Fly from the UK to Imam Khomeini International Airport, where a local representative will meet you and take you to your hotel.
Stay: One night in a Tehran hotel.
This is a brilliant start to your discovery of Iran. You’ll be able to visit Golestan Palace and Museum, the Marble Throne Room and gardens. You’ll also see displays of artefacts, glassware and ceramics dating back to the sixth and seventh millennium BC in Iran’s National Museum, plus visit the Grand Bazaar, Azadi Tower and Imam Khomeini Mosque before driving to Kashan.
Stay: One night in a Kashan hotel.
In Kashan you can discover the old quarter with its historic houses, visit the bazaar and stroll through the Safavid period Garden of Fin with its traditional open pavilions. Then drive off to the city of Isfahan with its famous bridges, calling at the timeless village of Abyaneh on the way.
The next morning the beautiful 17th century capital city of the Safavids is revealed. It offers you any number of wondrous sights: the Armenian Quarter with its churches and Cathedral of Vank and grand squares like Maidan-e-Naghshe-e-Jahan.
You’ll visit the 36 metre high Ai-Qapu Palace and two of the Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Blue Imami and the Sheikh Lotfollah – with their outstanding architecture and tilework. You’ll see the Shaking Minaret, haggle in the Bazaar and watch miniaturists and carpet-makers at work as you browse through a thousand years of Persian history.
Stay: Three nights in an Isfahan hotel.
After calling in at the Friday Mosque in Nain and the Naarin Fortress, you travel on to Yazd. Here you’ll visit the famous Zoroastrian Towers of Silence before checking into your hotel in Yazd. Next day you’ll have time to walk around this atmospheric city; immersing yourself in the splendour of the 14th century Friday Mosque with the highest portal and minarets in Iran, plus the marvellous mudbrick architecture, Zorastrian Fire Temple, Dowlatabad Garden, and Water Museum. There are still more wonders in the old city of Fahadan, plus wind towers and Alexander’s Prison.
Stay: Two nights in a Yazd hotel.
Leave Yazd for Kerman and your Iranian voyage of discovery continues. In Kerman you can immerse yourself in the mysticism of Sufism in the Moshtaq Alishah Mausoleum, as well as visiting old-style Iranian hammams in Ganjalikhan’s bathhouse, Kerman Friday Mosque, the bazaar and the Moayedi conical ice store.
A day’s outing will take you to the deserted citadel of Rayen, stopping off to explore the Shah Nematollah e Vali Mausoleum and Shazdeh Gardens in Mahan. Back in Kerman you’ll have time to wander through the streets absorbing the local culture.
Stay: Three nights in a Kerman hotel.
A long drive winds through dramatic scenery, taking in highlights like Neyriz and Maharloo Salt Lake, as well as the Sassanid Palace of Bahram along the way.
Stay: Three nights in a Shiraz hotel.
Today you step back into history; Persepolis is the ceremonial capital of the Achemenid kings, featuring the remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes – the era brought to life by bas reliefs of kings and courtiers from across the Persian Empire. At Nagsh ar-Rostam you’ll see the Fire Temple Sanctuary.
Shiraz also plunges you into the historic sights of the Karimkhani citadel, Eram Gardens, Vakil Mosque and Bazaar, Nasirolmolk Mosque, and the tombs of Sa’adi and Hafez. It’s a city tour in time, as well as space.
Your discovery of fantastic Iran is at an end. You transfer to Shiraz International Airport for your flight back home.
What was particularly impressive was the way in which Catherine listened to what we like to do and combined all of this in a destination we would not have considered - a truly terrific effort.- OL, Caribbean, 2014