Most visitors to Iran will spend at least a day or two in Tehran, the Islamic Republic’s capital city. Often described as Iran’s most liberal city, Tehran is by all accounts a world city. The Alborz Mountains create the perfect backdrop and can be seen everywhere throughout the city.
Tehran’s sprawling metropolis and never-ending traffic jams can be overwhelming for locals and tourists alike. Our advice? Escape the busy roads and explore Tehran on foot! We’ve compiled a list of Tehran’s top areas for walking. Our list is a mix of iconic city streets, parks and mountain hiking trails.
Darakeh in the city’s northwest serves as an oasis in the busy, concrete jungle that is Tehran. This little spot, nestled at the foothills of the mountains is a popular hiking trail for Tehranis and will impress international tourists with its natural beauty.
From where the road ends, you begin to ascend through traditional style restaurants and teahouses. Following the natural valley carved by a small river, you can climb for many kilometers up into the Alborz Mountains.
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Locals love Darakeh and as such a community action group has formed to collect rubbish that some people carelessly leave behind. Swarming with hikers on the weekends (note: the Iranian weekend is Thursday and Friday), it is best to go on the weekdays if you want peace and quiet.
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Vali Asr Street
Experience every aspect of Tehran by taking a walk along the iconic Vali Asr Street. Stretching 18 kilometers from north to south, Vali Asr is Iran’s longest street. Lined with towering poplar trees, Vali Asr Street is a jumble of shops, museums, parks, and office blocks.
Vali Asr Square in the downtown area is a good starting point. Duck into one of the hip cafes around the square and grab a cuppa before starting your walking tour. From Valiasr Square you can head north and just keep going! If your legs need a break, ride one of the regular northbound buses that travel along Valiasr and terminate in Tajrish.
Be sure to check out Saei Park, Vanak Square, Mellat Park, Cinema Museum of Iran, Tajrish Emam Zadeh and Tajrish Bazaar on the way. And take a camera, you’re sure to see something weird and wonderful as you go!
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The Nature Bridge in central Tehran is probably Tehran’s most famous green area. On foot, you can walk around this area for several hours, soaking up the greenery and perhaps visiting one of the several attractions within the precinct.
The Nature Bridge, with its award-winning architectural design, links together a series of parklands. The bridge crosses over an eight-lane highway and from standing atop you can see an amazing view of Tehran. The Ab-o-Atash Park side of the bridge includes a skate park, playground, restaurants, and planetarium. The nature reserve side, also known as Taleghani Forest Park, is a big forest with trails and a bunch of food trucks in the car park. Beyond the car park, the park opens up again to the Military Museum, the Book Garden, National Library of Iran and more parklands.
The Nature Bridge precinct is well connected with two metro stations, Hemmat and Haghani on the Red Line. The most popular time to visit is night.
Need more Tehran tips? Read, Discover Tehran: A Brief Guide to the Capital of Iran.
Similar to Darakeh, Darband is located in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains in the north of Tehran. Darband itself is a small village that is squashed in the valley but the name is used to describe the whole area.
Follow Darband Road up from Tajrish Square to arrive at the pedestrian-only area. For the first 500 meters or so the path is lined with street vendors, traditional restaurants and cafes but the smell of kebab eventually gives way to beautiful forests, waterfalls and sheer rock faces.
If you are a serious hiker you can climb to the peak, some 15 kilometers up the mountain. Along the way you will come across a cabin, where many hikers choose to stay the night. Several years ago a hiker perished in a snow blizzard on this trail and his family built this cabin to prevent further tragedies of this nature.
Darband is a popular dinner destination for locals. Many of the traditional restaurants here have their seating perched right over the flowing river. At night the area transforms into a kind of fairy land with the Persian rugs and colorful lanterns giving Darband somewhat of a mystical air.
Looking for shopping tips in Tehran, read: Shopping in Tehran – Where to Go and What to Expect.
Tochal is another mountain spot in the north of the city. Very popular with Iranians, Tochal is a mixture between a hiking trail and an amusement park. From here you can catch a cable car up to the peak, some 3,964 meters above sea level. During the winter months there is an operational ski field here.
At Tochal you can also ride a zip line, roller coaster and even go bungy jumping. Here you will find less natural beauty and more “outdoor adventure”. Tochal is good for people traveling with children.
Check out our pick of mid-range hotels in Tehran.
Behesht e Madaran Park
Although not an amazing place for walking, Behesht e Madaran is very unique in its own way. Behesht e Madaran translates to “Mother’s Paradise” so it comes to pass that this is a huge gated park in central Tehran is just for women. Female travelers can come here and join the local women who come here to picnic, dance, sing, exercise and (literally) let their hair down.
The park is quite large with lots of forest areas, paths, exercise equipment and gazebos. There is also a gym, outdoor pool and several places selling simple food and snacks.
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