Persian Highlights — 10 days

March 10-19, 2024

Tehran-Isfahan-Yazd-Shiraz-including Persepolis

May be enjoyed as an extension to Islands of the Persian Gulf  February 9-March 10

DAY 01 (Sun 10 March, 2024): Arrive Tehran

Afternoon arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 02 (Mon. 11 March): Tehran

Early morning arrival at IKA Airport; meet and transfer to hotel. After late breakfast, visits in Tehran to include some of Tehran’s major museums: National Museum: the Archaeological, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artefacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C.; and the Islamic with a unique collection of artefacts, manuscripts, silver and bronze objects and tiles from different post-Islamic periods in Iran, displayed on two floors; after lunch, visit the Abguineh (Glass & Ceramics) Museum, a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed and located in an elegant early 20th century mansion, also visit  the Carpet Museum, which has an excellent collection of Persian carpets from different regions of Iran on display. Return to the hotel for O/N stay.

DAY 03 (Tue. 12 March): Tehran-Isfahan

Morning drive to Isfahan, stop at Kashan to visit the historical garden of Fin, which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. You will also visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers), continue to Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic Complex (Friday Mosque/Monastery/ Tomb of Sheikh Abdol Samad Isfahani), onto Isfahan for overnight stay.

Day 04 (Wed. 13 March): Isfahan

Full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources, to visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan/Khajou/Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank; in the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, with several sites (the Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games, and two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah – with magnificent architecture and tilework), finishing with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous, O/N at hotel.

Day 05 (Thu. 14 March): Isfahan

Another full day sightseeing of Isfahan to visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand years of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques. Also visit the Harun-e-Velayat Shrine and the Ali Minaret. From here drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’; In the afternoon return to the main Maidan for further visit to shops and bazaar; O/N at hotel. 

Day 06 (Fri. 15 March): Isfahan-Yazd

Drive to Yazd, en-route stop at Na’in a charming desert town, half way between Isfahan and Yazd, to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House/Ethnographic Museum (closed on Mondays); continue the drive to Yazd and stop over at Meybod, another small desert town with several very interesting monuments of desert/mud architecture and a caravanserai; onto Yazd for overnight stay.  Upon arrival in Yazd visit Dowlat Abad Garden, with an 18th-century feudal hexagonal house. O/N hotel.

Day 07 (Sat. 16 March): Yazd-Shiraz

Complete visits in Yazd, including one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), dating back to the 18th-century, where until some 40-50 years ago the dead were carried and left to decompose and be devoured by birds; and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Drive to Shiraz and enroute visit Pasargadae, the site of the tomb and remains of palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire), all located in the magnificent Dasht-e-Morghab; return to Shiraz for overnight stay.

Day 08 (Sun. 17 March): Shiraz/Exc. Persepolis

Full day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire; also visit Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid); plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian); and Naghsh-e-Rajab, a nearby grotto with several more important  Sassanian reliefs. Return to Shiraz and visit the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet, Hafez, located in pleasant gardens, with charming “Chai-Khaneh” (tea-house), O/N stay at hotel. 

Day 09 (Mon. 18 March): Shiraz

Full day city tour of Shiraz, the city of “roses and nightingales”, to visit some of the delightful gardens of Shiraz, including the Eram Garden. Shiraz, as the capital of the 18th-century Zand Rulers of Iran, has many monuments dating back to this period: the Arg-e-Karim Khan, a fortress building in the now town-centre, which was the seat of government of Zand Rulers, and has been extensively restored in recent years; the Vakil Mosque, etc; also visit the Qajar-period Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, popularly known as the “Pink Mosque” because of its colourful tile decorations, and the Narenjestan Garden/Pavilion, also dating from the Qajar period, and the family home of the wealthy Qavam Family of Shiraz. The Narenjestan has a reception hall or ‘Biruni’ and the private quarters of the family or ‘Andaruni’, which are now in two separate buildings; finish the day with a visit to Vakil Bazaar; O/N stay at hotel.

Day 10 (Tue. 19 March): Shiraz-Istanbul

Early morning transfer to airport for departure flight.