HomeToursAsia Tours 〉Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Premium Iran & Turkey

Explore Iran and Turkey on a 27-day Premium adventure, encompassing the best of these historically and culturally rich countries. Go behind the headlines and uncover the true Iran, a welcoming country of open-hearted people. From breath-taking mosques to stepped hillside villages, Ancient Persepolis and Zoroastrian towers, the beauty of the Iranian landscape is a reflection of its inhabitants. Journey to Turkey, a land of infinite variety that mixes the cosmopolitan delights of Istanbul with ancient cities and natural wonders. Visit a dazzling architectural world, from the Blue Mosque and Ephesus, to the bizarre rock-landscape of Cappadocia.

27 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: HAPIC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  Turkey Iran, Islamic Republic Of
Accommodation: Comfortable hotel (21 nights), Feature Stay (5 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Boat , Plane
Included Meals:

  • 25 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 7 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Discover the joys of local cuisine during Exclusive Experiences, including dinner in the home of a local family in Kashan, a home cooked meal with a Zoroastrian couple in Taft, a cooking class with a celebrated chef in Selcuk, and traditional dinner at a local’s home in Cappadocia.

  • Stroll the ancient streets of Ephesus, uncover the secrets of Sagalassos, explore the legendary ruins of Troy and discover Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and the Million.

  • Step into a fairy tale at Cappadocia’s enchanting Splendid Cave Hotel, and stay in the heart of Yazd in a beautiful traditionally decorated hotel, your two Feature Stays for this adventure.

  • Uncover the architectural wonders of Tehran, learn about the role religion plays in the city of Yazd, enjoy the artistic atmosphere of Shiraz, experience the grandeur of Esfahan and explore one of the greatest cities of antiquity in Persepolis

  • Enjoy a cruise around the hidden coves and islets of Turkey’s southern coast during an Exclusive Experience guided by a local couple who have been navigating the waters for years.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Tehran

Welcome to Iran! Your adventure begins in Tehran, the country’s exciting and chaotic capital. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet your leader and fellow travellers for an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare, you may like to pay a visit to the Treasury of National Jewels – be sure to time your visit, as it is closed on some days of the week. After your meeting, join your leader and small group for a welcome dinner. As you won’t visit northern Iran on this tour, your taste buds will take a trip there when you dine at a restaurant serving regional Gilani specialities. Perhaps try some Mirza Ghassemi, a tasty smoked aubergine dish, or Baqala Qatoq, a flavoursome stew. Follow the local’s lead and make an event out of a meal, relishing good company and wonderful food.

Day 2: Tehran

Today you will get acquainted with Tehran during a full-day tour with your knowledgeable leader. Begin your explorations at the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace – an opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era embodying early Persian design. Continue with a stroll through the Tehran Old Bazaar – still the economical heart of the country, your leader will help you navigate the mystifying maze of stalls selling everything from copper to carpets. Then, make a visit to the National Museum. While it may not look as inspiring as other city buildings from the outside, inside is a treasure trove of Iran's rich history. Keep your eye out for the Salt Man from Zanjan – preserved in salt for centuries.

Day 3: Kashan

Drive to Kashan in the morning – a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. Visit the lush Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin (Fin Garden), a classical Persian garden that contains Kashan's Fin Bath. This is where Amir Kabir – the Qajarid chancellor and a nationalist hero – was murdered under the orders of King Nadir al-Din in 1852. Spend time at the fascinating Tabatabaei Historical House. Built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, exceptional attention was paid to every architectural detail of this building as dictated by the geography and climate of the area. Spend the evening in Kashan and experience Iranian hospitality as your group shares an evening meal with a local family. Gain a special insight into Iranian life and hear about their brave and unconventional career paths – one of your hosts is a female tour guide in this very religious city. After a wonderful evening sharing food and stories, retire for the evening at your accommodation – a traditional Iranian-style house.

Day 4: Yazd

After breakfast, depart for the ancient desert city of Yazd, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major stop on so-called caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period. Stop en route in Ardestan, a small village that charms with its old clay houses. Continue to Aqda, a lesser-known and delightful village, where you’ll enjoy a Persian lunch in a beautiful restaurant that has been lovingly converted from an old house. Relax on the fabulous rooftop and enjoy a meal celebrating the pomegranate orchards of the region. Arrive in Yazd in the late afternoon and indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to a renowned confectionery maker at Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar. Taste generations of expertise at the oldest and most well-known sweet shop in the city, where treats are made with traditional techniques. The next two evenings will be spent in the Dad Hotel, your Feature Stay accommodation. A celebration of Iranian architecture, this historical building has been stunning visitors since 1928. Large rooms flaunt traditional décor – Persian carpets and colourful tiles are paired with modern amenities. The grand courtyard garden is the hotel’s gorgeous centrepiece, and accommodating staff and swish service will make you feel at home.

Day 5: Yazd

This morning your leader will introduce you to the old part of the city. Begin at the Amir Chakhmaq complex then follow your leader through narrow lanes, past courtyards and mud-brick buildings, hearing the city’s tales and legends along the way. Your leader will point out Yazd’s badgirs, which are windcatchers that blow cool breezes into the buildings below as an ancient form of air conditioning. Afterwards, visit two vestiges of Yazd’s Zoroastrian heritage on a trip to the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. Zoroastrianism, dating back over 4000 years, was the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam. This evening, head to the tiny village of Taft where you will be welcomed into the home of a Zoroastrian family for a home cooked dinner. After spending the afternoon learning about the history of Zoroastrianism, you’ll have the unique opportunity to speak to your hosts about how the religion plays into their modern lives. Learn how to make a special Zoroastrian bread then sit back and enjoy a traditional meal among the house’s pomegranate and tamarind trees.

Day 6: Shiraz

This morning, travel from Yazd to Shiraz. On the way, stop at the ice houses of Abarkooh. These ancient domed structures were used to store ice and food for thousands of years, keeping produce fresh in the days before refrigeration. Your leader will explain how their clever design combats Iran’s sweltering summer heat. The Abarkooh Cypress tree is the focal point of this village and is believed to be 4500 years old – a popular symbol of 'life and beauty'. Take a moment to stand in its shade as your leader tells you how this miraculous tree is thought to be the oldest living organism in Iran. Continue to Shiraz, arriving in the late afternoon.

Day 7: Shiraz

This morning is dedicated to exploring Shiraz on a walking tour with your leader. Many of the local ruins date from around AD260 where Valerian, the only Roman emperor to have ever been a prisoner of war, lived out his last days in captivity. Rise early this morning to catch the first rays of the sun as it seeps in through the stained glass of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. Continue to the Vakil Bazaar and the Khan citadel. Bazaar-e Vakil is regarded as one of the best markets in the country, specialising in fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and spices. Iranians will opt for a post-lunch nap to avoid the midday sun, so do as the locals do then regroup in the afternoon for further explorations. Drive out to the vast complex of Bagh-e Eram, known as the Garden of Paradise and wander through its majestic grounds. Afterwards, visit the tombs of literary and folk heroes Hafez and Saadi where your leader will regale you with stories of their lives. Nearby is the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh – one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. The structure serves as a mausoleum to one of Imam Reza’s brothers and the forecourt is often packed with Shiite pilgrims. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries.

Day 8: Shiraz

Begin the day with a drive to a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site – the remains of Persepolis. Once the centre of the Persian Empire, it is considered one of the great cities of the ancient world. The Takhte Jamshid complex of palaces was known as the historic marvel of the country, constructed over 150 years as the ceremonial capital of Darius I’s Achaemenid Empire. Continue on to Naqsh-e-Rajab – the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to early Sassanid times. While today only small ruins remain from those once-magnificent structures, your leader will bring the city’s history to life and make it easy to imagine what it looked like in its glory days. This evening, you have the option to participate in a highly recommended hands-on cooking class. The class is held in a local home with all directions and recipes provided in English. You may also choose to explore the town and enjoy an Iranian meal in a restaurant. Speak to your leader about your options so they can help tailor a great evening.

Day 9: Esfahan

Depart from Shiraz and head towards the city of Esfahan. Along the way, stop for a guided tour of Pasargadae – an ancient city built by Cyrus the Great that precedes Persepolis. It may not be as well preserved as Persepolis, but your leader will point out the architectural genius of the Achaemenids with its beauty of simplicity and balance. Arrive in Esfahan in the afternoon and take some time to settle in, then in the evening, head down to the Zayandeh River and witness the historic bridges arching over the water. The stunning Si-o-Seh Pol (bridge of 33 arches) lights up at night, best viewed either on the banks of the river or at a local teahouse. While away some time in this magical location, truly one of the most atmospheric that Iran has to offer.

Day 10: Esfahan

There’s plenty of time to soak up the sights and atmosphere of Esfahan, often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Esfahan reached its peak during the reign of Shah Abbas I in 1587 when it was declared the capital of Persia, yet much of its past glory still remains despite the country’s capital later being shifted to Shiraz and then Tehran. Begin today’s adventure through Esfahan with a guided walk through Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Imam Square). Covering an area of 82,500 square meters, it’s the second largest in the world. There are many grand buildings in the surrounding area such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and bustling Qeysarie Bazaar – your leader will share information on their backstories and significance. The rest of the day is free for more independent exploring of the city.

Day 11: Esfahan

Continue discovering Esfahan with a guided visit to the Vank Cathedral, located in the Armenian quarter of the city. The striking interior of this building boasts gilded ceilings, intricate wall architecture and eye-catching paintings. Your leader will explain how Armenian Christians were brought to the cathedral by Shah Abbas I, who placed great value in their skills as artists and merchants. They have been allowed to practice their religion in peace but are confined to this single area of the city. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore this beautiful city at your leisure. Perhaps peruse the jumbled stalls of the Grand Bazaar, or settle into one of the city’s cosy teahouses and watch the world go by.

Day 12: Tehran

After breakfast this morning, begin the journey back to Tehran, stopping in Iran's second holiest city, Qom, for the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Fatima Masumeh. The lavish golden-domed building is the final resting place of Imam Reza’s sister, and thousands of Shi’i Muslims make the pilgrimage here each year to ask for Fatima’s blessings. Arrive in Tehran and check in to your hotel, then head to the Tabiat Nature Bridge for the afternoon. You may like to spend some time relaxing over a light meal at one of the many restaurants by Ports Park, situated on one side of the bridge. On the other, the rolling trees of Taleghani Park offer a great opportunity for a stroll. This evening, enjoy a final Iranian feast during a farewell dinner with your group and leader at a fantastic local restaurant.

Day 13: Istanbul

Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all once called home. Enjoy a complimentary transfer to your hotel from the airport. You’re never far from a great meal in Istanbul, so if you arrive early be sure to grab some lunch at one of the city’s many eateries. Your Intrepid Premium adventure then begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm. After the meeting, head out with your Intrepid local leader and small group to explore the Old City of Istanbul. Your knowledgeable leader will introduce you to some of the historical treasures of the city, including the dazzling Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome, and the Million - a stone road marker in use since the fourth century. This evening get to know your fellow travellers over dinner at a stylish restaurant where local delicacies are paired with panoramic views of the Bosphorus.

Day 14: Canakkale

Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale, a port city located on the shores of the Dardanelles. Arrive in time to buy yourself some lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Thousands from across the world make the journey here each year to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the battles of 1915. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. Head up to the memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair while your leader explains the significance of the events that took place across the landscape. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. After a day that will no doubt be full of sombre reflection, the evening is free for you to do as you wish in Canakkale.

Day 15: Selcuk

Drive to Selcuk with a stop en route in Troy, where history and mythology sit side by side. Your leader will take you around the ancient city walls, and there will be time for a photo op with a replica Trojan horse. Learn how the site has confounded historians and archaeologists, then continue to Selcuk. Join your leader for an orientation walk around Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque.

Day 16: Selcuk

This morning join your leader for an orientation walk around Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque. In the afternoon, visit one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world – Ephesus. Learn from your leader what life here was like as you tour the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and restored Library of Celsus. Later, drive past apple and peach orchards to the quaint village of Sirence, where charming red-roofed houses clamber up the hillside. Drop by a local wine house where you’ll enjoy a tasting of the locally produced fruit wines. Try a sip of kiwi, pear, peach, quince or all of the above!

Day 17: Pamukkale

After breakfast this morning, travel to the town of Pamukkale. Named after its incredible travertine terraces, Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a collection of pools and terraces. As the water overflows, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with waters that many believe have healing properties for circulation and the digestive system. But that’s not all this site has to offer - head up to the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC, where your leader will bring history to life and guide you through an ancient temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica, necropolis and an impressive theatre. Enjoy a free evening in Pamukkale.

Day 18: Kas

Make the journey to the coast, with a stop en route at the ghost village of Kayakoy. Abandoned after WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, this once-thriving village now lies as a sombre reminder of the human cost of war and politics. Spend some time on the eerie streets, then continue to Kas (which means eyebrow in Turkish) and begin exploring on a walking tour. Now primarily a holiday town, Kas is strewn with the remains of Lycian tombs, iconic white-washed walls covered with climbing bougainvillea and an ancient theatre where you can watch a spectacular sunset. The walk is sure to inspire your appetite and your leader will be on hand to show you where to grab a great gozleme (stuffed Turkish flatbread). The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy this easy-going town, perhaps sit back with a pomegranate cocktail or check out the local markets.

Day 19: Kas

Set off for an experience like no other - a magical boat cruise around the islands with two local guides, Mehmet and Sebahat. The married couple use their special knowledge and love of the local waters to share a distinctly traditional way of cruising and eating with travellers. Cruise to their home village of Ucagiz, then on to the village of Simena, where its friendly inhabitants sell ice cream in front of bougainvillea covered houses. On board you’ll enjoy a range of freshly prepared local greens, zucchini fritters and maybe even some Turkish raki. Sail from large bays to protected inlets where you can cool off with a swim in turquoise waters. Kick back with a cold beer or learn how to play backgammon, Turkey’s most beloved game. Look out for the ruins of an ancient city submerged under the clear water. Return to Kas for an evening at your leisure.

Day 20: Antalya

Travel from Kas to a lesser-known treasure - the archaeological site of Sagalassos. Set on the slopes of the Taurus mountains, the views from the site certainly deserve attention, but the ancient ruins are even more memorable. Enjoy a guided visit through agoras, a Roman bath complex, an intricately decorated fountain and a theatre, and learn what life looked like set against this remarkable backdrop. If time permits, you may have the chance to visit a workshop where local women have revived traditional tile-making techniques. Continue on a scenic drive to Antalya. Your accommodation is tucked away in Kaleici (the Old City) so settle in on arrival and then head out on an early evening walk to see Hadrian's Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and plenty of photo-worthy views. Soak up the city’s Mediterranean atmosphere and attitude over a fresh seafood dinner – your leader can recommend some superb spots for eating.

Day 21: Antalya

Wake up in beautiful Antalya and start your day with a guided visit though the Antalya Museum. The province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenistic and Roman cities, and some of the best artefacts are on display in the museum’s 13 exhibition halls and open-air gallery. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Maybe wander the narrow cobblestoned streets of Kaleici with an ice cream in hand, beat the heat with a dip in the sea, chill out poolside or take an optional visit to the ancient cities of Side, Perge or Apsendos. Be sure to speak to your leader for details on these optional activities.

Day 22: Konya

Say goodbye to Antalya and take a morning drive to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born. On arrival, discover the mystic resting place of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the 13th-century mystic, poet and theologian whose teachings continue to inspire and influence Muslims around the world. Visit the small museum dedicated to his life and work. The rest of the day is free for you to get to know the city. Konya offers up a wealth of museums, mosques and monuments worth visiting so be sure to ask your leader for recommendations. For a leisurely afternoon, head to Alaeddin Hill, where locals sip coffee, eat pastries and let the hours slip calmly by.

Day 23: Cappadocia

Depart from Konya and travel to Cappadocia, where on arrival your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get to know your new otherworldly surroundings. Check in to your Feature Stay accommodation and discover something truly special. Feel miles away from the modern world in a cave hotel that looks like a page straight out of a fairy tale. Uniquely beautiful rooms are carved into stone and feature elegant décor with modern conveniences. The rooftop terrace boasts one in a million views of Cappadocia’s incredible landscape and basalt chimneys – keep an eye out for hot air balloons passing overhead. Head out for a drink with a view and watch the sun set over one of the world’s most enchanting places. The rest of the evening is free for you to take it all in, or perhaps watch a performance of whirling by local Dervishes in a restored han (caravansary).

Day 24: Cappadocia

Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the ethereal Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After a relaxing breakfast overlooking the valley, step back in time with a visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face as your leader shares stories of the civilisations who lived here. Next up visit a carpet weaving co-operative that empowers women by giving them the tools to produce one-of-a-kind traditional rugs. Hear local insight on the history of traditional carpet weaving and see how the intricate pieces are made. Later in the afternoon, go on a short walk through the cheekily named 'Love Valley' which is famous for its phallic rock formations. Then head back to your hotel in Goreme. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day.

Day 25: Cappadocia

Take a morning walk to see the fascinating rock formations of the Kizilcukur valley. After lunch, head toward the red river of Avanos and descend to Ozkonak, where you’ll explore an underground city hollowed out of tufa rock that dates back to 400 BC. Return to the surface and visit the studio of a local ceramic master whose family have been in the pottery business for six generations. Speak with a local artist who will explain the history and techniques of traditional Turkish ceramics. Discover the rich clay from the red river and watch how it is moulded into exquisite pieces. This evening you’ll be warmly welcomed into the cave home of Nuray, a local woman who will prepare a special home-cooked dinner for your group. Sit down to a feast made with passion, enjoy a friendly chat with your affable host and perhaps top off the night with some Turkish delight.

Day 26: Istanbul

This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and return to where it all began - Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul you may wish to join your leader for a trip across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of the city. Here you’ll find lively, close-knit communities and jumbles of cute cafes, markets and restaurants. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore some more of the charms of this enthralling city. This evening consider rounding off your adventure by joining your group and leader for an optional farewell dinner at one of Istanbul’s excellent waterfront restaurants.

Day 27: Istanbul

Your Intrepid Premium trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you wish to spend some more time in Istanbul, we would be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).