Esfahan is the top touristic destination in the whole Iran and for a good reason. The city that was once called Isfahan nasf-e jahan which literally means Isfahan is half the world, a naming that everybody should relate to when first visiting the city. It is also home to the friendliest and hospitable people in the country, without a shadow of a doubt!
I came to Esfahan on a public bus from Varzaneh early in the morning. My hostel (Seven Hostel) was located in the city center, so I had to take a Snapp to get there. Seven Hostel is not really a hostel like the other Seven’s around the country, it is more of a hotel. However, although not perfect, for the price with breakfast included I thought it was a good deal. The people at the reception are also friendly and will help you with anything.
The stunning mosques in Esfahan are among the most beautiful and interesting in the world, and for a good reason. I found them to be very expensive for tourists, but in retrospect, you’re seeing some of the most unique architecture and history of the world, and that doesn’t come cheap.
My first stop was the city bazaar with the Hakim Mosque as its gem. Right in the middle of the shops, it’s one of the oldest mosques in Esfahan.
It is impossible to not be amazed by the spectacular Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the focal point of Esfahan. Built in 1602, the square contains two mosques, a palace and a bazaar. It is the second largest public square in the world and it is very popular for picnics or to just people watch in general.
The two mosques in the Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Imam Mosque / Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque) are, arguably, two of the most beautiful mosques in whole Iran. They’re absolutely stunning, especially at night, and deserve that everyone take their take to contemplate them.
Along the Zayanderud River in the far south of the city center there are 5 bridges usually very busy during the day and especially for sunset, as many locals gather together at the Si-o-Seh Pol bridge, the most famous one and probably the one where everybody should spend time. As a result of a drought and badly planned dam, there’s no water in the river though.
It is not allowed to sing/dance in public in Iran. However, come during the afternoon to the Si-o-Seh Pol bridge to experience locals pushing the country laws to the limit. Wonderful singers gather in different groups under the bridge to sing popular Persian songs and people start to gather. Sometimes police comes to stop the show, only to be started again later.
While you’re on the Zayanderud River, go to the public park located on the south end, and sit down contemplating people doing all kinds of sports, including women, reflecting the modern secular new society of Iran.
One last stop before leaving Esfahan, the stunning Vank Cathedral, an Armenian church from the 17th century. I’ve never seen anything like this church, and despite being expensive, it is one attraction that you should not miss!
Esfahan is, without a doubt, the friendliest city in Iran, and I can totally understand why so many people have it in high regard. I’ve spent 2 full days and I think that it’s the perfect amount of time to explore everything, if you’re fast paced.
In order to move to my next destination, Kashan, I got a Snapp to the bus station and bought a bus ticket for a journey that should take ~2.5 hours. The Snapp driver started to make conversation with us, we exchanged some thoughts (based on his limited English), and it turns out that he was a mosaic tilemaker. He even gave me one of his works which I still keep with warm thoughts!
How to get there and away
- Local bus from Varzaneh to Esfahan, should take ~1.5 hours.
- Local bus from Esfahan to Kashan, should take ~2.5 hours and departs from the North bus station.
What to do/see
- Hakim Mosque.
- Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque.
- Imam Mosque.
- Si-o-Seh Pol bridge.
- Vank Cathedral.
- Old bridge.
Where to sleep
- Seven Hostel, ~15€ for a double bed with private bathroom and breakfast included.