Tehran azadi tower

The Perfect Day

Planning is absolutely key due to immense traffic jams and the dispersal of sights around Iran‘s sprawling capital city. If you can, make your perfect day a Friday and start with a trip to the Jomeh Bazaar. This flea market is set over five floors of an old car park and overflows with various treasures and trinkets, as well as some rare vinyl – we never knew how much we liked 60s and 70s Iranian funk. Following this, make your way to the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, conveniently situated right next to the famous Moslem Restaurant. Grab some food and settle down in the garden for a picnic with fellow city folk before heading to the Golestan Palace, where lavish Qajar princes once held court between mosaic walls and mirrored ceilings. The palace’s size can be a bit overwhelming, so recharge at one of the iconic tea houses nearby, where the brave can challenge a local to a game of backgammon, known as takhte. Come sunset, hop in a cab and make for the Azadi Tower, Tehran’s primary status symbol which was built to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Finish with a traditional dinner at one of Tehran’s finest restaurants, such as Mestoran.

To Stay

Parsian Azadi Hotel

The number of stars a hotel in Iran has should be taken with a pinch of salt – they act more as rough guidelines than legitimate credentials. But with a solid five stars it’s safe to say that the towering Parsian Azadi will not disappoint, complete with a gym, spa, rooftop bar offering impressive views over Tehran. But the main draw has got to be its location in north of the city, away from the crowds, smog and traffic.

Hotel Mashad

Hotels in Tehran can feel quite anonymous and more suited to business travellers than young tourists, but Mashad has a lovely boutique-y vibe with a sweet little roof terrace overlooking the buzz of downtown. Its location in the heart of the city makes it an ideal launch pad for gallery visits or a trip to Ferdowsi Square, where you can spot money changers who stride around with large suitcases stuffed with cash. It is also minutes on foot from the metro, which is ultra-modern and a great way to get around the packed city.

  • +98 21 88 83 98 88
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  • 190 Mofateh Avenue
    Taleghani Cross Road
    Tehran
    1581765611

To Eat

Dizi Sara

Dizi Sara is a Tehrani hotspot for a quick, no-frills lunch. There are no menus, you’re simply presented with a clay pot filled with all the ingredients for a stew. Taking your cue from neighbouring tables, grind mutton, potato, tomato and beans together then sprinkle with radishes and mint. It’s a messy business for a rookie, but will leave you full to the brim.

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    City
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Moslem Restaurant

Moslem Restaurant is the place to fill your stomach before venturing into the maze that is Tehran’s Grand Bazaar-e Bozorg. The house speciality is tah chin, a rice cake stuffed with yoghurt, saffron, egg and chicken fillets, which goes well with the tantalising selection of kebabs on offer.

  • +98 901 920 9497
  • Panzdah-e-Khordad Street
    Tehran

Chai Bar

Less traffic and cooler weather makes the upmarket area of northern Tehran more pleasant than the city centre. Sit, sip tea and gorge on a large selection of cakes in the peaceful garden of this 19th-century mansion, which makes a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

  • +98 21 2221 0313
  • 145 Salimi Street
    Andarzgoo
    Tehran

Divan

The sleek, glass-fronted shopping mall location of this contemporary addition to the city’s food scene is very Tehrani. Take the escalator to the 8th floor where you’ll find traditional Iranian fare done well, such as fesenjān, a stew of ground walnuts, pomegranate and usually chicken. But the star dish has got to be pirozhkis – baked or fried buns, stuffed with crispy beef or chicken which are super filling. Expect to pay $30-40 per head, which is more expensive that other options.

  • +98 21 2265 3853
  • Sam Centre
    Fereshteh Street
    Fayazi Boulevard
    Tehran

To Do

Carpet Museum of Iran

Iran is carpets and carpets are Iran. If you’re floored by this noble craft, you’ll have a field day at this dedicated museum by Laleh Park, where you’ll find an extensive collection of Persian rugs dating back to the 16th century. Even the exterior has been designed to resemble a carpet loom. Designed by the last Queen of Iran, Farah Diba Pahlavi, even the exterior is built resemble a carpet loom, while the library contains 7000 books.

Sa'dabad Complex

A Qajar-era palace complex, this enormous space consists of various houses including the Green House, the White House and the Museum of Royal Clothes. There are many gates leading into this princely pad and it’s located just next door to the current residence of the Iranian President. If you’ve got limited time, the Green House is an absolute must with its beautiful marble exterior and glittering mirror hall.

Azadi Stadium

Tehran’s two rival football teams, Persepolis and Esteghlal, play their matches at the famous Azadi stadium. A futuristic structure sunk into the ground, at a capacity of 85,000 it’s one of the 10 biggest stadiums in the world. Women are banned from going to matches, face-painted ultras wait in queue alongside white-turbaned mullahs. Feverish spectators are tended to by an army of vendors who sell kebabs, tea and sunflower seeds. You can buy confetti but if you’re more persuasive you can get your hands on a flare, which go off at every ambiguous referee decision.

  • Bolvar-e-Gharbi-ye-Estadiyom-e-Azadi
    Tehran

Divan

Chai Bar

Azadi Stadium

Moslem Restaurant

Carpet Museum of Iran

Dizi Sara

Mashad Hotel

Parsian Azadi

Sa'dabad Complex

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