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Here’s How Much It Costs To Go Backpacking In Iran


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Dorrie Gilliam



Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean compromising on experiences, and if you’re looking for an affordable destination that offers rich culture, history, and breathtaking landscapes, then Iran should be on your radar. Backpacking in Iran is a fantastic option for travelers who want to explore this fascinating country while keeping their expenses in check.


Iran is a destination that offers a unique blend of ancient heritage, vibrant cities, and warm hospitality. From the mesmerizing architecture of Isfahan to the stunning landscapes of the deserts and mountains, Iran has a lot to offer to adventurous backpackers. Plus, with a relatively low cost of living, it is an ideal destination for budget travelers.


Before you embark on your backpacking adventure, it is important to plan your trip carefully and have a clear understanding of the costs involved. In this article, we will break down the main expenses you can expect when backpacking in Iran, giving you a comprehensive overview of how much it will cost to explore this beautiful country.


Visa Requirements:

Before you start your backpacking journey in Iran, it is crucial to understand the visa requirements. Luckily, obtaining a visa for Iran is relatively straightforward for many nationalities. However, it is essential to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to apply.


Most travelers will need to obtain a visa in advance, either through an Iranian embassy or consulate in their home country or by applying through an authorized travel agency. The process usually involves filling out an application form, providing necessary documents such as a valid passport, passport-sized photos, and a travel itinerary. You may also be required to provide proof of travel insurance.


It is important to note that some nationalities are eligible for a visa on arrival, which allows you to obtain your visa at the airport upon arrival. However, this option may have limitations, such as a shorter duration of stay or restrictions on entering certain areas. Before choosing this option, it is recommended to check the latest updates and requirements from official sources.


The cost of the visa will vary depending on your nationality and the type of visa you are applying for. Generally, tourist visas are valid for 30 days, with the possibility of extending once you are in Iran if needed.


Remember, it is always advisable to check the latest visa requirements and regulations before planning your trip to Iran. Consulting with the Iranian embassy or consulate in your home country or a trusted travel agency can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information.


Accommodation Options:

When it comes to finding affordable accommodation in Iran, backpackers have a range of options to choose from. From budget-friendly guesthouses to hostels and even camping in some areas, there are choices to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget.


Guesthouses, often referred to as “mehmanpazir” in Farsi, are a popular and economical choice for backpackers. These are family-run accommodations that offer a comfortable and authentic experience. You can find guesthouses in various cities and towns across Iran, and they often provide private or shared rooms at affordable rates. Staying in guesthouses allows you to interact with locals, learn about their culture, and get insider tips on exploring the area.


Another option is to stay in hostels, especially in major cities like Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz. These hostels cater specifically to backpackers and offer dormitory-style accommodation at reasonable prices. Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travelers and exchange travel stories and tips.


If you’re up for a more adventurous experience, camping is also an option in certain areas of Iran, such as national parks and nature reserves. Camping equipment can be rented or purchased, and you can enjoy the beauty of the Iranian wilderness while keeping your accommodation costs to a minimum.


When booking accommodation, it’s recommended to use online booking platforms or reputable travel agencies to find the best deals. Additionally, planning your stay well in advance will give you more options and potentially lower prices.


Overall, Iran offers a wide range of accommodation options suitable for budget travelers. Whether you prefer the coziness of guesthouses, the social atmosphere of hostels, or the adventure of camping, you can find affordable places to stay throughout the country.


Transportation Costs:

Getting around Iran as a backpacker is relatively easy and affordable, thanks to the well-developed transportation infrastructure in the country. Here are the main transportation options to consider and their associated costs:

  • Local Buses: Local buses are the most common mode of transportation within cities and towns in Iran. They are inexpensive, with fares typically ranging from a few thousand Iranian Rials. These buses can get crowded, but they provide a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
  • Metro: Major cities like Tehran and Mashhad have metro systems, which are a convenient and affordable way to travel around. Metro fares are reasonable, with ticket prices ranging from a few thousand to several tens of thousand Iranian Rials depending on the distance traveled.
  • Shared Taxis: Shared taxis, known as “Savari,” are a popular mode of transportation for both short and long-distance travel in Iran. Shared taxis are typically faster than buses and offer the convenience of direct routes. Fares are usually per seat, and they are affordable for budget travelers.
  • Intercity Buses: For longer journeys between cities and towns, intercity buses are a reliable and economical choice. Iran has a well-connected network of bus routes, and fares are reasonable depending on the distance traveled. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  • Trains: Iran also has an extensive railway network, connecting major cities and towns. Train travel can be a scenic and comfortable option, especially for longer distances. Ticket prices vary depending on the class of travel, but they are generally affordable for backpackers.
  • Domestic Flights: If you’re short on time or need to cover long distances quickly, domestic flights are available between major cities. While airfare prices can be higher compared to other modes of transportation, there are budget-friendly airlines in Iran that offer discounted fares if booked in advance.

Overall, transportation costs in Iran are budget-friendly, allowing backpackers to explore the country without breaking the bank. By choosing the appropriate mode of transportation and planning your routes in advance, you can keep your transportation expenses to a minimum while enjoying the convenience of getting around easily.


Food and Drink Expenses:

Exploring the culinary delights of Iran is an essential part of your backpacking experience. Iranian cuisine is known for its rich flavors, aromatic spices, and diverse range of dishes. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect in terms of food and drink expenses:


Local Eateries: The most budget-friendly option for meals in Iran is to dine at local eateries and street food stalls. These places offer a variety of delicious and affordable dishes such as kebabs, stews (like ghormeh sabzi and gheimeh), and rice-based dishes. A meal at a local eatery can cost anywhere from a few thousand to several tens of thousand Iranian Rials.


Restaurants: If you’re in the mood for a more formal dining experience, restaurants in Iran offer a wide range of choices. From traditional Iranian restaurants serving authentic dishes to international cuisine options, there is something for everyone. The prices can vary depending on the restaurant’s location and prestige, but mid-range restaurants typically offer good value for money.


Street Food: Trying street food in Iran is a must for any budget traveler. You can find an array of tasty snacks and treats like saffron ice cream, falafel, fesenjan sandwiches, and various types of flatbread. Street food prices are generally affordable, making it an excellent option for a quick and budget-friendly meal.


Self-Catering: If you’re on an extremely tight budget or prefer to cook your meals, self-catering can be an option. Many guesthouses and hostels have shared kitchens where you can prepare your meals using local ingredients. Supermarkets and local markets offer affordable options for groceries and fresh produce.


Drinks: When it comes to beverages, tap water is generally safe to drink in Iran. However, it’s advisable to carry a reusable water bottle and fill up at trusted sources. Tea is a staple in Iranian culture and can be found everywhere. You can also try traditional drinks like doogh (a yogurt-based beverage) and sharbat (fruit syrup mixed with water). Alcoholic beverages are not readily available due to religious restrictions, but some hotels and upscale restaurants may serve them at higher prices.


Overall, food and drink expenses in Iran can be quite reasonable, especially if you opt for local eateries and street food. Exploring the local cuisine is not only a delicious experience but also an affordable one, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the flavors of Iran without straining your budget.


Sightseeing and Activities:

Iran is a treasure trove of historical sites, natural wonders, and cultural landmarks, offering a plethora of sightseeing opportunities for backpackers. Here are some popular attractions and activities to consider while exploring Iran:


Historical Sites: Iran is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the intricate tile work of the Imam Square in Isfahan, and the stunning architecture of the Jameh Mosque of Yazd. Exploring these historical sites allows you to delve into Iran’s rich history and marvel at its architectural marvels. Entrance fees for historical sites vary but are generally affordable for budget travelers.


Nature and Outdoor Activities: Iran boasts diverse landscapes, from towering mountains to vast deserts and lush forests. Hiking, trekking, and camping in places like the Alborz Mountains, the Dasht-e Kavir desert, and the Hyrcanian forests offer incredible experiences for nature enthusiasts. Many national parks and protected areas have nominal entrance fees, making it accessible for backpackers.


Cultural Experiences: In addition to historical and natural attractions, Iran offers unique cultural experiences. Visit the bustling bazaars, such as the Grand Bazaar in Tehran or the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz, to immerse yourself in the vibrant market atmosphere and to shop for handicrafts, spices, and traditional goods. Attending traditional performances like Persian music concerts or watching traditional dance shows can also provide insight into Iran’s cultural heritage.


Museums and Art Galleries: Iran is home to a wealth of museums and art galleries that showcase its rich cultural heritage. From the National Museum of Iran in Tehran to contemporary art galleries in cities like Tehran and Isfahan, these institutions offer a glimpse into the country’s artistic and historical legacy. Museums generally have small admission fees, making them an affordable option for budget travelers.


Local Festivals and Events: If timing permits, try to coincide your visit with local festivals and events. Festivals such as Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the Silk Road International Film Festival offer unique experiences and cultural insights. These events often have free or low-cost entry, providing an opportunity to engage with local traditions and celebrations.


When planning your sightseeing and activities, consider reaching out to local tour operators or joining group tours, as they may offer discounted rates for backpackers. Additionally, having a rough itinerary in mind will help you budget for entrance fees, transportation, and any guided tours or experiences you may want to participate in.


Remember, not all sightseeing and activities come with a price tag. Sometimes the most authentic and memorable experiences can be found simply by wandering through local neighborhoods, interacting with locals, and absorbing the unique atmosphere of Iran.


Budget Tips and Money-Saving Techniques:

Traveling on a budget in Iran is definitely achievable with some smart planning and money-saving techniques. Here are some budget tips to help you make the most of your backpacking experience:

  • Choose Budget-Friendly Accommodation: Opt for guesthouses or budget-friendly hostels instead of higher-end hotels to save on accommodation costs. Consider camping in national parks or nature reserves for a unique and inexpensive experience.
  • Eat Local: Explore local eateries and street food stalls for affordable and delicious meals. These places offer authentic dishes at a fraction of the cost of restaurants or international cuisine options.
  • Use Public Transportation: Make use of local buses, metro systems, shared taxis, and intercity buses to get around. Public transportation is not only affordable but also allows you to experience the local culture and interact with fellow travelers.
  • Plan in Advance: Book your accommodation and transportation in advance to secure lower rates and better deals. Planning your itinerary ahead of time will help you manage your budget effectively and avoid any last-minute expenses.
  • Visit Free Attractions: Discover the beauty of Iran by visiting free attractions such as parks, gardens, and public squares. Explore local markets and bazaars that offer a vibrant atmosphere and interesting people-watching opportunities without any admission fees.
  • Travel in Shoulder or Off-Seasons: Consider traveling to Iran during shoulder seasons or off-seasons to take advantage of lower prices for accommodation and transportation. It’s also an opportunity to experience fewer crowds while exploring popular tourist sites.
  • Stay Hydrated: Rather than buying bottled water, bring a reusable water bottle and refill it from trusted sources. This will save you money and help reduce plastic waste.
  • Learn Some Basic Farsi Phrases: Learning a few basic Farsi phrases can go a long way in engaging with locals and negotiating better prices, especially in local markets and when taking taxis or shared transportation.
  • Keep an Eye Out for Discounts: Look for special discounts and promotions offered by hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Some places may offer student discounts or discounts for specific age groups, so make sure to inquire about available deals.

By implementing these budget tips and money-saving techniques, you can stretch your travel budget in Iran and make the most of your backpacking adventure without compromising on experiences.


Safety Considerations:

Like any travel destination, it’s important to keep safety in mind while backpacking in Iran. While Iran is generally considered safe for travelers, it’s always wise to take precautions and stay informed. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:

  • Research and Stay Informed: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the current political and social climate in Iran. Stay updated on any travel advisories or warnings issued by your government or official sources.
  • Respect Local Customs and Laws: Iran has cultural norms and religious practices that may be different from what you’re accustomed to. Respect and adhere to local customs, dress modestly, and be mindful of religious sites and practices. Familiarize yourself with any laws or regulations that may apply.
  • Maintain Vigilance: While Iran is generally safe, it’s always wise to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places, and avoid displaying excessive wealth or valuables.
  • Use Reliable Transportation: Stick to licensed taxis or reputable transportation companies. When using ride-sharing services, double-check the driver’s information and ensure it matches the details provided on the app. Avoid accepting rides from unauthorized or unmarked vehicles.
  • Stay Connected: Keep copies of important documents, such as your passport and visa. It’s also advisable to register with your embassy or consulate to receive travel updates and assistance if needed.
  • Communicate Safely: Keep reliable means of communication, such as a local SIM card or an international roaming plan, to stay connected with family and friends. It’s also a good idea to have emergency contact numbers readily available.
  • Trust Your Intuition: Trust your instincts and avoid situations or places that feel unsafe. If you encounter any issues or feel uncomfortable, reach out to local authorities or seek assistance from reputable sources such as your accommodation or tour operator.

Remember, while these safety considerations are important, it’s essential to strike a balance and not let concerns overshadow your enjoyment of traveling in Iran. With proper precautions and a respectful attitude, you can have a safe and memorable backpacking experience in this beautiful country.



Backpacking in Iran offers an incredible opportunity to explore a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty while keeping your expenses in check. With a wide range of affordable accommodation options, budget-friendly transportation, delicious local cuisine, and countless attractions to discover, Iran is a fantastic destination for budget travelers.


By planning ahead, being mindful of your budget, and implementing money-saving techniques, you can stretch your travel funds while still enjoying unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re wandering through the ancient ruins of Persepolis, savoring the flavors of traditional Iranian dishes, or immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, Iran has so much to offer to enrich your backpacking journey.


While taking necessary safety precautions and respecting local customs and laws, you can have a safe and rewarding experience in Iran. As with any travel adventure, it’s important to remain open-minded, embrace the authenticity of the country, and engage with the friendly locals who will undoubtedly enhance your journey.


So, if you’re ready to embark on a budget-friendly adventure filled with awe-inspiring sights, warm hospitality, and a deep dive into Persian culture, put Iran at the top of your backpacking list. An unforgettable experience awaits you, where you can explore the wonders of this fascinating country without breaking the bank.