General information

Tehran, a vibrant city with historical buildings, modern shopping malls and pleasant nature has a lot to entertain tourists who do not plan to spend time in this metropolitan.

At a glance, Tehran seems a crowded city with people who are mostly in a hurry on streets, and traffic jams on highways may do not seem like a desirable destination for traveling to Iran. However, Tehran is a great place and destination to enjoy Persian culture, life, and entertainment.

As Iran’s largest city, Tehran is the most populous city in the world.  Today Iran houses about one-tenth of the country’s population in the early 21st century.

The story of Tehran as a city and the capital of Tehran dated back to the Qajar era when Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty assigned the city as the capital of Iran in 1786. Since then, Tehran was the seat of governments and kings. Hence, Iran houses several monuments and historical sites since the 18th century.

So there are a lot of things in this big city that can fascinate you! As a capital for two centuries, it is home to several palaces, monuments, and sites. Here we introduce you to highlights of this city:

Read more: A Complete Guide to Travel Tehran

Tehran attractions

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace

Finding a quiet glamourous and green space amid the crowd of Tehran downtown is really like a miracle. Golestan Palace is exactly that miracle that happens in the heart of Tehran! A place that fills you with tranquility, beauty, and wonder. You enter a garden with an abundance of trees, breath-taking edifices, and parrots flying over your head!

Nasser al-Din Shah (r 1848–96) built this palace over a citadel dated back to the Safavid era (1501-1722). Inspired by his trips to Europe, he wanted to build a European-like palace in Tehran. The original palace was bigger than what you visit today. Several buildings were demolished during the Pahvali era (1925–1979). However, there are some parts of this palace that you should put on must-see sites of Tehran. Here we go:

Shamsolemareh

Located on the eastern side of the palace, Shamsolemareh is a 35-meter high building with five floors. It was once the symbol of Tehran and was the tallest building of the capital at that time. Besides, it was the first building in Tehran made with metal.

Nasser al-Din Shah ordered the construction of this building, which is a combination of Iranian and western architecture, after his European journeys. He wanted to build an edifice on the roof of which, he can have a panoramic view of Tehran.

Mirroring and tilework on the first floor, which is the king’s porch. There is a clock on the top of the edifice which was a present from Queen Victoria of England (1819 –1901) to the court.

Marble Throne (Takht-e Marmar)

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Marble Throne, Golestan Palace

It is an open-fronted audience hall decorating with mirroring with a magnificent throne. In the early 1800s,  Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (r 1797–1834) ordered the construction of the throne.

The throne is made from alabaster of Yazd and is in the middle of the iwan (terrace).

It was a place for ceremonial occasions. The place hosts the coronations of the Qajar and the self-coronation of Reza Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925.

Paintings, marble-carvings, tilework, stucco, mirrors, enamel, woodcarvings, and lattice windows adorn the place. Mirza Baba Naqash Bashi of the court made this throne with sixty-five pieces of marbles.

Karim Khani nook (Khalvat Karim Khani)

In the northwestern corner of the palace was the residence of Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty and is dated back to 1759. However, it is believed that the name of ‘nook’ is added to the name of the place by Nasser al-Din Shah who has used it as a place for smoking his water-pipe in tranquility.

Its structure is just like the Marble Throne just smaller and with less decoration. It is a terrace with a small marble throne inside the terrace.  Once, there was a small pond with a fountain in its middle with water from qanat.

Pond House (Howz Khaneh), Brilliant Hall (Talar-e Brelian), Containers Hall (Talar-e Zoruf), Ivory Hall (Talar-e Adj), Mirror Hall (Talar-e Aineh), Salam Hall (Talar-e Salam), Diamond Hall (Talar-e Almas), Building of Windcatchers (Emarat- e Badgir), Museum of Gifts, and Abyaz Palace are other places you can visit at Golestan Palace.

National Museum of Iran

Golden rhyton at National Museum of Iran

French architects André Godard and Maxime Siroux designed the museum in the early 20th century, which is located in the heart of Tehran. It is a brick building inspired by Sassanid Taq Kasra at Ctesiphon.

It has two parts: the Museum of Ancient Iran and the Museum of Islamic Archaeology and Art of Iran.

The museum houses to ancient and medieval Iranian antiquities, like pottery vessels, metal objects, and textile remains.  The oldest artifacts kept at the museum are from Kashafrud, Darband, and Shiwatoo, which date back to the Lower Paleolithic period There are also 9,000-year-old human and animal figurines from Sarab mound in Kermanshah, among many other ancient artifacts.

Treasury of National Jewels

Treasury of National Jewels

This museum is really a feast for the eyes!

The priceless gems and precious metals of the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties are all kept in this glorious museum.

Globe of Jewels and the Peacock Throne are the main jewels at the place.

Affiliated with the Central Bank of Iran, it is a great collection of priceless jewelers and precious items.

So Traveling Tehran, visit the museum and enjoy its beauty!

Tehran Museums and Palaces

Cinema Museum of Iran

Many of the best Iranian museums are located in Tehran. You can enjoy modern artworks by renowned artists like Picasso and Monet at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts (TMCA).

The Carpet Museum, which is located near TMCA mesmerizes you with patterns and colors of Persian carpet.

Cinema Museum of Iran, Reza Abbasi Museum, and Glassware and Ceramic Museum of Iran (Abgineh Museum) are some other places that excited you with history and beauty.

Tehran is home to other beautiful palaces. Niavaran cultural complex and Saadabad Palace in the northern part of the city are two places that you should not miss during your sojourn at Iran’s capital.

Read also: Travel to Iran: Tips for First Travelers

Things to do in Tehran

Do not miss cafés and galleries

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Vorta Cafe, Tehran

Tehran is the city of cafés and galleries. You can find different types of café in every corner in downtown Tehran.

You can enjoy wide-ranging food and drink menu and socialize with young Tehran citizens at Tehran cafés.

There are several galleries in Tehran in which you can visit the artworks by Iranian artists.

Iran Artists Forum with several galleries is a good choice if you like today’s Iranian art.

You can find different exhibitions of different fine arts in various parts of the galleries. You can spend time and enjoy Persian art by contemporary artists.

Explore Tehran bazaars

Tehran Grand Bazaar is also another attraction of the city. it was constructed 200 years ago. 

Like other Iranian bazaars, it is composed of covered lanes, each of them specializes in one commodity. Do not miss the carpet section of the bazaar.

Tajrish Bazaar is a beautiful place that you can indulge in color and beauty walking through its lane.

You can find fresh fruits of all-season at its center and shops selling different items all through the bazaar. whether you pay a visit to the Tehran Grand Bazaar or Tajrish Bazaar, do not forget to drink tea and try Iranian kebab.

Tehran towers and parks

Tehran Azadi Tower

Azadi Tower in the western part of Tehran is a fascinating structure. Azadi Tower was built in 1971 and once was known as the symbol of Tehran. The fantastic architecture of the ivory-color tower and the museum in its underground is very interesting.

Visit Milad Tower as the most iconic building of Iran’s capital. Built in 2007, it has 435meter height and you can enjoy panoramic views of Tehran.

Tabiat Bridge is another symbol of the modern architecture of the city. However, it is better not to visit the place at the weekend when the citizens flock into Tabiat Bridge to spend their holiday.

Shopping malls in Tehran

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Shopping mall in Tehran

Tehran is home to several shopping centers. You can find facilities and other recreations at these shopping centers and malls.

In recent years, several luxury and interesting malls are established in Iran’s capital.

So you can find different recreational activities, and food courts as well.

To name a few Iran Mall, Palladium Mall, Bamland, Opal Shopping Center, Mega Mall, and Arg Shopping Center are some of the renowned malls in Tehran.

There are theaters, food courts, game centers, and other hobbies at these places.

Lodgings

Espinas Palace Hotel

Espinas Hotel, Tehran

Located in northern Tehran, it has 20 floors with 393 rooms and luxurious suites with superb interior design and all the amenities of the day.

The rooms and suites on floors 4th to 16th include standard room, royal family room, royal suite, presidential suite, Easpinas palace suite, and sky suite.

The hotel is equipped with modern and luxury facilities like sports facilities, massage, and treadmills in the room.

The suites are decorated with precious stones and are furnished with handmade carpets and have a dining table, and complimentary buffet breakfast.

Nezamiyeh Boutique Hotel

Nezamiyeh Hotel

It is in Baharestan district at the heart of Tehran and Nezamiyeh Boutique Hotel hosts the parliament building from 1906 to 1979.

Each of the rooms in the complex, by using its unique design and architecture and fantastic interior decoration has provided an opportunity to the guests, to experience the hotel with Iranian architecture and originality along with modern and advanced facilities.

All rooms of the complex are equipped according to the best standards with Iranian taste to provide a pleasant and enjoyable stay for the guests.

Some of these facilities including a safe box, hot/cold air conditioner, kettle, external telephone line, wake up service, and laundry.

Taj Mahal Hotel

Taj Mahal Hotel

Located in commercial district of Tehran along Hemmat Expressway, Taj Mahal Hotel is a five-star hotel.

To make you feel at home, the Taj Mahal offers its accommodation in the form of apartments and suites.

There are one and two bedrooms apartments, VIP apartments, TV, and free WI-FI.

Amenities are a tea maker, fridge, safe box, air conditioning system, kitchenette, TV, and free Wi-Fi.

All guests have access to the swimming pool, gym, and billiard hall of the hotel.

Best time to visit Tehran

Sa’dabad Complex, Tehran (credit: midaalife)

Unlike other parts of Iran which are very crowded during the holiday of Nowruz (Iranian New Year), Tehran is a great destination for this time! It begins on March 21/22 for two weeks.

At this time Tehran has pleasant weather and unlike other times of the year, there is no traffic jam on the streets. Tehrani citizens leave their cities to visit other parts of Iran.

From late March to May and from September to November, the weather is good. Summer is hot in this city and Tehran does not have hard winters but. However, Tehran faces air pollution in winters. 

During April and May, and September to early November, the weather is relatively mild. Summer is hot and can be very humid, and while winter isn’t as cold as some places, air pollution tends to be at its worst during December and January.

Experience cooking in the capital

cooking tour
Shopping to cooking tour

With Shopping to Cooking tour at Exotigo, you have an opportunity to explore a local market in uptown of Tehran while getting introduced to the ingredients of Iranian cuisine.

When shopping is done, you head to a purpose-built kitchen to learn cooking an Iranian dish. The dish will be chosen from the most favorite seasonal foods of Iran.

When the cooking is done, you will have a feast trying the delicious food you have prepared together.

Zurkhaneh, meeting with hereos

As an experience of a lifetime, visiting the rituals of traditional Persian heroic sport known as Varzesh-e Bastani in Iran will be an amazing thing to do.

In this tour, we show you a hidden part of ancient Persian culture in sports. While training and exercising, the athletes follow the live traditional song sang by Morshed who sits at an elevated area. He also plays a drum and chants Persian poems.

You also get familiar with the heroic stories from ancient Persia and can listen to heroic poems sang by Morshed.

Restaurants and cafes

Sky Lounge

Sky Lounge, Tehran

Located in Espinas Palace Hotel in northwestern Tehran, Sky Lounge offers you a variety of different and luxurious foods.

You can have coffee and tea and also different kinds of food at this restaurant.

Sushi and caviar are also served at the restaurant. The main course includes signature dishes, Persian chest, Asian world, meat, pizza and pasta, beef cuts, and innovative kebabs.

It is located on the rooftop of the hotel and you can enjoy the Tehran view while eating your delicious food.

Address: Behroud Square, Saadat Abad Espinas Palace Hotel, Tehran 11369 Iran, +98 21 7567 5000

Sharaf Al-Eslami Restaurant

Located in the heart of Tehran Grand Bazaar, Sharaf Al-Eslami Restaurant is one of the most well-known places in Tehran that you can eat kebab.

After strolling bazaar for long hours, it is a great place to have a delicious lunch.

It is crowded most of the time but the service is good and you can try Iranian cuisines with good quality there.

Address: Western Jolo Khan, Tehran Grand Bazaar, Tehran, 021 5562 0957

Malek Cafe & Restaurant

Malek cafe, Tehran

The café is located in the heart of Tehran. You can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, drinks until late at night.

It has a vegetarian-friendly menu, gluten-free and vegan options. It is a cozy café with a great range of tea and café.

Address: No 9, Kooshk E Mesri Street Beginning of Ferdowsi Ave, North of Imam Khomeini Square, Tehran

1136845619 Iran, +98 21 6673 4393

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