- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Things to see and do
Admire the majesty of Golestan Palace
Arguably Tehran’s key sight, Golestan was the royal home of the Qajar dynasty. The palace complex within the old city walls dates back to the Safavid dynasty, right at the beginning of Islamic Persia, but it took on its current shape largely in the 19th century with a blend of traditional Islamic architecture and Western influences.
Bask in the glittering expanse of Imam Square
Esfahan’s breath-taking centrepiece is one of the largest public squares in the world, fringed by a glittering array of blue-mosaic mosques and palaces. Wander the gardens, gawp at the architecture and take time to absorb the atmosphere of this UNESCO-listed marvel.
Go rug shopping
It hardly needs to be said, but there is literally no better place in the world to go shopping for Persian rugs, and throughout the city bazaars you’ll find no shortage of different vendors. It's best to throw yourself into the full experience – take tea, choose a favourite and barter with a smile.
Go undercover at the US Den of Espionage
The name may make you want to laugh and cry at the same time, but this unusual museum is important for being the site of the former US Embassy in Tehran, where diplomats were once held hostage for over a year as depicted in the hit 2012 film Argo. Today the complex is perhaps best known for the sobering anti-Western murals daubed on its walls.
Take tea Iranian-style
Chances are high that as you make your way around the country, you’ll be invited to locals’ homes for tea on a fairly regular basis – Iranians are a very hospitable bunch. Forget any natural reserve and say yes, as it may well be the most rewarding thing you do in Iran.