Solo Female Travel to Iran: Is it really safe for women?

“Is it safe to travel to Iran?” That was the single most asked question people managed to come up with when they heard I planned my 2 week trip to Iran. Now, I get it. Iran is a bit controversial. You cannot travel without a guided tour if you’re an American, Canadian or British passport holder, but fortunately for me: I have a passport from the Netherlands. So I planned for my solo female travel to Iran. And people worried about my safety. A lot.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran

So.. Is it safe for a woman to travel solo in Iran?

I can only answer that question with “YES”. Every time people asked me this, I wanted to respond with: “Duh! Of course not. I plan to put myself in danger and travel to an unsafe country willingly.” But I managed to keep the sarcasm deep within and just decided to go and see for myself.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
The picture I used to announce my travel to Iran on social media.

Of course I was nervous. I am always nervous on every solo adventure. But I can honestly say: I have never felt unsafe on my solo female travel in Iran. Not once during my 2 week travels in Iran did I feel unwelcome. I never encountered any hostile feelings and I did not see anyone get arrested or harmed in any way.

Read more: 2 weeks Iran travel itinerary

Examples of why I felt safe during my solo travel in Iran

Below are some examples that illustrate why I felt safe traveling solo in Iran.

All tour guides showed me their badge with their name and photo, showing they were official tour guides for Iran.

Most taxi drivers introduced themselves to me, showed me their registration number on their window. One taxi driver even called a friend who spoke English, to check if I was still ok during our taxi ride (ok, driving and mobile phone use is not safe, but hey, it is Iran!).

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Enjoying the desert sun set in Yazd

I noticed on a couple of occassions that the receptionist of the hotel would snap a picture of the license plate of the taxi picking up guests of the hotel.

These are just small examples of people showing that they have your best interest at heart. Overall it was a warm feeling to meet with Iranian people and answer their questions.

Read more: Solo but not single female traveller.

But what about ISIS and terrorism in Iran?

In all fairness, I keep myself far from any political issues. In everyday life and this is no different when I travel. I must confess I do not know exactly where ISIS is occupying any land (I know not in Iran) and I do not know where terrorism will strike next (does anyone ever know?).

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
First day in Iran, a little bit nervous for sure but the sun shine, smiles and colourful patterns took that away quickly.

At the moment, I feel wearier to travel to London or in the subways, than when I travelled in Iran as a solo female traveller.

But what about the negative travel advice from your local authorities?

I read the travel advice issued by our foreign affair offices. They state that the border areas with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are high risk areas. They also warm against criminal activities in the eastern provinces. As I wasn’t planning on going anywhere near them, I felt confident before my travels. I read about the problems, I was aware of the issues and until I would face them, there wasn’t much I could do about it, so why worry about them?

Always consult your local foreign affair offices for any travel advice.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Esfahan is truly half the world

Read more: How to reassure worried parents for solo travel plans?

So I wasn’t worried at all for my solo female travel to Iran?

Yes I was worried. I was concerned to bring enough money, as foreigners cannot use Iranian ATM’s or banks.

Read more: My 2 weeks travel budget for Iran.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Dealing with the money in Iran was different than my previous travels

I worried about using squat toilets with my Crohn’s disease. And I felt a bit too tired before I left and I was worried that I didn’t learn enough Farsi. Those were my concerns.

Read more: Woman’s Practical Preparations for Travel to Iran

My boyfriend worried a lot about me getting arrested for photographing something that isn’t allowed. I almost snapped a picture of an armed soldier in front of a gate with a sign next to it that showed it was forbidden to take photographs. Just to show him that things are fairly well indicated. Obviously, I didn’t take a photograph of it.

And nothing bad happened during my solo travel in Iran?

Actually: No! I know many people will not believe me. They want to hear the negative stories, but I do not have that much to share. At my last hostel, the Iranian girl that worked there asked me: “what is the worst thing that happened to you as a solo female traveller in Iran?” and I had to think long and hard. I did come up with a few answers (because I know you want to hear something), but I don’t think they are that bad and definitely didn’t feel unsafe, mainly uncomfortable.

#1. The traffic in Iran

The only thing dangerous in Iran is the traffic. Crossing the street as a pedestrian or even sitting in a bus or taxi demands nerves of steel. As it was out of my control when I sat in a taxi or bus, I stopped to worry about it. When I crossed the road I adopted the matrix-philosophy. There is no spoon. There is no traffic. Just cross the road and trust they will not hit you.

Related: Is it safe to travel to Cologne train station as a solo female traveller?

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Even at night I didn’t feel unsafe

#2. Iranian people love me

Just arrived in Esfahan, I walked on the streets towards the bridge. A guy walked really close next to me and said (repeatedly) with a creepy voice: I love you. As it was a long street, he continued to follow my tracks. Slowed down when I slowed down, speed up when I walked faster etc. Because it was in the middle of the day, on a crowded street, I wasn’t scared he would do something to me; I was just very much annoyed by the unwanted attention.

Read more: How travel to Iran ruined my future travel experiences

#3. Unwanted photoshoot

While I sat on a bench in a park in Shiraz, I gathered my thoughts, trying to figure out where to go next, when a shabby looking man stood opposite me. He held up his phone to indicated that he wanted to take a picture. Thanks to Alex’s story about sexual harassment in Iran I was very vigilant about men wanted to take pictures of me and I definitely didn’t want this man to have any image of me. I gestured to him that I didn’t want this. I looked the other way, pushed my sunglasses higher up my nose and tried to cover as much as possible of myself with my headscarf, I heard that oh-so-familiar click of his phone snapping a picture. After this, he walked away and I was just very irked.

In my opinion, these 2 occurrences are really the only things remotely negative about my time in Iran. They were not unsafe situations; I didn’t feel at risk and didn’t feel anyone would harm me.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Nothing but smiles in Iran

Read more: My love letter to Shiraz Iran

Over the years I have travelled around quite a bit, in a group and as a solo female traveller, and now I have gathered quite a few unpleasant experiences and potential dangerous situations. I do not count the above mentioned stories from Iran among them and I felt safe during time travelling in Iran.

What was it like: Solo Female Travel Iran?

I heard stories Iran is not made for solo travel (male or female) and people will ask where your tour groups is. This didn’t happen to me once. Nobody asked where my group was. I felt welcome everywhere I went. Woman wanted to talk to me and men wanted to talk to me too. Vendors didn’t harrass me to buy carpets, drink tea or visit their uncle’s gift shop (yes I mean you Turkey). Iranian people didn’t stare at me. They didn’t avoid sitting next to me. Nothing like that.

Read more: Best places to see the desert in Iran.

Instead, they wanted to chat with me. Iranian people wanted to know where I was from and what I thought about Iran. They invited me to chat with them, eat with them and share experiences with them. Iran felt like a warm welcome. I consider Iran one of the easiest countries to travel around as a solo female traveller.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
First day in Tehran: exploring after only 4 hours of sleep.

During my trip as a solo female traveller in Iran, I felt things where easier for me. I got the last seat on the bus or in the shared taxi. It was easy for me to snatch the last bed in the hostels I stayed in. I felt I was more approachable for other travellers and Iranian people.

Was there a downside to solo travel in Iran?

I might have paid a wee- little bit more Rials than couples who travel or groups of friends travelling together in Iran. I used a lot of taxis (shared but also private ones) which cost the same for 1 person or 5 people. As it mostly was just me, I paid full price a lot. Other than that, I didn’t feel Iran was any different than any other country to travel solo in.

Read more: Visa on Arrival at Tehran Airport. How does it work?

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
Gorgeous Iran

Disclaimer: These are only my personal experiences. I travelled solo in Iran for 2 weeks in February and March 2017. I am a Dutch citizen and travelled in touristic areas like Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Kashan. Everyone is always responsible for their own actions and wherever you travel to in the world you have to be careful and mindful of your surroundings. In no way, I want to abolish anyone else’s experiences with (negative) solo female travel to Iran. These are just my own personal experiences and opinions.

Still not sure if solo travel in Iran is safe?

Maybe you feel better to book a tour. Solo travel is not for everyone and solo travel in Iran might be a little too much. I found, once I got there, things worked out great and I didn’t have any problems. You still might feel better when you book a tour. But tours are expensive. I found a budget tour around Iran for you. Feel free to check out the itinerary and costs.
Discover Iran with €199

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Travel to Iran, Solo travel to Iran, Photo E-Book, pictures of Iran
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Do you consider to travel solo to Iran? What is holding you back? What are your worries and feelings about solo female travel to Iran? Let me know in the comment section below.

Is solo travel in Iran safe? Can a solo female travel to Iran? I did it so I can tell you my experiences about the safety of a solo female traveller in Iran
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  1. Pingback: Solo female travel in Iran: travelling to Iran as a woman

  2. Kathy

    I am aware that this is an old blog post, but I have been trying to find information in preparation for my own solo trip to Iran next year. Thank you! Your stories were very reassuring. I still have some concerns about getting into a taxi by myself, especially when arriving in Iran in the middle of the night! I am sometimes concerned about catching a taxi at night in my own country, so the thought of getting into a car with an unknown man at night, in a country where there are not many women travelling by themselves, scares me. I wonder if you have any advice on this? I also wonder if you used tour guides or if you mostly explored by yourself? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kathy, I went to Iran last year and I booked my airport taxi in advance via a company. This still meant I had to get into a taxi with someone I didn’t know, but I had a company behind it and I forwarded the e-mails to my friend. With travel in Iran, I snapped pictures of the licence plates of the taxis, always had the hotel arrange them for me and they also snapped pictures of the licence plates. I did a few tours, like for example a tour via my hotel to Persepolis. Other times, I just walked around, explored on my own, paid entrance fee and roamed around. I did hire a few times a taxi driver to drive me around the sights, you can find more details in my post about my travel budget, which you might find helpful (here Let me know if you have any other questions Kathy. I’m sure you’ll be fine once you get there, it’s more the anxiety upfront but once you get there and ease up a bit, you’ll see things are not as bad.

  3. That have the particular increase associated with extremist groups in the actual Middle East,
    it’s understandable that will the question “is that safe to travel to Iran” is a hot issue.

    But the great news is actually that Iran is actually one of the most secure
    and most stable places inside the Middle East.

  4. Pingback: Is Iran Safe For Tourists? - The Round the World Guys

  5. Pingback: Anxiety and Terrorism: Why You Can't Let Fear Win - Blond Wayfarer

  6. Iran looks like a beautiful country. I would really like to visit it one day . . . I’m heading to my first Middle Eastern country in May and I’m so excited. I’m definitely saving this for future reference. It looks like you had a wonderful time there!

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. It definitely opened my mind to possibilities. I think I’ll pass on traveling to Iran solo thou. I am not much of a solo traveler. The only place I could imagine traveling alone is Vegas baby!

  8. Kyntra Strickland

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Iran looks beautiful and it seems like you had a lovely time. I hate that there is such a negative stigma about traveling in Iran.

  9. I know someone from Iran and he is one of the kindest people I’ve met (he also works for the Dutch embassy in Tehran) and the stories he told me about Iran make me want to visit so badly. It’s such a beautiful and interesting country that I hope I have the opportunity to visit one day, whether solo or in a group (as an American, the latter seems more likely!). Thank you for your insight in this post!

  10. Steph

    Love this, I felt the exact same way when I solo traveled in India. One interesting thing that I did not know is that foreigners cannot use Iranian ATM’s or banks. This is such a helpful tip!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing all of this! It takes a brave person to go despite the warnings of others. I think you help shed light on the beauty of places that are having negative energy in the media, and that is a wonderful thing. The world needs more posts like this to help eliminate fear of the differences between us all!

  12. great post!! I have heard so many stories about safety in Iran and I did not know what to believe… Thanks for your tips and clarification! I love Arabic countries, I lived in Qatar for 9 years and i have travelled around Middle East quite a lot 🙂

  13. Great read! Iran is often seen as such a scary place, and yet you are one of a few solo female travellers who have been and had no issues, and found the locals quite friendly. Looks like such a magical place- definitely on my list!

  14. Kat

    Always nice to hear such stories! My parents were travelling in Iran a couple of years ago and even though they were a part of the group and probably had a different experience I´ve been thinking about visiting ever since, because they had such a great experience! They said it was super nice and everyone so frinedly. Did you by any chance meet someone who was travelling around with a rented car? We have a 5-year old who is used to travel and i bet the Iranians are crazy about kids just as any other country in the Middle East so i dont think that would be a problem ;). Might be going there in October if hubby is up for driving ;).

    1. They love all people but especially kids of course! I haven’t met any tourists who hired a car. I found the public transport quite easy but with a family renting a car might be more profitable. I did find the traffic in the cities chaotic and scary, but outside the cities the roads were good, with good road signs. maybe hire a car and leave it at the edge of the bigger cities at a hotel or guesthouse and go into the cities by taxi or bus.

      1. Kat

        will have to look into it – otherwise we have driven cars in Morocco, Oman and similar countries and have sometimes done it like you said – found a place to sleep outside the centre and took a taxi then ;).

  15. Glad to hear you had such a good time in Iran. I’ve been twice (1999 and 2005) and will definitely go back sometime. Iranians are the most hospitable people I’ve met anywhere. I ate in the homes of strangers, got lifts from strangers and was generally made to feel very welcome.

  16. What an amazing experience for you – the mosques and desert and all the clothes look beautiful. I get this same question a lot about Morocco – it seems to be something people worry about specifically with Muslim countries. Which is a bit silly as of course there is danger everywhere, and it’s not like the average solo female traveler will purposely go to a war/border zone! I have a friend who moved to my city from Iran (I’m from the US but I live in the UK now), and to be honest, he often asks me if it’s safe in the USA, with the news blowing up about all those shootings!

  17. It is a very topical article especially in the modern context. More and more women are traveling solo across the world. Even in my country India, a traditional society, women are breaking the cultural barriers and embracing solo travel.

  18. This is such a lovely post, it’s made me feel much more comfortable with Iran as a travel destination. I actually have a British passport so would have to go with a tour group, however, I’d love to take the chance to do so. Your pictures are lovely!

    1. Leila Ghanbari

      Iranian tourists have the similar Problem in other countries because it is not possible for them to have Visa card or other international credit cards usable out of Iran. So they also have to carry cash money with them in their travels.

  19. Interesting read! I didn’t realise British passport holders needed a guide or that foreigners are not permitted to use ATMs or Banks. But I am encouraged to hear the general concern and care for your safety people displayed, and the taxi driver that called an English speaker to confirm you were OK went the extra mile (even if driving whilst on the phone isn’t best practice!).

    1. Alireza

      Foreigners can use Iranian ATMs and banks freely, the same as Iranians. The problem is that international banks are not operating in Iran and therefore you cannot use your VISA and MasterCard or other international debit/credit cards in Iran. The solution is to take enough cash (in any major currency) and exchange in Iran (in banks or private exchange companies). In some hotels and shops, you can choose to pay in foreign currency. If you don’t want to carry cash in Iran, you can open a tourist account with a private bank upon arrival in Iran, put your money in and receive an Iranian debit card and use it in any ATM or retailer

    2. Thanks Vicki, we are permitted to use the ATM or banks, they just don’t work. Iranian banks are not connected to our western banks and bankcards, so we won’t be able to get any cash with our bank cards. If you have an iranian bankcard or bank account, you can use all the banks in Iran (and there many!!)

  20. I didn’t know Iran had such a bad reputation! The loving man would creep me out a bit, but then again, a guy rubbed his hard on on my ass once in Mexico and I still think it’s pretty much a safe country to travel to. I find that whenever i travel solo, the thing that stands out the most is people wanting to feed me (just finished a soup they gave me at a cafe yesterday without asking or paying) and generally going out of their way to help me, most of the time in a kind, absolutely non-creepy way. And giving me a lot of phone numbers, urging me to call them if i have any problem, even inviting me to their home to stay with their family 🙂

  21. Wow these photos are stunning, especially the one of you in the desert! I’ve been hearing such great things about Iran and it’s wonderful to see another post promoting it as a safe travel destination for women. Now I just have to decide when to go!

  22. Hahah, I loved the Iranian men loving you part! But in all seriousness, I feel it’s horrible that people have this negative perception of traveling in the Middle East. I really do feel they are some of the most warm, humble and generous people I’ve met. So thanks for being so outspoken on the topic, it’s so important to address the misconception.

  23. Jen

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I think it’s important to get a balance of experiences and to show people the world isn’t as scary as the media portrays. Or, at least, one place is not typically more dangerous than any other place.

  24. Great post! My friend was just there with her two young kids (her family lives there). I think this question can be asked of just about any place. Iran seems to get a bad rap, but it’s such a beautiful country. With common sense, no place is too dangerous for women to travel alone to.

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