Over 18 days we travel through the marvellous spring-time mountain and desert landscapes of Persia and visit some of the most remarkable monuments in the ancient and Islamic worlds. We explore awe-inspiring Achaemenid palaces and royal tombs, mysterious Sasanian fire temples, enchanting mud-brick cities on the desert fringes, and fabled Persian cities with their enchanting gardens, caravanserais, bazaars and stunning cobalt-blue mosques. Perhaps more importantly, however, we encounter the unsurpassed friendliness and hospitality of the Iranian people, which leave most travellers longing to return.
The rich diversity of landscapes, cultures and peoples which make up modern Iran
The abundant and spectacular remains, testament to Iran’s power and influence in the ancient world
The truly stunning art and architecture of Islamic Iran, seen at its finest in the legendary cities of Shiraz and Isfahan
The enchanting world of Persian gardens and Sufi poetry
A remarkably friendly, cultured and inquisitive population, eager to engage with the world outside Iran
Tehran’s array of museums and palaces, including the Crown Jewels Museum
The imposing Mausoleum of Öljeitü and the Sasanian watch towers, palaces and fire temples at Takht-e Soleyman
The gardens of Shiraz, where Persia’s poets are celebrated
Great classical sites at Persepolis, Pasargadae and Firuzabad
The desert city of Yazd, with its evocative Zoroastrian towers of silence and medieval sites
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Isfahan, centre of the ‘Renaissance’ Safavid period
Days 1–3: Explore Tehran’s extraordinary palaces and museums.
Days 4–5: Drive to Zanjan and examine the Sasanian ruins of Takht-e Soleyman.
Days 6–7: Continue to Hamadan and explore Ecbatana.
Days 8-11: Fly to Shiraz and investigate Persepolis and Firuzabad.
Days 12–13: Travel to Yazd, visiting Pasargadae and the Zoroastrian fire temples.
Days 14–16: Enjoy the Maidan, mosques, palaces and Armenian Quarter of Isfahan.
Days 17–18: Return to Tehran via Natanz and Kashan before departure.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Emirates and Etihad offer daily flights from Australia to Tehran. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Sunday 15 April: Arrival
Arrive into Tehran where you will be met and transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon visit the Carpet Museum to see the extensive collection of old and new Persian carpets and rugs sourced from the major carpet-weaving centres of Iran. Overnight Tehran (D)
Monday 16 April: Tehran museums
Today is devoted to visiting some of Tehran’s Museums, demonstrating the rich cultural heritage of the country. The visits will include the archaeological section of Iran’s National Museum, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artefacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium BCE. and exhibits from Persepolis including the famous inscribed cuneiform tablets from the time of Darius I. We also explore the unique collection of Persian art and artefacts at the Reza Abbasi Museum. Overnight Tehran (B, L, D)
Tuesday 17 April: Golestan Palace
This morning we visit the Golestan Palace and Museum Complex, the former residence of the 19th and early 20th century Qajar Kings of Iran, incorporating several museums including the Marble Throne Room. After a break for lunch we visit the fabulous State’s Jewels Museum. It showcases some of the magnificent jewellery belonging to the last kings of Iran, including the Darya-i Nur (Sea of Light), the largest uncut diamond in the world, and the ‘Globe of Jewels’, a map of the world in emerald, sapphire, ruby, and diamonds. Overnight Tehran (B, L, D)
Wednesday 18 April: To Zanjan
Today we travel to Zanjan via Qazvin, a Sassanian city that prospered later under Seljuk rule with architecture that was to become a precursor to Isfahan. After lunch in Zanjan we visit the magnificent Mausoleum of Oljeitu, constructed during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Khoda Bandeh (1304-1330). Its huge dome, which is about 51 metres high, ranks amongst the largest in the world; the stucco-work, tile-work, and the designs decorating this monument make it unique. Overnight Zanjan (B, L, D)
Thursday 19 April: Takht-e-Soleiman
A full day’s journey into the Zagros Mountains where we visit the site of Takht-e-Soleiman located in a broad and remote mountain valley. What remains are the massive stone walls and remnants of the thirty eight watch towers, palaces, the fire temple and the Anahita temple, built mainly by the Sassanians in the 6th century around the conical crater lake. Overnight Zanjan (B, L)
Friday 20 April: To Hamadan
Today we depart by coach to Hamadan stopping for refreshments and lunch along the way. Overnight Hamadan (B, L, D)
Saturday 21 April: Ancient Ectabana
Ecbatana was one of the great royal capitals of the Achaemenid and Hellenistic World. This morning we visit the tomb of Esther and Mordeccai then the ruins of the ancient city to see the museum and traces of Alexander the Great’s city. After lunch we visit Avicenna’s tomb, the lion gates of the Old City (Shir Sangi), and visit Ganj Nameh, to see the ancient rock-cut inscriptions of Iran close up. Overnight Hamadan (B, L)
Sunday 22 April: To Shiraz
This morning we head toTehran’s domestic airport by coach and board our domestic flight to Shiraz. Arriving in Shiraz we transfer to our hotel where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Monday 23 April: Firuzabad
We travel south to the city known today as Firuzabad to visit the enormous palace of Ardashir. Its unique architectural design dominated by its huge arch and three domes. On the ancient road to Firuzabad we pass by two bas-reliefs, depicting Ardashir defeating the Parthian king Artabanus and receiving the crown of kingship from Ahuramazda, as well as the Qaleh-i Dokhtar, built by Ardashir as a fortress guarding the entrance to the valley. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Tuesday 24 April: Persepolis
Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, is our destination today. It was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire. At Naghsh-e-Rostam we see the Achaemenid fire temple Ka’be-Zardosht and Royal Tombs plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over the Roman Emperor Valerian). Returning to Shiraz this afternoon there is time for shopping in the Vakil Bazaar. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Wednesday 25 April: Exploring Shiraz
Our morning commences with a visit to the tomb of the great 14th century poet Hafez. Set in a peaceful garden, the marble tombstone is engraved with a verse from the poet and many Iranians treat the tomb as a site of pilgrimage. We wander through the wonderful Bagh-i-Eram garden with a grand residence overlooking the fountains and botanic gardens; and Nasr el-Molk mosque with its unusually deep blue tiling, finely carved pillars and exquisite stained glass. The afternoon is free for further shopping in the bazaar or visiting more of the many monuments of Shiraz. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Thursday 26 April: Pasargardae
On the way to Yazd we visit Pasargadae, the site of the tomb and remains of palaces of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, all located in the magnificent Dasht-e-Morghab. Driving through the typical desert town of Abarkuh we stop and and have tea under the shade of a 4,000-year old Cypress tree before arriving into Yazd and checking into our hotel. Overnight Yazd (B, L, D)
Friday 27 April: Zoroastrian Yazd
The Zoroastrian religion was the main religion of Iran from at least Sassanian times and perhaps even earlier. It emphasizes the manifestation of divinity in nature, and its centres of worship are nature itself or the fire temples in each city or town. Today in Yazd, the centre for Iran’s small remaining Zoroastrian community, we visit one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Among Yazd’s Islamic sites is the Friday Mosque, with the highest portal and minarets in Iran. There are also many beautiful old houses in Yazd, among them the Dowlat Abad Garden which we see later this afternoon. Overnight Yazd (B, L, D)
Saturday 28 April: To Isfahan
Leaving Yazd we drive to Isfahan, with a stop en-route at the village of Meybod where we visit the fine Zilou museum and ceramic shops. We continue to Na’in, another charming desert town and visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House and Ethnographic Museum, with a walk through the old part of town. After a break for lunch we head to Isfahan and check into our hotel. Overnight Isfahan (B, L, D)
Sunday 29 April: Exploring Isfahan
Our full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan commences with a survey of the city’s three famous bridges – Shahrestan, Khajou, Sio-se-pol – each with its own design and architectural features. We visit the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank, decorated in a mixture of Islamic tile designs, Christian imagery and wonderful frescoes. In the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, including the Ali-Qapu Palace with its balcony overlooking the Maidan. We also visit two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah – both with magnificent architecture and tile work. Our touring today concludes with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar. Overnight Isfahan (B, L, D)
Monday 30 April: Isfahan
Our sightseeing in Isfahan continues with a visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand years of Persian religious architecture. Our exploration continues to the Chehel Sotun Palace, where the wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool givethe palace its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’. In the afternoon we have a guided tour of Isfahan’s new Music Museum housing an interesting collection of Persian instruments and enjoy a performance of traditional music. We gather for our farewell dinner this evening in a restaurant in the Armenian Quarter Overnight Isfahan (B, L, D)
Tuesday 1 May: Return to Tehran
Today we return to Tehran by road, firstly stopping at the town of Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic mosque and dervish complex. Next we travel to Kashan to visit one of the most important and ancient archaeological sites in Iran, the ziggurat known as Tepe Sialk. We also visit the historical garden of Fin, which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. A museum on the site displays artefacts from nearby Tepe Sialk. Before departing Kashan we visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Borujerdi House with its beautiful stucco and painted decoration. We arrive in Tehran this afternoon and check into our hotel located at Tehran Airport. Overnight Tehran (B, L, D)
Wednesday 2 May: Departure
Flights depart Tehran to Dubai throughout the day. Your tour consultant can assist with arranging the best possible connections and booking a late check out at an extra cost if required. (B)
Dr John Tidmarsh
The former president of the University of Sydney's Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation, and a former lecturer in the Department of Archaeology.
He is also Co-Director of the University’s excavations at Pella in Jordan, and the Australian Archaeological Mission at Jebel Khalid in Syria and has also excavated in Greece and Cyprus. He has led numerous tours to Oman, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
Potential participants are advised that Iran is well off the mainstream tourist path. While every effort has been made to provide the best available accommodation and services, not all tourist services are at western standards. Where possible, all hotels on this tour are four or five-star – though this does not necessarily imply the standards of four and five-star hotels in Western countries.
Tehran, Laleh Hotel (3 nights)
Zanjan, Grand Hotel (2 nights)
Hamadan, Parsian AzadiHotel (2 nights)
Shiraz, Homa Hotel (4 nights)
Yazd, Moshir GardenHotel (2 nights)
Isfahan, AbbasiHotel (3 nights)
Tehran, Novotel AirportHotel (1 night)
*Hotels may be subject to change (to another hotel of equivalent quality). Any changes will be advised to all clients booked on the tour.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.