5 Places in Iran to Visit
in Nowruz 2018
Tabriz
Nestling on a plain ringed by mountainous terrain in northwestern Iran lies a city of history and culture, a metropolis boasting the title of the Capital of Islamic Tourism, #Tabriz2018. Home to numerous museums, historical buildings, mosques and churches, the capital of East Azarbaijan Province is the right place for those seeking to experience the past in the present. Tabriz has always been a key trade hub in the region. Its UNESCO-inscribed covered market, known as the Bazaar of Tabriz, is the oldest bazaar in the Middle East. It has remained a popular spot for shopping tourism today which also offers a dazzling display of world-famous Persian carpets. Tabriz has a lot to offer in terms of gastronomy. Enjoy the distinctive taste of local cuisine, tasty cookies and exceptional dairy products in its magnificent restaurants and traditional, cozy shops. When it comes to ecotourism, Tabriz is among the top destinations. The Sahand dormant volcano welcomes mountaineers and its multiple rivers provide an ideal location for picnic-goers. Its cool weather throughout the year also gives a sense of freshness to visitors, especially those coming from warmer climates. It is also about 100 km from Aras Free Trade Zone, Iran's second most developed free zone after Kish Island, entry into which is visa-free for the citizens of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. During Norouz, travelers will also have a chance to watch such local ritual performances as street puppet shows.Attractions
Abadan and Khorramshahr
To the furthermost southwestern corner of Iran, a vibrant but humble gem of less touted cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr beckons to travel enthusiasts who crave a new sensational experience. Whether it is for its lively fish, spice and date markets or for its downtown gift and specialty shops, Abadan makes a perfect place for leisurely evening walks. Activities on offer include widely varied sightseeing excursions, pleasure river cruises and day trips to ancient heritage sites across Khuzestan Province or former war zones along the border with Iraq. It is also worthwhile to make a trip to a nearby palm island to admire an unforgettable, glorious sunset or hire a wooden boat to worm your way through narrow countryside waterways crisscrossing local Arab communities to catch an incredible glimpse of the most lovely and hospitable people. In Khorramshahr, waterfront seafood stalls on the mighty Karun and a guided tour of its once bustling harbor well deserve to make it to a to-do-list. Halfway between the twin cities sits the Arvand Free Zone which has put in place special visa facilities and discount schemes to appeal to bargain hunters both from home and abroad. Norouz is high time to plan a trip to Khuzestan, when the most pleasant, finest weather of the year is there to create the warmest-ever experience for a visitor.
Just to the south of the cat-shaped mainland, Iran has several offshore islands in the majestic Persian Gulf, the largest of which is Qeshm that is emerging as a popular ecotourism destination. Unlike Kish, its sister island that is marketed mainly for its leisure facilities, Qeshm is putting its unique geological features on display. Billed by the Global Network of Geoparks as the only one in the Middle East, Qeshm Geopark is a perfect place to gain an insight into part of the journey the earth has been through and to admire the geological heritage of our planet. Another geological wonder lies in the heart of the island where unusual but awe-inspiring formations of sand and rock proudly stand, resembling the ruins of an ancient castle. Stand amid the giant columns of the Valley of Stars, listen to the bizarre sounds of the wind blowing through them and enjoy the amusing local tales about the place. One could also wander through a stunning winding gorge with walls artfully carved by natural phenomena. Walk on as it narrows and darkens and explore the marvels of nature accompanied by rare traces of human civilization. Sandy and rocky beaches, caves, isles and mangrove forests along with sky-diving and parachuting sites, peaceful cruises and many more are waiting there to allure visitors. Wildlife lovers will not be disappointed either, as they can arrange for boat tours to nearby isles to watch spectacular scenes of playful dolphins swimming around or go snorkeling or scuba diving to discover an astonishing underwater marine life in the crystal clear waters of the Persian Gulf. Traveling during the turtle-spotting season from early March to late April, which includes Norouz, one would even get the chance to meet the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles that come to lay eggs on the shores of Qeshm. Hotels on the island are well prepared to accommodate luxury tourists but traditional ecolodges are plentiful and ready to host those who look for an authentic taste of local life. Attractions
Qeshm Island
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Qazvin
Having risen from the ashes like a phoenix, the sprawling city of Qazvin has spread its wings across a wide, fertile plain at the southern foot of the Alborz Mountains in north-central Iran. A witness to several watershed moments in the country's history, the city revived after being laid to waste by Mongol emperor Chinggis Khaan, now offering time-travel enthusiasts a tantalizing peek into the past. Exploring the sights and sounds of yesteryear in Qazvin is just about two hours' drive away from the bustling capital Tehran. On the summit of a ragged peak in Alamut in the environs of Qazvin lie the ruins of Hassan Sabah's castle, one of history's most fearsome secrets—a reward for those adventurous enough to traverse the stark gorges lining a twisty, turny road. A visit to the historic city will not be complete without dropping by Chehel Sotoun, which boasts the title of one of the most famous surviving edifices built in the Safavid era. The nearby classic Qazvin Grand Hotel, Iran's first European-style hotel, is also worth a wander. Those who adore shopping clothes, jewelry, textiles and homewares can make their way through the Sa'd-al Saltaneh caravanserai, which has been transformed into a modern arts-and-crafts precinct, and explore the remains of Qazvin's original covered bazaar. And if you're a museum lover, don't forget to take a dive in time at Qajar Bathhouse and Anthropology Museum. Jameh Mosque is another testimony to the passion for art among the people of Qazvin, which is known as the calligraphy capital of Iran. However, grand ancient buildings are not the only attractions on offer for travelers. Savoring the irresistible aroma and taste of homemade sweets such as Baklava will undoubtedly mark the pinnacle of your trip, especially if you share the experience with thousands of holidaymakers who wisely choose to spend Norouz in beautiful Qazvin.
YAZD
At the navel of Iran, in the middle of the central plateau, magnificently lies an iconic adobe city, the first of its kind in the world. Yazd, famous for its khaki hue, placid atmosphere and gentle winds that caress your face to blow anxious thoughts away, is the pearl of central Iran. It is the land of wind-catchers, ancient air-conditioning systems that have survived for years to shape the spectacular skyline of the UNESCO-inscribed historic city along with towering minarets and domes. At around noon or later in the evening when residents seek respite at their homes, all signs of modernity disappear, setting the stage for an experience of a pleasant walk among ancient buildings in the historical zone. It is home to numerous old religious places, including Zoroastrian fire temples, mosques and shrines as well as historical bazaars. But the landmark remains to be the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, a grand square in the heart of the city. For those who yearn for stillness and splendor, deserts await nearby spotted by camps that offer desert-trekking, camel-riding and off-road driving facilities. Lovers of astronomy can also gaze at the starriest sky and trace the trail of the Milky Way at night over vast tracts of desert land. The sandy wilderness is, however, ornamented with jewels of oases. Yazd is home to two of Iran's nine Persian Gardens, Dolatabad and Pahlevanpour, collectively inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List together with five others overseas. One could also choose to stay in a traditional lodging facility such as Pahlavanpour to get a taste of what life was like hundreds of years ago, and at an exceptionally reasonable price. The mild weather of the early spring in Yazd makes Norouz the best occasion to explore the amazing city. Attractions