Things To Do In Tehran
Tehran city presents an immense landscape, encompassed by the vast heights of the Elburz Mountains. It is Iran’s biggest city and Islam is its main religion. About half of the country’s population lives in Tehran, often working in manufacturing or service industries. In the traditional parts of the city, Iranians shop in the bazaar, a market with many passageways under domed brick roofs.
The stalls sell crafts such as jewelry, pottery, brass metal wares, and the rugs for which the country is famous. Iranian women weave a rug in the traditional (Persian) way. Made of wool or silk, the rugs are prized for their rich, soft colors, and intricate patterns. In most Iranian homes the functional rug serves as table, chair, and bed.
When To Go:
Tehran is probably not a destination that you would wish to visit at any time of the year. Tehran's atmosphere can be exceptionally pitiless to endure in the mid-year, with degrees reaching up to a high of 84 F. Winters are exceptionally cool and can produce snow in a considerable measure, particularly in the Northern part of Tehran. It can go as low as 10. Extreme climate, the high temperature in the late spring and the ice in the winter can make for an excruciating outing; most visitors ought to go during the fall or spring season (April-June).
Security is the other significant issue with respect to when to visit the city. This country is included on the U.S. Department of State Travel Risk List. Political rallies consistently occur here and there are strong Anti-Western undertones in every gathering. You can coordinate your plans by checking on latest advisories or seeking the advice of your travel agent as to when is a safe time for a tour of Tehran.
A visit can also be influenced by the following factors: If extreme humidity is not a big deal for you, you can go in the summer -- but be aware that lodging costs along the Caspian coast will be high at that time. If you want to head out in winter and experience great skiing adventures, then you must arrange your visit at some point between November and March.
The rose and rosewater celebration happens in the middle of April and June. The hunting season starts on 23rd of October and keeps going until the 19th of February; however, the high season of tourist activities ordinarily corresponds with festivals held every January.
Many travelers favor not to visit Iran during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, when most restaurants are closed and do not operate between sunrise and nightfall.
Below is a rundown of the best places to see and things to do when in the city of Tehran:
The Golestan Palace is a series of buildings set around a garden, each home to a different attraction for which you pay in advance at the entrance. Visit the "Hall of Mirrors", very special and cute -- or the "Sala dei Diamanti", both are equally beautiful. Delight your senses with a peek at the "Porch of the Throne of Marble" and the "Niche Karim". Inside the main building there are wonderful lounges, one of which is a magnificent throne made using many blocks of yellow alabaster. The palace is a unique green oasis in a city strangled by traffic and traffic pollution. The museum of weapons helps to understand the recent history and in particular the harsh conflict with Iraq.
There is a very nice Green House on the hill with splendid mirrored walls and precious carpets. You will see beautiful rooms with nice wax figures that faithfully reproduce the various Persian shahs between 800 and the early 900s.The hall of mirrors is something wonderful; the only negative side is that you cannot take pictures. The ticket is cheap and worth a visit for sure. Inside, you can wander through the gardens and find a small tearoom and have a shisha (Arghileh) experience if you need to relax and unwind in the typical Persian way.
Treasury of National Jewels
At the Treasury of National Jewels you can see wealth beyond imagination and you will not forget the Darya-ye Nur, a pink diamond of 182 carats considered the largest uncut diamond in the world. In addition you will be in awe of the peacock throne, the Kiani crown from 1797, the crowns of the Shah and his wife Farah Diba, and the globe jewelry that weighs an enormous 75 pounds and holds 51,366 precious stones, made in 1869. The treasury houses an extensive jewelry collection of high value.
The selection of jewelry of various types and from various eras arouses strong emotions and amazement from every visitor. It is truly unique in terms of quantity, quality, and variety.
The precious jewels of inestimable value are kept in the vaults of the central bank, under the control of an imposing world-class security service. Personal bags and cameras should be left at the entrance booth and be careful not to touch anything because it would trigger the numerous alarms installed in the museum. Too bad you cannot take pictures inside, but the globe of gold, emeralds, rubies and sapphires or the legendary Peacock Throne alone are all worth a visit.
Valley of Darband
The Valley of Darband is one of the most pleasant places to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is located a few miles away from the center (it comes with a shortcut to the Tajrish road, where you can find an interesting bazaar), and it is from this valley that the trails to climb the Eliburz mountains above Tehran usually begin. In the valley flows a stream that offers a little bit of cool to all hikers on their way to attempt the summit peaks.
It's beautiful to walk by day, and in the evening there is a large selection of restaurants that follow along the valley, plus a great deal of street food. Choose the ones most appropriate for your adventure and you will not be disappointed.
Darband is located on a path at the foot of the mountains that runs along a river. It can be reached by metro line 1, the red one; you have to get off at the Tajrish terminal, even if sometimes it is not marked on the guide maps. It is striking to walk among the donkeys carrying food, gas bottles and more; you follow an uphill path between restaurants and trendy bars, meeting Iranians that appear more western and rich.
In the foothills of the Eliburz, a typical scene involves farm workers sifting wheat The wheat will be pounded into flour and then made into flat bread. Most Iranians eat bread with every meal. After a mountain trail climb, Darband is a very nice way to spend an evening al fresco, sipping a cup of tea or qahwa, sitting on the classic Persian sofa and maybe even smoking a good hookah.
The majestic Milad Tower is a spectacular place, especially in the evening. It stands in the middle of the city and in the evening lights up like fireworks. The whole area is a meeting point for locals and tourists, and a great landmark of Tehran. At the top there is a self-service restaurant that rotates and gives you the chance to admire a 360° panorama of the entire city. It has an awesome gallery of traditional arts and handicrafts on one of the levels and there is a performance of the Iranian farcical street puppets at the theater.
The entrance fee is a little more than $12. It is nice to come in the evening. The observation deck filled with protective ropes and metal mesh does not let any guest fully enjoy the view -- but even so, you can see the unusual layout of Tehran. It also offers views of the mountains. You can buy souvenirs and even musical instruments like the Daf -- Iran’s trademark frame drum gadget. This is one of the highest towers in the world and bears a striking resemblance to the Tower of Toronto in Canada.
Tower of Azadi
The monumental Tower of Azadi creates very pleasant impressions, with the entire view of Tehran from its observation deck. But the most interesting discovery is the museum located on its ground floor. It contains many wonderful and informative exhibits. Guests can go along the footbridge, and beneath it find a huge map of Iran. This museum is good for those who are making their first visit to Iran. In addition, the museum has a huge hall that presents semi-precious stones mined in Iran -- including the products of these mined stones. You will see real works of art, but they cannot be photographed for security reasons.
The Azadi Tower is the symbol of the Iranian capital and certainly worth a visit during a stay in Tehran. The monument -- under which the crowds gathered at the time of the Islamic Revolution -- is still an important reference point for the local population. Its architecture is unique: modern, with slim lines, yet incorporating the themes of mosaics and tiles that are typical of ancient Persia in the inner part of the arc; a successful fusion of the ancient and modern engineering. From the city center you can walk, or take a 20-minute taxi ride to reach this attraction. It is advisable to visit around the time of sunset, which will create the most beautiful light for photos.
The Tehran Bazaar is surely chaotic and messy, with lots of people -- but it’s a fundamental stop when visiting Tehran. From here, you will discover the colors, smells and traditions of the great city. You can go with the flow of the people and discover something new in every corner shop and stall. The sellers are very nice and friendly and always willing to help with what you need to buy. The bazaar is like a labyrinth with lots of local items to satisfy all types of interests. It is much less touristy than any other market and you can find the products offered here are very authentic.
It is a typical Middle East bazaar that is mainly used by its local inhabitants -- a maze of narrow streets and small shops, where you can find any product you want. From the magnificent Persian handmade carpets, to authentic jewelry, clothing, household utensils, and exotic spices that are all grouped in specific areas. Unlike other bazaars, the traders here are not at all pushy but leave you free to wander aimlessly. Beware of carts whizzing through the streets, they could be very dangerous for your ankles. You can get there easily by a subway ride on the red line. If you go during the hot summer, do not miss the juices -- and be sure to visit the surrounding (cooler) mosques.
Sadabaad Palace (Green Palace)
The Sadabaad Palace is an interesting museum complex, which includes several museums, the palace of the last Shah of Iran, an ethnographic museum, and a number of small, but very interesting exhibits and art galleries. The huge park houses nearly two dozen museums with different themes, ranging from the household life of the Shah's family (kitchen museum), to the last military exposure, consisting of old cannons donated by the Russian Persian court.
It is a fun place to get acquainted with the way of life of the last Shah of Iran. You will see and learn many things through the interior of the rooms and their decoration that reveals the identity of the monarch. A visit to the Green Palace is an absolute must. The terrain itself is already impressive as well as the strong presence of European furnishings that speaks to the wealth and prestige of the family.
Niavaran Palace Complex
The Niavaran Palace Complex was built between 1958 and 1968 in the architectural style of the 60’s; however, it is furnished in the characteristic style of European royal residences that are usually filled with huge carpets with elaborate motifs. On display are the official vestment and uniforms of the Shah and Farah Diba and their collection of elegant clothes.
After a long climb on the hill you will arrive at the tree-lined complex. It is beautiful and cool, and has a large garden where you can relax and rest.
In the old building, you can visit a room covered with small pieces of mirror. There is also a large, old carpet central situated within its huge premises. It deserves a visit to admire the beauty and historical significance that it holds, not to mention the entire natural framework involved in its creation. The best part is you will get to see the treasures of the ancient Persian dynasties that can only be visited and admired here.
The Tochal Complex and its observation platform is the best way to see a bird’s-eye view of Tehran. The lookout is located on the mountain Tochal at a height of 2.5 miles - the highest point in the chain of Elburz. It is equipped with a parking lot for cars and buses that bring tourists there.
The site has a cafe, picnic grounds and toilets. Climb several lifts in about 30 minutes and on top you will also have a great view of Damavand, a dormant volcano near Tehran. You can rent skis and snowboards, or eat and drink tea at the restaurants located on this peak.
Glass & Ceramics Museum
The Glass and Ceramics Museum of Tehran houses an excellent exhibit of glass, crystal, and ceramics. An interesting billboard at the entrance shows the development of various civilizations in the world and will help you understand the important position of Persian civilization. There is a huge display of objects in glass that are crafted and presented with great skill.
More than anything else it shows the true age of the glass. You can also relax in the garden area where their resident Iranian glass artist does a class about the art of glass making. Just across the museum you can find a quaint shop that sells glass works and other items related to this museum.
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is dedicated to the Iranian’s love of modern art and stands next to the Carpet Museum and Laleh Park. It is the kind of place you would not expect to find in Tehran. The art collection offers works from various European, American, and local artists. The staff is attentive and the place is pretty interesting, plus the exhibit is constantly updated.
National Museum of Iran
The visit to the National Museum of Iran will be useful at the end of your Tehran journey, to bring order to the memories of the fabulous sights you have toured and visited. It is a beautiful building that preserves and houses the major archaeological discoveries that have escaped the looting of the great powers during the war.
The collection of the old pottery is impressive and this place is a must visit after a tour of the Persepolis area. A visit is essential for those who wish to understand the remarkable history of Iran’s art and rich culture.