When travelers visit Iran for the first time, sometimes it can be overwhelming because there are so many attractions and places to visit. Iran’s classic cities alone can fill up an itinerary to the brim. But if it’s your second time visiting Iran, or if cities and historical sights are not your jam, and you’d prefer to get in touch with Iran’s rural culture and visit a truly authentic and one-of-a-kind village life, then this list is the way to go. In this blog article, we’ve rounded up some of Iran’s classic and lesser-known villages, that you can squeeze in your itinerary. Amazing architecture, interesting local cuisine, and warm hospitality are what all of these Iran villages have in common.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Charming Iran Villages in the North
- 2. Central Iran Villages
- 3. North West Iran Villages
- 4. Authentic nomadic villages
- 5. Kurdish Villages
- 6. Southern Iran Villages
- 7. Eastern Iran villages
- 8. Esfahk Historic Village
1. Charming Iran Villages in the North
Probably the most famous village in Iran, Masoule is a must-see attraction with its northern charm and incredible, stepped architecture that means every house is built on the lower house’s roof. When entering this beautiful village, the aroma of crushed cardamom and walnuts, the scent of freshly cooked Fooman cookies, wafts in the air. Masoule is in Gilan province and it is surrounded by lush green sceneries. You can even spend a night at a hotel nearby or at a village house, whatever your preference is.
2. Central Iran Villages
Abyane, situated 40 kms northwest of Natanz in Isfahan province, is known as the red village in Iran. Abyane is famous for its red adobe houses and beautiful traditional clothes worn by its women. The white, floral scarf being a signature part of their looks.
Choopanan is known to be the most orderly adobe village in the world. The aerial views of this village resemble a chess field, and no alley ends in a dead-end. Choopanan in Farsi means “shepherds”, which refers to the fact that shepherds used to bring their animals to this village to drink water. In this village, the desert architecture stands out and every house has a wind catcher structure that lets them stay cool during the scorching hot summers. Palm trees can be found everywhere and in every front yard, making this village look like the ideal desert getaway.
3. North West Iran Villages
In northwest of Iran, 60 kms south of Tabriz city, lies this 7000-year-old village and architectural phenomenon. Kandovan was built when material for building houses was hard to come by, and houses had to withstand the extremely harsh winters of the region. In Kandovan, houses are dug straight in the heart of the mountain, giving it a very unique look. There are only two other villages like Kandovan in the whole world, but Kandovan is the only one that is still habituated. Honey, grape molasses, walnuts, and dried fruit are some of the local products that you can buy at this village.
Liqvan is the home to Iran’s most famous cheese. Located 36 km east of Tabriz and in the valleys surrounded by the Sahand mountain range, it’s no surprise that this Iranian village became the birthplace of a favorite cheese in Iran. Liqvan is surrounded by tall mountains which gives it ample water from the rivers and as a result, its pastures are filled with many medicinal wild herbs. Because of these qualities, these valleys and pastures were the perfect place for the nomad tribes of northwest of Iran (for example the Shahsevan tribe) to graze their flocks of sheep and goats. Since these sheep get to roam freely and feast on the best wild herbs, their milk, and cheese, have far better qualities. Liqvan cheese is kind of salty and pairs extremely well with walnuts, or cucumbers and tomatoes.
4. Authentic nomadic villages
Maymand is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of Iran’s most ancient villages. In Maymand, village houses are hand-dug out of cliffs and rocks, and have been inhabited for several millennia. Some say that Maymand is as old as 12000 years, which means it was here since the middle stone ages. Pottery and stone inscription dating back to 6000 years ago have been found around this village which support these claims. Inhabitants of Maymand live a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
1. Surrounded by tall imposing mountains all around, which make this village hard to locate and thus less touristy and more authentic, Khoye is an organic village where anything you eat is seasonal and locally grown without the use of any chemical pesticides. In a world where non-GMO food is almost impossible to come by, staying at Khoye village and feasting on an all-natural diet can be a therapeutic experience for all, especially those who seek to meditate and cleanse their body and soul. Some of the main handicrafts of this village include rugs, carpets, and other similar products such as Gilim, Choogha (traditional nomad men’s outfit) and nomadic black tent (Siah Chador). When you walk through Khoye village, you’ll see women and girls that are busy spinning goat hair and weaving rugs and fabrics in their balconies.
Baznavid, in Chahar Mahal province, is a unique semi-nomadic village, which means when the summer arrives the people of this village go to the surrounding hills and mountain tops to spend the warm season. When you enter Baznavid, you first go through a very old, steep cemetery that has historic headstones in the shape of lions, that probably indicate the graves of warriors or brave men. The graves of women are marked with a comb symbol. Inhabitants of this village grow crops such as rice and lentils, which is interesting to think about because we’re not used to seeing rice being cultivated in a mountainous area.
4.4. Sar Agha Seyed
Sar Agha Seyed is another stepped village located near the Zagros mountain range. When you open the windows of a village house, you’ll be faced with an exquisite mountain view and crisp air. This is also a semi-nomadic village, which means the best time to visit is during the summer and spring. When autumn arrives, the nomads of this village move to warmer southern pastures to avoid the winter. This village is also next to salt mines that made it a very important pit stop for nomad families especially during the old times when access to cities and towns for buying provisions was a lot harder
5. Kurdish Villages
Located in the Kurdistan province nestled on the side of a mountain, Uramanat (or Hooraman) is a picturesque village. Just like Masouleh, this village has also a stepped architecture. What makes Uramanat very special, is a unique festival called “Pir-e-Shalyar” which happens twice a year, at the beginning of spring and autumn. In this festival, locals celebrate with traditional music, spiritual dancing, and eating a special kind of Ash. But even if you don’t arrive in time to witness this one-of-a-kind celebration, you can still enjoy the breathtaking views, beautiful weather, and organic local food in this charming village in Iran.
6. Southern Iran Villages
6.1. Bahoo kalat
Located near Chabahar, in the south-eastern most part of Iran, Bahoo Kalat is the home to the nearly extinct Persian Gando crocodile. These short-snouted crocodiles were almost going extinct because of continuous droughts that dried the river, but with the help of a responsible local, these crocodiles are thriving once again. The people of this village believe that Gando crocodiles bring rain and prosperity to the river. Besides crocodile-watching, spending time under the mango and palm orchards in this unique village and drinking spiced milk-chai are some of the things you can enjoy in this village.
7. Eastern Iran villages
Located in the south Khorasan province, near the Afghanistan border, Makhoonik is one of the strangest villages in Iran. Up to a few decades ago, drinking black tea, eating meat, smoking cigarettes, and watching TV were considered taboo in this village. People of this village still don’t smoke cigarettes. Makhoonik is known as the Liliput of Iran because its people are a lot shorter than the average height, and so the houses also have small doors. Its strange customs and people are what draws tourists to this village.
Azmiqan is an incredible green jewel of a village, located in the heart of the desert in South Khorasan province. With its rushing rivers, the people of Azmiqan are able to cultivate vegetables, citrus trees, palm trees, and the most awe-striking of all: rice. You can enjoy the peaceful desert nights and go for a dip in the river in the mornings.
8.2. Esfahk Historic Village
In 16th September 1978, a big, devastating earthquake happened in Tabas City in South Khorasan Province in the East of Iran. Not only Tabbas but also 40 villages including the oasis village of Esfahak was destroyed. As a result, almost all mud-brick buildings in the village of Esfahak fell into ruin. The people left the village and moved to 200 meters away to build the new Esfahak. But, it doesn’t mean that the old lush green Esfahak, surrounded by desert, date palms, and salt steppe was left in ruins. The younger generation embarked on reconstructing the old Esfahak & its historic traditions; houses with domed roofs made of mud, traditional bathrooms (Khazineh), local music of the village & its local food and cuisine.