Travel to Iran Like a Local (2023 Guide) | Tips for Traveling to Iran
Travel to Iran like a local,explore how locals live, and have a genuine experience of the ancient country. Getting lost in the hidden alleys, discovering the secret backyard of the cities, finding the nicest local eateries, staying at locally-inspired accommodations, and immersing yourself in truly local experiences is probably the most unique way to visit Iran. Here are some tips I think can help you have a local experience in Iran.
Things That Help You Travel to Iran like a Local
Do Some Research Before You Go
The more you know about the history, culture and geography, the more enriching your travel to Iran will be. You will know what sights to visit, what accommodations to stay in, and what experiences to try. With more practical information and travel tips, a savvy traveler will also know how to get around and have the most convenient trip possible. Becoming more culturally-aware, you will also become more perceptive of the differences that make Iran unique and have a more enjoyable trip.
Stay Longer & Go Off Tourist Radar
It’s true that the top tourist attractions of Iran and its main tourist route are fascinating. But to travel to Iran like a local, you need to have time to explore the hidden alleys and places that are less-seen by tourists. Going off the tourist radar and discovering less-discovered cities and regions will also introduce you to rare charms you wouldn’t forget. Western, southern and southeastern Iran are some of these unique destinations.
Use Public Transportation
To travel to Iran like a local and experience it genuinely, try to use public transportation to get around. There, you’ll not only find the real daily life of Iranian people, but you’ll also get surprised by how hospitable and caring Iranian people are toward travelers. You can also use the Iranian Ubers (Snapp and Tapsi) for more comfort.
Get an Iranian SIM Card
Having an Iranian SIM card makes traveling much more convenient, especially for independent travelers. With it, you’ll not only be in touch with your loved ones at home, but you’ll also have data internet that gives you access to navigation apps, taxi apps, travel guides, and more services that enables you to travel to Iran like a local.
Get an Iranian Bank Card
As you might know, international credit cards and bank cards don’t work in Iran. So, an Iranian prepaid debit card is one of the best ways to travel to Iran like a local. With it, shopping will be easier in almost all stores, you can withdraw up to 2’000’000 Rials of cash daily from a certain bank’s ATMs, and charge the card through PayPal up to 10’000 €. What remains in your card will be transferred back to your PayPal in 7 to 10 working days.
Get a Local Guide
Even if you’ve done a good research about the places you like to visit and have found ways to make your experience more genuine, the experience is incomparable to having a local guide beside you. A local guide takes you to all the hidden charms of her/his homeland, share its secrets with you, show you the bests of it, and make you feel safe and comfortable.
Stay at Boutique hotels
You can stay in best business style hotels around the world. But it is only in Iran that you can stay in rooms with a unique architecture, traditional decorations and colorful sash windows. Some of these boutique hotels are houses of historical and artistic value that have been renovated to be used as hotels. Ecolodges and local houses are also unique but less comfortable options to travel to Iran like a local.
Communicate With Locals
One of the best tips I can give you to travel to Iran like a local is to be open to approaches from locals and even try to start a chat with Iranians. This could be the spark of one of the sweetest and most memorable experiences you can have in Iran. The reason is that Iranians LOVE to chat with tourists and make them feel welcome. This has roots in the value of being hospitable in Persian culture.
Get a Few Good VPNs
An Iranian has a couple of good VPNs and so should you to travel to Iran like a local. Many websites and social media platforms are blocked in Iran and to access them, you will need not just one, but a few good VPNs.
Dare to Choose Other Dishes Than Kebab
Iranians are big on Kebab and they can serve you with different types of it. But when you are in Iran, try to taste as many dishes as you can. Also ask for the local dishes in each city you have a stop in. Iranian cuisine is one of the richest, most delicious and yet still less-known ones in the world. Locals will also surprise you with their enthusiasm to give you recommendations to best restaurants in the town.
Make New Local Friends
One of the nicest things about Iran is that Iranians love to make tourists feel welcome in their country and create a memorable experience for them. So, nice people may walk up to you, have a chat, try to help you, and invite you to a cup of tea or a delicious meal at the warmth of their home. This will be a genuine and unforgettable way to travel to Iran like a local.
Learn the Language Basics
In Iran, you will definitely have the experience of people walking up to you to have a nice chat. Most Iranians have a basic familiarity with English and enjoy practicing their language skills with you. Some even surprise you with their fluency. But to travel to Iran like a local and to be able to have nice encounters with people of all ages and types, you should have a basic familiarity with English. Lonely Planet’s Farsi Phrasebook and Dictionary will be a good pal during your trip.