Tehran: a surprising metropolis | Iran

Welcome to Tehran, Iran. Scantily clad ladies move lasciviously toward the camera. A singer with half bared torso sings cheerful tunes in Farsi. We didn’t really expect to see this image on the screen in the cab from the airport to our hotel in Tehran. But it really was. “You can join me to north of Tehran and we can drink beers and party,” our cab driver told us. We looked at each other with furrowed brows, hey, this is Iran, right? Where alcohol is forbidden and women are hidden behind a hijab or other cloth?


Iran is not as you expect. And that’s why we only want to tell you one thing: go discover Iran, there is so much beautiful things to see and do. What surprised us most were the people. In all my travels, I have never encountered such friendly and helpful people. And they were genuinely happy to see you. Glad you as a Westerner bothered to travel to their country of Iran. Despite many negative media reports their country. “Hello! Welcome to Iran,” was the most heard phrase on the street from passing pedestrians.

Tehran a surprising metropolis

After our surprising cab ride, we arrived at Atlas Hotel. Friendly people behind the front desk and spacious rooms. Breakfast was also fine. Not high quality, but ok. Good budget option and close to US Embassy and subway. When my head hit the pillow, I was gone right away. Up early the next morning as temperatures rise above 25 degrees in the afternoon. For me as a woman, it is then just about doable with headscarf and long sleeves. Want to know what is best to wear as a woman or man? Then read my article on dress code as a tourist. And then you’re in Iran. What can you do in the capital city?

Gran Bazaar in Tehran

Surely one of the biggest attractions in Tehran is the Gran Bazaar. Tehran’s Gran bazaar is located in the south near the Arg square. Known to local people as bazaar-e bozorg.

The Gran Bazaar is a vast labyrinth of different entrances and corridors. Each course has its own specialty. For example, there is a hallway with household goods, clothing, shoes and carpets. Easy to reach by subway. On the subway, a man spoke to us. He turned out to have been a cop in Alkmaar. You don’t expect this at all when standing in a crowded subway in Tehran. There are also compartments for women only. Somewhat bewildered and amazed, we stepped out. And it is crowded, very crowded! Pay attention anyway because the Gran Bazaar is also crowded, especially on Sundays. Set yourself up for sardines (and while Sander and I are vegetarians) in a can. Fortunately, the bazaar is large enough and you can certainly walk quietly. You can also eat vegetarian food here at Moslem restaurant, long wait but typical Iranian!




U.S. Embassy in Tehran

America and Iran are not the best of friends. 63 Americans and civilians were detained in the U.S. Embassy from Nov. 4, 1979 to Jan. 21, 1981. Iranian students took these people hostage to support the Iranian revolution. Iran has an interesting history. Before you go to Iran, read more about this. You will see that stories always have two sides.



This is really a must do in Tehran. On the outskirts of Tehran, the route to Mount Touchal starts. Where you can do fantastic hiking in summer and skiing in winter. We were short of time so went to do a small hike. But above all, let us marvel. What a nice place to get away from all the hustle and bustle of Tehran. The place is especially popular in the evening and on weekends. Many Iranians congregate here for shishah and other social activities. In fact, at the beginning of the route to Touchal there are lots of qavekhane sonnati, or nice little hooka lounges in the middle of the water.


Palaces and museums in Tehran

Like any capital city, Iran has many museums. Consider the National Museum. Tehran also has many palaces. Check out Golestand Palace or the Sa’ad Abad Museum Complex. If you like art and culture, you certainly won’t be bored in Tehran. Don’t limit your visit only to Tehran, travel to Yazd and Isfahan as well. Vegetarian food is also possible in Tehran. We tip you off to some restaurants. Want to know what it’s like to travel to Iran as a woman? Then read my blog post“As a woman in Iran. Before you go to Iran, cook this Iranian recipe. Very tasty!