When I was mapping out my trip to Iran, I found it difficult to determine the stops. This country has so many wonderful places to visit. My boyfriend and I had about three weeks to spend in Iran and you would say that it is plenty of time. But if you have to use some of it to apply for a visa for Turkmenistan and China (because Iran was part of our long overland journey), you have to make choices. Luckily, the city of Kashan was a no-brainer, because this is a true gem for culture and history lovers (like me). Kashan even became our favorite city in Iran, thanks to the lovely local host family where we stayed (later more on this). In this blog post, I’m sharing 5 fantastic things to do and see in Kashan, Iran.
1. Fin Garden – the most tranquil place of Kashan
Fin Garden was the first place that we visited in Kashan, and it was recommended by our hosts. According to them, it was a beautiful place and they were totally right. The long rectangular-shaped fountains and detailed domes of the bathhouses were indeed stunning. The history of Fin Garden goes all the way back to the 16th century, making it the oldest garden complex in Iran. It is composed of four squares, referring to the four elements from the indigenous religion Zoroastrianism. These are heaven, earth, water, and plants. However, Iranians don’t just visit this garden to take some nice selfies, they also come for another (more historical) reason. This is also the place where beloved 19th-century prime minister Amir Kabir was murdered while he was in the hammam.
How to get here: Fin Garden is located 7 kilometers outside the city center, so the best way to get here is by taxi (use the app Snapp). Entrance fee: 200,000 IR.
2. Traditional houses quarter – Kashan’s most popular tourist attraction
If you have to remember one thing about Kashan, it should be the traditional houses. This is what Kashan is known for in Iran. There used to be about a hundred traditional houses dotted around the center. They were built by 19th-century merchants to serve as holiday homes. Nowadays most of them have disappeared, but the ones that are still there, show that no expenses were spared during the construction. The interior, as well as the exterior, show an amazing amount of detail.
The best of Kashan’s traditional houses:
- Borujerdi House: smaller than the other ones, but no less beautiful. The most extraordinary thing about this house is the three wind towers. These pillars used to function as air-conditioning in the old days.
- Tabatabaei House: this was my favorite traditional house! It has so many details and it has the most beautiful stained glass of all the houses.
- Abbasi House: also this house is known for its beautiful stained glass.
- Ameriha House: the largest of all traditional houses, with 85 rooms and seven courtyards. Back in the day, seven families were living here, so they all needed their own garden. Today this place is a hotel.
Tip: every house has an entrance fee of about 150,000 IR. If you want to see a couple of them, I would recommend buying the combi-ticket. You can then visit three houses for a price of 350,000 IR. The houses are conveniently located near each other, so it’s only a 5 – 10 minute walk from one to the other.
3. Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse – check out the quirky roof
While checking off the best traditional houses of Kashan, you must not forget to also make a stop at the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse. The halls of this extravagant bathhouse are gorgeous with their turquoise and golden tilework. But what I loved most about this place, was the oddly-looking roof. The steam towers make it look like a weird bubbling moon landscape.
Good to know: you can also visit this bathhouse with the combi-ticket of 350,000 IR. Without this ticket, the entrance fee is 150,000 IR.
4. Agha Bozorg Mosque – an absolute gem
Not far from the traditional house quarter, you’ll find Kashan’s grand Agha Bozorg Mosque. This 19th-century complex is walled in, so from the outside you will not see much. But once you made your way through the gate, you will see how big this place actually is. Unlike the traditional houses, the mosque was surprisingly quiet when we were there. I guess the hot weather in the middle of the day kept people away, but it didn’t stop us. If you ask me this place is an absolute must-visit in Kashan. Because of the symmetrical layout, you can also take gorgeous photos.
Don’t forget, this is a mosque so it requires appropriate clothing. Women will get a chador at the entrance and there’s even a lady helping to put it on. There’s no entrance fee.
5. Bazaar of Kashan – the most beautiful one in Iran
Last but not least, I recommend going to the bazaar of Kashan. You should visit a bazaar in every Iranian city because it’s an authentic way to make contact with locals. As a tourist, you will draw attention and people will want to talk to you. Just to ask something, to tell you about Iran or to get a quick photo. Moreover, the bazaars are often sights themselves. For instance, the bazaar of Kashan dates back to the 10th century. The blue roof of the central bazaar square is the biggest attraction, so don’t forget to check that out. Our visit to the bazaar was special because we joined our host family. We visited the shop of the grandfather of the family and we tasted faloodeh for the first time. You should try this dessert in every Iranian city because they all have their own version.
Kashan style faloodeh with ice cream.
More things to do in Kashan:
- Imamzadeh-ye Sultan Mir Ahmad: a small but beautiful shrine next to Tabatabaei House.
- Kashan’s center: it’s not only about the sights in Kashan, the center itself is also a pleasant place to walk around. It’s a lot less hectic than Tehran or Shiraz, so you can easily wander around.
- Day trips to Abyaneh and Aran o Bidgol: you could also explore outside of Kashan. Head over the red village Abyaneh or visit the gigantic shrine of Imamzadeh Hilal Ibn Alin in Aran o Biggol. These places are on my list for next time!
How to get to Kashan?
The bus is the best and cheapest way to travel in Iran. You have two options: the VIP bus or a regular 32-seater. Tourists often end up in the VIP bus. It comes with a nice big, comfy chair and even a snack during the ride. We always bought tickets at the station and it was never a problem. However, during the Nowruz holiday in April it could be a different story. At the station, every bus company has its own ticket booth. So you’ll have to find the company that serves your destination. Or just ask around, because Iranians are happy to help tourists find their way.
We traveled to Kashan from Tehran and got on a VIP bus from Tehran South Bus Terminal (Terminal—Jonoob/Terminal-e-Khazaneh). Use metro line 1 to get here (Payane Jonoob stop). The VIP bus to Kashan leaves every 20 minutes. The ride takes 3 – 4 hours and costs 250,000 IR per person. Please note that there is a direct bus to Kashan and a bus to Isfahan with a stop in Kashan. This last bus does not stop in the center of Kashan, so it’s better to avoid this one.
Where to stay in Kashan?
We stayed at a local host family that we spontaneously met on the street in Tehran. They just came up to us for a talk (like so many interactions start in Iran) and invited us to stay with them in Kashan. Our reaction: why not? This became one of the most unforgettable experiences during our world trip. We met the whole family (from uncles to grandmas), went carpet shopping, ate delicious home-made food, and talked and danced deep into the night.
Are you looking for a nice hostel or hotel in Kashan? Then I would recommend Amirza Traditional House (rated with a 9,6 and it has free breakfast). Another good option is Kashan Persian House (also rated with a 9,6 and free breakfast).
Where to eat?
We had most of our meals at the family home, but I do want to highlight one place where we had a terrific lunch. Go to Cafe 3IN, close to Tabatabaei House. Vegetarians and vegans can go for the kashke bademjan (eggplant dip with bread) and meat-eaters should go for the dizi (according to my boyfriend). Also, order the icy rose water (Kashan is known for rose water).
And there you have it: 5 terrific things to do in Kashan. Do you want to visit this city?
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