Top reasons why you should skip the Alps and go on a ski holiday to Iran
When it comes to skiing and snowboarding at the best ski resorts and off-piste skiing destinations in the world, the picturesque peaks of Iran, its highest ski resorts, and its marvelous powder fields would rarely come across the mind. It is hard to believe that Iran as the land of vast deserts also boasts the greatest untapped skiing destinations most of the passionate skiers and snowboarders have never heard of. The truth is that Iran has ski runs more challenging than the scariest ski runs in the world. Moreover, its high altitude ski resorts overshadow even the highest ski resorts in the Alps. “For experienced skiers who have ticked off many of the resorts in the Alps, exotic skiing destinations renowned for their powder hold a special allure. Kashmir, Japan, Russia, and Chile are among dream destinations but the ultimate edgy ski trip has to be to Iran”, as Guardian describes.
Here, you will find top reasons why you should skip the Alps and go on a ski holiday to Iran so that you could confidently choose Iran as your next ski destination and enjoy your Iran ski holiday.
Table of Contents:
- Iran is a mountainous country
- Iran has high ski resorts
- Iran enjoys the long ski season
- Iran is a backcountry paradise
- Iran has deep powder for skiing
- Iran is a cheap ski destination
- Iran offers affordable ski hotels and chalets
- Iran has international ski resorts
- Iran boasts high ski resorts near Tehran
- Iran offers a different après-ski culture
- Iran is famous for Iranians’ hospitality
- Ski in Iran and explore Iran’s culture and nature
- Skiing in Iran in a nutshell
Iran is a mountainous country
Iran is a mountainous country and different mountain chains cover over 50 percent of the land. The highest peak in Iran is Mount. Damavand (5610m) that is just 285m shorter than Kilimanjaro as the highest mountain in Africa. Alborz and Zagros are the two outstanding mountain ranges of Iran embracing hundreds of summits higher than 4000m. They also embrace over 20 high ski resorts with excellent snow conditions, great terrains, and amazing landscapes. Avid skiers and snowboarders have this great chance to enjoy the well-groomed pistes of Iran ski resorts or seek for more adrenaline skiing through the steep slopes perfect for backcountry skiing.
Iran has high ski resorts
Iran’s high altitudes overshadow some of the highest ski resorts in the Alps. They enjoy the perfect snow condition and the best views of the Alborz and the Zagros Mountains. There are plenty of high altitude resorts and off-piste areas in Iran; therefore, you could ideally choose ski resorts that sit around 3000m or higher.
Tochal ski resort as the highest ski resort in Iran boasts slopes starting from an altitude of 3850m and ending at an altitude of 3550m.
Dizin Ski resort as the first and the biggest ski resort in Iran sits at an elevation of 2650m (8694 feet) in the Alborz Mountains.
Shemshak ski resort as a great mogul ski resort enjoys the high altitude of 3050m, and Darbandsar ski resort as a perfect place for backcountry skiing has pistes sitting at an altitude of 3150m.
Alvares ski resort, Sahand ski resort, Pooladkaf ski resort, and Yam ski resort are also the other high ski resorts in Iran offering easy areas with groomed terrains safe for on-piste skiing as well as fresh backcountry opportunities perfect for freeride skiing and snowboarding.
Iran enjoys the long ski season
Iran enjoys long ski season beginning in late November and ending in early May; however, it might last until the end of May or even June depending on the snow condition.
If you want to try the Persian powder, the best period for skiing in Iran is from early January to late March. Moreover, it is better to go skiing from Saturday through Wednesday to avoid crowded ski resorts as Iranian weekends are on Thursdays and Fridays. Iran’s best ski resorts are also overcrowded during the Nowruz, Iranian new year (March 19 to April 3).
Iran is a backcountry paradise
High- altitude ski resorts and untapped off-piste areas covered in light dry powder make Iran a backcountry paradise for adventurous skiers and snowboarders. Mount. Damavand, as the highest peak (5610m) in the Middle East and Iran, is one of the most thrilling off-piste skiing areas in the world. Moreover, Iran will offer lesser-known ski resorts perfect for freeride skiing and snowboarding if you are confident in tackling black runs, moguls, and steep slopes. Since locals stick to the marked slopes, plenty of fresh tracks at ski resorts await free-riders. Dizin, Shemshak, and Darbandsar as the best ski resorts near Tehran have suburb off-piste areas accessed by lifts.
Damavand, Dena, Alamkuh, Zardkuh, and Binalood are also among the highest summits of Alborz and Zagros mountains and they will provide the most thrilling off-piste adventure experience in Iran. However, the best way to seek fresh powder, avoid avalanche risk, and ensure maximum safety is to ski with a professional guide who knows all about skiing in Iran. Since the rescue operation takes longer in Iran than in the Alps, be cautious and well-equipped to avoid breaking a leg when enjoying off-piste skiing in Iran.
Iran has deep powder for skiing
Iran Mountains offer perfect powder rivaling that of the Rockies. Huge snowfalls through the winter turn Iran Mountains into the powder paradise. Skiing powder snow usually begins in January and ends in late March or April depending on the weather conditions. Dizin ski resort and complex is one of the best ski resorts for skiing powder snow. That is the place where adventure lovers enjoy the super dry snow perfect for backcountry skiing. Since locals prefer skiing within the groomed pistes, free-riders have the opportunity to enjoy the fresh snow and deep powder runs especially from Saturday through Wednesday when the pistes are mostly empty.
Iran is a cheap ski destination
Though skiing in the best of the Alps ski resorts would cost you a lot, it is still possible to ski on a budget and enjoy this exciting winter sport by choosing a different ski destination. Iran as a cheap ski destination will provide value for your money. While the prices of lift passes in many resorts are high, a lift pass will not cost you more than €30 a day in the best ski resorts of Iran. Renting skiing and snowboarding equipment such as goggles, boards, skis, helmets, technical clothes, and boots is also cheaper than that in the European ski resorts. One day rental for equipment packages varies from €20 to €50 depending on the type of equipment you are renting and how long you are renting it for.
Iran offers affordable ski hotels and chalets
You can always find budget-friendly hotels, hostels, apartments, and chalets in Iran. Booking standard hotels in the main cities will cost you about €30 per night while booking hostels will cost you approximately €8 to €15. Though booking hotels or renting apartments in cities far from ski resorts is more budget-friendly, you can still afford ski-in-ski-out hotels such as Dizin hotel and Shemshak hotel costing you €45 to €100 and enjoy watching the picturesque peaks of Alborz while spending the night in a mountainous area mostly covered with snow.
It also makes sense to rent chalets if you are traveling with a group of 6 to 16 people. Dizin ski chalets are located within a walking distance from the skiing area and they will cost the group €150 to €300 per night depending on the group size and the day of the week (chalets are more expensive during Iranian weekends).
There are also luxurious hotels for travelers whose priority is not the budget but the splendor of the lodging. Labeled as the coolest ski hotel in the world, Barin hotel is a stunning work of modern Iranian architecture. That is the right place for skiers and snowboarders to relax in the warm comfort of its cozy rooms and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Alborz Mountains.
Iran has international ski resorts
The International Ski Federation has recognized Tochal, Dizin, Darbandsar, and Shemshak ski resorts suitable for hosting global competitions and international league championships. The ski resorts offer different runs for alpine, cross country, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. That is why they annually welcome many adventurous skiers, snowboarders, and even non-skiers from around the world and let them enjoy various winter sports. However, Iran ski resorts are not confined to winter sports and they offer a variety of other activities. For instance, Dizin ski resort as a year-round recreation center hosts grass skiing competitions in summer.
Iran boasts high ski resorts near Tehran
Dizin, Shemshak, Darbandsar, Tochal, Khor, and Abali are the best ski resorts and off-piste skiing areas near Tehran, the capital of Iran. Fortunately, they are not off-the-radar resorts and it takes a maximum of three hours to get to the high ski resorts near Tehran.
Tochal ski resort as the highest ski resort in Iran is located right in the city and it takes about 15 minutes to get there from Tajrish square in the north of Tehran.
Dizin, Darbandsar, and Shemshak are the three neighboring ski resorts great for one-day ski trips. It takes less than three hours to get to each of the three neighboring ski resorts. Dizin, Shemshak, and Darbandsar are challenging enough for adrenaline-seeking skiers and snowboarders. Therefore, passionate skiers can enjoy deep snow and steep slopes while snowboarders can enjoy the bumpy mogul runs.
After a long day skiing on the slopes near the capital, you have enough time to visit Tehran as well. Dedicate one day (or more) to sightseeing in Tehran, because it has great palaces, museums, cafes, street foods, bazaars, parks, and mountains to entertain you for hours. Golestan palace- as the only UNESCO site in Tehran-, Museum of national jewelry, Iran archeological museum, Si-e-Tir street, Pol-e-Tabiat (nature bridge), Tajrish Bazaar, Tehran Grand Bazaar, Darband, and Darakeh are just some of the many attractions you would love to visit in Tehran.
Iran offers a different après-ski culture
After spending an exciting day hitting the slopes, it is time for a memorable après-ski experience. Though there are many Après-ski drinks, foods, and activities to enjoy in most of the alpine ski resorts, après-ski culture is a bit different in Iran. Since drinking alcohol is forbidden, you should not drink wine or beer in Iran. Fortunately, Iran has a strong après- ski culture that is not limited to a drink or two after skiing and you will find many other activities and things to do instead.
Many slope-side cafes and restaurants offer foods and drinks that take the chill out of your bones and warm you up from the inside. Ash (Persian thick soup), Adasi (Persian lentil soup), a cup of tea or coffee, and different kinds of Persian foods and fast foods whetting your appetite are some of the après- ski foods and drinks you could enjoy while appreciating the precious moments chatting with your Iranian friends.
Regarding your après-ski outfits, you can look fashionable just like any other place; however, do not forget to observe dressing codes in Iran. Relaxing in spas is another way to enjoy the pleasures of après-ski. For instance, Alvares ski resort is one of the largest ski resorts in Iran and it takes about 30- minute drive to reach Sarein spa where you could relieve muscle soreness after a day skiing on the slopes. Since ski resorts are mostly close to the main cities of Iran, you have this great chance to enjoy sightseeing as well. Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Yazd are the main Iranian cities to absorb you with fantastic UNESCO world heritage sites.
Iran is famous for Iranians’ hospitality
Travel to Iran not only to experience the thrill of the steep slopes but also to discover the remarkable hospitality Iranians are famous for. Iranians are among the most welcoming people on earth. It takes no effort to have a conversation with them and learn about their rich history, know their ideology, or hear their life stories. After skiing all day long, it is likely to be invited by your new Iranian friends to drink some tea or eat some Persian foods such as delicious Ghormeh Sabzi, scrumptious Fesenjoon, or Succulent kebabs and Joojeh Kebabs. The kindness of Iranians will enrich your Iran ski holiday experience and it will make you positively change your point of view. Once back home, you may also love to share your memorable experiences with your friends and families for encouraging them to visit Iran as well.
Ski in Iran and explore Iran’s culture and nature
Iran enjoys great historical and cultural heritage sites. It has 22 cultural sites and 2 natural sites registered by UNESCO. Since ski resorts are mainly close to the cities, it is easy to organize cultural visits to explore the cultural face of Iran as well.
The outstanding architecture of mosques and bazaars, delicious foods, picturesque nature, and friendly people are the attractions that you will enjoy when traveling to Iran. Visit Persian gardens in Shiraz, wander around Naqsh-e-Jahan square in Isfahan, admire the awesome architecture of Jameh mosque in Yazd, and stroll around Golestan palace in Tehran to have an unforgettable trip to Iran.
While off the slopes you will experience an amazing culture, you have the chance to discover other exotic adventures as well. Rock climbing, ice climbing, desert trekking, canyoning, paragliding, and birdwatching are the adventurous activities you can enjoy to enrich your Iran travel experience.
Skiing in Iran in a nutshell
Ski holiday in Iran will give you a memorable experience of Iran’s highest ski resorts, off-piste areas, affordable ski-in/ski-out hotels, cozy mountain cafes, deep ravines, steep slopes, chest-deep powder, and cheap lift tickets. It has slopes higher than that of the most famous ski resorts and ski runs more challenging than the scariest ski runs in the world. Compared to the European ski destinations, Iran has less developed infrastructures; however, Iran ski resorts boast long ski season (late November-mid May) and untapped skiing areas. Skiing in Iran will also allow you to enjoy sightseeing and visiting UNESCO world heritage sites in Tehran and other main cities of Iran.
Whether you are a beginner or a passionate skier or snowboarder questing for backcountry skiing, Iran has various offers to delight you with a unique ski experience. If you wish to skip the Alps and ski in a lesser-known ski destination, all you need to do is to get your Iran visa and pack your bags to go travel to Iran.