Iran has often found itself embroiled into some international political conflict or the other, making the destination difficult for travellers to explore. But media misinterpretation aside, the massive country in the West Asia and the Middle-East is a compelling and attractive country to visit provided necessary safety precautions are taken. Iran is laden with awe-inspiring historical sites, dramatic landscapes and an extraordinary cultural legacy.
Begin the trip by heading out to the cosmopolitan and uber-modern - Tehran. Residing at the foot of the massive Alborz mountain range, the capital city is home to approximately 14 million residents. Be sure to visit the Azadi Tower - one of the enduring symbols of Tehran. It was designed to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire and meshes facets of Sassanid and Islamic architecture. One can catch a glimpse of the Milad Tower from nearly all of Tehran. The complex is also home to a luxurious hotel, a convention centre, a world-trade centre and an IT Park.
Tehran comprises of over 50 museums and 100 art galleries. Some of them are: Treasury of National Jewels (largest collection of jewels in the planet including the Darya-e-Noor diamond, the sister diamond to the Kuh-e-Noor diamond) and National Museum of Iran (includes significant artifacts from ancient Persia; one of the must-see highlights is Salt Man, a prince who was mummified in a salt-mine for 2,000 years). History aficionados would love knowing more about the majestic Golstan Palace, that used to be the royal residence of the Qajar dynasty.
Take a trip to the ancient town of Isfahan which is known to be the former capital of Persia. One of the major highlights of this destination is the stupendous centrepiece - Imam Square - one of the biggest public squares in the planet, surrounded by a shimmering array of blue-mosaic mosques and palaces. One needs to stroll along the Zayanderud River beside the seasoned bridges to appreciate its remarkable beauty, with several of them dating back to the golden era of the 1600s. The 33-arched Si-o-Seh Bridge is incredibly beautiful while the Khaju Bridge - split on two levels - is very impressive.
Drop by at Tabriz and go back in time to 15th-century Persia by exploring the covered Qaisairiyeh Bazaar and eye-catching Kabudi (Blue Mosque). Spend some time wondering about ancient towns such as Yazd, Shiraz, Kashan and Persepolis where each settlement will unwrap a unique perspective on Iran. Scuba-diving enthusiasts can explore the virgin coral and colourful aquatic universe in the waters off Qeshm Island in south. Those tourists who want to experience desert-village-life and learn more about the life of the locals can spend some time at the tiny oasis village of Garmeh - fringed by date palms and centred around a small spring.
If you're a fan of Persian rugs then Iran is the best place to shops for it. One will find plenty of rugs in any of the colorful city bazaars and there is no dearth of different vendors selling them. Other local items that are worth purchasing are inlaid woodwork, silks, leather goods, carpets, mats, tablecloths, gold, silver, glass and ceramics. Do sharpen your bargaining skills to acquire these quintessential goods at affordable rates.
Don't forget to gorge into local Persian cuisine while visiting the country. Iranians are known for their tea culture. Often tourists will be invited to locals' homes for tea. Accept it and relish a steaming cup of tea!
The stay options in Iran are abundant with the best luxury hotels, swanky apartments and cheap accommodations being available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget.
Owing to its huge size, varied topography and different altitudes, Iran has two extreme climate conditions. The best time to visit the country would be from mid-April to early June and late September to early November as the temperatures are relatively pleasant during that time.