Backpacking in Iran: Top 11 Things to see and do in Yazd

yazd iran sights

Top 11 Sights in Yazd, Iran.

Yazd is a classic desert city to tour when you travel in Iran. I’d personally recommend a few days here to make sure you see the place in the detail it deserves. Backpacking in Iran is easily one of the most enjoyable experiences of your existence on this planet. These are the friendliest and nicest people imaginable. It’s no wonder Iran is one of the safest countries in the world. So get your Iran Visa and head to explore Yazd!

yazd jameh mosque night

Backpacking in Iran: Nightfall at the Jameh Mosque in Yazd.

What you will find in Yazd is an old school desert city with a load of sandy alley ways, Mosques, Minarets and a load of courtyard style houses with these wind towers in them – they are known as Badgirs. Underground water channels called Qanats also flow freely through the city which welcomes tourists and caters in stylish hotels that will never break the bank. We chose the “backpacker friendly” Silk Road Hotel. You don’t nee to book accommodation in advance in Iran – normally you just turn up. I’m doing a top 11 things to do in Yazd, which fits as I played football there!

yazd silk road hotel iran

We stayed in the Silk Road Hotel in Yazd.

1. Jameh Mosque
Every town in Iran will have a Jameh Mosque – it’s the rule and Yazd’s is fairly prominent in the old city. Two massive striking minarets and colours of desert brown and turquoise give it that oasis of promise feel. There’s also some almost swastika Nazi style symbols within – these are simply a symbol of infinity and timelessness, birth and death. They date back to 5000 BC long before the likes of Hitler used this symbol for another purpose.

jameh mosque iran

The Jameh Mosque in Yazd, Iran.

Take time to go inside and explore the Jameh Mosque – the design is special and the mosaics are among the best we saw in Iran.

mosques in iran

The intricate design of the mosaics at the top of the Jameh Mosque in Yazd, Iran.

2. Yazd Old City

The Old City of Yazd is quite amazing. It’s like a sandy brick town in the desert – except it’s built up, it’s populated and it’s not really that deserted any more. Take time to wander round the streets on your own. The streets are all narrow and sometimes you’ll get a car or a motorbike zooming past you – but no buses or big transport in the old city – they wouldn’t fit. It’s marvellous. Walls everywhere, a distinct lack of advertising and no big brands. This is hardcore Iran.

yazd iran backpacking

Backpacking in the poky old city of Yazd, Iran.

3. Alexander’s Prison
This prison has a history behind it and is no longer used as a prison. Indeed it’s now open to the public as a museum. You need to pay 10,000 Rials to get inside (about 30 US cents) and have a look around. The name is more intriguing than the bog standard prison itself. Apparently a Hafez poem refers to this place and mentions that Alexander the Great had built a dungeon here. There’s a tomb next door, a courtyard and a tea house. This is nowhere near as eerie as other prisons I have been to on my travels (such as Hoa Lo Prison).

prison in yazd iran

Alexander’s Prison, Yazd, Iran.

4. Sunday Morning Football
I was lucky to be hanging outside our hostel/hotel at the right time on a Sunday morning. Two kids come up to me and pass the football across. I started kicking ball with them and they invited me down to play with them. Amazing – I love football and the chance of a Sunday morning kickabout really appealed to me.

football in yazd iran

Sunday morning football in Yazd, Iran.

It was a mixture of Afghan and Iranian kids playing together which was really cool to see as Afghanistan only recently got their football league started again recently. The kids were great – they stuck me in one of the teams and we played away.

yazd iran football

Playing football with the Afghan and Iranian kids in Yazd, Iran.

My girlfriend Panny had the camera and was able to take some photos and a video of me playing football. Despite being the tallest, oldest and most experienced player on the pitch, I was also probably one of the worst. My team lost 3-0 and my consolation was hitting the post. I put on my backpack again, said my goodbyes to the kids and went off to explore more of this fascinating city.

5. Khan-e Lari (a Traditional House)

Iran offers loads of chances to visit traditional houses. Yazd has a cool one within the old city, it’s called Khan-e Lari. It was signposted as “Larry House” at one point.

lari house yazd iran

Entrance to the Lari House.

We headed in and it was basically just an old house with a courtyard. OK so it was nice, but we’d seen them before and we’d been in Iran about 3 weeks already by this point so it wasn’t that inspiring. I have included it in this top 10 though as most want to visit it.

backpacking in yazd iran

Khan-e Lari Traditional House and Courtyard, Yazd, Iran.

6. Dakhmeh-ye Zartoshtiyun
“Dakhmeh” was our sunset activity on our major day of sightseeing in Yazd. It’s not in downtown Yazd, but I really recommend getting out to see it. You could walk it, but it’s so cheap in Iran to share a taxi – you can probably hitch a lift out to it as well – we hitched a lift back for free. The locals don’t want your money.

dakhmeh zoroastrian

The lost Zoroastrian settlement at Dakhmeh in Yazd, Iran.

Dakhmeh is almost like a miniature lost town! These ancient Zoroastrian buildings are scattered at the foot of two hills. On the hills are two “Towers of Silence”. Walk up to the top for some cool views over the city of Yazd and to explore this rather bizarre place.

dakhmeh iran view

Outstanding views from the hills at Dakhmeh over Yazd, Iran.

Some backpackers head to the Eiffel Tower, we went to Dakhmeh and loved it. Once you get out to it, you have to climb through a gate to get to the place.

dakhmeh iran

Out at the lost village of Dakhmeh.

7. Bogheh-ye Sayyed Roknaddin
This cool Islamic building was bang opposite our hostel. Again the desert brown colour mixes with turquoise domes and mosaics in both the interior and exterior.

backpacking in yazd iran

Outside the Bogheh-ye Sayyed Roknaddin in Yazd, Iran.

8. Zoroastrian Handicrafts Shop
This offers a great chance to pick up some authentic Iranian handicrafts and souvenirs, of Zoroastrian style mostly. The shop is on the main circuit near Alexander Prison as you walk through the old city. It’s near the tourist information centre.

The Zoroastrian Handicrafts Shop in Yazd, Iran.

The Zoroastrian Handicrafts Shop in Yazd, Iran.

9. Amir Chakhmaq Complex

You end up classing all beautiful Islamic buildings in Iran as Mosques and yet you shouldn’t do this. We learnt during our month there that a lot of these stylish Islamic buildings have other purposes. A lot of them are shrines, some of them are markets, others are just elaborate buildings.

chakmaq complex iran

Backpacking in Iran at the Amir Chakmaq Complex in Yazd, Iran.

The Amir Chakhmaq Complex is a large Hosseinieh – fronted by a small concrete park of fountains and sitting off the main road through the city. You can pay to go inside and guess what we didn’t pay. When you spend a month in Iran you will get tour fix of these buildings so please don’t feel the need to go into every single one of them to tick off a box. We did a lot in Yazd, but we didn’t go inside the Chakhmaq.

yazd chakmaq

My girlfriend and some locals at the Amir Chakmaq Complex in Yazd, Iran.

When we visited of course they were no other travellers around and the locals were so keen to get photos with us!

10. Oasis Traditional Hotel and Restaurant.
Iran does cool and stylish courtyard style restaurants and they are usually pretty cheap. Perhaps the name of this one enchanted us – Oasis.

restaurant yazd iran

Oasis Traditional Hotel and Restaurant in Yazd, Iran.

11. Egbal Factory

OK so I’m cheating and adding a number 11 instead of 10. It was the design of the Egbal Factory that intrigued me to it, plus the fact that it wasn’t included on the Lonely Planet’s walking tour. That’s when I knew it would be a cool spot. They’ve been making textiles here since 1312!! The building has a funky design too!

Egbal Factory in Yazd, Iran

Egbal Factory in Yazd, Iran

We stayed in the Silk Road Hotel which is also where I ate the camel meat stew. I really have to admit I’m very very very behind on my travel writing – life has just been so busy lately. I have about 50 more articles on Iran to write, 20 on Iraq, 10 on Armenia, 20 on Turkey etc… I’m going to try and get one Iran story up a week which means it will take me a year! Anyway this was my backpacking in Iran post on Yazd. A great city to tour for sure.

Some of my videos of Yazd while backpacking in Iran:

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19 thoughts on “Backpacking in Iran: Top 11 Things to see and do in Yazd

  • Beautiful photos! Looks incredible. I’m looking to backpack through Iran soon, any tips and things I should think about as an english girl travelling alone through this country?

  • Hi Cassia, Thanks for your comment. You should be fine, but in fact the first advice I’d give is don’t travel alone. It will be much better and easier to travel with someone else and much more fun. If you do travel alone and are invited to people’s houses, always say yes – you will be treated like a royal and given endless tea and food by almost every Iraniann family. They are so so welcoming in that country it’s unreal! The night train to Mashhad was brilliant and so was sunset at Kaluts. You can check my other posts on the Iran tab, it’s a brilliant country. Safe and happy travels. Jonny

  • We loved Yazd too! The Egbal factory looks beautiful, wish we hadn’t missed that. We also had the camel stew and liked it a lot more than we thought we would.

    @cassiachloe I didn’t travel solo in Iran but my sense is that it would be much safer and more pleasant for solo women than a lot of popular destinations (India, I’m looking at you). Iranians are so friendly and respectful towards foreigners that I doubt you’d get much hassle.
    Laura @ Design Think Travel recently posted…What Is it Like to Travel in Iran?My Profile

  • You are welcome to Iran.
    I am an iranian student in europe from Yazd,
    People of Occidental countries think that Iran is not a safe country to travel.
    When I speak with them, they have a bad image on Iran. Of course,
    it is not true. We know very well this is the image that manipulated and given by
    occidental mediaes. As my exprience, I can say that my city is more secure than Paris ! I dont remeber an attack as one we saw in Paris, in Yazd city.

    However, I would like to address you my special thanks for giving a real image of iran
    to others who are interested to traval to iran.

    I repeat,
    You are welcome to Iran !

  • Hi jonny,,,
    Absolutely agree with you that Iran is one of greatest country to visit. Good report.
    Nowdays,I’m visiting tabriz and next week heading to yazd. I just wanna get some advice or may be little bit info from u.

    1. Do you have any recommendation for hostel staying in the yazd old town? Not expensive due to my budget. 10 – 15 usd/person/night?

    2. Is it far the yazd old town from bus station (i go from tehran directly)? And how can i reach the oldtown? With bus or another option? And how much?

    Thanks…

    Danu

  • Hi Danu, thanks for the comment. I was in Iran in 2013 so for sure things will have changed since then. In those days, yes I got a hotel called Silk Road hotel for less than $10 US – probably about $7-8 US a night. But no idea if that still applies. The buses were cheap and even if not direct, the local buses never charged us as we couldn’t speak the language and they were so happy to see us. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny…….How are you? Yazd is so Beautiful and interesting ….and but you go to Badab-e Surt in Gorgan – Iran.There is so beautiful

  • Hi Leila, Thanks for the comment. Things are OK with me I guess. Yes, Yazd was a beautiful city from my Iran tour in 2013. Good times. I didn’t see Badad-e Surt though. Safe travels. Jonny

  • This 3-star Fazeli hotel in Yazd is just a few steps from Yazd city center. It offers 24-hour reception and free Wi-Fi. Yazd Fazeli hotels is just a 4-minute walk from bus station. Guests will find many cafés and restaurants close to the Yazd Fazeli Hotel and within the neighbor districts.

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