When I’m asked when the best time to travel to Iran is, I respond—albeit cockily—with “When isn’t the best time?”
To be honest, that is mostly true. Iran’s climate is curious. The world’s 17th largest country, Iran is both wide and long, meaning it boasts a variety of climates.
Eastern regions are generally dry and hot throughout the year while the western provinces are mostly mountainous and usually have mild weather conditions. Northern Iran is green and has a temperate climate whereas the country’s southern shores have a climate akin to the tropics. And in the center of country lie the desert areas.
So, it’s mostly up to people and their individual tastes to decide when the best time to visit Iran is.
With that said, if you absolutely must have a general guideline off of which to plan your trip, carry on reading.
Spring (March 21 – June 21)
Spring is a great time to travel to Iran, although certain places should be avoided at particular times.
Depending on where you go, the weather varies from enjoyably warm to mildly cold, with the country experiencing the most rainfall during this period.
However, you’re strongly advised to avoid visiting in the final two weeks of March, which coincide with Norouz (Iranian New Year) holidays. That’s when most people travel, which may make things difficult. From crowded attractions to fully-booked hotels, you run the risk of ruining your holiday.
If you do decide to travel to Iran in that two-week period, do yourself a favor and avoid going to northern regions (commonly called Shomal in Iran). Northern Iran is beautiful: It’s got thick forests, beaches and it rains often—but tourists easily outnumber locals in those two weeks.
Aside from that short period, however, Iran is perfect for a visit in spring. You may even get to go skiing in Ardabil‘s Alvares or Tehran’s Dizin ski resorts if you visit in early spring. Typically hot provinces such as Fars and Khuzestan—in southern and southwestern Iran respectively—are cool enough to let you enjoy the myriad of cultural and historical heritage they boast.
Lots of international tourists travel to Iran in April and May, a large portion of which visit places in central Iran, such as Yazd, Isfahan and Shiraz. The weather is great and the attractions plentiful! What’s not to like?
Summer (June 22 – September 22)
Iran’s arid and semi-arid climate means summer temperatures reach sweltering levels. In fact, just last week the mercury in the city of Ahvaz in Khuzestan topped 53 degrees Celsius, and summer only started last week.
With that said, there are a number of places whose surprisingly pleasant weather provide much needed respite for people seeking shelter from the punishing heat. Ardabil and Gilan provinces in northwestern Iran, Kurdistan Province in the west and Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province in south-central Iran are but a handful of places whose bucolic towns beckon travelers in the summer.
In general, western and northwestern provinces are popular destinations this time of the year. However, if you are planning on trekking in the deserts, you should reschedule your trip. Summer is not the time to visit central Iran, with temperatures occasionally so high you can fry eggs on the hood of a car.
Fall (September 23 – December 21)
Ah, fall; that sweet spot between the merciless heat of summer and the bone-chilling cold of winter.Fall is not exactly the low season, but it is still a great time to travel to Iran for the simple fact that trips are a bit more spread out than other popular periods. Hotels usually offer competitive rates to beat their local rivals, so quality accommodation at an affordable price is possible.
Furthermore, the weather in most places begins to cool down, with temperatures in northern and western areas first to drop.
The deserts of Kerman, Yazd and South Khorasan are particularly interesting locations to visit in fall, especially for stargazers who want to get a clean look at the Milky Way.
Make sure to visit Lut Desert and the adjacent Shahdad Desert; the former is a World Heritage Site and the latter – which is a part of Lut – is one of the hottest spots on the planet and home to yardangs rarely seen by western tourists.
Fall is probably the best time to visit central Iran, particularly Isfahan and Shiraz; two incredibly historical cities with a combined 7 world heritage sites in or around them. Isfahan has the Jame’ Mosque and Naqsh-e-Jahan Square, while it’s also home two ancient qanats and Chehel Sotoun Garden, which is inscribed on the World Heritage List as one of Iran’s nine Persian-style gardens. Shiraz boasts the Eram Garden (also a Persian-style garden) while just outside the city there is Pasargadae and the ruins of Persepolis. Pasargadae has also has a garden which is inscribed separately from the site itself, as part of the aforementioned Persian-style gardens.
Winter (December 22 – March 20)
Depending on location, winters in Iran vary from pleasantly cool to intensely cold.
Temperatures in southern regions are typically warm, while central provinces may register temperatures below zero from time to time, though it doesn’t necessarily guarantee snowfall. Western and northwestern areas get a decent amount of snowfall. Some intercity routes are occasionally closed due to massive snowfall or the risk of avalanche in those areas.
You may actually get to go swimming in winter, as temperatures in Hormozgan Province and Bushehr are high enough. You’ll get to go home and boast to your friends that you went swimming in February!
Also, winter is an excellent time to travel to Persian Gulf islands of Kish and Qeshm, both of which are free trade zones and are attracting a lot of attention from investors as Iran’s looking to build on their tourism potential.
It’s also a great time for skiing, particularly in Tehran and Ardabil, as both have popular ski resorts (Tochal and Dizin in Tehran, Alvares in Ardabil) that are in line with strict international standards. Other regions, including the provinces of Alborz, East Azarbaijan and even Fars have ski resorts too, so make sure you read up on skiing in Iran before deciding on which resorts to try out!
It’s genuinely difficult to say when the best time to visit Iran is. Depending on your personal preferences, every season offers unique opportunities to make the most of your trip.
July is typically Iran’s hottest month whereas January is the coldest, with most places in northern and northwestern regions receiving ample snowfall. March is the wettest month as spring showers cover large swathes of the country.
In general, however, you’re likely to enjoy your time in Iran in spring (mid-April – beginning of June) and fall (end of September – beginning of November).