Despite there being a city here called Shiraz, you’ll have to forego a nice glass of wine in Iran – or any other alcohol, come to that; and coffee-addicts won’t do so well either. But sip a cup of refreshing mint tea and look around, and you’ll find plenty to distract you: people have lived here since the Stone Age, and the last 3000 years have been especially busy.
Elegant marble mosques, intricately-decorated palaces, imposing mausoleums, manicured gardens and mud-brick villages, it’s all here, plus a 5km maze of bazaar alleyways in Isfahan: enough to keep the most rabid bargainer happy. This is Persia, so leave room in your luggage for a carpet – or at least a richly-patterned rug; and there’s even a Carpet Museum in Teheran. But Persepolis is the place to marvel at what can be achieved in a couple of millennia: vast stately palaces, halls, royal tombs and more, with columns, huge bas-reliefs, great sweeping staircases. All this is just what Alexander the Great didn’t destroy!
And then there are the people: hospitable, kind and friendly, just waiting to welcome you.