Beyond the Veil Tour

Iran – Beyond the Veil – a 12 day Small Group Tour

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.

On this small group tour in Iran, we visit the 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 the region gained the reputation as “The Valley of the Assassins”.

They maintained control of the area until 1256 when a Mongol commander seized the leader of the Iranian Ismaili community, leading to a massacre and the surrender of the fortresses. As part of the tour, we will visit the Lambesar and Alamut Castles.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Tehran and transfer to hotel accommodation. Depending upon flight arrival schedules, there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hoveyzeh Hotel or similar.

Today there’s a city tour of Tehran. Highlights include Golestan Palace, the busy bazaar area, and the National Jewels Museum. Overnight stay at Hoveyzeh Hotel or similar. (BL)

(Approximate driving time – 5 hours)

This morning we leave Tehran and drive north past hillside villages and striking mountain scenery to the Alamut region. Travelling through the ‘Valley of the Assassins’, we visit the 12th century Ismaili castle of Lambesar and the 11th century Assassin stronghold of Alamut, perched at 2,163m. Afterwards we continue to Qazvin. Overnight Mar Mar Hotel or similar. (B)

Today we visit Tehran Gate, all that remains of the ancient Persian capital’s city walls. Afterwards we continue to the Shazdeh Hossein holy shrine and impressive Jame Mosque. From here we drive towards the Caspian Sea through rice paddy fields, tea plantations, orangeries, past village markets, and beyond the olive groves of Rudbar, finally arriving in Rasht. Overnight Kadus Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time – 5 hours 15 mins)

After breakfast we drive, following the shores of the Caspian Sea, into Iranian Azerbaijan. At Anzali Lagoon we stop to take a short cruise before continuing to Ardebil, once governed by former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Here we visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sheikh Safi Mausoleum. Afterwards we continue to Sarein. Overnight Laleh Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time – 3 hours)

This morning we visit Sarein’s hot springs before leaving for Tabriz. On arrival we explore the city’s highlights, including the Citadel, the Blue Mosque, and the Azarbaijan Museum. Overnight Gostaresh Hotel or similar. (B)

Today we drive to Maku and the impressive 7th century Monastery of Saint Thaddeus. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the oldest surviving Christian monuments in Iran, the monastery is of great importance to the Armenian Orthodox community. Later we return to Tabriz. Overnight Gostaresh Hotel or similar. (B)

After breakfast we drive to Tabriz’s interesting bazaar before heading to Kandovan, a village famous for its extraordinary troglodyte houses, similar to those of Turkey’s Cappadocia region. Some dwellings are over eight hundred years old and many are still occupied. Overnight Gostaresh Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time- 6 hours)

A long day of driving lies ahead as we enter the Kurdish province of Sanandaj. Along the way we stop at the dramatic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Takht-e Soleimān. The archaeological site features a Zoroastrain fire temple and a later 13th century temple complex located close by the crater of an extinct volcano that now forms a large lake. Overnight Tourist Inn or similar. (B)

Leaving Sanabdaj, today begins at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Behistun, dating from 522 to 486 BC, where a cliffside bears a remarkable carved relief and cuneiform inscriptions honouring Darius the Great, fourth Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire. Afterwards we continue the town of Kangovar and its nearby Anahita Temple, once a major place of worship thought to date from 200 BC. From here we drive to the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, and Hamadan, one of Iran’s oldest cities, possibly dating from 1100 BC, later conquered by Alexander the Great, and scene of the death his close friend, Hephaestion. We visit tombs considered those of Biblical characters, Esther and Mordecai, still an important Jewish pilgrimage site. Overnight Baba Taher Hotel or similar. (B)

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

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

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 2 travellers.

Single Supplement from £395.

Return flights from London to Tehran start from £450. Please contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included. If you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation then transfers for those dates will be at an additional cost.

If you do not wish to be part of a group tour then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please get in touch with us so that we can tailor your perfect tour of Iran.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Iran - Beyond the Veil Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • 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

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks

Hamid Esmailie our driver/guide was excellent there is absolutely nothing negative we could say about him. A very enjoyable time.

Josephine Leigh-Browne, UK