Ancient and cultured, Iran has a wealth of attractions to discover and although the political situation is potentially unstable, the country is as warm and welcoming as you could hope for.
Modern, unattractive Tehran is the country's trend-setter, for fashion, food and politics. The maze of vaulted alleys in the north, the Shahid Motahari Mosque and the opulent Golestan Palace are spectacular though.
Essential stops include Shiraz, which is home to exquisite mosques, historically significant mausoleums and gentle gardens and Esfahan, which is known as the jewel of Iran and boasts a bustling bazaar, towering minarets, 16th Century mausoleums and an atmospheric main square. Drive out to Manar Jomban, a 14th Century tomb then climb the Fire Temple Ateshkadeh-ye Isfahan for panoramic views. Elsewhere, stop at Kashan, Yazd and Masuleh.
The ruins of Persepolis, which were dug out of the sand in the 1930s to reveal one of the world's greatest ancient sites. The columns and reliefs sum up the strength and sophistication of ancient Iran. For adventure take to the Alborz Mountains, trek around the Castle of the Assassins; there's even skiing in Dizin and Shemshak to discover.