The Persian Empire was a significant force in the ancient world, in which it competed and interacted with both Greece and Rome and was the last step on the Silk Road before reaching Europe. In its heyday, Iran’s lavish Islamic architecture inspired Tamerlane’s Samarqand and the Taj Mahal, its poets stirred generations of Iranians and foreigners, and its famed gardens were considered an earthly paradise. In recent times Iran has re-established itself as a leading nation in the Middle East.
The clash of ancient civilizations – the world of Alexander the Great and the Persians
The archaeology of Ancient Persia
The enduring influence of Zoroastrianism, Persia’s ancient and indigenous belief system
The art and architecture of Safavid Iran in some of the most beautiful cities on the Silk Road
The rich cultural life of Islamic Iran – Persian gardens and Sufi poetry
A remarkably friendly, cultured and open population, eager to engage with the world outside Iran
The remarkable museums and palaces of Tehran
The imposing Mausoleum of Oljeitu and the Sassanian watchtowers, palaces and fire temples at Takht-e Soleiman
The gardens of Shiraz, where Persia’s poets are celebrated
The great classical sites of Persepolis and Pasargadae
The desert city of Yazd, with its evocative Zoroastrian and medieval sites
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Isfahan, centre of the ‘renaissance’ Abbasid period
Day 1: Arrive in Tehran.
Days 2–3: Explore the city’s extraordinary palaces and museums.
Days 4–5: Examine the Sassanian ruins of Takht-e Soleiman.
Days 6–7: Visit ancient Ectabana.
Days 8–10: Relax in beautiful Isfahan.
Days 11–12: Explore Zoroastrian fire temples in Yazd.
Days 13–14: See the citadel at Rayen and the Shazahdeh Garden in Mahan.
Days 15–17: Investigate the Achaemenid capital of Persepolis and visit Pasargadae.
Days 18–19: Back to Tehran.
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 offer daily flights from Australian ports into and out of Tehran. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Saturday 7 October: Arrive
The tour commences at the hotel in Tehran. Meet Chris in the lobby this afternoon for a tour briefing and dinner in the hotel. Overnight Tehran (D)
Sunday 8 October: Tehran Museums
Our touring today provides an overview of Iran’s history and culture and arts, with visits to several of Tehran’s well regarded museums including the archaeology museum, the glass and ceramics museum and the Reza Abassi Museum. Overnight Tehran (B, L, D)
Monday 9 October: Golestan Palace and The Crown Jewels
This morning our focus is the Golestan Palace Complex, built by the Qajar Kings. Featuring the Marble Throne, an intricately carved ensemble of more than 65 pieces of stone, the complex also includes an Ethnography Museum and the Painting Museum. This afternoon we visit to the Crown Jewels Museum housing some of the magnificent jewellery belonging to the last kings of Iran. Overnight Tehran (B, L)
Tuesday 10 October: To Zanjan
Today we travel to Zanjan via Qazvin, a Sassanian city that prospered under Seljuk rule, characterised by architecture that was to become a precursor to Isfahan. After lunch we visit the magnificent Mausoleum of Oljeitu. Its huge dome ranks amongst the largest in the world. Overnight Zanjan (B, L, D)
Wednesday 11 October: Takht-e-Soleiman
A full day’s journey to the Zagros Mountains where we visit the site of Takht-e-Soleiman. What remains are the massive stone walls, thirty-eight watch towers, palaces, the fire temple and the Anahita temple, built by the Sassanians in the 6th century. Overnight Zanjan (B, L)
Thursday 12 October: To Hamadan
Today we depart by coach to Hamadan stopping for refreshments and lunch along the way. Overnight Hamadan (B, L, D)
Friday 13 October: Ancient Ectabana
This morning we visit the tomb of Esther and Mordeccai and the ruins of the ancient city of Ecbatana. After lunch we return to Hamadan and visit Avicenna’s tomb, the lion gates of the Old City and visit Ganj Nameh, to see the ancient rock-cut inscriptions Overnight Hamadan (B, L)
Saturday 14 October: To Isfahan
Today we travel to Isfahan, stopping at Malayer to see the Median site of Tappeh Nush-e Jan. We continue to Isfahan and take an evening stroll along the banks of the Zayandeh River, which originates in the Zagros Mountains and flows through the city. Overnight Isfahan (B, L, D)
Sunday 15 October: Exploring Isfahan
Morning visit to Chehel Sotoun, a 17th-century garden palace of the Safavid kings built in the Achaemenid style. In the Armenian quarter is the Vank Cathedral and Museum, decorated in a mixture of Islamic tile work designs, Christian imagery and frescoes. Following lunch, we survey Isfahan’s bridges – the Sharestan Bridge, the Khaju Bridge, which also serves as a dam, and the Safavid designed Sio-Se Bridge. We also pass by the Ali Mosque and Minaret before heading to the Mausoleum of Harun-e Vellayat, which contains some excellent frescoes and mosaics. Overnight Isfahan (B, L)
Monday 16 October: Mosques and Palaces
This morning is spent exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Naqsh-e Jahan. From the elegant Sheikh Lotfallah Shrine to the grand Imam Mosque, no expense was spared to decorate this square. The Ali Qapu Palace has some of the best acoustics in the medieval world with its innovative music room. We continue to the grand Jameh Mosque, an active place of worship that showcases 800 years of Islamic design and architecture. Overnight Isfahan (B, L, D)
Tuesday 17 October: To Yazd via Naeein
Before farewelling Isfahan, we visit the Hasht Beshesht or “Eight Paradises” Palace, whose interior features impressive mosaics and moulded ceilings. We stop at Naeein and admire the Friday Mosque with its fine Mihrab, and visit the Pirnia House and Ethnology Museum, a perfect example of desert architecture. Overnight Yazd (B, L, D)
Wednesday 18 October: Around Yazd
The Zoroastrian religion was the original religion of Iran dating back one thousand years before Christ. Emphasising the manifestation of divinity in nature, its centres of worship are the fire temples in each town. We visit one of the few remaining fire temples in Iran, before wandering through the old town to the Mosque and the mud-brick quarter of ancient Yazd. In the afternoon we visit the Towers of Silence and the Amir Chakhmagh Complex, from where we can enjoy views over the Old City. This evening there is an opportunity to witness Zurkhaneh, a unique Iranian experience. Meaning “house of strength”, it is a combination of moral and philosophical values and feats of strength performed to music and poetry. Overnight Yazd (B, L, D)
Thursday 19 October: To Kerman
Depart for Kerman, founded as a defensive outpost of the Sassanid Empire. Kerman is home to a large population of Baluchi people, nomadic tent dwellers originally from the Baluchestan desert region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Overnight Kerman (B, L, D)
Friday 20 October: Around Kerman
Outside of Kerman are the towns Rayen and Mahan, which we visit today. At Rayen we visit the Arg-e Rayen, a citadel constructed of mud with thick outer walls supporting 15 towers. Dating back 1000 years it is believed to have been inhabited up until 150 years ago. This afternoon we stop at Mahan to visit the Shahzahdeh garden, an oasis of beautifully maintained grounds and fountains fed from the surrounding natural springs and water channels. Before returning to Kerman, we visit the mausoleum of Shah Nematollah Vali, a Sufi poet and founder of a Darvish order. Overnight Kerman (B, L)
Saturday 21 October: To Shiraz
Today we travel to Shiraz, stopping at Neyriz before continuing on to Sarvestan, where we see the Sassanian monument built in the 5th century. Arriving in Shiraz in the late afternoon, we check into our hotel. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Sunday 22 October: Persepolis
This morning we visit Pasargadae, constructed by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus was killed in battle before his great city was finished. Today we visit his tomb and the ruins of his nearby gardens and palaces. On the way to Persepolis we visit the ancient fire temple Kab-e Zaratosht and the royal tombs at Naqsh-e Rostam, as well as the coronation site of the Sasanian Kings at Naqsh-e Rajab. Finally, we visit Persepolis, dating from the 6th century BC, which was the home of Darius, Xerxes, and the Achaemenid kings, who built Iran into a major power of the ancient world. Overnight Shiraz (B, L)
Monday 23 October: Touring Shiraz
Our touring in Shiraz commences at the tomb of Iran’s great poet, Hafez. Set in a peaceful garden, the marble tombstone is engraved with verse by the poet and is a site of pilgrimage for Iranians. We visit two of Shiraz’s famous gardens, 19th-century Bagh-e Eram, with a grand residence overseeing the fountains and botanic gardens; and Bagh-e Naranjestan a traditional rose garden. Following lunch, we explore Arg-e Karim Khan, a 250-year old fortress that formed part of the royal court, and the elegant Nasir al Molk Mosque with its unusually deep blue tiling, finely carved pillars and exquisite stained glass. Overnight Shiraz (B, L, D)
Tuesday 24 October: Tehran
Fly back to Tehran and 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. Tonight we gather for our farewell dinner. Overnight Tehran (B, L, D)
Wednesday 25 October: Departure
The tour concludes after breakfast. (B)
Has an honours degree from Liverpool University and specialises in the history and art of North Africa and Arabia.
One of his particular interests is the Queen of Sheba. He first visited Ethiopia in 1977 and has led specialist tours there since 1993. He has written and photographed ten guidebooks and lectured to ADFAS, NADFAS, universities and the Royal Geographical Society.
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, Azadi Hotel (3 nights)
Zanjan, Grand Hotel (2 nights)
Hamadan, Parsian AzadiHotel (2 nights)
Isfahan, AbbasiHotel (3 nights)
Yazd, Moshir GardenHotel (2 nights)
Kerman, Pars Hotel (2 nights)
Shiraz, Homa Hotel (3 nights)
Tehran, AzadiHotel (1 night)
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.