Did you know that you don't need a travelers visa to visit specific areas of Iran? -- a fun little fact I actually learned myself today.

After several requests on my blog and Instagram, I finally put together a (super) mini travel guide for the motherland.  Of course, as I have only visited 3 times, I am definitely no expert, nor have I managed to explore much of the country. So, I've sourced this information not only from my only limited travels, but also from family and friends who call Iran their home aside from romantics.


  • Tehran | As the capital of Iran and the only city most non-Iranians have heard of, obviously, it's worth a visit. Home of famous streetstyle blog The Tehran Times, the president, and a lot of beautiful people. From old historic bazaars to ancient Palaces to the Azadi (photographed above) and Milad Tower, Tehran is not a city that you can explore in a day. Or a year. 

  • Shiraz | The former capital of Iran, Shiraz is one of Iran's oldest and most historic cities. Here you can find the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the Tomb of Hafiz (the most celebrated Persian poet), endless beautiful gardens, and the famous Nasr al-Mulk Mosque, whose stained-glass windows you've probably seen (if you're ever looked up photos of Iran). 

  • Esfahan | We Persians call Esfahan "Nesf-e-Jahan," literally meaning "half of the world." Need I say more? Unfortunately, I have somehow not yet managed to visit this half of the world, but it's definitely on my list for next summer, as it truly is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. A simple google image search of this city will make you want to get up and pack your bags asap. Recommended sights include the Khaju Bridge (at night!), Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Ali Qapu Palace. 

  • Mashhad | The Imam Reza Mosque is the largest mosque in the world and houses the mausoleum of Imam Reza. The dome is covered in gold and birds. P.S. No cameras allowed!

  • Kish | A small island off the coast of Iran, Kish is perfect for the more nature-inclined. This tourist resort is filled with tropical parks and zoos, the ruins of the ancient Harireh Town, the Cariz underground town, and a beach famous for its breathtakingly-clear waters and snorkeling. OH p.s. Did I mention unlike the rest of mainland Iran, you don't need a travel visa to visit this Iranian island?! Go. Now. (& take me with you!) 

  • Shomal | Okay well technically "Shomal" is not a real city and just a geographic location (meaning "North" in Farsi) but it's what all Iranians call the trip to the Caspian Sea. Saving best for last (in my opinion). The Caspian Sea is my favorite place on earth that I have visited thus far. The endless blue-green roaring waves, the stretch of olive stores, the constant smell of rice in the air, and ancient forests all make Shomal not only incredibly beautiful, but overflowing with inspiration, bliss, and peace and serenity. It is here where no. 1 on my list of 11 Things About Life I Learned from Iran came from. Still not convinced? Check out my mini photo-diary of my trip to Shomal here
Statue in central Tehran, Iran, 2014
Azadi or "Freedom" Tower in Tehran, Iran, 2014


Iranians are incredibly warm and welcoming. And I'm not just saying this because I'm one of them. You talk to someone on the train for a few minutes, decide you're best friends, and get invited to dinner with their family that evening. It's just how things work (regardless of your nationality!) That's right, contrary to popular belief, most Iranians do not hate Americans. Or white people for that matter. In fact, because there are so few tourists from Europe/USA, Iranians love meeting white people, and will probably invite them over to their house for dinner faster after a first meet than they will an Iranian.


  • Dresscode | Iranian law requires women to wear a headscarf and long clothing (p.s this is not the same as requiring women to cover all their hair, as most Iranian women do not.) Also, it is taboo for men to wear shorts (except at the beach). Checkout le streetstyle post for a better idea of what to pack and how to wear it! 

  • Driving | To be quite blunt, Iranians for the most part do not really know what traffic rules are. Or speed limits. Or lanes. Or one-way signs. Or any signs. They also like to frequently drive in reverse. Basically, if you have little experience driving in such conditions, I do not recommend you rent a car. Also, good luck crossing streets--you'll need it. :) If you get nervous/car sick easily, I would advise other methods of traveling such as a train/subway. 

  • Tarof | Haha this is a tough one to explain. Tarof is a (I think) distinctly Iranian way of etiquette in which you repeatedly refuse anything that is offered to you until the host forces it on your plate/in your hand. Saying yes the first (or fifth) time is seen as rude/impolite. While this mostly occurs in food-related incidents, tarof is applicable to anything from doing favors to letting some walk into a room before you. Basically regardless of what you actually want, in order not to come off as a rude foreigner, you must refuse food, enter rooms last, fight over who gets to pay the bill, and constantly offer to help people out. 


  • Hello//Goodbye | Salam//Khoda Hafez
  • My name is | Esme man {insert name}hast
  • How are you? | Shoma chetori? 
  • Thank you! | Merci // Mamnoon // Sepasgozaram // Moteshakkeram, etc, etc (we like to show our appreciation!) 
  • No, thank you | Na, merci, mamnoon. (Use this phrase when tarof-ing)
  • Excuse me/Sorry | Bebakhsheed
  • Where is the... | ...Koja hast?
  • Your driving is so bad | Ranandegeye shoma kheily bad ast. 
  • I'm too scared to cross the street | Man mitarsam az khyaban rad shavam! 
  • Iran is amazing! I'm coming back every year! | Iran kheily alee ast! Man har sal bar migardam! 
  • I love your blog, Hoda! | Man kheily bloget dust daram, Hoda! 

Feel free to ask any specific/clarifying questions in the comments--I'll be hovering around my computer/phone all day and will try to reply asap! 

I'm going back to Iran (hopefully) next summer--join me! ;)