Iran Heritage Small Group Tours
Discovering Iran’s Heritage
On this unique small group tour, “Iran Heritage,” we discover the fascinating history and culture that Iran has to offer. Our escorted educational tour of Iran for mature travellers is perfect for those with an active mind seeking to learn about one of the world’s oldest civilisations. This seventeen-day program focuses on the west of Iran, taking in ten key destinations.
Our tour begins and ends in Tehran, this ancient land’s modern capital. It then travels to nine destinations within the country, including two nights each in Hamadan, Isfahan, and Shiraz. Along the way, we explore many of Iran’s world heritage sites, including the Fire Temple and the Tower of Silence in Yadz. We also see numerous mosques, minarets, mausoleums, and madrassahs constructed during the Golden Age.
However, it is not just the major cities that we study. Our Iran Heritage small group tours gives travellers the freedom to experience rural life as well. For example, we explore nomadic settlements on the edge of desert in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. We also enjoy a walking tour of Shiraz, known as the city of poets, literature, wine, and flowers.
Led by our local guide, our tour takes in the great cities of Iran. There are visits to historic sites, mosques, gardens, bazaars, and teahouses. In Tehran, the program includes time for a trip to the National Museum of Tehran, which specialises in glassware, ceramics, carpets, and archaeological treasures. In addition, travellers have the opportunity to study the country’s ancient Persian civilisation, as well as its Islamic present. Together, we experience life in a country that has an incredible history and is undergoing significant changes.
Odyssey Travel has two departures for the Iran Heritage small group tours each year. Each program is limited to 18 people. Importantly, Odyssey program leaders are trained to assist you with local etiquette and customs to ensure an enjoyable vacation. This information will form part of your pre-travel departure pack. Our program is suitable for mature travellers, including both couples and singles.
I have never met such friendly people as the Iranians and the country has some of the most interesting and memorable sights to visit. The Persian empire and history is a fascinating subject. Most people did not really know what to expect but were more than pleased by the whole experience. The country presently appears to be very stable and very safe. — TM Feb, 2016
For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Iran trips, require Iran authorisation that Odyssey assists on a small group tour to secure the visa for. Odyssey’s affordable Iran travel educational tours have been operating for almost 10 years.
Note: previously known as Persian HeritageTour Notes
- Group size limited to 20.
- Itineraries may change if flight schedules, site availability, and other inclusions have to be amended prior to departure.
Overview: When we arrive in Tehran, transfers are included for clients arriving at specific flights which will be advised 60 days before the tour departure. We will meet our local guide and transfer to our hotel. For those arriving on a different flight, transfers are not included. There will be free time to freshen up before lunch. This afternoon, we will have a short visit to the National Museum and Golestan Palace, if time permits. Otherwise, we will include it in the following day.
Tehran is the capital and largest city of Iran, and the administrative center of Tehran Province. Tehran is a sprawling city at the foot of the Alborz mountain range with an immense network of highways unparalleled in Western Asia. Tehran is the second largest city in the Middle East with a population of 7,404,515.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Enghelab Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will explore Tehran sites including the Sa’dabad Palace complex, the Carpet & Glassware Museum, and the Bazaar.
Accommodation: Enghelab Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will drive north via Rasht to Anzali. Anzali is the most important seaport in the north of Iran and is near the Caspian sea and the Anzali Lagoon. Owing to its position and climate, Anzali districts are characterised by green fields and forests. We will visit the village of Masuleh, where we will see the unique architecture of Masuleh. In Masuleh, the roof of a house is the yard of the house above and also the pavement in the village.
Accommodation: 1 night at Sepid Kenar or similar.
Overview: Today we will enjoy a short walk at the waterfront in Anzali, then drive to the province of Zanjan. Zanjan is located northwest of Iran, and its geographical conditions, abundant water sources, and fertile soil have made the province suitable for farming and animal husbandry. Most villages of the province are of ancient origin. Here Soltaniyeh lies on a plain between two mountains. The capital in Persia during the time of the Ilkhanid Mongols from 1302, Soltaniyeh is home to the world’s tallest brick dome now preserved as a World Heritage Site. The turquoise Soltaniyeh Dome, which is part of a mausoleum, has been described by Axworthy (2007) as “one of the grandest monuments of Iranian Islamic architecture.”
Accommodation: 1 night at Zanjan Bozorg Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will visit the great Sassanian religious site of Takht Soleyman (Azargoshnasb Fire Temple) en route to Takab. The Zoroastrian World Heritage site of Takht-e Soleiman dates back to 800 B.C. The water filled crater and fire found here were of great symbolic significance to Zoroastrianism and are associated with the volcanic history of the area. We will stay for the night in Takab, a hilly market town.
Accommodation: 1 night at Ranji Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will travel to Hamadan via Alisadr Cave, which is the largest cave in the world containing water. This cave is located in the village of Alisadr, in the district of Kabudrahang. Hamadan is about 340 kilometres southwest of Tehran by road, 1,700 metres within the Zagros Mountains. This was the capital of Persia in Achaemenian times, then called Ecbatana, and it is situated on the route between the Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Hamadan Bou Ali Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will travel southwest to Kermanshah. We will visit the Temple of Anahita in Kangavar and the ancient village of Taghe Bostan. After lunch we will visit the World Heritage-listed site of Bisotun.
Accommodation: Hamadan Bou Ali Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will drive southeast to Kashan to see Fin Garden and the Tabatabaeeha and Boroujerdi Houses. Kashan is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the Great Desert. The greenery and lively atmosphere of the well-tended oasis stands out against the the parched immensities of the Kavir region. We will enjoy the restful shade of cupola (vault)-covered houses and the coolness of pleasant gardens with water fountains.
Accommodation: 1 night at Negarestan or similar.
Overview: Today we will continue to travel to south, visiting Abyaneh village on the way to Isfahan. A common saying during the Safavid (1502-1722) period was that “Isfahan was half the world.” Today the city remains Iran’s most beautiful. The wonderful buildings may be attributed to Shah Abbas who made the town his capital in 1598. These have added to the considerable wealth of history already preserved in the buildings from earlier periods. We will visit Vank Cathedral before we enjoy dinner.
Next we will visit Khadjou Bridge, which was built under Shah Abbas II. The bridge doubles as a dam, and has always been as much a meeting place as a bearer of traffic. The bridge features 2 levels of terraced arcades, the lower containing locks regulating water flow. One can still see original paintings, tiles, and the remains of stone seats built for Shah Abbas II to sit on and admire the views. In the centre, a pavilion was built exclusively for his pleasure. We will visit Sio She Pol (33 arches) Bridge before checking in to our hotel.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Alighapoo Hotel or similar.
Overview: We will have a full day to explore Isfahan, beginning with visits to Naghshe Jahan (Imam Square), which is home to the Ali Qapu, Imam and Sheikh Lotfollah mosques as well as the Gheisarieh Bazaar. After lunch, we will visit Chehel Sotoun (Forty Pillars) and Hasht Behesht (Eight Paradises) Palaces. We will have some free time before dinner to explore the bazaar.
Accommodation: Alighapoo Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will continue our travel southward to Yazd, which is one of the Iranian strongholds of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian temples house eternal flames, as the religion worships fire. Although they dress differently from other Iranians, Zoroaster women still respect hejab rules of Iran and remain well covered, and the local men can be recognised by being close shaven.
The adobe buildings, the street plans, wind towers, and the qanat water supply system of the old city are a wonderful reflection of Persian architecture and ingenuity as a response to the local hot desert environment. We will also visit the ancient town of Meibod.
Accommodation: 1 night at Arg Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today our sightseeing will include a visit to the Towers of Silence on the outskirts of Yazd. The towers were used to dispose of the dead to avoid contaminating the soil with a body. Today the towers are still used as graves. We will also visit the Dowlat Abad Garden, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, and the old city. A highlight of the tour will be our stay at the Zeinoddin Caravanserai, where we will experience the recently refurbished traditional accommodation set in the desert to the south of Yazd.
Accommodation: 1 night at Zeinoddin Caravanserai or similar.
Overview: We will drive 1,500 metres up into the southern Zagros Mountains to Shiraz, which has a rich and turbulent history. It was spared destruction by Genghis Khan’s forces as well as the forces of Timur who followed 160 years later. However, several earthquakes and Afghan raids destroyed the area until it was resurrected as the Iranian capital in the mid 18th century during the Zand dynasty. En route we will visit the ancient Abarkouh Cypress tree and view the amazing desert scenery. Closer to Shiraz, we will visit Pasargadae.
Accommodation: 3 nights at Persepolis Hotel or similar.
Overview: Today we will visit the popular destination of Persepolis, founded by Darius I in 518 B.C. Persepolis, which was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, is located about 60 kilometres northeast of Shiraz. Persepolis was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, on which an impressive Mesopotamian-inspired palace complex sits. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.
We will also visit the Necropolis (Naghsh-e-Rostam), before driving back to Shiraz where we will visit Eram Gardem (Paradise Garden), followed by Nasir-o-Molk (Pink Mosque) and Narenjestan Palace. We will also visit the Zand complex and the Tombs of Hafez, a 13th century poet, and Saadi, a 12th century poet.
We will also walk past the Arg (citadel) on the way to the main bazaar visit. This city of over 1 million people is within the Province of Fars. Fars was once a much larger region, the language of which, Farsi, is today’s official language of Iran.
Accommodation: Persepolis Hotel or similar.
Overview: We will spend our second day on a scenic drive west to visit Iran’s ancient city of Bishapur, which is full of strong Hellenistic-Roman and Persian influences in the architecture of its temple, audience hall, and defense structures.
Accommodation: Persepolis Hotel or similar.
Overview: This morning we will complete our visits in Shiraz before boarding our flight to Tehran.
Accommodation: 1 night at Enghelab Hotel or similar.
Overview: We will spend our morning at leisure, and after lunch we will visit the National Jewel Museum. Our tour will end with a transfer to the airport for those booked for our evening flight which will be advised 60 days prior to the tour start. For those departing on a different flight, transfers are not included.
What’s included in our Tour
- 16 breakfasts, 16 lunches, and 16 dinners.
- 16 nights of hotel accommodation.
- 1 internal flight in economy class and taxes.
- Transport in comfortable and modern coaches.
- All lectures, excursions, entrance fees, and local guides.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Services of tour leader for the duration of tour.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- International airfares and departure taxes.
- Airport transfers if not on selected flights (as advised).
- Visa for entering Iran