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Kerman, Iran

How much does it cost to travel in Iran? Our budget and tips

Iran is one of those countries where you start off as a millionaire but your millions run out very fast:) And with so many zeros and unclear prices it can be quite a challenge to keep track of your budget. Somehow we managed and it turns out we spent a total of 1565 euros over 28 days of stay. So that makes it 28 euros per day per person.

Let’s see where all the euros went 🙂

Where did we go?

Our journey through Iran started like many others in the capital- Tehran. Afterwards we continued south passing through Kashan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman and many more until we ended our trip on the Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf.

How did we travel?

With very low prices of petrol and unclear, inefficient public transport, taxis are quite a great mean of transportation in most of the cities. Obviously we always bargained fiercely but in final end a ride would cost just 1 maybe 2 euros depending on the distance. In Tehran except for taxis we used the metro which was even cheaper (2 cards plus many rides that we did cost us a bit above 2 euros). Metro also included a lot of no- mercy -pushing, huge crowds and quite little air…

Between the cities we used very comfortable and spacious buses. To give you an example a bus from Shiraz to Kerman was 800 000 rials for both of us so around 20 euros. For that price we not only enjoyed the stunning view of desert and mountains from our comfy chairs but we also got some snacks and juice to enjoy it even more 🙂

To get from Bandar Abbas to Qeshm island we took a very pleasant ferry that took around an hour and costed 140 000 rials for both of us (around 3.5 euros).

Transport all together came to 196 euros.

Where did we stay?

Accommodation turned out to be more expensive than we thought. Even in low season and bargaining we spend 565 euros so on average 20 euros. It might not seem that much but if you saw the quality of some of those places you would think otherwise. In places like Tehran or Isfahan there was almost no other choice then to go for the cheapest, the shabbiest hostels ever where toilet paper was not included or the only common space was a tent outside (with around 0 degrees). On the positive side everywhere except for Tehran we stayed in private rooms and many times they were as expensive as two beds in a dorm. For a couple that is great news in a country where no affection can be shown in public and where women have to follow a dress code even in common areas of most of the hotels. As finding accommodation online is quite difficult and finding out their prices is almost impossible we post a full list of the places we stayed in:

  • Tehran- Seven Hostel – quite shabby, very basic accommodation with very limited internet. Price of this doubtful entertainment is 10 dollars per bed. In high season the price goes up to 15 dollars per night. On the positive side you can book it online which is very handy as you need your first address and contact number to get a visa on arrival. It also has free tea all the time which helps to warm up in the only common space available which is a cold tent outside.
  • Isfahan- Amir Kabir – to say that toilet paper is not included in the price says enough. But well it’s by far the cheapest option and for little more money you don’t really get much more service… And here a private room is the same price as two beds in the dorm so 20 dollars (per room) which was tempting enough for us.
  • Kashan- Noghli hotel – definitely our favorite place of them all. For passionately bargained 1 000 000 rials (around 25 euros) we got a big double room with lots of light, private bathroom and a delicious, varied breakfast which offered bread, eggs, beans, halva, veg and much more. Except for sleeping we actually enjoyed hanging out on their stunning courtyard sipping free black tea with cardamom. A place we would definitely recommend.
  • Yazd- Dalan e Behesht- it’s a historical house with quite a nice courtyard with very, very friendly staff. There we got an ok private room with shared bathroom for 20 dollars a night. The only problem is that the hostel is in serious need of cleaning. The toilets make you just nauseous and the carpets haven’t seen a vacuum cleaner in a very long time.
  • Shiraz- Golshan Hotel- probably our second favorite although the most expensive of them all -35 dollars a night for a double room with private bathroom. But it was worth the price. Except for stunning, bright, traditional courtyard with comfy Iranian sitting areas and good breakfast we got a very friendly staff that was ready to answer all of our questions. Although some of them didn’t speak any English and would say yes to every single thing we asked 😀 on the negative side our room was quite small and dark and tea was not included in the price
  • Qeshm- Assad’s homestay- we seriously heard legends about this homestay as being epic, amazing, super friendly. We enjoyed it although there was no doubt that for Assad it’s very much a business now. Keeping in mind that food and accommodation were both very basic and there wasn’t much variety we would say 13 euro per person per night was not such a bargain after all. Also being there we were in the middle of nowhere and as much as we thought we would be close to nice beaches and nature it wasn’t really true. On the positive side Assad is really a nice guy and he can organize tours and transport at very attractive prices.
  • Qeshm- Diplomat hotel- situated in Qeshm City it’s close to all the life of the island. We were hesitant to go there as we couldn’t find any pics online but once we got there we actually saw that the rooms were quite ok, spacious, with more or less working air-co and tv. Not to mention that wifi was the fastest in Iran and there was no limit on it. All of that for a bargain of 800 000 rials a night (around 20 euros).


Except for these we spend two nights in the buses and one night on an excursion in the Kalut desert which is not included in the accommodation part of our budget.

What did we eat?

On food and eating out we spent a combined 228 euros. We didn’t have a kitchen for the whole time and so we were forced to eat out. Breakfasts were included practically everywhere, for lunches we mostly bought some flat bread, fruit, and cream cheese. When it comes to dinners we went either for a 1-2 euro falafel or for a very nice, Persian meal for around 5-6 euros. We loved that every time we ate we got really enough vegetables, herbs, spices and in most of the places the food was really tasty and packed with flavor.

How expensive are museums, tours etc?

Tourism turned out to be surprisingly expensive and overpriced in many cases. So many of the sight cost 200 000 rials per person (around 5 euro) which is quite pricy considering that most are quite small and you won’t spend more than an hour in there. Thankfully that’s also the price of Persepolis where you can wander around stunned for a whole day:) Unfortunately Iran is no Paris where you can just walk around the streets for days and be absolutely fascinated. The streets don’t offer much to the eyes and so no wonder we ended up spending 533 euros on tickets, tours etc. The most expensive tour was the one visiting the Kalut desert. It was 150 euros for two days and one night of very basic accommodation. Honestly we felt it was overpriced but we couldn’t find anything cheaper than 120 euros and we really wanted to see this absolutely stunning desert. So why did we choose the one for 150 euros if we could just go there for 120? Well the guys that offered us 120 euros either didn’t really speak good English or they didn’t really seem professional.

Where did the rest of our rials go?

Quite minor 42 euros went for variety of things like internet (250 000 rials for the card and 3gb mobile internet so around 6 euros) which turned out to be very handy in a country where internet is very limited. We also spend some money on postcards and laundry.

Our tips to save money in Iran

  1. Bargain, bargain, bargain!! Especially accommodation, tours and taxis are way cheaper if you bargain. So forget about booking a room on the phone, just go to a few places, check out the standard and bargain. The prices are getting even more attractive if you decide to stay for more than 1 night. We traveled through Iran during low season which definitely helped with many of the prices. Bargaining in rials instead of dollars can be very beneficial.
  2. In front of the bus terminals there are guys screaming destinations that bring you to the desk… They don’t do it out of kindness of their hearts. They charge commission. So just pass them without saying where you’re going.
  3. Exchange money in exchange offices not in banks. They will give you a better exchange rate, better than google. You can expect around 1 euro= 40 000-42 000 rials.
  4. Don’t forget to take all the money you need. There is no option of withdrawing money once there and we heard that sending money via carpet sellers is very expensive.
  5. Volunteer! Although we didn’t try it we met quite a few people volunteering on Qeshm island via Workaway. It doesn’t seem like there are much opportunities at the moment but it’s definitely a growing branch.
  6. Check, check, double check! Many times while paying for food we discovered “mistakes” in our bills…
  7. Make sure about the prices!! With so many zeros and big confusion about the rials and tomans it’s easy to get confused and ending up paying way too much. Make sure you know how many zeros the final price has and if it’s in toman or rials (1 toman= 10 rials).
  8. Share! Costs or taxis and tours are often calculated per car so if you’re with more people it’s way cheaper.
  9. Take overnight buses:) they are comfy, cheap and well it will save you accommodation costs.

P.S. Exchange rate used for the overal budget 1 EURO = 40 100 RIALS

Hopefully this post will help you prepare for your trip to Iran:) If you have any questions: don’t hesitate to ask:)

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Kalouts, Iran

Things to know before you go to Iran

Iran is one of those complicated countries where you really want to be prepared for some things. Otherwise it can be quite a challenge to survive not to mention spoil the enjoyment. So here are few tips and lessons we used/learned during our travels in there as well as some curiosities. Some of these we learnt the hard way. Hopefully you won’t have to 🙂

  1. To get to Iran we got our visa on arrival at the airport. We heard rumors that it’s a long process so we were surprised that ours was ready within 45 minutes. You just need to have your first address in Iran (so first hotel, friend etc) and the phone number and valid insurance which preferable says Iran. If you don’t you can buy it in the airport. We got 30 days visa for 75 euros each.
  2. People with a stamp from Israel are not allowed… And citizens of Israel even less. For them country of Israel doesn’t even exist, it’s occupied Palestine.
  3. Iran is SUPER SAFE!! Seriously we never felt safer. As a foreigner you have a status of a holy cow that no one wants to hurt especially with all the Islam stigma that they have and want to erase. In general they don’t really have a culture of stealing or anything like that. You can calmly talk to people, go to their houses etc.
  4. There is no option of withdrawing money in Iran unless you have an Iranian bank account. It means that you have to take cash for your whole stay. It can be either dollar or euro. It doesn’t matter. Many of the hotels except a foreign currency and some give their prices in USD or euro. We set up our budget on 70 euro a day for us both and we managed to keep it that way or lower. Don’t forget that you also have to pay for the visa on arrival. We paid 75 euro each.
  5. Money exchange. The rate that you get on google is way lower that the one you will be offered at exchange offices. We got 40-41 000 rials for one euro. Don’t go to banks, there you will get lower, google exchange rate…
  6. Prices are sometimes expressed in toman and sometimes in rials. Toman is generally one zero less than rials. So 40 000 rials would be just 4 000 toman. It can be very confusing so make sure you understand what you have to pay. Also many times Iranians just skip all the zeros. And so if a taxi driver says “five” he probably means 5 000 toman so 50 000 rials.
  7. Especially for woman there is a dress code. Absolute necessity is a scarf covering part of all your hair. Further you should cover your legs down to ankles and have a loose tunic and dress to cover the curves of your butt. Shoulders and arms should also be covered at least to elbow. In holy shrines and some mosques you will need to wear a chador but you can borrow it there 🙂 for men it’s pretty simple: no shorts…
  8. Drinking alcohol is prohibited so all the beer that you’ll see in the supermarkets are alcohol free and taste like a lemonade… To get some booze you would need to go a bit more underground… And generally it’s not advisable to drink in public places. We heard it’s a rather expensive entertainment as you need to bribe the police and give your booze to them.
  9. Wifi in hostels tends to be pretty bad and limited. It’s best to just get a local sim card and mobile internet. We bought a local sim card for 100 000 rials and 3 gb internet for 150 000 rials valid for a month.
  10. Many web pages are blocked so to enter Facebook, one drive, CNN, Airbnb or many other sites you need a VPN. What it basically means it that you have to send your internet through another country. You can either pay in Iran to get a VPN or you can set up your own. That’s what we did. We set up a computer in Holland and send the signal through there.
  11. Iran is all about tea! It’s a true paradise for tea drinkers. And I’m not talking about the boring black tea. Here it’s always with a little something extra like cardamom or saffron or rose petals. For coffee drinkers … well it can be complicated. Although cafés are appearing the whole time to supply that need as well:)
  12. Getting local food can be challenging because when Iranians go out to eat they mostly go for kebab and fast food. Fortunately we have visited few restaurants with local food that were great but be prepared for higher prices. For a falafel or kebab you can pay 1 or 2 euros while for a meal in a nice restaurant maybe around 6 euros.
  13. Not only the alphabet is different but also the numbers so it’s very handy to learn the numbers to be able to understand the prices:) also take a look at the books, they are written from right to left (except for numbers they are written from left to right) and the front page is our last page:D
  14. Persians are not Arabs! They will be offended when you get that wrong. They have their own language, own culture and costumes. It’s like mistaking a Polish for a Russian 🙂 Pretty bad right?
  15. Friday is their Sunday. So many things are closed although most of the museums and touristic things remain open.
  16. If you’re a couple and you want to hug and kiss, get a room. Literally. It’s illegal to display affection in public between men and women. Holding hands every now and then it’s a maximum. Man to man hugging etc is a different story … Actually men have a lot of affection for each other, they kiss on their cheeks to say hi, they hug… Maybe not in the middle of the street but almost:) Gay guys travelling in Iran could get pretty confused:)
  17. Remember to take off your shoes when going on a carpet or into a mosque!
  18. Hot shower is never a problem and also the heating in the winter is everywhere 🙂 with oil and gas being so cheap you will never get cold, you are more likely to sweat in the winter actually:) Interestingly in public toilets you might not find toilet paper but there will be plenty of soap:)
  19. Don’t throw toilet paper into the toilet!!
  20. Take a copy of your passport. Hotels and hostels will want to keep your passport while you’re there but we didn’t really feel comfortable with that so we always left a copy. They usual only needed a copy of the main page and not the visa.
  21. If Iranians offer you something like food or free ride refuse 3 times to make sure they are not just being polite. It’s Tarof and it’s like their savoir vivre.
  22. Pray before crossing the road. There is no mercy there, Iranians drive like crazy and they won’t stop for anyone. Pedestrians crossing lines and lights are there just for decoration.
  23. Bargain! You want to take a taxi, buy something or get a room. You need to bargain otherwise you will pay wayyyy too much.
  24. Most of the places are nowhere to be found online. You can’t find them on or aribnb. And they mostly don’t have a webpage. But at least in most of the cities most hotels/hostels/guesthouses are in the same area. So we just searched for options on wikitravel and then we walked around from door to door. Don’t get your hopes up from wikitravel prices, in many places they’re just ancient. Anyway any price you hear, you have to bargain. If you stay more than one night, you have a greater chance to get a better price.
  25. More expensive is not always better! We saw rooms for 60 dollars that were dark, shabby and stinky and rooms that were for 30 dollars and were neat and nice. We got an impression that star rating doesn’t say much and nor does the price. You need to see it all yourself.
  26. Bargain in local currency! Although in many places you can pay in euros or dollars, often you get better prices if you bargain in local currency.
  27. Women first. Woman can seat in the “man section” of the bus or metro. But in the “women only “part, it’s women only:) as a woman you will get offered to sit in the men section.
  28. No hand shaking. As a woman you don’t shake a man’s hand unless they initiate it. I got denied shaking hands many times.
  29. You will smell roses. Rose water and rose petals are everywhere, in food, tea, perfumes… it’s unmissable when walking around the streets.
  30. Nose job. It’s very common, especially for women to get their nose done. So you will see a lot of women and some man with plasters on their noses. Actually it’s in to wear it even if you haven’t done anything… we saw quite a few cases like that.
  31. Cats and dogs are considered unclean and not so great for the family. So we haven’t met anyone who would have them at home… But there are plenty of cats on the streets and they actually look quite good as they are fed by everyone 🙂


Hopefully this post will help you a bit to enjoy Iran to the fullest and spot more small things along the way 🙂