Cycling Tehran to the south coast of Iran

by tkos on October 2, 2012

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Cycling the south of Iran takes you to the wonders that are Natanz, Qom, Esfahan and Shiraz.. Although I’d recommend avoiding getting too close to Natanz unless you’d like to risk getting locked up by the military. Qom is the religious capital of the country and Esfahan, Shiraz and Bander Lengeh are all rich in culture. All of which are home to the friendliest people in the world.

The difference in temperature from the north is remarkable. We arrived close to the south coast to get the boat to Dubai by mid December and the weather was pleasant to cycle through. A huge difference to the -10C in the north and what would be the mid 40′sC in June and July. Accommodation can be few and far between, especially passed Shiraz so you’ll need to be prepared to wild camp but there is no shortage of finding a place as you can always camp under a road bridge or stay with a stranger.


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What we loved the most:

  • We were lucky enough to be in Qom during the mourning month of Imam Hussein and particularly, to be staying with a couch surf that was extremely educated in Islamic history and culture.
  • Having a brief (3 hour) interaction with the army when we cycled a little too close to the nuclear research plant and the military base. It turned out to be a positive experience because we were not arrested in the end, but I’d avoid it if we were doing it again, just in case.
  • Of course, as is the north, the friendliness of the people is what makes Iran the fantastic country to travel that it is. Even a police officer once stopped us to give us dates, water and even cash!

What was like grit in the chain:

  • The food can be a little repetitive  on the long stretch of highways when there isn’t much about, you might find yourself living on crisps and biscuits for a while as fresh fruit and veg can be  scarce. And after a while, a slab of kebab meat on boiled rice loses it’s appeal.
  • Bike shops in Tehran are few and far between. The ‘BEST’ tires you can buy will give you only 3-4 punctures per day. Hold off until Wolfies in Dubai if you can.
  • Just in case you didn’t read the first post on Iran, consider this a reminder about cash and the lack of ATM’s and cash withdrawal opportunities in Iran. The cash you enter with is the cash you have for the whole trip. And it’s a single entry visa. Hopefully sanctions have lightened by the time you read this.

What’s it worth:

  • Probably the most important question. We found out about the lack of access to money the day before we entered, so we went to the ATM’s in Turkey and wihdrew as much as we could from our four different accounts. In total, we pulled out £1000 and were there for 43 days, working out to be £23.26 per day.

Top Tips:

  • If you’re an atheist, it’s best to respect the Islamic culture by describing your religious path as an ‘undecided and open path by learning about all religions around the world’. Otherwise, people will assume you to be Christian and it’s quite often easier not to correct them.
  • TAKE CASH. Obviously keep it hidden, but it’s quite safe. If you run out, it is a matter of getting in touch with your embassy for help. It is the same drama as losing a passport, but it can be done.
  • If you’re moving onto Dubai, it’s quicker and cheaper to get a boat from Bander Lengeh (daytime) rather than Bander Abass (overnight). It claims a 3 hour crossing but it will take the best part of all day, once you check in and go through customs etc. Even then, it only goes to Sharjah which is about 25km away from Dubai centre and 45km away from Dubai Marina.


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TownKM'sNightsWhere we slept
Qom1533Couch Surf
Esfahan1402Couch Surf
Shahreza791Random Kind Stranger
Highway 651101Wild Camp
Shiraz1552Couch Surf
Highway 671251Wild Camp
Highway 671001Wild Camp
Highway 941121Wild Camp
Highway 961151Wild Camp
Bander Lengeh1051Random Kind Stranger


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