Shiraz is the capital city of the Fars province and also the capital during the Zand (1747-1779) dynasty, but it is truly renowned for its famous wine called Syrah. It is a bit ironic to have such a famous wine from a country where alcohol is prohibited. It is also the gateway for anyone wishing to visit Persepolis.
It was early morning when I got to Shiraz on a night bus from Tehran. The journey was fairly comfortable in what you can expect from a night bus. I was a little bit tired but nothing that stopped me from heading straight away looking for a place to sleep and explore the beautiful city of Shiraz.
Only after checking a couple of places that I had already in mind, I could finally find a cheap place to stay. Seven Hostel (next to Niayesh Hostel) offered a great opportunity with a room with shared bathroom for only 15€ a night. The hostel also has a nice restaurant and the staff is very friendly.
My first stop was the Shah Cheragh Shrine, where the brother of Imam Reza rests. The shrine is absolutely stunning with mirrors and tiles that will leave anyone speechless. The shrine is very busy during the day, but mostly at night, where families go together to pay their respects. Note that you’ve to dress modestly, no shorts/shirts and women should wear a Chador which is provided at the entrance of the shrine. Guides are also available for free.
I spent some time during the day, but mostly at night at this beautiful shrine. It is a great opportunity to meet and talk to locals, or just sit down and observe the ancient rituals.
The next day started very early because I booked a place on a tour to Persepolis, 60km northeast of Shiraz. This is something that everybody should have a guide for, it helps so much understanding much of the ruins still standing. It is really crowded, and if you visit on a sunny day like I did, please help yourself with plenty of water and enough shade.
The tour turned out to be very expensive (~40€ with transport and guide included), but I really think that it helped to have such a wonderful guide with us all the time while there. I booked at my hostel, but everybody in Shiraz should be able to offer you a ride there, just be alert for scams from taxi drivers.
The Persepolis tour should leave you with enough time in the afternoon to explore some of the beautiful mosques in the center, given that you don’t choose to go to Necropolis after Persepolis. It is not cheap to visit these religious sites, because prices are a lot higher for tourists and you can easily spend 4€+ for each mosque.
The first one that I visited, and I don’t really recommend for what you pay, is the highly rated Vakil Mosque. There are tons of beautiful mosques in Iran that are really wonderful pieces of art, but this one is definitely not one of them.
Alternatively, head out of the mosque and stroll around the beautiful Vakil Bazaar and be amazed by the variety of goods being sold here. You can find almost anything you need and even you don’t need here!
The north side of the city, crossing the river, is also worth spending some time exploring. This is where you can visit the Tomb of Hafez (very popular among locals), the Shiraz Art University, Azadi Park but most importantly, the stunning Ali Ibn Hamza Mausoleum.
The best advice I can give, which happened to me by pure coincidence, is to stay for the afternoon/evening prayer inside the complex. Just sit down and enjoy the prayer call, all the busy people getting ready for the ceremony, free tea and LOTS of smiles and kindness. I can’t stop bragging about the Iranians kindness, it is truly something to admire.
On my last day in Shiraz I woke very early to watch the sunrise at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. This is probably the single most photographed mosque in Iran and it is very easy to understand the reason behind it. Although the mosque itself is nothing out of the ordinary when compared to the rest of the mosques in Iran, the morning sunlight produces a beautiful colorful shade.
I recommend everybody to be sure to get there long before the first sunlight, it will be incredibly crowded later on. Also, please be respectful, you’re in a sacred religious place, dress modestly and don’t shout.
Shiraz is also renowned for its beautiful gardens and well preserved houses. They’re all easily accessible by foot and you’ve many available, all of them with paid entrance.
I chose to only go to the most famous one, the stunning Eram Garden. There is not only a beautiful garden, but also a colorful palace and a system of small artificial rivers flowing throughout the entire area.
Overall, I really enjoyed my 3 days in Shiraz. I think that it is a mandatory stop for everybody touring Iran and I totally understand why. Its charming atmosphere with world class sights make it very enjoyable for all people.
My next destination, Yazd, is easily reached by bus. I chose to get a night bus once again to save money and time. The bus station is easily reached by foot and the ride should take about ~6 hours.
How to get there and away
- Overnight bus from Tehran (~11 hours). The bus goes from the Tehran's main bus station to the Shiraz main bus station. You can walk from the Kareandish bus station to the center.
- Local night bus from the Karandish bus station to Yazd. This journey should take about ~6 hours.
What to do/see
- Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.
- Vakil Mosque.
- Shah Cheragh.
- Eram Garden.
- Hafez Tomb.
Where to sleep
- Seven Hostel (next to Niayesh Hostel), 15€ for a double bed with shared bathroom.