Top 10 things to do in Isfahan, Iran

Isfahan Nesfe Jahan! A famous saying by Iranians and it means Isfahan half of the world!

Article by: Ehsan Niroumand, the founder & guide at Persian Walk Free Tour

The photos are taken by: Ehsan Niroumand, Ehsan Babrian & Marianne Hildebrant

Isfahan is an ancient city in the center of Iran which was selected as the capital city several times during history, accordingly, it has lots of unique tourism attractions to reveal.

Once you step into the city, we recommend you to take a look at the below list of the top 10 things to do in Isfahan. But if you want to even hear nicer stories and facts about Isfahan, Isfahni people, and their traditions, daily life, food, etc., we invite you to join us in every-day Persian Walk’s Isfahan Free Tour.

1- Naqsh-e Jahan Square (World Heritage):

A UNESCO world heritage site is placed in the center of Isfahan and also called Shah Square or Imam Square. This rectangular, multi-functional square has 160 m in width and 560 m in length. It was built by the Safavid dynasty in 1598. Abbasi congregational mosque (Shah’s mosque), the Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace & Imperial Bazaar with famous Qeysarie Gate are located around the square (which is the starting point of the Persian Walk’s Isfahan Free Tour).

Isfahan Free Tour
Naqsh-e Jahan Square

2- Historical bridges and their secrets:

The city was formed around the Zayandeh Rud that is one of the largest rivers in central Iran. Thus, Iranians built many bridges on this river over history. Here is the list of the five most famous one of them:

1- Khaju: due to the nice echo at the base of the bridge, people of Isfahan are so eager to sing songs there in the evenings. Additionally, you can see the candle of Khaju bridge when you are on the 1st floor of the bridge.

2- Si O Se Pol: The longest bridge on the Zayandeh Rud river with 33 arches. The name "Si O Se Pol" means "[the] bridge of thirty-three" in the Persian language. Persian Walk finishes the Isfahan Free Tour on this bridge.

3- Shahrestan: the oldest bridge from the Sassanid period (about 1700 years ago).

4- Marnan: the most west historical bridge from ancient times.

5- Joui or Choobi: the bridge which had a water channel on it to irrigate the royal gardens.

Isfahan Free Tour
Si O Se Pol

3- Jolfa, The Armenian quarter:

One of the most important Iranian ethnic groups is Armenians. So, they have their quarter which reflects their culture and religion. Vank church, the biggest and the most famous church in Isfahan is located in the Jolfa district. Isfahan Music Museum is located in the same neighborhood. You can listen to live Iranian classical music after visiting the museum. In our daily Isfahan Free Tour, we’ll talk about the Armenians and how they came to Isfahan and what they have done in this city.

Food and café suggestions:

  1. Arabo is an Armenian family fast food that has yummy sandwiches.
  2. Bahar Narenj is a cool café in Jolfa near the church.
  3. Swan café: a lovely place for having a snack and a drink.
Isfahan Free Tour
Vank church

 4- Jameh Mosque of Isfahan (World Heritage):

The architecture museum of Iran. The most important religious place in Iran. An ancient Zoroastrian fire temple that has been turned into a mosque after the Islamic period. You can follow the trace of different periods through the bricks of this giant mosque.

Some of the masterpieces of Iranian architecture are located there like Oljaito Mihrab.

Food suggestion: Haaj Mahmoud Shefa'at Beryani is a traditional restaurant which has been serving Beryani (Isfahan’s food) for more than a century. It’s placed near the Jameh Mosque inside the bazaar.

Isfahan Free Tour
Oljaito Mihrab

5- Walking along the Chahar Bagh e Abbasi St. and Visiting Chehel Sotoon & Hasht Behest Palaces:

A historical street from the Safavid era was constructed by Shah Abbas the Great. You can have a nice walk under the lovely shade of the old trees along the street. Chehel Sotoon & Hasht Behest Palace is on your way. Two enchanting palaces from the golden age of the Safavid period. In Isfahan Free Tour by Persian Walk, our storytellers will tell you many fascinating stories about the street and palaces.

Food suggestion: for the foodies, Chahar Bagh e Abbasi street food is an excellent choice.

Isfahan Free Tour
Chehel Sotoon palace

6- Menar Jonban:

Shaking minarets. If one of them shakes by a person who stands inside it, the other one will be shaken by itself. This monument is a memorial of a famous person in Isfahan.

Isfahan Free Tour
Menar Jonban

7- Ali Gholi Agha & Qazi Persian Baths:

Iranians are so sensitive about their hygiene. Consequently, since ancient times public baths or Hammams have a great role in their cities. Ali Gholi Agha and Qazi bathes are good examples of them in Isfahan. Ali Gholi Agha is open to the public as a museum for visiting the process of taking a bath. Although recently the Qazi Persian bath has been renovated and opened to the public for the ones who like to experience an Iranian (Persian) Bath. In Isfahan Alternative tour, our storytellers will accompany you inside the Ali Gholi Agha Bath & Zurkhaneh (ancient Iranian gym).

Isfahan Free Tour
Ali Gholi Agha Bath

8- Atashgah, the Fire Temple of Isfahan:

The ruins of an old Zoroastrian (Iranian religion) fire Temple is located on the top of a hill. It’s not so easy to climb the hill but it is recommended for the ones who are intrigued to see ancient sites.

9- Mount Soffeh:

A rocky mountain in the south of the city that needs at least 1.5 hours to climb. If you reach the summit before the sunset, not only you’ll have a unique view of the city but also you can watch the sunset. You could use the cable car for coming back home.

10- Varzaneh:

Varzaneh is a small ancient city that is surrounded by a spectacular desert in the southeast of Isfahan. Qortan great citadel, Gav Chah, and the secluded desert are the main attractions of Varzaneh. There are several hostels there which offer a cozy nice place.

Isfahan Free Tour
Varzaneh Desert

Isfahan is the 1st tourist destination in Iran. You can find a unique collection of architecture, food, tradition, and warm hospitable people together.  So, we recommend you to stay at least 4 days to enjoy the turquoise gem of Iran.

For more information about Isfahan please visit www.persianwalk.com.    

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