A large list of travel community websitesJanuary 7, 2019
Why Should I Travel Solo?January 14, 2019
Is Iran safe? What is the dress code? Is it safe for solo trips? Should I do an organized tour? The community has asked many questions about female travel in Iran so I decided to ask of my favourite female travellers who know all about Iran solo female travel.
You can read more about our panel of experts Ana and Alex on their websites. All details are at the bottom of the article. You can also join the female travel community for FREE to ask questions to members and participate in the forums
Were there any areas in Iran you felt you were not safe
Ana - I found Iran to be very safe in every area I visited. Never felt I in a danger. However, foreign women will draw unwanted attention and some uncomfortable situation may happen. As in any other place, you need to be cautious at all times and use your common sense (do not walk alone at night, be aware of cultural differences, etc.).
Alex - Most of Iran is immensely safe. Aside from the usual precautions about walking alone at night, you don’t have to worry when roaming around the country. The only area I’d advise caution is the Balochistan region near the border with Pakistan. A lot of smuggling and occasional tribal spats occur in the area, and you don’t want to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What are your must eat or drink suggestions?
Ana - As a vegetarian, I could not try everything of the Iranian cuisine, but I remember it was not so hard to find wonderful food. I remember enjoying the Bademjan (eggplant stew) and the Sebze kuku (herb and vegetable omelette). I especially enjoyed the home-made food made by the mums of the wonderful Iranian friends I met.
Alex - Mmm, everything! I’m a cookie fanatic—in my opinion you MUST try a hot sugar and walnut cookie from Fuman. As for drinks, drink yourself silly with all of the fresh fruit smoothies available everywhere. Be sure to try every combination under the sun.
Which places in Iran are your favourite, where would you not miss?
Ana - Isfahan is truly amazing. But I also enjoyed the ancient city of Yazd. I also loved Shiraz. The city is not so spectacular, but people there is very open-minded there and I enjoyed a side a of Iran much more free.
Alex - Iranian Kurdistan. Despite some people thinking it’s dangerous, it’s quite peaceful and immensely beautiful. Think rolling green hills, seas of poppies, and very friendly people (as always).
What did you love about Iran?
Ana - What I love the most about Iran is the Iranian hospitality. Iranian locals know the real meaning of hospitality: giving without expecting anything in exchange. They will talk to you at every opportunity, offer you their help, invite you for meals, or even to stay in their homes. All of this without accepting payment for anything. I felt at home at all times and made friends and memories that will last me for life.
Alex - People, people, people. Iranians will blow you away with their hospitality, and they’re not shy about approaching you to do so! Oh, also the architecture. Oh my god, drool. I have yet to see a country with more stunning architecture than Iran, and I’ve been traveling quite a bit!
What did you not like about Iran?
Ana - I did not like to see many laws that restrict the freedom of their citizen. Specially women’s freedom. Women in Iran are forced to wear hijab in public, can not ride a bike and even their singing is banned!
Alex - Some of the men were right pigs. They can be a bit too forward and touchy at times. But not enough to deter my love for all of the good people in the country!
What do you wish you had of known or been prepared for?
Ana - One of the things that struck me most about Iran was to learn that men and women remain segregated during İslamic Iranian wedding celebrations. Weddings where even the bride and groom cannot be together? Yes. I myself had the opportunity to attend an Iranian wedding like this!
Alex - I wish I’d been more prepared to deal with creepy men. Note to all ladies out there: never ever pose for photos where it will just be you and male strangers. It’ll save you a lot of hassle and harassment.
Thoughts on Iran in General?
Ana - Iran is one of my favorite countries and my number one in regards of people. I was simply amazed by the hospitality and the humbleness of the people I met. Visiting Iran is not only safe, but also a unique experience that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Alex - Iran is an incredible country that I can’t recommend enough. Though not everyone can visit so easily, if you can get there... do it. ASAP. Don’t be afraid of what you see on the news—it’s quite safe, and I assure you, it will be a trip to remember.
"Go. Definitely go. It’s a rich and varied land and the locals are very excited to meet and talk with you. I’m sure it’s already changed drastically in the three years since I visited (I went just before the embargo was lifted) and will continue to change fast. Go see it now!"
What reactions did you get from family and friends before/after your trip and how did you handle them?
Ana - My family and friends did not understand why did I wanted to visit Iran and even worse, why did I wanted to travel to Iran alone. They were worried and confused. I don’t blame them. The media encourages a very bad reputation and I acknowledge the location of Iran in the map is not very inviting. However, they eventually understood that it was my choice and that no one would stop me.
Alex - Everyone thought I was mental, obviously. But they shut up after they heard me raving about how brilliant the country is. Told ya! 😉
Where there times you felt intimidated because you were a female or foriegner and how did you handle this?
Ana - Well, a couple of times I was chased by a men in Tehran. But I did not feel in a real danger, because I felt protected by Iranian citizens and I knew they would help me if necessary. I confronted these guys and ask them to leave me alone immediately.
Alex - Being a foreigner wasn’t an issue—most people were over the moon to meet an American—but being a female can get uncomfortable at times since some men won’t acknowledge you and others will... erm, “acknowledge” you far, far too much. If anything of the latter sort happens, just make a scene, or get aggressive. So long as other people are around, most men will scare off easily.
Did you find Iran was an easy country to get around?
Ana - Absolutely. It is a great country to travel by bus. And busses in Iran are really comfortable!
Alex - Language barriers and a lack of information (in 2016—things have changed by now) made things difficult... but any difficulties were easily offset by how helpful people are and how far they’re willing to go to make sure you’re okay!
If you are planning to visit Iran, here are some recommendations:
Travel insurance: I always recommend World Nomads from personal experience and they cover Iran.
Where to stay: Personally I always use booking.com to find properties. They have a fantastic search feature.
If you wish to make your own choices, check out our ultimate travel resources page for a variety of websites.
To learn more about Alex's adventures
To learn more about Ani's adventures