Shiraz, Iran

The 14 essential things to do in Shiraz

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:40

Traveling through the ancient city of Shiraz is a captivating experience where every corner tells a story centuries old. Narrow alleyways lined with historic buildings, lush gardens, and magnificent mosques transport visitors to another world, where history and culture intertwine harmoniously.

Picture yourself strolling through the heavenly gardens of Bagh-e Eram, where intoxicating scents of roses and exotic flowers envelop you. Dancing fountains and artistically decorated pavilions invite you to soak in the serenity of this enchanting place.

Next, you could lose yourself in the maze of alleys in the Vakil Bazaar, where colorful stalls overflow with hand-woven carpets, traditional crafts, and fragrant spices. The bustling atmosphere and authentic charm plunge you into the heart of the city's daily life.

Of course, no visit to Shiraz would be complete without exploring its architectural treasures, including the majestic Nasir al-Molk Mosque, also known as the "Pink Mosque," where the play of light through the stained glass creates a magical spectacle.

And what about the mausoleum of Hafez, the famous Persian poet, where visitors come to pay their respects at his tomb and ponder over his timeless verses?

Shiraz is more than just a travel destination; it's a sensory and spiritual experience that leaves an indelible imprint on the hearts of those fortunate enough to discover it.

1 - Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque)

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque), Shiraz, Iran

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, is a stunning mosque located in Shiraz, Iran. It was built in the late 19th century, between 1876 and 1888, during the Qajar dynasty, under the supervision of architect Mohammad Hasan-e-Memar and his son Mohammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi.

What particularly distinguishes the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is its impressive prayer hall, with windows adorned with colorful stained glass, creating a dazzling play of light inside during sunny hours. The vibrant colors and symmetry of floral and geometric patterns in the stained glass create a magical ambiance, making it one of the most famous attractions in Shiraz and even Iran.

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is often visited by tourists from around the world who come to admire its architectural beauty and extraordinary light effects, especially during sunrise.

2 - Shah Cheragh Mosque

Shah Cheragh Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

The Shah Cheragh Mosque is one of the most significant religious sites in Iran, located in the city of Shiraz. Its name literally translates to "King of the Light." The mosque houses the mausoleum of Sayyed Mir Ahmad, also known as Shah Cheragh, who was the brother of Imam Reza, one of the most revered Shiite imams.

The Shah Cheragh Mosque is renowned for its magnificent mosaics and ornate domes. It is an important pilgrimage site for Shiite believers, who come from far and wide to pay homage to Shah Cheragh and seek blessings from the site. Due to its architectural beauty and religious significance, the Shah Cheragh Mosque is also a major tourist destination in Iran. Visitors come to admire its architecture, Islamic art, and to learn more about the history and spirituality of the region.

3 - Eram Garden

Eram Garden, Shiraz, Iran

Eram Garden, also known as Bagh-e Eram, is a historic Persian garden located in Shiraz, Iran. It is one of the most famous and beautiful gardens in the country, renowned for its lush greenery, colorful flowers, and architectural features. The garden dates back to the 13th century, although most of its current layout and design were established during the Qajar period in the 19th century.

One of the main attractions of Eram Garden is the Eram Palace, a magnificent building that serves as a prime example of Persian architecture. The palace features intricate tile work, stunning mirror halls, and beautifully landscaped courtyards. The garden itself is adorned with numerous fruit trees, cypress trees, and flowering plants, creating a tranquil and picturesque environment.

Eram Garden has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other Persian gardens, under the collective title of the Persian Garden. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life and a glimpse into Iran's rich cultural heritage.

4 - Tomb of Hafez

Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran

The "Tomb of Hafez" refers to the mausoleum of the famous Persian poet Hafez, located in Shiraz, Iran. Hafez, whose full name is Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī, is one of the most revered poets in Persian literature. He lived in the 14th century and is known for his lyrical verses, ghazals, and skilled use of metaphor and symbolism.

Hafez's tomb in Shiraz is a popular pilgrimage site for Iranians and poetry enthusiasts worldwide. It is situated in a garden called the "Hafezieh Garden," where visitors can stroll among trees, fountains, and pavilions, and contemplate the poet's verses engraved on the walls and stone slabs. The mausoleum itself is a beautiful building constructed in honor of Hafez, featuring traditional Persian architecture.

For many Iranians, visiting the Tomb of Hafez is a significant spiritual and cultural experience, and many consider it a symbol of Iran's rich poetic tradition. People often come to the mausoleum to recite Hafez's poems, seek inspiration, or simply reflect in the peace and beauty of the place.

5 - Tomb of Saadi

Tomb of Saadi, Shiraz, Iran

The "Tombeau de Saadi" refers to a famous literary work titled "Le Tombeau de Saadi" (The Tomb of Saadi), written by the French author Marcel Proust. This work is part of his larger collection of writings known as "Les Plaisirs et les Jours" (Pleasures and Days), which was published in 1896.

In "Le Tombeau de Saadi," Proust pays homage to the Persian poet Saadi Shirazi (often referred to simply as Saadi), who lived in the 13th century. The title alludes to Saadi's tomb in Shiraz, Iran, which Proust metaphorically uses as a symbol to explore themes of memory, love, and mortality. The text reflects Proust's deep engagement with literature, philosophy, and the human condition, characteristic of his later and more well-known work, "À la recherche du temps perdu" (In Search of Lost Time).

6 - Vakil Bazaar

Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz, Iran

Le Bazar de Vakil, également connu sous le nom de Bazar Vakil, est l'un des marchés les plus célèbres et historiques de la ville de Shiraz, en Iran. Il a été construit au 18e siècle par Karim Khan, le fondateur de la dynastie Zand. Le bazar est renommé pour son architecture, qui présente de magnifiques plafonds voûtés, des corridors voûtés et des travaux de carrelage complexes.

Le Bazar Vakil est divisé en différentes sections, chacune dédiée à des marchandises spécifiques telles que les textiles, les épices, les tapis, les artisanats, et plus encore. Il a été un centre de commerce et d'échange pendant des siècles, attirant les habitants et les touristes.

Une des caractéristiques notables du bazar est sa conception, qui intègre un système de ventilation permettant de maintenir l'intérieur frais pendant les chaudes journées d'été. Cette ingéniosité architecturale reflète les compétences en ingénierie avancées de l'époque.

Les visiteurs du Bazar de Vakil peuvent s'immerger dans son ambiance animée, explorer ses ruelles étroites et faire des achats variés de produits traditionnels persans. Il offre également une occasion de découvrir le riche patrimoine culturel de l'Iran tout en profitant des paysages et des sons de ce marché historique.

7 - The Citadel of Karim Khan

The Citadel of Karim Khan, Shiraz, Iran

The Citadel of Karim Khan, also known as Arg-e Karim Khan, is a historic fortress located in the city of Shiraz, Iran. It was built in the 18th century by the founder of the Zand dynasty, Karim Khan. Construction of the citadel began in 1766 and was completed in 1767.

The Citadel of Karim Khan is an impressive example of Persian military architecture of the time. It is constructed of baked bricks and features four round towers at the corners, as well as high defensive walls. Inside the citadel, there are several buildings including the reception pavilion and Karim Khan's residential quarters, as well as halls for official meetings and audiences.

The architecture of the Citadel of Karim Khan is characterized by its use of traditional Persian artistic motifs, such as colorful glazed tiles and ceilings adorned with detailed paintings. The gardens and fountains also add to the beauty of the complex.

Today, the Citadel of Karim Khan is one of the main tourist attractions in Shiraz, attracting visitors from around the world to admire its remarkable architecture and learn more about the region's history under the Zand dynasty.

8 - Saraye Moshir Bazaar

Saraye Moshir Bazaar, Shiraz, Iran

The Saraye Moshir Bazaar is a traditional market located in Shiraz, Iran. It stands as one of the city's most significant historical bazaars, with origins dating back several centuries. This bazaar offers an authentic glimpse into Iranian daily life and commerce.

Comprising a series of covered alleys, inner courtyards, and shops, the bazaar hosts a wide array of products, including Persian carpets, textiles, spices, antiques, jewelry, and more. As visitors stroll through the bazaar, they can also admire traditional Persian architecture, characterized by its arches, domes, and intricate decorative motifs.

Beyond shopping, the Saraye Moshir Bazaar serves as a social hub where locals gather to chat, enjoy tea, or simply wander. It's an essential destination for experiencing the culture and vibrant atmosphere of Shiraz.

9 - Garden of Narenjestan-e Qavam

Garden of Narenjestan-e Qavam, Shiraz, Iran

The Narenjestan-e Qavam Garden, also known as Narenjestan Garden, is a historical and cultural complex located in Shiraz, Iran. It dates back to the Qajar era and is renowned for its stunning architecture, lush gardens, and intricate design elements.

The garden is adorned with citrus trees (narenj in Persian, hence the name), flowers, and fountains, creating a tranquil and picturesque atmosphere. The architecture of the complex includes traditional Persian elements such as intricate tilework, delicate mirror work, and ornate wooden carvings.

One of the main attractions within the Narenjestan-e Qavam complex is the Qavam House, a magnificent mansion that served as the residence of the Qavam family, a prominent aristocratic family in Shiraz. The mansion features beautifully decorated rooms, reception halls, and courtyards, offering insight into the lifestyle of the elite during the Qajar period.

Visitors to Narenjestan-e Qavam Garden can explore the lush greenery, admire the architectural beauty of the mansion, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of Shiraz and Iran. It's a popular tourist destination and a must-visit for anyone interested in Persian history and architecture.

10 - Afifabad Garden

Afifabad Garden, Shiraz, Iran

The Afifabad Garden is a historic garden located in Shiraz, Iran. It is also known as Bagh-e Afifabad in Persian. This garden dates back to the Zand dynasty in the 18th century and was further developed during the Qajar dynasty.

The Afifabad Garden is renowned for its beauty, fountains, pavilions, and lush trees. It also houses the Afifabad Palace, which was once the summer residence of the regional governor. Today, the palace hosts the Karim Khan War Museum and displays a collection of historical artifacts related to that period.

Visitors to the Afifabad Garden can stroll through its shaded pathways, admire traditional Persian architecture, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the surroundings. It is one of Shiraz's popular tourist attractions and a place where locals often visit to relax and unwind.

11 - Persepolis

Persepolis, Shiraz, Iran

"Persepolis" is the name of an ancient city located in southwestern Iran, near the modern city of Shiraz. It is a major archaeological site that was once the capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Founded by Darius I in 518 BCE, Persepolis served as the political and ceremonial center of the Persian Empire for about 200 years, until it was burned by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE. The site of Persepolis is now a major tourist attraction in Iran, and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Persepolis is located approximately 60 kilometers northeast of Shiraz, Iran. There are several ways to travel from Shiraz to Persepolis:

  1. Private car or taxi: This is the most convenient and flexible option. You can either rent a car or take a taxi from Shiraz to Persepolis. Make sure to agree on a price with the driver before departure.

  2. Public transportation: There are buses and minibusses connecting Shiraz to Persepolis. You can take a public bus from Shiraz's bus station to Marvdasht, and then either a taxi or another local bus to reach Persepolis.

  3. Organized tours: Many travel agencies in Shiraz offer organized tours to Persepolis. These tours often include transportation from your accommodation in Shiraz as well as a tour guide to accompany you and provide information about the site.

Whichever mode of transportation you choose, make sure to check departure and arrival schedules as well as fares, and allocate enough time to explore the archaeological site of Persepolis once you arrive.

12 - Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab

Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab, Shiraz, Iran

Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab are two archaeological sites located near Persepolis in Iran, both of which are significant historical and cultural landmarks.

  1. Naqsh-e Rostam: This site is an ancient necropolis located about 12 kilometers northwest of Persepolis, near the city of Marvdasht. Naqsh-e Rostam features a series of rock-cut tombs belonging to the Achaemenid kings, including Darius the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. These tombs are carved into the cliffs and are highly decorated with reliefs and inscriptions. Additionally, there are seven large rock reliefs at the site, depicting various scenes including battles and royal ceremonies. Naqsh-e Rostam is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Iran and provides valuable insights into the ancient Persian civilization.

  2. Naqsh-e Rajab: Located about 3 kilometers northwest of Naqsh-e Rostam, Naqsh-e Rajab is another archaeological site with rock reliefs and inscriptions. It features several Sassanian rock reliefs carved into the cliff face, depicting Sassanian kings and important historical events. These reliefs are notable for their intricate detail and provide valuable information about the Sassanian Empire, which ruled Persia from the 3rd to the 7th century CE. Naqsh-e Rajab, like Naqsh-e Rostam, is an important site for understanding the history and culture of ancient Persia.

Both Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab are popular tourist destinations and are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, attracting visitors from around the world who come to marvel at their historical significance and architectural beauty.

13 - Taste Persian cuisine

Taste Persian cuisine, Shiraz, Iran

Tasting Persian cuisine in Shiraz, Iran, can be a delightful experience, as the city is renowned for its rich culinary heritage. Here are some dishes you might want to try:

  1. Kebabs: Shiraz is famous for its succulent kebabs, particularly koobideh (ground meat kebab) and joojeh (chicken kebab). These are usually served with rice and grilled tomatoes.

  2. Fesenjan: A delicious stew made with ground walnuts, pomegranate paste, and chicken or duck. It has a unique sweet and sour flavor.

  3. Ghormeh Sabzi: A popular Persian herb stew made with a variety of fresh herbs, red beans, and lamb or beef. It's often served with rice and has a hearty, aromatic taste.

  4. Tahchin: A savory rice cake layered with chicken, yogurt, and saffron. It's a specialty dish often served at special occasions.

  5. Ash-e Reshteh: A hearty Persian noodle soup made with beans, herbs, and noodles. It's a comfort food enjoyed especially during the colder months.

  6. Baghali Polo: A flavorful rice dish cooked with dill and broad beans, usually served with lamb shank or chicken.

  7. Shirazi Salad: A refreshing salad made with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and mint, dressed with lime juice and olive oil.

  8. Halva: A traditional Persian dessert made from sesame paste or flour, sweetened with honey or sugar, and flavored with saffron, rosewater, or cardamom.

  9. Faloodeh: A refreshing Persian dessert made from thin vermicelli noodles mixed with rose water, sugar syrup, and lime juice, often served with a scoop of ice cream.

  10. Doogh: A yogurt-based drink mixed with water, salt, and dried mint. It's a popular beverage to accompany meals, especially during hot weather.

These are just a few examples of the delicious dishes you can savor while exploring Persian cuisine in Shiraz. Be sure to also explore local eateries and street food vendors to discover even more culinary delights.

14 - Meet local people

Meeting local people in Shiraz, Iran, can be a enriching experience that allows you to better understand the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the local population. Here are some tips to facilitate interactions with locals in Shiraz:

  1. Local markets: Markets like the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz are vibrant places where you can interact with locals while shopping. Feel free to strike up conversations with vendors, taste local products, and ask questions about regional specialties.

  2. Cafés and tea houses: Cafés and tea houses are popular socializing spots in Iran. Iranians enjoy gathering to chat, share a light meal, or enjoy tea. Try sitting at a communal table and engage in a casual conversation.

  3. Historical sites: When visiting historical sites like the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque or the Hafez Mausoleum, you may encounter locals who are also exploring these places. Be open to interaction and use these locations as opportunities for informal discussions.

  4. Cultural events: Check the local calendar for cultural events, festivals, or celebrations happening during your visit. Participating in these activities can provide a natural opportunity to meet locals.

  5. Cooking classes: Some establishments offer cooking classes where you can learn to prepare traditional Iranian dishes. It's an excellent chance to interact with locals, learn cooking techniques, and share a meal together.

  6. Local social networks: Use social media to search for local events or groups that may organize meetups between locals and visitors. Apps like Meetup can also be helpful.

  7. Be respectful of local customs: When interacting with locals, be respectful of customs and local decency. Iranians are generally welcoming, but it's important to behave in a respectful manner.

In general, a friendly and open approach is key to establishing connections with locals in Shiraz. Learn a few basic phrases in Persian, show interest in their culture, and be ready to share your own experiences. You might find yourself building authentic connections with local people.

Shiraz - Where to Stay?

When visiting Shiraz, Iran, you have several options for accommodation depending on your preferences and budget:

  1. Luxury Hotels: Shiraz boasts several five-star hotels offering high-quality service and luxurious facilities. Popular options include the Shiraz Grand Hotel, Zandiyeh Hotel, and Chamran Grand Hotel.

  2. Boutique Hotels: If you prefer a more intimate and personalized experience, consider staying at one of Shiraz's many boutique hotels. These establishments often provide superior accommodation in unique and picturesque environments.

  3. Traditional Guesthouses (Khanéh Sonnati): For a more authentic experience, consider staying in a traditional Iranian guesthouse. These establishments offer a warm and friendly atmosphere, providing an opportunity to get closer to the local culture.

  4. Vacation Rentals: If you prefer independent accommodation, you can look for vacation rentals or apartments for rent in Shiraz. This option can be ideal for families or groups traveling together who want more space and privacy.

  5. Hostels: For budget travelers or those seeking a more social atmosphere, hostels are an affordable option in Shiraz. You'll find several well-maintained hostels offering dormitories and private rooms at reasonable prices.

Make sure to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the high tourist season, to ensure availability and secure the best possible rates.

Shiraz - How to get around?

To get around and explore Shiraz, Iran, here are some options to consider:

  1. Taxis: Taxis are abundant in Shiraz and provide a convenient way to travel around the city. You can hail a taxi on the street or find them at designated taxi stands. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting in or use the meter if available.

  2. Public Transportation: Shiraz also has a public transportation system, including buses and minibusses, which cover much of the city. Fares are generally affordable, but schedules may be less reliable. You can obtain information about bus routes from locals or tourist information offices.

  3. Rental Car: If you prefer greater independence and flexibility with your own vehicle, consider renting a car. Many car rental agencies are available in Shiraz, and driving in the city is generally manageable, although traffic can be dense at times.

  4. Walking: Many of Shiraz's tourist attractions, such as Eram and Bagh-e Narenjestan Gardens, as well as Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, are within walking distance if you're staying in the city center. Walking is often a pleasant way to explore the city and its bustling streets.

  5. Guided Tours: For a more organized and informative experience, you can consider joining guided tours of Shiraz. Many travel agencies offer tours that include the city's main attractions, often with a local guide providing historical and cultural insights.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to plan your transportation in advance to maximize your time and comfort while visiting Shiraz.

Shiraz - Best period

The best time to visit Shiraz depends on your preferences regarding climate and local events. Here's some information to help you plan your visit:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is generally considered the best time to visit Shiraz. The temperatures are pleasant, typically around 20-25°C (68-77°F), and the city's gardens are in full bloom, making the city even more beautiful. It's also the time when the Iranian New Year festival, Nowruz, is celebrated, bringing a festive atmosphere to the city.

  2. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another good time to visit Shiraz. Temperatures start to cool down after the summer heat, and the city's gardens and parks still retain much of their greenery. It's also a less crowded time for tourists compared to spring.

  3. Summer (June to August): Summers in Shiraz can be very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 35°C (95°F) or higher. If you visit Shiraz during this time, make sure to stay hydrated regularly and wear light clothing. Despite the heat, you can still enjoy the coolness of the gardens and shaded areas.

  4. Winter (December to February): Winters in Shiraz are mild but can be rainy and sometimes cold, with temperatures around 5-10°C (41-50°F). While temperatures are cooler, this time of year can offer unique experiences, such as the opportunity to see the surrounding mountains covered in snow.

In summary, spring and autumn are generally considered the best seasons to visit Shiraz due to the pleasant temperatures and local events. However, if you can tolerate the summer heat or cooler winter weather, you can still enjoy the city during those times. Just make sure to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:40

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