While the countless historical sites and museums can easily fill up a visitor’s day, there are other activities in Tehran. These ones can offer more insight into both the present and past of the Iranian capital and its people. Here’s a list of unusual things to do in Tehran.
Tehran has a happening art scene, and every Friday afternoon, galleries around the city open to display exhibitions of young artists. Your idea of modern Iran will change after viewing the contemporary art and the catwalk-like style of people who come to these galleries. Sip on some tea as you contemplate the works, meet the artists, and purchase a piece from future big name. Things to Do in Tehran
Conquer Valiasr Street
At nearly 12 miles (19 kilometers) long, Valiasr is the longest street in the Middle East. It runs from north to south, and dividing Tehran into east and west. This tree-lined avenue has wide sidewalks and cascading water features that offset the hum of traffic. Starting at Rah-Ahan Square in the south, it reaches at Tajrish Square in the north. In between, You pass some of Tehran’s best sites, including Saee & Mellat Park which also make nice resting spots. Take notice of the street sculptures and art projects along the way. Not feeling up to the walk? Consider taking the bus for all of the sights, but none of the exertion. Things to Do in Tehran
Play dress up
Many of Iran’s historical sites offer the opportunity to play dress up in Qajar-era clothes, but why not do it against the backdrop of a palace from the same period? You’re sure to do some sightseeing at Golestan Palace, so while you’re there, toss on some royal clothes and feel like a noble as you pose alongside silver antiques, ruby pomegranates, and colorful mosaics. After that, you’ll snap back into present-day Tehran, with your pictures ready in the blink of an eye.
Be transported to old Tehran
Once known as the “Champs-Élysées of Tehran”, Lalezar Street is a far cry from its former days as a thriving hub of cafés, cinemas, and theaters. Lalezar means the tulip gardens. This street was the first modern boulevard of the city is now lined with lamp and chandelier stores, but you only have to glance up to catch a glimpse of old Tehran. You may get lost in your imagination as you reconstruct broken windows and the happenings behind them. Among the jewels on and around, this street is the former Grand Hotel, home of famous writer Sadegh Hedayat, and Ettehadieh House, an early 20th-century-style Iranian mansion where the popular 1976 TV series, My Uncle Napoleon, was filmed. Things to Do in Tehran
Get an adrenaline rush at Tochal
Located in the north of Tehran, Tochal has something for everyone. For a more relaxing time, catch a skyline view of the capital or strike out on an early-Friday-morning hike to station 1 or 2, where you can enjoy breakfast with a view. Those after some more excitement can try archery or zip-lining in the complex. Even though Shemshak and Dizin are more popular ski resorts, taking the telecabin to station 7 will throw you in the middle of white, powdered mountains, without having to venture too far from the city.
Tour Qasr Prison Museum
One of the oldest political prisons in Iran, Qasr Prison was originally built as a Qajar palace. It was later converted into a prison for several decades until it finally closed for good. The government reopened it in 2012 as a museum, with the surrounding area transformed into a public park. Framed photos of political prisoners hang around the entrance. A few former inmates lead guided tours, providing first-hand accounts of the atrocities that they endured during their time there.
Dine among the intellectuals at Cafe Gol Rezaeieh
Along the cobblestone streets of Si-e Tir sits a quaint, unassuming café. You could easily overlook it if you don’t know what it is. Throughout its 70-plus years, Cafe Gol Rezaeieh has been the scene of Iran’s writers and artists. Displaying photos of figures in literature and cinema, its cluttered décor makes it feel like a museum of Tehran’s artistic scholars. After a day exploring the nearby museums, stop here to try the café’s famous appetizers and meals. It includes borscht (beetroot-based soup) and homemade Persian stews. Things to Do in Tehran
Ascend Tehran’s three towers
Ranging from ancient to modern, these three towers shouldn’t be missed. The oldest of the trio, the 12th-century Tughrul Tower is located in the city of Ray and serves as the tomb of Seljuk ruler Tugrul Beg. Further north, Azadi Tower combines pre- and post-Islamic architecture and is the symbol of Tehran. Finally, Milad Tower is the most modern of the three and is the sixth-tallest telecommunication tower in the world. The elevator to the observation deck will give you a view of Tehran from about 300 meters (984 feet). Things to Do in Tehran
Catch some culture
In addition to the many annual music and film festivals on offer in Tehran, there are other concerts on an ongoing basis in various locales. Whether it’s the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at Vahdat Hall, musical concerts at Milad Tower, or adaptations of Western plays in Iran Shahr Theater, you’re sure to find something almost every night of the week.