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Azadi Tower, Adazi Tower Tehran, Freedom Tower, Freedom Tower Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Two Day Tehran Itinerary + 13 Things To Do In Tehran

Two Day Tehran Itinerary + 13 Things To Do In Tehran was originally published in May 2020

Tehran in many ways feels like a capital city in all the right ways. The juxtaposition of the chaotic traffic and bustle on the streets against the laid back Persian chaikhana culture, done up women with their headscarves teetering on the very back of their head passing a woman in a black chador, clutching the fabric tightly below her chin, brilliant museums and art galleries versus the propaganda art pieces painted on the streets. Tehran is a pretty modern city, when compared to the remainder of Iran, but in many ways it still has an old-meets-new feel to it as tradition and 21st century seem to collide here.

The small handful of independent travelers I met gave Tehran a pass, just using it as a place to catch a night of sleep after flying and then continuing on to Central Iran’s historical gems. I, personally have a thing for these not-so-loved capitals. Tashkent, Dushanbe, Bishkek, Cairo- give me weeks in them and I still rustle up plenty of things to keep myself entertained and occupied, though I know most of you are on limited time off and are trying to make the most of those precious days on your trip. I knew as soon as I had arrived Iran I would be back again and again, so getting to Tehran and running out energy wasn’t the end for me, I know there will be more opportunities.

I did Iran backward. Most people seem to enter the country via Tehran and start their adventure from there. I had a different trajectory, wrapping up a tour I co-lead to Afghanistan and crossing the border from Herat to Mashhad. With that said, by the time I made it to Tehran I was running out of time on my visa, and I was running out of steam. In the last few years, I haven’t really been traveling to new countries and being that Iran was the first new place I really delved into more recently, I was like a kid in a candy shop. Needless to say, I still saw a lot in Tehran but with that said, I only had two days to dedicate to it and I didn’t want to rush myself too much. So based on my two day Iran itinerary, here are the best things to do in Iran in two days. For further planning of your trip to Iran, I recommend grabbing a copy of Bradt’s Iran guidebook.

Planning your trip to Iran? Check out my Iran itinerary for 1-4 weeks

A Two Day Tehran Itinerary

Day 1: Palaces, Mosques & Bazaars

Hall of Mirrors, Hall of Mirrors Tehran, Hall of Mirrors Golestan Palace, Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran
A room in the ‘Hall of Mirrors‘ inside Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace

Golestan Palace is one of the oldest attractions in Tehran, dating back to the Qajar era. It served as the royal complex consisting of numerous intricately tiled buildings set around a garden. Note that there are entrance fees to the different areas of the palace. I opted to only visit the main halls, which include the Hall of Mirrors and the Negar Khana (Iranian Art Gallery). There are 9 other museums to visit aside from the main halls, which cost 300,0000 IRR | 20,000 IRR (foriegner|Iranian) each to enter.

Golestan Palace Admission + Main Halls: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 250,000 IRR for Iranians

Metro Stop: Panjdah e Khordad

Check out my city guides to KashanEsfahan, & Shiraz to plan your trip to Iran

Grand Bazaar, Tehran Grand Bazaar, Tehran, Iran
The closed Tehran Grand Bazaar on my visit

The Grand Bazaar

I have a habit of turning up to places that are almost never closed, on a day they’re closed. This was the case when I went across the street from Golestan Palace into the Tehran Grand Bazaar, everything was shut. I never tracked down why exactly it was shut (it wasn’t a holiday or anything from what I’m aware), but I did get to peek in at a section on my way to Imam Khomeini Mosque, and I’d say it’s definitely worth a whirl around.

Metro Stop: Panjdah e Khordad

Imam Khomeni Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Tehran Grand Bazaar, Tehran, Iran

Imam Mosque & Zeid Shrine

In the northern corner of the Tehran Grand Bazaar is Imam Mosque and Imamzadeh Zeid. Imam Mosque was called Shah mosque until the 1979 Revolution, and you my still hear it referred to as such. Imamzadeh Zeid is a shrine to a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed.

Don’t know where to start with the visa process? Check out my guide to getting an Iranian visa

Talaghani Park

Talaghani Park is the perfect place to head around lunchtime. The park includes the beautifully sculpted Tabiat Bridge, the Holy Defense Museum, and a large food court aside from its greenery and walk through a small forest on a hill.

Metro Stop: Shahid Haghani

Holy Defense Museum, Iran-Iraq war museum, Talaghani Park, Tehran, Iran

Holy Defense Museum

The Holy Defense Museum is dedicated to the 8 year long Iran-Iraq War, as well as the Iranian Revolution. The museum does a great job of explaining the conflict in detail.

Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians

Heading northwest after Tehran? Check out my Tabriz Travel Guide

Khorramshahr Mosque, Khorramshahr Mosque Tehran, Talaghani Park, Tehran, Iran
A beautiful iwan on the Khorramshahr Mosque

Khorramshah Mosque

This is a replica of the Khorramshah Central Mosque in the inland port city of Khorramshah. The city was besieged during the war, seeing parts of its mosque become dilapidated due to the fighting. The replica is quite beautiful, located just outside the Shahid Haghani Metro Station.

Wanna see Iran’s otherworldly landscapes? Check out my guides to the rainbow island of Hormuz and to Shiraz’s pink salt Maharloo Lake

Tabiat Bridge, Talaghani Park, Alborz Mountains, Alborz, Tehran, Iran

Tabiat Bridge

This double-decker bridge designed by Leila Araghian connects Talaghani Park and Abo-Atesh Park on opposite sides of Modarres Expressway, with epic views of the Alborz Mountains to the north of Tehran.

Azadi Tower, Adazi Tower Tehran, Freedom Tower, Freedom Tower Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Azadi Tower

In a clash of tradition meets modern- Azadi Tower gleams over Azadi Square in an opulent manner. Built in 1971 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, 8000 pieces of white marble adorn the 45 meter high tower, incorporating an iwan-style arch. For me anyways, Azadi Tower had always been a symbol I associated with Iran after learning about the 1979 Revolution that resulted in the overthrow of the Pahlavi Dynasty and takeover by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in my world history class in high school (that was the same year of the 9/11 attacks which spurred our instructor to teach the history of Central Asia and the Middle East in hopes for us to better understand the history of the regions and how that shaped the strained relations between them and the US, rather than teaching the typical European-Centric Britishified version of world history that was typically taught for that class). I remember seeing the Azadi Tower in the distance of several images of protests.

The trickiest part about visiting the Azadi Tower is walking across the busy roundabout around it. The metro and bus station are outside of the roundabout, so you’ll need to cross several lanes of traffic in order to reach it. Iranian traffic can be bonkers, so use caution when crossing. If you’re new to Iran, look for locals crossing and cross with them- they usually know what they’re doing. You can enter the tower for a fee and climb or take the elevator to the top. Inside are a gallery and a cafe.

Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians

Metro Stop: Maydon e Azadi

Plan an epic two day trip to Yazd

Day 2: Revolution, Propaganda & History

US Den of Espionage, Former US embassy, former US embassy Tehran, former US embassy Iran, Tehran, Iran
The entry of the US Den of Espionage (former US Embassy)

US Den Of Espionage

At the height of the 1979 Revolution, students stormed the US Embassy, holding 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days. The site of the former embassy now serves as an anti-America museum highlighting the spying that went on at the embassy. The front of the former embassy grounds houses a large garden now called the Museum Garden of Anti Arrogance, which was used as a training center for the Revolutionary Guard. Several anti-America murals decorate the walls around the garden that were commissioned by the Iranian government. I personally found the museum fascinating.

Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians

Metro Stop: Talaghani

Stars and Stripes Mural, Stars and Stripes Mural Tehran, Stars and Stripes Mural Iran, Stars & Stripes Mural, Stars & Stripes Mural Tehran, Stars & Stripes Mural Iran, Down with America, Down with America Mural Tehran, Down with America Mural Iran, Iran Murals, Tehran Murals, Tehran, Iran
The famous ‘Stars & Stripes Mural

Propaganda Murals

The outside walls of the former US Embassy, as well as many of the brick walls that line Talaghani Street feature anti-America and anti-Israel propaganda. I did read that in November 2019 (7 months are my visit) that the government commissioned new murals to be painted over some of the original ones. These murals still depict anti-American sentiments but point toward a weaker America riddled by its own problems, different to the portrayal of the US in the old murals. Click here to read an article and see images of the new murals.

The one mural I knew most well prior to my visit to Tehran was the Stars & Stripes Mural, painted on a building on Karim Khan Boulevard, a few blocks up from the former US Embassy. The mural is one of the most photographed propaganda pieces in Tehran, featuring an American flag with skulls in liu of the stars, stars of red fading into bombs, and the statement “Down with the USA” printed across it.

Metro Stop: Shohada ye Haftom e Tir

National Jewels Museum

Truth be told, I didn’t visit the Treasury of National Jewels myself, but after hearing people back at my hostel talking about it, I really wished I had, so I added it to the list anyway. Rulers from the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi wore heaps of jewels and decorated much of their belongings in the. The Jewel Museum houses several of these pieces.

Entrance: 200,000 IRR for foreigners | 30,000 IRR for Iranians

Metro Stop: Sa’di

Heading to the northwest next? Check out my quick guide to Kandovan

National Museum Of Iran

Iran has a long and fascinating history, so if you want to get down on some Iranian history, the National Museum of Iran is the place to visit.

Entrance: 500,000 IRR for foreigners | 50,000 IRR for Iranians

Metro Stop: Imam Khomeini

Tajrish, Tajrish Bazaar, Tehran, Iran
Inside Tajrish Bazaar

Tajrish Bazaar & Saleh Shrine

I don’t know how they compare as the Tehran Grand Bazaar was closed when I visited, but I quite liked the Tajrish Bazaar, located on the northern fringes of Tehran. You can find just about anything wandering the maze-like alleys of the bazaar. Don’t miss the Saleh Shrine located within Tajrush Bazaar too.

Metro Stop: Tajrish

Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran
Tiled walls of the Golestan Palace Garden

Where To Stay In Tehran

I personally stayed at the Tehran Heritage Hostel and definitely recommend it for those sticking to a smaller budget. The rooms are clean and nice, the staff is extremely helpful, and the included breakfast is phenomenal. It’s centrally located, and just a few minutes walk from Baharestan Metro Station.

Budget

Tehran Heritage Hostel

HI Tehran Hostel

Midrange

Tehran Grand Hotel

Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel

Splurge

Hanna Boutique Hotel

So, how much does it cost to backpack across Iran? Find out here

Imamzadeh Saleh, Saleh Shrine, Saleh Shrine Tajrish, Tajrish Shrine, Tajrish, Tajrish Bazaar, Tehran, Iran
Imamzadeh Saleh at Tajrish Bazaar

Getting Around In Tehran

Metro: Getting around in Tehran was quite easy in my opinion. I entirely got around the city by metro. A metro ticket costs 12,000 IRR for a single trip, or you can purchase an electronic card for 50,000 IRR and load credit on to them at machines using cash (these work for public buses too). There are currently five metro lines in Tehran, so getting around using it is quite efficient. Metro trains run from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm. Note that there are ‘women only’ cars on the train, so if you’re a solo female you may feel more comfortable here. The women only cars are clearly marked.

Snapp: Snapp is essentially Iran’s version of Uber. Unfortunately due to my iPhone being registered in the US, when I downloaded the app it would not open and give me message saying that due to sanctions I couldn’t use it. I did find it easy enough to just ask someone to order me a Snapp and then pay cash to the driver at the end of the ride.

Taxi: There are heaps of taxis in Tehran as well, which can be easily hailed off the street, or you can have your accommodation or restaurant call one for you. Taxis in Iran don’t have meters, so you’ll need to negotiate a price. In general in my travels in Iran, I found that drivers generally quoted very close, if not the same prices that locals had told me or were in my guide book.

Going at it alone? Check out my Solo Female Guide to Iran

US Den of Espionage, Former US embassy, former US embassy Tehran, former US embassy Iran, Tehran, Iran
The famous Statue of Liberty Mural on the outside walls around the former US Embassy

Getting In & Out of Tehran

Getting in and out of Tehran is a breeze with buses connecting just about everywhere in the country. There are also two international airports serving Tehran. Imam Khomeini International Airport about 35 kilometers south of the city, and Mehrabad International Airport on the western outskirts of Tehran. If you are planning to fly between destinations in Iran, click here to book your tickets. You can easily purchase bus tickets once you arrive in Iran to most destinations, but if you like the peace of mind of having tickets purchased and settled in advance, click here to order your bus tickets in Iran.

Have Any Questions About This Two Day Tehran Itinerary?

Ask your Itan 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.

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