Shiraz Travel Guide + 15 Things To Do In Shiraz
Shiraz Travel Guide + 15 Things To Do In Shiraz was originally written in April 2020
With the scent of orange blossoms in the air, I stepped out of a taxi at Vakil Bazaar after having just arrived from Hormuz Island (via Bandar Abbas) to be welcomed to the city with a giant hug from a friend of a friend named Solmaz. Shiraz easily ended up my favorite city in Iran after a month-long trip that took me from the east to the west and south to north.
Shiraz has been the epicenter of Persian culture over the last two millennia. Home to the tombs of two of the world’s greatest poets, Hafez and Sa’di, beautiful gardens, a history of winemaking, and one of the most iconic mosques in the world, a visit to Iran without seeing Shiraz just wouldn’t be right in my opinion. There are also plenty of things to do just outside of Shiraz, including Persepolis, the pink salt lake of Maharloo, and Naqsh e Rustan and Nqsh e Rajab, that warrant day trips from the city. In this Shiraz Travel Guide, I’ll share the best things to do in Shiraz, where to stay, and more. I can also recommend picking up a copy of Bradt’s Iran guidebook to help you start planning your trip.
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Things To Do In Shiraz
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Nasir al Molk Mosque (Pink Mosque)
The famed Pink Mosque in Shiraz is no secret, but nonetheless is still one of the most beautiful mosques I’ve stepped foot in, but with that said it’s quite different than other mosques. Nasir al Molk was build during the Qajar era, starting in 1876 and completed in 1888 so there are quite a few European influences. At that time ceramic tiles were painted with bright colors and floral designs rather than the usual turquoise geometric patterns you’ll see more often. One distinct feature is the colored stained glass in the windows that in the earlier hours of the day (usually 7 am to 10 am) cast a kaleidoscope of colors on the walls and carpets of the mosque. I’d recommend arriving at Nasir al Molk before 7 am if you want to get photos without the crowds. By 7:30 am the place is packed to the gills. Unfortunately, you’ll have to listen to constant shutter clicks of photographers if you visit in the morning hours when it’s crowded, but it’s still worth a visit in my opinion. After you’ve finished admiring the beauty of the prayer hall make sure to visit the courtyard, museum, gallery, and other rooms of Nasir al Molk.
Nasir al Molk Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians
Vakil Bazaar & Vakil Mosque
Vakil Mosque was constructed during the Zand Dynasty between 1751 and 1773 under Karim Khan Zand who died before its completion. The mosque underwent renovations during the Qajar era, so you will see some similar colorful floral tiles like those at Nasir al Molk Mosque. The Vakil Mosque is directly east of the mosque. Vakil Bazaar was constructed in 1760, though the area had already been established as a market since the 11th century. The bazaar features caravanserais, courtyards, and a hammam (bathhouse), and is the perfect spot to go to purchase carpets, artwork, food, clothing, and more. Hammam e Vakil is another feature of the Vakil Bazaar and Mosque, those the hammam is now filled with mannequins showing the uses of each room of the bathhouse, reminiscent to the ‘it’s a small world’ ride at Disneyland.
Vakil Mosque Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians
Hammam e Vakil Entrance: 300,000 IRR for foreigners | 40,000 IRR for Iranians
Headed to Yazd before or after? Check out my Two Day Yazd Itinerary for ideas
Karim Khan Citadel
The Arg e Karim Khan is a citadel sat right in the middle of downtown Shiraz. I didn’t find it to be a highlight of my visit to Shiraz, but if you’re interested in the history I think it’s still worth a stop. Karim Khan Zand visited Esfahan and wanted to build a citadel that would rival that of Naqsh e Jahan Square. The Arg e Karim Khan, of course, fell short of the goal, but is still an impressive structure, nonetheless.
Karim Khan Citadel Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 60,000 IRR for Iranians
Shiraz is home to some of the most beautiful and elaborate Persian gardens in all of Iran. The gardens, of course, are the most beautiful in the spring and early summer.
Bagh e Naranjestan, Qavam House & Zinat al Molk House
The Bagh e Narenjestan is named after the bitter orange trees lining the garden. Bagh e Narenjestan is a great place to grab a chai or a fresh pomegranate and hang out with friends. Don’t forget to visit the Qavam House behind the garden once you’re done admiring the colorful flowers. The Qavam House is known as the ‘mirror house’ thanks to its ornate mirror mosaic works inside. The house is worth a visit to see how upper-class families lived in the Qajar Era of Iran. Make sure to visit the Zinat al Molk House across the street, another elaborate home built for uber-wealthy Mohammed Ali Khan Qavam al Molk. Bagh e Narenjestan and Zinat al Molk are actually connected by underground tunnel, but unfortunately, it is not open to the public. The basement of Zinat al Molk houses an archeological museum that’s worth checking out and also has many antique-inspired handicrafts for sale.
Bagh e Narenjestan Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians
Zinat al Molk Entrance: 150,000 IRR for foreigners | 20,000 IRR for Iranians
Bagh e Nazar & Pars Museum
The Pars Museum sits in the middle of Bagh e Nazar, worth visiting just to admire the ceiling alone. The museum is small but boasts the sword belonging to Karim Khan Zand, and several paintings and ceramic pieces.
Pars Museum Entrance: 300,000 IRR for foreigners | 40,000 IRR for Iranians
Bagh e Eram
Famed for its gorgeous pools and cypress trees, Bagh e Eram is worth a wander in the afternoon. The day I visited there were several medical school grads taking class photos.
Bagh e Eram Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians
Shah e Cheragh Shine
The Shrine of Shah e Cheragh is mind-blowingly beautiful, serving as the resting place of two of Imam Reza’s brothers. Women must wear a chador upon entry (they are provided at the women’s entrance). You cannot bring any backpacks or cameras in with you (they will keep them at the door), but you can take photos with your mobile. I visited with my friend Solmaz, so they didn’t pick up on me being foreign when we entered the complex grounds- but they usually make you visit with a guide (don’t worry, the guide is free and will give explanations).
Shah Cheragh Shrine Entrance: Free
Imam Khan Madrasa
Founded in the 17th century by Imam Quli Khan, the first governor of Fars Province, the Imam Khan Madrasa has served as an Islamic school ever since. It’s still very much in use today and the courtyard is worth a lap around. There was some construction going on near the entrance of the madrasa when I visited. I’d recommend visiting after you’ve seen Nasir al Molk Mosque and before the Shrine of Shah Cheragh as it located about halfway between the two.
Imam Khan Madrasa Entrance: Free
Plan your visit: The Esfahan Travel Guide
Hafez, Iran’s most famed poet is buried here within the Musalla Gardens under a beautiful pavilion. You’ll find young Iranians reciting Hafez’s poetry on the steps of the pavilion and wandering about the garden, especially at sunset. I’d recommend picking up a book of Hafez’s poetry and finding a nice spot to read some of his famed works here at the tomb. If not, grab a chai and a faludeh (a very Shirazi rose water and starch noodle sorbet) and enjoy the scene. Another famed poet, Saadi, has a shrine located about 2 kilometers up a hill from Hafez’s Shrine, worth visiting together given their proximity.
Hafez Tomb Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 50,000 IRR for Iranians
Abu Mohammed Muslih ad-Din, better known under his pen name of Saadi was a 13th century poet born in Shiraz who traveled the Middle East and was welcomed back with open arms in Shiraz upon his return. Saadi’s original tomb was built in this spot, marked by a Sufi Khanqah, that was destroyed in the 17th century. A new shrine was built in the mid-20th century, set against a beautiful garden of roses and bitter orange.
Saadi Tomb Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 50,000 IRR for Iranians
Manteghi Nezhad Historical House
Located right behind the Shrine of Shah Cheragh, the Manteghi Nezhad Historical House is worth a quick top for a chai-break between sightseeing. The courtyard of this Qajar era historical home is quite lovely, centered around a small pool lined with trees and flowers. The house is worth wandering inside to view the mirror works and Qajar era decorative paintings inside. It also houses a small museum.
Manteghi Nezhad Historical House Entrance: Free
Going solo? Check out my Guide To Solo Female Travel In Iran
Seray e Moshir
Saray e Moshir is a traditional bazaar in Shiraz, that abuts to the southeast corner of Vakil Bazaar (many mistakenly think it is Vakil Bazaar because of this). The Moshir Bazaar dates back to 18th century, and for years served as a bazaar, museum, and a chai-serving center, however, Saray e Moshir closed following the 1979 Revolution. Slowly artisans began to trickle back in revive the bazaar. Now many shops sell handicrafts, hand made jewelry, and artwork- many of which you can pop in and get a peek at artisans working on their crafts and wares. Chaikhanas have returned to the Moshir Bazaar as well- grab a seat in one (preferably outdoors on the second floor) and watch an afternoon drift away.
Shrine of Ali Ibn e Hamze
This tomb was built in honor of Ali Ibn e Hamze, the grandson of the fourth Imam. The mirrored interior is impressive and reminiscent of the Shrine of Shah Cheragh. Women must wear a chador to enter the shrine’s grounds. They are on loan at the entrance.
Shrine of Ali Ibn Hamze Entrance: Free
Coming from Tehran? Plan the perfect two day Tehran trip
Quran Gate & Khaju Garden
The Darvazeh e Quran, or Quran Gate is the ceremonial gate to the city of Shiraz. The gate used to house the Hifdah-Man Qurans, written by Sultan Ibrahim bin Shah Rukh Gurekani, that have since been moved to the Pars Museum. It was believed travelers passing under the gate were blessed by the holy book.
After passing through the gate, follow the pathway up the hill for about 30 minutes passing through gardens to eventually arrive at a chaikhana where you can enjoy a cup of chai and aerial views over Shiraz.
Quran Gate Entrance: Free
Khaju Gardens Entrance: 150,000 IRR for foreigners | 20,000 IRR for Iranians
Sayyed Aladdin Hossein Shrine
The Sayyed Aladdin Hossein Shrine is one of the holiest sites in Shiraz, built in honor of the Musa al Kadhim’s (the seventh Imam) son. The mosaic of mirrors inside and colorful glass will have you gazing up the entire time. Like Shah Cheragh Shrine, they’ll usually assign a guide to foreigners upon entry. I visited with my friends Solmaz and Faeza and I wasn’t made to have a guide. Women will be provided a chador upon entry at the women’s entrance.
Shrine of Sayyed Aladdin Hossein Entrance: Free
Headed toward the Persian Gulf next? See why you need to have Hormuz Island on your itinerary
Things To Do Near Shiraz
Persepolis (Takht e Jamshid)
A must for visitors to Shiraz is to take a day trip from the city to visit the ancient site of Takht e Jamshid, better known to English speakers as Persepolis. Persepolis lies about 60 kilometers outside of Shiraz, making it a great half to full-day trip, depending on your level of interest. Persepolis dates back to 550 BC and served as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire from 550-330 BC, and is among the greatest archeological sites in the world. Persepolis is located in Marvdasht and is reachable by public bus, or you can hire a taxi for about $10 USD each way (many will insist on waiting, in which you can plan for a $20 USD return trip including waiting time).
Persepolis Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 50,000 IRR for Iranians
Naqsh e Rustam & Naqsh e Rajab
Naqsh e Rustam & Naqsh e Rajab are both worth paying a visit on your day trip to Persepolis as they’re both situated nearby. Naqsh e Rustam is an ancient necropolis believed to house the tombs of Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes, and Darius II. Naqsh e Rajab features Sassanid Era rock-bas-reliefs that depict scenes that date back to Ardashir I and Shapur I’s reigns.
Naqsh e Rustam Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 50,000 IRR for Iranians
Naqsh e Rajab Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians
Maharloo Lake (Pink Lake)
Maharloo, also known as the ‘Pink Lake’ is located about 40 kilometers (35 minutes drive) southeast of Shiraz and makes for a great day trip from the city for a picnic. The lake is famed for its pink waters- usually at its peak pinkness in midsummer, caused by a red tide (algae bloom) due to its high salinity.
Read about how you can visit Maharloo Lake on your visit to Shiraz
Where To Stay In Shiraz
Truth be told, I stayed with friends I made in Shiraz (despite insisting on not reaching their apartment). Here are some hotels and traditional houses that came highly recommended by other travelers I met in Iran, as well as ones with great reviews over at 1stQuest.
Looking for a budget travel breakdown? Here is how much it cost me to backpack across Iran
Best Restaurants In Shiraz & What To Eat
Best Restaurants In Shiraz
Chaikhanas in Vakil Bazaar, Moshin Bazaar, & in the Historic Quarter
Balo Persian Cuisine
Shapouri Garden Traditional Restaurant
What To Eat In Shiraz
Shiraz has its own unique cuisine. A few must-try dishes in Shiraz include:
Dopiaza Aloo: Cubed potatoes, onions and meat spiced with saffron and turmeric.
Faludeh: A sorbet of rose water and start noodles.
Shirazi Salad: Tomato and cucumber salad with onions, verjuice, and olive oil.
Kalam Polo: Persian cabbage and rice spiced with saffron, turmeric, saffron, and tarragon.
How To Get To Shiraz (And Out)
Shiraz is easy to reach by bus, flight, and train.
By Bus: You can get just about anywhere (or come from anywhere) by bus to Shiraz, with numerous departures leaving throughout the day to destinations all over the country. Bus tickets are pretty inexpensive, coming in at $4-12 USD
By flight: Several flights connect Shiraz to other cities in the country every day, as well as international destinations including Dubai and Istanbul.
By train: The train is the least connected as the only place you can go to and from Shiraz via train is Tehran.
Have Any Questions About Shiraz Travel Or Any Of The Things To Do In Shiraz Mentioned In This Post?
Ask your Shiraz travel questions in the comments section below.
Need Travel Insurance For Iran?
Start shopping plans over at 1stQuest as most other travel insurance providers will not cover travel in Iran.