10 Best cycling routes in Iran
Cycling in Iran is one of the best ways of travelling for active globetrotters. If you are a cyclist and would like to visit Iran, there are numerous destinations on offer. As Iran has a varied climate, you are able to cycle in mountains, deserts, forests and the coastal roads of your choice from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. Due to the vastness of Iran and the different weather conditions from north to south, cycling in Iran is possible at any time of the year. If you would like to know the Best Cycling Time of Iran, please check the below link:
In the urban areas such as Tehran, Shiraz and Esfahan, there are no exclusive cycling lanes on the roads. The roads are so busy with countless numbers of cars and motorcycles making them unappealing to cyclists. On the one hand, air pollution is an issue, and on the other hand, most of the roads between our cities are highways or motorways. Cycling is not recommended on these roads for safety reasons. If you are interested in cycling from one big city to another, you have to find a minor or back country road. Often it is better to exit the highway in urban areas and start your cycling trip using the appropriate back country roads for your cycling tour.
Below are the 10 most beautiful places for cycling in Iran:
1. Cycling in Lavasanat
Lavasanat district is a Tehran countryside region, 40 kms outside the capital. It is located in the north east of Tehran in central Alborz Mountains taking only 40 minutes to reach by driving on a mountainous road. Lavasan is the main town situated in the Lavasanat district, now a residential area inhabited by wealthy people who choose to live outside the capital. As Tehran is a huge capital city with a population of over 15 million, many citizens who can afford it prefer to live outside of Tehran and commute to work. Lavasan, being one of Tehran’s countryside and mountainous regions, has been growing rapidly in the past 10 years. There are many different routes around Lavasan town which connect to a cluster of villages. There is a small lake and dam in the region, which are most delightful during the summer time.
The best season for cycling in Lavasanat region is from early spring up to mid-autumn. There are no hotels in the area, but there are locals who offer a local homestay in the neighbourhood.
2. Shemshak to Dizin cycling
Shemshak is a village and ski resort located north of Tehran. It is about 65 kms outside Tehran, approximately a one and half hour drive through a mountainous road. Shemshak is one of the most amazing places for cycling around Tehran city. It is surrounded by countless high mountains above 4000 m. The village’s altitude is around 2600 m above sea level. For accommodation, there is an old hotel, a couple of private lodges as well as a few local houses. There is an enjoyable mountain road that goes up to Dizin Ski resort. You have a great view of the two ski resorts of Darbandarsar and Shemshak from the road. The road takes you to a mountain pass with an altitude of 3300 m which then connects you to another valley and to Dizin Ski resort. From there you have a spectacular view of two of the famous peaks in the central Alborz. From mid spring up to mid-autumn you can cycle on this scenic road. In the spring, if the snowfall is high, there is the possibility of an avalanche in some parts of the road. It is vital you check the weather conditions with locals before you take this road.
3. Cycling through the Hyrcanian forest towards the
The area south of the Caspian Sea is covered with many forests. In some parts, one of these is the Hyrcanian forest, registered on UNESCO’s list of natural sites. Depending on which region of the forest you choose to cycle, there are various roads crossing the forest towards the Caspian Sea. One of the most beautiful parts is Kandelus to Nowshahr city. Kandelus is a village in the mountain, located in the heart of the Alborz mountains, 60 km south of Nowshahr. Spring and autumn are the best time for cycling in this region. Summer is also gratifying, but inside the forest it gets a little hot at noon. Swimming in the Caspian Sea and staying one night there would complete your cycling holiday in the north of Iran.
4. Maranjab desert cycling
Maranjab is a part of the Dasht-e Kavir desert located south of Tehran and east of Kashan city. It is 300 km away from Tehran (4 hours) and is 65 km from Kashan (1.5 hours). There are two different ways to enter the desert. One way is from Aran-e Bidgol town and the other from Abozidabaad village. There is an amazing renovated caravanserai inside of Marajab, which is ideal for your accommodation during your adventure cycling tour in the desert of Iran. From both sides there is a dirt road that leads you to the heart of the desert as well as to the caravanserai. Sometimes, the road disappears due to rain or a sand storm. It’s also possible for a small muddy lake to appear on your way to the caravanserai. Spring and autumn are the best time for the Maranjab cycling tour.
5. Alamut to Tonekabon cycling
Alamut is the name of a valley in the west of Alborz mountains located in Qazvin province, west of Tehran province. It takes about 4.5 hours from Tehran to reach the village of Gazorkhan which is near Alamut Castle. From there it takes 2-3 days cycling towards Tonekabon and the Caspian Sea. The road is a combination of a partly paved and dirt road which goes up to a pass about 3100 m above sea level. Accommodation consists of a local house in the village. There are no restaurants on the road towards the Caspian Sea. Cycling on this route takes you through one of the most exciting regions in Iran. The scenery is breath-taking as the road crosses through the mountains and canyons. The best season starts from mid spring and finishes mid-autumn. In early spring the pass will be snowbound. It’s necessary to check when the road will be open in spring time.
6. Cycling in Kavir National Park
Another desert region of Iran is Kavir national park, which is a part of Dasht-e Kavir desert (Iran Central Desert). It is situated in the south east of Tehran, and is a protected area that is reserved by the Environment Organization of Iran. Permission is needed to enter the park and has to be applied for one month in advance. There are two ways to enter the park. The first way is from Varamin city and the second one from Maranjab desert. It is a perfect desert place for cycling as the desert is a combination of sand dunes, dry Salt Lake and mountains with colourful rock formations. There are a number of seasonal birds and a variety of wild animals inside the park. Spring and autumn are the seasons for cycling in the Kavir national park.
7. Cycling on Qeshm Island
Iran has many islands, with Qeshm island being one of the largest and the most attractive. Qeshm is located in the Persian Gulf, south of Bandar Abbas city. It is registered in the UNESCO Global Geopark. It’s possible to cycle up to one week, depending on how many days you would like to spend on the island. Its length is around 120 km. There are many villages and attractions on the island making it perfect for cycling. For example, there is a famous salty lake, Hara mangrove forest, a stunning canyon and a coastal road which is really spectacular. The season starts from the end of autumn and finishes at the beginning of spring.
8. Tehran to Caspian Sea by Bicycle
The distance between Tehran to the Caspian Sea, following a straight line on the map, is not as far as the distance you see on the road which is around 90 km. The Alborz mountains with a 900 km length forms a wall between central Iran and the Caspian Sea. This means you have to cross the range from the southern slopes towards the northern ones to reach the Caspian Sea making this journey more adventurous. There is no official cycling road between Tehran to the Caspian Sea, but you have many options. Depending on when you would like to start your journey, you can have a moderate level of cycling up to challenging adventure cycling. You have to spend a couple of nights on the way to experience something different. In all routes you require a support vehicle as you need a few transfers for each part. The seasons for this route are spring, summer and autumn. In early spring and the end of autumn you might experience rain. It is essential you are prepared for the changing weather conditions.
9. Cycling from Yazd to Esfahan via Dasht-e Kavir desert
Most visitors to Iran would like to see Yazd and Esfahan which are Iran’s two main touristic cities as well as a couple of UNESCO sites. For those who would like to visit these destinations during spring and autumn, cycling through Dasht-e Kavir desert is one of the greatest experiences that you can have. Depending on your schedule, whether you have from 3 days up to one week, you can choose various cycling routes. If you can imagine that Esfahan, Yazd and the desert are the corner of a triangle, you have to choose which two sides to cycle of this golden triangle in the heart of Iran. Depending on the time of the trip, you might need a support vehicle for transfer to complete this route. You can have road or dirt road cycling or a combination of a desert and paved road between these two cities. There are a couple of oases in the desert part that makes your journey more adventurous than the road route.
10. Persian Gulf coastal road cycling
South of Iran has a lot of Off the Beaten Path destinations for cycling. Along the Persian Gulf coastal road there are many small towns, villages and hamlets. Most destinations in the south of Iran are off the beaten track which are ideal for cycling. Cycling allows you to visit the most unspoiled places in your adventure cycling trip. The length of the coast is about 2000 kms which starts from the corner of southeast Iran near the Pakistan border, (Pasabandar), to the west till Abbadan city. There are 4 different provinces along this coastal road which have different terrains, food, cultures, languages, customs and attractions. Best travel time for this region is winter.