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

May 29-June 11, 2023

(Monday – Sunday) 14 days | 13 nights | $5180 — Single $830 — Guaranteed share: yes

Tehran-Soltaniyeh- Zanjan- Takht-e-Soleyman -Tabriz- Ardibil -Anzali Port- Masuleh-Tehran- Neishapur  Excursion- Matin Abad Camp and Eco-Resort Kashan-Qom

Monday, May 29 Arrive Tehran

Afternoon arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel. (D)

Espinas Hotel /Azadi *****

Tuesday, May 30 Tehran

Full-day visits in Tehran to include some of Tehran’s major museums including 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.; 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; and Moghadam Museum which was one of the luxurious houses of the Qajar period. 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)

Espinas Hotel /Azadi *****

Wednesday, May 31 Tehran-Soltaniyeh- 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 20th-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*****

Thursday, June 1   Zanjan- Takht-e-Soleyman -Tabriz

Drive to Tabriz via the mostly mountainous roads of Shahin Dej and visit another UNESCO site, 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; continue to Tabriz for overnight stay. (B-L-D)

Pars Tabriz *****

Friday, June 2 Tabriz

Full day of visits in Tabriz to include the Blue Mosque, known in the world as the ‘Turquoise of Islam’; the Azerbaijan Museum, displaying a fine collection of pre-historic and historic artifact found in the area; the Constitution House, an early 20th century Qajar building which was the headquarter of the Constitution Movement, and is now a museum commemorating it; architecture structure of the Historical Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, another UNESCO site; in the afternoon short excursion to the intriguing troglodyte village of Kandovan, up in the heights of Mount Sahand, a volcanic mountain. In Kandovan people have carved their houses in the rocks, and some still live in them as in ancient times. Return to Tabriz for overnight stay. (B-L-D)

Pars Tabriz *****

Saturday, June 3 Tabriz-Ardibil -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 14th 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 ****

Sunday, June 4 Anzali Port-Masuleh-Tehran

Drive to Tehran and enroute visit the traditional village of Masuleh, one of the oldest and longest inhabited villages in Iran and declared as a heritage site by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization. In this mountainside village, the roads winding up to the higher stages are over the rooftops of houses where local women are busy knitting colorful dolls and socks. Visit local markets in Rasht, and drive to Tehran for an overnight stay. (B-L-D)

Espinas/Azadi *****

Monday, June 5 Tehran-Mashad

Further visits in Tehran include the 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. Also visit the Carpet Museum, which has an excellent collection of Persian carpets from different regions of Iran on display. Transfer to the train station to board the overnight train to Mashad. (B-L-D)

Aboard Overnight Train

Tuesday, June 6 Neishapur  Excursion

Upon arrival in Mashad, we make an excursion to the west of Mashad to visit the ancient town of Neishapur. It was an important stop on the Silk Road, famous for its ceramics and pottery, but totally destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century. On the way, visit the lovely Safavid shrine and gardens at Qadamgah. It is an important pilgrimage site with beautiful decoration. In Neishapur, we learn about Omar Khayyám, mathematician, astronomer, and poet whose 1000 quatrains came to be known as the Rubáiyát (“A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me singing in the wilderness”). Kamal-al-Molk, Iran’s greatest contemporary painter whose works include “The Fortune Teller of Baghdad”, and Farid al-Din Attar, the 12th century Sufi poet and mystic, are also buried in Nishapur. Return to Mashad for an overnight stay. (B-L-D)

Homa #1 *****

Wednesday, June 7 Mashad-Tehran

Spend the day on a city tour of Mashad and visit the outer courtyards of the Shrine of Imam Reza, the outer court of the Gohar Shad Mosque (non-Moslems are not allowed to enter the building of the shrine and mosque), and the museums.  Later, visit to the extensive and colorful Mashad Bazaar.  In the evening, board your overnight train to Tehran. (B-L-D)

Aboard Overnight Train

Note:  Those who prefer a 10-day trip may end the tour today and fly from Mashad to your next destination.

Thursday, June 8 Tehran – Matin Abad Camp and Eco-Resort

Upon arrival in Tehran, drive to Matin-Abad Desert Resort and Organic Farm. The site has unparalleled beauty, with the desert constantly changing colors from rich green to pastel, and with desert shrubs, trees, and vast spans of grass swaying in the breeze. Enjoy a night in the desert. You will have the experience of gathering around a campfire, an old Persian tradition, and staying overnight at camp. (B-L-D)

Matin-Abad Desert Camp

Friday, June 9 Matinabad Camp-Kashan

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 19th-century merchant residences known as Taba-Tabai House, with their beautiful stucco domes and inlaid mirror work and some of the best examples of existing “badguirs” (wind-catchers) in the area. Stay overnight in one of the renovated Old Houses that have been turned into elegant small hotels.  (B-L-D)


Saturday, June 10 Kashan-IKA Airport Hotel (Tehran)

In the morning, visit the Bazaar of Kashan and afterward drive to Tehran via Qom, the most sacred city of Iran and visit the outer courts of Hazrat-e-Masumeh Shrine. Stop by the Shrine of Khomeini on the way to the airport hotel.  Stay overnight at Rexan IKA Airport Hotel. (B-L-D)

Sunday, June 11 Departure

In the morning, our guide will assist in the short walk to the airport for the departure flight.