There are many factors interfering with travelers questions about Iran. Many Iran travelers come here with fixed perceptions as the result of Iran image in the mainstream media. Yet, some other, despite their up-to-date real information, cannot find the right answers to their practical questions in published Iran travel guides. Questions like what’s the currency in Iran to if it’s OK to hold hands in the street or if their dress code is fine. In this Iran Travel Guide, we have tried to briefly answer some of these questions (please, help us develop them in the comments). Please consider, we have reflected short paragraphs for most of questions and guide you to the complete relevant article, if you were interested to read more. Here is our Iran Travel Guide:
How to book a hostel in Iran?
Due to the U.S. Sanctions on Iran, many traveling websites have eliminated Iran hostel/hotels accounts from their accounts. Superb, right?! At this moment, HostelWorld, HostelClub and Ctrip and few others have Iran hostel booking option on their websites. Yet, the original website and email address of each hostel is usually the most reliable approach. Unfortunately, famous Iran Travel Guides have acted very classic and limited toward Iran in this matter. Through Hi Tehran Hostel website, Facebook, and Instagram we have tried to provide value-oriented feeds to help Iran Travelers. So, whether you plan to be a guest in Hi Tehran Hostels or any other accommodation in Tehran, don’t hesitate to ask your questions from us.
For booking your stay at Hi Tehran Hostels, email, contact or WhatsApp us. provide your name, nationality, exact check-in and out date and email address to quickly receive your official Tehran booking confirmation.
Is Iran safe to travel for tourists?
Iran safety was announced as reliable as majority of European countries for its travel security factor, according to the 2019 Travel Risk Map, launched by global risk experts International SOS. As for 2020 Travel Risk Map, even after the big tensions between Iran and U.S., Iran is still a very safe destination for traveling despite, how Iran safety or the general situation is presented in mainstream media sometimes. To make sure, you can also check “Safe Around safety index”. Yet, there are some main considerations about Iran safety 2020, we encourage you to read HERE and check the latest updates with us!
What are main safety considerations to consider?
Very shortly: 1. Leave your drone behind and don’t bring it to Iran; 2. No photography of marches or protestations or governmental/military bases; 3. Carry copy of your documents while around instead of the original one; 4. Be aware of the fake police and don’t hand over your bag to any police; 5. Don’t come to Iran now if you are a well-reputed and professional journalist or a politic researcher/ professor or activist; 6. Stay away from alcohol or drugs; That’s almost it! For details, read HERE!
Do I need to have Iran visa in advance?
If you’re not travelling with an American, Canadian or British passport, you don’t need to get your visa in advance. And as we are the best referenced article about Iran Visa , we simply advise to get your visa on arrival in IKA Tehran Airport which is the easiest, most trusted and most convenient approach with extremely rare cases of rejection (for political activists and journalists). Yet, if you prefer to get your visa in advance or apply for Iran E-Visa, or traveling with a specific passport, we encourage you to read our full article about it HERE!
Whether CouchSurfing in Iran is safe?
CouchSurfing is officially illegal in Iran. So, even considering how fun it can be sometimes to be hosted for free, Iran can have its own considerations about it. First, since it’s illegal, it can be really unsafe. If something goes wrong, you won’t be able to claim anything! There have been some unfortunate cases already in Iran. On the other hand, rarely it will be free. Usually there will be a scam involved. We strongly advise all of travelers to stay away from it. Especially our solo female travelers. It just doesn’t worth to ruin your budget Iran trip for a potential danger. Go for a budget hostel in Iran instead.
Do I need a VPN for Iran?
There are filtered websites and apps in Iran which the most important ones you might need as an Iran traveler are: Facebook, twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, or some news websites like BBC. Moreover, you might prefer to surf the internet more safely. Or access your PayPal account in Iran which should be done with a VPN to change your IP from Iran. Otherwise your account will get blocked. So, unless you have decided to stay away, downloading a VPN before your Iran Trip seems like a good idea. To know your best options, read HERE!
Where and how to get an Iran sim card for your mobile?
First, you can use your mobile phone in Iran without an Iranian Sim Card to use only WiFi in your accommodation or cafes with free WiFi or to have short calls or messaging with your original sim card. As you must know, using the mobile data with your original sim card will be very expensive or might not work properly. The best way of using your phone in Iran is to buy an Iranian sim card at IKA airport or main operator offices in Tehran. For a detailed information about buying an Iran sim card, read HERE!
How to book plane or train tickets in Iran?
There are some practical sites such as Alibaba for online Iran transportation bookings. But unfortunately, it’s not possible to book tickets and pay with international credit cards. Usually the most convenient approach is to ask a travel agency or your hostel/hotel to provide options and purchase the tickets for you in advance. Especially if you’re travelling during a national holiday in Iran. In Hi Tehran Hostels, we book tickets for guests who choose us as their hostel in Tehran, or book the other hostels in Iran through us with only 15% commission fee to the Net fee (usually the agencies hidden commission is up to 50%), and we provide the online payment option through European bank account transfer. To book your Iran train ticket, Iran plane ticket and Iran bus ticket, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have the schedules and fees.
How to order an airport pickup service?
You don’t necessarily need an airport pickup service. There are official airport taxis at IKA Tehran airport that you can use. Just have your accommodation address and contact in Farsi for the driver since many of them can’t read or communicate in English. Yet, sometimes, we have cases that the drivers have been dishonest about the currency and fees and have received way more than they should. Or worse, have taken the travelers despite their reservations to other hotels or hostels to receive a commission. If you’re very tired or prefer a smooth start, we suggest you a pickup service. You can choose the pickup service in the form of reservation while booking with us as well. Of course, pickup services are a bit more expensive than a normal taxi because of the airport parking taxes and the fact that the driver will wait sometimes up to 2 hours with a board for you. But all in all, it really worth it. Also, the airport metro works from 6:10 to 19:30 and there’s a train every 80 min!
Do international credit cards work in Iran?
No! Due to the U.S. sanctions over Iran, no credit cards (like Visa, Master, …) can be used in Iran at the moment. So, you need to bring enough cash for the whole length of your Iran trip. Shops, public transportation, accommodations, and restaurants and any other services will only accept cash or Iranian debit cards. If you run out of money, very few places in Tehran will be able to accept international credit cards which for sure will include commission or transfer fees. Recently, there has been very trusted and practical service which easily provide you Iranian debit card to use during your Iran trip with a fair commission. We investigated a lot and after making sure of every detail, now we can say, we totally recommend it. We have negotiated for promo codes and less commissions for Hi Tehran Hostel’s guests with them and also to bring the service to the hostel at the time of arrival, so there will be no loss of time (you really matter to us J). If you were interested, mention it in the message field of your reservation form while booking your stay. To read more about Iran currency system, read HERE!
Should I exchange money in the airport?
No! Just exchange as much as you need for the taxi to get to the town or maximum your first day (about 50 euros is more than enough). As you must know as a traveler, airports have the most unfair rates and sometimes the rates the exchange offices in IKA Tehran airport offer are shocking! And since there are two exchange rates in Iran: one is the governmental rate which is limited to international governmental trades, and the other one is the market rate which is the reference one for the folks and market. Anyway, the airport exchange offices use the first rate which is not right and very unfair. For more information about the exchange and currency system, read HERE!
Do I need a private Iran tour?
Not necessarily. If you are one of those travelers who prefer to explore and discover new places by themselves, treat Iran the same. Moreover, here in Iran, locals really eager to help tourists finding their way around. Yet, if you have limited time, prefer to relax and being guided once in a while in your trips and really eager to have local and in-depth experiences that you cannot have while on your own, take a look at Hi Tehran Tours! As constant travelers, we have used all of our experience, picked the best Iran tour leaders and designed every detail of our customized Iran tours carefully. Also, if you’re an American passport holder, unfortunately you have to go by one of those expensive classic tours that usually Iran Travel Guide books advertise! Otherwise, enjoy your Iran trip with no concerns!
Is there any nightlife in Iran?
Usually with the “night life”, pubs and bar crawling are first things coming into mind. Well not in Iran. All of parties happen privately in Iran and if you’re not connected to Iranian friends, you rarely might get a chance to be in it. And again, we strongly recommend you to not attend private parties if you don’t know the hosts well enough. Yet, it doesn’t mean there’s no nightlife here at all. Restaurants with live music, food streets, concerts and hanging out in hipster cafes are the main activities for a nightlife in Tehran or other main cities like Isfahan and Shiraz. To have a better clue and choose your nightly plan in Iran, read HERE!
What’s the transportation system in Iran?
General transportation in main big cities of Iran such as Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz is Metro, bus and shared or private taxis. In smaller cities, shared or private taxis are the main choice. To get to know Tehran transportation system, read HERE! And more importantly, to have a full guide for Tehran Metro, read HERE! Putting common transportation aside, we can recommend you Snapp (Iranian Version of Uber) which is cheap, convenient and fast.
Looking for vegan dishes and restaurants in Iran?
Of course. Even considering the popularity of Kibab in Iran, since the main part of Iranian cuisine is rice and stews with lots of vegetables, you will have many options. Moreover, there are many vegetarian dishes. Options such as “Kashk-o-Bademjoon” which is a yummy combination of eggplants, caramelized onion, walnuts and curd; Or different types of “Ash” which is Iranian style soup; “Mirza Qasemi” which is combination of eggplants, tomatoes and garlic, are usually in the restaurant’s menus. And of course you can always go for a salad! The most central vegetarian restaurant in Tehran is the one in the Artist’s Park. Also Tehroon Café in Nejatollahi Street where is a refurbished beautiful old house, has a vast option of vegetarian foods. Both of these café- restaurants are within walking distance from both Hi Tehran Hostel branches.
Can we travel as unofficial couples in Iran?
There’s absolutely no restrictions for that in Iran. And also it’s none of anyone’s business. Not any hotel or hostel, nor any authority can bring any problem upon you with your partner or friend for not being an official couple. We had some cases that two partners had reserved two separate private rooms and then used to move to one of the rooms over the night! You don’t have to do that. Simply reserve a room like everywhere else. You don’t even need to mention it! As non-Muslims and non-Iranians, there’s no restrictions! Yet, you cannot find an Iranian opposite sex friend here in Iran as your temporary girl or boyfriend and ask for a room for both of you. It’s possible that some illegal accommodations accept it, but regarding the cultural issues, not the official hostels and nor Hi Tehran Hostels would accept that.
Can we kiss or hold hands in public in Iran?
Holding hands, yes of course. It’s quiet routine and fine for couples and friends. Not any problem. But kissing should be limited to friendly kisses and hugs in the streets and public. Romantic or long smooches will bring attention to you which might be disturbing! Or in smaller cities it might bring a laughter or unsatisfactory nags from traditional folks. If you’re a love bird, you have to limit yourself at a quick kiss on the lips and save the rest for later. Yet, if you’re in a religious site like a shrine or mosque, of course it’s not ok to kiss or hug the opposite sex. Maybe while you’re here, enjoy the cultural sites and history and keep the deep romance part for a beach vacation. But all in all, not any scary or big restrictions!
Do Iranian people hate Americans?
Unfortunately, that’s the cliché we get every day because of the media and the famous footage and videos of burning U.S. flags on the governmental marches. The answer is a big NO! Iranian folks, not even the religious ones, hate any American citizen! Moreover, with a simple search in google you will find the blog posts of American travelers who have been in Iran and got tired of hearing “we love Americans!!!” from folks in the streets.
What are the national holidays or day offs?
There are many! And we will soon publish a detailed calendar with the special rituals in different regions and holidays in Iran (we will put the link here as soon as we do). Yet, the main ones are Persian new year holidays as we call it Norooz-means the new day- when is on the 21st of March and it lasts for 13 days. The best time for travel but usually everything is booked. So, if you plan to travel in this period book everything at least one month in advance. It’s good to know, Ramadan (feasting month) in Iran, doesn’t have any effect on your travel. Things are as routine as the rest of the year! For more information about Ramadan in Iran, read HERE! And the last but not least is the 9th-11th of Muharram which is a movable feast. Usually, most of entertainment centers are closed since it’s the mourning for the death of 3rd Imam of Shia. Yet, it’s a unique opportunity for photographers to travel to Iran in this period. Especially, there are a festival in those days in every city which can be very attractive for a tourist. Yazd UNESCO listed city is the best city to witness the Muharram festival in Iran.
What is the dress code in Iran?
When you google about the fashion and hijab code for women in Iran, the results may be confusing. The mixture of tradition with modern fashion makes Iran dress code not much different from other countries. Of course, apart from the mandatory headscarves for women in public areas. Even the headscarves are more has its own characteristic in Iran and it doesn’t mean you have to cover all of your hair! A light shawl and long sleeve chemise to use it as a manteau for the summer as you can see in the photo bellow. And use your regular polar or coat for the winter with a warm shawl. To have a better view, read the full guide HERE!
What’s the best season to visit Iran?
Iran is a four-season country. So, it has a long high-season from mid-March to mid-December. Yet we usually have skiers in Iran from mid-January to mid-March as there are plenty of high standard natural international ski resorts in Iran which is very budget convenient for especially European skiers.
Note: There are still many questions left. But to avoid the unnecessary extra information, we kindly ask you to ask your questions in the comments to get the answer. Also, we will update and add the frequent questions we receive to the article.
Writer: Golnar ZAMANI