Tehran is the capital of Iran and the 18th most populated city in the world with a population of over 8 million people. Tehran is located at the foot of Alborz Mountains and extends over 50 km from north to south and 30 km from east to west. The altitude is 2000 meters in the northern parts and 1050 meters in the south. Tehran has a diverse climate as a result of neighboring the Alborz Mountains in the north and being adjacent to the desert in the south; thus it is rather dry and cold in the north but hot and dry in the southern parts. Tehran was a big historical village adjacent to Shahr-e-Rey (which was a major city for centuries but now a small town linked to main part of Tehran). Tehran started to develop and prosper very fast in the past 200 years when it was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar in end of 18th century. Now a short visit to the capital is rather inevitable when you are traveling to Iran.
Tehran is rather a megacity with very different styles of life in the north and south. Besides being the capital of Iran and one of the most modern cities in the Middle East, Tehran has its own attractions. The historical highlights include Shams-ol-Emare (Sun edifice), Tehran grand Bazaar, Toghrol tower, Golestan palace, Bagh e Meli Entrance, Saheb Gharanieh, Darvazeh Dolat, Bibi Shahrbanoo, Abdol Azim Shrine, Emam zade Saleh, SaadAbad Palace and a number of museums like National museum, Jewelry museum, and carpet museum. In addition, the capital of Iran has many parks, restaurants and entertainment facilities which attract lots of local tourists and some foreigners who like to spend a part of their trip in Tehran and experience a different way of life in one of the most modern cities in the Middle East.
Azadi square and Azadi tower which is some 48 meter tall and a massive structure was considered as Tehran’s major landmark until recently before Milad Tower was inaugurated. Milad Tower is one of the four longest tower in the world and now quite a major landmark.
Besides the numerous express buses spread throughout the city and a tram line in the south east, access to different parts of the Tehran city is facilitated by its modern subway. The routes at the beginning of 2011 include 4 active lines covering some major parts; Line 1 from Qeytarieh to Imam Khomeini Shrine, Line 2 from Farhangsara to Sadeqieh, Line 4 from Enghelab (Enqelab) square to Kolahdooz, Line 5 from Sadeqieh to Golshahr (in Karaj). Most lines start operating from 5:30 to 19:00. Currently, this is the only subway service available in Iran. (The rest are still under construction)
Tehran has access to two of the biggest Airports in Iran: Imam Khomeini Airport (30 km from the capital) and Mehrabad Airport (near Azadi square) which is now used for domestic flights only.
Golestan Palace consisting of amazing halls with exquisite decorations is a remaining part of Tehran historical castle (Arg e Tehran). Although the construction of the main building goes back to some 500 years ago to the time of Safavi, many parts have been destroyed and new buildings have been added afterwards. Takht-eTavoos (Peacock Throne) is one of the most famous and valuable objects at Golestan palace which is reportedly brought from India by Nader Shah Afshar after defeating Indians.
Shams-ol-emare is the most important part of Golestan complex added some 140 years ago. The two story building has a unique Iranian western style located at the end of the complex facing Tehran Bazaar. The two tall towers look very impressive from outside the palace. (opening hours: 8:30 – 15:30)
Sa’d Abad complex which consists of 18 museum palaces located in Darband street and is open to public.
Sorkh-e-Hesar palace (Sapphire Palace) builds some 140 years ago by Naser adin Shah Qajar
Saheb qaranieh Palace build at the time of fathali shah Qajar is now the oldest building in Niavaran complex. (Now It is not open for public visit)
Marmar palace built by the order of Reza Khan Pahlavi
Iran national Museum (archeological museum) built 65 years ago based on a plan by the French Architect Andre Godard. There are many objects from different periods of history of Iran. Some object discovered in different parts of ancient Persian land goes back 1 million years ago. The objects include those from Paleolithic age (1000000 years) up to 10000 years before continuing to Iron Age and then leading to ancient civilizations, most of which are considered part of main land Persia or at least located on Iran Plateau or on Mesopotamia.
Iran carpet Museum depicting the history of carpet (which goes back to 2500 years ago after discovering a carpet (Pazhik) in Siberia) and displaying some valuable Persian carpets and rugs.
Iran Jewelry Museum displays some of the most beautiful priceless pieces of jewelry from different periods of Iran 2500 years of monarchy.
Tehran Grand Bazaar is the biggest and busiest bazaar in Iran.
Haroon (Aaron) Prison is a building made of plaster and bricks which is situated 10 km away from Tehran on Mashad road and is more than 1000 years old.
Naghar Khaneh Tower
Boornik cave near Herandeh village on Damavand Firooz Kooh road
Rood afshan cave near Rood afshan village in Damavand County
Damavand Mountain (5671 m above sea level) is located 75 km to the north of Tehran and it is Iran’s highest peak.
Tochal which is the south part of Damavand Mountain is a famous route for professional mountain climbers and its ski resort is one of the best in the country.
Darband which is another access route to Tochal Mountain
Velenjak is another access route to Tochal peak
Evin valley in the north west of Tehran
Kan valley in the north east of Tehran
Oshoom Fasham 30 and 35 km from Tehran
Bagh e Ferdos buiding (paradise buiding) located in Tajrish area and was build some 140 years ago.
Amir kabir Dam which is used as a recreation resort
Sepah Salar School
A number of springs such as Abali, Ghale dokhtar, Sha dasht, etc
A number of waterfalls such as Abshar lar Abshar dogholoo, etc
A number of international ski resorts such as Dizin, Shemshak, Tochal ski resorts
By Plane: You can fly to Tehran from most cities in the world and there are frequent domestic flights from all parts of Iran to Tehran. (advance booking is necessary for most destinations)
By Train: Tehran is connected to most cities with railway and to the international railway line through Van-Istanbul in Turkey and Aleppo and Damascus in Syria. Although the train service is not modern in comparison to trains in south-east Asia or Europe, it is dirt cheap and comfortable for traveling. (advance booking is necessary)
By Bus: There are frequent buses to Tehran from all major cities and towns. There are 4 different bus stations which give you access to cities in all 4 directions. You can find buses to major cities like Tehran, Isfahan and Mashad almost every hour.
By bus: You can use the express buses in Tehran but you should exactly where they are going. Sometimes it is not easy to know even if the destination is written in English. Even locals have problem with accessing different parts of the city so you should definitely ask. The express buses are faster than taxis.
By Taxi: You can use the Taxis in the capital like elsewhere. But the main problem is high fares and the traffic is really heavy most of the time.
By Tram: There is only one tramline in the north-east of Tehran which starts from Imam Hussein square and extends toward east.
By subway: There are 4 active subway lines. Tehran subway is the easiest way to access different parts of the city in order to avoid the traffic.