Capturing Iran: A Photo Journey Through This Misunderstood Nation

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

The Middle Eastern country of Iran is misunderstood by many. Western media portrays this nation as a place filled with nuclear weapons, a sinister ruler and women dressed from head to toe in black. As with every country, Iran isn’t without its faults. However, any misconceptions we may have had were completely shattered the minute we crossed the border from Turkmenistan, into Iran.

We made the decision to travel to Iran to learn about the fascinating history and culture, meet the local people and feast on a cuisine made with intriguing spices and ingredients….a decision we’ll never regret!

The People

The people of Iran are extremely kind. On numerous occasions we were invited to sit and talk about life, shown into the homes of complete strangers and were frequently given help and directions. Everyone we met was friendly and at times, overwhelmingly hospitable!

iranian men tabriz
Men taking a break in the afternoon sun – Tabriz


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Three people we now call friends – Shiraz


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The owner of our desert homestay played the pots! Incredible sound – Garmeh


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We were invited in for tea by these guys in Yazd


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Singing poetry in the park, incredible sound! – Esfahan


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We were invited to stay for 6 nights with these awesome people! – Esfahan


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Everywhere we went, people wanted photos with us – Persepolis


travel to iran tabriz
Hanging out enjoying tea and good company – Tabriz


Two fabulous friends – Esfahan


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The Troglodyte (cave dweller) Village of Maymand has been continuously inhabited for 3,000 years!

The Landscapes

From crystal clear seas to sandy deserts and rocky mountains, Iran has a very diverse landscape. Much of the country is a dry desert and we spent some delightful days enjoying the peacefulness that only this parched landscape can provide.

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Amazing formations and cave homes at the Kandovan Troglodyte Village – near Tabriz


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The Kaluts are towering sand formations in the desert outside of Kerman


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The desert village of Garmeh is a lovely oasis


travel to iran garmeh
Salt Flats in the desert – Garmeh


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The mud village of Karnaq


travel to iran garmeh
Hiking up mountains and multi-coloured rocks to get to a spectacular viewpoint – Garmeh


travel to iran garmeh
Enjoying the views from the rolling dunes at sunset – near Garmeh Village

The Food

Iranian cuisine isn’t very popular in the west, which is a shame! The different flavours and spices combine to make unique, must-try meals. Stews and grilled meats are common for main dishes, while both fresh & dried fruits, nuts and pastries are often eaten as snacks. Street-food is common as well, with some delicious bites on offer.

street food iran
Beets on the street! A great street food option – Tehran


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This traditional dish, Tah Chin is a savory saffron rice dish with chicken


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date-filled delights, the best cookies ever – Kerman


iranian food
A nice lunch in the desert, camel patties! – Garmeh


iranian food
Roast chicken dish with saffron rice and barberries – Mashad
Ghormeh Sabzi iran
Ghormeh Sabzi (stewed greens) with beans and camel meat, so good – Garmeh

The Architecture

The buildings in Iran are gorgeous. The intricate details on ancient mosques, palaces and bazaars are outstanding. From glittering tiles to vaulted ceilings and crumbling forts, the structures in Iran are very impressive.

tomb of hafez shiraz
The Tomb of Hafez, the greatest master of Persian lyric poetry – Shiraz


shah cheragh shiraz iran
The Shah Cheragh Mosque & Funerary Monument – Shiraz


persepolis travel to iran
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Persepolis was built around 515BC! The ruins here are incredible


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The Van Cathedral in the Armenian Quarter – Esfahan


imam Reza shrine travel iran
Totalling 598,657 m2 (6,443,890 sq ft) the Imam Reza Shrine and mosque complex is the largest in the world


nasir al mulk mosque shiraz iran
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque) has beautiful tiles and stained glass inside – Shiraz

The Markets

Markets and bazaars play a huge part in Iran’s day-to-day life. Vendors sell everything from carpets, water pipes and food, to clothing, fabrics and kitchen ware. The markets here are usually covered with high vaulted ceilings. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything, the architecture and atmosphere here is a must-see. The covered bazaar in Tabriz is one of the oldest in Iran, the largest in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

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A Vendor weighs out some nuts in Kerman


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Vaulted ceiling at the market


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Nap time at the carpet market – Shiraz


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Waterpipes for sale in the sun – Kerman


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Colourful spices on display – Kerman market


kerman market iran
Courtyard at the market in Kerman


markets iran
Colourful fabric for sale – Esfahan


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A beautiful, intricate, expensive Persian carpet – Tehran

Iran may be a country that you never thought you’d visit. Having backpacked here for over a month, we can honestly say that it’s a traveller’s dream destination, one we highly recommend! Many people are afraid to come to this distant land due to political reasons, or, they can’t be bothered with the (sometimes) lengthy visa process, meaning you’ll have the country virtually to yourself.

Note: As of February 2014, Canadian and British passport holders have joined the ranks of Americans and now have to be accompanied by a guide for the entire duration of their stay in Iran. Sorry guys! Sad news…

With luxurious transportation & accommodation, historical sites, natural wonders, incredible people and delicious cuisines…why wouldn’t you go?

What do you think about travelling to Iran? Do you think it’s a safe place to go? Share with us!

Like it? Pin it! 🙂

Capturing Iran- A Photo Journey Through This Misunderstood Nation

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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52 thoughts on “Capturing Iran: A Photo Journey Through This Misunderstood Nation”

  1. So nice! I’d love to go. I am good friends with an Iranian guy (aka a gorg persian prince lol) while in Holland. He cooked the best food and I’ve always wanted to visit Iran after he explained it’s beauty to me!

  2. Great to see all the wonderful pictures. We are going to Iran in February 2015 and airline tickets are just bought. Thanks for giving us some tips.

  3. Hi Olly,

    The official bank listed exchange rate in Iran is pretty low, but there are money exchange booths all over the country that will give a much better rate. The exchange is constantly fluctuating, but when we were there in November, 2013, our daily budget was about $70/day staying in nice double accommodation, eating well, we took a flight and the odd private taxi, but usually buses.

    The value for money in Iran is excellent – we’ll be making a guide to Iran soon!


  4. I LOVE Persian food – that was one of the first motivations for me wanting to go. We also recently met a traveller who did a month long trip there and said that out of all the countries he’s visited, Iran is his favourite. I must make it there! (I will!)

  5. It really is an amazing country to travel through – and totally affordable.

    The only downside for women is having to be covered up, but if you don’t go in the summer, it’s not so bad.


  6. Us too! We didn’t get to see much of the Gulf area when we were there, but would love to go back to explore. Kinda felt like I didn’t want to go to a beach where I couldn’t swim (what with having to be covered up and all!)


  7. Wow, Iran seems like an amazing country to visit! So colourful, and the food looks delicious! Did not know that the people of Iran was so friendly and welcoming. Hmm, really want to visit this country now, after reading this. Thanks! 🙂

  8. One of my best friends is Persian and grew up in Iran. She now lives in the US but she visits Iran every year and I am always so envious of her travels. I’ve been wanting to go to Iran for years now. I actually didn’t realize it was such an affordable country to travel in. Before I read this post I actually assumed it would be really expensive. Thanks for the info! Hopefully I will make it there someday!!

  9. Hey Justine!
    You should definitely try to travel to Iran when your friend goes back! That would be a great way to see the country. And yes, it’s actually quite affordable, but the exchange rate is fluctuating every day. The most important thing to realize is that the value for money is amazing! Everything there is of good quality.

    Enjoy 🙂

  10. My best friend visited a few years ago and raved about it for months afterwards, mainly about the overwhelming friendliness of the people. It is somewhere I would like to go somewhere although to be honest the landscape doesn’t interest me that much. I will definitely go for the culture and people though

  11. Hey Katie,

    Yes, the people are a true highlight of Iran. But I have to ask…why aren’t you interested in the landscapes?! The mountains, deserts and beaches don’t appeal to you? Either way, you’ll still have a fantastic time at the markets, interacting with the people and checking out the architecture…there’s something for everyone 🙂


  12. Lovely pictures I must say! Iran is in my neighbours nowadays and it’s top of my travel list now after viewing your photos. You seem to have spent much time around tabrez? I heard the very north side of Iran is lush green and flora and fauna is at the best over there. I live in Pakistan now mostly and Iran is our fruit trade partner, my uncle spent much of his adult life in Tehran and he once told me that the type of fresh fruit you get in Iran, you will never it get it anywhere. Anyway, seems like you had great trip and thanks for showing some of real Iran to the western world. Pakistan is the same case, 97% of it is not what you see in media. I hope you will spend a month here too. If you need any help, just let me know.

  13. Thank you Hammad. We do realize that media usually makes things seem worse than they are! We have an interest in travelling to Pakistan and hope to go there one day 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. Hi ,I am so glad that you visited Iran and thanks for sharing your experience . As you said Iran is a nice place to visit . it is a safe place with people who are very hospitable and treat their guests like a member of their own family. The fact is, what western media shows about Iran is not true .I welcome to all of people who want to travel to my country .also there is a lot of place that you should visit them that they are not as famous as Tehran or Isfahan or Shiraz but are wonderful places to visit like Kelardasht ,Abbas abad road ,Ramsar ,Masoleh…..all of them in the north . Abyaneh village near Kashan In the center ,kish in the south which is really modern and it is beside the sea that you can do a lot of activities ,Mashhad in the east and a lot of other places that I recommend you to visit .best wishes به ایران خوش آمدید

  15. Hi guys, I’ve loved your Iran posts. We are planning to go in February…one burning question I have is what is travelling by road like? I have recently read that Iran has one of the highest rates of road death in the world. Normally this wouldn’t freak me out and my husband and I have travelled extensively . But we have a little 1 year old daughter now and suddenly driving in a country with a crazy road toll becomes a bigger issue than I would have ever thought! In general did you feel safe driving? Are there trains between Tehran Esfahan and Shiraz?

  16. Hi Rachel
    How are you?
    To answer your question, you can come with your own vehicle and drive in Iran. there is not any danger. i myself drove through Kashan to Isfahan and from there, to Shiraz. the road was beautiful and completely safe. In addition, i went to Bandar abbas in the south of Iran which is close to Dubai. Be sure that there is no point to be worried. I promise.
    by the way,i have two links of my friends from Europe. These two links can show you how they drove through Iran.
    here is my mail:
    Let me know if you want to have their links
    By the way, congratulations on your 1 year old kid. Kiss her for me
    Wish all the best
    Mahdy from Iran

  17. HI Rachel,

    We felt fine when we were on local transport in Iran. Perhaps that was because we had just come from Central Asia where they drive like maniacs though! Buses went a normal speed and when we had a private taxi, it wasn’t driving excessivly fast or aggressive either. Here’s a link to the trains in Iran:

    Have a great trip!

  18. Yes, I’d love to visit Iran at some point. The food is very meaty orientated for a vegan like me, but I’m sure there will be options for me too, correct? Iran looks such an interesting and diverse place to travel and discover, wild landscapes, amazing architecture, lovely and friendly people and vibrant colors of the spices and textiles. Why not to go?

  19. Absolutely fascinating guys. Would definitely love to follow in your footsteps one day. As far as that lengthy visa process, is it lengthy and expensive, or just lengthy?

  20. hi Rachel
    the road is ok..but some drivers are highways you will have less problem cuz of police and speed cams..but you must be careful more than you are in us..
    but about safety …completely safe..if not safer than us..u can stop and sleep in your car in middle of nowhere ..but police will wake u up and tell you do not sleep here because of sleeping truck drivers lol

  21. Hey Goats!
    Love your posts, I’m going on a 6 month trip this year and I read earlier that you said you should never leave your backpack in your rented room, but I noticed in a lot of your photos they aren’t there! Are they hiding just out of sight or have you figured out another solution? 🙂 Love your blog! xxx

  22. Hi Alicia 🙂

    I’m not sure where we said to NOT leave your backpack in your hotel rooms? We always do. If you have a lock on your backpack, then we would suggest locking some valuables inside when you go out. Always lock your hotel room door…and, we never opt for cleaning service. We haven’t had any issues with our bags in hotel rooms (knock on wood!)

    If you don’t see our bags in our photos, it’s because we hid them to take the picture 🙂

    Let us know if you have more questions. Happy travels!

  23. Planning to cycle from Turkmenistan through Iran but was recently told by a reputable UK agent that handles visas that Iran is now closed to independent travellers from the UK. Visited the Iranian embassy here in Tokyo a few weeks ago. Very friendly staff but was told I needed an LOI from an acquaintance in Iran, who would first have to receive permission from the MoFA there. Best to check with a credible source before making travel plans as the situation regarding visas can change overnight.

  24. Hi Clive,

    That is indeed the case. Since February 2014, Canadians and UK passport holders have now joined the ranks of the Americans and can no longer travel independently through Iran. If you have a friend in Iran, they may be able to vouch for you and get you in but it’s not as easy as it was pre February of last year.

    Really sad to hear and yes, everyone should always check the current visa situations before planning any trip.

  25. Hi
    I’ll be happy to see you both in Iran and specially in my city shiraz again. You can contact me before and after comming. I would like to be your host here. Don’t worry about the place!

  26. That looks amazing you Guys! It seems like you had an incredible time in Iran! I have wanted to go ever since my Irani friend told me about her country, but this just made me want to go even more!

  27. Hi Goats, love your descriptions of Iran, it’s top of my list of ‘must see’ countries, I’ve been curious about Iran for years. My only concern is that I’m vegetarian and Iranian cuisine seems to be entirely ‘meaty’, all of the time, what are my options for avoiding meat in Iran, and will people be offended if I refuse meat or ask for a veggie ‘version’ of a dish? Thanks.

  28. We actually found the food to be very diverse. Not everything is super meaty, although, they do eat meat. There are lots of rice dishes, soups, stews and breads. One of my fave dishes Gormeh Sabzi can be made with just beans rather than meat. They wouldn’t be offended I don’t think 🙂

  29. Hi I’m Samaneh

    I’m iranian.

    Photos are very beautiful

    This is my blog Address :

    I’m very happy if you come to my blog.

    And tell your comment

    my blog is new and Its content is still low.

    But I update the blog every day. (I try )

    My English level is not high so if you see a mistake, forgive!

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