The capital of Iran is, for want of a better word, big. Really big. With 16 million occupants in the wider area it is the 29th largest city in the world by population and is ranked in the top 10 fastest growing global destinations. It is also considered the most liberal city in Iran and younger generations flock from all over the country for acceptance and education. Though settlement in the area dates back over 7,000 years, Tehran itself was demolished and rebuilt from scratch in the 1920s so has little to offer in ancient architecture, but it makes up for that with its fantastic museums, galleries, restaurants, cafés and walking trails.
Probably the biggest tourist trawler in the city is the Treasury of National Jewels. Accessed through the front doors of the central bank, it houses jaw-dropping examples of jewellery belonging to former royalty now serving as a reserve for the national currency. The Kuh-e Nur (the largest cut diamond in the world) used to be among these treasures but managed to find its way to the Tower of London in 1747. However, the Darya-ye Nur is said to be the largest uncut diamond in the world and is unmissable on display here at a massive 182 carats. It goes without saying that touching anything here will cause you significant distress.
Escape the smog of the city for a day-trip to Darakeh & Darband, walking trails at the foothills of the Alborz Mountains. Dotted with teahouses and stalls, it makes for a relaxing retreat, passing by waterfalls and streams on the way up the hills. There is also a well-priced ski-lift on Darband.
For a shopping experience like no other, take a deep breath and delve into the labyrinthine Tehran Bazar. There are over 10km of lanes here and the stalls selling everything you can possibly imagine are broken up by banks, mosques and even a fire station. You will get lost here, but the locals are friendly and can point you in the right direction, as long as you buy something!
Free Walking Tours
The best way to see the city is by walking tour. Whether self-guided or taken by a local, these free tours will help you gain a deeper understanding of the Tehrani way of life.
Get in touch with Abbas, a Tehran local, to discover the city from the inside out. Once a week there is an event based on the Persian calendar. When this happens, Abbas wants you to strap on your backpack, grab some cash for food and transportation, and set off on a Tehrani adventure! There are no times or routes, Abbas just loves history and culture and wants to explore his city with you. He will even sometimes go hiking into the mountains. Get in touch via his website or social media accounts to see in he is free during your stay.
This self-guided tour clocks in at 5.41 miles and should take around 2 hours and 45 minutes. It has been rated at 0.94/1 by other users. A self-guided tour is a relaxing way to see the best parts of the city if you do not want to be encumbered by schedules, and this tour begins at Laleh Park, passing the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and Shafagh Park, ending at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Strol allows users to plan their own routes around landmarks they particularly want to see, so it is worth checking out if you have specifics on your hit-list.