The Essential Shiraz Travel Guide

Are you planning to travel independently around Iran? If so, I’m sure the amazing city of Shiraz will be on your list. Here is our ultimate Shiraz travel guide to make the most of your time in Iran’s most romantic city!

Forget the traffic and crowds of Tehran! Shiraz couldn’t be more different. Visiting Shiraz means wandering through Persian history, spending your days between colourful bazaars, spectacular mosques, gardens with tinkling fountains, and other architectural marvels. 

The history of Shiraz stretches back millennia. The nearby towns of Pasargadae and Persepolis were once capitals of the Achaemenid Empire. Shiraz itself was briefly capital of the Persian Empire during the rule of Karim Khan Zand, until the title of capital city was moved to Tehran by Aga Mohammed Khan, founder of the Qajar dynasty

Shiraz remained the heartland of Persian language, literature, and civilization. It was the hometown of renowned poets like Hafez and Saadi, whose tombs you can still visit – and it is still home to some of the greatest sights in Iran, like the famous Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque with its stained glass windows.

Many of the Iranian friends we met in Isfahan mentioned Shiraz as an unmissable place to visit, and they all recommended a minimum of three days to check out all the things to do in Shiraz, plus one for a day trip to nearby Persepolis, Pasargadae and Pink Lake. 

Guess what – 3 days were barely enough to check out all the Shiraz attractions we wanted to see. That’s why we put together this Shiraz travel guide including things to do in Shiraz, when to visit, where to stay, and how to get to Shiraz. Enjoy!

When to Visit Shiraz

One of the best things about Shiraz is its weather, which remains sunny and warm even in winter. You won’t find the frigid temperatures of Tabriz and Tehran – during the day, it will be approximately 15°C even in the coldest months of the year, dropping close to freezing at night. 

Summers in Shiraz are hot and sweltering, with daytime max routinely exceeding 35°C, but luckily the city is full of parks and gardens where you can rest in the shade.

Rain is rare in Shiraz, so you’re likely to see clear, blue skies any time of the year.

The best time to visit Shiraz is probably Spring, especially March and April, when it’s warm and sunny, with temperatures still under 30°C during the day. You’ll also be surrounded by flower blossoms, scents, and the feeling of nature waking up after the long winter slumber.

The only issue is that it’s a very popular time to visit – be sure to book your hotel in advance!

12 Things to do in Shiraz

1) Visit Hafez Mausoleum

Shiraz is famous for being the birthplace of two famous poets – so it makes sense to start this Shiraz travel guide with the tomb of Shiraz’s most beloved poet.

Hafez was an Iranian poet from the 14th century, who composed some of the finest poems in Persian history. He had a hard life, and had to endure poverty and the Mongol invasion – despite all this, he composed hundreds of love poems, who are now engraved all over the gardens surrounding the mausoleum.

The tomb itself is a simple affair, a white stone coffin placed under a canopy decorated with mosaics and supported by copper pillars. 

Hafez Mausoleum is a very popular location for local families, who gather in the gardens to relax, pray, and read love poems – if you want to do the same, you can find some of his poems for sale at the bookshop, some even with English translations!

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 10 PM every day, extended till 11 PM on Friday
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000 rials

2) Saadi Mausoleum

Everyone knows Hafez, and as I mentioned before, the mausoleum is a popular Shiraz attraction for locals as well as tourists. 

If you want to spend time in a more secluded place, head to Saadi Mausoleum instead – the gardens surrounding it may not be as grandiose as Hafez’s, but the mausoleum itself is really striking with its bright turquoise roof.

Plus, Saadi was a famous traveller – he explored as far afield as modern-day India, Pakistan and all over the Arabian Peninsula, and went on pilgrimage to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. As travellers ourselves, we couldn’t miss paying homage to this great 14th century explorer!

  • Opening Hours: 7.30 AM – 10 PM Apr-Oct, 8 AM – 8.30 PM Nov-March.
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000 rials

3) See the Reflections at Nasir-al-Molk Mosque

shiraz travel pink mosque
Isn’t it worth travelling to Shiraz for?

Nasir-al-Molk, also known as the Pink Mosque, is one of the most unique architectural wonders of Iran, and definitely the #1 of all things to do in Shiraz!

Everything about this mosque is simply wonderful – from its usage of warm pink tiling to the intricate muqarnas (decorated vaults) and the fairytale-like ambiance created when the sun shines through its stained windows. Many people believe that the moniker ‘Pink Mosque’ comes from the stained glass reflections, but it’s in fact related to the pink tiling decorating the walls. 

Nasir-al-Molk Mosque dates back to the Qajar Dynasty (19th century), and it’s definitely one of the most photographed buildings in this part of the world. Its beauty stems from both the inside and the outside – just remember to visit in the morning, as  the stunning reflections that this mosque is famous for can only be experienced when sunlight hits the windows directly, usually until about 9 AM.

  • Opening Hours: 6.30 AM – 8 PM, preferably in the morning
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000 rials

4) Tour Shah Cheragh Mosque

Shiraz is full of stunning mosques – if you only have time to visit two, we recommend opting for Nasir-al-Molk and Shah Cheragh Mosque, another unmissable Shiraz point of interest!

This mosque is one of the holiest spots in the country for Shia Muslims, as it houses the tombs of brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, who sought shelter in the city during the Shia persecution at the hands of the Abbasid Caliphate, in the 10th century.

The atmosphere here is very different from Nasir-al-Molk – the latter is full of tourists and locals taking pictures, especially in the morning. On the other hand, Shah Cheragh is packed with worshippers, and photography is not always allowed – even though rules seem to change constantly.

In any case, even if you’re told that you can’t take pictures (as it was the case when we visited) it’s still worth going in – the main room looks like a disco ball turned inside out, with every inch covered in mirror glass shards.

The entire domed chamber is lit up with thousands of tiny lights, all creating a microcosm of illumination – in my opinion, Shah Chheragh alone is worth travelling to Shiraz for!

  • Opening Hours: 9 AM – 10 PM
  • Entrance Fee: Free

5) Shopping in Shiraz at Vakil Bazaar

Let’s move onto the next one on this list of things to do in this Shiraz travel guide – visit a bazaar to go shopping!

Bazaars are often bustling hubs of activity, and Vakil Bazaar is no different. If you’re planning to go shopping in Shiraz, you should head here – you’ll find a plethora of high-quality handcrafted goods including Persian carpets, ceramic, leather ware, antiquities and more.

Everything is sold at affordable prices – if you know how to bargain! You’ll definitely be tempted to buy things at every step!

It’s also worth paying attention to the architecture of Vakil Bazaar, which has remained the same for centuries. There has been a bazaar in this location for over 3000 years, but the current look of the place dates back to the 18th century, when Shiraz was the capital of the Persian empire.

The walls of the old inns and caravansaries are still present, and the nearby mosques, restaurants, and museums only add to the atmosphere.

6) Admire Vakil Traditional Baths

shiraz vakil bazaar
Amazing architecture at Vakil!

Public baths have always been common in Iran, but very few, if any, can match the sheer magnificence of Vakil Baths. They were constructed during the Zand Dynasty, around the same time as the bazaar, to be the finest hammam (traditional baths) in the country. 

Tha baths are no longer in use, but some mannequins have been set up showing proper ‘hammam etiquette’, making the experience of visiting the baths really enjoyable. Don’t miss adding this point of interest to your Shiraz travel list!

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM
  • Entrance Fee: 150,000

7) Relax in Azadi Park

If you want to chill, don’t miss visiting this Shiraz attraction! One of the oldest parks in the city, Azadi Park is truly worth visiting. It’s meticulously kept and maintained, because it’s one of the most popular parts of Shiraz for locals to meet up and hang out.

The lakeside is almost always bustling with activity, as people generally ride bikes around, exercise, or just hang out. There are quite a few shopping spots around the park as well as restaurants and hotels. It’s very popular with locals, so expect crowds during weekends.

8) Get Lost in Karim Khan Citadel

This enormous castle of epic proportions was built during Shiraz’s heyday in the 18th century – it is considered one of the most important historical buildings in the city, and definitely deserves to added to your Shiraz travel list!

First, it was home to the founder of the dynasty himself, Karim Khan Zand, who had made Shiraz the capital of his kingdom. Afterwards, it was inhabited by rulers of the Qajar Dynasty, then it became a prison, only to now be converted into a museum that details the long and colourful history of the castle and the region.

It is a fascinating historical sight that is meticulously kept and maintained – the interior is beautifully decorated with tiles and frescos, and you can still see the old hammam.

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 9 PM
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000

9) Escape the Crowds in Eram Garden

There is only one word that can describe the Eram Gardensheavenly. In fact, the Persian word eram derives from the Arabic iram, meaning heaven! These gardens are definitely one of the most beautiful gardens of Iran, filled with beautiful flowers, cypress trees, fountains, and even a tree that is said to be 3,000 years old. 

Eram Gardens are now part of the Shiraz Botanical Gardens, and they are UNESCO-listed. They represent a great example of traditional Islamic gardens, with pavilions  just as beautiful as the gardens themselves, with tiles are inscribed with poems from the famous poet Hafez. Eram Gardens are a great addition to your list of things to do in Shiraz!

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 7 PM
  • Entrance Fee: 250,000

10) Persepolis

shiraz persepolis
Don’t miss visiting Persepolis from Shiraz!

Once the capital of the richest empire of the world, Persepolis was founded over 2,500 years ago, and it became the administrative centre of the Persian Empire. The ruins of Persepolis are about 45 minutes from Shiraz, easy to reach on a day trip from Shiraz.

Persepolis’s original name was Parsa, which meant City of the Persians; Persepolis is its Greek name. The city had met its demise when Alexander the Great ransacked it during the war with Persia, him not even knowing the importance of this city.

Today, you can only see ruins of this once-magnificent city. You’ll start your visit from the Gate of All Nations, engraved with mythological figures. Other noteworthy locations are the tomb of Artaxerses and the palace of Darius – but to get the best out of the visit, we highly recommend going with a guide!

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM Apr-Oct, 8 AM – 6 PM Nov-March.
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000 rials

11) Pasargadae

shiraz pasargadae
Achaemenid stone carvings from Pasargadae

Pasargadae was the capital city of the great Achaemenid Empire, and it was founded by Cyrus II the Great. Even though it was never really finished the way it was supposed to be, due to the death of Cyrus II, it still is a prime example of Persian architecture of its time.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most important historic sites for the Persian people. On its site, there is a grand and beautiful mausoleum that’s said to be of Cyrus II.

What’s left of the city evokes a sense of grandeur that only a capital of a vast empire is able to – making Pasargadae really worth visiting during your Shiraz trip.

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM Apr-Oct, 8 AM – 6 PM Nov-March.
  • Entrance Fee: 200,000 rials

12) Pink Lake

This is a local secret, and a truly unique thing to do in Shiraz! This one-of-a-kind lake is a spectacle to behold – this lake is not truly pink during the entire year, but when the hotter season comes around and makes the water evaporate, the remaining waters turn pink. That’s because of the high concentration of potassium and salts.

The brackish water also has an unusual taste and aroma. On top of that, it’s a very scenic destination with a beautiful mountainous backdrop. It’s very worthy of a visit.

Shiraz Travel – Where to Stay 

If you’re new to Iran, you’ll have probably realised by now that booking hotels is not as straightforward as in other places in the world, since popular platforms like Airbnb or don’t operate there. 

We’ve written a whole blog post about how to book hotels in Iran, where we recommend using 1stQuest, a website where you can book hotels, tours and transfers all over Iran, get your visa in just two days, get travel insurance, and anything else you might need for your trip to Iran. 

Shiraz is a great place to splurge on a boutique hotel – we’ve collected out 12 favourite luxury and boutique hotels in this blog post, or just book quickly at the links below!

Shiraz Travel – Getting There

-By Plane – you can fly to Shiraz from Tehran if you want to save time on travelling there and back overland, or it’s also possible to fly into Shiraz from Doha, Istanbul, Dubai and other international airports if you want to use Shiraz as your base in Iran. 

You can get great prices on Iranian domestic flights by booking through 1stQuest!

-By Bus – this was definitely my favourite way to travel around Iran! Iranian buses are affordable, convenient and comfortable. Most of the times you can just rock up at the station and buy a ticket on the spot, but if you want to be guaranteed a seat it’s better to book your bus tickets in advanceyou can do so via 1stQuest.

Travelling to Shiraz by bus takes 12 hours from Tehran, 6/7 hours from Isfahan, and 4 hours from Yazd.

-By Train – it’s also possible to travel to and from Tehran by sleeper train, a great way to save time if you’re only in Iran for a few days or weeks!