The Best Backpacking Locations in Iran

Iran is jam-packed with nature, culture, and history, and backpacking through it can be one of the most rewarding experiences.

Iran (IMNA) - Here, we’ve gathered the best backpacking spots where you can not only meet other travelers but also experience the cultural and geographic diversity of Iran and its people.

Qeshm and Hormoz Island

The pint-sized island of Hormoz is chock-full of dreamy landscapes painted in shades of red, yellow, and orange, contrasting against the azure water of the Persian Gulf. Home to deer and other fauna, this geological wonderland is a dream for nature enthusiasts and a popular spot for backpackers who come to check out its psychedelic color scheme and rock formations. From Hormoz you can hop on a lenj (small, wooden boat) to the dolphin-shaped Qeshm, the untouched “island of seven wonders.”

Hormoz Island

Khuzestan

A visit to the Khuzestan province tends to get swapped out for more mainstream Iran itineraries, but we guarantee you and your backpack won’t regret this one. Explore Ahvaz, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Susa, and Shushtar where you can cross off three UNESCO sites. Then move on to more remote locations like the enchanting Pamenzar in Dezful or the Shadegan Lagoon where the diversity of Iran’s geography and people is exemplified. Just be sure to visit in the winter or spring to avoid extreme temperatures. 

Watermills in Khuzestan

Tehran

Tempted to altogether skip Tehran? Don’t. Though often reduced to thick smog and heavy traffic, the capital city has enough to keep visitors  busy for days. Tehran sits at the intersection of history and modernity, thereby making it one of the best places to understand the country’s social fabric. Here’s where you can experience the trendy cafes and restaurants, historical museums, and thriving cultural scenes all while meeting like-minded travelers. Tehran also serves as a great jumping-off point for close by natural attractions or other major cities.

A view of northern Tehran

Yazd

With its positive energy, kind people, breathtaking sites, and delicious local dishes, Yazd is an overall win-win. This desert city is dotted with the architecturally amazing badgir, or windcatchers (ancient air-cooling systems), and is known for its many nods to the ancient Zoroastrian religion that once thrived here, including the Fire Temple, Towers of Silence, and pilgrimage site of Chak Chak on the outskirts of the city. You’re sure to meet fellow backpackers in the budget-friendly hotels or wandering lost through the old town's narrow alleyways.

constructed in the year 1760 by Mohammad Taqi Khan, who was better known as the Great Khan. He was also responsible for laying down the first aqueducts and providing water to this famous garden in Yazd.

constructed in the year 1760 by Mohammad Taqi Khan, who was better known as the Great Khan. He was also responsible for laying down the first aqueducts and providing water to this famous garden in Yazd

Maranjab Desert

The Maranjab conjures up images of the stereotypical sandy desert, but it’s exactly these dunes that have made it a favorite spot for both local and foreign backpackers. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can light a campfire and pitch a tent to spend your night stargazing, or lay your head to rest in the 17th-century caravanserai. Combine your tour with a visit to the salt lake and historical city of Kashan, which lie in close proximity.

Maranjab Desert

Shiraz

Shiraz is not only the leading destination in Iran for tourists, but it’s also one ideally suited for solo travelers and backpackers. The beating heart of Iranian literature, Shiraz is home to two of the country’s most revered poets, Hafez and Sa’adi, whose tombs are visited by throngs of locals and foreigners. Elsewhere, the city’s beautiful Persian gardens and kaleidoscopic Nasir ol-Molk Mosque give a magnificent taste of culture before you head out to the ancient cities of Pasargadae and Persepolis for a hefty dose of ancient history.

Eram Garden

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