In November 2017, we travelled sixteen days through magical Iran. And of course we kept the balance on how much we were spending. In this post we explain in detail how much we’ve spent on our two week road trip from north to south. Read on if you want to backpack in Iran. It might save you a buck or two.
Dutch: Liever in het Nederland lezen? Hier geven we antwoord op de vraag “Hoe duur is Iran?”
Money Iran: ATMs don’t work with your card
Before you board an air plane to Iran, it is important to know that it is not possible for foreigners to withdraw money from ATMs. Nowhere. This means that you have to bring enough euros or US dollars. We ourselves brought – better too much than too little – 2,000 euros for 16 days Iran. Even paying for hotels has to be done in cash.
Money exchange in Iran
We chose to exchange a few hundred euros at the airport in Tehran. Apparently we got a better rate than our app said. Good times. The exchange booth can be found on the upper floor, right next to one of the exits. Hotels can also be paid with euros or dollars, so do not exchange too much at once. Your Iranian Rial can not be used or exchanged anywhere else in the world. If you keep Rial and want to exchange it for euros, the price will be a lot less favourable.
Before we left for Iran, we obviously read a lot of articles about the country. Most articles we found told us Iran was supposedly a very expensive destination. For example, most people spent more than €60 per person per day. That is quite different from what we were used to traveling in Southeast Asia so we left for Iran a little anxiously. Afraid to see the balance on our bank account drop hard.
After the first few days we noticed that Iran was a lot cheaper than we read online. To be fair, accommodations are pricey, but besides that (and the car) we really didn’t spend a lot. Below you can read per category how much we spent while backpacking in Iran.
How expensive is food in Iran
Although the food in Iran is delicious, it can be more difficult to find cheap meals than in other countries in Asia. The first day we ordered at a local restaurant one dish to share. Just to try. Then we immediately realised that one standard meal is more than enough for two so we almost always shared a dish. Recommended! Because throwing away food is a waste of course and it is also good for your bank account. For dinner we almost always ordered an extensive local dish such as kebab or abgoosht.
For lunch we often ate a falafel sandwich at a ‘fast food restaurant’. Breakfast is always included at accommodations, just like unlimited tea. Besides lunch and dinner we spent money on Iranian delicacies, such as saffron ice cream, various nuts and all kinds of sweets that we wanted to try. Alcohol is banned in Iran, so we also saved money on this ‘inconvenience’.
In total, we spent €201.09 for food and drinks in Iran. This amounts to an average of €12.57 per day for two people. We never really paid attention on how much we spent on food, because often we did not even know in advance how expensive a dish was.
It’s a good idea to learn the Farsi numbers, which isn’t hard. Study the ‘donkey bridges’ (Dutch for mnemonics).
- 0 – ۰ – ‘dot’
- 1 – ۱ – ‘one’
- 2 – ۲ – ‘one flag’
- 3 – ۳ – ‘two flags’
- 4 – ۴ – ‘c flag’
- 5 – ۵ – ‘up side down heart’
- 6 – ۶ – ‘nine or a four’
- 7 – ۷ – ‘seVen’
- 8 – ۸ – ‘Aight’
- 9 – ۹ – ‘nine’
Costs for accommodation in Iran
Paying for a bed will be the biggest cost item during your trip in Iran. Cheap accommodations as in Southeast Asia are not available. If you do not mind sleeping in a dormitory or sharing a bathroom, it can be cheaper. We always slept in a double room with private bathroom.
In total, we spent an amount of €550 for 16 nights for accommodations in Iran. This amounts to an average of €34.44 per night for two people. Breakfast was always included. Only a few accommodations in Iran can be found on Booking.com. This is because at the time of writing it’s still pretty hard to have money transfers to and from Iran. But things are changing slowly. Our favourite (and cheapest) guesthouse is Iran, Varzaneh Traditional Guesthouse. They recently got registered on the big hotel booking site. Nice!
Cost of transportation in Iran
We subdivided this bullet point into two categories: Cost of a rental car and cost of public transportation.
Rent a car
Of course you can travel by public transport in Iran. This comes down to between €1 and €2 per hour in a bus. We chose to rent a car in order to have more freedom and to be able to go wherever we wanted. I think travelling by car will be slightly more expensive than by public transport. Our advantage, however, was that we could stop anywhere and never have to book a tour. For the rental car we paid €330 for thirteen days. This cost us approximately €25 per day. We also paid a €250 deposit that we got back when we returned the car to Shiraz. The gasoline in Iran is very cheap and we did not spend €20 on refuelling while we drove more than 1000 kilometers. Read more on renting a car in Iran (and traffic habits)
Public transport and taxis
We only picked up our rental car on our last day in Tehran and returned to Shiraz two days before departure from Iran. In Tehran we have travelled a number of times by taxi and the metro. For the taxi from the airport in Teheran to the center we paid 750,000 Rial (about €18.50). The taxi from our guesthouse in Shiraz to the airport cost 100,000 Rial and for the metro in Tehran we paid about 8000 Rial (€0.20) per person, per trip.
Excursion costs in Iran
Entrance tickets for all kinds of things are relatively high. If you visit a lot of these places, it can cost you a lot. Almost all attraction cost around €4 per person. Of course there are a number of places that you shouldn’t miss, like Persopolis near Esfahan. You can, off course, visit all the Mosks, shrines and traditional houses, but it will cost you a fortune. In total we spent an amount of €38.70 for two people. For this we visited a traditional house in Kashan, Persopolis (200,000 Rial per person), the Nasir al Molk mosque in Shiraz, a salt lake near Varzaneh, the mountain cap Abyaneh and the former American embassy in Tehran.
Other expenses include various expenses such as a warm coat for Kirsten, socks, souvenirs, cigarettes and costs for toilet visit. Especially for souvenirs we spent quite a bit, because we already knew in that we would return home in December, so loading up our backpacks with some Iranian souvenirs wasn’t a bad idea. In total we spent an amount of €85 on ‘other expenses’. This amounts to €5.31 per day. So these are expenses that not everyone will have to make.
Conclusion costs Iran: How expensive is Iran?
Although we read in advance that Iran would not be a cheap destination, we didn’t think it was that bad. In total we spent €1,265 for 16 days Iran, on average this is about €39.50 per person per day. Obviously spending on travel is very personal and does not mean that you spend as much or as little as we do, so be sure to bring a few extra Euros or US Dollars with you. Don’t worry, you won’t get mugged. Iranians are one of the nicest people we met.
Did you expect Iran to be more expensive or cheaper?