Transport in Tehran
Transportation in a new city is one of the most important concerns for travelers today. With the increase of backpackers and spontaneous tourists, who tend to travel low budget, the need of information about cheap or public transportation is more obvious. Unfortunately despite the notable improvements in Iran’s public transportation infrastructures in the past years, the multi-language signs, info-graphics or user friendly guides in this section in Iran haven’t reached its full potential yet. Therefore there are still complexity in choosing the best and most efficient option for many tourists. Here is some simple explanations of what the travelers need to know about their options of public or efficient transportation in Iran:
How to get from Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA) to the city
IKA has located about 50 KM away from Tehran. There are 2 options available for getting from the airport to the city. Even though the metro line has been expanded to the airport, yet the taxis are the best options at the moment. Airport Metro working hours are from 5.30 AM-11 PM (not reliable yet). And there is a train every 70 minutes and it’s not a direct line. There are lots of ongoing changes in this line and service at the moment. Therefore, don’t risk it!
So, the metro complications, leave us with the taxi option. There are lots of airport taxis available outside of the final gate. There are some points that you better keep in mind for taking a taxi from the airport or in general:
- Make sure you will get an official yellow or green colored taxi. The none-official ones may seem cheaper at first, but there is a high chance that you will end up paying double or even more than you should at the end or receiving a rude attitude and of course it can be unsafe. The absence of taximeters also helps these scams. The price of the taxis from the airport are somewhere between 30-45$ depend on the type of car, your destination or if you have an unusual luggage like bikes or… . No more than that. If you made the mistake to grab a none-official taxi, make sure you will negotiate the price precisely before you get into the taxi and
- Make sure you have the address you want to go in Farsi and also provide the driver a contact number of your hotel/hostel to call. Most of the drivers can’t read or communicate in English but they will rely on their experience in finding the way at the end!
- Always pay the fee at the end of your trip and not at the beginning. Well, like everywhere else!
The other option which can buy you all these troubles at the start point of your trip, is to order a pickup service from your Hotel/Hostel. It might be a little bit more expensive. But having a driver waiting for you to drive you directly to your destination after a long flight makes it worth.
There are no shuttle busses from the airport to the city so far.
How to get from Mehrabad Airport (Domestic flights) to the city
There are 2 options available from Mehrabad Airport to the city center:
- Metro: The metro line of Mehrabad Airport is working very well and on time. The working hours are from 5:30 AM- 11 PM. The Mehrabad metro station is at the end of Line 4(Yellow line). The most important thing you have to note is which terminal you are going to for your domestic flight. The last stop is for the terminals number 4 & 6, and the stop before that is for terminals number 1 & 2;
- The other option as usual are taxis. Again make sure you will get an official yellow or green one to not end up in a fight with an unregistered taxi driver for the price. The fee of taxis can be quiet different regarding your destination. But since they are almost well organized you can trust the driver or the coordinator in the airport taxi station for the price they are declaring.
Tehran metro system is the fastest, easiest and the most efficient kind of transportation from every aspect in Tehran. To be able to escape the famous awful traffic of Tehran makes it OK to bare the pressure in the metro during rush hours. Fortunately, Tehran metro line is not one of the complicated ones and therefore, you will find it easy to use.
There are some basic information about Tehran metro system:
- If you’re in Tehran for more than 2 days, it’s better to get a metro card. You can buy them from most of the stations. The card itself is between 30.000-50.000 Rials( 60 Cents-1.2 Euro). Then charge it for 100.000 Rials. If you’re 2 persons and plan to stay 2 days in Tehran, that will be probably more than enough;
- You don’t have to check your card out when coming out of the metro station. But if you do, your card will be charged just according to your travel zone and not the whole price which is basically nothing. So, don’t bother yourself if it’s crowded;
- You can use one Metro card for several people at a gate, but it’s not possible to use it several times at once for the busses. So, in the most cases one metro card is enough;
- You can also buy just one-way or two-ways tickets for 10.000-20.000 Rials;
- The most useful and practical Metro lines are line 1(red line) and line 4(yellow line). So, it’s better to have your Hotel/Hostels near these lines. The Imam Khomeini & Darvazeh Dolat stations are also the main connecting stations;
- Metro rush hours are between 7-9 AM and also 5-7 PM. If you’re not a patient or tolerant person when it comes to get squeezed, stay away from the metro during these hours;
- With the English signs in all of the metro stops and stations, you probably won’t have much problem in finding your stop or way around. There are metro maps on the walls like everywhere else and you can also ask for one from the information desk. Beside those options, downloading the Tehran metro app is the best and easiest way. You can download the Android and IOS versions here;
- If you’re wondering about the men and women sections in the metro, all you have to know is that the two sections at the front and the end of the train are women only. But the other parts of the train are public (and not men only). If you’re a couple it’s better to use the public parts and stay together to not loose each other in the crowd;
- Ask from people to inform you near your destination stop. They will help gladly.
Taxi system in Tehran
To be honest there’s no “Taxi system” in Tehran. Since there are many unofficial drivers, you don’t even need to find a taxi station. Standing beside the street will be equal to asking for a taxi! The point here is for you to know what kind of taxi you better to use and how. In general you can get 4 kinds of taxis in Iran or better say, Tehran: Getting a Darbast(private taxi) in the street, getting a normal shuttle or shared taxi in the street, Calling a taxi agency or using Snap( Iranian Uber).
- Getting a “Darbast” or private taxi in the street: As we mentioned before, to get this kind of taxi all you have to do is to wait beside the street or wave at a taxi. A taxi (most of the time an unofficial one), will stop soon enough. Again, we highly recommend you not to use unofficial ones. Also, there are many drivers who shout “Darbast” in the main squares or crossroads. Walk to them and ask for their service. After finding your yellow or green taxi, show them your destination (try to have the address in Farsi), and negotiate the price. It’s very important to have an agreement on the final price BEFORE getting into the taxi. Don’t be surprise by the traffic, the way of driving and of course the drivers who almost never use a GPS.
- Getting a shuttle or shared taxi in the street: The most common kind of taxis in the street are the shared ones. They have a specific origin, destination and routes which has been decided by the transportation organization. The most important part here is to fine the ones which are the best for your destination. Usually there are big taxi stations in the main squares with different destinations. Just go to the taxi station coordinator or manager guy and show him your destination. Also you can ask people around or other drivers in the station to help you find the one you need. After that, you will go seat in the car and just wait for another 3 passengers to arrive and share the taxi with you. The price of the shuttle cars are usually reflected on a sticker on the taxi’s front window.
- Calling a taxi agency: The best scenario for using these kind of taxis are if you want to go from someone’s house somewhere and it’s already late night, or if you want to have a reliable way of going to airport on time at the end of your trip. The tricky part here is you have to ask your host or someone local to call the agency and arrange you the taxi which usually take between 5-10 minutes for them to arrive. The prices are almost fixed and it’s better to ask about it when calling the agency. That’s it!
- Using Snapp( Iranian Uber): The Iranian version of Uber has been launched since 2014 and it works pretty well. It’s also very cheap and most importantly easy to use. You can download the Snapp app for IOS and Android Create your profile (you need an Iranian SIM card to sign up!) and the rest is just like the Uber. The app is available in English, but the tricky part here can be the drivers who can’t speak English. Usually they will make a phone call before they arrive to ask about the exact spot you are waiting for the car. The easiest solution for this issue, is to pass your phone to a local person beside you to guide the driver. Fortunately for you, most of the people in Iran are ready for help tourist even more than they should! In addition to Tehran, the Snapp is also available in Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad.
Snapp user interface
The other options and companies which provide this service just like as the Snapp, are Carpino (you can download the IOS & Android app here) and also Tap30 (you can download the IOS & Android app here). But the best one is the Snapp at the moment.