This post is about the best things to do in Kermanshah and Hamedan, the historical heart of central Iran. Both Kermanshah and Hamedan are some of the oldest cities of the country and they offer several potential tourist attractions for those that love history.
The best things to do in Kermanshah and Hamedan
1. Visit Taqt-e-bostan near Kermanshah
My main reason to visit Kermanshah was to see Taqt-e-Bostan. This is the top tourist attraction in Kermanshah and very popular among tour groups and local tourists.
Taqt e Bostan has some beautiful carvings of the Sassanid kings depicting both royal and religious ceremonies. It was friday when I visited the archeological park and it was very busy with local people. A very friendly family offered to give me a free tour in exchange of several selfies with me.
Despite the presence of a German tour group I received a lot of curious questions from the Iranian visitors. Why was I travelling alone? What did I think about Iran? And what do they show about Iran on television in my country?
Iranians are quite aware about how Iran is being represented in the West and they hope that tourists like me are able to give a more positive image.
At last I met a boy who called himself ‘the collector’. He came to Taqt-e Bostan every weekend to talk to tourists to learn more about Europe and America. I had to watch his collection of selfies with people from various countries, before I was added.
2. The bazaar in Kermanshah
Kermanshah itself was a bit of a dissapointment. Maybe it was because it was friday and everything was closed. Taqt e Bostan is the main reason to visit and there are not many other tourist attractions in Kermanshah except for the area around the friday mosque and the bazaar.
At the friday mosque there was an art exhibition about the Iran-Iraq war. I didn’t get much chance to take a closer look. As the prayers were about to start the security guards looked at me with a mix of curiosity and suspicion.
Kermanshah is not far from the border with Iraq and with the threat of ISIS security was tight. I didn’t want to make the security guards more nervous about my presence and left.
Despite Kermanshah being such an old city there was very little to do in the city itself and not much of it’s history is still visible. Nowadays it is a typical modern Iranian city.
3. Hamedan archeological Park
I hoped to explore some more history in Hamedan, the oldest inhabited city in Iran. But like Kermanshah, not much of its history remains. THe archeological park was closed, but what I could see through the gates were some ruins that required a lot of imagination.
4. The war memorial in Hamedan
Even though Hamedan lacks any tourist attractions, I found Hamedan to be a pleasant city. It was surrounded by mountains and very green with several parks. When I walked around town I noticed the paintings on the buildings with martyrs from the Iran Iraq war. Apparently Hamedan was severely damaged in the war and a memorial stands in the center of town.
5. The bazaar in Hamedan
Hamedan’s bazaar was small, but a joy to visit with the shops full of spices, nuts and herbs. I was lured into a make-up shop by curious ladies who wanted to know everything about fashion in the Netherlands.
Women in Iran know very well how to dress elegant and beautiful within the limits of the dress code. Besides they are experts in make-up with multiple layers applied to perfection. At times I felt unfashionable with my comfortable travel clothes.
6. Hamedan Parks
At last I visited the small park in the center of Hamedan. In the evening families and old men gather here to drink tea. I sat down in the grass with my own cup of tea to watch the sun go down behind the mountains.
At first I tought Hamedan was a bit dissapointing, but in the end I really enjoyed my day wandering around here. Even tough there is not much to see if it comes to tourist attractions, it is a city of surprises and an insight into modern Iran.
7. Ali Sadr caves
I didn’t make it there, because I couldn’t find other people to share a taxi, but 100 kilometers north of Hamedan are the Ali Sar caves. They are one of the largest water caves in the world.
Accomodation in Kermanshah and Hamedan
Because not many tourists visit Kermanshah and Hamedan the choice of budget accomodation is limited.
Kermanshah: Hotel Nabavod (400,000 rials single room) = basic, but good location near the bazaar and friday mosque
Hamedan: Ordibesht Hotel (500,000 rials single room) = excellent hotel in the middle of the bazaar. The reception desk is friendly and they can arrange taxi tours if you like to visit the Ali Sadr caves
Restaurants in Kermanshah and Hamedan
Both Kermanshah and Hamedan are full of the fast food restaurants offering grilled chicken, kebabs and rice. THe more traditional Iranian cuisine is more difficult to find.
If you visit Taqt e Bostan I can recommend to have lunch or dinner there. Near a stream with a nice setting are several outdoor restaurants serving Kebab.
Hamedan & Kermanshah Iran: Logistics
Kermanshah: There are frequent buses to and from Sanandaj (3 hours), Hamedan (3 hours), Tehran (9 hours), Esfahan (9 hours) &Tabriz (8 hours)
Hamedan: There are frequent buses to and from Kermanshah (3 hours), Tehran (6 hours), Esfahan (8 hours), Qazvin (4 hours), Zanjan (4 hours) & Rasht (6 hours)
Kermanshah is very near to Irans Kurdistan. In fact, Kermanshah has a large Kurdish population as well. Iranian Kurdistan is very well worth a visit. Read my post on Iran’s Kurdistan: Sanandaj & Palangan for more information.
After Hamedan I went to Qazvin: a city of surprises.
Ellis is a travelblogger from the Netherlands with over 20 years of experience as an independent budget traveller in more than 50 countries. She has a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health with a specialization in South Asian cultures and the Caucasus.