Iran Small Group Holiday - Beyond the Veil

Undiscovered Iran - Beyond the Veil

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Iran is a country that has occupied the western imagination for years, an enigmatic land with traditions and cultures very different from our own. Its position on the Silk Road meant that it was conquered, fought over and settled by many different civilisations, and the resulting cultural heritage finds few equals. This tour travels north of Tehran through the beautiful valleys of the Alborz Mountains, follows the shores of the Caspian Sea, and takes us into Iranian Azerbaijan .Discover Assassins castles, a Troglodyte village and the northern city of Tabriz. This is a less visited area of Iran but worthy of the attention of travellers.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●●●● | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

  • The history drenched Valley of the Assassins
  • The Troglodyte houses of the village of Kandovan
  • The renowned carvings on the UNSECO recognised cliff area of Bisotun

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel accommodation
Included Meals: Daily Breakfast (B), plus Lunches (L) and Dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum 12
Start Point: Tehran
End Point: Tehran
Transport: Private cars or minibuses
Countries: Iran

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – Tehran

Arrive in Tehran and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore the city. Overnight stay at Hoveyzeh Hotel or similar.


Established as the capital of Persia just over 200 years ago, this huge, modern and heavily populated city, does not have the romance or the ancient sites which attract visitors to many other parts of Iran, but it is the place to find the country's best museums, restaurants and shopping. Tehran is vast and can be daunting, yet this giant capital was only a village until the end of the 18th century. Although it is not an ancient city like Shiraz or Isfahan, Tehran offers something else – forbidding murals of Ayatollah Khomeini gaze down at you from high rise buildings and it is of course home to the American Embassy, now known as the ‘den of espionage’ in which numerous diplomats and other US citizens were held during the infamous hostage crisis.

Day 2 – Tehran

A day of sightseeing in Tehran. In the morning we visit the Golestan Palace as well as the bazaar area, and in the afternoon the National Jewels Museum. Overnight stay at Hoveyzeh Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Alamut- Qazvin

Leave Tehran behind and drive north to the beautiful Alamut region with its hillside villages and lovely mountain scenery. Travelling through the “Valley of the Assassins” we will have the opportunity to visit Lambesar and Alamut Castles, the latter sitting at 2163 metres above sea level. Continue on to Qazvin for the night. Overnight stay at Mar Mar Hotel or similar. (B)

Valley of the Assassins

As the Fatimid regime in Egypt and beyond began to crumble in the 1060s the Ismaili community in Iran set to work to secure the valley of the River Alamut and their villages. They constructed a chain of fortresses which were defended by highly trained men who would defend their leaders and homes to the death and gained a reputation as “The Valley of the Assassins”. They maintained control until 1256 when the Mongol commander seized the leader of the Iranian Ismaili community leading to a massacre and the surrender of the fortresses.

Day 4 – Qazvin- Rasht

We start the day with a visit to the Tehran Gate which is all that remains of the ancient walled city of Qazvin. We continue on to the Shazdeh Hossein holy shrine and the impressive Jame Mosque. From here we journey towards the Caspian Sea passing by paddy fields, tea plantations, orangeries, and the local markets where the people still wear traditional dress. From here we continue to Rasht passing by Rudbar which is famous for its olives. Overnight stay at Kadus Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 5 – Ardebil-Sarein

Following the shores of the Caspian Sea our journey takes us into Iranian Azerbaijan. We will take a boat onto Anzali Lagoon before continuing to Ardebil, once governed by the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where we will visit the UNESCO site of the Sheikh Safi Mausoleum. Drive towards Sarein where we will spend the night. Overnight stay at Laleh Hotel or similar.(B)

Day 6- Tabriz

There is time this morning to enjoy a visit to the hot springs before leaving Sarein for Tabriz. On arrival we explore the highlights of the city including the Citadel, the Blue Mosque, and the Azarbaijan Museum. Overnight stay at Gostaresh Hotel or similar.(B)

Day 7- Church of Saint Thaddeus

A day excursion takes us to Maku and the impressive Church of Saint Thaddeus. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is among the oldest surviving Christian monuments in Iran, and of great importance to the Armenian Orthodox community. Return to Tabriz. Overnight stay at Gostaresh Hotel or similar.(B)

Day 8- Kandovan Village

Today we visit the Bazaar before we head to Kandovan village, famous for its extraordinary Troglodyte houses, similar to those of the Cappadocia area of Turkey. Some are over eight hundred years old and many are still occupied. Overnight stay in Laleh Hotel. (B)

Day 9- Takht-e-Soleiman- Sanabdaj

A long day of driving lies ahead (490 kms, approx 6  hrs) as we enter the Kurdish province of Sanandaj, stopping first at the dramatic UNESCO World Heritage site of Takht e Soleiman. The site has a large volcanic lake and an extinct volcano. Overnight stay at Tourist Inn or similar. (B)

Day 10- Bisotun- Kangovar - Hamadan

Begin the day with a stop at Bisotun, a UNESCO protected cliff area bearing many carvings and inscriptions, honouring Darius the Great among others. Continue on to the town of Kangovar and the Anahita Temple once a major place of worship. From here we head to Hamadan in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, conquered by Alexander the Great, and the scene of the death of his general and close friend Hephaestion. We visit the tombs of the biblical characters Ester and Mordecai, an important Jewish Pilgrimage site. Overnight stay at Baba Taher Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 11 -Tehran

A long day of driving (400kms) sees us return to Tehran. Overnight stay at Hoveyzeh Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 12 – Tehran

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Arrival and departure transfers. If you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation then transfers for those dates will be at an additional cost.
Transport throughout
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance

Why not combine this tour with the Treasures of Ancient Persia tour, which runs directlybefore the Beyond the Veil tour on most of the dates?


Other tours in Iran

Iran - Treasures of Ancient Persia »