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Tehran

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Tehran is a metropolis of 14 million situated at the foot of the towering Alborz range.

Tehran (also spelled Teheran) (Persian: تهران), is the capital city of Iran. A bustling metropolis of 14 million people, it is situated at the foot of the towering Alborz mountain range.

Understand

One of the best views of Tehran is from Modarres Highway
Tajrish traditional Market

Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.

The city can be roughly divided into two different parts - north and south. The northern districts of Tehran are more prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan and expensive while southern parts is less attractive but cheaper.

At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a little town that was significant from a strategic point of view. The first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named Tehran as the country's capital in 1778, and most of its growth started during the reign of a subsequent Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The castle which Agha Mohammed Khan had built was to contain the new majestic buildings.

At the same time, the city's populace was redoubled. Due to the increasing significance of the city, gates, squares and mosques were built and it was at the time of Nassereddin Shah that the city's master sketch was prepared and modern streets were constructed. Later, huge central squares like Toopkhaneh square (now Imam Khomeini) and quite a few military buildings were built. Even though the Qajar dynasty was in a period of decline, Tehran soon took the shape of a modern city. The structure of large government buildings, new streets, recreation centres, urban service organizations, and academic and methodical centres were started, even as most of the old gates and buildings were destroyed and the city's old architectural fabric replaced by a contemporary one.

Tehran has also earned itself the rather unenviable reputation as a smog-filled, traffic-clogged and featureless sprawl of concrete bursting at the seams with 14 million residents. But you can also find an endless number of nice and cosy places in and around the city - if you know where to look. Tehran is also a city of parks and possesses more than 800 of them, all well-kept. The city is nearly a mile high above sea level and as a result is cooler than other cities in the middle east. Summer temperatures are around 32°C or about 90-95°F. The air tends to be very dry.

A combination of factors make Tehran a pleasant place to visit: The dry climate which is constantly cool (at least in the evenings), the proximity of the mountains, the parks and gardens where flowers blossom all through the year, the alleys of trees in the avenues or even smaller streets, and even the water that runs down from the upper city along deep and wide gutters which look like small rivers during spring. The Alborz range on the north of Tehran, which hosts the highest peak in Iran, provides fantastic conditions for ski lovers in the winter. In winter, the mountain hotels and ski-clubs at Shemshak, and Dizine are full several days a week. Some specialist skiers consider the snow value in northern Tehran to be one of the most excellent in the world.

Get in

By plane

Travel Warning
Visa Restrictions:

Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and travellers with any evidence of visiting Israel: not just Israeli entry stamps, but Egyptian/Jordanian neighbouring land borders with Israel. So, if you wish to visit Iran you should renew your passport.


There are no direct flights from North America or Australia, but there are flights direct from numerous European, African and Asian cities as well as cities in the Middle East. Iran Air [1], the national carrier of Iran, flies to many destinations such as London (Heathrow), Amsterdam, Vienna, Istanbul and Tokyo. You can also fly direct from London (Heathrow) with BMI (previously known as British Midland). Alternatively, you can enter via Dubai and then take Emirates [2] or Air Arabia [3] to Tehran. Tehran's Mehrabad airport (IATA: THR ICAO: OIII) [4] is the old pre-revolution airport and has been partially replaced with the new Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA: IKA ICAO: OIIE) [5]. Recently all International flights are designated to Imam Khomeini and Mehrabad is only used for regional and cargo flights. The old airport is located relatively close to the city centre and the abundant taxis available are definitely the best way to get into Tehran. There is a booth organizing taxis for you right outside the arrivals hall.

Imam Khomeini Airport is a significant improvement over Mehrabad and it is still only in International use. Be warned that it can take up to an hour and a half to get to the airport in bad traffic but if you book your departure early in the morning it can be much faster. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. A taxi to any destination in Tehran costs from 200,000 Rials for a local Samand car, or a few dollars more for Toyota Camry. You can also bargain with taxis who take passengers from Tehran to the Imam Khomeini airport because they usually have to go back to Tehran empty. You may be able to hire one to get to Tehran destinations such as Azadi square or the Metro Station for 20,000-30,000 rials. Bus services have recently been added from Mehrabad Terminal 5, and Behesh-e-Zahra (Haram-e-Motahhar) Metro Station to Imam Khomeini Airport. You may have to ask a few people about the service as it is relatively new and not well known yet.

Despite the warnings in some travel guides, there is no exit fee for foreign travelers, neither in Mehrabad nor in Imam Khomeini Airport. The exit fee applies to foreign travellers only when leaving Iran on land or by sea.

By train

Tehran has rail connections to other cities in Iran and neighboring countries. If traveling within Iran, train tickets should be bought outside the station, in travel agencies or through internet from Raja passenger train company [6] that is the passenger daughter company of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) [7].

  • There is a three-day train service departing from Istanbul to Tehran every Wednesday at 11.55PM, costing 96.20 Turkish lira (August 2010). You change trains on Friday at Lake Van which requires a four hour ferry ride to get across. Both the Turkish and Iranian trains are comfortable and clean. Waggon restaurants are rather cheap. Arrival on Saturday at 6.45PM (but expect up to 10 hours delay…).
  • Several trains a day from Mashhad, including night trains.

By car

Traffic is very congested but has improved with the completion of several new tunnels and highways (referred to as Bozorgrah or Otoban in Persian language) across the city. You can drive in from Turkey fairly easily as well as from the Southern parts of Iran. Driving is often dangerous and seat belts should be worn at all times.

By bus

Almost every city and far-flung village in Iran has bus services to Tehran, as evidenced by the hundreds of buses that pour in and out of the capital each day. Most buses arrive to, or depart from one of four major bus terminals:

  • The Western bus terminal (Terminal-e-gharb) is the biggest, busiest and best equipped of Tehran's terminals. Most international buses, as well as those heading to the Caspian Sea region and destinations west of Tehran originate and terminate here. The terminal is a ten minute walk north-west from Azadi Square, and a few minutes walk west from the Tehran (Sadaghieh) metro station.
  • The Eastern bus terminal (Terminal-e-shargh), seven km north-west of Emam Hossein square, handles buses to/from Khorasan province, as well a small number of services to the north.
  • The Southern bus terminal (Terminal-e-jonoob) is well equipped and handles buses head to and from destinations south of Tehran. It is 2 km east of Tehran's main train station and easily accessible via the dedicated Terminal-e-Jonoob metro stop.
  • The Beihaghi bus terminal (Terminal-e-beihaghi) is located beside Arzhantin Square, around 1.5 km south-west of the Mossallah metro stop. (Frequent shared taxis to/from the metro should be no more than 3,000 rials). The station has services to /from most major destinations in Iran including Mashhad, Esfahan, Rasht, Shiraz, Tabriz and Yazd.

Get around

Congested midday traffic in front of Tehran's iconic Azadi (Freedom) Monument.

Getting around traffic-clogged, sprawling Tehran is a true test of patience. While taxis are your best bet, they are pricier here than the rest of the country. A large local bus network will also take you almost anywhere you need to go, as long you can make sense of the routes and Persian line numbers. The true star of Tehran's transport system however, is the brand new metro.

By bus

Tehran has an expansive but confusing bus network. Some require prepaid contactless card (min 5000 rials), which can be bought from booths beside the bus stops and Metro Stations used when you get off the bus, and some should be paid by cash (ranging from 1,000-4,000 rials). Note that the buses are partitioned in two sections, men-only (the front section) and women-only(the back section).

Note that in the BRT lines, the women-only section is at the front. Also, the fee is paid on the station, using the prepaid contactless card (shared with Metro), or paying to the guard.

Since bus numbers, route descriptions and other information is in Persian, your best bet is to look confused at a bus terminal; a local will surely stop to help. Each bus line has a certain and almost invariable path but only people know exactly which bus stations exist for a certain road. You shouldn't expect a map or guides even in Persian showing the bus network or bus stations. Even asking the bus driver wouldn't be a great help for you to find your way either. If you get in a bus and looking for a certain station to alight, ask one to help you - you will find many people wish to help you to find your way, most of the time.

BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation)

The BRT buses are colored in red. BRTs has special lines and travels very quickly from Azadi square (west of Tehran) directly to the East (Terminal-e-Shargh). Railway square (South of Tehran) directly to the North (Tajrish square). Azadi square to free university(northwest). Azadi square to south Terminal and parkway bridge(north of tehran) to jomhuri square. Costs between 1,000-3,000 rials. In high-traffic hours (7AM-9AM & 4PM-8PM) it is the best way to traveling . BRT has too many stations near main streets. Although you may not find an empty seat on the bus because of the crowds, people give their place to you if they know you are a tourist. The women's and men's seats and queues are separate.

By metro

Tehran Metro

Tehran's new metro system [8] is comprised of three lines that will whisk you quickly from one end of the city to the other without having to deal with the noise, pollution and chaos of Tehrani traffic. However, many residents decided to leave their cars and commute by metro, so expect huge crowds during rush hours.

There are four lines available (numbered strangely 1, 2, 4 and 5)(line 3 is still being constructed) but the two most useful are lines 1 (north to south- from northern most Tajrish Station to Kahrizak Station) and 2 (east to west) which connect at the central Imam Khomeini station. All stations have signs in both Persian and English. Trains run every 10 minutes or less on rush hours (15 minutes on Fridays and holidays) from around 5:30AM-11PM every day. line4(yellow line) recently extended eastward to Kolaahduz station and westward to Eram-e-sabz Station. It's really crowd since it is connecting some of most important points like University of Tehran in Enqelab Sq. and an interconnection to line5 (green); line5 is going to Karaj, which is a 3 million population suburb! line3 (light blue) is constructed and under the test and would start to work from Azadegan to Beheshti before march 2014.


Tickets are valid for 1 or 2 trips (including change of lines) and cost 3,500 or 5,500 rials respectively. There are ticket booths at every station. You can also buy a contactless fare card which is the best option if you are going to use metro a lot, or simply want to have less hassle by paying 30,000 rials for a card and use it on both metro and most of city buses (note that if you use this card, you usually pay less than any other tickets, since they charge for the longest trip on the network), to charge minimum cost in metro with this chargeable tickets you should use the card in exit station. There are three dedicated women-only carriages at two end of the train, one and half in each side. Women can anyway choose to travel aboard the other carriages.

By taxi

As with the rest of the country private and shared taxis are abound in Tehran, although you may find flagging down a shared taxi more difficult amid the traffic and chaos, while private taxis are more expensive than in the smaller cities. See the Get Around information on Iran for details on flagging a taxi. If you want to get around by shared taxi, your best bet is to hop from square to square, as drivers will be reluctant to pick you up if your shouted destination deviates too far from their route. In each square you will find certain places where the private taxis are lined up in a queue and drivers call for passengers to a destination. (mostly happening during the times when the number of waiting taxis exceeds the number of passengers). In this case, they would wait until the car gets full of passengers (mostly one people at front and 3 people at back, excluding the driver). Otherwise the people have to line up in a queue waiting for the taxis to come. This is the case during rush hours (approximately 7AM-8AM and 5PM-8PM). All these depend upon finding their regular station in the square. You can also ask them to alight sooner than your destination wherever you like but you have to pay their total fee up to destination. The cost of such a ride from Azadi square to Vanak Square is around 10,000 rails (1000 Tomans) for each person. Most drivers are very poor at English though.

Motorcycle taxis are a Tehran specialty and offer a way to weave quickly through the city's traffic-clogged streets. You'll see plenty of these drivers standing at the side of the road calling "motor" at all who pass by. Keep in mind motor taxi operators can seem even more suicidal than the average Tehran driver when driving. Agree on a price before you take off and expect to pay slightly less than chartering a private taxi.

Airport taxis can be difficult to find and even the most expensive hotels provide poor quality vehicles. Airport Seiro Safar Co. has a fleet of yellow-greenish cars (Toyota Camry, Samand) which are both new and comfortable. You can call or email them in advance of your trip to/from the airport and reduce the discomfort and inconvenience that the long trek out to the airport can cause. The fee is the same for any source/destination in Tehran to/from Imam Khoemini Aiport varies from 250,000-400,000 rials depending on the car; Samand the least expensive and Camry the most expensive). In order to prevent any request for more than the official fee, tell the driver that you need a receipt before getting on the car.

See

Azadi tower
  • The Azadi Tower has been the longstanding symbol of Tehran. It was constructed to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire, combines elements of Sassanid and Islamic architecture. The entrance of the tower is directly underneath the main vault and leads into the Azadi Museum on the basement floor.
  • If you want to drool over gold and glitter, take a look at the Treasury of the National Jewels (Ferdosi St, near the corner of Jomhuriyeh Eslami Ave; Metro: Saadi; look for the heavy iron gate and rifle-wielding guards beside the Central Bank). Open Sa, Su, M, Tu 2PM-4:30PM. For the 50,000 rials admission fee you'll get to see a collection of some of the most expensive jewels in the world. Highlights include the world's largest uncut ruby, the world's largest pink diamond (the Sea of Light) and a free standing golden globe made from 34 kilograms of gold and an astounding 51,366 precious stones. An informative 6,000 rials information book is available at the ticket counter, though free tours are given in English.
  • The National Museum of Iran [9] has ceramics, stone figures and carvings dating all the way back to around the 5th millennium BC. It is the combination of two museums, the old building dedicated pre-Islamic collection dating from Neolithic all the way to the Sassanid period and the new building dedicated to Iran's 1,400-year Islamic history.
  • The gigantic Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini (Metro: Haram-e-Motahar) is on the southern edge of the city. The sheer size of the shrine/shopping centre is enough to make the trip worth it. Entrance to the actual mausoleum is free.
  • Milad Tower, [10]. Milad tower is the fourth tallest tower in the world and 12th tallest freestanding structure in the world, and it is visible from almost everywhere in Tehran. Note that tickets to enter the observation lounge must be reserved well in advance. to have a meal in a rotating restaurant, 390 meters above earth, you should expect to pay around 200$ per person
  • Jamshidieh Park which is in the Niavaran district at the base of the Kolakchal Mountain, is one of the most picturesque and beautiful parks in Tehran. Mellat Park in Valiasr street is one of the largest recreation areas in the Middle-East. Niavaran Park is one of Tehran's famous and most pleasant public city parks. It is located within the Niavaran district and is situated immediately south of the Niavaran Palace Complex. Additionally there are some large parks called "park-e-jangali" (literally "forest park") around (and some inside) the city which are very popular among the locals for picnic. The most famous one is Chitgar in the west of the city and is accessible via Karaj road.

Museums

Golestan Palace

Tehran has more than 50 museum and 100 art galleries, you can find them in most of Tehran travel guides like Lonely Planet or maps that solds in metro by handy solders in price of 20,000 rials (Less than a dollar)

  • Golestan Palace, [11], the oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran. The Complex consists of 17 palaces, museums, and Halls.

The Golestan (Rose Garden) citadel is one of mainly visited places in Tehran, which was the Qajars' royal residence, and its garden is an oasis of coolness and peace in the heart of the city. The major building, architecturally unpretentious, houses a museum with objects from the Qajar period in the self-important style of last century. In the Golestan garden, a one-story pavilion to the right and a short distance from the entrance, shelters one of the best organized museums in Tehran. It encloses about thirty showcases presenting almost everything related to Iran, which makes up the critical originality of Iranian life in the a variety of provinces of the country.

  • Niavaran Palace,is a historical complex which consists of several buildings and a museum. The Sahebqraniyeh Palace, from the time of Naser al-Din Shah of Qajar dynasty, is also located inside the complex.[12]
  • Kolahstudio-an Art Basement, [13]
  • Safir Office Machines Museum,It was founded in 2008 by Frashad Kamalkhani, the museum owner. It includes a collection of early office machines. [14]
  • Crown Jewels of Iran, located in Central Bank of Iran. The crown jewels are the largest collection of jewels anywhere in the world. include several elaborate crowns and decorative thrones, tiaras as well as several other more unusual items such as a gemstone globe collected by the Iranian monarchy during its 2,500-year existence.
  • Sa'd Abad Gallery of Fine Arts, [15]
  • Glassware Museum of Tehran, [16]
  • Iran's National Rug Gallery,exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran, dating from 18th century to present. It has a library that contains 7,000 books [17]
  • Reza Abbasi Museum , is named after Reza Abbasi, one of the artists in the Safavid period. The collections of this museum belong to a period from the 2nd millennium BC to the early 20th century. [18]
  • Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art,features the works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The collection of these paintings were selected by the former Empress Farah Diba. [19]
  • Tehran Theater of the Performing Arts (Te'atr e Shahr)
  • Talar Vahdat Theater
  • National Museum of Iran, [20]
  • Darabad Museum of Natural History, Iran's most famous museum for nature and wildlife
  • Saadabad Palace,is a palace built by the Pahlavi dynasty of Iran in the Shemiran area of Tehran.The complex was first inhabited by Qajar monarchs and royal family in the 19th century.Currently, parts of the Saadabad Palace compound are museums, in which visitors can roam through and look at the rich history of Iran. [21](Persian site).
  • Time Museum, Evolution of time-measurement instruments. Located in Farmaniye district, north of Tehran
  • Money Museum, Coins and banknotes from different historic periods. Located in Mirdamad street.
  • National Arts Museum, Located in Baharestan district.
  • Ebrat Museum, The prison of Shah ages.

A1one (aka Alonewriter, tanha) graffitis and street art works are a sort of interesting stuff in Tehran's Urban Space. A famous local graffiti artist is currently at the centre of controversy about whether his work is art or vandalism, and you can see his early works on the Tehran-Karaj Expressway, on the southern side walls UP in Ekbatan and Apadana districts. A more recent work of stencil art is located at the entrance of the Saba Art Institute.

Do

  • Tochal Sport and Recreational Complex (تله‌کابین توچال), end of Velenjak St (take the Metro line 1 to Gheytarieh, then any bus or taxi to Tajrish Square (about 5 minutes). Ask the driver to let you off at Meidan Tajrish. If you visit on a holiday when Tehranis flock to the mountain, you should be able to jump in a shared taxi to the telecabin entry gate for 4,000 rials. Otherwise charter one privately from Tajrish Square), +98 21 22404001-4, [22]. A recreation area on Mount Tochal that offers hiking trails, a ski resort, gym and other activities. It's also a great place to get some scenic views over Tehran and enjoy a little peace and quiet in contrast to the bustling city. Normal means to the top is via the Tochal gondola lift. However, if you're energetic (or strapped for money), you can simply hike all the way up. You can also start walking and hop on one of the telecabins at the next station when you get tired. If going to the top, bring a jacket, even in summer, as the summit is 4,000 m above sea level so it can be chilly. Tickets range from 10,000-50,000 rials depending on how far up the mountain you want to go. From the entry gate a minibus service (1,500 rials) can take you to the base station.
  • The Darband chair lift is an alternative to the one at Tochal. Taxis to Darband go from Tajrish Square.
  • Darake is another entry point into nearby mountains. Like Darband, Darake hiking trail begins with tens of open-air restaurants alongside a stream. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi or minibus from Tajrish Square.
  • Wander around Tehran's massive bazaar (بازار) in the city's south (Metro: Panzdah-e-khordad). The main entrance on 15 Khordad Ave leads to a labyrinth of stalls and shops that were once the engine room of Iran's commodity markets and one of Imam Khomeini's greatest sources of conservative, pro-Revolution support. As usual, shops are clustered according to the products they sell. If you're planning on heading out into remote areas, the bazaar is an ideal and cheap place to stock up on almost anything you need.

Learn

University of Tehran Entrance gate
  • AmirKabir University of Technology, [23]
  • K.N.Toosi University of Technology, [24]
  • Iran University of Science and Technology[25]
  • Shahid Beheshti University[26]
  • Sharif University of Technology, [27]
  • University of Tehran,[28]
  • University of Social welfare & Rehabilitation Sciences [29]
  • University of Allameh TabaTabaei, [30]
  • University of Art, [31]
  • Power & Water University of Technology, [32]
  • Islamic Azad University,Science and Research Branch, [33]
  • Alzahra University, [34]
  • Imam Sadiq University, [35]
  • Tarbiat Modares University, [36]
  • Iran University of Medical Sciences
  • Tehran University of Medical Sciences, [37]
  • Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences & Health Services, [38]
  • Loghatnameh Dehkhoda Institute & International Center for Persian Studies [39] is the only school which offers Persian courses and can arrange student visas for foreigners. Consult the timetable at their website and apply at least 3 months before. People with tourist visas are not allowed to attend classes.

It is easy to find work in Tehran, but you must have a university diploma to be applicable for good jobs. Although there is some inflation, many of the people in Tehran have good and well paying jobs. Like every other big developing world city, there's a big difference between poor and rich.

Money

For information on Iranian currency go to the country page.

You can exchange your currency in most banks for a small commission after filling out between two and five forms. But generally the exchanged rate in banks which is defined by the government is much less than the rate used in exchange offices, it is much advisable to go to one of these offices which could be mostly (but not only) on Ferdosi St that begins from Imam Khomeini Square. All will give you a good rate but some might give slightly less than the official rate or claim a commission. Just say no and go to the next one. It is advised to check the exchange rate on the internet.

Do not exchange your money with one of the many individuals offering to exchange along Ferdosi St. It is a lot more risky and illegal.

Buy

Those looking to stock up on computer software (copied, but legal thanks to Iran's refusal to sign up to the Bern Convention) can start looking at the computer bazaar on the corner of Vali-e-Asr Ave and Enghelab Ave., Bazar-e-Reza, or Bazar-e-Iran. Just remember that importing these CDs into any country that is a signatory to the Convention may be a criminal offence.

You can also try "Paytakht Computer Complex" at intersection of Vali-e-Asr and Mirdamad, a 7-story modern complex filled with computer equipments but also latest pirated copies of every software imaginable. The prices at "bazaar reza" (at charrah-e-vali-asr) are usually less. In both these malls you also may find individual hardware parts. You may find some famous hardware brands really cheap but you should be careful not to buy the fake one. It is hard to distinguish the original one. Sometimes even the fake one would work quite well comparing to its cheap price.

To save even more money you can buy one of those software packages . For example you can buy "King of the Programs" with about 70,000 rials . This is a 5 or 6 CD package of compressed programs which contains almost any well-known software you can imagine .

Jewellery & Gold boutiques located in Geisha, Milade Noor, Karim Khaan St. Golds, gems, and diamonds. To buy very good gold jewellery may costs around 3,000,000 toman minimum, equivalent to $1,400-1,500.

Designers bags and shoes such as Gucci, Versace,Dior, Armani in Golestan shopping centre & Milade noor.

Visit the Bazar, very appropriate for shopping. It ranges from cheap things to very expensive luxury things. You can find almost anything in Bazar, from clothing to carpets, kitchen accessories, decoratings, jewellery.... When in the Bazar, don't miss out the 'Sharafol-eslam' restaurant located in the Bazar. It is very famous for its kebabs and chickens, excellent food, excellent quality, you'll never have enough. It gets really crowded though, which requires some patience.

There are also numerous shopping malls in the city. Valiasr Street and Tajrish Square (also includes a traditional bazaar) are two of the many locations full of shopping centres in Tehran.

Eat

Budget

  • Some of the best of Iran's ubiquitous falafels are to be found sizzling away in stalls on 15 Khordad Ave, across the road from the bazaar. The cost greatly depends upon lots of aspects but there you should expect like 10,000-25,000 rials (1,000-2,500 tomans = aprox: US$ 0.5-1.25) for such a budget type meal.
  • The Iranian Traditional Restaurant (Agha Bozorg) on 28 Keshavarz Blvd offers great and cheap dizi (5,500 tomans). Afterwards there is the option to sit back with a flavored Qalyan water pipe and people-watch the Iranians who gather in this place.
  • Dizi Sara, Jordan Blvd. If you want good Abgosht (meat stew) here you must spend around 13,000 toman (US$6). This place is a hangout of the rich and famous.
  • You'll find cheap & good enough abgoosht stew in any of the places they call ghahvekhuneh (قهوه‌خانه) which you can find in any non-strictly-residential area. Just ask for a ghahvekhuneh or get this قهوه‌خانه printed and show it. Nice traditional working class ambience as a rule.
  • You can find several food courts around Tehran with a variety of cuisines from Thailand, India, Italy, China and Turkey.
  • Jaam-e-Jam food court. Has western import products in several stores underneath. There is also a decent bakery here with western type bread.
  • SFC, the Iranian version of KFC. Serves very good chicken burgers.
  • Delsin Sandwiches, Jordan Blvd, in Golfam St. Kabab and sandwich joints are found everywhere. This one has sandwiches priced between US$2-4, interesting salad, and humus (lebanese mezeh). They have roast beef, chicken, turkey sandwiches that comes with fresh vegetables, like mint and basil.

Mid-range

  • Armenian Club, 68 Khark St, corner France Ave. For a somewhat exhilarating experience. As it is a Christian establishment, there are many women there who have removed their hijab.
  • Khayam Restaurant, (a few metres from Khayam Metro Station). It is the one on the street right opposite to the Mosque. A no-limits evening of a chef kabab with rice and drink - and qalyan pipe, tea and sweets for dessert will set you back around 120,000 rials in total.
  • Coffee Shop & Veggie Restaurant at Iranian Artists' Forum, Baghe Honarmandan, Moosavie Str, Taleghani Ave. (just behind the Den of Espionage (former US Embassy)inside the Iranian Artists' Forum building), +98 21 88310462. Fantastic place to stock up on those much needed vegetables. The menu is pure veg and very, very good. Also, great coffees and desserts at very reasonable prices.
  • There are two restaurants at Artists Forum, the vegetarian one is reached from inside the building (turn right as you go in) and has a terrace overlooking the park.
  • Naveed. A new Kabob restaurant that offers excellent food comparable to Alborz but at lower prices. The atmosphere is very European looking and feeling but not as high end as Alborz.
  • Bahar Confectionary. The oldest Confectionary of Iran founded 1938. Best Known for traditional Paderazi and Shekari cookies. Quality is garanteed. Diverse range of cookies and pastries are available.

Sarcheshmeh Crossroad. Beside Keshavarzi Bank.

Splurge

  • Alborz Restaurant, Nikoo Ghadam Alley, (North Sohrevardi Avenue). Many locals regard this as a fairly good chelo kababi in Tehran. There are also many western style restaurants around the city with interesting food.
  • Monsoon. (Gandhi Shopping centre). A trendy Asian restaurant serving good Thai curries and decent sushi..
  • Boulevard, Cool and modern place on a small street heading east of Valiasr Avenue between Vanaq Square and Park-e Mellat serves very good French and Italian food.
  • 'Nayeb', (Tajrish: North of Tehran). A prestigeous restaurant costing around 30,000 tomans per person. It is very chic and offers excellent services to its customers.
  • Dashte-Behesht, is a traditional restuarant located in Saadat-Abad. It's very high class, the menu consists of different Kebabs and stews. There is always live music to make the atmosphere more enjoyable.
  • Barbod in Vanak
  • S.P.U in Darake
  • AAli Ghaapoo in Gaandi'

Drink

For all you coffee-starved travellers through Iran (or the soon to be coffee-starved if Tehran is your first port of call in the country) you'll be glad to find the string of coffee shops on the south side of Jomhuriyeh Eslami Ave, a couple of hundred metres west of Ferdosi St. You can stock up on coffee beans and related paraphernalia, or even sample a cup for 4,000 rials. There is also a well-known, but small coffee shop called Hot Chocolate - they stock cigars and a number of European cigarettes as well. This coffee shop is on occasion, a meeting place for some of Iran's sporting elite.

A few doors west of these shops is a delightful coffee shop next to Hotel Naderi. They serve coffee, tea and pastries to a mix of Tehran's intelligentsia and bohemian elite. It's a great place to sit and watch hip young guys eyeing gossiping girls while old men reminisce about the "good ol' days" under the Shah.

Coffee shops (called "coffeeshop" in Persian, versus "ghaveh-khane" (literally, coffee house) which instead means a tea house) have become especially popular in the affluent North, so if need, a visit to the White Tower (Borj-e Sefid) along Pasdaran Ave, or any other mall in the area should suffice. These coffee shops can also be very appealing to tourists interested in watching how young, affluent locals deviously bend the government regulations on contact between the sexes. Definitely worth a visit if in the area- try "White Rose" in the White Tower.

  • Sanaee Coffee Shop, Sanaee St, 13th Street. Definitely worth it for their absolutely fabulous chocolate milkshakes. Try the 'Icepack' chain with their huge sortiment of milk- and ice-shakes. Popular with the Iranian youth.
  • Many places you can find fresh sickly-sweet carrot juice - as well as some other juices - for just 1000 tomans a cup.
  • By most main bazaar in Tehran you can get a drink of blended honeydew melon with ice and sugar. Its delicious and extremely refreshing on a hot day.
Doogh is a great drink that serves cold
  • The quintessential Persian drink is a Doogh. Its is a mixture of yoghurt, water, salt and spices. It can be purchased at almost any establishment and is often consumed in the afternoon while eating kababs. It comes in two main varieties fizzy (gaz-daar) and non-fizzy (bigaz). Typically the flavour has a slightly subtle mint flavour and is a good accompaniment to most foods.
  • Gandhi Shopping centre. For trendy cafes filled with liberal Iranians. You will find about ten coffeshops as well as a few very good restaurants, including Monsoon.
  • Entracte Cafe, (upstairs in a cinema on Jomhuri Ave ,just west of Valiasr Avenue ). An atmospheric and bohemic cafe operated by actress Leila Hatami and her husband. Ask for the traditional Iranian tea which is amazing. They serve a fantastic brunch between 11AM-2PM on Fridays and it includes sausages, bread and brie. Damaged by fire but possibly re-opened.
  • Gramophone Cafe, Charrahe Vali-e Asr (Vali-e Asr St. - In front of Theatre building). If you want talk to your friends, you can go to Gramophone coffee shop, listen to nice music, and have a nice coffee. Some of people who work there can speak English. Ask for Beiruz.
  • Chai bar (Anjoman Khoshnevisan), 145 North Salimi Blvd (Farmanieh), +98 21 22210310. located in a beautiful historic garden in Tehran. It is an ideal place to spend late afternoons/evenings. It offers great selection of teas and coffees as well as sandwiches.
  • Bahar Confectionary, Sarcheshme crossroad ,beside Keshavarzi Bank, Bahar confectionary, 02133505375, [40]. The oldest confectionary of Iran. Founded 1938. The best quality and traditional confection of Iran. Best known for Paderazi and Shekari cookies.


Sleep

Amir Kabir Street a grubby street filled with car-repair shops near Imam Khomeini square offers accommodation options for the budget-minded.

  • Firouzeh Hotel, Dolat Abadi Alley, Amir Kabir Street, 33113508 Cell: +98 9124361974 (), [41]. checkout: 2PM. Good hotel with very friendly receptionist, Mr Mousavi, is a good source for information, especially regarding embassies and visas. Great place for breakfast, tea and meeting other travellers. Internet and wifi available. Single room from 300,000 rials.
  • Hotel Khazar Sea, 12 Ohady Alley, Amir Kabir St, +98 21 33113860. Very friendly place and relaxed atmosphere around quiet courtyard Single room from: 140,000 rials.
  • Mashhad Hostel, 416 West Amir Kabir Ave, Amir Kabir St, (), [42]. One of the cheapest accommodation in Tehran. Nothing fancy and not exactly very nice but the obvious choice for those on a budget. Has a small kitchen with possibility to boil water and a dial up Internet connection. They do laundry for a reasonable price of 30,000 rials. Dorm beds for 70,000 rials, Single rooms 115,000 rials and Double Rooms for 160,000 rials.
  • Hotel Naderi, Jomhuri Ave.. One of the cheapest hotels outside the grubby Amir Kabir Street. Still in central Tehran but Jomhuri Ave. has more restaurants which Amir Kabir st. lacks. Hotel Naderi is an old famous hotel where writers and intellectuals still meet in the downstairs Cafe Naderi. Some bathrooms are very old and somewhat dirty but the beds are reasonably clean. 300,000 rials for a single.
  • Yas Hotel (Guesthouse), 458 Laleh Zarno St (before Manouchehri St), +98 21 33903796, +98 21 33902111. Good location off Jomhuri Ave. Clean room and shared bathrooms. Single from 200,000 rials.
  • Hotel Saadi, 375 Laleh Zarno St (get off Metro at Saadi Station. Walk down Jomhouri, it's very close from the metro, the intersection is Laleh Zar to the left and Laleh Zarno to the right. Go right and then the hotel is on right side of street about 200-300 m.), +98 21 33117653. Very new small hotel with free wifi for guests. 40,000 tomans (400,000 rials).
  • Yas Guesthouse, 458 Laleh Zarno St (See directions for Hotel Saadi - Yas is a little further along Laleh Zarno st but on the left side of the street), +98 21 33903796. Cheapest in a slightly better area than the other cheap places - really close to Saadi Metro. Nothing wrong with it: clean and simple budget accommodation without shower and toilet in the room. Sink and TV in rooms. 20,000 toman (200,000 rials).

Mid-range

Splurge

  • Espinas Persian Gulf Hotel, Keshavarz Blvd, [43]. 5 star.
  • Simorgh Hotel, Valiasr Street near Saei Park, [44]. 3-4 star standard. Cheapest rooms currently (2011) US$168 for single, US$205 for double. Nice location on cosmopolitan upmarket section of Valiasr St. Saei Park is almost next door and a beautiful green/concrete oasis in a deep valley. Hotel was once the Miami Hotel, and on the top floor is still the Miami Restaurant. Fairly good food - try the estrogen (sturgeon) fish kebabs, and the chicken cordon bleu. Good coffee in ground floor cafe. Rooms are comfortable and well equipped although rather dark. Business centre with fast internet and wifi in most rooms. Terrific indoor pool with separate bathing times for men and women. The hotel cars are in very poor condition, better to take a taxi from the street.
  • Homa Hotel, Vali-e-Asr Street. [45] 5 star hotel. Located in main street in Tehran.

Contact

Telephone

Check with your phone company if they have agreements with Iranian mobile operators.

One very good one is purchasing a regular telephone card for local calls and then the Pars Net international telephone card. It offers international calls to anywhere in the world at the comparatively cheap price of 1,500 rials/minute and with the regular phone card you can use it from any of the abundant public phones or the phone at your hotel. TMobile UK and all Turkish mobile operators has roaming in Iran.

Internet

Note: the internet is heavily censored, and most international newspapers and social networking sites are blocked in Tehran. For example you cannot access your facebook page or twitter unless you use an antifilter software. Yahoo Mail and Gmail should still be accessible within the country.

  • Ferdosi Coffee Net, Enghelab Ave, (a few doors east of Ferdosi Square) is hard to find (look for the small sign plastered to a building) has two banks of computers for 8,000 rials/hr.
  • Pars Net is one of south Tehran's hottest coffee nets, dishing up reasonable speed for 9,000 rials/hr. It is on the eastern side of Ferdosi St, between Jomhuiyeh Eslami Ave and Enghelab Ave, across from the British embassy. They also provide fax and long distance phone services.
  • Coffee net Firouzeh. In Tehran's south in the nice and very friendly Firouzeh Hotel. [46] They charge you 10,000 rials/hr.
  • Iranian Trade Centre around Valiasr Square offers several Internet cafes (coffee nets) lined up.

Stay safe

Tehran is still relatively one of the safest cities to travel through, particularly considering its size and security. Common sense and the usual precautions against pickpockets in bazaars and crowds should ensure your visit is hassle free.

Even late at the mid-night it is safe in most parts of the city while you will find the city still crowded. It is advisable not to take a private taxi for instance at 2AM.

The fake police that target Esfahan's tourists have also found their way to Tehran in recent years. These are usually uniformed men in unmarked cars flashing phoney IDs are requesting to see you passport or search your luggage. It goes without saying that you should just ignore such requests and head to the nearest police station if you feel unsafe. The trouble is that it can be a little hard for the untrained tourist eye to tell these from the real police.

The traffic in Tehran is very dangerous and should be considered some of the worlds worst. Try to cross the street when the locals do. At first it looks impossible but the drivers do a very good job to avoid pedestrians even though they drive crazy.

Gay and lesbian travellers should be extremely careful when travelling to Tehran due to strict and harsh regulations on homosexual activity. Iran justice has death penalty for homosexuals, even teenagers.

Exercising extreme caution in public is the key thing to remember, and in fact, it is mandatory to abstain from any kind of intimacy even for heterosexual couples, but it doesn't mean you cannot hold hands.

It is also recommended, even for westerners and non-Muslim women, to wear a head scarf or veil, on their head, when exiting their apartment or hotel rooms.

If you decide to smoke the qalyan (waterpipe), make sure that you are not smoking opium or other kinds of drugs if you don't intend to do it. Although drugs and alcohol are illegal in Iran, it is not impossible to obtain them, especially in Tehran. Since the Iranian government decided to ban the qalyan and cigarettes in public places, it is a bit difficult to find a decent place for smoking.

And if you really want to try the qalyan, you can expect to find this in dodgy places.

Cope

The traffic in Tehran is horrendous. To get a break from it head to the parks in the north of the city.

Embassies

  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 43 Esfandiar Av., Africa Express Way, +98 21 2205 0533, Emergencies:+98 91 2158 2533 (, fax: +98 21 2205 7431).
  • Flag of Serbia (state).png Embassy of the Republic of Serbia, 9th Street, nr. 9, Velenjak, +98 21 2241 2569 (fax: +98 21 2240 2869).
  • Embassy of Turkey, Ave. Ferdowsi, No: 314, +98 21 311 8997 (fax: +98 21 311 7928).
  • Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ferdowsi Ave., No 320-324, +98 21 3999 0000 (, fax: +98 21 3999 1890), [48].
  • Pk-flag.png Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Block # 1, Aitemadzadeh Street, West Doctor Fatemi Avenue, Tehran, +98 21 6694489 (, fax: +98 21 66944898), [49]. 0830 hours to 1600 hrs(Sat - Wed).
  • Chinese Embassy, No. 13 Narenjestan 7th Pasdaran Ave, +98 21 2229 1240 (, fax: +98 21 2229 1243), [50].

Get out

  • If the hustle and bustle of Tehran becomes too much, it's possible to go to the Caspian Sea for a day or two. The holiday town of Ramsar is about five hours away, and the drive across the Alborz Mountains is spectacular. A taxi round-trip for a day shouldn't set you back more than 500,000 rials (ask for taxis near Azadi Square).
  • Namakabrud Villa city and gondola lift in beautiful green coasts of Caspian Sea in the northern Iran is about 4.5 hours away.
  • Qom (The most religious city of Iran followed by Mahshhad) is about 2 hours away from Tehran by bus and one hour by car [120 km].
  • Na’in is the first Desert destination toward south. it's a small and quiet town at the edge of desert. A perfect pattern of a desert town. Everything you like to see in a desert town you can find there. to get there from Tehran, bus available in both of Terminale' Jonub (10am and 5pm) and Beihaghi terminal.


  • Two of Iran's biggest ski resorts are 1-2 hours north of Tehran in the Alborz Mountains.
  • Shemshak is the closest of the two and its steep slopes are considered more appropriate for expert skiers and boarders.
  • Dizin is the larger resort with more facilities and is considered better for beginners and intermediates. The resorts generate some rivalry amongst the locals, with some 'Shemshakis' looking upon those who ski in Dizin as 'kids in the park' and see Shemshak as the place for 'true skiers'.
Azadi (Freedom) square
Golestan palace
jewish antique shop in tehran
Niyavaran palace
Tehran street painting
Azadi square park


This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!





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