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Beyond Turkey > legendary Iran
legendary Iran --- Discover the homeland of Cyrus the Great, Darius, and Xerxes with a unique itinerary that brings together Iran's past, and the contemporary...

We cover the highlights of Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd and Isfahan as we stroll timeless streets and colorful bazaars, and mingle with hospitable and proud locals. The tour also includes ancient Persepolis, the Persian gardens, and several other UNESCO listed sights...
  • 13 nights & 14 days - tour starts and ends in Istanbul
  • contact for pre- & post-tour services
tour highlights
  • UNESCO listed sights: Friday Mosque of Isfahan & ancient Persepolis
  • UNESCO listed sights: Golestan Palace, Pasargadae, Eram Garden
  • Local experiences, oriental bazaars and gardens
  • Vaults of Central Bank for the Crown Jewels
  • Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great
  • Marvelous architecture of Isfahan, inspiration to 1001 stories
  • Armenian Quarter and Vank Cathedral in Isfahan
  • Zoroastrian Temple and Tower of Silence in Yazd
  • Qashqai Nomads, rural Abyaneh Village
included are
  • All accommodations; traditional local hotel in Istanbul, best available in Iran
  • Round-trip international flight; Istanbul – Tehran - Istanbul
  • Domestic flight in Iran; Tehran to Shiraz
  • Breakfasts and dinners in Istanbul
  • All meals in Iran, bottled water with meals
  • All admissions and tours for listed activities
  • Experienced Turkish tour leader during the entire tour
  • Experienced certified guide in Iran during the entire tour
  • Tips for all services provided with the tour, incl. guide and driver tips
  • Big bus to stretch for all tours and transfers in Iran
  • Travel information and preparation package*


 
 
itinerary details

Day 01 - Sunday: Arrival – Istanbul --- Our tour starts in Istanbul hotel at 10:00 am. After a welcome meeting and a briefing about the tour, we will walk to and visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museum focusing on finds from the Ancient Orient. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a Bosphorus Cruise with specific focus on the Persian influence and existence in Istanbul and the Ottomans.
Sleep in Istanbul, 1 night / Meals: D / Walking: Light

Day 02 - Monday: Flight to Tehran --- Group transfer from hotel to airport. International flight to Tehran, capital city of Iran. Arrival at Tehran airport, transfer to hotel, check-in and rest.
Sleep in Tehran, 1 night / Meals: B, D / Walking: Light / Flight: 3 hrs / Bus: 1-2 hrs

Day 03 - Tuesday: Tehran - Shiraz --- We will dedicate the day to discover Tehran, the thriving capital of Iran since the late 18th century. In National Museum, we will visit both the Archaeological Museum (a.k.a. Museum of Ancient Iran) designed by French architect Andre Godard, and the Museum of the Islamic Era. Then, we will visit the Iran National Bank and admire the amazing Imperial Crown Jewels of Persia, acquired from 16th century onwards. Among many amazing items, collection includes 182 carat Daria-i Noor diamond and the Pahlavi Crown worn by the last Shah of Iran. We will also visit the glorious Golestan Palace which was built over 400 years, from 16th to 20th century. In evening, transfer to airport and take a domestic flight to Shiraz.
Sleep in Shiraz, 3 nights / Meals: B, L, D / Walk.: Moderate / Flight: 1.5 hrs / Bus: 1-2 hrs

Day 04 – Wednesday: Visiting the Nomads --- Shiraz and surroundings are located in the province of Fars, birthplace of two ancient Iranian Zarathushti dynasties, the Acheamenians founded by Cyrus the Great, and the Sassanians. In the morning we will leave Shiraz and have a short trip to Firuzabad (ancient Gur) to see the Ardeshir-Khurra "Glory of Ardeshir" palace built by priest-king Ardeshir, the founder of the Sassanian dynasty. Later in the day, we will visit with generous and hospitable Qashai nomads (pastoral nomads of Turcic origin) and witness their ancient life style and traditions. We will return to Shiraz for the evening.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate / Bus: 3-4 hrs

Day 05 - Thursday: Shiraz --- Our date is dedicated to stunning Shiraz, the city of poets, fine arts, roses and the nightingale! We will visit Eram and Narenjestan Gardens –heavens on earth-, learn about and enjoy the 6000 year old Persian garden culture which influenced gardens all the way from Andalusia to India. The Eram Garden is listed by UNESCO, and the latter, the Narenjestan Garden is a meticuolously kept property featuring a fine 19th century Persian mansion. Persian’s beloved poet Hafez is one of the very few peots’ whose mausoleum is honored as a pilgrim destination. While visiting the lovely garden surrounding the mausoleum and the mausoleum, we will recite his verses and join millions a like appreciating his talent and inspiration. Nasir-Ol-Mulk is a breathtaking kaleidoscope of fine Persian Islamic tiles, after appreciating the fine work in this mosque, we will move to the impressive Madrassah Khan, the theological school. Before calling it a day in the 11th century oriental Vakil Bazaar, we will visit the Aliebnehamze Holy Shrine and adore the mirror decorations.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate / Bus: 1-2 hrs

Day 06 - Friday: Shiraz - Persepolis – Necropolis – Pasargadae - Yazd --- After bidding farewell to Shiraz with a stop at the monumental Quran Gate we will head to ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid dynasty, Persepolis, a UNESCO site. Initiated by Darius I, Persepolis was the only major city of the ancient world built by free free workers who were paid. We will marvel at the reliefs and monuments of this eternal city and then move to UNESCO listed Naqshs-e Rostam, the monumental rock carved necropolis of Achaemenid kings, Darius the Great, Darius II, Artaxerxes and Xerxes. We will also see the Kaba-Zardosht, the fire temple and sanctuary. Later in the day, we will visit another UNESCO site, Pasargadae. It was the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire prior to Persepolis and founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC. Among ruins we will see is the tomb of Cyrus the Great himself. We will continue to Yazd where we will sleep for 2 nights.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate to strenuous / Bus: 6 hrs

Day 07 - Saturday: Yazd --- Yazd, center of Zoroaster, a living museum, is one of the oldest cities in the world according to UNESCO. The isolated location of the city made it the shelter for Zoroastorians running away from Arabs, and artists and poets running away from the Mongols. Tucked between two deserts, Yazd is charming with it’s narrow streets, fine textiles and brocade. Here, we will enjoy a guided city walk, see the highest “badger” Wind Catcher / Wind Tower, the Azeri style 12th century Friday Mosque with tallest entrance portal in Iran and the Amir Chakhmaq Complex which is one of the largest buildings in Iran. In the Old City, we will visit silk weaving workshops to see termeh brocades.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate to Strenuous / Bus: 1 hr

Day 08 - Sunday: Yazd - Isfahan --- In the morning we will continue exploring Yazd on foot. We will visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple where sacred fire has been kept alive since 470 AD and is now a Zoroastrian pilgrim center. This is an opportunity to learn about Zoroastrianism, the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Persia. It was founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BC, it shares many central concepts with the major world religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Then, we will move onto Towers of Silence, the burial place for Zoroastrian. Since the Zoroastrians consider dead body unclean, they put them on top of the Towers of Silence to be consumed by vultures, cleansed by the winds and the sun. In the afternoon, we will drive to Isfahan. En route we will visit the massive mud brick fort, the Nareen Castle and Caravanserai in Maybod, and Naein carpet workshops.
Sleep in Isfahan, 3 nights / Meals: B, L, D / Walk.: Strenuous / Bus: 5 hrs

Day 09 - Monday: Isfahan --- 16th century capital of Persia, Isfahan well known for the Persian-Islamic architecture adorning the city protects most of it’s historic glory with beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. Hence it is know as “"Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast", Persian proverb meaning “Isfahan is half of the world”. In the two full days we will spend in Isfahan, we will discover it’s outstanding highlights. We will have an extensive visit at the Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as the Imam Square is the largest historical public square in the world after Tiananmen Square. It is a UNESCO's World Heritage Site. It is surrounded with Safavid period monuments, including Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, and the Qeisarieh “Isfahan” bazaar, all of which we will be visiting. In the afternoon, we will visit Si-o-Se Pol (thirty three) and Khajoo bridges over Zayande river, we will relax in one of the traditional tea houses, drink tea and smoke Persian water pipe.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate / Bus: 1 hr

Day 10 - Tuesday: Isfahan --- In the morning, we will cover the Chehel Sotun Palace, a.k.a. the Fourty Columns Palace which was a reception and entertainment hall from the 17th century, we will marvel at the wonderful wall paintings, frescoes, miniatures and the ceramics of the interior. Last but not the least of mosques we will visit in Isfahan is the Friday Mosque also known as the Jameh Mosque, a UNESCO site. It is a stunning example of the evolution of mosque architecture spanning twelve centuries from 9th century onwards. It is the oldest monument of it’s kind in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. Our afternoon is devoted to discovery of New Julfa, Armenia in Iran, which was established in the early 17th century by Armenian immigrants from Julfa in Nakhichevan. They were famous for their silk trade. These influential and well connected people had a business network stretched from Europe to Asia, as a result over the next few centuries New Julfa became the hub of one of the greatest trade networks of the modern era. As of today, the area is still one of the largest ethnic Armenian quarter in the world with a school, sixteen churches and the amazing Surp Amenaprgitch Vank (Holy Saviour’s) Cathedral. We will spend time at the interior of the cathedral which is a celebration of Armenian religious art and covered with fine frescos, gilded carvings and rich tile work. They depict the stories of the Old and New Testament in an intricate order.
Meals: B, L, D / Walking: Moderate to Strenuous / Bus: 1 hr

Day 11 - Wednesday: Isfahan - Abyaneh --- Our trip will take us to the historical red mud brick village of Abyaneh in the rural countryside. En route, in Natanz, we will visit Jameh Mosque and adjoining mausoleum of Sufi mystic Abd-As Samad. Then, in Abyaneh, We will walk the narrow streets and mingle with the colorfully dressed inhabitants. We will also see the Jameh mosque of Abyaneh with beautiful wood carving work including the mihrab and the pulpit.
Sleep in Abyaneh, 1 night / Meals: B, L, D / Walk.: Moderate / Bus: 2 hrs

Day 12 - Thursday: Abyaneh - Kashan- Tehran --- As our trip unwinds in Iran, we will drive to Tehran. En route we will visit Kashan, a large oasis running at the edge of central deserts of Iran. It gather’s its charm from the contrast between the pale color of the desert and greenery of the well-tended oasis. In this city well known for majestic historic mansions, we will visit the Fin Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens of the Middle East and the world; wander the streets of the mudbrick the Kashan Bazaar; visit the Tabatabi Residence which is a fine example of historic mansions with well functioning wind towers, delightful wall painting and elegant stained glass windows. By going thru the Holy city of Qum, we will arrive in Tehran and spend the last night of the tour in Iran.
Sleep in Tehran, 1 night / Meals: B, L, D / Walk.: Moderate / Bus: 5 hrs

Day 13 - Friday: Tehran – Departure --- Transfer to Tehran International Airport for return flight to Istanbul. Arrival in Istanbul. Group transfer to hotel. Farewell dinner.
Meals: B, D

Day 14 - Saturday: Good-bye --- Tour is over after breakfast.
Meals: B

need to know
  • It is legal for US citizens to travel to Iran with a passport valid for at least 6 months at time of their trip. Switzerland Embassy in Tehran is the protector of US interests and provides consular services for US citizens in Iran. Anyone with an Israel stamp on the passport can travel to Iran after 1 year from the date of Israel’s visa stamp. There is no trouble in getting to Iran if your trip to Israel was more than a year ago.
  • SRM will apply for visas on behalf of travelers and receive an application reference number for every tour participant. This service is included in the tour price. Then, each traveler will need to contact the Iran Embassy or Consulate in the country they reside to receive the visa with the reference number we will provide. In USA, Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC represents Iran and is authorized to provide visas for American travelers. Visa process may take around 5 to 6 weeks, hence we will ask for all participants to submit their passport copies and information to us latest 2 months prior to start of the tour. As of time of writing, Iran visa costs USD 192 for American citizens.
  • Iran is a not any different than any other country. Violating laws would get you into trouble. Theft, breaking into private property, using & trafficking drugs are some of the basic crimes that are punished. It is not wrong to assume that whatever would get you into trouble in your home country or USA would also get you into trouble in Iran. Couple of the differences can be listed as adultery and alcohol consumption, both of which are subject to punishment. Iran is completely “dry”, alcohol is strictly against the law. However, non-alcoholic beer is legal and available.
  • By law, women have to dress loose fitting and modestly, only to reveal their hands and face. The tops should be long enough to cover the hips. Women also should wear scarfs at all times except for the privacy of their hotel room. The scarf does not need to be tightly wrapped, it can be loose on the head revealing some of the hair on the front. Pants are very common to wear, unless they are capris. We advice you to make a Google search for images, you can search for “Iran women”, this way you can see a wide spectrum of Iranian women, from very conservative to modern and how they are dressed. Wearing make up is common, and Iranian women love to express themselves with it.
 
  • Iran is a large country with a varied geography, deserts, mountains and valleys. Iran is almost as big as Alaska. The tour will enjoy the diverse geography. Based on stats, weather averages thru the tour will be around 50 - 55 F in Tehran and Yazd, 58 - 62 F in Shiraz and Isfahan.
  • Overall food is delicious and comes in a variety. High quality stews and kebabs are very popular. Herbs and spices are commonly used, but Iranian dishes are far from being “hot” or “spicy”, as these are only applied in moderate to give food different tastes. GDOs are not allowed, vegetables and fruits carry taste the same old original taste. The meat usually served in the restaurants is chicken, veal, fish and lamb. Turkey, quail and shrimp are also available, but no pork, snake, frog, shellfish, dog or others. They are prohibited to be taken in Islam and this is observed everywhere. Vegetarians are welcome, raw or cooked vegetables are easily available.
  • Official Iranian currency is Iranian Rial (IR). Notes are in denominations of IR 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100. Coins are in denominations of IR 500, 250, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. However, “Toman” is more commonly used than the rial, 10 IR = 1 Toman. As of time of writing in late 2015;
    1 USD = 30,000 IR or 3,000 Tomans.
  • Credit card is very uncommon outside the shops and businesses that cater to international travelers, it is the best to start your trip pre-calculating possible cash expenses. Note that, all tours, meals and experiences are included in the tour price and there aren’t any hidden costs. All you need to bring in cash is your personal pocket money.
  • Following are not allowed in Iran: alcoholic beverages, narcotics, guns and ammunition, horticultural and agricultural goods including seeds and soil, aerial photo cameras - drones, transmitter receiver apparatus.
  • Work days are from Saturday thru Wednesday. Thursdays and Fridays are the national off days. Though, on Thursdays, some companies may work half day.
  • Tour has an average pace and physical difficulty level. Anyone who has done well enough in Istanbul and Turkey would be fine in this particular tour. In the tour itinerary, there are couple of places with steep uphill and downhill walks, if you don’t want to walk downhill or uphill, you can still be able to enjoy the sights and visits bypassing these walks.
Itinerary subject to change due to unforseen circumstances.
tour date/s;
  • Nov.27-Dec.10, 2016
  • April 09-22, 2017
  • Nov.03-16, 2017 *new
tour price --- per person in double/twin occupancy
USD 4,550.- / 27 persons & up
USD 4,700.- / 21-26 persons
USD 4,900.- / 16-20 persons
USD 950.- single suppl.
tour price excludes visa expenses
* this tour requires minimum 16 travelers to operate
 


 


 


 


 


 


 
 
 
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