isfahan travel guide

Isfahan Overview

Known by the locals of the city also as “ Half of the World ”, Isfahan is the third-largest city of Iran. It was the capital of the Safavid dynasty in the 11th century for more than one hundred years. Ferdowsi, the famous Persian poet, called this city Sepahan in his poems. Isfahan is so well-known as the first cultural capital of Islamic countries. Also, It’s a beautiful city and is well-known as “The city of turquoise domes” due to its beautiful tile works and domes. Every year, thousands of Persian and foreign tourists travel to Isfahan.

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Best time to travel to Isfahan

The weather is mild in Isfahan and temperatures feel nice during spring and autumn you can enjoy mild temperatures.  In the winter, however, it feels colder with occasional rainfalls. July, August, and June are when the weather is much warmer. If you want to visit Isfahan with snow, early January is the best month and the most humid month in Isfahan is December.

What to eat in Isfahan

Biryani: 

It’s the most famous food in Isfahan. Biryani is a delicious meal with a large portion of mutton or lamb which stewed and minced separately, grilled, and served with bread.

Gheymeh Rizeh

This local food of Isfahan is rarely found in the restaurants and is well-known as one of the preferred dishes in the houses of locals. The ingredients include minced meat, grated onion, tomato, dried mint, with spice flavored taste.

Khoresht Mast: 

Khoresht Mast which literally means yogurt stew and it is another famous local food. This dessert is a delicious mixture of yogurt, meat, lamb, sugar, and saffron. Khoresht Mast served cold and you can find it in every restaurant in Isfahan.

Yakhme Torosh: 

This is a sweet dish combination of turmeric with lamb, quince, rice, split pea, and onion. After they strained, they mashed and served with broth which is providing in a separate dish.

Kuku Ghandi: 

If you prefer sweet dishes, Kuku Ghandi is one of your options in Isfahan during your visit. Although it’s less commonly served in restaurants these days, you can still find this in some restaurants. The ingredients are: potato, egg, saffron, sugar, rose water, and lemon. You can taste some of the best Persian, and particularly Isfahani, cuisine in most restaurants of Isfahan, such as, Khan Gostar,- Shahrzad,- Azam, Jam Neshin – Shab Neshin, and Zagros restaurants to name a few, Khansalar and Ashti restaurants are for those travelers interested in eating in a traditional atmosphere. 

Hermes and Faramarz restaurants can be good choices for fast-food fans.  

Isfahan Hotels

Abbasi Hotel: It’s one of the best hotels in Isfahan which is situated in the heart of the city. Actually, the Abbasi Hotel building dates back to the Safavid era but now it’s a five-star hotel and the largest one in Iran. This hotel is the home of 225 guest rooms with close proximity to most of Isfahan’s attractions.

Kowsar Hotel:  Kowsar Hotel is another five-star hotel located in the heart of Isfahan. There are about 200 rooms in this hotel offering full amenities and a mixture of modern and traditional design.

Safir Hotel: Hotel is Located in front of Abbasi Hotel, Safir Hotel is a 4-star hotel in one of the main streets of Isfahan, the Chaharbagh Abbasi Street.

Piroozy Hotel: Piroozy Hotel is located in the heart of Isfahan and can offer you fine amenities of a four-star hotel, it has about 100 rooms.

Beside above , you can find other less expensive hotels in these areas including:

Setareh Hotel in Naqsh-e Jahan Square,

Melal Hotel in Kamal Esmail St.,

Atigh Hotel in Ibn-e Sina St.,

Sepahan Hotel in Ostandari St.,

And Safavi Hotel in Felestin St. as 3-star hotels. 

In addition, you can choose:

Viana Hotel in Kashani St.,

Mahan Hotel in Bozorgmehr St.,

Jame Firoozeh Hotel in Ostandari St.,

And, Karoon Hotel in Hakim Nezami St. 

as one/two-star hotels if you’re looking for more economic accommodation in Isfahan.

What to explore in Isfahan?

Masjed-e Shah: 

The elegantly designed Masjed-e Shah is one of the masterpieces of Iranian Islamic art. This mosque is over 400 years old and is famous for its blue and yellow tiles. Also, the entrance portal and the turquoise dome give it a stunning view.

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Naghsh-e Jahan: 

Naqsh-e Jahan square is one of the other major attractions of Isfahan which was built during the Safavid era. The square is near some of the must-see historical buildings including Ali Qapu, Masjed-e Shah, Sheikh Lotf Allah mosque, and Qeysarie Gate. Additionally, it’s the home to more than 200 shops most of which are selling souvenirs of Isfahan.

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Bazar-e Bozorg: 

Bazar-e Bozorg is among the oldest and largest bazaars in Iran. It links Naghsh-Jahan to Masjed-Jameh, two major old mosques of Isfahan. Some parts of this bazaar are more than 400 years old, while other parts date back to a thousand years ago. You can find different souvenirs and clothing shops in Bazar-e Bozorg.

Nazhvan Park:

It’s the largest park in Isfahan which gives a relaxing experience to get away from hustle and bustle of the city. Moreover, you can enjoy other attractions in this park including Birds Garden, Isfahan Aquarium, Seashell Museum, Reptile House, and Butterfly Collection. A chairlift over the river, a water park for the kids, and Ladies Garden are other facilities of Nazhvan Park.

Kakh-e Chehel Sotoon: 

This building is another masterpiece of the Safavid era and attracts lots of visitors every year. It’s stretched between Naghsh-e Jahan Sq and Chahar Bagh Abbasi St.The Great Hall is decorated and situated elegantly with the art collection of tile works and miniatures. 

It’s a World Heritage Site under the name Persian Garden.

Other attractions of Isfahan are:

 1- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

 2- Friday (Al-Jum’a) Mosque

 3- Ali Qapu

 4- Hasht Behesht Palace

 5- Chahar Bagh School

 6- Si-o-se Pol

 7- Khaju Bridge (Shahi Bridge)

 8- Marnan Bridge

 9- Pol-e-Joui or Choobi (Joui Bridge)

10- Vank Cathedral

11- Manar Jonban (the swinging minaret)

12- Atashgah (Fire Temple)

Handicrafts in Isfahan

Minakari (Enemal work): 

Isfahan is the birthplace of this art, which is decorating the surface of metals with beautiful colors.

Khatam Kari: 

It’s another valuable handicraft of Isfahan in the wood industry. The skilled artists, use small pieces of materials like silver, gold, brass, aluminum, and wood to create fantastic artworks. Usually the smaller the art pieces, the higher is the value.

Kashi Kari (Tiling): 

Tiling is one of the oldest artworks used in the construction of prehistoric buildings. Isfahan is the birthplace of tile works and Persian architects used them for interior and exterior decoration as well as tiled dishes, pots, and other things more of which are exported.

Ghalam Kari (Engraving): 

Actually, Ghalam Kari has its origins in India but the first artworks were created in Isfahan. It’s the art of printing on the cloth using a mordant.Meta: Isfahan is the third largest city in Iran and has a lot to offer to the tourists. Click here to get an insight into Half of the World.

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