Tehran is the political capital and the largest city in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a city with over 15 million people, a modern city, with great museums, amazing restaurants and hip coffee shops and some of the most friendly and welcoming people in the world.
Tehran is a very different city from what you would expect after reading about the city in the western media.
Tehran is the second-largest largest in the Middle East only after Cairo, the capital of Egypt. Tehran has been the capital of Iran since 1786, and since that time, It became the centre of attention.
With having the main airport in the country (IKA), Tehran is the first stop for most tourists wanting to visit this amazing country.
Most foreigners think Tehran don’t think the city has much to offer, and they usually give it a miss; however, for us, it was so hard to pick only 21 things to do in Tehran!
These days Tehran has become an easy city to travel around since the metro system keeps expanding, and you can get from most sites to others without getting stuck in the notorious Tehran traffic jam which is one of the worst in the world.
If you think your time is limited, make sure you will have enough time to visit the list below:
Most of this post and photos is written and taken by Reina Ghoroghchian, a local traveller and photographer from Iran.
Top 21 Things To do in Tehran The Capital Of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
21. Tochal’s Telecabin.
Located north of Tehran, it is a good spot to see how people are spending their time with their family or friends.
The telecabin is about 7500 meters long, and you can have a nice view of Tehran from its top!
If you are travelling to Iran with the idea of travelling to an Iran desert, here is the place that you need to go to!
8 months of the year, the 7th station of Tochal is covering with snow, and people always go there for skiing during autumn, winter and sometimes spring based on the weather.
The cabin might be old, but it is part of the adventure, right?
20. Tajrish Bazaar and north of Valiasr street.
Tajrish sq is located in the north of Tehran, and you can easily have access to it with Metro.
There is a local bazaar full of colours, handicrafts, spices, fabrics and restaurants.
Imamzadeh Saleh Shrine is always open, and you can have look at its astonishing mirror work.
You’ll find the Valiasr street near to the shrine which is the longest street in the whole of Middle East, If you like walking, you can walk toward the south, and you can easily find the Cinema museum and Time museum as well, but if you don’t like museums, remember that even their buildings are beautiful and they are surrounded by life and cafes!
19. Contemporary art museum and carpet museum.
Was built in 1977 by order of empress Farah Diba and his cousin Kamran Diba became the architect of this project. It is considered to have the most valuable collection of Western modern art outside Europe and the United States.
After the 1979 revolution, some of the art pieces deemed unIslamic, and many of those pieces are not shown in public. This museum hosts some temporary exhibitions as well.
Carpet museum is just next door, and you can have a look at the precious pieces of Iranian antique carpets.
As you might know, Iran is the largest producer of carpet, and the art of carpet weaving was in Iran for thousands of years!
This carpet museum will give you interesting information about different kind of carpets belongs to different ethnic groups of Iran.
18. Baharestan sq.
Located in the heart of Tehran, Baharestan hosts the old and new building of the Parliament of Iran, with its museum.
Negarestan Palace is in Baharestan as well, and it has a big photo gallery and a room with different kind of mirror work plus a cafe to sit and chill.
Masoodiyeh palace is also a beautiful Qajari palace that still has beautiful ornamentations despite the fact that it was abounded for many years.
Sepah Salar Mosque and Madrasah is the sign of Baharestan which is free for visiting during the time of prayers.
Baharestan for many people in Tehran has nostalgic feelings, and it reminds them of the contemporary history of Iran.
17. Iran Mall.
Iran mall is a huge mall which occupies an area of 1.4 million square meters. This mall is about to be the largest mall in the Middle East, but what makes it special is using most of the symbols and elements of Iran and its architecture for it.
Right now, only the first phase is open, and that is about 30% of the whole project, but this 30% includes 700 shops, a 20,000 square meter hypermarket, a fashion avenue, a diamond and crystal atrium, three food courts with more than 200 restaurants, a 3,300 square meter book garden with 67,000 volumes of books and several book stores, a cinema complex with 12 IMAX cinema and much more!
The best part of it is Mahan Garden at the moment which is the symbol of Persian gardens. (FYI, Persian gardens are inscribed on UNESCO world heritage list as well).
It is definitely worth a visit with or without shopping!
16. Baam Tehran.
Tehran is a city which is surrounded by Alborz Mountains from the north, and you can almost find a good spot to have a view of the city from many places, but the best one will definitely be ” Baam Tehran”.
Located in the north of Tehran, it is always the best choice to sit and enjoy watching the city. You can see young people have gathered there and the cafes are always busy here.
15. Chitgar Lake.
Chitgar Lake is also known as “martyrs of Persian Gulf” lake is a man-made lake located in the west of Tehran.
If you are curious to see another side of Tehran that has character and organization, this lake must be in your list!
Bamland recreational centre, shopping mall, supermarkets, amusement park, fishing area, Different restaurants and cafes, indoor, out the door and floating one!
There are a forest and an artificial waterfall around this area that helps 22nd zone of Tehran to have fresh air and welcoming people of Tehran to enjoy their time with their friends and families around this lake.
Make sure you’ll be there before sunset and avoid Thursday and Friday, crowd.
14. Moghaddam House.
Tehran had so many beautiful traditional houses during the time of Qajar and later with having more interest in modernism, unfortunately, most of these beautiful houses were destroyed.
Moghaddam house is one of those beautiful introvert houses that you can travel through time with walking around it.
Mohsen Moghaddam and his French wife Salma left a peaceful house right next to one of the crowded streets of Tehran.
13. Marmar Palace.
The story began when the king of Iran ordered to the architects to build a Palace for him with a similar ceiling to Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque in Isfahan. They tried their best and however, it wasn’t exactly like that mosque, but still, it is an absolute masterpiece.
It was close to the public for about 40 years, and the good news is, they turned it to a museum, and people can have a chance to visit this beautiful palace.
12. Bagh-e Melli Gate.
Baghe Melli gate was built during the time of Qajar kings, and it was used for the army’s parade. That’s the reason why even today it is famous as ” Meydan-e Mashgh”.
This area today is an important area with having Malek museum and library, Post and communication museum, Art university and Ministry of foreign affairs of Iran. That’s the reason why the name of the street is Melal Motahed or “United Nations” street.
If you feel like you need to try a good tea, Malek Cafe has got some good tea options for you!
11. 30 Tir street.
This street is famous for its street food, but there are so many gems in it.
Start with the magnificent National and also Islamic museum of Iran, you can continue walking in this cobblestone street and see the connection of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam all in one street.
Haim Synagogue, St. Peter evangelical church, St. Mary’s church and Adrian fire temple are all close to each other, and they are all over 100 years old.
This street also hosts the glassware, and pottery (Abgineh) museum of Tehran which has an old house belongs to Ahmad Qavam who served as the prime minister of Iran for five times.
Don’t miss Naderi Cafe, an old cafe which still serves their drinks in old cups.
10. Den of Espionage the former US Embassy.
The former US Embassy in Tehran, know better known as the Den of Espionage have now been turned into a museum, the building was closed during my first visit to Tehran almost 10 years ago but is now open to the public. On display are different documents related to the confidential contacts, spy equipment, American advanced telecommunication tools, secret rooms as well as records of the special unit operation conducted by the USA army. Worth a visit to see a different side of the historical event.
9. Grand Bazaar of Tehran.
This Bazaar is the local market located in downtown Tehran and thousands of people visiting and purchasing in this Bazaar every single day!
This grand Bazaar is about 10 km long and has got different entrances.
If you like wandering around this Bazaar, it definitely finished with wondering! There are some historic houses, shrines, Shah (or later renamed to Imam) mosque, different alleys and markets selling all sort of goods and food.
Your visit in Bazaar won’t be completed without drinking saffron and mint tea in Haji Ali Darvish Teahouse which is the smallest teahouse of Iran and of course eating Tahchin or any other food in Moslem restaurant, there is always a long queue to the restaurant, but it won’t take a long time to be inside, and the huge and delicious food portion won’t make you disappointed!
8. Milad Tower.
Milad tower, also known as Tehran tower is the 6th tallest telecommunication tower in the world that you can see it almost from every corner of the city.
You can take the elevator to get to the top and have a 360-degree view of the town, enjoying the cafes, revolving restaurant and beautiful handicraft shops inside this tower. Make sure the weather is nice, and it is not polluted or rainy to see the city better.
7. Tabiat Bridge.
Tabiat Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge of Tehran, and it was completed in 2014.
Tabiat means nature and this bridge supposed to connect Haghani park with Abo Atash park in two sides of Modares highway. This bridge is like a tree, and it was inspired by the Khaju bridge in Isfahan.
The best time for visiting this place is during sunset. There are loads of cafes and restaurants. The museum of the holy defence and the big book city are all close to this bridge, and you can spend some time in that area as well.
6. Imam Khomeini shrine.
Imam Khomeini is the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which happened in 1979. He passed away in 1989 a few months after the ceasefire of Iran and Iraq’s war. His shrine is one of the best examples of the contemporary art and architecture of both Persian and Islamic. This shrine is a complex of Khomeini’s tomb, big halls for prayers, hospital, clinic, ceremony halls, hotels, markets and more.
Everyone who takes a taxi from IKA airport to the city, can see it on the right side of the highway and having a pit stop there will be a good start for visiting Iran.
5. Niyavaran palace.
Niyavaran palace complex located in the north of Tehran. It is not as big as the other palaces, but still, it is modern and traditional at the same time.
Niyavaran palace itself is the last palace that was built by Pahlavid dynasty, and it was used until the last days that Shah was in Iran.
What I can recommend to you is to buy the main Niyavaran palace and Sahebgharanieh tickets.
4. Azadi Tower.
Azadi (freedom) tower is like a signature for Tehran! Located in the west of the city and near the west bus terminal of Tehran, was completed in 1971 by Hossein Amanat who won the competition to be the architect of this 45 m tall tower that was supposed to mark the 2,500th year of the foundation of the Imperial State of Iran and was built for Mohamadreza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.
There is a museum underground of this tower, and it can allow you to have a view almost from the top of that tower.
3. Treasury of national jewels.
It doesn’t matter if you like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones or not; this place will make your mind blown!
If you want to visit this treasury with the biggest pink diamond of the world along with huge peacock throne and a globe with over fifty-one thousands of precious stones which is located under the central bank of Iran, you need to be ready to pass by three gates, leave whatever you have into the safe keeper and only going inside with your clothes and glasses!
It will be a bit dark, and it will be open only from Saturday to Tuesday from 14 to 16:30, but it won’t disappoint you!
2. Saad Abad Palace.
Saad Abad palace complex is located in the north of Tehran. However, the oldest palace in this complex dates back to the Qajar time, but it was used as the summer residential palace during the time of Pahlavid for its pleasant location.
This complex including of 18 palaces that 2 of them are used for the president of Iran at the moment. It depends on what you like to visit you have a variety of choices. What I can recommend you is to make sure that the Green and the White palace are surly in your list!
1. Golestan Palace and museum.
Golestan palace literally means the palace of flowers, but don’t look for flowers in the garden. They are all over the palace, on tiles!
Golestan Palace is definitely a MUST SEE in Tehran. You can see Persian arts all over the palace! From the beautiful tile work, mirror work, stucco and plaster moulding, inlaid art on wood and stone, and all the priceless pieces that they kept inside the palace from Qajar period, make this palace a great place to make you be familiar with Iran.
However, this palace is located next to the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, but as soon as you are inside this place, you will realize how peaceful it is.
When you want to visit this place, you’ll have a variety of choices but what I can recommend visiting is the Main Palace, wind tower building and the marble throne terrace!
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