Quest of the Shah’s

Luxury Tour to Iran

Follow in the footsteps of Iran’s great Shahs and explore some of its most opulent cities while staying in former palaces, lavish caravanserais and old mansions on this luxury tour to Iran. Discover the Zoroastrian city of Yazd with a visit to the enigmatic ‘Towers of Silence’ and fire temple, traverse the streets of the ‘half of the world’ and visit the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, and wander through the old mansions of Iran’s most wealthy in Kashan. Gaze in wonder at the ancient city of Persepolis, pay your respects at the tombs of Persia’s ‘Great Kings’ at Tall e-Takht and see a genuine Persian Ziggurat at the Sialk archaeological hills.

Catch a ferry to the island of Qeshm to safari through the ‘Valley of the Stars’ and then onto Kish Island to visit the Kariz underground city. Leave the cities behind and stop over in the ‘Red Village’ of Abyaneh and the village of Varzaneh to gain an insight into village life in this fascinating part of the world.


TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the archaeological site of Persepolis, Iran’s most famous ancient wonder, see the shipyards of Qeshm and explore the underground city on the island of Kish
  • Wander the streets of Yazd, whose inhabitants still practice the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, visit the fire temple and marvel at the strange ‘Towers of Silence’ on the outskirts of the city
  • Visit the grand mansions of Kashan and take a walk through the spectacular Finn garden
  • Journey to the ‘Red Village’ of Abyaneh for an introduction to village life in Iran and meet the locals that live in this unique part of the world
  • Stay in locally-run upmarket hotels, former palaces and grand caravanserais and eat in some of Iran’s finest and most unique restaurants.

The Basics

Start: Tehran

Finish: Tehran

Trip style: Luxe

Max group size: 15

20 Days

TEHRAN – TEHRAN

$12 550 AUD*

Departure date: 1 October 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: QSTT *from

ITINERARY

Arrive at Tehran airport where your included airport transfer will be waiting for you to transport you to the hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting at 17.00 to discuss your luxury tour of Iran. After the meeting head out into Tehran to a unique restaurant for an introduction to Persian cuisine and to get to know your travel companions and trip leader.

After breakfast we will transfer to Tehran train station and board a train for the small city of Kashan.

On arrival we will have lunch at the tea house located at Abassi House before visiting the historic property itself.

Abassi House is a large mansion built in the 18th century by a wealthy glass merchant. The house consists of courtyard and multistorey buildings and is decorated with beautiful plaster reliefs, mirror work and stained glass.

In the afternoon we will take a stroll through Kashan’s Grand Bazaar with some free time for shopping before transferring to our hotel.

This morning we head out into Kashan to explore the city sights. Our first stop will be the traditional Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse. The bathhouse was built during the Safavid era and renovated during the Qajar era after an earthquake. The roof of the building is made up of multiple domes and the interior is decorated with turquoise and gold tilework.

Next, we will visit a weaving workshop to see how the famous Persian carpets are made – these are especially valued from Kashan! Following the weaving workshop, we will visit the Mausoleum of Shah Abbas I who is widely considered to be one of the greatest rulers in Iran’s history.

Lunch today will be in a traditional house restaurant, and afterwards we will visit the historic Borujerdi House, famous for its mirror work. In the later afternoon we will stop by the Agha Bozorg Mosque which is home to a garden in the interior courtyard and intricate geometric tilework inside the building itself.

This morning take a trip to the outskirts of the city to wander through the historical Finn Garden. Completed in 1590 the Finn Garden is one of the oldest gardens in Iran.

Later this morning we will explore the Sialk archaeological hills. More than five thousand years old, the Sialk archaeological hills are the remains of an ancient ziggurat. The surrounding city is thought to have been inhabited as early as 8000 BCE, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.

The afternoon is free for you to explore Kashan on your own.

In the evening re-join the group for dinner at the spectacular ‘Hall of Mirrors’ restaurant located within Borujerdi House.

We depart Kashan in the morning and head for the ‘red village’ of Abyaneh. On arrival our guide will give us an orientation of this village which is one of Iran’s most famous. We will meet the residents and marvel at the unique structure and colour of the village.

In the afternoon we will travel to the town of Natanz to have lunch in a traditional restaurant and explore the Natanz caravanserai, an old remnant of the Silk Road and also visit the Natanz Jameh Mosque before continuing to Isfahan.

We will spend the next three nights in a genuine Silk Road caravanserai, which has been converted into a five-star hotel and is one of the most famous places to stay and eat in Isfahan. This hotel is a perfect addition to our luxury tour of Iran.

This morning head out into Isfahan, known locally as ‘the half of the world’, to see the Chehel Sotoon Palace. The palace pavilion sits at the end of a long pool and was built by Shah Abass II as an opulent entertainment precinct. The interior contains colourful frescoes and intricate mirror work.

After exploring the palace and grounds, take a walk through a nearby park to a local tea house, here we will sample saffron tea and saffron ice cream – which is truly a delight – before heading to a local restaurant for lunch.

In the afternoon we will visit the historic house of Mollabashi before some free time.

This evening, you might want to join your trip leader in Naqsh-e Jahan Square to watch the local families who gather here. You might even want to bring some snacks and have a picnic on the grass, just as the locals do!

In the morning we will head to Isfahan’s Armenian quarter to visit the Holy Saviour Cathedral, or, as it more commonly known, the Vank Church. The church was built in 1606 and was constructed by hundreds of thousands of Armenians that were forcibly resettled by Shah Abbas I.

After the church we will visit a local Armenian pastry shop to try the goods and then walk through the Kahjoo bridge, one of the most historic bridges over the Zayanderud river. The bridge also serves as a meeting place for locals of the city.

We will then journey back to Naqsh-e Jahan Square to marvel at the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, an amazing spectacle of Persian architecture featuring gazelle’s foot detail on the main arch and intricate blue, turquoise and gold geometric designs inside.

This afternoon is yours to explore Isfahan, as your trip leader will leave you in Naqsh-e Jahan square. You may wish to visit the Aali Qapu Palace, the Abassi Great Mosque or haggle for handicrafts in Isfahan’s Grand Bazaar.

This evening join your trip leader and travel companions for dinner at your hotel.

Leave Isfahan early this morning for the village of Varzaneh, an ancient desert town where people have lived a similar way of life for the last five thousand years. On arrival we will take to 4×4’s for a safari through the surrounding sand dunes before our local host takes us on a short walking tour of the village.

We will continue to Meybod for lunch which will be in another ancient caravanserai.

After lunch we will continue to Yazd, stopping at the ‘Towers of Silence’ on the outskirts of the city. These giant towers were once part of the funerary culture of the Zoroastrians, who believed that the dead should neither be buried nor cremated, but rather ‘left out’ for the scavengers to go back to nature.

On arrival in Yazd, we will check into our hotel.

We will start our day in Yazd with a visit to the Alexander Prison. Actually a school, the 15th century building takes its name from a place in a Hafez poem. The deep well in the centre of the building is said to have been built by Alexander the Great, however this seems unlikely. Today the building is host to a warren of handicraft workshops and small museums.

Next, we will take a stroll through the Zoroastrian quarter of the city and visit the associated museum. After the Arab conquest of Iran, many Zoroastrians settled in Yazd by paying a levy, and Yazd was allowed to remain Zoroastrian after its conquest, with Islam becoming the dominant religion in the city more recently than the rest of the country.

Today, lunch will be served in a very unique restaurant in Yazd, followed by a visit to the city’s fire temple – another remnant of its Zoroastrian past.

This morning we will take a stroll through the historical Dowlat Abad Garden to see the tallest Adobe windcatcher in the world, followed by a visit to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, the main square in Yazd.

Next, we are in for a real treat as we visit a local gym for a performance of the ancient sport of Zoorkhane. A traditional system of athletics and martial arts, the art of Zoorkhane was once used to train the warriors of ancient Persia.

The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore Yazd on your own.

This evening re-join the group as we are hosted for dinner with a local Persian family to experience the hospitality for which Iran is famous.

We will depart Yazd early this morning and travel to Pasargad. Here we will spend our day visiting the many archaeological wonders of the area.

Our first stop will be Tall-e Takht, the so-called ‘throne of Solomon’ a citadel which likely dates to the reign of Cyrus the Great. Next, we will visit the tomb of the great king Cyrus himself along with the silk road caravanserai of Mozaffari.

After lunch in a local restaurant in Pasargad we will transfer to Shiraz where we will check in to our hotel.

Our first stop as we explore Shiraz this morning will be the Shahcheragh Shrine, housing the tomb of the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of Mūsā al-Kādhim and brothers of ‘Alī ar-Ridhā. Next on today’s list is the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque also called the ‘Pink Mosque’ one of the most famous landmarks of Shiraz. The mosque is home to colourful stained glass windows, giving the interior an intense pink glow.

Take some time out to shop and grab some lunch at the Vakil Bazaar before a stroll through the Eden of the Eram Garden and a final pause at Baba Bastani for ice cream.

This morning we will travel to the north of Shiraz to visit the ancient jewel of Persepolis. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and its earliest remains date back to 515 BCE.

View the remains of the ‘Gate of All Nations’, the ‘Apandana Palace’ and the ‘Throne Hall’ with a short, guided tour, with ample free time to explore this ancient complex on your own.

After we have finished exploring, we will transfer back to Shiraz and spend the rest of the day exploring on our own.

We have a long day ahead of us today as we make our way to the island of Qeshm. We start by traveling to the town of Lar, where we will have lunch and visit the Neshat Historical Garden to stretch our legs.

We will then transfer to the port to board a short ferry to Qeshm island where we will check in to our hotel.

This morning we will explore the port of Bandar Laft along with the Lenj Shipyard and ancient harbour. Traditional wooden ships are still used to travel between Qeshm and Dubai, here you can see them being built; a process which takes around three years per ship.

After our visit to the shipyard, we will view the old Portuguese Castle – the Fort of Our Lady of Conception – before relaxing in a local restaurant for lunch.

This afternoon we take to 4×4’s to for a safari through the ‘Valley of the Stars’, a canyon of towering rock formations before returning to the hotel.

We depart early this morning to venture to another of the Persian Gulf’s magnificent islands, Kish. We will take the ferry back to the mainland and transfer to Charak Port, where we will board another ferry to arrive in Kish in the evening.

Upon arrival we will check in to our hotel.

We begin our exploration of Kish this morning with a visit to the underground city of Kariz. The city contains a vast complex of underground aqueducts, called ‘Qanats’, developed by the pre-Islamic peoples of Iran.

Next, we will explore the ancient city of Harireh which dates back as far as the 8th century CE. Harireh is though to have been built between the Sasanid and Islamic period of the island and was an especially popular place to live in the Saljuks and Atavakan of Fars.

We will break for lunch to try the local fare of the island before a visit to Anthropology House, a native house museum where we explore the local way of life of the people of Kish over the past eighty years. This will be followed by a visit to the ‘Green Tree’ complex – housing a sacred fig tree which is thought to be 500-600 years old. We will then relax with a stop for tea before returning to the hotel.

Today is yours to explore Kish on your own, get some rest or enjoy the beach! The choice is yours!

After a relaxing morning in Kish, we will board a flight back to Tehran.

On arrival we will check in to the hotel for a little down time.

This evening we will head out into Tehran to a special local restaurant to say goodbye to our travel companions and trip leader.

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning before your included airport transfer to Tehran international airport where your luxury tour to Iran ends.

Want to spend a little more time exploring Tehran either before or after your trip? Why not book our bolt-on for Tehran?

Trip Map - Quest of the Shahs - Luxury Tour to Iran
Trip Map – Quest of the Shahs

Details

Duration: 20 Days

Trip style: Luxe

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: QSTT

Cost: $12 550.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $3250.00 AUD

Inclusions

  • 19-nights in minimum 4-star locally owned and operated hotels, former caravanserais and historic houses
  • Domestic flight from Kish to Tehran in economy class
  • All other transport as specified in the itinerary
  • Ferries between mainland Iran, Qeshm and Kish
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Visa assistance for Iran

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares
  • Visa for Iran
  • Any expenses associated with COVID-19
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Journey

This is a luxury tour of Iran, a country not used to travellers, but whose inhabitants are welcoming and accommodating, however, some places on this trip are remote and may have very little in the way of tourist infrastructure. There are a few very long travel days where we will be getting up early and arriving at our accommodation quite late, but, never fear – the accommodation is always of a luxury standard.  We will mostly travel by a small local coach, with one short train trip thrown in for you to experience local transport in Iran. This trip involves a strict dress code for women, who should come prepared with either floor length dresses with long sleeves or long trousers with kaftans that reach the knees, along with head scarves. The dress code is not optional, and it is illegal for women to keep their hair uncovered while in Iran. Men are advised to wear long trousers.

Good quality hospitals, pharmacies and other public amenities will be limited to large cities like Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd and Isfahan, and you should be prepared for eastern style squat toilets in public places.

We recommend that travellers on gluten free, vegetarian and vegan diets bring some supplemental snack food from home as it might be difficult to meet these dietary requirements while in remote parts of Iran.

A note about fitness

This luxury tour of Iran requires a moderate level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 2km over, at times uneven surfaces during sightseeing. In addition, you should be able to use an eastern style squat toilet if necessary (beware if you have knee issues).

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and on and off the trains and ferries. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours on this luxury tour of Iran!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you on your luxury tour of Iran, will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary, for this luxury tour of Iran is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

Due to the nature of this trip and the region in which it travels children are not permitted for their own safety.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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