Important facts and information to know when visiting Iran
This might come as a slight surprise on our inclusion list for family travel. Whilst travel guidance on travel to the region is generally “proceed with caution”, it’s not a country set up for tourism in general; it’s more suited to intrepid explorers and backpackers than the family crowd.
We will slowly start exploring this region in more detail but don’t dismiss the possibilities.
[Current political tensions as at June 2019 we are removing Iran temporarily from our recommended travel with families list but leaving all the information here for you as a planning resource]
Visiting Iran Important Facts
|Official Name||Islamic Republic of Iran
|Currency||Iranian Rial (IRR) | 1IRR=0.00002379
|Language||Persian (Farsi and other dialects)
|Religion||Majority Shi'I Muslim
|Leadership||Supreme Leader (President)
|Important Dates||March 21 Persian New Year, + many others!
|Climate||Variable - Arid desert to subtropical & mediterranean
|Electrics||230V Type C & F
|Safety||Varies by region - see travel advisories
Current safety warnings
- US State Department – Level 4 DO NOT TRAVEL
- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office – Advice only against travel to some areas for British Nationals
- Australian Smart Traveller – Reconsider need to travel with areas against the Iraq, Pakistan, Afghan border advised against all travel
Iran visa information
- Visa fee varies according to the country of your passport and are easier applied for in advance from your nearest consulate.
- You cannot enter Iran with an Israeli stamp in your passport.
- Once you have an Iranian visa in your passport you cannot get an electronic visa to the USA, you will need to apply in person at a US Embassy or consulate for future US visas.
- Some countries do not need to apply for a visa in advance, currently, these are; citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia.
- You will need valid travel insurance for the duration of your stay. Bring documentation with you to prove it’s valid for Iran to avoid doubt. You can buy insurance at the airport but expect queuing and delays. (Try World Nomads)
Point for family visitors to be aware of in Iran
- Ladies must always wear a headscarf in public. Expect females from around 6-9 years old to also wear the headscarf.
- Men should look to wear long shorts or ideally trousers and avoid looking at our photographing women.
- Whilst the Metro in Tehran has women-only carriages, fathers may well be seen here.
- Research your rooms. Accommodation in all but the most luxurious hotels is unlikely to have elevators. You are better off with a carrier than a stroller in Iran.
- No public displays of affection, no matter how long you’ve been married!
- Road tripping with children is challenging, for a few reasons; safety on the roads, infrastructure such as lack of petrol stations. Vehicle insurance is also not cheap. Plane travel may cost more, but given the size of the country, it is the easiest option for covering the most ground.
General travel tips for visiting Iran
- The currency is rial but locals talk in “tomans” 1 toman = 10 rials. Careful you get what you’re actually bartering for!
- Persian – or Farsi is not to be mistaken for Arabic! although many Arabic words have crept into everyday language and they may look similar they are not the same. We recommend you pick yourself up a Persian phrasebook while travelling as English may not be as widely spoken as in other parts of the region. There’s a great guide here to some Farsi phrases you may want to learn.
- Expect to take your shoes off everywhere.
- Most toilets (WC) will be squat toilets and without loo roll – be prepared to BYO.
- You can get a SIM card on arrival. Many popular social network sites are blocked but try Telegram – a popular messaging app choice. To surf the internet freely you’ll need a VPN. Contact us for our latest recommendation.
- Whilst outdoors it’s all about being conservative with your clothing, you’re fine to wear what you like underneath and when relaxing at home.
- Your hotel or accommodation is required to hold your passport during your stay. Keep other valuables in your hotel safe when possible.
- Look to get yourself a Mah Card – a debit card designed specifically for travellers to Iran to avoid carrying around too much cash.
When is it best to visit Iran
Remember Iran is a large country and the best time to visit can vary a lot from north to south. The north is quite a lot cooler than the south so gets quite cold in the winter, whereas southern areas remain mild. Summers in the south can be extremely hot.
The time to avoid though is Iranian New Year – “Nooroz” or “Nowruz”. Things can very much shut down across the country at this time as friends and family are visiting one another. Homestays may not be available and popular attractions closed. Persian New Year is on the vernal equinox so expect it to be observed about 21 March each year. There is usually 5 days of public holidays but schools and universities are shut for 2 weeks.
Most popular attractions in Iran
Iran is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the second-most populous. Getting from the capital Tehran to the south takes time so be careful how much you plan on a single trip. There is a good Iran itinerary here on how many days you should allow at each location.
Home to 19 UNESCO sites, there is plenty to keep history buffs busy. Some of the most popular places to visit include;
- Persepolis – founded by Achaemenid in 518BC and burnt to the ground in the 4th century, the remains still exist of this ancient city that was once the centre of the Persian Empire.
- Babak Castle – also known as the immortal castle perched on top of a mountain in the Arasbaran forests.
- Nasir ol-Molk Mosque – also referred to as the pink mosque with its stunning rose tiles and stained glass windows is one of Iran’s most beautiful sites.
- Anzali Lagoon – on the Caspian Sea home to much wildlife and natural beauty.
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square – in the Esfahan Province, home to the Ali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Imperial Bazaar.
- Qeshm Island – a beautiful island in the Persian Gulf for geology and nature lovers.
Iran with Kids – Our Travel Stories
Sorry, it looks like we don’t have any more detailed articles on this destination yet.
Contribute to this section
Have you been to Iran, with or without kids? We are looking for more contributors to this category, can you help? Pop over and see our contributors page and find out how you can get involved in building our resource library for fellow visitors to Iran.
Further reading and resources on Iran
Blogs & Social Media Accounts to Follow
- Saboktar – One of our favourite Iranian blogs run by three young ladies from Tehran. Their popular Persian blog has been translated to English so you can read their amazing stories of backpacking across the country (and around the world!)
- IranHurrah – Amir & Fatima showing off the beauty of this amazing country on Instagram; join their discussion on Facebook too
- EverydayIran – another stunning pictorial journey around the country
Take guidebooks with a grain of salt as they can get outdated quickly – but still, the best for the region we are recommended is the Lonely Planet Iran (last updated 2017)
Movies and literature
A Prisoner of Tehran – Story of a woman surviving in an Iranian prison during the Iranian revolution
Children of the Jacaranda Tree – A store about a political prisoner who gave birth inside Evin Prison in Tehran in 1983. The book traces the characters to the present day, teaching you a lot about the Iranian revolution.
Sorry nothing in this category (yet!)
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NB please check facts with the appropriate authorities before travelling. Information is correct to the best of our knowledge as of June 2019. This page contains affiliate links.