Expert-Led Group Tour

Iran - A Persian journey

Departing 13th - 25th September 2019

13 days

from £4,795pp
  • Explore the ruined ceremonial city of Persepolis, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
  • Experience the colourful romantic city of Shiraz, famous for its poetry, wine and roses.
  • Wander the vast Imam Square, one of Isfahan's many examples of stunning Persian architecture.
  • Accompanied throughout by Tour Expert Sylvie Franquet

For anybody with an adventurous spirit, a love of history and a fondness for delicious food and incredible hospitality, the opportunity to travel across Iran is irresistible. Rising to prominence under the Achaemenid dynasty, rulers of the largest pre-Roman empire, Iran's culture and architecture have flourished ever since.

However, don't take our word for how incredible Iran is, listen to our client's thoughts in this short video she made for us about her experience of travelling with Steppes Travel in Iran.

Visit the mud-brick desert citadel of Rayen then continue on to Shiraz - the cultural capital of Iran - and take in the birthplace of the country's most famous poet, Hafez. From there, visit Yazd and discover a city designed around desert life. Explore the site of ancient Persepolis, built to celebrate the success of the mighty Persian Empire, before visiting the rock-cut tombs of the Achaemenid kings. Finally travel on to Isfahan - the beautiful creation of Shah Abbas - and marvel at the magnificent Imam Square, arguably one of the wonders of the Islamic world.

Iran constantly receives negative coverage in the press, however, there is so much more to Iran than what is seen on the media. It is a beautiful nation full of cultural wealth and historical significance whose people are friendly, and rightly proud of their long heritage. Travel on our group tour to Iran to discover this for yourself. 


For the addition of the expertise of Sylvie Franquet, who has travelled extensively in Iran, as well as the opportunity to travel with like-minded individuals.   

"Sylvie's expertise in the area was fantastic. She was a wonderful guide and shared her depth of knowledge, her love of Iran and the people, in a friendly, relaxed and enthusiastic manner which made her easy to listen to. Nothing was too much trouble and she never minded when we asked her to repeat information from earlier in the trip." P Somerville, Iran group tour with Sylvie. 


Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.


While Iran is blessed with beautiful architecture and fascinating historical sites, it does not currently have a wide selection of luxury hotels. In the large, main cities the standard is good; however, in the smaller towns and villages, hotels are basic. We do our best to use the best available in each place.


You do not need to be particularly fit to participate; there are no long walks involved, but there will be a certain number of stone steps and uneven surfaces.


Iranian cuisine includes a wide variety of foods ranging from chelow kabab (rice served with roasted meat: barg, koobideh, joojeh, shishleek, soltani, chenjeh), khoresh (stew that is served with white Iranian rice: ghormeh sabzi, gheimeh, fesenjan, and others), ash (a thick soup: for example ash-e anar).


Not excessively hot, with clear, sunny days. However, when travelling in the mountainous areas the weather can vary. The best time to travel to Iran is generally during the months of April, May, June, September and October as it is neither too hot nor too cold.

Departing on:
  • 13th September 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
13th Sep 2019 25th Sep 2019 £ 4,795 £ 700 £ 975 Sylvie Franquet Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation (as indicated)
  • Accompanied by a local English speaking guide throughout Iran
  • Accompanied by Sylvie Franquet throughout
  • Full board - 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 12 dinners
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • Internal flight from Tehran to Ahwaz
  • Transportation (as indicated)

what is excluded

  • Drinks with meals
  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

There will be time to rest beofore sightseeing.

Visit to Iran's National Museum (Archaeological and Islamic)
The National Museum showcases a collection of Persian artefacts. Housed in an attractive, French-designed building, this museum is packed with objects that reflect Iran's rich history. These include archaeological treasures from the ancient sites of Persepolis and Susa.

The nation's capital since the 18th century, Tehran is Iran's biggest and most vibrant city, a place where contemporary culture thrives alongside conservative traditionalism. Packed with almost 20 percent of the country's population, Tehran is nestled up against the foothills of the Alborz Mountains, Iran's biggest mountain range.

Lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Espinas Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Visit the Golestan Palace
Built within the city's historic Safavid citadel, the Golestan Palace Complex was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The current structures were largely constructed under the Qajar Shahs, during the 19th century.

Set around carefully landscaped gardens, the buildings within the palace are beautifully decorated with colourful tile work and carved stone work. Fountains dot the gardens, lending to the tranquil atmosphere; at odds with busy Tehran.

One of the highlights of the complex is the Hall of Diamonds (Talar Almas), which contains intricate mirrored ceilings, decorative murals and striking paintings.

Visit to the Glass Museum
Visit the beautifully housed Glass and Ceramics Museum, formerly the home of an aristocratic Persian family. Inside, admire the impressive array of artefacts, some of which date back to the second millennium BC.

Carpet Museum
After lunch, explore the city's Persian Carpet Museum, housing over 100 pieces from across Iran. These date back as far as the 17th century and showcase the different regional styles of each of Iran's provinces. Among the highlights is the unique 'Tree of Life with Kings and Notables' carpet.

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Ahwaz.

Fly Tehran to Ahwaz

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Pars (Fajr) Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Excursion to Chogha Zanbil and Susa
Full day excursion to Chogha-Zanbil, to visit the ziggurat built by Untash Gal, King of Elam, about 1250 BC. The massive man-made mound was the focal point of his city of Dur Untashi, and was dedicated to the great god Inshushinak, 'Lord of Susa', symbolised by the form of a bull. Continue on to visit Haft-Tappeh or Seven Mounds (Elamite Necropolis) whose discovery in the 1960's has filled one of the less well-documented periods in Elamite history. Visit Susa, the site of one of the oldest civilisations in Western Asia, dating back to 5,000 BC and the remains of Achaemenian palaces, plus the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Pars (Fajr) Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Ahwaz to Shiraz (Road Journey)

Ravaged by earthquakes over the centuries, Shiraz's surviving treasures are relatively few, but its relaxed atmosphere remains. Briefly Iran's capital under the Zand dynasty, the city is still considered the country's capital of culture and is renowned for its poetry, wine and roses.

Bizarrely, whilst Shiraz wine is world-famous, the city itself - just like all of Iran - is free of alcohol. Following the Islamic Revolution, wine production was banned and vineyards were either converted to fruit production or destroyed.

Also used as a launch-pad for visits to the nearby site of Persepolis, its proximity to this fabled ruined city more than makes up for Shiraz's own depleted architectural heritage.

Visit Bishapur
The building complex of Bishapur includes a central chamber, a large courtyard which had been covered with impressive mosaics, plus the remains of a temple dedicated to Anahita, the goddess of water and fertility. On either side of a narrow gorge, there are also six Sassanian rock-reliefs at Tang-e-Chogan, commemorating Shapur's victories over the Romans and other adversaries. The Sassanian city was built by Shapur 1st (241-273 A.D.), the second Sassanian king.

You will be staying at Homa Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

City tour of Shiraz
Begin today's sightseeing at the Pars Museum, an elegant octagonal building that is located at the centre of the Zand-era Nazar Garden. Beautifully decorated, the museum contains a lavish 18th century reception room, as well as exquisite decorative plasterwork. Afterwards, visit the Nasir ol molk mosque, also known as the pink mosque. The multitude of stained glass windows turn the inside of the mosque into a wonderland of colour that is utterly breath-taking. Continue to the Vakil mosque where intricate azure tile work adorns the walls, before wandering through the adjacent bazaar where stalls sell all manner of produce. Often frequented by Kashqai nomads, this is a boisterous and colourful place.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Homa Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Visit Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rustam
Head to the ancient ruined city of Persepolis, around 50 kilometres northeast of Shiraz. Founded by Darius I in the sixth century BC as the ceremonial capital of the vast Achaemenid Empire, this enormous complex encompassed a wide range of buildings.

Partly destroyed by Alexander the Great, the city was once surrounded by mighty 18 metre high walls. Today the ruins include palaces, carvings and massive bas-reliefs from the Achaemenian period. The incredible stonework utilised rocks from all over the Persian Empire.

Afterwards, continue to Naqsh-e Rustam, where you will find the rock-cut tombs of the Achaemenid Kings, Xerxes I and Darius I. Accompanying these tombs are impressive carvings all from the Sassanid period and depict the conquests and investitures of Sassanid Kings, including the famous victory of Shapur the First over the Roman Emperor Valerian.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Homa Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Drive from Shiraz to Yazd via Pasargadae

Today, will be a long travel day, taking around seven hours including stops.

Depart for Yazd in the morning visiting Pasargadae en route. Pre-dating Persepolis, this site of the simple but impressive tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, and remains of his several palaces, are all located in the vast plain of Dasht-e-Morghab.

Continue onto the small desert town of Abarkuh to see the 4,000-year old cypress tree.

Arrive into Yazd in the early evening, where you will spend the next couple of nights.

Trapped between two of Iran's largest deserts, Yazd is an oasis town that is famous for its unique architecture. Generations of adaptation to the harsh desert environment have left Yazd with a distinctive architectural style.

Soaring minarets and hundreds of badgirs - specially designed wind towers - make up Yazd's iconic roof-scape. Such adaptation is a necessity for survival in the city; the nearby Dasht-e Lut was the hottest place on Earth for seven consecutive years during a 21st century scientific study.

The city is also renowned for its Zoroastrian community. Although now much depleted after centuries of persecution, this religious minority still makes up 10% of the city's inhabitants.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Moshir Garden, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Yazd sightseeing
Yazd is an oasis town surrounded by mountains, its roofscape a plethora of blue domes, soaring minarets and hundreds of wind towers. The old town of Yazd is a labyrinth of secret passages, bazaars and mud brick streets, unchanged for centuries. It was, and still is, an important centre for Zoroastrinism. The shrine of Duvazdah Imam, (the 12 Imams) from the 11th century Seljuq period, the ’Towers of Silence’, pits where the bodies of the dead were left for the vultures and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple are all possible visits.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Moshir Garden, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Drive from Yazd to Isfahan via Meybod and Na'in

Leave Yazd and travel to Meybod, approximately an hour's drive north. Here, explore this picturesque mud-brick town which sits in an area of semi-desert. Meybod is particularly notable for its impressive Safavid ice house and caravanserai. Continue to Na'in, a town known for being the geographical centre of Iran as well as for its production of outstanding carpets. Visit the early Islamic-era Jameh Mosque before continuing to Isfahan.

Widely regarded as one of Iran's greatest treasures, Isfahan reminds the world of the glories of Persia. Regarded as one of the most beautiful Islamic cities in existence, its cultural and architectural zenith was reached in the 17th century, under Shah Abbas I.

Today, its many wonders remain and so too does its status as a cultural hub. Bisected by the Zayandeh River, Isfahan's green riverbanks are lively places, buzzing with culture. Joining the two sides, the iconic Khaju Bridge is at the heart of this energetic city.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Abbasi Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Armenian Quarter and Maiden-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan Square
Explore the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources. Visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan, Khajou, and Sio-se-pol plus the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank. After lunch visit one of the world’s grandest squares the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan. The square is home to several sites including Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games. Also explore two of the Islamic world’s greatest mosques; the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Imam - both of which showcase magnificent architecture and tilework. End the day with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar where hundreds of shops and workshops display arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Abbasi Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Friday Mosque, Chehel-Sotun Palace and Hasht Behesht Pavilion
Today visit the Friday Mosque (Masjed-e-Jameh). 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 and is one of the world’s greatest mosques.

From here drive to the Chehel-Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its twenty wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’. Final stop of the day is at the Hasht Behesht pavilion, built in 1670 by Shah Sulaiman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. This small but intricate building is set among tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills.

Return to Maidan Square for some time at leisure to further explore the bazaar and handicraft shops.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Abbasi Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Isfahan to Tehran
Drive to Tehran in the morning, breaking the journey in Kashan for sightseeing and lunch.

In Kashan visit the Fin Garden that is an historical Persian garden. It contains Kashan's Fin Bath, where Amir Kabir, the Qajarid chancellor, was murdered by an assassin sent by King Nasereddin Shah in 1852. Also see Tabatabaee a large merchant house with delightful wall paintings and elegant stained glass windows that includes other classic signatures of Traditional Persian residential architecture.

Continue onto Tehran.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Novotel Hotel, Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, full board

Day 13

Day at leisure in Tehran

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Iran

Deborah Brock-Doyle, Travel Expert

Read More

Paul Craven, Travel Expert

" I spoke to five different companies, but Paul was by far the most knowledgeable and empathetic."

"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Sylvie Franquet

Sylvie Franquet
Sylvie Franquet was born in Belgium. She studied Arabic and Islamic studies at Ghent University, and then at Cairo University. She has led many trips to the Middle East and has written at length about the region in travel articles and guidebooks. Having travelled extensively in the Middle East, she then went to Iran and fell totally under the spell of the country. She started studying Farsi and Iran soon became the focus of her travels, as no country defies preconceptions as much as Iran. When she is not travelling, she is an artist and sculptor, represented by the October Gallery in London. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Anthony Sattin, and their two sons.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 5 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Sylvie Franquet

Departure Date (S):

  • 13th September 2019

  • Active - The tour may involve daily walks and will have a faster pace in certain areas. Walks will be no longer than 6 hours. The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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