Return to Iran —Spring 2024

May 20-June 3, 2024

15 days, 14 nights

NEW ITINERARY     Tehran, Abyaneh, Kashan, Niasar, Tehran, Zanjan, Takht-e-Soleyman, Tabriz, Jolfa, Ardibil, Anzali Port, Masuleh, Rasht, Qazvin, Mashad, Neishapur, Tus, Mashad

Day 01 (Sun. May 20): Arrival in Tehran

Afternoon or evening arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel.

Tehran: Espinas/Azadi     5*

Day 02 (Mon. May 21): 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. Afterward, 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 local favorite outing place in the late afternoon/early evening and is called Tehran’s third symbol. The bridge has three layers: one level for cafes, another for walking, running, and biking, and a third platform for viewing the highway below or the Alborz Mountains; staying overnight in Tehran.

Tehran:            Espinas/Azadi      5*

Day 03 (Tue. May 22): Tehran-Abyaneh-Kashan

Morning drive to Abyaneh, a small village hidden in the Karkas Mountains, one of the last places in Iran that 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 19th-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 at a traditional house.

Kashan:            Kasian/Manouchehri

Day 04 (Wed. May 23): 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.

Kashan:            Kasian/Manouchehri

Day 05 (Thu. May 24): Kashan-Tehran

Drive to Tehran and visit the Moghadam Museum, one of the luxurious houses of the Qajar period. Also, visit the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to see 19th and 20th-century world-class sculptures and paintings. Stay overnight in Tehran.

Tehran:            Espinas/Azadi      5*

Day 06 (Fri. May 25): Tehran-Zanjan

Drive to Zanjan en route to 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 built in the formerly vast plain of Soltaniyeh, only the tomb of Uljaitu has survived. The monument is remarkable in many ways; its colossal 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), an impressive 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 structure, with running water, now been converted into a fascinating Ethnographic Museum; stay overnight in Zanjan.

Zanjan:             Grand Zanjan     5*

Day 07 (Sat. May 26): Zanjan-Exc. 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 an overnight stay.

Zanjan:             Grand Zanjan     5*

Day 08 (Sun. May 27): Zanjan-Tabriz

Drive to Tabriz, and after lunch, visit the Historical Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, another UNESCO site; also visit the Azerbaijan Museum, which displays a fine collection of pre-historic and historical artifacts found in the area, if time permits, also see the Blue Mosque, known in the world as the ‘Turquoise of Islam.’ Stay overnight in Tabriz.

Tabriz:             Pars     5*

Day 09 (Mon. May 28): Tabriz-exc. Jolfa

Make an excursion to Jolfa to visit St. Stephanus Church, one of the area’s oldest and most beautiful Armenian churches (10-12 century A.D). The church, named after St. Stephanus, one of the first Christian martyrs, is located in the green valley of Darreh Sham, some 10 miles west of Jolfa. A thick stone wall with seven watchtowers had protected the church well. On the church’s façade are images of Mary and Jesus, angels and apostles beautifully carved on stone.  Also, visit Khajeh Nazar Safavid Caravanserai. Return to Tabriz for an overnight stay.

Tabriz:             Pars     5*

Day 10 (Tue. May 29): Tabriz-Ardabil-Anzali Port

Drive to Anzali Port via Ardabil to visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi-eddin Ardabili. He was a widely-revered Sufi philosopher of the 14th century who made Ardabil his home. He was also the ancestor of the well-known Safavid kings of Iran, who patronized his mausoleum, making it one of Iran’s most beautiful and wealthiest shrines. Since his death at 83, his mausoleum has been the Mecca of thousands of pilgrims yearly. Continue the drive to Anzali for an overnight stay.

Anzali:              Sepid Kenar     4*

Day 11 (Wed. May 30): Anzali Port-Tehran

An exciting drive today en route to Tehran, visit the traditional village of Masuleh, one of Iran’s oldest and longest inhabited villages. It is recognized as a heritage site by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization.  The village’s streets wind up to the higher levels over the rooftops of houses below. You’ll find local women are busy knitting colorful dolls and socks.  Stop by local markets in Rasht. Before continuing to Tehran, visit Chehel Sotoun Palace in Qazvin.

Tehran:            Espinas/Azadi      5*

Day 12 (Thu. May 31): 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-Moslems are not allowed to enter the building of the shrine and mosque but are permitted in the museums.  Also, visit the Tomb/Museum of Nader Shah Afshar, the 18th-century Ruler of Iran, and the extensive and colorful Mashad Bazaar.  Overnight stay in Mashad.

Mashad:           Homa #1     5*

Day 13 (Fri. June 1): Mashad-exc. Neishapur

Excursion to the west of Mashad to visit the ancient town of Neishapur, the famous Iranian city of the Islamic era. It is known for its libraries, scholars, and 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, echoing 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 the Tomb of Kamal-al-Molk, Iran’s most significant 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.

Mashad:           Homa #1    5*

Day 14 (Sat. June 2): Mashad-exc. 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.

Mashad:           Homa #1     5*

Day 15 (Sun. June 3): Departure

Early morning transfer to the airport for departure flight.