Esfahan, Iran: Taking Hospitality to a Whole New Level

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

When it comes to hospitality, generosity and kindness, the people of Iran rank at the top of the list. When we were out in the middle of nowhere in the Desert of Garmeh, we met a lovely couple who gave us their number after only 5 minutes of knowing them. They said to call them when we were in Esfahan and we could stay at their house.

sand dunes garmeh
Where we first saw our new friends, in Garmeh

Although this was a nice gesture, we didn’t know them at all and figured we probably would just get a hotel instead. However, when it came time to move on from Shiraz to Esfahan, we decided to give Soroush and Mahsa a call.

It turned out to be the best decision we ever made.

Not only did they share their gorgeous, modern apartment with us, (we even had our own room) they also took time off of work to show us around their city, cooked us traditional Iranian food, bought us gifts and introduced us to their friends. We were basically CouchSurfing without the couch!

iranian apartment
Our friend’s beautiful apartment in Esfahanย 

We explored the nearby park, where we heard some outstanding singing and watched people playing volleyball, but the best thing was that this was a very local area and no tourists were anywhere.

singing in esfahan
Enjoying the beautiful voice of this singer in the park

They also showed us the famous bridges, we went to the square and old bazaar, wandered around the Armenian quarter, explored a palace, saw some beautiful mosques and enjoyed their company.

armenian church
Inside of the gorgeous Armenian church

At the end of each day, Soroush would bring out his hookah pipe and we’d finish the night off with a flavourful smoke. Mahsa even insisted that she paint my nails one night at 1:00am! Iranians definitely go to bed much later than us.

smoking hookah pipe iran
Having our usual end of the night hookah pipe

We were even invited back to their friend’s home (Erfan and Niloofar) for a night of dancing, eating, playing instruments, singing and puzzle-making. It was very interesting to Nick and I to see how people our age spend their free time and what they do for entertainment in this part of the world – a part of the world where drinking alcohol isn’t an option.

travel iran
Us crazy kids after finishing off a really difficult puzzleย 

One of our 5 days there, Nick and I decided to introduce our new friends to spaghetti, done the Canadian way! We cooked up the pasta, made a delicious fresh sauce, made garlic bread and shared our meal with our 4 new friends, plus 2 others who came over for the feast. It was just like how it would have been back in Canada on a Saturday night. We had a nice dinner party with great food, company and conversation. The only thing missing was the great glass of red wine!

friends in iran
Our Iranian dinner party!

We like to think that if we met travellers overseas and they came to Canada, we would be as hospitable as our new friends were. But deep down I wonder if this would be the case. Of course, we would offer to take them out for a drink or a meal, but I find it hard to imagine meeting complete strangers for only 5 minutes and then inviting them back to our house for 5 days! I guess that’s just the difference between Iranians and people from the western world. Their kindness is almost impossible to comprehend.


iranian food
Some of the delicious food and snacks our friends made for us

People from Iran are some of the most genuinely hospitable people we’ve ever met. They never want anything in return, they just want to show you a good time and hope that you’ll spread the word back home that Iran is a safe place to visit.

After a very memorable 5 days spent with our new friends, we had to make a move. We decided that since we were running out of time, we would catch a flight from Esfahan to Tabriz in the very north of Iran, a two hour flight that cost us only $40 – unthinkable in Canada!

Would you let complete strangers stay with you for 5 days, cook meals for them, show them around and buy them gifts?! Tell us what you think below.

Like it? Pin it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Esfahan, Iran- Taking Hospitality to a Whole New Level

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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38 thoughts on “Esfahan, Iran: Taking Hospitality to a Whole New Level”

  1. I love these blogs you do a great job and letting us feel all you felt and letting us experience all you saw. I wish we could taste that great looking food. LOL.
    Here in California no way would anyone be so hospitable, It is neat see in the world there are trusting people.
    God bless

  2. You have no idea how much I loved this post.

    Yes, I would and I have invited complete strangers over, host, share meals with them and take them to places… after all I’m a CS ambassador, but it has never been so spontaneous as finding people on the street and invite them over ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m planing on couchsurfing my way around Iran, i believe it will be the best way to get to know the country and the culture.

  3. Is the old church in the Armenia section still standing?

    When I was a child in the 70’s, for about 6 months my family lived in the Joulfa Hotel just around the corner.

  4. Thank you for your kind compliments,seems you deeply comprehended ” Iranian taarof” in every aspects;) but actually you(lovely couple) made us an amazing moments and we enjoyed your company so much
    good luck

  5. I agree Kymee. In Canada I don’t think people would be so willing to offer up their home to complete strangers! Of course, we’re friendly people and everything, but I don’t think we’d be as generous as the Iranians were.

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. Hey Yara,

    Yes, Couch Surfing would be the absolute best way to see Iran! You would have so many amazing experiences. There are loads of Iranians on CS also, so you’ll have no trouble finding a host.

    Couch Surfing is one thing where you have a profile and references available for the people you want to host, but meeting complete strangers on the street is a whole other ball game!

    They were so kind.

  7. Yep, it’s standing tall and proud. Beautiful church actually. Wow, it’s great to hear from people who have been to Iran, let alone people who lived there in the ’70s! Amazing.

    Thanks for the comment.

  8. Aw, we so glad you had a great time with us as well. We definitely tried to comprehend taarof ๐Ÿ™‚ “this isn’t taarof!” haha.

    Thanks again so much for all of the wonderful things you showed us, the delicious food you cooked and for sharing your home with us.

    We’ll never forget it ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. This is awesome! Unfortunately I probably wouldn’t host people I just met, and I’m of Greek decent, and Greeks tend to be pretty hospitable (But I grew up in the USA).

    I was traveling on a train in Greece with a Greek aunt of mine while in college and we met an English backpacker. My aunt invited her to stay, and she took her up on the offer, which turned out to be really fun.

    Also in Greece I once had a girl getting off a train give me her packed lunch because she said she wasn’t going to eat it and I had much further to go. These kind of gestures reflect wonderfully on cultures.

    Your story is wonderful encouragement to visit Iran!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Wow! I love hearing stories of people being so generous and hospitable. You’re right though, we probably wouldn’t have done the same…maybe now after our awesome experience we would though, who knows.

    No one offered me anything when we were in Greece though! haha. But in fairness, we had rented a car so there weren’t any trains involved ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for the comment.

  11. I agree, they are indeed very hospitable. My friends and I presented our research papers in a conference and one of the Iranian delegates invited us for dinner right after, and she didn’t even know our names then.

  12. Loved this post! and loved you enjoyed your trip to my beloved country and my city (Isfahan). Moreover I wish to thank your Iranian hosts for being so hospitable to you. Be sure that they have enjoyed their time with you very much. We Iranians enjoy to have guests and entertain them and make them happy. By the way, as your hosts might have told you, Isfahanians are infamous of being “stingy” among Iranians, so imagine what would be the case if this would have happened in another city ๐Ÿ™‚ (this is of course not true, but, indeed they try to make optimum economic decisions)

  13. I should be surprised, but I’m not! haha. that’s just how hospitable they are ๐Ÿ™‚ The people of Iran are amazing. I’m glad you had such a great experience as well.


  14. haha, really?! I wasn’t aware that Isfahanians are “stingy” The generosity that our hosts showed us proved that people from Isfahan aren’t cheap at all! We had such a wonderful time in your lovely country and would return one day, for sure!

    Thank you for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. reading your blog and the comments was really the highlight of my week.

    it is good to hear western people come to my country and realize they are missing a great country,culture, and experience to bad publicity.

    you are always welcome to come back… try to stay longer in Shiraz ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. What a nice and very informative article. Thanks for writing this one. Really helpful, because I am making a plan to go to Iran, such as Esfahan and Teheran. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Hi guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is amazing! My father is from Iran (from Armenian origins though) and he hasn’t been back since 1974 unfortunately. However, I have an auntie and cousins too in Iran who I’d love to meet.

    How much do you think you’ve spent in the 32 days you were there? I would love to go there with my husband one day (very soon!)



  18. Hi guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is amazing! My father is from Iran (from Armenian origins though) and he hasn’t been back since 1974 unfortunately. However, I have an auntie and cousins too in Iran who I’d love to meet.

    How much do you think you’ve spent in the 32 days you were there? I would love to go there with my husband one day (very soon!)


  19. Thank you very much for this blog. It is great to hear your experience and so real. I am thinking to visit Iran in the near future and your writing is so interesting although I might be not so lucky to meets such nice family to invite me in their home, but it is quite alright just to hear that so kind people still exist in our world. Thanks and I wish you continue writing about your experience while you were in such cultured country, Iran.

  20. Hi Alice!

    That would be amazing if you could go back ๐Ÿ™‚ We spent about $75USD/day when we were there for both of us – and we lived very well. This even included a domestic flight!

    Happy travels.

  21. Thank you for your comment Yasmin ๐Ÿ™‚

    Iranians are incredibly hospitable and I’m sure you would be invited into many homes for tea, dinner or even to spend the night. We really enjoyed being able to immerse ourselves into the culture with the local people ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy travels!

  22. Hello
    once there was a tourist from Australia who came to Iran and he visited most of the world so I asked him where was the best country you visited , he told me it was the Greece and Iran ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Hi,
    I might be so lucky, because I was burn in Iran, most notably in Esfahan. Have you ever heard “Half of the World”? That’s what people call Esfahan due to having a lot of attraction sites, a diversity of arts, and especially wise citizens. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    To be honest, there are yet some places within the city where I haven’t seen.
    I am currently living in Esfahan and it will be my pleasure if I can help some visitors to explore my town and to enjoy being here. As entire people of our land, I will do my best to share my happiness with tourists. Moreover, I am ready to answer any question about the country, especially about Esfahan. For example, you may be curious to know whether your intended date for traveling to Iran is appropriate, or what you can do here, or the prices, and so on. It is easy to contact me, you can email me and I regularly check my email box. The address: alireza32 [at] gmail [dot] com
    By the way, I would like to express my appreciations to Nick and Dariece for their exciting explanations.
    I hope to see them again in Isfahan, however, all of you are invited here.
    – Alireza

  24. I am Elham from Isfahan , Iran.
    I am happy to hear that you had a lovely trip in my city and country. Be sure that all of the people in Iran acted as Soroush and Mahsa.
    My husband and I would be happy to have you as our guests.In case you decide to have another travel to Iran, just tell us,we will happily receive you with open arms.

  25. When I was in Iran last year, lack of wine –or any other alcoholic beverages for that matter– was never an issue!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. If you visit Esfahan, don’t forget to stay in Nik Guest House that is located near to city center. it is an old house but so clean. You can ask him any information question about all parts of Iran that he knows. He speak English and a little bit Dutch. It is cheap; one bed is 10 Euro and private room is 20 Euro, breakfast and laundry service is free.

  27. Hi,
    Thanks for such an informative post, both the one with all you need to know about Iran, and this one about Esfahan.
    Me and a friend are traveling to Iran this summer, and we’re looking to start of in Esfahan. We will arrive at the end of Ramadan, cause we really want to experience eid. Do you guys know if it’s difficult to book a hotel during ramadan? Or if we will have any difficulties getting food during the day?
    I have never travelled to, and unfortunately I don’t know anyone thats been to any countries in the middle east during this period.


  28. You are brave travelling to Iran during the hot summer months! From what I understand, there is food and water available for tourists – you can always get it at your hotel. I would book your hotel in advance during Ramadan. We were in Indonesia during Ramadan and there were a couple of restaurants that were open for tourists, just a couple. Have some food with you (and lots of water), packed in your bag from the night before, just in case you need it for lunch! But, you cannot eat in public, you must eat inside. Also, keep in mind that you won’t want to be stuck in traffic at sun down when everyone is rushing to get home / to a restaurant to eat – the traffic can be crazy during that time ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope this helps. Enjoy your trip, we really loved Iran.

  29. Hi
    ma name is javad.i’m frome iran and i live in esfahan.
    i’m happy for your coming to my city.

    ุฎูˆุด ุญุงู„ู… ุงุฒ ุงูˆู…ุฏู† ุดู…ุง ุจู‡ ุดู‡ุฑู… ุงุตูู‡ุงู†

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