-catching traditional and modern attractions has become accessible to tourists.
We begin our visit at Golestan Palace which is accessible from and close to Panzdah-e-Khordad Metro Station. The palace is the most beautiful and oldest complex in Tehran surrounded by the Grand Bazaar. Golestan’s attractions are Iwan (Marble Throne), Khalvat-e Karim-Khani (Karim-Khani Nook), galleries, the Special museum, Main Hall, Mirror Hall (Talar Ayneh), Talar-e Aj (Ivory Hall), Talar-e Brelian (Brilliant Hall), Shams al-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun), and the Building of Emarat-e Badgir (Wind Catcher Building).
The Grand Bazaar of Tehran consists of Amir Bazaar, Sabze Meydan (Gold Merchants bazaar), and Chahar Soogh (4 Bazaars) with an area of about 105 hectares, having twisted passages, groin vaults, and traditional vents. In the great Chahar Soogh area, we can observe arched and domed roofs, beautifully ornamented with plasterworks and Hashti (octagonal halls), which is the representation of traditional elements beside modern ones. Chahar Soogh is the covered section of the Grand Bazaar. Walking into the bazaar, we see the smallest tea house (Haj Ali Darvish) in the world, registered in the National Heritage List. Timcheh-e Hajeb-od-Dowleh and Iran Termeh House are other attractions here. Termeh is handwoven cloth specific to Iran. The Tehran Grand Bazaar is a great place for shopping.
Naser Khosrow Street (Naseriieh) is one of the oldest streets of Tehran which has historical monuments. The first drugstore and printing house, Dar ul-Funun School was established here by Amir Kabir. The old structures of Roshan Passage, inspired by Gothic architecture and displaying Farr-e Kiyani and the flying angel symbols on the uppermost parts of the building, is a mixture of Iranian and European architecture. The traditional Khoda Bande Loo Alley is another attraction of Naser Khosrow Street which one should see.
Marvi is one of the oldest Alleys, in proximity to Naser Khosrow Street and starts from the West, in front of Shams ol Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) and ends in Pamenar street. Traditional places such as Marvi School and Mosque, Mozaffarian Passage, Old Marvi Bazaar and Agha Mahmoud Mosque or Hakim Mosque can be visited in the alley.
Imam Mosque, 2 centuries old, in front of Naser Khosrow Street is the 2nd historical mosque of the capital with modern Islamic symbols and registered in the National Heritage List.
Make sure to visit the entrance of Oudlajan traditional bazaar, after passing Pamenar street in front of the Iron Distribution bazaar, which has numerous handicraft stalls and leads us to the old district of Oudlajan- one of the five older and a main district in Old Tehran. Other attractions include Ozra Yaghub Temple and Imamzadeh Yahya dating back to about 900 (the Mongol period), public bath, Navvab mini bazaar, Modarres House Museum, Kazemi House Museum, and Timcheye Akbarian Caravanserai, the first bank of Iran restored to an attractive sofrekhaneh (traditional teahouse and restaurant).
We continue on to Baharestan Metro Station, giving access to Baharestan area. We can visit Masoudieh Palace (Emarat-e Masoudieh) and Negarestan Garden, both important traditional structures located near Baharestan square.
Masoudieh Mansion goes back to the Qajar dynasty and includes Birooni (public area) and Andarooni (private female quarters) with 7 mansions connected by courtyards. Some of the buildings within the mansion include Divan Khaneh, Sofreh Khaneh & Hoz Khaneh, Seyyed Javadi, and Moshiriyeh.
Bagh-e Negarestan (Negarestan Garden) is another important and significant building in terms of art and tradition in Tehran, built by order of Fath Ali Shah of Qajar as a summer resort. The garden has rooms and halls adorned with mirrors, golden designs and noteworthy Chandeliers (Chelcheragh).
Baharestan Palace or the historic, former Iranian parliament building is located at Baharestan square, which is also known as Constitutional Revolution building and is a combination of tradition and modern architecture from Arg Tehran, at present used as the library and museum of the Iranian parliament.
On our 2nd day, we plan to visit older areas of Tehran and Toopkhaneh square, which is accessible from Imam Khomeini Metro Station. The historical sites and attractions in this district are not far from each other and easily accessible on foot.
Ali Akbar Sanati Museum is one of the lesser known attractions located about 350 meters from Imam Khomeini Metro Station. Ali Akbar Sanati composed about 6,000 paintings and thousands of plaster, stone, and bronze sculptures of famous Iranian scientific, literary and social figures, kept in a Qajar period building repurposed as a museum.
Sepah Bank Coin Museum is the most comprehensive coin museum in the Middle East, with rare coins form the Lidya, Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, Samanid, Seljuk and many other periods. We then return to the Imam Khomeini street and go to Si-e Tir Street. After a 5-minute walk, we arrive at the Telecommunication Museum, where items related to the history of Post, Telephone, Telegraph and other industries are maintained.
Malek National Library and Museum is very remarkable in Iran, holding 19,000 rare exquisite manuscripts. The National Garden Frontage was built in the Qajar Dynasty and was formerly the entrance to Mashgh Square (Parade Square). The combination of Persian-European architecture, highlights the National Garden frontage, known as the Reza Khani style. Attractive objects in the museum include tile works and Kolah Farangi (a kind of pavilion) in azure, turquoise, cream, yellow, brown, golden, red, white, and green as well as leopard, lion, sun, machine gun, cannon ball designs and patterns.
The National Museum is the foremost and most significant museum in Iran, constructed by Andre Gudar (a French architect) by order of Reza Shah, divided into traditional Iran and Islamic period sections with unique monuments.
Si Tir Street is stone paved and has cafes and restaurants, stalls and booths. A variety of food and drinks can be enjoyed here- traditional, modern and international.
Abgineh Museum is located in Si Tir Street, an exhibition of precious glassware and ceramics- both old and modern. The oldest objects of the collection include Chogha-Zanbil temple “glass tubes/cylinders” from the 2nd millennium BC.
Park e Shahr (City Park), opposite Si Tir Street, is the 1st public park in Tehran which used to cover a vast area of the Sanglach district (one of 4 oldest districts of Tehran). A statue is placed in the center of the park to commemorate the chemical weapons victims. Other attractions of the park are Solh (Peace) Museum, Bird Garden, bird observation Center and aquarium.
Hasan Abad Square also known as Hasht Gonbad (Eight Domes), is one of the historical structures located at the junction of Imam Khomeini, Hafez and Vahdat-e-Islami streets. The square has the most European architectural style in Tehran, Western and Renaissance styles on the domed building. Moghadam House (Museum) is located near Hasan Abad Square (from the late Qajar period) where Mohsen Moghadam and his French wife resided, is among the most cherished because of the costly objects on display, and is one of the oldest houses remaining in Tehran. Next, we go on to Ferdowsi Square, packed with people and money exchanges up to Istanbul Intersection. We may go to Lola`gar Alley and visit The Treasury of National Jewels. Lola`gar Alley is exceptional and extends from Nofel Loshato Street to Hafez junction, a symmetrical street where all houses, views, balconies, windows, and even planted trees inside the houses face each other. The Treasury of National Jewels is located after Jomhouri Street on Ferdowsi Street, inside the Central Bank, being one of the most significant museums in Iran, where unique jewels such as Daria-i-Noor diamond are on display.
The 3rd day could begin by visiting Valiasr Street, surrounding areas and museums. Valiasr Street is the longest in the Middle East lined with trees to please the eye and senses. The street runs North to South from Shemiran district to Rah Ahan (Railway) Square.
Ferdows Garden Complex (Cinema Museum) is one of Tehran’s most attractive sites, the 1st and most visited, dating back to the Qajar period. It is a rectangular garden inside a unique white mansion used as a Cinema Museum.
Museum of Time (Tamashagah Zaman Museum) is the personal property of Hossein Khodadad and dates back to the Qajar period, located in Zafaraniyeh (Shahid Sarlashkar Fallahi street). It is also known as the first clock museum of Iran. Different kinds of old clocks (mechanical, alarm, pendant, desktop, cuckoo and stand clocks) are displayed, going back to the 17th century. Important calendars from across the globe and ancient, simple calendars from Iran, astrolabes, and time-measuring dishes are on display in this museum.
Valiasr Street has two longstanding and attractive parks. The foremost is Mellat Park, located before Parkway Intersection, on 34 hectares with an eye-catching entrance. Pardis Mellat Gallery, an artificial lake, statues of famous Iranian figures, a small zoo and old tall trees are other lures of the park.
History Museum (Tamashagahe Tarikh Museum) is located on the corner of Qobadian Street, North side of Mirdamad street, consisting of objects related to the Qajar period such as Kamal-ol-molk’s paintings, personal possessions of Naser al-Din Shah and old, traditional articles (dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries) brought from England and Russia.
The 2nd park in Valiasr Street is Saei, located before Vanak Square, has a variety of trees and plants. Many highly-detailed animal statues can be seen in the space, with other parts related to animals and birds. More than 17 species of tree have been planted in the Saei Park (plane, pine, cypress and fruit trees- hawthorn, apple, and walnuts).
Laleh Park, in Fatemi Street, between Hejab and North Kargar streets, is another splendid park. It has an area of 35 hectares and was famous as Jalalieh Horse Arena (used for parades). Fountains and spiraling water courses are situated in the Japanese style garden on the South side of the park.
The Carpet Museum is located on the Northern side of Laleh Park, and the exterior resembles a carpet loom. The museum displays the most valuable Persian carpets from the 9th century (A.H) to modern times and precious, modern carpets from throughout the country, the masterpieces of great Iranian artists.
The Museum of Contemporary Arts is located in the West side of Laleh Park, considered as one of the most spectacular museums in the country. The building is a combination of modern and traditional architecture, inspired by traditional Iranian wind catchers in the desert areas, which holds the most comprehensive and complete treasures in the world of modern arts. In the permanent display, there are about 3,000 valuable works belonging to Iranian and world-class contemporary, past and visual artists.
Laleh Park’s other side connects to the Keshavarz Boulevard. The boulevard has access to Valiasr street on one side and Dr Qarib on the other with numerous side street giving access to Enqelab street and University of Tehran. Keshavarz Boulevard is one of the major streets of Tehran. The boulevard was recently registered in the national heritage list as a stream flowed from Karaj River to this location and used to be a recreational area for Tehran’s residents.
We arrive at Daneshjoo Park on the Southern side of Valiasr and junction of Enqelab streets, one of the oldest and most memorable parks of Tehran. Because City Theater (Teatr-e Shahr), a specialized library and the Performing Arts Document Center are located in the park, as well as its proximity to Vahdat Hall and Institute of Culture, Art and Architecture, the park is a stomping ground for the art community.
On the way to Valiasr and Imam Khomieni Street Junction, we find the National Museum of the Holy Quran displaying Quranic, historic and cultural works. It is the only Specialized Museum exhibiting the evolution of writing systems, publication and Tazhib (gilding and drawing beautiful patterns of plants or geometrical shapes to cover and highlight calligraphic writing and so on), etc. from the 4th century (A.H) to the late Qajar period.
The Northernmost district of Tehran is Shemiran, in the Southern foothills of the Alborz mountain range, with Tajrish as its center since it was established. On the 4th day, we can focus on an outing in the Tajrish area and see its attractions. Tajrish is connected to Niavaran and Darabad streets from the East, Darband from the North, Shariati & Gholhak from the South and Valiasr street from the West.
The covered Tajrish Bazaar is one of the most famous, older markets of Tehran with two well-known Tekiehs (space for Islamic ceremonies) at either entry point. Both of the Tekiehs are over 100 years old with sloping roofs composed of wooden beams. One is at the West side, facing Imamzadeh Saleh Shrine (in the Sarpol neighborhood), near Valiasr street. The other is located at the East end of the bazaar (by Shariati Street) connecting it and the back alleys to Imamzadeh Saleh street. The Bazaar is a combination of tradition and modernity, but has the appearance of past architecture of the city. Walking in the bazaar to Imamzadeh Saleh shrine (brother of the 8th Shia Imam) takes less than 10 minutes. Many local and international tourists visit the shrine to pray and gaze at its outstanding style. The shrine has been recorded in the National Heritage List.
Walking from the steep Shahid Darbandi Street (Maghsoud Beik), located in the Southwest corner of Tajrish square (Sarpol), about 15 minutes, we arrive at the lesser known Museum of Music. The building used to be residential and displays a collection of wind, string, percussion and local instruments, as well as a valued archive of works by famous Iranian musicians.
Mahmoud Hessabi (Iranian Physicist) museum is located a short distance from the Museum of Music on Shahid Darbandi Street which is a recommended attraction. The personal property of Dr. Hesabi, family albums, children’s toys and small gifts such as Persian calligraphy pictures, handicraft as well as scientific and educational certificates, are on display.
A short distance from Mahmoud Hessabi museum is the Iranian Art Museum Garden- with attractions such as art galleries and exhibitions, green spaces, a Persian garden, exclusive shopping centers that sell art and cultural products (the most important of which are beautiful miniature models of Iran’s architectural masterpieces made by Italian artists).
Darakeh is one of the oldest and most popular summer locations for walking, hiking and climbing in Shemiran. The resort is located in the Westernmost foothills in the North of Tehran. The spectacular location is famous for its beautiful nature, pleasant climate and splendid, large gardens. Over time, traditional & modern tea houses and restaurants were built along the mountain route and river, used today as a family recreation area. Darband is located in the west of Tajrish square.
Zahir-od-dowleh Cemetery is in the center of Darband street, in the direction of Imamzadeh Qasim, where Iranian scholars are buried. Imamzadeh Qasim is one of the older districts of Shemiran and has an old monument dating back to the 7th century, and adjoins Golab Darreh and Vazbad gorges. It is the climbing route to Kolak Chal Peak. Golab Darreh Park is at the end of Shakibayi Street between Imamzadeh Qasim and Shater Garden (Drband Street). Tehran Sledge Complex was established here which has other recreational facilities beside sledging. Saadabad Complex is located at Darband square and consists of 18 small and large palaces, dating back to the Qajar and Pahlavi periods. The palace and museum combinations include Sabz (Shahvand Palace), Mellat Museum, Shams Palace (Royal Clothes Museum), etc. Sarband Square and the statue of a mountaineer is the initial walking and mountain climbing route, with a telecabin to transport climbers and skiers. The attractions of this splendid location are Darband River zigzagging the valley, small and large restaurants, cafes, vendor stalls and Imamzadeh Ibrahim. Darband is the climbing route to Shirpala shelter and access to Tochal Peak.
Darabad, named for the dense tree coverage of the area, in Shemiran is on the North side of Tajrish Square after Niavaran street and is a great climbing route with its proximity to the mountains.
The Wildlife (Darabad) Museum in Darabad, was owned by the Pahlavi family and has been converted into a specialized museum. The museum displays a collection of wild and outdoor animals from Iran, with live, taxidermy, aquatic and reptile sections, a geology hall, butterflies and plants. Niavaran Palace is another attraction of the area, built in the reign of Mohammadreza Pahlavi in a modern style as residence for the royal family. Jamshidieh (Stone) Park is one of the oldest and most beautiful parks with architecture unlike others in North of Tehran. A small artificial waterfall, an agreeable gold fish pool, and artistic elements are among its attractions, in addition to being the mountaineering route to Kolakchal peak.
Baam-e Tehran (Roof of Tehran), at the end of Velenjak, with its clean air, is a pleasant and memorable area for walking especially at night.
Milad Tower is a good option to begin the 5th day. The multi-purpose structure is a major landmark for modern Tehran, the highest tower in Iran, the 6th tallest telecommunication tower and the 20th tower in the world, also holding 1st place in terms of the width head (13,000 m). One of the most popular attractions of the tower is the Dolphinarium, the first landlocked center in the Middle East with an area of 3200 m2 and the highest landlocked complex in the world. Other facilities include a cinema, game cinema, paintball court, Enigma escape room, etc.
Azadi Tower is a grand structure with astonishing architecture built in the center of Azadi square, accessible from Meydan-e Azadi Metro Station. Azadi tower and square were constructed by Hossein Amanat (the architect) and is famous for its amazing architecture inspired by the Achaemenid, Sassanid, and Islamic periods. Azadi monument consists of an Iranology Hall, Mirror Hall, Ancient Hall, the Ancient People Passage.
Chitgar Forest Park and Khalij Fars Artificial Lake are interesting places to see for the rest of the day. Chitgar Forest Park is one of the largest in Tehran on 950 hectares of full-bodied trees, with facilities such as an equestrian club, skating area, velodromes, and biking trails. Chitgar Artificial Lake is located in the forest park. Access is possible from the Chitgar Metro Station.
National Botanical Garden of Iran is in the Chitgar area and maintains 3000 species of valuable trees, bushes and shrubs from throughout the world. Many important Iranian plants from the Zagros and Alborz mountains and deserts species are preserved here, as well as plants from habitats such as Europe, Asia, and America. The Iran Khodro Metro is the nearest station to the garden.
Ghazali Cinema (Hatami) Town is opposite the National Botanical Garden of Iran, founded by the Iranian director Ali Hatami to be used as the Old-Tehran set in many traditional films. Frontages of Old-Tehran and Lalezar Street (from 1936 and 1941) with paved stone streets and famous buildings have been filmed here. It is also the location of many impressive Islamic, Pre-Islamic films and serials.
Taleghani Park is another option located in proximity of Haqani, Hemmat, and Modarres highways, and connected to Ab-o-Atash Park (Water-and-Fire Park) by Tabi`at Bridge (Nature Bridge).
Tabi’at Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tehran, with amenities like a restaurant, cafe and a cafe gallery, with stimulating green space on both sides of the path. This location is suitable for lovers of photography. The Silk Bridge (6 min from Tabi`at Bridge) connects Banader Park to Norooz Park and Gonbad-e-Mina (Dome of Mina). Gonbad-e-Mina (Dome of Mina) is the largest planetarium in the Middle East. It is a cosmos, planets and stars simulator, where 3-D astronomy films are shown to the public.
In Ab-o-Atash Park, 4 fire-towers create flames as high as 6 - 8 meters with fountains spewing water through the fire. The Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum, and the largest raised flag in Iran with a surface area of 1,000 m2 can be visited in the park. The museum consists of seven halls representing the 8-year Iran-Iraq war from different perspectives and sections designed to allow us to experience and observe war time.
Shahr-e Rey (City of Rey) and the surrounding attractions, located in the South of Tehran, is a good area to visit on the 6th day, which is accessible from Shahr-e-Rey Metro Station. Shahr-e Rey dates back to the pre-Islamic Period of 7,000 years ago. The district with old fire temples, ancient hills, old castles, Imamzadeh shrines, etc. is a great tourist attraction.
The 1st spot to see is Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine - the burial site of Abdol-Azim Hasani, descendant of the 2nd Shia Imam. The foundation of the shrine dates back to the Ilkhanate, Safavid and Qajar periods and is located close to an old Bazaar. The Rey Traditional Bazaar is related to the Safavid period and located on North to South side of the Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine. The Bazaar consists of two passages which intersect each other. Shah Abbasi Caravanserai enjoys four Iwans (A rectangular hall or space usually vaulted and walled on three sides, with one end entirely open), dating back to the Safavid period and registered in the National Heritage List. The Bazaar is located on the western side of Abdol-Azim Square.
Gabri Castle (Sassanid Period) has an area of 3000 m2 located in the Alaeen town of Shahr-e Rey, of which only the high mud and adobe walls remain.
Kasni Castle is in the National Heritage List; located in Meysam street South of Shahr-e Rey from the Sassanid period.
Ibn Babawayh Cemetery, near Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine, attributed to al-Shaykh al-Saduq (Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence scholar) who is buried in the old cemetery, dates back to the Pre-Islamic period. The landmark is octagonal with an Iwan (A rectangular hall or space usually vaulted and walled on three sides, with one end entirely open) possessing a large Roman arch and decorative mirrors. Many renowned personalities such as Gholamreza Takhti (Jahan Pahlevan), Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, and Mirzadeh Eshghi (Persian poet) were buried here.
The Tughrul Tower, across from Ibn Babawayh Cemetery, with its impressive façade, made of adobe brick with 24 conical domes on top of the tower, which allowed time to be calculated when the sun shone, represents the culture and civilization of the Seljuk period. Because of its location on the Silk Road, fires were lit on the roof of the building Road to guide travelers.
Cheshmeh-Ali hill, and the ancient Soren or Sorena Spring was the reason for establishment of Shahr-e Rey and changed its name to Cheshmeh-Ali in the Post-Islamic period. Many Sassanid and Parthian relics have been found there. Fath Ali Shah’s inscription is above the spring and the ruins of defensive wall is on the North side- part of the Barvari Rey wall which defended the city and goes back to the Medes period.
Rashkan Castle, located on a mountain, is one of 4 protecting the city on four sides in the Parthian Period.
Naghareh Khaneh Tower is 3 meters high and was built above Tabarak Mountain about 1,000 years ago (Seljuq period). A Seljuq king was buried there. Inanch Sonqur (Hesam-al-din)- the governor of Shahr-e Rey (Seljuq period), was buried in the Tomb of Amir Inanch, which is a short distance from this tower.
Bibi Shahr Banu Shrine takes its name from foothills of the same name, located in Shahr-e Rey. Based on the inscription within it and people’s belief, this monument is the tomb of Shahr Banu- wife of the 3rd Shia Imam, which was built in the Sassanid period.
Ostodan Gabra is a Sassanid tower where Zoroastrians placed their dead to be consumed by creatures of nature. The tower is located in Bibi Shahr Banu foothills.
Bahram Fire temple or Mil Hill is a significant fire temple (Sassanid period) which went to ruin after Alexandre’s attack on Iran and only some parts of Chahartaq (4-arch building) remain. The site is registered in the National Heritage List.
Harun al-Rashid Prison is located on the Mesgarabad foothills, 10 km East of Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine and is one of the oldest structures in Shahr-e Rey from the 4th century (A.H).
Kenar Gard Caravanserai is in Fashapouye (a rural area of Hasan Abad, Shahr-e Rey) built of mud, plaster and brick composed of 2 Iwans (A rectangular hall or space usually vaulted and walled on three sides, with one end entirely open) dating back to the Safavid period and registered in the National Heritage List.
Eshghabad Swamp is seasonal and 25 km outside Shahr-e Rey (nearby Mil Hill) in proximity of Eshghabad village. The swamp is a reservation for migratory and wandering birds as well as a birdwatching haven. The site is registered in the National Heritage List.
The 7th day can be spent Hiking and Mountaineering
There are 5 main and much travelled routes near Tochal Mountain and its foothills in Shemiranat and Tehran. They are Darabad, Kolakchal, Darband, Velenjak (telecabin) and Darake. Other lesser routes include Golabdarreh, Farahzad which take hikers and tourists to Tehran’s higher altitudes.
The Darabad high ground is a famous hiker destination, attractive for the flow of river in the valley and herbal medicine distribution. Chal Magas Waterfall is at the end of the hiking path.
Kolakchal is the best and low risk routes for ascending mountaineers/hikers. The peak is located in the North of Tehran and is accessed from Jamshidieh Park.
Darband is located at the height of 1700 meters from sea level and is the initial starting point and main route for climbing the Central Alborz mountain range. The Kooreh Rahi route starts in Darband and goes on to Abshar Dogholoo (Twin Waterfalls) and Shirpala Shelter.
Palangchal Peak is the hiking route to Tochal Mountain in the North of Tehran which is eye-catching and begins in Darake.
Another hiking route starts at the top of Velenjak area (Baam-e Tehran) and continues to Tochal Peak. Telecabin services are available here for tourists, climbers and skiers.