There are so many reasons why Iran will steal your heart. First of all, the architecture in this country is absolutely mind-blowing. You’re looking at some of the finest Persian mosques and palaces in the world that have stood for centuries through multiple kingdoms and dynasties. You’ll learn about the incredible history behind these attractions and will get an insightful glimpse into life during the Persian Empire. History fans, this is your place!
Most beautiful places in Iran to see
Day 5-6: Kerman
From Shiraz, take a comfortable night bus to Kerman to explore the incredible desert landscapes there.
13. Rayen Castle
Start your journey in Kerman by visiting the second-largest adobe castle in the world – the magnificent Rayen Castle. Built in the Sassanid Era (224–651 AD), this majestic structure rising gloriously out of the desert will take your breath away and leave you in absolute awe. It’s a must-see during your time in Iran!
The castle is also really well-preserved despite the natural disasters it had to endure. It’s said that around 5,000 people lived in this citadel up until roughly 150 years ago, and the current structure you see has been built over the ruins of an older fortress.
Rayen Castle was divided into three parts: A section for the kings, a section for the lords and the wealthy, and a section for the ordinary people. Walls and towers separated each of these areas.
The castle was well-situated on a major trade route and was therefore a popular hub for caravans and merchants. There were also a lot of workshops here with people making guns, knives, and swords. Today, you can still see some of them by the entrance.
Kaluts in Lut Desert
The gem of the Kerman Province is undoubtedly the breathtaking Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut), a UNESCO-registered salt desert home to some truly ethereal clay-rock formations known as kaluts (yardangs). I highly recommend camping overnight here to fully soak in the magic of this place, especially if you enjoy stargazing.
The unique and incredible shapes of the kaluts were formed by erosion due to strong wind and water. Some of these rock structures are easily climbable, and you can get a fantastic view of the desert from the top.
Dasht-e Lut is one of the hottest places on Earth – its highest registered temperature is 70° C (158° F)! For that reason, it’s best to visit in the spring or autumn. If you go in the summer, try to be there in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
Day 7-8: Yazd, a must-see historical desert city
The next stop on your Iran itinerary is Yazd, a must-see historical desert city.
The UNESCO-registered Yazd is one of the most ancient cities on Earth, and it’s definitely worth spending at least two days discovering its unique charms. Wandering around the historical Old Town is the perfect way to start exploring this city. You’ll be immediately drawn in by its quiet and laid-back atmosphere, and will also feel as though you’re traveling back in time.
The Old Town is filled with mudbrick walls, adobe houses, hidden courtyards, splendid mosques, rooftops with views, and tons of wind towers (Yazd is actually nicknamed “City of Windcatchers”). It’s quite easy to get lost in the Old Town; the countless narrow alleys will make you feel as though you’re walking inside a maze, but it’s honestly a maze you wouldn’t want to leave!
Amir Chakhmaq Complex
The stunning Amir Chakhmaq Complex is one of the biggest gems in the Old Town of Yazd. This square houses a majestic mosque, a bathhouse, a mausoleum, and several cafes and restaurants.
You’ll immediately love the relaxing atmosphere of the square, and it’s a great place to sit down on a bench, people-watch, and admire the captivating Amir Chakhmaq Mosque.
Completed in 1438 during the Timurid Era, Amir Chakhmaq Mosque is the star of the square and a symbol of Yazd. From the outside, this three-storied structure looks very different from other mosques in Iran; its facade consists of several symmetrical sunken alcoves – a truly unique sight.
Visit this square both during the day and night because after sunset, the entire building lights up, and the alcoves of the mosque emit beautiful orange light.
A charming pavilion is situated in the middle of the Dolatabad Garden. The UNESCO Heritage Site is one of the most serene places in Yazd. Built in 1750, it was once the residence of the founder of the Zand Dynasty, Karim Khan Zand.
The interior of the pavilion is simply mesmerizing. You’ll be greeted with large colorful stained-glass windows of all kinds of patterns and designs. You’ll see a lot of local tourists taking photos there! The garden itself is also an amazing place to go for a relaxing stroll; it has a long pool surrounded by trees, and the vibe there is super peaceful.
Sar Yazd Castle
One of the best places to visit in Iran is Sar Yazd Castle, an adobe castle rising out of the desert about 50 km (31 miles) outside of Yazd.
Exploring this ancient fortress is an incredibly raw and authentic experience as there are barely any other tourists around. You’ll feel like a true explorer discovering quiet alleys, hidden entrances, and abandoned chambers that will take you back in time.
Built in the 7th century, Sar Yazd Castle was used to protect Yazd from attacks and invasions. A lot of food, grains, gold, and other valuables were also stored there. The premise has three floors and 450 chambers, and it’s very easy to get lost wandering around.
In fact, wandering around the castle will feel as though you’re inside a maze. This is because the castle was purposely built to make it difficult for intruders to enter and navigate. Most of the alleys inside are also only made to fit one person at a time, and it’s truly a special experience to squeeze your way through them.
Make sure to climb to the top of the castle’s tallest tower. You’ll be greeted with an incredible view of the surrounding desert and mountains, including the mount of Shirkuh, which, at 4,055 meters high, is the tallest peak in Yazd.
It’s a good idea to get a guide before visiting this castle because it can be very difficult to navigate this maze-like fortress on your own; you may never be able to find a lot of the hidden chambers and entrances.
One of the most unmissable sights of Yazd is Jaame Mosque, a spectacular 12th-century structure that’s still in use today. Its beautiful entrance portal is truly impressive, but that’s not the only thing that will amaze you about this mosque.
This building is crowned by two minarets, which at 52 meters, are the highest ones in Iran. Its ceiling is also adorned with some incredible artwork, and the mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque) inside showcases even more stunning mosaic tiles.
Essentially, this mosque is an architectural masterpiece and a paradise for those who love looking at intricate tilework.
To be continued