two female tourists backpacking in iran

A Guide to Backpacking in Iran

Time to read: 10 Mins | Published on October 12, 2020
A guide for the places you could visit when backpacking in Iran plus some tips and answers to the questions backpackers have about Iran.

How would backpacking in Iran be like? A local family invites you to spend the night in their house and cooking tasty Persian foods for you. Then, insisting you stay one or two more nights in their house. This is what backpacking in Iran is like. Indeed, some travelers do not like having a plan for their trip to Iran or joining a tour. They want to explore Iran independently, have more interaction with local people, and spend less money by backpacking. As the local people in Iran are very kind and the prices are cheap, tourists would have quite an easy job backpacking in Iran. This article is a backpacker’s guide to Iran, where you can find more information about what backpacking in Iran is like.

 

Things to Pack for Backpacking in Iran

The backpackers who have had experiences with backpacking know what to pack for their trip. But, the answer to the question “what to pack for Iran” can be slightly different than what they have experienced. For example, the dress code is different than other countries, especially for women. So, having a shawl and a manteau is necessary for women. The other things you need to pack are as usual. Don’t forget to pack your medicines, travel adaptor, and plastic bags besides your clothing and documents. Plus, bring a safe bag such as a belt bag to put your documents and valuable stuff in it.  Also, you can find hygienic stuff you need in the supermarkets and pharmacies on your way. So, you can travel light and remember that backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take!

A tourist backpacking in Iran

Iran has many attractions for backpacking – Photo by Alireza Zafari

Best Cities to Visit in Iran

We all know that backpackers usually go with the flow, especially when they are hitchhiking. However, knowing the places, you can visit when backpacking in Iran can give you ideas about your trip. It might even help you find an answer for “how many days to spend in Iran“. So, we thought offering you a general Iran backpacking itinerary could be a good idea.

Point A: Tehran

Tehran is the capital of Iran and one of the major and modern cities in Iran. This city is full of palaces and museums dating back to the last 200 years.

Read More: Tehran Travel Guide

Point B: Kashan

Kashan is a place both for high mountains and wide deserts. When visiting the deserts such as Maranjab desert, you can get lost in the sky of the deserts in Kashan while stargazing at nights.

Read More: Kashan Travel Guide

Borujerdiha Historical House in Kashan

One of the attractions of Kashan is its old houses, which depict the traditional atmosphere of Iran

Point C: Isfahan

It’s one of the major historical cities of Iran with Naqsh-e Jahan Square as its major site. Moreover, the number of historical sites in Isfahan is so high that it is famous as “Half of The World”.

Read More: Isfahan Travel Guide

A tourist couple spending their leisure time in the Zayandeh Rud area next to the Khajoo bridge

Isfahan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iran.

Point D: Yazd

The structure of the city of Yazd is a UNESCO world heritage itself. Walking through the streets of Yazd gives you the feeling of walking in a huge museum in the middle of the desert.

Read More: Yazd Travel Guide

Point E: Shiraz

The city of orange trees and poets! Shiraz is where you can visit the famous Persepolis, which means stepping in a ceremonial capital from 2500 years ago!

Read More: Shiraz Travel Guide

Point F: Bandar Abbas

A port city on the coast of the Persian Gulf and the famous strait of Hormuz. This city can be a connector where you can get on a boat and go to the islands of the Persian Gulf.

View of Bandar Abbas city and Persian Gulf

In recent years, with the increase of facilities, this city is becoming one of the tourist destinations in Iran.

Point G: Qeshm Island

This island is the largest island in Iran. The erosion that water has caused in 2 billion years ago has shaped places like the valley of stars. Moreover, you can find access from Qeshm to other islands in the Persian Gulf, such as Hormuz and Hengam.

Read More: Southern Islands

A tourist and his daughter riding a camel on Qeshm Island

Qeshm and the surrounding islands have dreamy places to watch.

More Destinations

Apart from the well-known tourist destinations in Iran, there are unknown places that can amaze you!

Hitchhiking in Iran

Hitchhiking can be quite easy in Iran when you are traveling on a low budget. Though, it might get confusing for both the drivers and hitchhikers at some of the times. One of the things that tourists should keep in mind is that hitchhiking is not very common in Iran. You can count on the Iranian people’s hospitality and be sure that you can surely hitch a ride. But, there are some points you need to keep in mind.

Most of the cars that stop for you are taxis. It’s a normal thing that private cars work as a taxi. So, you need to make sure that the driver understands you want to get in his car for free. According to the experience of hitchhikers in Iran, police officers can help tourists a lot in this case. Police officers can help you by asking the drivers if they can give you a ride. Getting on a truck can be very suitable when you are hitchhiking, especially on the main roads. Also, make sure that you get by the road before the sunset. This makes people trust you more and increases your chance of hitching a ride.

Getting in Touch with Local People

What almost all the tourists seem to agree about is that Iranians are very hospitable towards tourists. As a tourist, you will be very interesting for the local people, and they will try to speak to you. Moreover, many of the Iranian people, especially young Iranians, know English well. So, you can feel free to ask for their advice and also count on them when you need help. The hospitality in Iranians has another advantage for the tourists as well. You can easily find people and families that will invite you to their houses. So, finding a place for staying can be fairly easy when you are backpacking in Iran. Also, there is a couch surfing application that you can use for finding houses to stay in.

You can learn more about the local people in Iran and their communication with the tourists in the people and local life moment.

Taking photos of tourists with the Iranian people in Tajrish Bazaar

The hospitality in Iranians has another advantage for the tourists as well – Photo: sputniknews.com

Sim Card, Internet, and VPN

You can find the internet in Iran using WIFI and data. Usually, you can use WIFI in hotels, hustles, and cafes. But, as a backpacker, you should mostly count on data service. Buying a sim card during your backpacking in Iran is a wise decision. First, because you will be spending most of your time on the road and away from cafes and hotels with WIFI. Second, because it is fairly cheap and third, you can call your friends when you are in need.  The price of a sim card in Iran is 20000 Tomans, which is almost equal to 1 dollar.  Also, the data is very cheap in Iran. The importance of buying data when you are backpacking in Iran is that it helps with the navigation.

Iranian Currency

We have an article where you can find all the necessary information about the Iranian currency. The information in this article includes the difference between Rial and Toman and your expenses on travel to Iran. But, here you can find more information about the financial issues you might have when backpacking in Iran.

Rial and dollar banknotes in the hands of two people

The value of Iran’s currency against the dollar is changing every day.

Unfortunately, your international debit/credit cards won’t work in Iran because of sanctions. So, you would have to bring all your money in cash which is not a wise decision for a hitchhiker in any country. It’s better not to carry all your money with you when backpacking in Iran as well. Iran Amaze offers a service in which we can arrange a sim card or credit cards for you.

In this case, we can arrange a credit card for you. You will transfer the amount of money you need to our partner’s account in Austria. And then, we will transfer the same amount of money to your debit card in Iran in Rials. This way, you will have an easy job of using your money with your debit card.

Solo Female Backpacking in Iran

Is Iran appropriate for backpacking Iran female”? Is Iran safe for traveling as a solo female? The answer is Iran is safe for a solo female as any other country in the world. Of course, there are tips for women who are solo backpacking in Iran that can protect them from danger. Such as avoiding staying out late and going to places distant from the population.

ANNA KARSTEN, solo female tourist in iran

Iran is safe for a solo female as any other country in the world – Photo: Anna Karsten

Moreover, women have separate sections in public transportation such as buses and metro. Also, the buses and trains for transportation between the cities have women-only parts. This can make you feel safer and have a better feeling about using public transportation even at night.

A very common question for women traveling to Iran is what to wear in Iran? Iran is an Islamic country and has a specific dress code for women. Women in Iran should cover their hair and also cover their bodies. But it’s not as hard as it seems. Wearing a comfortable manteau and covering your hair with a shawl is enough. Also, remember that you cannot wear short skirts or trousers. Finally, if you are in an urgent situation, you can call the emergency number, which is 110 in Iran.

Responsible Traveling

We believe responsible traveling is an essential part of any backpacking trip. Although couch surfing is very cheap for the backpackers and easy to do when backpacking in Iran, but it’s a good idea to stay at the cheap hotels/hustles as well. This way, you can help local businesses. Also, if you are couch surfing, it would be a nice thing to give small gifts to your hosts.

Another thing you can do when backpacking in Iran is to search the etiquettes people use in specific areas. This way, you can be more respectful towards the local people. Also, you should learn about the local rules and norms in your destination. Following the local rules can be very helpful for you as a tourist as well.

Finally, you can buy the food you need from local stores in every place you visit to help the local economy. This way you can also try new food, clothes and other stuff which can be a fresh experience for you as well! You can learn more about having responsible travel by reading our policies page.

Extra Information for Backpacking in Iran

When to Visit Iran

As a four-season country, you can visit Iran in four different climates. Each of the seasons in Iran has its advantages; Summers can get too hot for backpacking, and winters can get too cold. Moreover, because Iran is a vast country stretching down to near the equator, the weather varies in different regions.  So, the answer to the question “when to visit Iran” depends very much on your preferences about the weather.

4 pictures from different parts of Iran

Iran is one of the most diverse countries in terms of climate and you can travel here in any season according to your needs.

Getting A Visa

Obtaining a visa for visiting Iran is an easy job. Tourists from most countries can even get a visa on arrivals. But how to get Iran visa depends on the country you are from. There are some differences in the process of obtaining a visa for British, Canadian, and American tourists. You can read all about the process in our Iran visa article. Also, visitors from these countries cannot go backpacking in Iran on their own. Having a tour and a guide is a requirement for American tourists.

Traveling Cheap

Some people might choose backpacking in Iran because they want to spend the least amount of money on their trip. If you want to have cheap travel but you’re not interested in the adventures of backpacking, there are other options. For instance, you could use Iran budget tour packages. These tour packages are to visit the most famous monuments in different cities of Iran with the lowest cost.

Budget Tours

Backpacking is one of the cheapest trips. We also offer a source for cheap travel, which you can see on this page.

A Guide to Backpacking in Iran

Niusha Akbari

Author

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