Travel to Iran: 7 Essential Do’s and Don’ts You Must Know

Your Guide to a Safe and Unforgettable Experience

You’ve made your plans to visit Iran. Great! Now it’s time to address your questions about travel safety and health concerns to ensure a wonderful experience for you in the land of historical tales and hospitable people.

Your Quick Guide to Etiquette and Must-Sees in Iran

Money Matters

Do: Go with cash!

Yes! As strange as it may sound, you need to enter the country carrying U.S. Dollars ($) or Euros (€). Due to the sanctions that blocked Iranian banks from connecting to the SWIFT system, your Mastercard or Visa have no use here. But traveling around with cash could be dangerous, right? To fix this problem, Iran has come up with a Tourist Card solution, that acts like a debit card.

Cash Money In Iran
Iranian Rials Bank Note

You load the card with the money converted to Rials and are able to use the card anywhere that accepts Iranian bank cards. Read more about the Tourist Card in this article (link to Also learn about the currency in Iran in this article.

Don’t: Exchange money on the streets!

If you prefer to keep your cash with you and exchange it on the way, be advised that currency exchange is not available in all cities of Iran. In larger cities, there are street vendors wandering around the currency exchange shops, trying to convince you that they give you a better rate. Don’t fall for it. Go to the store, exchange your money with a rate displayed on the board, and keep your receipt.

Iran: Don't: Exchange Money On The Streets!
Do Not Keep All Your Money In One Place

-A friendly reminder : Do not keep all your money in one place. Have some emergency backup in your bags, just in case you lose your wallet. Also, learning the numbers in Persian can go a long way.

What To Wear

Do: Check the weather!

Thinking about Iran may bring the image of hot deserts to your mind. That is partially true, as 80% of Iran’s land is arid or semiarid. That translates into very hot summers and harsh winters.

Winter Time In Tehran
Winter Time In Tehran

The temperature fluctuation between day and night in the winter can really surprise you. Also, mountainous areas can get extremely cold and receive lots of snow during the winter. So, it is wise to study the cities you are planning to visit and prepare accordingly.

Don’t: Forget modest clothing!

Iran is one of the few countries in which the hijab is enforced by the government’s law, and everyone, even tourists, are expected to observe it. That means wearing modest long-sleeve shirts and long pants or skirts for women, along with a headscarf that covers most of the hair. Do not wear revealing clothing, which is against the social norms of Iranians. And for men, it is advised not to wear shorts or walk around bare-chested.

A Group Of Tourists Visiting Tehran
A Group Of Tourists Visiting Tehran

-A friendly reminder : The observance of hijab varies in different parts of the country. It may be very strict in religious cities and rural areas and can be more relaxed in larger cities. You can decide by observing the locals. Also keep in mind that wearing loose and light-colored clothing can make life much easier in hot regions.

Food And Beverage

Do: Ask for local cuisines!

With a versatile geography, intricate history, and welcoming hospitality, Iran has a diverse gastronomy that can surprise tourists, but only if they ask for it. Through the years of urban society development, some foods, such as Kababs, took the lead and became dominant choices for Iranians when they want to eat out.

Iranian Chicken Kebab With Taste Of Saffron Is A Must You Have To Try!
Iranian Chicken Kebab With Taste Of Saffron Is A Must You Have To Try!

The convenience and cooking standards of these foods have resulted in a lack of diversity in restaurant menus in many parts of Iran. Therefore, you have a better chance of trying the variety of Iranian cuisines by asking the locals and finding out where you can find them.

Don’t: Bring or consume alcohol!

Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran. You might have heard of some travelers sneaking in a bottle with them or buying it from locals, but don’t fall for it. There are no public shops to sell alcohol, and confiscated booze can result in serious legal complications. It is true that many Iranians are brewing their own drinks at home, but incidents of serious illness and even death from consuming unsafe alcohol have surged in recent years.

Non-Alcoholic Drink In Iran
Non-Alcoholic Drink

-A friendly reminder : Learn the Persian words and phrases for your food allergies or preferences so you can communicate those before ordering food.

Here’s a list of Persian (Farsi) words and phrases that you can use when ordering food, expressing preferences, and mentioning allergies:

Food Ordering:

  1. Menu – منو (Meno)
  2. I’d like to order… – من می‌خواهم سفارش دهم… (Man mikhaaham sefaresh daham…)
  3. Water – آب (Aab)
  4. Tea – چای (Chaai)
  5. Coffee – قهوه (Ghahve)
  6. Bread – نان (Naan)
  7. Rice – برنج (Berenj)
  8. Meat – گوشت (Goosht)
  9. Chicken – مرغ (Morgh)
  10. Fish – ماهی (Maahi)
  11. Vegetables – سبزیجات (Sabzijaat)


  1. I like… – من دوست دارم… (Man doost daaram…)
  2. I don’t like… – من دوست ندارم… (Man doost nadaaram…)
  3. I want… – من می‌خواهم… (Man mikhaaham…)
  4. I don’t want… – من نمی‌خواهم… (Man nemikhaaham…)
  5. Spicy – تند (Tond)
  6. Sweet – شیرین (Shirin)
  7. Bitter – تلخ (Talkh)
  8. Salty – شور (Shoor)


  1. I’m allergic to… – من حساسیت دارم به… (Man hassaasitat daaram be…)
  2. Nuts – آجیل (Aajeel)
  3. Dairy – لبنیات (Labaniyat)
  4. Gluten – گلوتن (Gluten)
  5. Seafood – غذاهای دریایی (Ghazaa’haaye daryaai)
  6. Eggs – تخم مرغ (Tokhm morgh)
  7. Soy – سویا (Soyaa)

Useful Phrases for Food Ordering:

  1. Is this vegetarian? – این گیاهی است؟ (In giyaahi ast?)
  2. Is this vegan? – این وگان است؟ (In vegan ast?)
  3. What ingredients are in this? – این غذا چه موادی دارد؟ (In ghaza chah mavaadi daard?)
  4. Can you make it without…? – می‌توانید بدون… تهیه کنید؟ (Mitavaanid bedoon… tahiyeh konid?)
  5. Please bring the bill/check. – لطفاً حساب را بیاورید. (Lotfan hesaab raa biaavarid.)

Cultural Norms

Do: Respect religious observations!

Iran is a Muslim country, which means certain behaviors are more sensitive in its cultural and social context. There are certain rules, such as wearing a more conservative type of hijab called Chador by women. Many of the religious sites should be entered with shoes off.

Iran: A Local Woman Wearing Chador
A Local Woman Wearing Chador

In many places, remaining silent and respecting the elders by making way for them or offering seats is the norm. Also, mosques and shrines can have gender segregation regulations.

Don’t: Kiss in public!

Public displays of affection are culturally inappropriate in Iran. Even behaviors like holding hands while walking may seem normal in larger cities, but they could be unconventional in more remote areas and be considered rude or disrespectful.

-A friendly reminder: Shaking hands between opposite sexes is a confusing topic. Larger cities have a more open approach to handshaking between men and women, but smaller towns and rural villages can be very conservative in this respect, even for family members.

Taking Photos

Do: Get a permit if you are planning to use a drone!

Drones are regulated in Iran, and taking unauthorized drone flights can lead to legal consequences with local authorities.

Iran: Always Make Sure Where You Are Using Drones
Always Make Sure Where You Are Using Drones

Don’t: Take pictures in restricted areas!

This one is serious and can cause you serious trouble with the authorities. Avoid taking pictures of military infrastructures, government buildings, and official personnel. Most of the sensitive areas are marked by “No Photography” signs. Ask a local if you are uncertain.

No Photography
No Photography Sign, Which You Have To Pay Attention At Sensitive Locations

-A friendly reminder : Ask for permission when you want to take pictures of individuals. While many people may consent and be happy to be in your photo, there are cultural sensitivities in some regions.

Your Well-Being Is A Priority

Do: Take care of your health!

Use sunscreen and a hat to stay safe on hot sunny days. Make bottled water your friend and stay hydrated, especially when you are planning to be outdoors for most of the day. Also, have insect repellents handy for evening mosquitoes.

Drink Water On The Sunny Days Of Iran
Drink Water On The Sunny Days Of Iran

Don’t: Eat fruits and vegetables unless they are washed thoroughly!

Agricultural products in Iran are heavily sprayed with pesticides. It is safer to soak the produce in water, preferably with some baking soda.

-A friendly reminder : Carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you when you want to use a public bathroom. The issue with availability and cleanliness of public restrooms in Iran remains unresolved. Do not flush the toilet paper as it can cause issues in the sewage system.

Transportation, Transportation

Do: Get prepared for long distances!

Iran is a large country, about five times larger than Germany. Depending on the means of transportation you choose, you can experience very long journeys. It’s a good idea to prioritize your comfort over small cost differences. For your time on board, carry water and snacks, some means of entertainment such as a book, a journal, or offline movies on your device. A long trip could also provide you with a chance to learn some Persian on the way.

Don’t: Even try exploring the city during rush hours!

Traffic jams are unsolvable in larger cities of Iran, especially in the capital, Tehran. Plan ahead and spend the rush hours in the comfort of your hotel room or enjoy a delightful beverage and snacks at a cafe. Being stuck in a traffic jam or leaving at a later time can end up with the same arrival time, but with the second choice, you salvage your sanity.

Milad Tower In Tehran
Plan Ahead While You Want To Visit Touristic Places

-A friendly reminder : Be cautious when crossing the streets in Iran. The city’s traffic can be chaotic, and rules might not be observed as you are used to.

Final Word:

Don’t ignore the local advice!

Iranians are incredibly hospitable and welcoming. People love to communicate with foreigners and especially enjoy hearing about your good experiences in their country. They can serve you as your finest local guide, assisting you in finding a local restaurant or suggesting routes to explore.

Having Some Local Advice Will Help You To Have More Enjoyable Trip
Having Some Local Advice Will Help You To Have More Enjoyable Trip

They can warn you of possible complications or dangers and are ready to extend a helping hand. Embrace the opportunity to connect with the people of all ages; have tea with the elderly or enjoy a chat with teenagers. Their warmth and openness might just provide you with the best reasons to plan a return visit pretty soon.


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Fereshteh Sabetian

A World Heritage Studies graduate, traveler, writer, photographer and nature lover. Currently enjoying the rich cultural and natural heritage of Iran.

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