Is Iran safe to travel?
All guides and tips you need to know about safety in Iran:
Is it safe to travel to Iran? How safe is Iran for western tourists? Is Iran safe for solo travelers? Is it safe to visit Iran at all? These are some of the many questions that occupy your mind before traveling to Iran. Then, it makes sense to ask about safety in Iran before getting an Iran visa , dreaming of meeting its friendly people, visiting its UNESCO sites, hiking across its vast deserts, skiing at its best ski resorts, climbing its high mountains or exploring its deepest caves and canyons. Here, you will find all the guides and tips you need to know about safety in Iran. Read the article, get all your questions answered, and then pack your back for going on a wonderful trip to Iran as one of the friendliest countries in the world.
Table of Contents:
- Is Iran safe to travel?
- Is it safe to visit Iran?
- Is Iran safe for US citizens, British citizens, and Canadian citizens?
- Is Iran safe for women travelers?
- Is crime a serious issue in Iran?
- Is it safe to travel within the borders of Iran?
- Do Iranian Police and Security Forces harass the tourists?
- Is it safe to travel to Iran with the kids and family?
- Is it safe to drive on Iran roads?
- What are the wrong things that attract the police’s attention in Iran?
- Is Iran safe?
Is Iran safe to travel?
The short answer is definitely yes! Iran is safe and Lonely Planet describes it in the best way possible, “Iran is generally a very safe place to travel, so much so that many travellers describe it as the safest country I’ve ever been to, or much safer than traveling in Europe.”
It is a must to feel safe when visiting historical sites of Pasargadae and Persepolis, strolling along fragrant Persian gardens or wandering around Iran’s crowded bazaars.
Is it safe to visit Iran?
Iran is a safe country to visit, better to say one of the safest countries in the Middle East. What you probably know about safety in Iran refers to what the mass media depicts as the real Iran.
It is time to challenge your preconceptions and your pre-trip mindset about Iran. Iranians are neither terrorists nor anti-tourist persons. Iran is safe for tourists and travelers if they take normal travel precautions. As a traveler, you will receive the warmest of welcomes in Iran, provided you respect local customs, traditional values, and dress code. Therefore, tourists with different religions and beliefs can travel to Iran, have fun, and feel its friendly atmosphere. Michael shares his Iran travel experience as he says, “Iranians are not only some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, but most people don’t realize that they are also some of the most highly educated.”
Is Iran safe for US citizens, British citizens, and Canadian citizens?
US citizens, British citizens, and Canadian citizens can safely travel to Iran as tourists. Though the political issues between the Iranian government and the governments of the above-mentioned countries have affected tourism and brought about some complexity, it does not mean that you cannot travel to Iran and enjoy your journey as a US, UK or Canadian tourist. If you wish to have a trip to Iran, all you need to do is to book your guided Iran tour, and then get your Iran visa as a US, UK or Canadian citizen. To avoid making sensitivity, do not make any public political statements. Instead, find out the truth that political problems between the governments have nothing to do with Iranians’ hospitality toward travelers. Iranians mostly have the warmest feelings for western tourists. Therefore, it is not odd if they invite you to their homes for having dinner or lunch together and exchanging attitudes toward various issues.
Is Iran safe for women travelers?
Iran is safe for women travelers or better to say for solo female travelers. When it comes to traveling alone, safety gets much more important. Some women travelers believe that Iran is the best option in the Middle East for a woman to travel alone; however, as a woman, you need to take more precautions and know some issues before beginning your journey to Iran.
In Iran’s most popular cities for tourists such as Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Yazd where one can visit UNESCO heritage sites as well as other cultural or natural attractions, you will see many solo female travelers around and there is no reason to worry about safety. One important issue to consider is the outfit. Women in Iran should wear a long tunic over their regular clothes and are obliged to cover their heads with a scarf. A suitable outfit for women differs from one city to another or even from one district in a city to another district in the same city. In some cities, you can wear colorful tunics while in some conservative cities or villages, it is better to avoid wearing tight and revealing clothes to switch the attention of the surroundings from your appearance. Iranian women know what outfits are suitable for different places not to get harassed; however, as foreigners, you do not have enough time to explore every corner of Iran to discover what to wear. Therefore, our advice to you is to wear long and loose tunics.
Another issue to consider is that public displays of affection between men and women are not allowed in Iran and it is good for you to feel safer. Local people do not tolerate it if you receive inappropriate contact or experience harassment. They would soon react and do their best to help you if you inform them of the problem.
Public transportation within cities is also completely safe for women. Subways have cars at both ends dedicated to women; moreover, men and women are supposed to sit separately on buses. Usually, men are supposed to sit in the front of the bus and women at the back of the bus or vice versa. Moreover, for traveling from one city to another one, a man is not allowed to sit by a woman unless she is willing to. Fortunately, the number of caring men is considerably more than the number of men who are sexually ill; however, the transportation system in Iran pays more attention to women’s safety and comfort.
In crowded places such as bazaars-unfortunately like anywhere else in the world-, you might experience groping. Then, be more cautious and ask the locals or the police to intervene if you could not manage the situation.
Avoid traveling alone to abandoned places or far villages. Though there are many Iranian women and foreign solo female travelers who have travelled through Iran and have described Iran as one of the safest destinations for women, we prefer to inform you of all possible dangerous situations.
Is crime a serious issue in Iran?
The reality is that crime is everywhere, even in countries that host millions of tourists annually. Iran is not an exception either. However, the good news about Iran is that committing a crime against tourists is rare there and doing anything wrong against them is frowned upon.
According to Lonely Planet, “Violent crime against foreigners is extremely rare and, indeed, if you do your best to fit in with local customs, you are unlikely to be treated with anything but courtesy and friendliness – that applies to Americans, too.”
Therefore, if you take the normal precautions, you can safely wander around city attractions, hitchhike across deserts, trek through forests, stay in the homes of strangers, and make the most out of your Iran journey.
In crowded areas such as subway stations or bazaars, keep your valuables in your inside zipper pocket to avoid getting pickpocketed. Though hotels are quite safe in Iran, lock your bags not to worry about anything. Our advice to you is to protect your belongings especially your passport, cellphone, tablet, laptop, camera, and wallet or purse and keep them with you at all times.
Is it safe to travel within the borders of Iran?
The fact is that Iran is a vast country and safety varies from one city to another or even from one district to another district. Generally, it is safe to travel to the majority of cities and villages of Iran without confronting any difficulty. Anyhow, most of the government travel advisory services would advise against traveling within the areas close to the borders between Iran and Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, and so forth. It makes sense to be more cautious about traveling in such areas; however, it is safe to travel within the borders of Iran under some circumstances.
For instance, the province of Sistan and Baluchestan has some of the most astonishing attractions and, more significantly, some of the friendliest people on the earth. You will regret it if you miss the chance to visit such an amazing province in Iran just because it is located close to the borders between Iran and Pakistan. Many Iranians travel to this wonderland and enjoy its amazing attractions. Since you are not well-informed about safety within Sistan and Baluchestan, it is better to avoid traveling alone. Instead, ask reliable tour operators or local tour guides to accompany you and show you the hidden beauties such as Darak beaches, mud volcano, and Tang port in the heart of this wonderful place. For me, traveling to Chabahar was the most amazing travel experience I have ever had in Iran. It is a big miss not to explore this great part of Iran, while it might be the best piece of your Iran travel puzzle.
Do Iranian police and security forces harass the tourists?
You will find uniformed police everywhere especially in cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, and Mashhad. They could be helpful to you as tourism police to make sure you have a safe journey in Iran. Michael says, “no one watched me while I was there, including my guide. I didn’t have anything but positive interactions with police officers (who were always helpful when I asked for directions).” Iranian Police and Security Forces will not harass tourists unless they find them doing something wrong.
Is it safe to travel to Iran with kids and Family?
The answer is yes!
Iran is safe to travel with kids and families. Iran is not a challenging country to travel with children. High hygiene standards, excellent public transport, delicious foods, amazing parks and playgrounds, and more importantly welcoming Iranians make it quite possible to travel to Iran with kids and families.
It might be interesting to know that Iran is very family-oriented. Iranians give high value to their families and it is quite casual to see Iranian families gathering together at the weekends in the parks or at each other’s homes to spend time together, play together, have fun together, and more enjoyably share lunch or dinner together. The fact that Iranians go on the picnic with their kids and families indicates that Iran is a safe country and there is no reason to avoid traveling with kids.
Kidnapping is not a concerning issue; however, our serious advice is to take care of your kids. Keep an eye on your kids and ask them to stay close to you especially in crowded places such as bazaars or amusement parks. It is even better to hold your child’s hand. Traveling to Iran with children may turn into a great and unforgettable memory for you and your cute kids just as it did for Thomas and Anna.
Is it safe to drive on Iran roads?
To be honest with you, driving on the roads of Iran or crossing the street could be a real problem for tourists and travelers. People usually do not obey driving rules and they pay less attention to the traffic lights. Iranians’ driving is unpredictable on roads; however, traffic rules and regulations have got stricter over recent years to decrease the dangers of driving on roads or crossing streets. If you want to cross the street, wait until the traffic light turns red and the pedestrian light turns green. Keep an eye on the motorbikes because they are careless about traffic lights and they might bring about the difficulty for you when crossing the street. Moreover, when crossing the street, watch the opposite direction as well. Some motorbikes might drive in the opposite direction of the street. If your taxi driver drives fast and does not pay attention to the rules, ask him/her to slow down. The police control bus drivers regularly; therefore, you will feel more comfortable if you travel by bus. Then, we recommend that you not drive on the roads of Iran. Instead, leave it to someone who knows Iran roads well.
What are the wrong things that attract the police’s attention in Iran?
Photographing the wrong thing or the forbidden place:
Taking photos is forbidden at some places such as embassies of foreign countries, some military buildings, and some governmental buildings. Usually, there are banners or signs to inform you of this issue. Then, avoid taking photos at these places. If you took a photo of something wrong and the police noticed you, let them know you are a tourist and did not know you cannot take a photo, and then delete the photo and avoid arguing in these situations.
On roads, the police take part in drug trafficking control. Therefore, it is normal to see them stop cars and buses, especially near borders to do their job. Carrying or drinking alcohol is also banned in Iran and it is an issue to keep in mind during your travel.
Moreover, you are supposed to carry your passport at all times. Since hotels keep the passengers’ passports for police inspection, you need to have some copies of your passport and visa not to get in trouble. Then, be aware of the rules and regulations in Iran and behave according to them to fully enjoy your travel.
Is Iran safe?
You are the one to determine how safe you will be in Iran as everywhere else in the world. If you respect Iranians’ culture and customs and take the above-mentioned precautions, you will have a fantastic travel experience and, more significantly, you will see your preconceptions disappear. Anthony Bourdain traveled to Iran in 2014. According to him, “the Iran you see from the inside, once you walk the streets of Tehran, once you meet Iranians, is a very different place than the Iran you know from the news.”