Known for its ancient history, rich culture, and friendly people, Iran is now becoming one of the top travel destinations that should be visited by every traveler who seeks unknown and undiscovered lands and cultures. Iran is home to magnificent architectural masterpieces from glorious palaces and ceremonial cities of Achaemenid and Sassanid empires to traditional bazaars, lush gardens, and mosques with eye-catching tilework left from Islamic dynasties, and also amazing natural attractions from vast deserts with golden dunes to over 4000-meter mountain peaks and calm beaches by the Persian Gulf. It is going to take a very long time to visit all the attractions in this country but here is the list of “top places to visit in Iran” made by the PackToIran team which are all UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Located 60 kilometers north Shiraz is the glorious Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of Achaemenid where Nowruz (Iranian new year festival) was celebrated and ambassadors from other countries brought presents for the kings. This royal city consists of different palaces with high columns and arches assigned to Achaemenid kings, each characterized with symbolic and wonderful bass reliefs of divine plants, sphinx, soldieries, and kings. Persepolis is one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran known as the best motivation for visiting Iran for many travelers.
The royal Naqshe Jahan Square of Isfahan is the token of the reign of the Safavid Dynasty and Shah Abbas I in Iran which led to the significant development and zenith of art and architecture in Iran especially in Isfahan which was the glorious capital of Iran. Served as the main square of the city of Isfahan crowded with people and merchants, Naqshe Jahan Square is the second-largest historical square in the world, surrounded by two of the top historical mosques of Iran the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the Jame Imam Mosque, and the entrance gate of the Gheisariyeh Bazaar and the great Ali Ghapo Palace where the king used to sit on its balcony and watch the polo match played in the square.
Located in the historic core of Tehran, the glorious Golestan Palace including royal palaces, museums, and galleries is mainly a heritage from Qajar Dynasty (18th – 20th century) although some parts were built during Safavid (16th – 18th century) and Zand (18th century). This palace was the official residence of Agha Mohammad Khan and five other Qajar kings but the most renovations were done during the kingdom of Naser al-Din Shah (1848-1896) who got inspired by European architecture during his journies and caused the Golestan Palace complex to be changed into a fantastic monument presenting the combination of European, Russian, and Persian architecture styles. Salam Hall, the Mirror Hall, shams al Emareh (Edifice of Sun), Ivory Hall, and the Marble Throne Terrace are some of the palaces that should be visited in this glorious complex.
The city of Yazd is located in the heart of the deserts of Iran on the route of Spice and Silk Road and is a sample of cities with genius use of limited water resources for surviving in the desert, like Qanats (underground chain of water wells). The Historic City of Yazd, which is built on different qanats, includes a maze of old alleys with earthen buildings, walls, arches, and windcatchers all intelligently designed and invented based on desert climate so that they make living in desert easier by reducing the temperature inside the buildings and proving shadows in alleys of the city.
Covering an area of 40,000 square kilometers in the east and southeast of Iran, the Lut Desert is one of the two main deserts of Iran and the first natural UNESCO World Heritage in this country as it presents the most amazing landforms, dunes, and yardangs created by the wind erosion. Sometimes, the Earth's highest surface temperature of 70.7°C had been recorded in the Gandom Biryan region, in the heart Lut desert and this is the reason why no living creature can be found in most parts of the vast desert. Located 100 kilometers away from Kerman, Shahdad Desert is one of the most scenic parts of the Lut Desert known for its Kalouts (yardangs) which are sand mountains and the most unique desert complication and also its night sky presenting millions of stars.
Tchogha Zanbil (Chogha Zanbil) is the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and an outstanding stepped pyramidal construction which was built in 1250 BC by the king of Elam Untash Napirasha as a temple for worshiping Inshushinak the Elamite god. This ancient site, which is the first UNESCO World Heritage registered in Iran, is located 50 kilometers away from Susa, in Khuzestan Province in the southwest of Iran. Tchogha Zanbil ziggurat was originally a 102.5 * 102.5-meter mudbrick square constructed in five concentric levels (53 meters high) covered with baked bricks some of which showing inscriptions in Elamite and Akkadian languages. Although three floors of Tchogha Zanbil are still standing, this significant temple and archeological site is one of the most important ancient sites of Iran in terms of culture, history, and rituals of the great Elamite civilization.