What can you expect from traveling to Iran? With the mainstream media profile of this “just another middle-eastern country”, many may think that they have a pretty clear image of Iran, with the burning flags and protests. But does the media show you not the whole picture, but even a moderately realistic picture of Iran?
These are our choices of 5 top experiences you can have in Iran:
1. Breakfast in the jungle, lunch in the desert
From the lush jungles of the northern side of Alborz mountain range to Lut desert which at its center has been recorded as the hottest place on earth, you can find a great geographical diversity in Iran. This brings us to our next top experiences you can find in Iran.
2. With climate, diversity comes variety in cuisine
Once I heard a thoughtful advice about how to find a great food in travel. My friend said “If you’re in a big city go for complicated foods, those in which the cook should be experienced not those which are based on freshness of ingredients. And if you were in a village, go for the simplest and freshest dishes.” I guess this can be true everywhere but in Iran, it means that you can find heavy Beryun in Esfahan or when you are in golden beaches of Persian Gulf you can get a bite of freshest fishes; or pure organic honey and butter for your breakfast in Azarbaijan.
The good news is that this variation goes beyond the main meals and into the world of sweets, desserts, and snacks. Of course, there are similarities and patterns, but every city has its own types of sweets and snacks; from rice cookies (Nan Berenji) of Kermanshah to Gaz in Esfahan, Sohan of Gom, various types of Baklava in Yazd and Shiraz and the list goes on and on.
3. How many capitals?
Almost every great city in Iran has been the capital in a certain period and a rich and colorful history brings with it rich and colorful historic buildings, palaces and monuments. Even if you just consider one element in the history of architecture in Iran, gardens, for example, you can see Iranian history reflected in them. There is Taagh Bostan in Kermanshah and Pasargadae Garden as part of Pasargadae complex in Fars province from the pre-Islamic era, to Safavid Gardens of Esfahan and Ghajar Gardens and modern gardens of Tehran. Iranian history can be seen in palaces and mansions and traditional houses all over the country.
4. “Art belongs to Iranians.” seriously!
This is a quote from Ferdowsi a legendary 10th-century Persian poet. Yes, in his language Art has a complicated meaning including virtue; but if you take a look at Iranian art you may excuse him for his bragging. Miniature, Iranian old style of painting is present in almost every historic building and palace, scenes of such beauty rich with mind-blowing details and complexity. There you can find and see in museums but in today’s everyday life you can see Iranian famous carpets as another avenue for presenting artistic taste and style; and traditional Iranian music, with its unique instruments.
5. How nice can you get?
I began with mentioning the clichéd picture of Iran in the media. Picture of angry people, poor country, bleak nature and closed society. Maybe one of the top experiences you can have from traveling to Iran is that you can see how and in how many ways this picture can be inaccurate or downright wrong! You will find nice and welcoming people eager to show their hospitality.