Armenia and Iran
Explore Eurasia on this fascinating tour, packed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Begin your discovery of Armenia and Iran in the beautiful Armenian capital Yerevan, where history and modernity meet. Pink lava rock was used to build, therefore Yerevan is known as the pink city. The colour changes depending how the sunlight hits it, so it looks particularly impressive at sunrise and sunset. Spend your days visiting stunning temples and monasteries, nestled between cliffs. Then, consider Armenia’s recent tragic history with a visit to the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial. On excursions, admire the picture-perfect landscapes which surround the capital, particularly the crystal blue Lake Sevan. Progress towards the Iranian border, enjoying the scenery en route. Drive around twisted gorges, sample Armenian wine and ride a 5,700m cable car over the countryside to the captivating cave village of Khndzoresk.
In Iran, explore the city of Tabriz; admire the impressive Blue Mosque before continuing to one of Iran’s most exciting cities – Shiraz. The city of poets, wine and roses is chock-a-block with monuments and ornate mosques. It is truly a delight for the senses. Isfahan will thrill, with its minarets and domes ornamenting the skyline. It has a collection of impressive bridges over the Zayande river – the 33 arched bridge is particularly spectacular, especially when illuminated at night.
Stop at Kashan, a town known for its ceramic tiles along with other handicrafts. Local legend claims that this was the departure point of the three wise men on their journey to Bethlehem. When visiting the enchanting Fin Gardens, a Persian masterpiece and small piece of Eden, it will be easy to believe the local legends. At your final stop, Tehran, uncover the face of modern Iran and lose yourself in the haphazard amalgamation of tradition and the cosmopolitan.
Dates on request
Suggested Itinerary by Air
Arrive at Zvartnots International Airport. Your guide will meet you at the airport and you will transfer to the hotel. Time permitting, begin exploring the local area.
Yerevan tour and UNESCO excursions
After breakfast, the tour begins in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. The beautiful colour of the stone used to build the city has led to it being known as the ‘pink city’. Visit Republic Square, home to a beloved dancing fountain, Mashtoc Avenue and the impressive Cascade Park.
Visit Matenadaran, the Manuscript Museum of Armenia, where all ancient Armenian Manuscripts are kept. Remember the tragic Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century with a visit to the genocide museum and memorial. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before an excursion to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. According to legend, Zvartnots Temple was the site at which Grigor Lusavorich met and cured the king, thus initiating the country’s conversion to Christianity. Ejmiatsin is the spiritual centre of Armenia. The Cathedral of Ejmiatsin, founded in 303, is the official residence of the Catholicos of Armenia. A small part of Noah’s ark is kept in the museum at Ejmiatsin. Return to Yerevan for dinner at a national Armenian Restaurant and your overnight accommodation.
Yerevan: excursion to temples, monasteries and Lake Sevan
After breakfast, take a trip to Garni. Here, see the only temple in Armenia preserved from the Pagan times. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1679 but was restored in the 1970s. Continue on to Geghard Monastery, surrounded by towering cliffs. The complex is composed of a number of churches and tombs, many of which are cut into the rock. Afterwards visit a local house where you will have the chance to see and participate in the preparation of Armenian national bread: lavash. It is a very thin, usually sold in very large forms. It is usually cooked in a ground oven: “tonir” which is on the UNESCO intangible heritage list. Drive to Lake Sevan, one of the largest lakes in the world with astonishingly blue water. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the beautiful lake before visiting the Sevanavank Monastery which is situated on Sevan Peninsula. Return to Yerevan for dinner at a local restaurant and your overnight stay.
Yerevan : excursion to monasteries and wine tasting
Enjoy breakfast before a trip to Khor Virap Monastery (4-18th cc.). This monastery is very prominent because of its history; Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia, was imprisoned there for about 13 years as it was previously a prison. Here we can enjoy the spectacular view of the sacred Ararat Mountain – an immortal symbol of Armenia. After Khor Virap, drive to Armenian Wine Village Areni, famous for its red wine. Visit the village’s wine factory for a tasting. Noravank is a 12th century monastery situated among amazing sheer rocks on the ledge of a twisty gorge. Continue to Goris for dinner and your overnight accommodation.
Cable cars and cave villages
After breakfast, visit the monastic complex of Tatev. Formerly it was a very famous educational centre in Armenia and many famous scientists and philosophers were educated there. The Wings of Tatev cable car allows you to soar over the landscape for 5.7km. Appreciate the views and Armenia’s stunning scenery. Visit the fascinating cave village of Khndzoresk. Located on the extremely steep slope of a ravine, the network of natural and man-made caves previously housed an estimated 15,000 people at the village’s peak. Drive on to Kapan for dinner and overnight accommodation.
Cross the border to Iran
After breakfast, transfer to the Armenian-Iranian border. Meet with the guide and driver for the Iran tour. Depart for Tabriz; en route stop to visit the Cathedral of St. Stepanous. In the afternoon visit the Elgoli garden – a beautiful park complete with a square lake and pavilion. Accommodation in Tabriz.
Enjoy breakfast before embarking on a city tour of Tabriz. Take in the sights of Tabriz, a city rich in Azeri culture, and visit the museum of Azerbaijan and the Blue Mosque. Transfer to the airport for the flight from Tabriz to Shiraz. Arrive and transfer to the hotel.
Today, following breakfast, we will discover the city of Shiraz, which was a great centre of poetry and Persian culture. Poets have called Shiraz an oasis of roses, wine and the nightingale. Visit many monuments, including the tombs of the poets Hafez and Saadi. Be mesmerised in the Nasir ol Molk mosque as the sunlight passing through the stained glass throws kaleidoscopic rainbows across the intricate patterned walls. Similarly impressive is Shah Cheragh, a mirrored mosque which glitters and sparkles as if you’ve stepped inside a diamond. Explore the vibrant e-Vakil bazaar; the vaulted ceiling keeps this bazaar cool while you ramble through the stalls of spices, Persian rugs and handicrafts.
Isfahan and emperors
Drive to Isfahan after breakfast. En route stop to visit the once great city of Persepolis, whose earliest remains date back to 515 BC. At Naqsh-i-Rustam see the tombs of early Achaemenid emperors and admire the rock reliefs cut into the cliffs below the tombs. These celebrate the glory of the Sassanian Empire by depict the Sassanian Kings meeting God or in combat. Continue to Isfahan and see the beautiful bridges over the Zayande river.
Day 10/ 11
The next two days are dedicated to this beautiful city, capital of the province. In 600 AD Isfahan was one of the most brilliant capitals of East and was given the nickname of “the other half of the world”. Visit the great central square of the city – Imam Square. This UNESCO world heritage site is a true spectacle of architectural gems from the Safavid era surrounding a formal garden. The buildings around the square are the Shah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace, the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque and the Keisaria gate which opens onto the Grand Bazaar. The square’s minarets and domes, columns and arches come together to create a striking backdrop and the highly decorated palace holds many treasures within. Visit the Jolfa district, where Armenian community was transferred to revitalise the economy of Isfahan in 1603. Of particular interest is the Savior Cathedral and the adjacent museum. Accommodation in Isfahan.
Kashan: tiles and trees
After breakfast, travel to Tehran. On the way, visit the city of Kashan which is divided into two parts: mountain and desert. By some accounts, the three wise men followed the star to Bethlehem from Kashan. Today Kashan is famous for its carpets, velvet and for its ceramic tiles; the modern Persian word for tile is derived from this town’s name. Also visit the enchanting and tranquil Fin Gardens which are the epitome of Persian gardens. This delightful place comprises 500 year old evergreens, spring-fed pools and fountains, a pavilion and a delightful tea house. Stay overnight in Tehran.
After breakfast, explore Tehran. Iran’s most liberal and secular city hugs the lower slopes of the snow-crested Alborz Mountains. Tehran is a jumble of concrete and chaos, and a fusion of modern Iran and over 250 years of history. Treasure hunt at the Grand Bazaar; carpets, jewellery and foods are all available in abundance. Admire the masterpiece that is the Golestan Royal Palace. The complex of buildings scream of luxury and excess with beautifully painted tiles, mirrored ceilings and elegant gardens of plants and pools.
Following your final breakfast in Iran, transfer to the airport for your return flight.
British passport holders require a visa to enter Iran, the process may be long so it is better to apply well in advance.Females must wear a headscarf in their application photos, and your passport must have a minimum of 6 months left on it. British citizens can’t obtain a visa on arrival.
British Citizens do not require a visa to visit Armenia, you will be able to visit for up to 90 days.