Iran: Through the Eyes of Travelers

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  06.15.09 | 6:07 PM ET

Photo by Shahram Sharif via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve spent the last couple days transfixed by events in Iran, where widespread protests and bursts of violence have followed a contested election result. The country’s hardly an American tourism hot spot (and this latest unrest won’t help on that front) but over the years, we’ve covered some travel-related Iranian ground. Here’s a look back:

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

7 Comments for Iran: Through the Eyes of Travelers

Downtown Hotels 06.15.09 | 6:17 PM ET

A while ago, Iran was offering discounts for American tourists to come and visit. This was largely symbolic though, as their government was trying to show Americans that their issues were with the American government and not with the people. Travelling to Iran would be difficult and dangerous though.

Troy 06.16.09 | 5:08 AM ET

I was in Tehran during the last elections. CNN was reporting of mass anti-American protests of the burning flag type that they love to run. They said they were in the main square, my hotel was in the main square…I didn’t see anything???

Fraud or fair vote, what has to be remembered is that this is a deeply interesting country, one that every traveler interested in more than all-inclusives should make the effort to see for themselves.

Mark Hiew 06.16.09 | 8:01 AM ET

Hi Downtown Hostels,

I’m not sure of your travel experiences but I found in my own that traveling in Iran, after getting my visa (through was neither particularly difficult nor was it dangerous in the least. In fact, I’d argue that my travels in Iran were far safer than in other places I have visited, and that the other backpackers I met there had similarly positive experiences. People there are remarkably hospitable, inviting a stranger such as myself to stay with them throughout my stay (done through couchsurfing: please visit my site An American friend found them to be just as welcoming to Americans as they were to myself (an Australian), though Americans do have to travel unfortunately in tour groups (try getting into the States as an Iranian).

When and where did you go, if I may ask, in which you encountered such difficulties?

I ask because I’ve found that such “Iran is dangerous, don’t go there” attitudes are often guided more by newspaper headlines than any actual personal experiences in the country, and I think it’s precisely that sort of presupposed judgment of other societies which sites like worldhum help us to see beyond. I had an amazing time, and suggest that those curious about Iran make an effort to get out and see a country that’s very misunderstood by most.

Nomadic Matt 06.16.09 | 8:45 AM ET

I’ve always heard that Iran is one of the best places to visit and that Iranians are ultra friendly to travelers.  I think the people and the government are two different things.

Ling 06.16.09 | 10:19 AM ET

Just read an op-ed from Roger Cohen in the New York Times. He’s in Iran, and it seems - from what he saw and writes - that it’s kinda big this time. People there really believe the election was cooked, and they want to put an end to the regime. But the thing is that no one is still ready to think of America as a friend or defend America in public. So if you’re traveling to Iran, might be a good idea to try not to advertise the fact that you’re American.

Get A Trip 06.16.09 | 4:59 PM ET

I don’t think I feel safe enough to take my daughter to a trip through Iran anytime in this lifetime for several reasons. I travelled extensively through Iran about 25 years ago, but the world was a different place. And if the danger is from radical Islamist then a few years going by or a new political government is not going to solve the problem. Many of those people continue to threaten westerners and hate us so bad and we are not going to change their views as they are religious reasons for them. While I agree we should not allow terrorism to accomplish its mission of terrorizing people to the point they are scared to travel, we should heed warning from our State Department warnings list, and Iran is on the list.

Ares Vista 06.25.09 | 10:53 AM ET

It’s very true that the Iranian people are not represented by their government. The Iranian people want what we all want, the freedom to pursue their own dreams and prosperity. The government wants what is best for the leadership, which is in complete conflict with the goals of the people of Iran. I hope they can overcome their obstacles, and be free.

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