Tehran: Local Travel Info
Modern and traditional, secular and religious, rich and poor
Internal flights and major international airports of Tehran
Tehran has four major airports – Doshan Tappeh Air Base, Qaleh Morgi Airport, Imam Khomeini International Airport and Mehrabad International Airport. Doshan Tappeh was used as a military base and is now closed (though still occupies a lot of space in eastern Tehran). Mehrabad is the closest to the city but was replaced by Imam Khomeini in most of its international flights, a gradual change completed in 2004. One can only fly to Saudi Arabia internationally from here now. Imam Khomeini is the main airport and is based 30km south of the city. You should be aware that if your passport has an Israeli stamp, you will not be allowed in Iran, those holding Israeli passports could be in even further trouble.
Getting to and from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran
Upon your arrival at the IKIA you are able to take taxis to different parts of Tehran. There are two official taxi agencies that serve the airport, which are TBT Taxi Co. (which charge 4500 rials per kilometre) and Sirosafar Taxi Co. which charge a flat rate of 120,000 rial to anywhere in Tehran including one suitcase. The nearest metro station is the shrine of Imam Khomeini, which you can either walk to or catch a short taxi-ride there.
Travel Costs in Tehran
Tehran is served very well by a sophisticated mass transit system. In terms of changing your money, there are more banks around than most places you’re likely to see, but they don’t convert currency. This is done at numerous exchange points for good, fair deals or slightly less fair, but convenient, from street exchangers. Buses link the city to the rest of Iran and are quite cheap but run on a confusing network. The Bus Rapid Transportation buses are of course, quicker and slightly more expensive – making them more crowded. The metro stations around the city also serve as a slightly cheaper alternative for rapid travel. Taxis and motorcycle taxis are a more luxurious way of getting around, though more expensive as many will charge per person.
Renting Cars in Tehran
If you are not an Iranian national, you shouldn’t really be hiring a car in Tehran. The car rental industry isn’t as developed here as in other destinations and should be avoided for security reasons. You can hire a car with a driver, which is actually cheaper than renting a car. It is possible to negotiate with a driver to get a better deal, if you really have to, though you should be aware that fuels such as petrol are extremely expensive in the city. It is generally seen as odd if a foreigner (as in someone who doesn’t speak Persian in some form) should be driving a local car, so make sure you have some proof of the agreement, if you go driving in Tehran.
To book car rental in Tehran online, view our Car Hire section for Tehran . We offer Ok Alpha users the latest special offers and best rates available for car hire in Tehran . We advise you book your Tehran hire car in advance so you can pick it up and drop it off directly at the airport.
Drivers’ License Requirements in Tehran
The car rental industry is not a very developed industry in Tehran and as such it is at the lender’s discretion. They will probably insist on the usual requirements such as a passport and a valid diving license, as well as some form of deposit. Driving in Tehran is difficult enough, but car hire is generally very expensive.
Driving Rules in Tehran
Driving in Tehran can be very dangerous indeed. If you are not a careful and calm driver, this probably isn’t for you. Traffic is quite numerous and motorbikes are a particular hazard – driving at fast speeds. Seatbelts are only required on the highways. There are many traffic rules in Tehran (not dissimilar to ones you’ll be used to) such as traffic lights and speed limits, which are adhered to with widespread disregard. Driving seems to be something of a release for the people of the city and it is not unusual to see someone reversing down the highway (having missed their junction) or driving the wrong way down a dual carriage-way (as the right one is blocked).
Buses in Tehran
Tehran has an expansive but confusing bus network. Tickets (IR 200) can be bought from booths beside the bus stops. Buses link the city to the rest of Iran and are quite cheap. The Bus Rapid Transportation buses are of course, quicker and slightly more expensive – making them more crowded. There are four main depots in the city. Western bus terminal (Terminal-e-gharb) is the biggest, busiest and best equipped of Tehran's terminals. Most international buses, as well as those heading to the Caspian Sea region and destinations west of Tehran originate and terminate here. The Eastern bus terminal (Terminal-e-shargh) handles buses to and from Khorasan province, as well a small number of services to the north. The Southern bus terminal (Terminal-e-jonoob) handles buses head to and from destinations south of Tehran. It is 2 km east of Tehran's main train station and is accessible via the Terminal-e-Jonoob metro stop. The Central bus terminal (Terminal-e-arzhantin) is located beside Arzhantin Square, around 1.5 km south-west of the Mossallah metro stop. This station has services to and from most major destinations in Iran including Mashhad, Esfahan, Rasht, Shiraz, Tabriz and Yazd.
Taxis in Tehran
Taxis are an expensive but stylish way of getting around. There is also the motorcycle taxi which is known as one of the main highlights of getting about in the city. In most of the main squares you will find queues of people waiting for taxis where drivers may be shouting out the potential destinations. As such, both private and shared taxis are popular in Tehran and can sometimes consist of as many as seven people being ferried about. You can alight earlier than your destination, but you will be expected to pay the full fare. Most taxi drivers won’t speak English either so be sure to be universal in grabbing their attention. Motorcycle taxis will be found by roadsides shouting “Motor” at people. They will generally be cheaper, but make sure you agree your price before embarking on what may seem a suicidal, yet spectacular journey.
Cycling in Tehran
As with all forms of traffic in Tehran, it’s the survival of the fittest and being the only thing without a diesel engine, the odds aren’t in your favour. Don’t expect to find many cycle hire outlets here either, cycling can be a most dangerous pastime around these parts. As for cycle lanes, if there were any, you probably wouldn’t be able to see them, what with all the other forms of transport in close vicinity.
Hitchhiking in Tehran
Hitch hiking is not recommended in Tehran. It is not a common tradition for locals to pick up people on the sides of the roads, although it may happen on rare occasions. If you are a woman traveller standing on the side of a road, waiting for a lift, you may be taken for a prostitute by local drivers.