When people from the west think of Iran, images of Taliban waving guns in the air, buildings being bombed and women covered head to toe with only their eyes showing tend to come to mind.

But here’s the thing: The Taliban are located in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bombing doesn’t occur in Iran (at least for now). Women wearing veils to only show their eyes are mainly found in the Arabian Peninsula countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and the UAE. In Iran, women must cover their hair and show no skin, but they can wear modern clothing and colourful headscarves.

travel to iran
Women in Iran typically do not wear the Niqab (veil)

Sure, they’ve had a violent past, but apart from protesting elections, things have been calm and safe here since the Revolution.

Iran isn’t Iraq. It isn’t Afghanistan and it most certainly isn’t Pakistan.


We want to travel to Iran for many reasons, but one is to show the world that Iran isn’t what is portrayed in the media. Western news is disgustingly biased when it comes to coverage in the Middle East and while we won’t be able to change everyone’s mind on the subject, we hope to shed a little light on the truth about Iran.

We’ve met many western travellers of all ages who have explored Iran, some more than once. Everything we’ve heard about this country has been nothing but positive!

By Hamed Saber (originally posted to Flickr as Teb & Chit) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The Iranian people are said to be some of the friendliest in the world
The people here are known to be friendly, gentle and kind. Stories of being invited in for dinner by complete strangers, or offered a room in their house for the night are not uncommon. The people of this Islamic Republic are said to be the most hospitable in the world, and we’ve said that about almost everywhere; but other travellers keep telling us: “wait until you go to Iran.”

They too want the world to know how safe and welcoming their country is, rather than what is depicted on the media.

Besides finding out what is really going on in Iran and to meet the wonderful people, we are really looking forward to seeing all of the recent and ancient sites, exploring the desert and trying the local cuisine!

Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has been home to settlements since 4000 B.C. Obviously, this means there is some amazing ancient architecture to explore. As an example, the Achaemenid Empire started building the city of Persepolis in 520B.C., the remains of which are still standing in ruins and are a Unesco World Heritage Site.

By User:Ggia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We can’t wait to see Persepolis!
As you know, we love spending time in the desert! There’s just something about the sand dunes, deafening silence and complete peacefulness that we really enjoy. We did a camel safari in India, explored many of Egypt’s diverse deserts and recently, spent a week in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. We’re really excited to see how Iran’s deserts compare to the ones we’ve seen in other parts of the world.

sand dunes gobi desert
The sand dunes of the Gobi Desert

Then there’s the food. Iran has some famous traditional dishes and snacks that we’re looking forward to trying, both sweet and savoury. Each region has its specialities and we’ve heard that camel meat is eaten in the desert villages, which we’ve never tried.

mmm, I wonder what you taste like?!

One of the things I’m so excited to sample is a dessert called maajun – banana, ice cream, walnuts, pistachios, honey and cream are all blended together to create one of the best sounding sweets ever! The fresh fruits, nuts and spices of Iran sound fantastic as well: pomegranates, dates, figs, walnuts, pistachios, saffron and cardamom are just some of the things we’re looking forward to.

We can’t wait to try the pomegranates in Iran

We’ll be spending 32 days in Iran and from what we’ve heard and what we’re picturing in our minds, it won’t be enough time. We have high expectations for this controversial country and I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Stay tuned to hear about our findings in Iran!


Do you think Iran is safe to travel to? Would you go? We’d love to hear your opinion, share with us below.

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Why Did We Decide To Travel to Iran-

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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31 thoughts on “Why Did We Decide To Travel to Iran?

  1. Wow! 32 days! Surely that leaves you with enough time to stop and overnight me a maajun? 🙂

    Cannot wait to read about your adventures.

  2. Looking forward to hearing about your time there! Every time I see an article or blog post on Iran I am astonished by the ancient ruins, gorgeous mosques and amazing tile work, and all I hear about is how friendly the locals are. Enjoy!

  3. Really interesting post, there are so many myths about travelling to this country so good to hear an unbiased point of view! Great photos too!

  4. Great post! Last March I traveled to the UAE, while I did visit the bigger modern cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I traveled to some rural areas. I fell in love with the Middle East…the culture…the people…It was definitely A LOT different than what I thought it would be like (based on the biased people of the US.) The people were the most kind people I have ever encountered in all of my travels. It really opened up my eyes to how the US news creates a frenzied biased view of any country in the Middle East. It’s nice to know there are other like minded travelers out there!

  5. From what we’ve seen so far, you would be completely right about all of that! The mosques, tile work, people and ruins are all fantastic

    Thanks for the comment!

  6. Thanks Becky!
    You’re right, many people have the wrong idea about Iran. It’s not its Government and it’s not even an Arab country…it’s Persian!

    We’re loving it so far and will be posting lots of stories and tips.


  7. That’s so great that you ventured away from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Well done! Many people definitely don’t do that when they’re in the UAE. We’ve never been, but are kicking ourselves for not getting a double-entry visa to Iran, we would’ve popped in there!

    So glad to hear that you had a great time in the Middle East and are aware of how biased (and completely untrue) the news can be.


  8. Have a nice travel around Iran. As I know you have already been in Kerman, my city. I am now living in the Netherlands but you stayed in my brother’s hotel there.
    I do not where else you plan to visit, but most certainly you will go to isfahan, you should visit Beryooni, which is a traditional food of there. In Yazd you should try Faloodeh Yazdi but I do not know if it is available during winter, Arde Shireh (which is made from sesame) is also very nice.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  9. Hello Azadeh!

    We are loving our journey through Iran, what a fabulous country. Our stay at your brother’s place in Kerman was amazing. They are so kind!

    Thanks for the comment 🙂

  10. Hey Maya,

    A burkha is an all-enveloping piece of clothing that covers the whole body, face, head and eyes. Those aren’t worn in Iran, or many of the Persian Gulf countries.
    Check out the link here:

    The niqab is a veil worn over the head and face, exposing only the eyes. This is typically worn in the countries I listed, not in Iran though.

    I hope this clears things up 🙂


  11. We look forward to reading about your Iran travels. It certainly boasts one of the richest histories and its ancient sites are supposed to be stunning (hello Persepolis!). And Esfehan (or Isfahan) is famous for its beautiful mosques.

  12. I may have mentioned before…but I am super excited to see what Iran is like through your site. I’ve never been, though I’d love to, and I’ve also heard the people are seriously friendly. I studied at university with a British born Iranian girl who told me about her family in Tehran. It seems like they wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to hospitality (especially around food!)

  13. Hi! I loved this blog post. I was wondering, did you face any security challenges/not getting let back into your home country after visiting Iran? I’m not sure what your nationality is, but I’m American and have been wanting to go to Iran, however, it is strongly advised for US citizens to not go. Did you go with a tour group, or was it planned by yourself? Any tips and insight would be most appreciated.

    Thank you!

  14. You’ve got that right! The history here and the sights are amazing. We’ve now been to Persepolis and it’s stunning.


  15. The people here are over the top generous and hospitable. We’ll be writing about the great people of Iran in future posts, but ya, they are amazing.

    Cheers 🙂

  16. Hi Ashley,

    We are still in Iran, so I can’t comment on not being let back into our home country of Canada, but hopefully we are! No, but seriously, we haven’t heard about anyone having issues being let back in.

    We didn’t go with a tour group, but Americans must. You will need to join a tour, or have a guide with you the entire time you are travelling in Iran.

    So far our trip here has been amazing and if you have a chance, we would highly recommend coming here!

    Cheers 🙂

  17. I am American and I lived in Tehran, Iran for 20 months. I went on several trips in Iran. I visited Persepolis, Isfahan, the house of forty columns, Cyrus the Greats Tomb. On weekends we would travel to a lake outside of Tehran. We called it Karaj Lake but I think it is now called Amirkabir Lake. Tehran sees all the seasons and they are all about equal in time much like most of the USA. The home we lived in was very nice, parts of the walls were marble stone. We had camels come right by our house. We would walk down the street just like everyone else and go to the bread shop where we purchased a large piece of bread that was usually about 1-1&1/2 inches thick about two feet long and about 10 inches wide. It was very good. We would take a large pot down to the restaurant and have them fill it up with lamb and rice, it was also very good. We lived close to what I think is called the Azadi Tower. Nice place to go and relax. The traffic was crazy and very unorganized but we managed quite well. We would catch a taxi usually in a Citroen or a Mercedes and it was usually very cheap. We had many friends while living there. The people were generally very friendly although we did have a few run ins with some unfriendly. While I was standing just outside an Iranian friends house I was shot by a total stranger. The bullet grazed the top of my head just above my temple. Immediately after he shot he ran and I never seen the man again. The Iranian friend was my landlords son. After this incident I never felt good about being in Iran, I always had an uneasy feeling about walking the streets and just getting out though I still would venture out from time to time.

  18. Hey Mr.Watkins,

    Really sorry to hear about your experience in Iran, that’s awful. Surely we would have an uneasy feeling if that happened to us as well.

    It should be noted that your case was very unlucky. According to in 2009, only 3 of every 100,000 people are killed in Iran by all forms of homicide, while in America, 10.22 out of 100,000 people are killed BY GUNFIRE ALONE, not including stabbings, hit and runs etc which almost doubles this figure.

    A similar study can be seen on the chart here:

    While your experience in Iran was very unfortunate, I would feel more uneasy walking the streets of the US as you have at least 3X more chance of being murdered there.

    Our advice to everyone is to do research and be aware no matter where you are in the world. We will still stand by the statement that Iran is safe… because it is a very safe place.

    We hope that your experiences in other countries are better than the one you had in Iran.

    Safe travels.


  19. Wow! I’m so amazed you are doing this. I solo’d travelled China after reading your blog and I’m even going back next year. Iran has actually crossed my mind but I’ve heard so many scary things about it. Definitely on my list for when I finish university but don’t know if I should go solo since Iran isn’t the most friendliest backpack place.

  20. Hey Phil!

    We’re so glad you enjoyed your solo travel through China. It’s a great country to backpack through.

    Also, Iran is an amazing place to go for the adventurous backpacker! There are really good hostels/guesthouses, hardly any tourists around, unbelievable sights, good food and the friendliest people in the world!

    Go for it 🙂

  21. Great to see more people visiting Iran to show we are more than the terrorist characetures we’re made out to be. Would be great to have more people from the west visit us and know us. It would be more difficult to get away with misinformation and war-mongering then.

  22. Hey Asad,

    Thanks for commenting. We had such a great time in your country. We had nothing but positive experiences and Iranian people are some of the friendliest in the world!


  23. Hi
    I’m Elham from Iran. It is really interesting you have plan to visit Iran. You won’t be regretful ,be sure 🙂
    Actually I’m a tour guide and I can help you to see the beauty of this matchless glory better.
    Just let me know if you like 🙂

  24. Hello Elham,

    We have already been to your wonderful country. We left there in December 🙂 We had a great time though!


  25. Isfahan would be first on my Iran travel list! It´s like the entire city is one massive jewel box — stunning.. I´ve heard many stories about Iranian hospitality, too, and I can´t help but think how tourism could boom here if they just opened this place up!

  26. Hey Julie!
    You’re right, Esfahan was a stunning city. Many of the mosques in Iran have unbelievable mosaic tiles inside. It’s to amazing to put into words 🙂 The hospitality is also exceptional. Highly recommend Iran!

  27. Hi , thanks for traveling to Iran and also thanks for writing your experience .As you said Iran is not a dangerous place and the news about Iran in the western medias are not true .Iranian people are so hospitable and respect to their guests. there is no difference where you are from even you are an American, Iranian threat you like their own family. I welcome to all of people who want to travel to Iran .به ایران خوش آمدید ( in the end I apologize if I have some Grammatical problem in my writing my English has not become perfect yet. ) best wishes

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