| Must-sees in Tehran |
Obviously it’s impossible to see all of Tehran in 24 hours because this capital city of Iran is HUGE. The must-see spots are also scattered all over the city and traffic jams are not uncommon in Tehran. BUT I’ve already done the research for you and did this route myself to prove that this is a fun, feasible itinerary for a day in Tehran – from foods and bargains at Tehran Grand Bazaar, Iranian movie screening at Cinema Museum, to the award-winning modern pedestrian bridge, here’re the best places to visit if you only have 24 hours in Tehran…
9am: Laleh Park
Let’s have an early start with some green in the bustling city of Tehran. This well-designed urban oasis is located near the centre of Tehran. Although there are many parks around Tehran (one of the many things I love about this city), Laleh Park is one of the most famous ones, probably because of its location and beautiful fountains.
This park has a special place in my heart because it was the first place I visited in Iran. At that time I had a picnic breakfast on the lawn (you can’t get more Persian than that) and played around with the simple outdoor fitness facilities (no more excuses when you can exercise for free!). If you prefer a breakfast prepared for you, Kefeh Vesal in the area has some amazing breakfast options (both Persian and Western) and you can get your dose of caffeine to start the day!
11am: Tehran Grand Bazaar
There’s no better place to have a full Tehrani experience than the Grand Bazaar. You can find literally anything and everything, from Persian carpet, spices, handicrafts, to gold and home appliance in this gigantic bazaar. The only thing you need to do in this old, historical market is to let yourself GET LOST.
At the Grand Bazaar, the more you walk, the more you want to keep going and see more – I once walked aimlessly non-stop without taking any exit and I ended up walking the distance of 4 metro stations!
There is a popular restaurant that sells the best Tahchin I’ve ever tasted, and you can find fresh fruit juices and delicious Persian sweets as you walk along the bazaar from the Panzdah-e-Khordad metro station.
1pm: Golestan Palace
Head over to Golestan Palace after filling up your belly and getting some good bargains for your souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar. The Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar Era and it serves as a prime example of Persian arts and architecture in a significant period in Persia.
The Golestan Palace complex consists of several grand buildings surrounding a beautiful garden. You need to buy a separate ticket for each building. You can simply choose the ones that are the most popular (you can find that out at the ticket office). I remember choosing 3 buildings including the Wind Towers, Mirror Hall and Diamond Hall. The luxurious ambience created by the interior of these buildings is unlike any palaces I’ve seen before.
3pm: Cinema Museum
Now let’s head North because that’s where the action is. If you’re interested in arts and culture, the Cinema Museum is definitely worth a visit (even if you’re not familiar with Iranian movies). This Qajar-era mansion houses the still-operational first Iranian cinema, which screens classic and modern Iranian films several times a day and sells them on DVD.
The Cinema Museum has well-displayed exhibits of equipment, photos and posters from Iran’s century-old movie industry, all with explanations in English. You can also grab some tea at the cafe-restaurants and chat with the locals (expect to meet English-speaking Tehranis there).
5pm: Imamzadeh Saleh
Not too far away from the Cinema Museum is the Shrine of Imamzadeh Saleh in Tajrish Square. Obviously a trip to Tehran wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the mosques, right?
For ladies, chador (a long piece of fabric that covers the body from head to toe except the face) rental is compulsory and available at the entrance of the mosque.
When I entered mosque for the first time, I was in pure awe. The walls and ceilings are lined with reflective glasses in different colours positioned in different angles – I almost couldn’t open my eyes! Plus each hall has an enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling… I have to say I’ve never been to anywhere this shiny!
7pm: Tabiat Bridge
Bridges have always been an inseparable part of Iranian identity. Isfahan, one of Iran’s top tourist destinations, boasts eleven spectacular bridges.Tabiat (nature) Bridge is not only the largest pedestrian bridge in Iran but also an award-winning bridge designed by a young female architecture student in Tehran. It’s intended to be a place to linger rather than just one to pass through, and to act as an extension of the two parks that it connects. The structure consists of three levels (I know – a three-level bridge!) that follow a curved path. It is especially beautiful at night as the colorful lights shine from the bridge and turns Tehran into a magical city. There are cafes and restaurants on the bridge (delicious ones!) at reasonable prices so this would make a great dinner spot!
9pm: Milad Tower
Every big city has an observation tower and Tehran is no exception. It’s a great way to overlook Tehran but not so great when it comes to photo taking as there are wires that block you from the view on the observation deck.
I know, I know, it’s touristy but what better way to call it a day than enjoying a breathtaking view from the tallest building in Tehran?
10am: Shisha/ Cinema (like a local)
For all you night owls out there, if you still have energy after a whole day of exploration, you can either go for a ghelyoon (shisha) experience or a movie at one of the local cinemas. This is your chance to live like a local because this is what most Iranians do at this time of the day.
If you don’t shisha you can still visit a tea house where you can get a nice cup of chai (Persian tea) with sweets on the side. Also don’t worry about not understanding Farsi for the movies (no English subtitles) – it’s all about the experience! Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.