The Best Isfahan Travel Guide Map to Visit the Top Places in Isfahan
Visiting the top tourist attractions and coming up with the best things to do in Isfahan, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Iran, requires an efficient plan. Why? Let me tell you!
Since the Safavid dynasty, Isfahan has been carrying the title “Nesfeh Jahan” or ‘Half of the World’. And, believe me, it is no exaggeration! A city whose history stretches back to a time well before the ruling of the Medes (678-594 BC) and has been the capital of Iran three times, during the Buyid, Saljuq and Safavid dynasties, holds so many treasures in its heart and deserves well such a grand epithet.
Now, tourists usually spend two days in Isfahan and may feel confused by the huge number of tourist attractions on offer for them to visit. So, if you are among such tourists, we invite you to read our article to have a two-day itinerary for visiting and enjoying all the shining gems of Isfahan.
To buy your insurance and visa for travelling to Iran, please click here.
A Two-day Itinerary to Visit Isfahan (Isfahan Travel guide map)
As mentioned above, our plan is to visit Isfahan, the City of Turquoise Domes, in two days.
On the first day, we visit the splendid Safavid monuments in Isfahan:
- Naqshe Jahan Square (Imam Square)
- Qeysarie Gate
- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- Jame Abbasi Mosque
- Ali Qapu Palace
- Qeysarieh Bazaar
- Chehel Sotoun Palace
- Hasht Behesht Palace
- Chahar Bagh Boulevard
On the second day, we will have an excursion to other architectural marvels scattered throughout Isfahan, including:
- Atiq Jame Mosque
- Vank Cathedral
- Isfahan Music Museum
- Historical Bridges of Isfahan ( Si-o-Se pol Bridge and Khaju Bridge)
So, let us be at Imam Hosein Square or what locals call “Darvazeh Dolat” at 8:30 a.m (most sights open at 9:00 a.m), since Naqshe Jahan Square (literally meaning the Image of the World) is our first and major destination on the first day. (It is advisable to consult the Google Map to find your way to the Naqshe Jahan Square in case you prefer another direction based on your location.)
The beautiful Chahar Bagh Street lies on the south of the Darvazeh Dolat square. But, let’s forget it for the moment and go to the Sepah Street, on the east of the square. There, don’t miss the opportunity to have a glance at the old building of Isfahan’s municipality, built during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi.
also read: Download Isfahan city guide
Day One: The Safavid Architectural Gems in Isfahan
Take the Sepah Street and go straight to the Naqshe Jahan Square. If you haven’t had your breakfast, you can pause at Mesghali (or Mesqali) Timche and enjoy a delicious one in the following coffee shops on your way to the Safavid Square:
- Story Café (Café Dastan)
Opening Time: 9:00 a.m.
Closing Time: 12:00 p.m
Tell: +98 0939 392 3390
- Copper and Carpet Café (Mes-o-Ghali Café)
Opening Time: 9:00 a.m.
Closing Time: 11:30 p.m.
Tell: +98 31 32222764
Address: Mesghali (Mesqali) Timche, opposite to the Tax Administration office of Isfahan, Sepah Street, Isfahan, Iran
At the end of Sepah Street, you will enter the much-awaited Naqshe Jahan Square. (It is strongly advised to go to one of the ends of the square to watch it. In this manner, the true size and grandness of the square is appreciated.) Well, let us begin!
Naqshe Jahan Square (also known as Imam Square), built during the 16th century by Shah Abbas the Great, can be said to be the most important attraction in Isfahan. It measures 525 m by 159 m, making it the second largest square in the world after the Tiananmen Square in China. This vast square, representing such elements of power as politics, economy and religion, is surrounded by lines of shops and features a number of unique examples of Islamic architecture which we are going to explain below. Warning! Do not forget to visit the square in the evening while local people are picnicking there and you can’t imagine how beautiful it is at night.
Qeysarie Gate or Qeysarie portal is the door to Isfahan Grand Bazaar. However, it is not just a simple door. If you look at it carefully, marvels would be revealed to you. For example, three frescos decorate the middle part of the portal; the one on left represents Shah Abbas in a hunting scene, the middle one again represents shah Abbas but this time fighting with Uzbecks, and the right one shows Westerners at the Safavid court. Finally, high above the portal, there is the symbol of Isfahan, the well-known Sagittarius, the patron of merchants and businessmen.
As the description above the portal indicates, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a gift to the children of Imam Ali, the first Imam of Shia Muslims. So, it should be something grand to deserve such a family. And, that’s how it is. Marveling at the beautifully designed geometrical designs, you will get at the door of the mosque. Then, you will pass through two short, garden-like corridors and will reach the main prayer hall. Now, be prepared to visit one the most marvelous, astonishing prayer halls in the world. The geometrical and floral designs and the faience tile-work in this prayer hall are among the most unique art the world has to offer. So, get your cameras and mobiles ready for selfies and stories on Instagram.
Rest for a While in Naqshe Jahan Square
After visiting so many stunners, you may feel a little bit tired. I advise Roozegar Café as a calm place for a short rest, letting your mind digest all the previously seen beauties.
- Roozegar café:
Opening Time: 9:00 a.m.
Closing Time: 10:45 p.m.
Address: Charsoo Maqsud, Naqshe Jahan square, Isfahan
- Azadegan Café (Chah Haj Mirza Café)
If you are interested in traditional cafés filled with antique objects and local food, Azadegan Café (or as locals call it: Chah Haj Mirza Café) is the best choice for you. In addition to its many other wonders, you can taste one of the strange specialties of Isfahan, Doogh and Gooshfil. Doogh is a kind of sour yogurt drink, while Gooshfil is a type of sweet pastry. Try it and tell us about your experience of having Doogh and Gooshfil.
Opening Time: 10:30 a.m.
Closing Time: 12:00 a.m.
Address: Chah Haj Mirza Alley, Naqshe Jahan Square, Isfahan
Tell: +98 31 32211225
A high Portal, towering minarets, artistically fabricated tile-work, delicate geometrical and floral designs, two theological schools and the longest tile-inscription among all the mosques in Iran are what make the Jame Abbasi Mosque a work of art. This mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see attraction for every tourist who is going to visit Isfahan.
Note: You should be aware that Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Jame Abbasi Mosque will close about two hours at prayer time. (Around 1:00 p.m. during spring and summer and around 11:30 during autumn and winter.)
Standing high in the Naqshe Jahan Square, the Ali Qapu Palace was built as a gateway to the Safavid Dowlatkhaneh and the royal palaces behind it. Also, it was used for royal receptions and entertainment. The reception hall of the palace is decorated with fine paintings, delicate stucco work and amazing Gereh-Chini work. The five-storey palace includes a vaulted passage way (called Ali Qapu which means the Great Portal and provides the name of this property), a series of rooms with Moqarnas decoration, a reception hall decorated with fine frescos, stucco work and Gereh-chini and a columned terrace which boasts an amazing, panoramic view of the square. But, the highlight of the building is the music hall on the highest floor of the property, decorated with exceptionally shapes and designs.
Having a Delicious Meal in Naqshe Jahan Square
When you finish visiting the beautiful monuments in the Naqghe Jahan Square, it is almost time for lunch. I recommend you eating in the following restaurants:
- Sofreh khaneh Sonnati
Located on the east side of the Naqshe Jahan Square, Sofreh Khaneh Sonnati (or the Traditional Eating House) provides the atmosphere of a lavishly decorated Iranian house and a variety of delicious, quality Iranian dishes.
Address: Sofrekhaneh Sonnati, Saraye Espadana, Naqshe Jahan Square, Isfahan
Tell: +98 31 32200729
- Namakdan Mansion
The cozy, intimate courtyard of the Namakdan Mansion is the best choice for you if you are into places regularly attended by the locals. The menu of the restaurant is small, but it offers the most famous traditional dishes associated with the name, Iran.
Opening Time: 9:30 a.m.
Closing Time: 11:30 p.m.
Address: Namakdan Mansion, Posht Matbakh Alley, Naqshe Jahan Square, Isfahan
Tell: +98 31 32247313
After lunch, it is time to leave Naqshe Jahan Square and visit some monuments close to the square. So, let us go to Ostandari Street and visit another Safavid monument.
Reconstructed by Shah Abbas II, Chehel Sotoun Palace was mainly used to receive the dignitaries and envoys of foreign countries. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Chehel Sotoun Palace is a prime example of the world-known Persian gardens. At the center of the garden, there is a long pool and a pavilion comprised of a columned portico, two mirror halls and a reception hall. The reception hall is decorated by colorful frescos, representing Safavid kings hosting their foreign guests.
Located in Shahid Rajaee Park, Hash Behesht Palace was built in the 17th century by the order of Shah Suleiman. Hasht Behesht Palace (Hasth Behesht meaning Eight Heavens) is a two-storey pavilion consisting of a cross-shaped hall surrounded by eight rooms on each floor. Although everything in this palace has an octagonal shape, each one of the rooms has its own unique structure and decoration. If you are curious enough to see an architectural wonder, the Hasht Behesht Palace is for sure a must-see!
If you have a look at your watch, it should be around 4 or 5 in the evening. You have seen all the important Safavid architectural wonders and there is no point to have any fear of being shut out behind the closed doors to the Safavid beauties.
Now, you have two options: you can either visit the famous Qeysarie Bazaar or have a stroll in the Chahar Baq Street.
Built by the order of Shah Abbas the Great, the 6000 meter long Qeysarie Bazaar or the Grand Bazaar of Isfahan is interspersed with shops, caravanserais, theological schools and some public baths (although they have no function today!). You can spend days in this lively, colorful bazaar, enjoying and shopping the handicrafts and souvenirs of Isfahan. Isfahan is so famous for its carpets, calico (Qalamkari), enamel (minakari), engraving (Qalamzani), inlaid work (Khatamkari) and soul-enriching miniatures.
If you are not familiar with the handicrafts of Iran, you can read our article: A Travelers’ Guide to Shopping Handicrafts and Arts in Iran.
- Chahar Baq Street
During the Safavid period, Chahar Baq Street was one of the main locations in which Isfahanian people could have a stroll and enjoy their time. Lined with tall trees, decorated by colorful flowers and refreshed by water fountains, it was a receptacle of leisure and pleasure. Nowadays, the municipality is Isfahan is reconstructing the Chahar Baq Street based on its old plan. So, experiencing this new atmosphere, with many people coming and going, sandwich bars, coffee-shops, shops and shopping malls, would be tons of fun.
There are many fastfood restaurants along the Chahar Baq Boulevard, but if you prefer to have your supper in a restaurant, our choice would be one of the best restaurants in Isfahan, Shahrzad Restaurant:
- Shahrzad Restaurant
Considered as one the best restaurants in Isfahan, Shahrzad Restaurant is always buzzing with life. Inspired by the Qajarid decorative arts, colorful sash windows and delicate mirror work make Shahrzad Restaurant a real work of art and a scene so pleasant to human eye. The tastefully decorated environment of the restaurant is a perfect match for its tasty menu of traditional Iranian dishes. Try different types of Kebab and jooje kebab (chicken kebab) in this restaurant and you won’t regret it. Also, you should know that the restaurant is vegetarian friendly. All in all, everything is so delicious in this restaurant.
Opening Time: 11:00 a.m.
Closing Time: 10:30 p.m.
Tell: +98 31 32204490
Address: Abbas Abad Street, Chahar Baq Boulevard, Isfahan, Iran
Well, I hope you have had a day full of new experiences and enjoyed them a lot. Tomorrow, after a calm and refreshing sleep, we will begin our second day of visiting Isfahan. read the second part of Isfahan Travel Guide map here
If you want to visit Isfahan click here to book a hotel or hostel in Isfahan
I will discuss rest of the map in the second post .