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Listen, I get it. Iran is not exactly the first country that’ll pop into your head when you think of traveling abroad. But, let me tell you, it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Hmmm… if that’s so, why is it not more popular?

Well, it’s got a lot to do with news headlines (both political and economic) as well as a lot of myths that have been spread around.

Here’s the thing – Iran is an incredible destination for all kinds of travelers!

I’m a seasoned traveler who’s visited Iran, so join me as I dive into what makes Iran such a special place. I’ll also share some insider travel tips so you can properly plan for your trip.

Trust me, Iran is a country that will surprise you in the best way possible!

Night skyline in Yazd, Iran

1. Almost Everyone Can Visit Iran

The reason I say almost everyone can visit is because, unfortunately, citizens from Israel are not allowed to enter Iran.

You also won’t be allowed to enter the country if you hold a passport or any travel documents with an Israeli stamp, or if there’s any evidence that you’ve been to Israel or are in any way connected to Israel.

Unfortunately, Iran is not the only country with this ban in place. However, Israel is aware, and often they don’t stamp your passport to avoid any issues with another Islamic country.

Okay, on to the good news – the nationalities that can enter Iran.

There are 45 countries that can enter Iran without a visa, including:

Bahrain *Malaysia
Belarus *Mauritania *
BoliviaMauritius *
Bosnia and Herzegovina *Mexico *
Brazil *Oman
Brunei *Peru *
Cambodia *Qatar *
ChinaSaudi Arabia *
Croatia *Serbia *
Cuba *Seychelles *
EgyptSingapore *
Hong KongTajikistan *
India *Tanzania *
Indonesia *Tunisia *
Japan *United Arab Emirates *
Kyrgyzstan *Vietnam *
Kuwait *Uzbekistan *
Zimbabwe *

Note: This list is current as of January 2024. All countries with a * were announced on December 13, 2023 by the Iranian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts to unilaterally cancel visas for such countries as a measure to foster international tourism. Specific information such as implementation date and implementation plan has not yet been disclosed.

Iranian Visa Policies
Visa policy of Iran. Map from Wikipedia. (Map not up to date. Refer to list above)

All remaining nationalities require an Iran tourist visa to enter.

More good news: Most of the remaining countries can get a visa on arrival. The not-so-good news: The U.S. is one of nine countries that can’t. The other countries are:

CanadaUnited Kingdom
ColombiaUnited States

Visitors from these countries, including America, must apply for a visa before arriving at an Iranian embassy or consulate.

As you noticed, I bolded three nationalities above mainly because they require a few extra details to get their visas approved. I’ll go over those details in the next tip.

The visa process can be a nightmare, which is why I highly recommend you work with services like iVisa which can help you get your visa once you get an approval number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A tour company can also help you get an approval number, really simplifying the process.

When I decided I wanted to visit Iran, I went with Intrepid Travel, which seriously helped me with the entire visa process (which I will touch on later) and had the best itinerary that tackled most of the destinations I wanted to visit.

Another tour company to consider is 1stQuest. 1stQuest offers private tours and services specifically to help groups and individuals get visas for Iran. Just note, 1stQuest is currently not offering services to Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., but you can reach out to them ( for more info and any advice.

I don’t normally recommend that someone trust Wikipedia, but from my experience, this Wiki page is always up to date with the latest Iran visa information.

Landscape in Chak Chak, Iran

2. Applying for an Iran Tourist Visa

Don’t be too dispirited – the process sounds a bit complicated (or at least more complicated than traveling to many other countries), but it’s not too difficult to apply for an Iranian visa or e-visa.

The visa issue process has two steps:

  • Step 1: An authorization code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the official visa application site from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get your authorization code.But, if you’re an American, Brit, or Canadian (ABC), you should fill out your authorization code application via your tour operator, as they will input additional information that will tell Iran you’re traveling with them. Since I traveled with Intrepid Travel on their Iran Adventure Tour, they took care of submitting this step for me.If, for example, you book a trip with 1stQuest, they will also handle the visa process for you. Their Highlights of Iran and Classic Iran with the Nomads private tours are superb and affordable! You can see their other customizable private tours here.
  • Step 2: Once you’ve received your authorization code, you then have to get a visa for your passport. This must be done through an Iranian embassy if you’re an American, or you can request to get it on arrival at the airport.This request is made during the authorization code application, where you select which airport you’ll pick up the e-visa or visa on arrival.
Iran e-visa sample
A sample of my authorization code/e-visa, to get my visa on arrival at Tehran airport (with my Dominican Republic passport). This is what I got after step 1.

The US doesn’t have an Iranian Embassy, but Iran uses the Embassy of Pakistan as a proxy for its operations.

This is their website and address, should you need any additional information. (It’s in Arabic. You’ll need to translate.)

Embassy of Pakistan
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
1250 23rd ST. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Tel: 202 965-4990

Under the bridge in Isfahan, Iran
Under the Si-o-se-pol bridge in Isfahan

Apart from a select few, everyone can apply for an authorization code from 30 days up to 48 hours before their flight.

ABCs should apply 45 to 60 days before departure as their authorization code must first go to the tour operator, who will then do the application.

Codes are only valid for 30 days.

That means, if you are an ABC, you have to book your tour at least two months before departure to allow time for the visa process and for local authorities to process your application.

But, what if they reject me because I am American?

According to 1stQuest records, “only less than 5% of applicants may get rejected. Chances of getting a visa for European (except for the UK), Australian, and New Zealand citizens are as high as 97%. Chances of getting a visa for the US and UK citizens are a bit less at about 90%. There are also certain occupations which are exposed to a higher risk of rejection such as journalism and the ones related to politics.”

Man praying inside mosque in Yazd, Iran

3. What You Need To Get A Visa

All nationalities require the following:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae: You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history.
  • Passport photos (2): Women, make sure to wear a hijab or scarf in your passport photo.
  • Passport photocopy/scan

Those with American, British, or Canadian citizenship need to provide additional information:

  • Your father’s name and his employment history (no, I’m not kidding).
  • Social media links or handles, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

A note for Americans: If you’ve been very outspoken on your social media – including supporting Trump, or made any anti-Islamic or anti-Iran statements, you can forget about getting your application approved.

Esfahan Naqsh-e Jahan Square Sunrise, Iran
Isfahan Naqsh-e Jahan Square during sunrise

4. Applying With Dual-Citizenship

If you have a dual nationality, you should definitely apply with your non-American passport.

In fact, this is exactly what I did.

Even though I traveled to Iran with Intrepid Travel (a tour operator I highly recommend not only for Iran but pretty much anywhere), I did have the option of traveling to Iran on my own as I have dual citizenship. It was easier with Intrepid Travel, and I applied for my visa as a Dominican Republic national.

The reasoning behind not using my American passport was for ease and economy.

With the Dominican passport, I could get a visa on arrival instead of having to get it beforehand at the embassy with the American passport.

My Intrepid Travel group in Iran
My Intrepid Travel group in Iran. A mix of British, Australian, and American/Dominican nationalities.

I also didn’t want to risk having my visa denied. Although it is uncommon for the Iranian authorities to deny visas for Americans, I am also a travel blogger, which may have been considered a type of journalist, a profession that’s not all too welcome in Iran.

Also, it just made financial sense – the visa for my Dominican Republic passport was much cheaper than if I used my American one.

Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz, Iran
Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz

5. Cost Of Iranian Visas

As I mentioned above, the cost of a visa for an American is different from what someone with a different nationality’s passport has to pay. In fact, the prices vary depending on where you come from.

I paid 70 euros ($76) when I picked up my visa at the airport in Tehran.

By speaking to people from other countries, I learned that the Americans paid $175, the British paid $210 and Australians had to pay $158. From that info, I can guess a Canadian will be left paying around $170 – $180 for a visa (I didn’t meet any in my tour group).

Below is up-to-date information on the costs of a visa on arrival. The prices are provided in euros as those getting a visa on arrival at the airport must pay in euros.

NationalityFee (Euro)NationalityFee (Euro)
Brazil80New Zealand150
Dominican Republic70Qatar75
El Salvador60Russia70
Eritrea40Saudi Arabia30
Fiji55Sierra Leone120
Germany75South Africa80
Ghana75South Korea50
Kenya60United Arab Emirates100

Now that you know all the visa details, let’s move on to other planning logistics.

6. Flying To Iran And Picking Up Your Visa

Booking a flight to Iran is just as easy as booking domestic flights to go visit your aunt for the holidays – there’s nothing to it (unlike if you want to fly to Cuba only to find some booking sites that don’t list any flights).

Okay – so I lied before, it is not quite as easy as booking a domestic flight since some Western airlines don’t fly to Iran. But, you can grab a layover in Europe to get to your final destination, or fly with one of these popular airlines:

  • Lufthansa
  • Turkish Air
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Oman Air
  • Qatar Airways
  • Emirates

When I was planning on visiting Iran, I booked my flights through Skyscanner. I usually recommend this booking site, as it has flights listed at lower prices than many other websites.

Another great option for flight bookings is WayAway. They not only have cheap flights but also offer cashback on bookings for flights, hotels, car rentals, tours, and more. Sounds good, right?

Even better is the WayAway Plus membership which offers premium support. A local expert can help you navigate your questions about visas, and dress code, and provide transport advice and recommendations on what to do.

Okay – back to the flights.

When you board your flight to Iran, you should show your visa (or your authorization code if you’re picking up your visa on arrival).

The visa on arrival usually has a duration of 30 days, though they may give it to you for 15 days – this happened to me. Since my trip was only 14 days, I didn’t mind.

Mosque in Yazd, Iran
Towering mosque minarets in Yazd

Once you land in Iran, head straight to the visa on arrival office. You’ll have to fill out some additional information (like your name, where you’re staying while in Iran, your passport number, and your occupation).

Make sure you have the following information:

  • Proof of onward or return travel
  • Your itinerary – or at least your first few nights’ accommodation booking if you are traveling independently.
  • Proof of travel insurance – This is mandatory. I usually use HeyMondo, but they don’t provide cover in Iran. My second choice is always SquareMouth, where you can pick the best and most affordable coverage for any country, including Iran.
  • Proof of funds to support your trip, especially if you’re traveling independently (you may not be asked for this, but it is good to have in case).

You’ll pay the visa fee at this point and head over to immigration – well done, you’re in Iran!

A note for the ladies: As soon as you touch down in Iran you should cover your hair with a scarf or hijab and make sure you’re dressed appropriately. More on the dress code soon.

Flying Mahan Air, Iran
About to take a domestic flight from Tehran to Shiraz with their local airline, Mayan Air.

7. Entering Iran Overland

It is possible to enter Iran overland, but you’ll have to get your visa beforehand.

The info here is a little bit unclear. Armenia is apparently the only border crossing that offers the visa on arrival – however, people I spoke to said that they were unable to get it when they arrived at the border, so it’s best to do your due diligence and apply for your visa ahead of time.

8. Traveling Independently In Iran

Before I get into some more Iran travel tips, let’s quickly discuss whether it is possible to visit Iran without a tour group.

The short answer is: it depends on where you come from.

Americans, Brits, and Canadians are not allowed to travel independently and must make use of an authorized tour operator (either a group or private tour).

ABCs must be accompanied by a tour guide at all times. Luckily, the tour guides in Iran are reasonable and won’t be glued to your side. You can still enjoy free time to explore the many wonders of the Middle East.

The main responsibility of your guide will be to travel with you between major cities (or anywhere you travel to) and to the main tourist sights. My tour guide explained to me that she had to report to the Iranian authorities on the whereabouts of her tour every day.

Sounds hectic, right? I’m not sure if this is done to keep an eye on us… the guide said it was so that the government can ensure that ABCs are taken care of at all times and enjoying their visit.

Having dinner with the nomads in Iran
Having dinner with a nomadic family in the village of Kahkaraan

ABCs can only stay in the country for about 15 days (with the option to extend if sufficient reasons – like a tour extension – are provided).

During my trip, two of my fellow travelers who were from the U.K. had to extend their visas by one day. They reported that the foreign affairs office said it was unnecessary to undergo the formal process if you are overstaying by just a day or two – but I would recommend you rather play it safe.

Another detail about ABCs is that they are only allowed to arrive in the country up to 24 hours before their tour and leave a maximum of 24 hours after their tour ends. Their visas will reflect this.

Other nationalities are awarded much more freedom. They can travel solo for as long as their visas allow – usually up to 30 days. These visas can be extended up to two times, up to 90 days in total.

The Sun and Moon at the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan, Iran
A view of the Sun and Moon at the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan

9. Booking Your Accommodation

Booking accommodation is not so easy, since it is not readily available online.

If you go through a tour company, like I did with Intrepid Travel, your accommodation will be booked as part of the tour package.

But, what about outside of the tour?

From my personal experience, I was able to book accommodation through HostelWorld for before and after the tour dates. There wasn’t a lot to choose from, but they had a couple of hostels available for instant booking.

Then there is 1stQuest. They have plenty of hotels available in Iran. They also offer instant booking for buses to help you get around. And as I mentioned earlier, they can also help you with visas and getting insurance.

Persepolis - Gate of Nations - Iran
Gate of Nations in Persepolis, one of the historical sites you should not miss in the country.

Iran is not a hugely popular destination (yet!), so it is easy to find accommodation when you arrive in any of the major cities. The locals are also incredibly friendly and will be happy to point you in the direction of a hotel.

If you’re traveling independently, just make sure you have your first few nights booked before arrival to comply with your visa requirements.

10. Iranian Currency, Real Exchange, and Accessibility of Cash

The official currency in Iran is the Iranian rial. You can check the official exchange rate online (for example on but there’s another exchange rate in Iran: the free market exchange rate. You can check it on this local website.

Even though the official currency is rial, the locals refer to the money as either rials or tomans.

1 toman = 10 rials.

When I wrote this article, the official exchange rate was $1 to 42,222 rials. The free market exchange rate was $1 to 52,150 tomans (521,500 rials)

When in Iran, you’ll be exchanging money (and paying) on the free market rate, not the official one.

And, speaking of money… you have to take all the money you plan on using with you, in cash. This can be in USD, EUR, or GBP. There are no ATMs, and your credit card won’t work.

So, pack your foreign currency and get ready to exchange it upon arrival.

Currency change in Iran
Sometimes, if the business doesn’t have any small change back, they replace it with the equivalent in gum, sweets, or cookies. That was my change above.

Sometimes, if the business doesn’t have any small change back, they replace it with the equivalent of gum, sweets, or cookies. That was my change above.

Exchanging money is also not as easy as simply going to the nearest Bureau de Change. Sometimes the government pauses the exchange of certain currencies (when I was there it happened with the USD).

You then either need to find a back-alley exchange house, or exchange either at your hotel or with locals (it worked for me).

Locals are almost always open to foreign currency because of Iran’s struggling economy and unstable currency. Just make sure you’re familiar with the current free market rate to ensure you don’t get scammed.

During my two weeks there, the free market rate went from 102,000 Rials to 130,000 Rials. That’s how unstable their currency is.

Iran Currency
These are the Iranian Rials. Notice they go to up to 1,000,000 which is roughly $10.

Buying stuff can also be a bit confusing.

Locals usually refer to prices in tomans. If you’re not sure, confirm with them which currency value they referred to.

Also, if you’re buying a Coca-Cola that costs 20,000 rials (or 2,000 tomans), they might just say it costs 2 (dropping the last four zeros). So, familiarize yourself with prices to know which value they are referring to.

11. Budgeting With An Unstable Currency

If you book through a tour (which you will be doing if you’re American), then most of your expenses are included. You’ll just have to pay for food, additional transport to visit sites by yourself, sightseeing prices, a SIM card (more on that later), and miscellaneous items.

During my visit, I also didn’t have to pay for breakfast as it was included.

In addition to the tour cost, I spent $435 for my two weeks in Iran.

At the Tower of Silence in Yazd, Iran
At the Tower of Silence in the city of Yazd.

If you’re traveling independently, you should budget roughly $25 per day for a budget trip, and up to $130 per day if you want to live in luxury.

This traveler has a detailed breakdown of her spending on her two-week independent trip. She spent roughly $75 per day on a mid-range trip.

It’s important to know that food is subsidized in Iran and prices are “locked.”

So, no matter where you go, a Coca-Cola will cost from 15,000 to 30,000 rials ($0.15 to $0.30), food will be between 100,000 to 500,000 rials ($1.00 to $5.00), water will be roughly 20,000 Rials (about $0.20).

Museums and other sights cost between 100,000 and 500,000 rials.

My recommendation is to budget a bit over your travel standard, and maybe take $500 extra cash for any drastic change in the exchange rate or any unexpected emergency – or stunning souvenir you want to buy!

You’ll see many of these souvenirs around, especially the Persian carpets and handicrafts. Trust me, they are all beautiful!

Persian Food
A typical meal in Iran

12. Getting Around Iran

Public transportation in Iran is cheap, and there’s a good network of buses, taxis, and domestic flights that connect the major cities.

Traveling within a city

In any of the large cities – like Teran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Tabriz, and Mashhad – you can use the metro to get around.

It is cheap, fast, and efficient.

Iran also has a comprehensive public bus system, which is fast and affordable.

Alley in Abarkooh, Iran
An alley at the small town of Abarkooh

But how do you take the bus or metro?

You’ll have to buy an electronic card ticket. These are sold at every metro station, as well as some bus stations at ezPay kiosks. The card costs around 2,500 tomans, and you also have to add cash to it to use it when it runs out.

Fortunately, the longest bus or metro trips won’t cost much more than 1,000 tomans.

If you only planning on taking one bus or train, then you can pay cash for a single ticket at the kiosk.

Then there are the taxis. They’re more expensive than buses and the metro, but they won’t bankrupt you and you get to chat with a local driver.

There are three types of taxis:

  1. Shuttle taxis (“khatti”): These have specified stops and stations. They travel along set routes (called “khat”), and the fares are set. You will ride with other people traveling on the same line.
  2. Official taxis: These are either yellow or green. When you hop on board, you’ll see the driver’s ID and license.
  3. Unofficial taxis: These will honk if they see you standing on the street. You have to shout out your destination, and they’ll stop and agree to lift you if they happen to be going in the same direction.

It is best to agree on a rate before setting foot in the taxi. And make sure to have cash in rials – a lot of taxi drivers won’t accept dollars or euros.

Yazd, Iran
The wind towers in the city of Yazd.

For the taxis I took in Tehran, I always paid between 150,000 to 500,000 rials. The 45-minute taxi ride to the airport cost me around $5.

I recommend having your hotel or destination’s address written in Farsi (yes, Farsi is the official language, not Arabic) so you can give it to your taxi driver, as they may not speak English.

Traveling between cities

If you’re in Iran independently and you want to travel between cities, then buses and trains are the most affordable options.

There are domestic flights too, but they’re obviously more expensive.

1stQuest is a great go-to for booking intercity buses and domestic flights.

You can also book buses right from the bus station. Just remember that since locals use these buses, they can fill up pretty quickly.

Trains are also a popular option, though usually slower than buses. While they mostly depart on time, they often arrive late at the destination. Almost all trains have a small kiosk where you can buy snacks and drinks.

Azadi Tower, Tehran
The Azadi Tower, now a symbol of freedom. Located in Tehran.

Tehran is the main hub of the Iranian train network and most services begin or end at the heart of Tehran Railway Station.

There is plenty of daily trains to Mashhad, and at least one daily service to Esfahan, Yazd, Tabriz (via Qazvin and Zanjan), Bandar Abbas, and Kerman.

One advantage of trains is that you can save one night’s accommodation by sleeping on the overnight train.

These overnight trains have movable sleeper couchettes with four or six bunks.

They also have a restaurant car where you can have a proper meal. There are first-class trains (like Ghazal, Simorgh, Pardis, Sabz, etc.) which provide extra facilities like an entertainment system, and free meals.

Train tickets can be booked at the railway station up to a month in advance. It is recommended to book these ahead of time, especially for trains leaving on Thursday, Friday and public holidays.

13. Dress Code

So, Iran is hot. But local customs dictate that visitors are dressed modestly.

Men: You’re allowed to wear short-sleeved shirts, but leave your tank tops at home. You also need to wear long pants at all times. I recommend you skip the jeans as it gets way too hot during the day (but they’re fine at night when the temperature drops).

I bought some light-fabric long pants in Tehran.

Men should also bring along long-sleeved shirts for when they have to visit government buildings.

In terms of shoes, flip-flops are fine for hot days.

Clothing mannequins in Iran

Women: You’re a bit more restricted in what you can where. Even though fashion is very important to Iranian women, they’re still required by Iranian law to dress conservatively.

Foreigners don’t have to wear burkas or a chador. However, you’re required to place a scarf or shawl over your head to cover your hair. You should also wear long trousers (loose-fitting is preferred) or a long skirt, and a tonic or long-sleeve shirt that covers your hips (but preferably goes up to your knees).

You can buy the proper clothing at many bazaars around the cities if you want to adopt Iranian fashion trends.

Sandals or flip-flops are acceptable shoes.

Women should have at least one set of dark clothing, preferably black, should they have to visit a government office.

Park in Isfahan, Iran
Picnicking in parks and squares is a popular past time among Iranians. They tend to do it from late afternoon to way past midnight to avoid the high temperatures of the early afternoon.

14. Staying Connected To The Outside World

Most hotels will offer WiFi, but it can be painfully slow.

For that reason, I’d recommend you buy a SIM card when you get to Iran.

There are three main mobile operators in Iran:

  • Hamrah-e-Aval
  • Irancell (I got their SIM)
  • RighTel

You can buy your SIM card at either the airport or your accommodation (not all hotels offer this service). I bought my Irancell SIM at my hostel for about $9 and it came preloaded with 4GB on a 4G/LTE network.

Cafe in Isfahan, Iran
Enjoying an afternoon tea at one of the funkiest cafes in Isfahan.

The good news is that there is good network coverage in the country, especially in cities, along the shoreline, and on highways.

Now for the bad news: Iran blocks all major social media platforms and websites. You’re going to have to use a virtual private network (VPN) on your phone if you want to stay in contact with friends back home.

I used ExpressVPN, which worked like a charm. The app is easy to set up and I could quickly connect to all my social media pages.

Important note: Don’t access your online banking in Iran (especially if you’re from America). I foolishly tried to do this and had my bank account frozen until I could get back to the U.S. and show my boarding pass to prove it was me in Iran. (If you’ve read some of my other articles, you’ll remember the same thing happened to me in Cuba – when will I learn?)

15. Safety In Iran

With so many myths, falsehoods, and misleading headlines, it’s no surprise you’re questioning whether Iran is safe.

So, here’s what you need to know:

Iran is pretty safe – you really don’t have to worry about terrorism or major crime. Of course, there are petty thefts and pickpocketing, but this is normal for any large city. Just use common sense!

Iranians are some of the friendliest people in the world, so don’t be afraid to interact with them and learn more about Iranian culture.

It is really exciting to be a tourist in Iran because you will learn a lot about the country that you can’t learn from books, try new foods, and learn about new religions – all without having to worry about your personal safety.

Cafe Kidnap sign, Iran
A “kidnap” sign at a cafe. No, this doesn’t happen. Iran is safe!

16. Food And Drink Restrictions

Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran. There are severe penalties for anyone trying to bring alcohol into the country. You’ll face massive fines, possible imprisonment, and deportation. It’s really not worth it.

If you do crave a beer, you’ll find plenty of non-alcoholic beers and drinks at the restaurants.

Some popular brands include:

  • Istak
  • Delster
  • JoJo
  • HeyDay
  • Shams

There are also a lot of unique fruit-flavored non-alcoholic beers that are unlike anything else I’ve tasted in the world. And speaking of drinks – you should give doogh a try!  It’s a traditional drink made up of sour yogurt, salt, and dried vegetables

Pork is also restricted as Iran is an Islamic country.

Then there are the drug laws. These are strict, and you’ll face a lengthy prison sentence if caught with any illegal drugs.

Ceiling at the bazaar in Eqlid, Iran
That beautiful ceiling in Eqlid!

17. Make Sure To Pack A Camera and A Smartphone

Any seasoned traveler knows to pack their cameras. For Iran, you’re going to want a really good camera (or a smartphone with a decent camera) to capture the beauty and finer details of the country.

There are a couple of mosques and mausoleums that ban DSLR cameras, but they do allow cellphone photography, so just take note. It might seem odd, but it is to deter potential terrorist attacks where bombs are hidden inside cameras.

Shah Cherag Mosque, Shiraz, Iran
Shah-e-Cheragh Mausoleum in Shiraz. This is one of those mausoleums that don’t allow a camera, yet a smartphone camera is fine.

18. Bonus: Travel To Iran Without A Visa

I’ve gone into great detail about how to get a visa in Iran. So this section might have you scratching your head.

Technically you can travel to Iran without a visa. But you’ll only be able to visit Kish and Qeshm Islands, in the Persian Gulf.

On arrival, you’ll need to show proof of your reservation and can stay on the island for up to 14 days. The dress code is similar to mainland Iran’s.

Of course, if your dual citizenship includes Iranian nationality, you can also enter visa-free if you use your Iranian passport.

Norbert at Qaranagh, Iran
Enjoying the ruins of the ancient city of Qaranagh

19. Enjoy Yourself!

Iran is like no other country I’ve ever visited. You should go with an open heart, fresh eyes, and a clear mind to really appreciate the country for what it is.

Each city is different – some are conservative, others are more liberal. Yet, all of them are friendly and welcoming to international tourists.

Make sure to dive into the rich culture and history of the nation, and don’t be afraid to visit the most popular tourist sites.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has 27 properties on the World Heritage List, which is mind-boggling. My favorite UNESCO World Heritage Site was Persepolis.

The necropolis by Persepolis, Iran
The Necropolis next to Persepolis.

And although it is an ancient nation, there are plenty of modern amenities to enjoy too, like the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

No matter where you’re from or for how long you’re staying, soak it all up!

In no time you’ll see why Iran should be much higher on everyone’s bucket list.


Can you show affection publicly in Iran?

Couples are more than welcome to visit Iran, but public displays of affection are prohibited. I’ve heard stories of local authorities stopping married couples who were holding hands on the street. Kissing and hugging are definitely not acceptable.

Can women travel to Iran by themselves?

Yes, Iran is very safe, even for solo female travelers. The locals are incredibly kind and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. Just remember to wear a shawl or headscarf and dress modestly.

Can I drink the tap water in Iran?

Yes! Tap water is completely safe to drink. There are also free water fountains dotted around the city, so make sure you bring your reusable water bottle with you for free refills.

Are shorts allowed in Iran?

Technically yes – but short shorts are prohibited. Men can wear shorts that go below their knees (preferably longer). Women can wear skirts, as long as they are three-quarters length or longer. I used shorts only in private settings, like in my hotel bedroom.

Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling To Iran, Especially If You're American
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  1. thanks so much for your tips, and I want to add this there is something that we call it “Taarof”
    This is a polite exchange that takes place in all aspects of life in Iran, in shops, in streets, in businesses, at homes.
    Simply stated, it is a form of one person making an offering and the other, refusing it. This ritual may repeat itself several times before the individuals finally determine whether the offer and refusal are real or simply polite.
    Be very careful how and with whom you taarof so that it does not interfere with your stay. Use common sense as to when to do it and when not to.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation, Bruno! Yes, 1stQuest is a great option to apply again for the authorization code.

      2. Thanks for your review Bruno, Thanks for supporting us, Wish you had a great time in Iran.

        1stQuest Support Team

    1. If you have requested by yourself online, it’s normal to be rejected, but if you request by an Iranian travel agency, they usually don’t reject it. Unfortunately, it’s not clearly mentioned on the website, but in practice they do that. I called the MFA and complained about this double dealing policy, but they didn’t give me a clear response. 😊😊😊

  2. Hi Bruno,

    VPNs usually get blocked so if you want to know which VPN you should install on your phone, you can ask people around to know which one is working right now. Almost everyone in Iran uses VPNs. 😉
    Another problem you may face is online payment! Specially for booking hotels or tours. There are some websites which you can pay using your Credit/Debit card or Paypal account.

    I hope it helps somebody.

  3. Hi

    It was a really complete and thorough article about traveling to Iran anything that a tourist need was included here :D.

  4. Hi there!
    I hope to get some advice on my trip to Iran. I have dual (Ukrainian-american) citizenship. Can I enter Iran with my Ukrainian passport and get a visa at the airport and then leave back to the US with my US passport? Will it be ok not to have visa in my US passport?



    1. Yes, you can. With the Ukrainian passport, you still need to go through the two-step process to get the visa at the airport, but you can enter as a Ukrainian and depart as an American.

      Have in mind that there are no direct flights between Iran and the US. In fact, it’s possible you might fly from Ukraine to Iran and back (since UIA often offers cheap flights to Theran), so it might be convenient for you to use your Ukrainian passport for both flights.

    2. Hi there,
      I recommend you to come to Iran using your Ukrainian passport and leave with Ukrainian passport too, because firstly, there is no direct flight from Tehran to the US, and secondly, it’s better for you to not show your American passport at all, due to long lasting serious political conflicts between two countries maybe you get into a trouble.

  5. Thanks for these insights. I was thinking about getting a VPN and had my eyes set on Surfshark already, but now after reading they block websites in Iran, there’s an additional reason to get a VPN. Can’t wait to plan my next trip after the quarantine is lifted, and the whole Coronavirus situation has calmed down a little.

    1. I don’t know how that other VPN works, but I can guarantee that ExpressVPN works in Iran. Not every VPN works there, but this one worked great and it was the one my guide uses and other locals I met there also used.

  6. hi I have both us and American and Jamaican passport. My issue is that my visa was approved to be picked up in Turkey. My plan is to fly to turkey on us passport then get visa in my Jamaican passport then fly to Tehran. My issue is do I need a visa for my Jamaican passport to Turkey and will they stamp my Jamaican passport without a stamp arrival in my Jamaican passport.

  7. Hi, when you travelled, did you bring both your US and DR passports? Were there any issues? I am in the same boat with dual citizenships, but I am not sure if there will be issues when the authority sees my US passport. Thanks.

    1. Hi Ray –

      I did bring both of my passports, but I never showed my US passport (I wasn’t asked to either). Having said that, you shouldn’t have an issue as you’ll be in Iran officially as a citizen of your other nationality.

      1. If you want to travel to Iran, it’s better to not show your US passport and not mention to it at all even if you being asked, Iran take different policy against US citizens.

      2. Hi Norbert I got a really bad situation I am going through and I really am hoping you can help me. I’m in the United States. I want to travel to Iran and be able to explore Iran by myself without any tour guides ,or people following me around. I have someone in Iran i’m going to be staying with. I want to be able to quickly get a passport from another country if possible so I can go to Iran ,and not have that hassle. Can you please tell me what I can do? What country can I go get a passport fastest for traveling to Iran so I won’t have to use a tour guide? I don’t think it would be possible to get a private tour guide and tell them I want to spend my days in Iran alone. I am trying to go there to be with my boyfriend and spend time with him.

  8. I’m an Italian American citizen born in USA. Will they reject my visa when they see that I was born in USA or that I’m working in USA? Also from country did you leave to go there? I plan on leaving usa to Italy on my us passport and then to Iran from Italy on Italian passport

    1. Hi Matt, it’s hard to say why they rejected it. Did you use a service to apply for the visa? If so, they might have some information. Regarding the flight, I flew from Ukraine. I know currently it’s not advised to travel from there, but you could use any other destination with a direct flight to Iran.

      Also, I think it’s smart to travel to Iran with your Italian passport instead of an American passport. It’s easier to get the visa, with fewer restrictions, and cheaper, too!

  9. I’m an Iranian and live in Iran. I would be happy if I can help you for free to travel to my beautiful country.