Tourists sitting inside the Kashan Bazaar in Iran

Is Iran Safe for Tourists? (2020 Edition)

Time to read: 13 Mins | Published on December 21, 2019
Media likes to portrays Iran in a specific way. The truth is a little bit different. We’ll uncover all the facts about Iran’s safety in this article.

“Avoid non-essential travel to Iran due to crime, demonstrations, the regional threat of terrorism, and the risk of arbitrary detention.” This is Canada’s government’s advice to any Canadian who wants to visit Iran. Keep looking, and you’ll find that most of the governments warn you about traveling to Iran.

“Hey! After our two weeks trip to Iran, I can confirm Iran is safer (and friendlier) then most of the European countries. I saw several solo travelers (also female) in different places in Iran. Don’t worry, plan and enjoy your trip!…” This is what Rexonaut had to say about his trip to Iran on Tripadvisor.

But what is the truth about Iran tourism safety? And which one should you believe?

As someone who has lived in Iran all her life, there are so many things I can say about it. The significant buildings in Tehran, the beautiful ancient houses in Kashan, and the remaining of Persepolis in Shiraz. But is Iran safe? And more importantly, is Iran safe for tourists? This article answers all of the questions you might have about safety in Iran. From natural disasters to crime rates to public transportation, we have got you covered. Don’t believe us? Almost all of this article is based on statistics and what former tourists had to say about Iran. Let’s get to it then.

The truth is most tourists only have good stories to tell about their vacation in Iran.

Is There a War Between Iran and the US?

As the tensions between Iran and the United States have increased over January, everyone might be thinking whether or not these conflicts could lead to an all-out war between the countries. In the first week of the year, Trump ordered a military attack in Iraq that led to the intentional killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. After the assassination, the Iran government responded with attacking two American military base camps in Iraq. However, they intentionally attacked areas in which no soldiers or individuals were present. According to the top Iranian politicians, Iran responded to Soleimani killing as a defense mechanism. However, they ensured to avoid escalation of conflicts to prevent further increase of tension between Iran and the United States.

As a response to these attacks, the President of the United States has stated that he would be willing to sit with Iran without any pre-conditions to come to an agreement. It seems like both countries have concluded that a full out war is not a good option for either party at this point. The international community has also been actively trying to decrease tension between the two countries.

Now it seems we have passed a peak of tensions and everything is getting cooler. By zero-casualty Iran’s attack, Iran sent a signal to the US that Tehran likes to de-escalate the situation. On the other hand, Trump continues his “maximum pressure” campaign to force Iran to make a new deal with the US. It seems that for now, the war is not on the horizon and things are slowly getting calmer after the attacks in January. So, is Iran safe for travelers? For now, the answer is positive.

Protests in Iran

Due to the political and economic problems in Iran, people occasionally display their protest in the streets. The government usually tries to suppress the protestors.
But how often is there a protest in Iran? For the last ten years, there were four main protests in the country. So they don’t happen every day and only take place usually after a specific conflict just like a lot of other countries in the world.
The last one was in Jan 2020 after the missile attack of American bases in Iraq; unfortunately, a passenger flight was hit by the missiles by mistake. Therefore, 176 innocent people were killed. So, many people got angry as the government did not say what had happened for three days. People came to the streets to protest and ask for transparency and an explanation of what exactly caused the plane crash. However, the protests became calm after a few days.
All in all, is going to Iran safe while these protests are happening?
The answer is yes, as long as you stay away from the protest areas, and you do not attempt to take photos even from further away.
In each city, there are some particular places for protestors to gather, and these places mostly are not near touristic sites. For instance, Enghelab square in Tehran is one of the main places for protestors, but it’s far away from any tourist sites in Tehran.
In conclusion, there is a small chance that you visit Iran at the same time as protests are happening. Furthermore, if such a thing happens, you do not need to worry. You just need to not participate in the protest’s gatherings! The wisest suggestion is to ask locals about the gathering locations and avoid going there.

A woman lost in smoke during a protest in Tehran

You should stay away from protest areas during your travel to Iran.

Road safety and driving in Iran

How is road safety in Iran? Honestly, road safety in Iran could be a little better. But it’s not as bad as you probably think it is. Just take a look at this world map. And road deaths in Iran have sharply decreased over a 3-year course. And it’s still improving to this day. However, going to Iran, knowing some tips and tricks about the roads and driving doesn’t hurt.

  1. As a pedestrian, cross the busy streets using a local’s help. Just wait for somebody to show up and cross the street at the same time as them.
  2. Do not drive in Iran, unless you’re a daredevil. It’s better if you use public transportation and buses, especially because buses have one of the lowest rates of road disasters in Iran.
  3. If your taxi driver is a risk-taker, ask them to drive more carefully and do it considerately. Most of the time, they will lower their speed and listen to you. If not, it’s best just to change cars.

To sum up, as a tourist, you’re most likely to be very safe in terms of road safety and driving in Iran. Car drivers might sound a bit strange to you. Other than that, you’re completely fine. We’ve had tourists who were very surprised by how modern and clean the public vehicles were!

A beautiful road with a mountain at the end in Iran

Some of the roads in Iran are among the most beautiful natural attractions.

How is the Crime Rate in Iran?

While researching for this article, I found out that many people have typed “how many murderers are there in Iran?” According to NationMaster, the murder rate per million people in the USA is 42.01. Whilst in Iran it’s 30.12. If you want to compare Iran to other countries, just take a look at the rankings made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Also, there is another comprehensive report on the crime rate in Iran, which is worth mentioning.

But is Iran safe? Can you walk in the streets without worrying about getting kidnapped or something like that? Absolutely. The streets are very safe due to police officers who cover the streets and the hospitable people! As a tourist, it’s impossible to walk the streets without somebody saying hello to you.

The only thing that I can say about Iran’s streets is that taking a picture in some places is forbidden. As a tourist, you might be taking photos in the no-camera zones like subways or some governmental sites without knowing. Of course, all of them have the “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” sign. On these occasions, you’ll probably get confronted by the police or some other authorities, asking you to delete the photos.

In short, Iran’s streets are safe for roaming. The hotels and houses are safe. You can even accept house party invitations without having to worry. Don’t believe us? Check out Numbeo’s page about the crime rate in Iran. It has divided the crimes into 12 categories and rated them from 0 to 100. Also, Independent has written an article about Iran’s safety and the title reads: Iran as safe as the UK and Slovenia.

What more could you ask for?

How Safe is Iran for Solo Travelers?

Pontia Fallahi, on Culture Trip

You’ll soon find out, though, that you feel safe and that Iranians are extremely willing to help, quickly taking you under their wings because not only are you a foreign tourist but you are also traveling alone.

Is Iran safe for solo travelers? Well, it’s kind of hard to answer this question. It depends on many variables such as the place you’re going to be staying in, the cities you’re going to visit, the activities you’ll partake in, and so many other factors. In general, Iran is safe for solo travelers. I’ll go to the extent of saying that it’s even safe to go stargazing in the middle of the night by yourself.

Dave S, on TripAdvisor

… I am the exact person that the British Government says NOT to go: 33yr old white British male travelling alone.

I just want to say that I had a wonderful and problem-free time over there and would love to be of assistance to anything that may help others like me to be able to enjoy the country as I was able to – it really is fantastic…

In short, Iran is safe for solo travelers. Take the same precautions you would take with other countries. Iran is no exception.

Note: Please note that hitchhiking used to be an uncommon thing in Iran. However, in recent years, many hitchhikers have been choosing Iran as their destination. Take a look at this video from a woman traveled alone to Iran:

Are Female Tourists Safe in Iran?

Anna, on AnnaEverywhere

Before I started reading more into Iran, all I heard about this country were stories about its politics. In the media, Iran seemed like a place where no one would ever want to visit, leave alone go there as a solo female traveler. After my trip to Iran, I can tell you now that Iran has the most hospitable people and great architecture.

Is Iran safe for female travelers? Yes! Of course, it is. As we’ve mentioned before, Iran is very safe in terms of the crime rate. So, the general rules you have to follow as a female tourist in Iran are the same as everywhere else. Besides that, you have to follow the dress code and wear hijab. But females in Iran are a big part of society. You won’t be the only woman in the room wherever you go. Nevertheless, here are a few tips and tricks for you:

  1. Subways and city buses have women-only sections.
  2. Some cities have taxis with female drivers specifically for women. I had the chance to use some of these taxis in Yazd, and I can say that most of the female drivers have amazing stories to tell. So if you’re a feminist or a sociology lover, be sure to check some of those out and hear their stories.
  3. Almost all of the public restrooms have women and men sections.

Ana, on AniAnywhere

If you’re a woman considering visiting Iran alone but are afraid, I encourage you to do it. Traveling to Iran as a woman can seem intimidating, but I have been there and can tell you my solo trip to Iran was not only safe, it was a wonderful experience that greatly exceeded my expectations.

Watch this video about the thoughts of a Britain woman traveling to Iran:

Public Transportations and Their Safety in Iran

Is Iran safe when it comes to public transformation? A hundred percent.

Like most other things in this country, the public transport in Iran is safe.”, says Nina in an article called “Is it safe to travel to Iran?”. As she said, all of the means of public transportation are completely safe in Iran. Let’s go through them one by one.

There are two kinds of taxis in Iran: official (or governmental) and unofficial. Official taxis have fixed destinations and fixed rates. Unofficial taxis are mostly people with a taxi-driver side job to earn a little extra money.

Moreover, Iran has its own Uber services like Snapp and Tap30. They’re monitored and completely safe to use.

There are two kinds of buses: BRTs and regular buses. They are very modern and reliable, to the point that you can even text your station and get a reply as to when the next bus will be there.

There are underground subways in Tehran and some other cities. Metro police and Metro officials are always present should you need any guidance at all.

Trains

Traveling by train is one of the most enjoyable things you can do. Trains are completely safe. Also, they’re one of the most comfortable options there is out there.

Tourists in the cabin of a metro in Tehran

There are many different ways to get around the cities in Iran.

Is It Safe to Drink the Water?

It’s safe to drink the tap water in most of Iran. All of the tourist destinations like Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd, and Shiraz have perfect tap water; even the shower water is drinkable. Moreover, if you don’t feel comfortable drinking tap water, bottled water is widely accessible throughout the country. And it’s cheap!

In short, you can always drink the tap water in Iran unless someone tells you otherwise.

Natural Disasters

Is Iran safe from natural disasters? To that question my friend, I would say, what country is?

Nevertheless, the world risk index has listed Iran as the 62nd safest country in the world in terms of natural hazards risk among 173 countries.

However, Iran is a seismically, active country. This means, every day a lot of earthquakes happen, but they’re so minor that we don’t feel any of them.

Also, rainfall in Iran is highly seasonal. And floods a rare thing in Iran.

In conclusion, there’s no need to worry when it comes to natural disasters. All of the hotels and hostels are built in a modern way, immune to earthquakes and floods if they happen. But of course, we know that the possibility of those happening is very low.

Kidnapping and Terrorism

Is Iran safe in terms of kidnapping and terrorism? Kidnapping and terror-related crimes are extremely rare in Iran. According to the 2016 global terrorism index, Iran is ahead of America, UK, and France. And is ranked the same as Sweden, Norway, and Canada. The image below shows the 20 most fatal terrorist attacks of 2015. As you can see, Iran is clear.

The map of fatal terrorist attacks of 2015 in Iran

The 20 most fatal terrorist attacks of 2015.

In short, you don’t need to worry about kidnapping or terrorism in Iran at all. You can see seven-year-old kids playing in the streets or riding their bikes to their friend’s house. This just shows how much parents trust the safety of the streets.

Another question you might be asking yourself is: Is Iran safe for American tourists? Yes! Iranian people are known for their hospitality and how nice they are. We even have a saying that goes like this: Guests are God’s beloveds. It doesn’t matter what the governments’ relationship with each other is; people will always greet tourists with open arms regardless of their nationality. Also, contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to travel to Iran as an American. Clint Johnston from triphackr has written an awesome article on traveling to Iran as an American. You can also check that out.

Which Foods Are Safe to Eat in Iran?

Unless you have an allergy to something or a sensitive stomach, all of the foods are safe to eat. In Iran, there’s no such thing as medium or rare meat; all of the meat in traditional Persian food is cooked well done. And because of Persian culture, people are very clean. Of course, like any other place in the world, homemade meals are ones you can count on to be completely healthy the most. Nevertheless, all foods are entirely safe to eat.

mrsjohnnydepp, on TripAdvisor

mmm, I love Persian food too! … It’s much healthier than the food we’d eat in Britain! There’s less junk there, less sweets, chocolates, etc and no alcohol, all which are highly sugar and very calorific…

Tourists trying bread in a bakery at Yazd in Iran

Iranian cuisine is among the most delicious food you’ll have in your life.

Healthcare in Iran

In 2018, Bloomberg published an article on the best and worst countries in terms of health care. Iran came ahead of United States and Brazil in that ranking.

Moreover, due to skilled doctors and high-quality equipment, Iran is a health tourism hub in the middle east. According to the deputy head of Iran Health tourism Promotion Association of Iran, 600,000 health tourists visited Iran during a four months course (March 21-July 21). So healthcare services wouldn’t be your problem in the needing cases during your trip to Iran.

More Traveler’s Opinions about Iran’s Safety

Is Iran safe? We’ll leave the answer to this question up to you. There’s nothing left to say about Iran’s safety. Well, nothing that we could say. Fortunately, a lot of people have traveled to Iran and written great reviews about it. Here’s a gist:

Kami, on Mywanderlust

I’ve spent 10 days traveling around Iran, and I can say it was one of the safest places I’ve ever been to!

Veronika, on Travel Geekery

I felt safe in Iran, not only because I was traveling with 2 male friends, but mainly because of the locals. The smaller a town, the more we would encounter curious locals who were beyond happy just to greet foreigners.

Sebastiaan, on Lost with Purpose

In many countries, money hanging out of your pocket in a tourist area will be quick to disappear into a pickpocket’s hands. In Iran, I had the opposite—men would run up to me to warn me my money was sticking out of my pockets!

Mariana, on Rucksack Ramblings

We loved Iran and felt safer there than in most other countries we’ve traveled to. You very quickly realize almost all Iranians are just genuinely interested in talking to you and don’t have any dodgy ulterior motives. They’re truly warm and welcoming people.

At last, watch out this video:

Is IRAN Safe? (Realizations from 14 Days in Iran)

IS IRAN SAFE TO VISIT?! 🇮🇷🇮🇷🇮🇷I just finished 2 weeks traveling all over this fascinating country with G Adventures, and let's just say that IRAN IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!! Unfortunately, the media makes Iran look extremely evil, when in reality, it is absoultey safe to visit, and the locals here are the most humble, honest and hospitable people that I’ve met in all of my travels. I am not joking!!Over the next 14 days, I will be launching daily videos as they happened over the past 2 weeks of my life in this beautiful country. I will be digging deep into the ancient history, trying all of the best dishes, meeting eye to eye with locals and observing their unique lifestyle as I take you behind the scenes of this special nation.Out of all 14 videos that you are about to see in my Iran series, this one has the strongest message — which is why I am sharing it first. I truly hope you enjoy watching my raw perspectives around Iran, and I encourage you (as always) to comment below with any questions and and I’ll do my best to get back to you! Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🇮🇷P.S. I apologize for the 2 week delay in sharing any videos — Truth be told, I decided to take a break from making videos so I could fully enjoy and appreciate this eye-opening trip to Iran. I haven't gone more than 2 days without sharing a video over the last YEAR, so it was hard for me, but it was a nice detox. I've been so anxious to roll out these videos and I hope you find them valuable 🙂

Gepostet von Drew Binsky am Samstag, 9. Juni 2018

Is Iran safe for tourists? (2020 Edition)

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