Best time for Cycling in Iran
(A Cycling Guide for Traveling in Iran by Bicycle)
When is the best time to travel to Iran for a cycling holiday?
You can cycle all year round as every corner of the country has something to offer, depending on the season and the region, and it is a great advantage. This means there is not a high season, low season, or off-season for cyclists like in many other countries. To answer this question, we need to explain a little more about Iran to find out when is the best time for cycling in Iran.
Iran is a vast country with a lot of high mountains, deserts, rivers, many national parks, and natural protected areas. It has a varied climate with two seas, the Caspian Sea in the north and the Persian Gulf in the south, and has different ecosystems. It means when we have winter in the north, people are skiing in the Alborz mountains, north of Tehran, whereas other people in the south are swimming in the Persian Gulf.
Moreover, when people in the southern part of Iran, or around the desert, are experiencing a very hot temperature between 50-60 centigrade in summer, other people in the north enjoy a pleasant temperature of 20-25 centigrade in the Alborz mountains. These varieties make ideal conditions for cycling tours in Iran, so depending on your time of travel and your interests, you can cycle all year round. Iran is not yet a well-known cycling destination among cyclists because of the lack of information for travelers and marketing for cycling tours. There aren’t any cycling maps or specific official trails for cycling either. Adventure Iran is a pioneer company that has started serious official research concerning the potential cycling routes of Iran. We have organized numerous cycling trips throughout the country for different nationalities since 2015.
Here we will give you some tips if you plan to travel in Iran by bicycle from January to December. The regions that we advise are mostly based on road cycling or in some parts dirt roads like the deserts. For those who are interested in mountain biking or single-track mountain biking, we offer different regions.
January is winter in many countries, especially the European ones. Most travelers enjoy taking part in winter activities during this time. In Iran, when the central and northern parts of the country are covered with snow, in the south you can enjoy cycling at a pleasant temperature. Dasht-e Lut Desert, a UNESCO site, is one of the hottest places in the world and is a suitable destination for cycling in January. In addition, south of Iran and all the regions along the coast of the Persian Gulf are other destinations on offer for cycling trips. Qeshm, the largest island in the Persian Gulf, is one of the destinations you can choose from for your January cycling holiday.
In February, the temperature is similar to January’s. You can cycle in the Persian Gulf regions south of Iran, Dasht-e Lut Desert, and the MAKRAN Sea which is called Oman Sea, (the coastal region of Baluchistan), southeast of Iran. It is a good idea to cycle in Sistan and Baluchestan province, especially in Chabahar port. In February, there is a famous national holiday commemorating the Iranian Revolution which is on the 22 of Bahman, (a Persian month). That is 9-12 February each year. The exact date has to be checked. There is an annual festival that starts a few days before this national holiday. Traveling in remote areas is more adventurous at this time.
March is the end of winter in Iran with the 21st being Persian New Year, which in Persian is the first of Farvardin. March is the start of Iran’s high season of urban tourism for cultural/historical tours. At the end of March, the weather in most of Iran’s tourist cities changes from winter to spring. The beginning of spring, with its lovely weather, is the best season to visit these cities.
We advise cyclists who wish to travel to the south of Iran should do so in March before it gets too hot. Khuzestan, Bushehr, Bandar Abbas, and Sistan and Baluchestan are the best provinces for cycling which have favorable temperatures. In the coastal cities or villages of these provinces, you can enjoy cycling down spectacular coastal roads alongside the Persian Gulf and Markan Sea. The daily temperature is enjoyable for both cycling and swimming in March. Moreover, cycling in the Dasht-e Kavir desert in Iran is ideal in March as the temperature during the day is not hot and the night temperature is just so perfect.
Note: It is important to know that 21st March is Persian New Year. Between 19th March till 5th April there is a long Iranian New Year holiday. Most of the hotels and guest houses are full as they are used by local travelers. Public transport, such as domestic flights, buses, and trains are already booked by domestic travelers who travel independently. Many agencies that provide tours for Iranians also reserve these public vehicles in advance for their tours. If you want to travel during these two weeks, you have to consider many things and book all your accommodation and tickets well in advance. The roads are crowded and all the sites and attractions are chock-a-block these days.
4. April (Iran’s High Season for Urban Tourists)
April is one of the best months for cycling in Iran for those who are interested in combining cycling and visiting the main Iranian UNESCO destinations. If you are interested in visiting Iran’s principal cities when they are in bloom with spring daffodils, April is the idyllic month for you. Most parts of Iran are covered with flowers and everywhere has luxuriant vegetation.
You can also cycle in Dasht-e Kavir Desert where the temperature is still good in April. If you would like to cycle in some mountainous regions or villages, it is better to choose lower altitudes (under 2500 m) for mountain biking. In some regions, we still witness winter snow on the high mountains during this month so you have to be prepared for rain and cold weather in some of these regions.
South of Iran and all the regions in the Persian Gulf are going to be hot after April. April will likely be the last month that is appropriate for cycling down south.
5. May (Iran’s High Season for Urban Tourism)
May is still Iran’s peak season for urban tourism like April. You can cycle in most parts of central Iran as well as the northern parts of the country and the Caspian Sea coasts. This month could also be the best time to combine Iran’s cycling trips with classic city tours for first visitors to Iran who would like to see the main highlights of the country and the most famous UNESCO sites. If you travel to the Caspian Sea region, you should expect rain during May. In some parts of the forests, you may face muddy terrain. Dasht-e Kavir desert (Central desert of Iran) is going to be hot. If you wish to cycle in Iran’s desert, you should do so no later than May. Also, a combination of some parts of the desert and forest in early May would be a good idea for adventurous cyclists.
Note: Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims. We have a couple of national holidays during this month. It does not affect travel by bicycle during Ramadan, so you don’t have to worry about food, as most of the restaurants on the road are open with permits to serve meals to travelers.
You will not go hungry while cycling during Ramadan. You must respect locals who fast by avoiding eating, drinking and smoking on the streets and in public during the daytime. You have to be aware that drinking and eating are not allowed in the cities and streets. You can freely eat and drink on the roads because the religious rules say that travelers should not fast even during Ramadan.
Important note: You have to check the Persian calendar for the exact starting time of Ramadan this month, as each year Ramadan starts 12 days earlier according to the Gregorian calendar.
June is the end of spring. Summer time starts at the beginning of the third week when the temperature rises causing the country to get very hot. Due to the heat, most parts of Iran in the south and central areas may not be the best time for cycling in Iran during the day. We advise you to cycle in the northern parts of Iran or the mountainous regions of Zagros in the west part of the country during this month.
In June, it is very pleasant to cycle between small towns and through villages in the mountains around the Caspian Sea. Hyrcanian forests on the northern side of the Alborz Mountain range, south of the Caspian Sea, are also one of the places you can choose for cycling. Cycling from Tehran to the Caspian Sea is another perfect choice.
Note: There is a two or sometimes three-day national holiday in June which falls between 3-6 June. During this time most of the cities, especially the Caspian Sea regions, will be crowded with locals. There are traffic jams on the roads. You should be aware of this holiday and make inquiries to find the exact date of it or check the Persian calendar for each year.
July is Iran’s summer when most of Iran’s cities are hot in the central areas. July is the beginning of Iranians’ well-known summer holidays when most people travel to the Caspian Sea coastal regions. All the coastal cities and beaches will be full of locals, especially during the weekends, which fall on Thursdays and Fridays in Iran. The day temperature is hot so if you are interested in traveling to this region, you should select high-altitude districts which are cooler. Mazandaran, Gilan, and Golestan are three coastal provinces in Iran that have access to the Caspian Sea. If you are a dirt road cyclist or a mountain biker, there are a number of high-altitude regions where you can experience a better temperature. MT Alamkuh is Iran’s second highest peak which is located in Mazandaran province and is a perfect mountainous region for cycling in summer in Iran. This region is not far from the Caspian Sea and it is only 60 km away from Chalus city.
August is the middle of summer when most cities in Iran are hot. It may not be the best time for cycling in Iran. But for road cyclists, northwest Iran is one of the best regions to choose at this time of year. Ardabil, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan province, and some parts of Gilan province are good choices for cycling in August. If you are interested in history and culture, there are a lot of important sites you can combine with your cycling trip which you just must see. In the northwest of Iran, there are several small towns located at high altitudes where the temperature is much colder than in other regions. The volcanic mountain of Sabalan (4810 m) is the third highest mountain in the country. As there are a lot of small towns and villages surrounding this mountain, it makes it an excellent place for cycling. If you are a mountain biker or you would like to have a single-track mountain biking, there are a bunch of single tracks in Central Alborz mountains above 2500 m.
9. September (Iran’s Shoulder Season for Urban Tourism)
September is the end of summer when the temperature improves. The summer finishes in the last week of September, and the Caspian Sea region will be quiet again. At this time the area becomes ideal for cycling. Since September is the shoulder season in Iran, it could be the best time for travelers who would like to visit Iran’s main tourist destinations and possibly combine it with cycling.
10. October (Iran’s Shoulder Season for Urban Tourism)
October is the start of autumn when nature changes color. A lot of travelers prefer to visit Iran during autumn which is the perfect season for combining mountains, deserts, and Iran’s main tourist attractions. The roads are quiet and less busy. There are just a few local travelers on the road and in the tourist spots. As a result, there are many options for cycling during October. The regions, where the main UNESCO sites are located, have excellent weather, especially in central Iran. Most of the forest in northern Iran is suitable for cycling during this month. It is the season when cycling starts again in the Dasht-e Kavir desert where you can enjoy pleasant weather throughout the different parts of it. You can also cycle in the mountainous regions, but you have to be prepared for rain and a change of weather. Cycling from Shiraz to the Caspian Sea is one of the most amazing experiences that you can have in Iran with a bicycle; you will face a variety of terrains, climates, and weather conditions.
November is one of the months when you can travel to most parts of Iran by bicycle, especially through both Iran’s deserts (Lut and the Dasht-e Kavir). Crossing the Hyrcanian forest in the Caspian Sea region is spectacular as you will see the changing face of nature with colorful leaves on the trees. The temperature is ideal in the Dasht-e Kavir desert so, combined with the beauty of your surroundings, you can cycle across the whole desert if you are looking for a real challenge. In mountainous regions, you will not feel the cold. There are numerous exceptional regions to explore in the Alborz and Zagros mountains. November is the last month of the year, (and your last chance), to cycle in the mountainous regions of Iran, because it is going to be rainy and snowy after that as the temperature drops considerably. If you plan to visit Iran’s main highlights in the famous regions like Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan, and Tehran, this is the perfect month for cycling.
As winter comes this month, most parts of northern Iran and some parts of central Iran will be covered with snow. In December, we travel to the south of Iran to enjoy the better temperature and climate for cycling. The south of Iran and the Persian Gulf coastal roads are ideal for cycling during this month. Southeast Iran, Sistan and Baluchestan, is another region where you can appreciate cycling. Dasht-e Lut desert is yet another region you can choose for cycling in December as well as Bushehr and Bandar Abbas provinces.