|Overview||Read Travel Advice||Give Travel Advice||Add to My Map|
Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, warm friendly people and the chance to watch the daily life of Tehranis, it deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.
Tehran has also earned itself the rather unenviable reputation as a smog-filled, traffic-clogged and featureless sprawl of concrete housing bursting at the seams with 14 million residents. But, guided by the right guides, you can find an endless number of nice and cosy places in and around the city. Tehran is also a city of parks and possesses more than 800 well-kept parks. The city is nearly a mile high and as a result is extremely temperate compared to other cities in the middle east. Summer temperatures are in the 32 Celsius range or about 90-95 Farenheit. The air tends to be very dry.
 Get in
 By plane
There are no direct flights from North America or Australia, but there are flights direct from numerous European, African and Asian cities as well as cities in the Middle East. Also, Iran Air has recently started a flight from Caracas via Damascus.
Tehran's Mehrabad airport is the old pre-revolution airport and is being replaced with the new Imam Khomeini International Airport, recently all the International flights are destined to Imam Khomeini and Mehrabad became a local flights host. The old airport is located relatively close to the city center and the abundant taxis are definitely the best way to get to the city. There is a booth organizing taxis for you right outside the arrivals hall.
The new airport IKA is a significant improvement over Mehrabad and is still only lightly used. Be warned that it can take up to an hour and a half to get to the airport in bad traffic but if you book your departure early in the morning it can be much faster. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. The best way to get in is via Dubai and then take Emirates  or Air Arabia  to Tehran.
Be warned that there is an EXIT FEE when leaving from IKA and possibly Mehrabad as well. This is an extreme nuisance and often requires travelers to leave after going though security to get cash and come back to pay the exit fee. It is a profoundly stupid system the government has implemented to tax wealthy Iranians frequently leaving the country for other places (i.e. Dubai).
 By train
There is a three-day train journey going from Istanbul to Tehran for around 50 Euros. You change trains during the journey at Lake Van which requires a four hour ferry ride to get across. Both the Turkish and Iranian trains are comfortable and clean.
 By car
Traffic is very congested but has improved with the completion of several new tunnels across the city and highways (referred to as autobahns by the locals). You can drive in from Turkey fairly easily as well as from the south. Driving is often dangerous and seat belts should be worn at all times.
 By bus
Almost every city and far-flung village in Iran has bus services to Tehran, as evidenced by the hundreds of buses that pour in and out of the capital each day. Most buses arrive to, or depart from one of four major bus terminals:
 Get around
Getting around traffic-clogged, sprawling Tehran is a true test of patience. While taxis are your best bet, they are pricier here than the rest of the country. A large local bus network will also take you almost anywhere you need to go, as long you can make sense of the routes and Persian line numbers. The true star of Tehran's transport system however, is the brand new metro.
 By bus
Tehran has an expansive but confusing bus network. Tickets (IR 200) can be bought from booths beside the bus stops. Since bus numbers, route descriptions and other information is in Persian, your best bet is to look confused enough at a bus terminal; a local will surely stop to help. Each bus line has a certain and almost invariable path but there are only people, who are regulary familiar with the lines, exactly know where bus stations exist for a certain path. You shouldn't expect a map or a guidance even in Persian showing the bus network or bus stations. Perhaps even asking the bus driver wouldn't help you much to find your way. If you get in a bus and looking for a certain station to alight, ask one to help you. Mostly you will find many people wish to help you to find your way.
 BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation)
The BRT buses are colored in red. BRTs has special line and travels very fast from Azadi square (west of Tehran) directly to east (Terminal-e-Shargh). Tickets (IR 200) can be bought from booths beside the bus stops. In high traffic hours (7AM to 9AM & 4PM to 8PM) it could be best choice to travel West-East-West part of your way. BRT has too many station near main streets. You may not find empty place to seat because of crowd, but people give their place to you if they know you are a tourist! The women and men sits and queues are separate.
 By metro
Tehran's new metro system  is comprised of three lines that will whisk you quickly from one end of the city to the other without having to deal with the noise, pollution and chaos of Tehrani traffic.
There are currently four lines (rather strangely numbered 1, 2, 4 and 5) but the two most useful are lines 1 (north to south) and 2 (east to west) which connect at the central Imam Khomeini station. All stations are double signed in English. Trains run every ten minutes (25 minutes on holidays) from around 6:30AM until 10PM every day.
Tickets (IR 2000) are valid for two trip (including interchanges) and can be bought from ticket booths at every station. The Tehran metro is segregated, with two women-only carriages at one end of the train. Despite this, some women choose to travel in the men's part of the train, usually accompanied by a man.
 By taxi
As with the rest of the country private and shared taxis abound in Tehran, although you may find flagging down a shared taxi more difficult amid the traffic and chaos, and private taxis are more expensive than in the smaller cities. See the Get Around information on Iran for details on flagging a taxi. If getting about by shared taxi, your best bet is to hop from square to square, drivers will be reluctant to pick you up if your shouted destination deviates too much from their route. Currently in each square you would find certain places where the private taxis are lined up in a queue and drivers call for passengers to a destination. It is mostly happening in the time when the number of waiting taxis exceeds the number of passengers. In this case, they would wait until the car gets full of passengers (mostly one people at front and 3 people at back, except the driver). Otherwise the people have to line up in a queue waiting for the taxis to come. This is the case during rush hours (approximately 7AM to 8AM and 5PM to 8PM). All these depend upon finding their regular station in the square. You may also ask them to alight sooner than destination wherever you like but you have to pay their total fee up to destination. To get a clue, the cost of such a ride from Azadi square to Vanak Square has recently been 5,000 Rls (500 Tomans) for each person. Most drivers are very poor at English.
Motorcycle taxis are a Tehran specialty and offer a way to weave quickly through the city's traffic-clogged streets. You'll see plenty of these drivers standing at the side of the road calling "motor" at all who pass. Keep in mind motor taxi operators are even more suicidal than the average Tehran driver, agree on a price before you take off and expect to pay slightly less than chartering a private taxi.
 A1one Graffiti
A1one (aka Alonewriter, tanha) graffitis and street art works are a sort of interesting stuff in Tehran's Urban Space. A famous local graffiti artist at the center of controversy about whether his work is art or vandalism. You can see his early works on the Tehran-Karaj Expressway, on the southern side walls UP in Ekbatan and Apadana districts, and a more recent stencil is located on the entrance of the Saba Art Institute.
It is easy to find work in Tehran, but you must have a university diploma to be applicable for good jobs. Although there is some inflation, many of the people in Tehran have good and well paying jobs. Like every other big developing world city, there's a big difference between poor and rich.
ATM's in Iran DO NOT accept foreign (non-Iranian cards) except some which accept cards from arab state banks, so bring ALL the money you might need in cash, preferably in US or a selection of European currencies. Once in Iran, changing your money to Rials should not be a problem. You can always check the latest rate beforehand at Xe for instance.
Currency exchange can be done in most banks for a small commission after filling out between two and five forms depending on the bank. If you know the exchange rate then it is a better option to visit one of the many exchange offices on Ferdosi St. All will give you a good rate but some might give slightly less than the official rate or claim a commission. Just say no and go to the next one.
Do not exchange your money with one of the many individuals offering to exchange along Ferdosi St. It is a lot more risky.
Be aware that prices in Iran are quoted in tomans, a thousand tomans is equivalent to one of those ten thousand Rials bills. You will soon get used to this. Iranians are also sometimes prone to state prices in thousands of tomans, saying "four" when they mean four thousand tomans or forty thousand rials.
For those staying in southern Tehran, there is a cluster of private money changing offices offering reasonable rates on Ferdosi St, just south of Jomhuriyeh Eslami St. Most will change US dollars, pounds, euros and yen. Lone moneychangers who stand on street corners whispering "Dollar, dollar" are expert hustlers and not worth risking. Central branches of most banks are also south of these offices.
Those looking to stock up on computer software--copied, but legal thanks to Iran's refusal to sign up to the Bern Convention--can start looking at the computer bazaar on the corner of Jomhuriyeh Eslami Ave and Haafez St. Just remember that importing these CDs into any country that is a signatory to the Convention may be a criminal offence. You can also try "Computer Capital" at intersection of Vali-e-Asr and Mirdamad, a 7 storey modern complex filled with computer equipments but also latest pirated copies of every software imagineable.The prices at "bazaar reza" (at charrah-e-vali-asr) are usually less . In both these bazars you also may find individual hardware parts. You may find some famous hardware brands really cheap but you should be careful not to buy the fake one. It is hard to distinguish the original one. Sometimes even the fake one would work quite well comparing to its cheap price!
To save even more money you can buy one of those software packages . For example you can buy "King of the Programming" with about 70,000 Rls . This is a 5 or 6 CD package of compressed programs which contains almost any well-known software you can imagine .
A new Kabob restaurant called Naveed has opened that offers excellent food comparable to Alborz but at lower prices. The atmoshpere is very European looking and feeling but not as high end as Alborz.
For all you coffee-starved travellers through Iran (or the soon to be coffee-starved if Tehran is your first port of call in the country) you'll be glad to find the string of coffee shops on the south side of Jomhuriyeh Eslami Ave, a couple of hundred metres west of Ferdosi St. You can stock up on coffee beans and related paraphernalia, or even sample a cup for IR 4,000. There is also a well-known, but small coffee shop called Hot Chocolate - they stock cigars and a number of European cigarettes as well. This coffee shop is on occasion, a meeting place for some of Iran's sporting elite.
A few doors west of these shops is a delightful coffee shop next to Hotel Naderi. They serve coffee, tea and pastries to a mix of Tehran's intelligentsia and bohemian elite. It's a great place to sit and watch hip young guys eyeing gossiping girls while old men reminisce about the "good ol' days" under the Shah.
Coffee shops (called, in Farsi, "coffeeshop" versus "ghaveh-khane" (literally, coffee house) which means a tea house) have become especially popular in the affluent North, so if need, a visit to the White Tower (Borj-e Sefid) along Pasdaran Ave, or any other mall in the area should suffice. These coffee shops can also be very appealing to tourists interested in watching how young, affluent locals deviously bend the government regulations on contact between the sexes. Definitely worth a visit if in the area- try "White Rose" in the White Tower.
Amir Kabir Street a grubby street filled with car-repair shops near Imam Khomeini square offers accommodation options for the budget-minded. Expect to pay around 50,000 Rials (5,000 tomans/roughly US$5) for a tiny single. The area is not nice but it is safe and is central to the metro and buses.
Since few if any foreign phone companies have roaming agreements with the Iranian one, an alternative to mobile phones is needed. One very good one is purchasing a regular telephone card for local calls and then the Pars Net international telephone card. It offers international calls to anywhere in the world at the comparatively cheap price of IR 1,500 a minute and with the regular phone card you can use it from any of the abundant public phones or the phone at your hotel.
 Stay safe
Tehran is still relatively one of the safest cities to travel through, particularly considering its size and security. Common sense and the usual precautions against pickpockets in bazaars and crowds should ensure your visit is hassle free.
Never take unmarked taxis.
Even late at the mid-night it is safe in most parts of the city while you will find the city still crowded. It is advisable not to take a private taxi for instance at 2:00 AM.
The fake police that target Esfahan's tourists have also found their way to Tehran in recent years. These are usually uniformed men in unmarked cars flashing phoney IDs are requesting to see you passport or search your luggage. It goes without saying that you should just ignore such requests and head to the nearest police station if you feel unsafe. The trouble is that it can be a little hard for the untrained tourist eye to tell these from the real police.
The traffic in Tehran is very dangerous and should be considered some of the worlds worst. Try to cross the street when the locals do. At first it looks impossible but the drivers do a very good job to avoid pedestrians even though they drive crazy.
Gay and lesbian travellers should be careful when traveling to Tehran due to strict regulations on homosexual activity (though quite rarely enforced). If a tourist is found to be a homosexual the government will technically immediately deport them- however, as mentioned before, this is extremely rare. Exercising caution in public is the key thing to remember. The jam-e-jam food court on Valiasr Avenue is an occasional meeting place for gay Iranians on Tuesday nights.
The traffic in Tehran is horrendous. To get a break from it head to the parks in the north of the city. Jamshidieh Park which is located in the Niavaran district at the base of the Kolakchal Mountain, is one of the most picturesque and beautiful parks in Tehran. Mellat Park in Valiasr street is one of the largest recreation areas in the Middle-East. Niavaran Park is one of Tehran's famous and most pleasant public city parks. It is located within the Niavaran district and is situated immediately south of the Niavaran Palace Complex.
 Get out