Return to Iran — The Other Half of the World — Fall

October 8–22, 2023

(Sunday – Sunday) 15 days | 14 nights | $5520 — Single $980 — Guaranteed share: yes

Our carefully planned, action-packed, and extensive routing includes:

Tehran • Abyaneh • Kashan • Niasar • Qamsar • Soltanieh • Zanjan • Takab (Takht-e-Soleyman) • Tabriz • Jolfa •  Arbil  • Anzali Port •  Masuleh Town •  Qazvin (Chehel Sotoun Palace) • Tehran • Flight to Mashad  •  Neishapur • Qadamgah  •  Tus • Mashad

Sunday, October 8 Tehran

Evening arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel.


Monday, October 9 Tehran

Full day visits in Tehran to include Niavaran Palace Complex. The main Niavaran Palace, completed in 1968, was the primary residence of the last Shah and his family until the Islamic Revolution. Afterwards drive downtown to visit Iran’s National Museum: the Archaeological, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C.; and the Islamic with a unique collection of artifacts, manuscripts, silver and bronze objects and tiles from different post-Islamic periods in Iran, displayed on two floors. In the afternoon spend time in the Water & Fire Park and see the award-winning Pol-e-Tabiat (Nature Bridge). Pol-e-Tabiat has become a favorite outing place for locals in late afternoon/early evening and is being called the third symbol of Tehran. The bridge has three layers, including one level for cafes, another for walking, running and biking, and a third platform for viewing the highway below, or the Alborz Mountains; stay overnight in Tehran. (B-L-D)


Tuesday, October 10 Tehran – Abyaneh – Kashan

Morning drive to Abyaneh, a small village hidden in the Karkas Mountains, one of the last places in Iran which surrendered to Islam. The people of Abyaneh have preserved their ancient culture and traditions over the centuries, and still wear their traditional dresses; drive to Kashan and 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 some fine examples of 19 th century merchant residences known as Taba-Tabai House, with their beautiful stucco domes and inlaid mirror work, and with some of the best examples of existing “badguirs” (wind-catchers) in the area; also visit the beautiful bazaar of Kashan, stay overnight O/N at hotel. (B-L-D)


Wednesday, October 11 Kashan exc. Niasar

Morning excursion Niasar, famous for its many gardens and Flower-Water Festival held in early May, to visit the small Sassanian-era fire temple; continue to the town of Qamsar, the biggest rose-water production center in the Middle East, and host to one of the biggest festivals in  Iran  called ‘ Golabguiri ’ to produce Rose Water in the spring; visit the beautiful rose fields; return to Kashan for overnight stay. (B-L-D)


Thursday, October 12 Kashan – Tehran

Drive to Tehran and visit Moghadam Museum which was one of the luxurious houses of the Qajar period. Also visit Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to see 19 th and 20 th century world-class sculptures, and paintings, stay overnight in Tehran. (B-L-D)


Friday, October 13 Tehran – Soltanieh – Zanjan

Drive to Zanjan, enroute visit Soltanieh one of the finest achievements of Persian architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent Gonbad-e-Soltaniyeh (Soltaniyeh Dome), which was built by Sultan Mohammad Khodabandeh (Uljaitu), the 14th century Il-Khanid/Mongol Ruler of Iran (1304-1330). Among all the magnificent palaces, mosques, and public buildings that were built in the formerly vast plain of Soltaniyeh, only the tomb of Uljaitu has survived. The monument is remarkable in many ways; its huge dome is about 51 meters high and ranks amongst the largest domes in the world. The stucco-work, the tile-work, and other decorative elements in this monument are unique; continue to Zanjan and visit the Rakhtshur-Khaneh (Public Laundry), a unique building of its kind, built in the early 20 th -century for local women to take refuge from the freezing winter temperature and do their washing in a covered building, with running water, now been converted into a very interesting Ethnographic Museum; stay overnight in Zanjan. (B-L-D)

*****Grand Zanjan

Saturday, October 14 Zanjan – Excursion to Takab

Excursion to Takab to visit the majestic Sassanian site of Takht-e-Soleyman, in a broad and remote mountain valley. From the time of Zoroastrian Magis, who guarded the sacred fire of Azar Goshasp beside the bottomless lake of deepest blue until today, Takht-e-Soleyman (the Throne of Solomon) has remained for all who see it a sacred and enigmatic place. The massive stone walls and remnants of the thirty-eight watch towers, plus remains of the palaces, the fire temple and the Anahita temple, built around the lake mainly by the Sassanians in the 3rd century A.D, are part of what is left of the complex. The crater of Zendan-e-Soleyman (the Prison of Solomon) can be glimpsed in the distance; return to Zanjan for overnight stay. (B-L-D)

*****Grand Zanjan

Sunday, October 15 Zanjan – Tabriz

Drive to Tabriz and after lunch visit the Historical Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, another UNESCO site; also visit Azerbaijan Museum, displaying a fine collection of pre-historic and historic artifact found in the area, if time permits, also visit the Blue Mosque, known in the world as the ‘Turquoise of Islam’; stay overnight in Tabriz.(B-L-D)


Monday, October 16 Tabriz exc. Jolfa

Exc. to Jolfa to visit St. Stephanus Church, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful Armenian churches in the area (10-12 century A.D). The church which is named after St. Stephanus, one of the first Christian martyrs, is located in the green valley of Darreh Sham, some 15 km west of the city of Jolfa. A thick tall wall made of stone, with seven watchtowers had provided a good protection for the church. On the façade of the church one can see pictures of Mary and Jesus, as well as angles and apostles beautifully carved on stone. Also visit Khajeh Nazar Safavid Caravanserai; return to Tabriz for overnight stay. (B-L-D)


Tuesday, October 17 Tabriz – Ardabil – Anzali Port

Drive to Anzali Port via Ardabil to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi-eddin Ardabili, a widely-revered Sufi philosopher of the 14 th century, who made Ardabil his home. He was the ancestor of the well-known Safavid kings of Iran who bestowed their patronage to his mausoleum, making it one of the most beautiful and richest shrines in Iran. Since his death at the age of 83 his mausoleum has been the Mecca of thousands of pilgrims every year; continue drive to Anzali for overnight stay. (B-L-D)

****Sepid Kenar

Wednesday, October 18 Anzali Port – Tehran

Drive to Tehran and enroute visit the traditional village of Masuleh, one of the oldest and longest inhabited villages in Iran and pronounced as a heritage site by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization; in this village the roads winding up to the higher stages are over the roof tops of houses where local women are busy knitting colorful dolls and socks; visit local markets in Rasht and drive to Qazvin to visit Chehel Sotoun Palace, continue to Tehran for overnight stay. (B-L-D)


Thursday, October 19 Tehran – Mashad

Morning flight to Mashad, as available. Spend the day in Mashad, Iran’s holiest city, and the center of the country’s largest province, Khorassan. Mashad owns its importance, as a pilgrimage center, to the Shrine Complex of Imam Reza, the Eight Shi’ite Leader who was martyred in the 8th century (non- Muslems are not allowed to enter the building of the shrine and mosque), and the museums; also visit Tomb/Museum of Nader Shah Afshar, the 18 th century Ruler of Iran, and the extensive and colorful Mashad Bazaar, overnight stay in Mashad. (B-L-D)

*****Homa #1

Friday, October 20 Mashad – Excursion to Neishapur

Excursion to the west of Mashad to visit the ancient town of Neishapur, the famous Iranian city of the Islamic era, known for its libraries, scholars, poets, and as a center of glass and ceramics workshops. Although not much of Neishabur’s past glory is left after the savage Mongol invasion, the name itself is still intriguing with an echo of the past. Visits include the Tombs of Omar Khayyam and Attar, two of Iran’s greatest mystic poets, set in a beautiful garden, and a restored in-town caravanserai; also visit Tomb of Kamal-al-Molk, Iran’s greatest contemporary painter whose works include “The Fortune Teller of Baghdad”. On the way back to Mashad visit the lovely Safavid shrine and gardens at Qadamgah, an important pilgrimage site, with beautiful decoration; stay overnight in Mashad. (B-L-D)

*****Homa #1

Saturday, October 21 Mashad – Excursion to Tus

Excursion to Tus to visit the Mausoleum of Ferdowsi, Iran’s greatest epic poet of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) fame, the Harunieh Tomb Tower (probably from Seljuk Era), and the remains of the ancient city of Tus; return to Mashad and visit the  Mehid-Gholi Beyk Hamam (bathhouse), turned into anthropology museum, which is one of the biggest bathhouses in Iran, stay overnight in Mashad. (B-L-D)

*****Homa #1

Sundaty, October 22 Departure from Mashad

Early morning transfer to airport for departure flight.

Train enthusiasts: Ask about a two-day extension to experience Iranian rail.

Transfer from hotel to train station, train ride from Mashad to Tehran, free afternoon in Tehran, dinner and overnight, transfer to the airport for departure from Tehran.

B= Breakfast