Azadi Tower © Christiaan Triebert
A chaotic and smog-filled metropolis of some 15
million people, Tehran appears an unlikely holiday destination. But
travellers will quickly find that its long history and increasingly
cosmopolitan mindset make it an undiscovered gem in the Middle
Tehran can be roughly divided into two parts. The
northern districts are more modern and prosperous, with large
shopping malls, international restaurants, and luxury hotels.
Alternatively, the southern areas are more rundown but cheaper, and
home to massive bazaars, historical buildings, and sidewalk falafel
The city is home to some of the best museums in the
Middle East, with as many as 50 to choose from. The most popular is
undoubtedly the Golestan Palace, while the Crown Jewels of Iran is
a must-see exhibit located in the Central Bank. Other worthwhile
stops include the Carpet Museum of Iran, the Time Museum, and the
Museum of the Islamic Period.
Tehran can be overwhelming, and short trips tend to
be the most satisfying. When the bustle becomes too much,
travellers can visit vastly different places, spending a few days
in Ramsar, a holiday town on the Caspian Sea; Na'in, a small desert
town; or Dizin, which is Iran's largest ski resort.
Opinions on the safety of travelling to Tehran are
divided, with many residents and experienced travellers proclaiming
it largely safe. However the US State Department advises against
tourist travel to Tehran, as does the British Foreign Office.
Nonetheless, anyone travelling to Tehran should stay up-to-date
with the latest media coverage.