'A Land as Old as History'


Tehran: Old City tour; Medieval Shiraz; Stunning Persepolis: site tour; "Good and noble city of Yazd" - Marco Polo; Beautiful Isfahan: City Tour; Legacies: Arabs, Buyids, Seljuqs, Turks, Mongols, and many more!


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Tue 26 Apr 2016Mon 09 May 2016 $3790
Tue 10 May 2016Mon 23 May 2016 $3790
Sat 08 Oct 2016Fri 21 Oct 2016 $3790

Optional Single Supplement: $600 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Culturally and historically linked to Central Asia, Iran is full of incredible highlights, like beautiful, romantic and hospitable Shiraz, as well as one of the most important site of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenian Kingdom, Persepolis. This has become one of more interesting offerings in the region in recent years, especially among our travellers who crave an in-depth travel experience well off the beaten path, to an exotic destination as yet unspoiled by mass tourism.

Regions visited: Middle East
Countries visited: Iran


I enjoyed all of excursions, especially Persepolis and some of the Museums in Tehran, especially the Jewel Museum. We have traveled with Victor, our tour leader, several times and we have always found him to be informed, organized, resourceful, helpful, humorous, positive and infinitely energetic! He makes history come alive and he discusses all issues in depth. Great tour!

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Tehran
Today we arrive in Tehran and transfer to our hotel. Please note that many flights tend to land in Tehran in the very early morning, ie just into today. If this is the case, we can book you an extra night's accommodation at an added cost so that you will have a room on arrival. This can be determined at the time of flight schedule finalization.


Overnight in Tehran.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Tehran: City Tour
This morning we embark upon our full-day of sightseeing in Tehran, concentrating on its excellent museums. Compared to Iran's other capitals, Tehran, is not considered an old city. It remained relatively unimportant until the end of the 18th century when it was made the capital by Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Ghajar Dynasty who was crowned in Tehran in 1795. It was expanded by his successor Fath-Ali Shah who built the Golestan Palace. Today this city is a modern metropolis.

Our first stop will be at the Archaeological Museum with its fine collection including a stone capital of a winged lion from Susa and a 6th century BC audience hall relief of Darius the Great from the Treasury at Persepolis. The museum also houses a very famous and important trilingual Darius I inscription.

We also visit the Sadabad Cultural Complex located in what used to be the Shah's winter palace. The complex houses several museums and though not all of them are open at the same time; the ones that are provide a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. During our time in Tehran, we will also visit the Jewel Museum.

Overnight in Tehran.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Tehran - Shiraz
Today we fly to Shiraz, one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and the Iranian capital from 1753-1794. Through its many artists and scholars, Shiraz has been synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and at one time, wine. En route we stop at the Tomb of Cyrus (Pasardgae) and at the tombs nearby Persepolis in advance of our main Persepolis later.

While in Shiraz we will see (from the exterior only) the famous tomb of Shah Cheragh, brother of Imam Reza. The tomb, beautifully lit at night, draws thousands of pilgrims annually and is the principal pilgrimage center in the province of Fars.

Overnight in Shiraz.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Shiraz: City Tour
During today's tour of Shiraz we will visit the Fars Museum, an octagonal pavilion originally built by Karim Khan and used for official receptions. It now houses a collection relating to the life of Karim Khan and other historic artifacts relating to the province. Perhaps even more interesting than the museum is the building itself with its charming tiled panels and painted roof.

Our sightseeing will also take us to the Mausoleum of Sa'di, one of Iran's best known poets, and the Tomb of Hafez, a literary giant of the 14th century. Here we see the alabaster tomb under a tiled cupola, covered with beautiful mosaic faience of wonderful design. We also visit the Eram and Narenjestan gardens, the Nassirolmolk mosque, and the old covered bazaar of Vakil.

Overnight in Shiraz.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Shiraz: Persepolis & Naqsh-e Rostam
Persepolis where we have a comprehensive tour of this vast site.

This was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenian Empire and perhaps one of the country's most beautiful and spectacular archaeological sites surviving today. The administrative center of the Achaemenians was actually at Susa, shifting during the summer to Hamadan while Persepolis was reserved only for ritual celebrations. Persepolis stands on a limestone terrace overlooking the Marvdasht plain at the foot of the Kuh-e Rahmat, the Mountain of Mercy.

The most important buildings at Persepolis were crowded onto a terrace of natural rock that rises over 9 m (30 feet) above the plain on three sides and is adjacent to a low mountain on the fourth side. There are about 15 major buildings, including the Apadana, the Hall of Hundred Columns, the Gate House of Xerxes, the Treasury, the Harem and the private palaces of the different rulers.

Later we continue on to Naqsh-e Rostam and the four carved Achaemenian tombs. The tombs are widely accepted to be those of Darius the Great, Xerxes, Artaxerxes and Darius II. There are also eight reliefs from later in the Sassanian Dynasty which are cut into the stone below the facades of the tombs. These fine reliefs depict various scenes of imperial conquests as well as a probable fire temple from Achaemenian times.

Return to Shiraz.

Overnight in Shiraz.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Shiraz - Pasargadae - Abarkouh - Zeinoddin
Today we travel toward Zeinoddin; en route we stop at Pasargadae where, according to the Roman geographer Strabo of Amasia, the palace of Pasargadae was built on the site where king Cyrus defeated the leader of the Medes, Astyages, in 550 BCE. The dominant feature of the citadel is a huge stone platform, projecting from a low, conical hill. Two unfinished stone staircases and a towering facade of rusticated masonry were evidently intended to form part of an elevated palace enclosure. An abrupt event, however -- perhaps related to the death of Cyrus -- brought the work to a halt, and a formidable mud-brick structure was erected on the platform instead. It is possible that the building represents the famous treasury surrendered to Alexander the Great.

Our next stop is Abarkouh where we see Sarv-e Abar-Kuh ("cypress of Abar-Kuh"), a Cupressus sempervirens tree protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran as a national natural monument. It is estimated to be over four millennia old and is likely the second-oldest living thing in Asia.

We finally arrive at Zeinoddin, a Caravanserai which has been completely restored, with traditional details, modern comforts and providing great ambience. A Caravanserai is roadside inn (often fortified) where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and southeastern Europe, especially along the Silk Road.

Overnight in Zeinoddin.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Zeinoddin - Yazd & Saryazd Citadel
Today we travel by road to Yazd. Marco Polo visited Yazd on his way to China and called it the "good and noble city of Yazd". Located in the heart of Iran between the Kavir and Lut deserts, Yazd has been known for its silks and other fabrics since before Marco Polo passed through. It is also home to Iran's second-largest population of Zoroastrians.

Nearby we wil visit visit Saryazd Citadel, a mud fortress unique in its architecture and materials. The site is enjoying a revitalization under Uesco which is seeing this much neglected monument returned to its some of its former glory.

Overnight in Yazd.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Yazd: City Tour
Today we tour Yazd. The architecture here is perhaps the most traditionally Persian to be found, preserved by the dry climate and spared the devastations of the Mongols. The tiled portal of the Friday Mosque, crowned by twin minarets, is the tallest in the country. Like many early mosques it was constructed on the site of a Sassanid fire temple. Yazd's Friday Mosque was built over a forty year period form 1324 to 1365 and is probably the best preserved 14th century mosque in Iran. The portals facade is decorated from top to bottom with dazzling tile work, predominately blue in colour.

The view from the dome shows the sun-baked roofs and wind towers of the city. These wind towers are seen all over Iran but are most highly developed in Yazd. Our visit to one of these towers will show us how the slatted towers capture the slightest desert breeze, drawing it down to the lower level where it is cooled by passing over water and circulated through the house. Enormous domes starting at ground level would act as protective roofs for deep water-tanks built
6m (20 ft) below street level. People would access these tanks by steep staircases.

Overnight in Yazd.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Yazd - Nain - Isfahan
Today we travel to Isfahan with a stop in the picturesque town of Nain en route. Here one can see the characteristic clay buildings and one of the oldest mosques in Iran with remains from the 10th century.

We continue to Isfahan, perhaps the most beautiful of all Iranian cities. After consolidating his control, Shah Abbas I initiated one of the world's grandest experiments in city planning, moving the capital from Qazvin to Isfahan in 1598 where it remained until 1722. Mosques, palaces, bazaars and public parks were built under the monarch's personal supervision over the next thirty years.

Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Isfahan: City Tour
We start the day by visiting the Armenian Vank Cathedral and the Armenian Museum complex. The exterior of the church may appear drab, but the interior is richly decorated and shows a mixture of styles -- Islamic, Persian and Christian European.

In the early afternoon we visit the Friday Mosque. In its vaulted ceilings and lofty domes, the complex displays more than 800 years of Persian religious architecture, from the 11th to the 18th centuries, and it is truly one of the world's greatest mosques. It is built using a traditional plan with four ivans or vaulted halls placed on the axes of a central courtyard. The northwestern ivan was originally constructed during the Seljuk period in about 1121 although its vibrant surface decoration dates from the reign of Shah Soltan Hosayn. Also in the mosque you can see the Mongol influence on Persian architecture, (Chinghis Khan's son, Olgedi, lived here as a Shah) and also the Timurid style. From here we drive to the Palace of Forty Columns, a charming pavilion used to receive dignitaries and ambassadors. Here the walls and paintings are covered with frescos and paintings and the superb wooden roof of the porch is painted with a series of geometrical decorations interspersed with flowers. The roof was waterproofed by covering the roof with a fresh layer of beaten eggs every year, the weight of which has caused many to collapse.

Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Isfahan: Maydan-e Shah
Today we visit the central focus of this fascinating city: the immense Maydan-e Shah, or Royal Square. The square is actually a huge rectangle measuring 502 m (1,674 ft) by 162 m (540 feet) and it is enclosed by double-storied arcades. Four jewels of 17th century architecture adorn each side of the square, symbolizing the political, economic and religious spheres of Safavid Persia. On the north side is the entrance to the Royal Qaysariyyeh Bazaar, on the east is the Lotfallah Mosque. This mosque was constructed between 1603 and 1617 and served as a private chapel for the Imperial family. The domed ceiling has the finest faience tilework of 17th century Persia. The inscriptions were executed by Ali Reda Abbasi, the greatest calligrapher of the Safavid period. On the west is the Ali Qapu Palace and on the southern side, the towering portal of the Shah Mosque, a monument to the grand vision of Shah Abbas the Great who died shortly before its completion.

During our stay in Isfahan we will also pay a sunset visit to the Safavid Bridges on the Zayandeh Rud River followed by tea in a traditional tearoom.

Overnight in Isfahan.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Isfahan - Abyaneh - Tehran
Today we drive to Tehran. En route we stop at Abyaneh, an ancient village that is a living architectural and anthropological museum. It affords an impressive exponent of the adaptation of human kind to the environment. Set on the slope of the lofty mountain of Karkas, this village has a cold climate and enjoys numerous springs creating favourable conditions for agriculture. Considering the evidence found in Abyaneh, it dates back to antiquity but its golden age was during the Safavid period. The word Abyaneh has been derived from the word "viona" meaning willow grove. Although the village itself is situated on high ground, there are three castles that protected the people when the enemy attacked.

We continue to Tehran and visit the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Overnight in Tehran.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Tehran: Glass and Ceramic Museum & Reza Abbasi Museum
Our culminating tour of Tehran begins with the impressive Glass and Ceramic Museum and continues to the world-renowned Carpet Museum, which houses a spectacular collection of Iranian hand woven carpets. Our next museum is the Reza Abbasi Museum that displays artifacts that belong to a period from the 2nd millennium BC to the early 20th century, the end of Qajar period.* The day ends with a special Iranian farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

* NOTE: The day of the week upon which this day falls can vary. In the event that this day falls on a Monday when some museums are closed, we may substitute the Jewel Museum and the Gorestan Palace which, at the time of writing this itinerary, remain open on Mondays.

Overnight in Tehran.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Departure
Departure from Tehran.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Ferdowsi Grand Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Tehran
Country: Iran

Ferdossi Grand Hotel is located near to the famous Bazaar in the center of Tehran. The Hotel has 185 rooms
... singles and doubles all equipped with refrigerators, carpets, radios, TV, air conditioning, direct long distance telephone.

Read More.

Chamran Grand Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Shiraz
Country: Iran

Chamran Grand Hotel of Shiraz is a five star hotel located in Chamran Boulevard surrounded by the Ghasrodasht gardens in
... Iran. The structure has a height of 109 meters, and is the highest hotel tower in Iran.
Read More.

Moshir al Mamalek Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Yazd
Country: Iran

This exquisite hotel is sited an one of the marginal streets to be easily accessible for arriving passengers. Enjoy the
... landscape of the garden, fountains, flowing fountain and Iranian architecture. Private bath, direct dial phone, TV, minibar, and air-conditioning.

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Aseman Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Isfahan
Country: Iran

Aseman hotel is a 4 Star hotel with a special position in the beautiful and historic city of Esfahan at
... edge of the river, 100 Rooms, This hotel has a beautiful revolving Restaurant over the hotel, the benefits to this is also the touristic sights and places that are around it such as, Sio-She Bridge, Hasht Behesht Palace, Niayasar Cave and many more.
Read More.

Trip Information

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Breakfast and dinner (at local restaurants and hotels) are included daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers.


Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international (if applicable) air taxes, visas, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, visas and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

We visit Iran in spring and autumn when the temperature should not fall below 10C (50 F) at night and climb to between 20 and 35C (69 - 90 F) during the day. We should have sunny weather most of the time, but showers are possible.

Transport and Travel Conditions

PLEASE NOTE: You will likely have to be without your passport for up to 4 weeks prior to departure due to visa application procedures. You will likely receive your passports back just prior to departure. All travellers must arrive on the tour start date (no early arrivals / late departures). Due to visa regulations, all travellers must arrive on the same day.

Ground transport will be via bus, 24-30 seater, with air-conditioning. Air connections provided by scheduled local carries. The tour is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some long days and some heat. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces. Porters are available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage at airports.


Hotels are comfortable, well-located, air-conditioned, 3&4-star properties with en suite bath / toilet (except the caravanserai which has shared facilities). Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. In more remote locations hotels are of a simpler standard. Porters are generally available (see 'Inclusions').

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, national guide, local driver/s.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader & guide)