Alesha and Jarryd, on NOMADasaurus
We were walking around one morning on a quiet street when a car passed us and turned around. A group of young people stopped the car, came up to us, and asked if we were ok or if we needed help.
Once we told them we were just looking for a coffee they pulled out their phones and started showing us where the cafes were on a map.
They even offered us a ride and said if the cafes were closed, they had coffee at their home and would love to make us some.
This is just one example of dozens of interactions that happened to us when we were in Iran. Iranians love that tourists are coming to their country and traveling around.
What is People and Local Life Moment?
We are going to present to you Iranian people and local life moment. Here, we outline what it is and its related sites and activities. , you can spend more time in direct interaction with people in Iran, their lifestyle, interests, daily life, etc.
But what is a moment?
We would like you to have a deep understanding of Iran in various aspects during your trip. So, we specified six different moments on every Iran cultural tour package. Each site or activity in your itinerary is categorized in one of these moments. They are as follows: People and local life, hospitality, religion, nature, art and architecture, history, and archeology. We decided to provide an opportunity. You can choose which moment you like the most. Then, inform us so that we can plan an exclusive designed Iran private tour package for your ease.
What is Amazing about People & Local Life in Iran?
Iran is a historical country, and that’s the main reason many tourists head for it. Yet, traveling is not just about seeing historical sites. It is also about feeling that country, diving into another culture, seeing how people see the world in other parts of the globe. This could end up with deeper experiences during the trip. The ones that happen with direct interactions with people and local life in Iran. It can y put an end to many misunderstandings that came from mass media propaganda. Most of the visitors are amazed by the kind and caring behavior of locals in different ages and cities. Sometimes, they have had such a great time here that they travel to Iran again and again.
The homeland of ethnical diversities
There were booths for ethnical groups. They were presenting their local foods, pastries, handicrafts, and dresses. Then, we heard music and groups of locally dressed people came in. They performed a folklore dance with their exclusive music. The Kurds did a coordinate feet dance together. The Arabs performed dancing with wooden rods. The Baluch group bent down and stood rhythmically with their wooden sticks clattering,….. The orchestrated music and motions were fabulous. That was fun to see a demonstration of Iranian festivals.
Many foreigners know Iran as Persia. But Persians are not the only native groups here. There are a variety of ethnics all around this land. Turks, Kurds, Lurs, Arabs, Turkmens, and Baluchs are residents who complete the identity of Iran.
Besides, the climatic variations in the country is another determining factor in this diversity. Each ethnic lives in a particular region with its specific climate and historical background. This had led to diversities in their clothing, language, cuisine, and traditions. For example, The Kurds who live in the mountainous region in the western part of Iran, struggle with cold weather. But the Arabs dwell in the hot southern region by the sea.
The differences are as if each ethnic seems like a separate country. But actually, they are part of a bigger whole: the Iranian culture. That depends on you to just choose which one to visit.
Edward, from the UK, on TripAdvisor
I visited the rental shop by chance to fix a punctured tire (I was cycle touring with my own bike). Not only did the guys fix my bike, they also invited me for tea and sweets! Classic Iranian hospitality! I ended up going on an afternoon weekend tour with the guys.
The first thing that attracts many foreign travelers is people in Iran: there has been a lot of memories from their warm welcoming. They say it made them never feel alone or lost. There is always somebody to guide or help visitors.
Actually, Iranians want you to have a great time. It won’t take long before they give a strange passenger a warm welcome, ask them where they are from, and even invite them to dinner or party. Either you are in a crowded site in the middle of a historical city or in the heart of a remote desert or forest, you can make sure there would be an eager person who invites you for a cup of tea or a meal. They may even try to give you a bed at their home for rest.
These kinds of interactions have a long history among Iranian traditions. They are rare in the world and may seem strange to you. But, soon, you realize how natural they are among Iranian people. It is Iran’s local culture towards the guests, especially if they are not familiar with that place and its people. A proper hosting for guests and taking care of their needs is a must in Iranian culture, regardless of their ethnicity. They just want to do their best that you have a nice relaxing time and leave them in a good happy mood. That’s why Iranian hospitality is famous all around the world.
The reality of Iranians
The mass media usually portrays a dangerous, hostile picture from Iran and its people. There are many stories of conflicts, demonstrations, antipathy, and tyranny in the community of Iran. Or, you may have read a variety of positive or negative comments about Iranian people and local life. They were about their daily life in Iran, how they live, work, have fun and think.
However, there is this saying that “one look is worth ten thousand words”. About 80 million people live in this country. A majority of them are young. Thus, there is a range of diversity in thoughts among different communities of Iranian people. So, visiting and talking to the people in Iran in person is the most reliable way to get to know about their ideologies and attitudes towards life. In fact, the ethnical, cultural, and religious varieties in Iran act as merit. It makes interaction with Iranian culture and social life interesting.
In your close interaction with Iranian people, you may see three major attitudes towards cultural and social events:
A large group of these ordinary people is still bound to their national or religious traditions. They insist on keeping their ideal motifs and beliefs. On the other hand, there is a considerable group that has replaced these thoughts and traditions with modern or western patterns of thinking. Most of them are youths. They believe in a fundamental change in the administration and social approaches. And the third attitude is for those who are neither traditional nor liberal-minded. They are just trying to adjust themselves with the condition.
Let’s have some fun
Kami, on Mywanderlust
There are numerous parks here and there, strewn around the city, and it was always such a pleasure to visit them. Not only it’s a great place to relax after the exhausting sightseeing but also the best way to observe how Iranians like to spend their free time.
The parks are full of the whole families having a picnic together (if you get lucky, you might be invited to join them) or young couples on secret dates.
How do you think of having fun along with Iranian local people? Join a happy crowded family picnicking in a park and be their guest. Or be part of a group of energetic youths in a friendly hangout or a birthday party in a café.
Or else, accept a dinner invitation from a family, go to their home, and see a family gathering. You see that these gatherings are a way of having fun in Iranian culture. Be their guest and to see some special Iranian specifics. Things like respecting elderly ones, treating guests, and serving their delicious meal.
Another different feature of daily life in Iran is the nightlife. There are no clubs or bars here. You won’t find any public places to drink and dance. But you’ll find many people hanging out in cafes, grabbing some soft drinks and chit-chatting.
Walk in the streets at night to see the livelihood and tranquility of big cities at these final hours of the day. The nightlife sites are now the most favorite hangouts for all groups of Iranian people.
The adventures of Iranian women
Women in Iran have paved a long and hard way for their today position. They have always been active and had a key role traditionally. They had roles like a caring mother, a good farmer, a professional hairdresser, a proficient midwife. Nowadays, you also see educated doctors, teachers, businesswomen, and representatives. They all have an efficient presence in the social, economic, and political contexts. Though, there are still many women who choose to be a traditional mother and housewife.
The strongest form of your interaction with an Iranian woman is the local female guides that accompany you through your trip. Wander around with them and see other women during your trip. This way you can see them in their real-life and get direct and first-hand information from them.
Iran People & Local Life Sites and Activities
There are some common sites and activities on the main touristic route of Iran. Hence, you will get to know them during your trip. Yet, there are plenty of them left.
At first sight, they may seem the same as each other, like bazaars. But who can ignore the differences between the bazaarsin Tehran, Shiraz, or Isfahan?
In the following, we introduced the famous sites and places. You can customize your itinerary. So it could include these moments in your private tour trip planning.
Bazaars: how to spend all your money in less than an hour
Lively chaos and old charm, hundreds of shops, food, clothing, handmade Persian carpets, colorful dry fruits, the scent of spices, and whatever you may think of, have gathered under the brick covered stalls of traditional Iranian bazaars.
Grand markets or Bazaars in Iran have always been important centers for commercial, social, and political events. When you walk along the bazaars’ corridors in different cities, you can see Iranian artistic architecture. The buildings of bazaars are real masterpieces. Not only they meet commercial activities needs but also mirrors Iranian social features. All you need to buy for everyday life or as souvenirs are available. Stroll patiently and save all the beauties, colors, sounds and smells in your memory.
- Tehran Bazaar: It is a must-do in Tehran. It was the economic heart of the city and was engaged with many political movements. Now, with all these giant malls in the city, it doesn’t have the power of the past but still is influential. Witness the beautiful Persian architecture and live Tehran’s daily tradition for a short while.
- Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran: The old but renewed building of this Bazaar with the old Tekkie (a hall for Muharram religious ceremonies) inside it is a good place to feel the spirit of old Tehran. Then stroll inside among all those colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, the smell of delicious foods, and bizarre stuff in a traditional environment.
- Isfahan Bazaar: A masterpiece from 5 centuries ago, encircled the glorious Naqshe Jahan square. It is like a museum where the Persian inheritance is shown in the form of a live production of Isfahan renowned handicrafts.
- Tabriz Bazaar: An exhibition of paradise on the earth; its famous internal Bazaar, Mozafarieh, with the beautiful dome above is where you can enjoy the Persian carpets all the way. Don‘t forget to have a cup of tea there! Then head for the other parts of the oldest Bazaar in the Middle East.
- Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz: The heavenly aroma of sour orange flower essence, the rainbow of Iranian spices and herbs, the beautiful colors of Persian carpet that are like oil color paintings, the colorful fabrics suitable for nomads traditional cloths, copper dishes, and other handicrafts have made Vakil Bazaar a very charming Bazaar.
- Yazd Bazaar: That’s a great place to enjoy the portray of heavens in the curved tree-like pattern on colorful Termeh, the fascinating souvenir of Yazd. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the gold chamber with its exclusive design of 24 karats jewelry.
Local people hangouts: join the gatherings
Join Iranian people in their hangouts to experience Iranian style free time, meet different cultures directly, and make new friends. Whether you are traveling in private or on tour, you won’t feel lonely wherever you are. Every Iranian is a potential guide and a caring friend for you.
- Baam in Tehran: The cool refreshing weather in summer or the icy coldness in winter are both interesting for walking up Tehran heights and visit the whole great city beneath. You can have a relaxing stay in a restaurant with a good view or highly exciting hours in tele-cabin or sledge recreational facilities.
- The nightlife of the Khajoo bridge in Isfahan: A 500-year bridge over the live Zayanderud in the heart of Isfahan that is a beloved gathering point. Khaju Bridge is full of life, a roaring river beneath, families here and there chit-chatting, children laughing and running around, and youths singing traditional songs under the brick arches of the bridge.
- Elgoli complex in Tabriz: A must-see in the beautiful city of Tabriz. You can enjoy a walk in the floral path over the pool towards the old palace in the middle of the water. It’s a dreamy walk especially in the cold winters that are completed with a cup of hot tea.
- Shahrdari square and bazaar in Rasht: Have a nice evening in the city center. enjoy looking at old buildings with beautiful lights and taste original Iranian tea, while you are surrounded with smiles from locals.
- Picnicking at weekends: weekend holidays are excellent opportunities we never miss. If you walk around the cities and pass parks on the weekends, you’ll see lots of smoky spots. Don’t worry; that’s the smoke of barbeque. A common way among families to pass the time on holidays is picnicking. And, kebab is the preferable meal for this street banquet.
- Paknezhad nightlife in Tehran: One of the famous centers for eating delicious street foods and drinking various hot and cold drinks in a luxury neighborhood in the northwest of Tehran. You can be there from the early hours of the night up to dawn.
- Mirchakhmagh square in Yazd: A complex as antique as the whole city. It is especially impressive when all lit up, and the colorful fountains are running. Here is a busy hangout with restaurants and cafes that has the view of the complex. Don’t forget to have delicious ice cream after you visited the square.
- Gahvare Did in Shiraz: Take the concrete staircase to move up the lush hills and have a panoramic view of the whole city of Shiraz. It is worthy to visit; an antique domed construction that once was for guarding the city, and now it is a resort for the people to gather and enjoy the entertaining atmosphere.
- Zand street nightlife in Shiraz: A cozy hangout in Shiraz with lots of people came for a relaxing night. Join them in restaurants and cafes, be in their gatherings, and enjoy their glad hand.
Rural and nomadic life: where time has stopped
Big cities in Iran are rapidly changing their faces towards the modern worldwide standards. So, if you want a pure demonstration of this traditional Iranian lifestyle, you can find it in visiting villagers or nomads who will accept you wholeheartedly.
Spend a night with nomads miles away from any building where families live in tents. Have dinner by the fire and sleep on the ground. No electricity, no water, no mobile, no nothing. There are just silence and lots of stars in the sky.
Or, stroll among the houses in narrow alleys of a remote village in the middle of a jungle, a mountain or a desert. Sure all the way, every dweller you face welcomes you with a smile and invites you for a cup of tea or a local meal. Maybe you are lucky enough to see an Iranian festival for harvesting or an ethnic wedding ceremony.
- Nomads: A young girl is making fresh yogurt drink. Over there, a woman is preparing food on firewood. The older woman is weaving a small carpet… and the young men are taking back the sheep from pasture. It’s time to sit by the fire, listen to their stories, and have a delicious organic dinner.
There are different areas that groups of Iranian nomads live in. They have saved their 1000-year Iranian lifestyle in their region. Though it’s getting lost in the rapid changes of the modern world, you still have the chance to experience it. Three famous groups of them are nomads of Eqlid from the central areas, Bakhtiari nomads in the western mountains and nomads at Meshkin Shahr from northwestern mountains.
- Meymand village: 3000 years ago, the native dwellers created this rocky village in the heart of the mountain to keep themselves safe from the harsh nature and raiding enemies. Their children still live in these historic caves. They have saved the original face of their ancient Iranian lifestyle.
- Hormoz, the land of colors: The atmosphere on this island is friendly and welcoming. Once you arrive, there will be a lot of friendly drivers offering to take you around to all the sights on this rainbow island. Walk along with the passways by the shore, where people will eagerly want to show you their island. Have a cup of tea in a beach café and listen to the energetic southern music playing there.
- Hengam village in Qeshm: The dwellers are as warm as their island. Wherever you are, just ask for a little help, and they will accompany you as long as you need it. You can take a rest at local homestays and eat the most delicious see food made by local women. Don’t forget to buy seashell handicrafts as souvenirs from the local market.
- Ghalat village in Fars: Do you know how is welcoming in heaven? You will experience it among the kind people of this old village, with 1000-year trees, the melody of water running from the mountain springs to the creeks going down in a valley, where stands stone and wooden houses. The friendly people will provide you a homelike condition to feel convenient.
Old neighborhoods: listen to the stories of streets
Sometimes you need to keep your distance from the rush and commotion of modern life. You may go to a camp for a few days or travel to a quiet place. But we can suggest another way of soothing and relaxing here in Iran! Just head for the old neighborhoods that have spread in the heart of big cities. They are like a kind grandmother who is waiting for her grandchildren to come by and spend an afternoon together in her old but cozy house. These neighborhoods are always embracing and ready to take off your mind the burden of everyday life.
- Fahadan neighborhood in Yazd: A quiet original neighborhood that is known as the old city of Yazd. Walking in narrow alleys can take anyone to the great days of the past. They’re like a labyrinth that leaves you in a surprise of what you’ll find at the end of the lane.
- Oudlajanne neighborhood in Tehran: Located near Tehran Bazaar, once it was an affluent neighborhood. Now it’s an excellent place to review a 300-year story of old Tehran, and watching the remaining of architecture from those days. Maybe a local shopkeeper invites you to have something at his old shop.
- Jolfa neighborhood in Isfahan: Feel the peaceful coexistence of two religions and wander through the artistic blending of architecture in the streets and churches. Enjoy Armenian culture in the heart of an Iranian and Muslim city. Wander in the European style streets and alleys and then have a cup of tea or coffee in the old-designed cafes.
- Sange Siah and Darvazeh Kazeroon neighborhoods in Shiraz: Narrow interwoven alleys with lots of historical houses that are still in use and soulful. It somehow absorbs the visitors inside and doesn’t let them leave before they have seen the mosques, churches, mansions, and tasted the brewed Baharnarenj drink.
Daily life: be among people
As we said, Iran is not just some historical or natural sites, but also a lively society in both traditional and modern contexts. It needs to be among people to see their habits, hangouts, and rituals.
- Valiasr st. in Tehran: Put your comfy shoes on because you’re going to have a nice walk in one of the longest streets in the world with lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes beside the old trees on both sides and water flowing down from among them. Watch all the happy people walking, eating, laughing, and listen to the melodies played by street artists all the way.
- Participating in praying at Imam mosque at Tehran Bazaar: By hearing the prayer time song, a large crowd that was trading in Tehran Bazaar congregate in Imam Mosque to perform their prayers together. If you would like, you are allowed to visit this religious harmonic ritual in that spiritual gathering.
- Shahcheragh in Shiraz: A religious monument with mirrors and mosaic as its amazing decoration. That’s a holy place for Muslims to gather, pray, and praise. Even non-Muslim visitors receive a warm welcome. The international wing will accompany you with respect so that you can enjoy the spiritual atmosphere and fabulous architecture the best.
- Zoorkhaneh in Yazd: A gym for traditional and Iranian style gymnasium. It is right near Amir Chakhmagh, so you can go there before or after you take sunset photos. Also, it’s the only gym that women are allowed too. Watch the sport and ritual dance show, listen to the melodic music and try to hold the heavy wares as those strong men. Can you do it as easily as them?
- Chahar Bagh e Abbasi Street: Dense trees on both sides isolate you not only from the whereabouts but from the time you are in. There are just you and the smiling passengers. Don’t resist your wish, and take time to walk along the stone pavement. Then you can listen to the singing men, see happy young couples, and play pick-a-boo with a little child with her mother.
Museums: life as it used to be
Visiting museums are a good chance to get familiar with the life details of past people. But what do you think of something different among these museums? Have these sites in your itinerary to know about less-seen aspects of Iranian anthropology.
- Puppet Museum in Kashan: A museum where you can pay a visit at night with pajamas and slippers! Well, this place is not just a museum but includes a hostel as well. Remember your childhood enthusiasm by visiting old and nostalgic puppets collection in an old house with kind staff.
- Assar khaneh workshop in Isfahan: This traditional factory is amazing to many visitors. That’s interesting knowing about Iranians specialty in using nature for their everyday needs. They did it with no harm or pollution to it.
- Heidarzadeh museum of coin and anthropology: By visiting this museum, you have both worlds; you pass Fahadan antique neighborhood, visit a historical house, and review the coin collection of ancient Persia up to now.
- Isfahan anthropology museum: Used to be a public bath that now is a home for mannequins to show the traditional everyday life. You get familiar with old Isfahan occupations, clothes, handicrafts, and other activities.