Travelling In Iran as a Solo Female

You absolutely can travel to Iran as a solo female traveller! To prove it this is my experience of travelling in Iran as a solo female.

In the months before I visited Iran many of my family and friends worried about the dangers I would encounter as a solo female traveller in Iran. Some people would even tell me it simply wasn’t possible for a woman to travel alone in Iran, that I would need a male companion!

Me travelling in Iran as a solo female with the bridges of Esfahan in the background

Me travelling in Iran as a solo female with the bridges of Esfahan in the background

Their concerns are understandable given there are so many misconceptions about the misunderstood country that is Iran. The media has helped convince most of us in Western countries to think that Iran is filled with gun-toting terrorists, and that it’s home to nuclear weapons and suppressed women. Some people even mistakenly think Iran is where ISIS is!

I have to admit I was a little nervous about travelling to Iran as a solo female traveller. But my travels in Iran proved to me that these misconceptions are wrong and that you can travel to Iran as a solo female.

This is what I learnt about travelling in Iran as solo female traveller.

You do not need a male companion.

Do not listen to anyone who tells you differently. I travelled throughout Iran as a sole female for three weeks and was never stopped by the authorities.

However, please keep in mind if you are from the USA, Canada or the UK you most likely will need to join or take a tour to meet visa regulations.

The Iranian people really are some of the kindest, most welcoming, hospitable and curious I have ever met travelling (and I’ve travelled a lot!).

I was often stopped on the street and welcomed to the country. The Iranians were always extremely curious to know what I thought about their country and what the outside world thinks about them. They were also curious to learn about me, my family and my home.

Local girls stopping me on the street of Tehran

Local girls stopping me on the street of Tehran

I’ll never forget waiting for an overnight train from Mashhad to Yazd and a local woman, who couldn’t speak English, offering me a never-ending string of food – slices of apple, sunflower seeds, hot chocolate, it went on and on and on.

Or the Iranian woman on the bus from Shiraz to Esfahan approaching me asking if I needed anything and if I did to let her know.

Or the local family who invited me to join them for tea while they picnicked in the magnificent main square in Esfahan.

Picnicking with locals in the main square of Esfahan

Picnicking with locals in the main square of Esfahan

Dress Code

An important and not to be overlooked aspect of travelling to Iran as a woman – what to wear?

As a woman travelling to Iran you do need to wear hejab which means covering hair, arms and legs, and wearing clothes that generally disguise your body shape when in public.

I wore loose, cotton pants (trousers) or jeans with a lightweight loose top which went to my wrists and which also covered my backside and crotch.

A headscarf is a must and I would recommend a lightweight one (and perhaps not a blue one like mine! it did stand out!!).

An example of what I wore while travelling in Iran (together with more friendly locals!)

An example of what I wore while travelling in Iran (and more friendly locals!)

Yes, I felt safe travelling in Iran as a solo female traveller.

I really did feel safe travelling in Iran as a solo female.

Unfortunately I did have a couple of instances where local men were on the irritating side. These were more annoying than worrying or scary, and I firmly believe these incidents can happen anywhere in the world, even my own hometown of Sydney. To read more about one of these incidents click here.

I even felt safe carrying a large amount of cash on me for my three week travels due to the sanctions imposed emanating international debit and credit care not being recognised.

Getting a visa isn’t as hard as it once was.

Getting a visa to Iran is notoriously tricky and sometimes difficult.

I found the process to be fiddly but not overly difficult.

As a I was trying to get my visa whilst on the road travelling in Central Asia I decided to get pre-approval with the assistance of Stantours. They were extremely helpful and professional, and I’m sure they made my visa process a lot easier. You can read about my visa experience at ‘How To Get an Iranian Visa in Uzbekistan’.

Also, women will need to have their hair covered with a scarf for visa photos.

Note: visa requirements are subject to change and I highly recommend you check with your local embassy for the latest information.

My Iranian visa!!

My Iranian visa!!

Transportation is comfortable, frequent and cheap making it incredible easy to travel the large distances in the country.

I usually travelled by bus but also took an overnight train from Mashhad to Yazd. I naturally was given a ticket for a women’s only compartment and shared with three lovely, kind local women.

Accommodation is on the whole relatively easy to find and again cheap.

Although I did have problems finding somewhere to stay in Esfahan where beds are in short supply and I had arrived after dark. You can read about more about that here.

You also have many opportunities to stay in some lovely traditional houses, particularly in Yazd, Shiraz and Kashan. My two recommendations are Khan-e Ehsan in Kashan and Niayesh Boutique Hotel in Shiraz.

The gorgeous courtyard at Khan-e Ehsan, Kashan

The gorgeous courtyard at Khan-e Ehsan, Kashan

My room at Khan-e Ehsan

My room at Khan-e Ehsan

My compact, but functional room at Niayesh Boutique Hotel

My compact, but functional room at Niayesh Boutique Hotel

Iran is one of the most fascinating countries to travel to!

From the incredible ruins of Persepolis, to the colourful bazaars throughout the country, the many delightful Persian gardens, the stunningly beautiful mosques and traditional houses, and atmospheric cities like Yazd, Iran is a country full of wonderful places to explore.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Esfahan

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Esfahan

The maze-like mud-brick city of Yazd

The maze-like mud-brick city of Yazd

The gorgeous kaleidoscope like Pink Mosque in Shiraz

The gorgeous kaleidoscope like Pink Mosque in Shiraz

Travelling in Iran as a solo female really is an amazing and rewarding experience.

So what are you waiting for?

Notes

I travelled throughout Iran as a solo female for three weeks in October 2014 as part of a larger trip following the Silk Road overland from China into Central Asia.

Throughout the three weeks I visited Mashhad, Yazd, Shiraz, Persepolis, Esfahan, Kashan, Tehran and Tabriz before travelling overland into eastern Turkey

If you have any questions about travelling to Iran as a solo female traveller drop me a line in the comments below I would be happy to help!

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11 comments on “Travelling In Iran as a Solo Female”

  1. Vanessa @ The Travelling Colognian Reply

    Hi Carly, thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts about travelling through Iran as a solo female traveller. Iran is high on my list for next year or the year after and it’s great to know that it is possible for a female to travel there even when not going on a group tour as long as you are not from the USA, Canada or the UK (I am not from one of these countries). I always thought accommodations in Iran are expensive and hard to get and I had no idea that transportation seems to be an easy task. I will make sure to read all your posts about Iran (and also definitely about your adventures the Stans) and I could imagine that I might have a few questions once I decide to travel to Iran.

    • Carly Reply

      Hi Vanessa! I’m so pleased you found my post helpful and is encouraging you to explore visiting Iran further. It really is a fantastic country!!

      I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have but for now I can tell you accommodation wasn’t expensive. On a few occasions I stayed in dorms (yes there are some places where there are dorms in Iran!!) where it was approx USD10 a night and a single room could be found from USD20 to USD55. The difficulty is making reservations. I didn’t use an agent and often just turned up which worked out okay most of the time. I would also sometimes ask my current accommodation to call ahead to make a booking for where I was headed next. That worked pretty well, when they answered the phone!!

      Transportation is definitely not expensive, from Shiraz to Esfahan it cost me 250,000 rials, approx USD8, for an eight hour trip. The buses are so frequent I would usually just turn up and be able to get a ticket for the next one leaving and I wouldn’t need to wait long!!

      Good luck with the planning 🙂

    • Hadi Reply

      Hi vanessa
      I’m an iranian and can help you to visit our country and njoy it any time you need. Specialy Shiraz because it’s my hometown.
      goodluck
      Hadi

  2. Elen Reply

    So happy to read this! I have become so bored of travel blogs that cover the same old places, and have been looking for women travellers who have been to places such as Iran for a while. I hope to get there myself before long.

    • Carly Reply

      Cheers Elen, so wonderful to hear your feedback!!

      You might also like some of my posts about my travels thoughout Central Asia – a very different place to travel solo too with amazing things to see and some super interesting history and culture!

      Also, I would get to Iran sooner rather than later as you would be surprised at how many tourists are already there!!

  3. SHADI BELAND Reply

    Thank you so much for showing this side of my beautiful country. I had a few friends visit Iran from USA, Canada and Sweden. They all enjoyed their stay!
    I haven’t been to Iran since 2001 and I cannot wait to take my Canadian husband and children for a visit.

    • Carly Reply

      You’re more than welcome, Shadi, and thanks for taking the time to comment! I also really enjoyed my time in Iran. The people was so incredibly friendly and there are so many wonderful places to visit how can you not.
      Hope you get to take you family for a visit soon 🙂

  4. Pingback: 7 Reasons Why You should Travel to Iran

  5. Hadi Reply

    I’m so happy to your comming.
    we (Iranian people) are waiting for you again, and any person who want to visit iran.
    Best

    Hadi
    shiraz-Iran

    • Carly Reply

      Thanks Sophie!! The architecture is truly incredible and you should definitely try to visit one day, you’ll love it.

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