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Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz

Essential Iran

8-day tailor-made private tour from £3,275 pp incl. flights


Short description

Iran has emerged from Persia’s still-standing ruins in a resplendence of hospitality and grand Islamic beauty


  • Compare the fabled ruins of the lost Persian Empire to the paradise gardens, giant domes and iconic muqarna arches of the country’s century-old Islamic extravagances
  • Showcase a collection of Iran’s finest sights, including the ancient kingly city of Persepolis, the cliff-hewn Royal Tombs of Naghsh-e-Rostam and Isfahan’s juxtaposition of bustling bazaars and sombre mosques
  • Trace it all with expert-led guided tours and the capital’s richly curated museums

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Shiraz
  • 3 Nights Isfahan
  • 1 Night Tehran


Recommended for:
Desert | History & culture | Off the beaten track | Unique & unusual

Although palatial ruins and ancient artefacts will bring you back to the warring Persian Empire, Iran also welcomes with atmospheric teahouses, vibrant bazaars and majestic Islamic architecture. You’ll start with Tehran – a meeting point of the country’s diversely gregarious people and home to its finest museums. From here, a flight hop south will see you to medieval Shiraz for exquisite mosques, verdant gardens and Persepolis, a grand ruined testament to a lost civilisation. Your overland journey back will then be characterised by dynastical desert outposts and a two-night stay in Isfahan where tree-lined boulevards and millennia-old bridges lead to pavilion-speckled gardens and palace-lined squares.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart UK

Board your overnight flight to Iran, arriving on day two.

Day 2

On your arrival into the Iranian capital you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. Your introductions to the country’s unique culture and history will then be made on a visit to Tehran’s major museums. At the Abgineh Museum you’ll find priceless glass and ceramics housed in a 20th century mansion while the National Museum will see you divide your time between collections of prehistoric artefacts and the storied manuscripts, tiles and silver objects that trace the country’s Islamic heritage. You’ll then end with a visit to the Carpet Museum where Persian patterns from across Iran’s carpet-weaving centres are proudly displayed. It’s your last stop before your flight south to Shiraz. 

Stay: Standard or Superior Shiraz accommodation

Meals: L D

Day 3

Today will begin with a half-day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the ancient world. As the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings, it features the remains of palaces built by Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. You’ll still be able to note the famous bas-reliefs that depict kings, courtiers and the gift-bearing representatives from tributary nations. Your next stop is Naghsh-e-Rostam for its giant Sasanian rock reliefs, Achaemenid towers that date back to the 5th century BC and its magnificent Royal Tombs, carved out of giant sandstone cliffs. You’ll then return to Shiraz to visit the beautiful garden setting of the tomb of Hafez, Iran’s greatest lyric poet, before stops at pink-tiled 19th century mosques and 18th century citadels bring you to the gaudy bustle of Vakil Bazaar. The latter is closed on Fridays.

Stay: Standard or Superior Shiraz accommodation

Meals: B L D

Day 4

Leaving Shiraz, you’ll retrace your steps north to arrive at Isfahan. It’s a long drive through giant open plains and swirling deserts, broken up by traditional towns and a stop at Pasargadae. Predating Persepolis, it’s the site of the simple but impressive tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. You’ll also be treated to the remains of several of his palaces, all located in the great plain of Dasht-e-Morghab. 

Stay: Standard or Superior Isfahan accommodation

Meals: B L D

Day 5

Today, a full day tour will reveal the rich heritage of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids. Historically referred to as ‘Half of the World’ by its founders, you’ll find everything from ancient sandstone bridges and grand squares to the Armenian Quarter, home to delicate churches and magnificent cathedrals. You’ll also visit Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, a square that hosts the intricate tilework and swooping architecture of two of the Islamic world’s finest mosques along with the Ali-Qapu Palace. It’s here that the Safavid Kings watched polo games from their music rooms and imperious balconies. You’ll finish with the Qeisarieh Bazaar’s delightful mess of artistry and handicrafts.

Stay: Standard or Superior Isfahan accommodation

Meals: B L D

Day 6

Your second day of full sightseeing in Isfahan will see you start with the magnificent Friday Mosque, a veritable museum of Persian religious architecture that showcases the artisanal stonework of the Il-Khanate period. You’ll also marvel at the enchanting blue tile-work of the Haroun-e-Velayat Shrine along with the towering jut of the Ali Minaret that seems to reach into the heavens. From here you’ll drive on to the Chehel Sotoun Palace. Built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century, its twenty wooden columns are idyllically mirrored in a shimmering pool, giving rise to its name ’The Palace of Forty Columns’. Your final visit will be to the Hasht Behesht pavilion, built in 1670. Delightfully intricate, its tree-lined alleys, reflecting pool and water rills are a true oasis. You’ll then have the option of further visits to the bazaar and the city’s shops.

Stay: Standard or Superior Isfahan accommodation.

Meals: B L D

Day 7

On your way back to Tehran you’ll stop off at Natanz to visit its charming collection of mosques, monasteries and tombs that make up its famous Islamic Complex. You’ll then continue to Kashan for the historic Fin garden; first planted during the Safavid period, it’s been kept alive through the centuries with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. Over the years, successive Zand and Qajar monarchs have all left their mark, with many open pavilions added to its grounds. In the Taba-Tabai House, you’ll also find a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence, complete with a stunning stucco dome, inlaid mirror work and some of the best examples of Islamic badgirs, or ‘wind catchers’. Continue back to Tehran, via the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini and its spectacular golden minarets and domes. 

Stay: Standard Tehran accommodation

Meals: B L D

Day 8
Depart for UK

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Standard Superior

8-day tailor-made private tour from £3,275 incl. flights


2017 departures

from £3,275 pp. incl. flights

2018 departures

from £3,470 pp. incl. flights


  • Return flights with British Airways to Tehran
  • 6 nights' accommodation in standard or superior class hotels (see below)
  • full board with breakfast at hotels, lunch and dinner at local/traditional restaurants or hotels
  • domestic flight Tehran to Shiraz,
  • all ground transportation and transfers in air conditioned saloon car
  • all portage and tipping at hotels and in restaurants
  • entrance fees for main sites and excursions mentioned with English-speaking national guide

Hotels: due to high demand for the limited range of international standard hotels in the destination, the hotels used may vary. Typical hotels as follows (note that we rate Iranian official 4-star hotels as 'standard' and Iranian official 5-star hotels as 'superior'). 

Shiraz: Royal Shiraz Hotel, Park-e-Sa’adi Hotel, Aryo-Barzan Hotel or Karimkhan Hotel (all 'standard') -  Homa Hotel, Pars International Hotel or Zandiyeh Hotel (all 'superior')

Isfahan: Ali-Qapu Hotel, Aseman Hotel, Safir Hotel, Piroozy Hotel ('standard') – Abbasi Hotel or Kowsar Hotel ('superior')

Tehran IKA Airport: Novotel (4 star official Iranian standard - used in both the standard and superior options)

Additional supplements apply for travel over Iranian New Year period – please call for details.

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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