This post is a travel guide about the best things to do in Kashan Iran.
Kashan was the first desert city on my Iran trip. When I checked in at my hotel there were dark brownish clouds gathered in the sky. In a short time I could hardly see anything in front of me and sand collected everywhere. I was in the middle of a sand storm.
When the storm finally blew away it was already 7 PM, but in Iran this is actually when the streets are getting lively again and I ventured out to explore the colourful bazaar. Despite a somewhat unusual start, I immediately loved it and there were much more things to do in Kashan than I had first tought.
What to do in Kashan
Kashan is a small town south of Tehran and for many the first city they visit after the capital Tehran. It is quite popular on the tourist trail and it attracts a fair share of travellers.
Like many, I included Kashan for the traditional homes it is famous for. However, this area can get crowded with tourgroups. Although they are definetly a highlight, there is so much more to explore in Kashan. Kashan was once a wealthy city on the ancient silk road and is full of history.
There are many things to do in Kashan that many tourists don’t know about. I would strongly recommend to escape the crowds and explore Kashan on your own. The further you get from the traditional houses into the small streets of Kashan’s old town, the less tourists you will encounter. For me the real beauty of Kashan was in these narrow backstreets.
And there are even more things to do near Kashan. From ancient mausoleums, to beautiful gardens and the Maranjab desert. Some say, Kashan is underwhelming and although this is a personal opinion, I believe they haven’t experienced all the things to do in Kashan.
The best things to do in Kashan
1. Agha Bozorg mosque
In the centre of the city you will find the beautiful Agha Bozorg mosque. Praised to be one of the greatest mosques in the 18th century. The symmetrical designs are stunning.
Insider tip: The best time to visit the Agha Bozorg mosque is during sunset. However, it is worth returning after dark as well when the mosque is beautifully illuminated
2. The bazaar
I could write a whole seperate post about bazaars in Iran. They never failed to amaze me and each bazaar had its own unique atmosphere. Kashan’s bazaar was an intricate maze of alleys with hidden mosques and tea houses.
Insider tip: Don’t forget to look up for the beautiful domes in the ceilings. It is also possible to get up on the roof of the bazaar as well for a beautiful view on Kashan. Even though it should be possible for free you probably have more success finding your way there by asking one of the shop owners. Expect to pay a tip.
3. Fin garden
In the north of Kashan is the lush Fin garden that is among the top things to do in Kashan. As it turned out this was also the destination for many school tours. I was followed by a big group of giggling 10-year-old school boys. Sometimes one boy was brave enough to shout to me: “hello, how are you?”. At some point I decided to turn around and actually talk to them.
Now they got really excited. They were from Isfahan and all wanted a selfie with me and then wanted to shake my hand as well. Their teacher got immediately nervous and after two lucky boys they were sent away.
Despite its popularity among locals it is a very peaceful place. It’s among the oldest gardens in Iran and goes as far back as 1590. It is also the place where politician Amir Kabir was assasinated by the king in 1852. Visit the Fin baths for the exact spot where this happened.
Insider tip: don’t miss the beautiful ceiling of the central building. This is in fact, the highlight of Fin garden. There is also a nice tea house inside the garden that is the perfect place for a small break. Before the entrance are some good restaurants with traditional Iranian food where you can have lunch.
How to get there: Fin garden is 8 kilometers from the city at the end of the Amir Kabir road. From Kamal al Molk square you can take a shared taxi or the local bus.
4. Visiting a rose-water factory
Kashan is also famous for the production of rosewater that has been produced in this region for more than 2500 years. Near Fin garden and the Tabatabei house you can visit a rose-water factory where the rose-water is produced. The entrance is free.
Insider tip: Kashan is the best place to buy rose water in Iran. There are in fact around 700 workshops and more than 60 rose water factories in Kashan.
5. Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim
This small shrine hidden in a backstreet on the way to Fin garden gets few visitors. Although it is nothing spectacular, it makes for an interesting and quiet stop. You are most likely to be the only tourist around
6. Wandering through the old town
Wandering through the small streets of the old town was my favourite thing to do in Kashan. The narrow backstreets hold many surprises and picture perfect scenes. For example, if you look careful at the doors, you can see many have two knockers. One was for male visitors and the other for female visitors.
Insider tip: The best time to take a walk is in the afternoon when the sun starts to set down and the old town is at its most beautiful.
7. Borujerdi house and other traditional homes
Kashan has several traditional houses that have opened their doors for visitors. They are now a major tourist attraction and among the top things to do in Kashan.
My most favourite was Borujerdi house where I met another school tour from Isfahan. This time it were girls. They were just as curious about me as the boys I met earlier that day and again there was a lot of staring and giggling.
Here is an overview of Kashan’s traditional houses that are worth a visit.
Tabatabaei house: Stone reliefs and stained glass windows make this one of the most popular traditional houses in Kashan
Abbasi house: This house is all about its beautiful stained glass windows.
Ameriha house: Once the largest home in Persia with seven courtyards and two hammams. It is now a hotel.
Borujerdi house: Borujerdi might be relatively small, but with its elaborate decorations a beauty. It took 18 years to built.
Insider tip: You can buy a seperate entrance ticket for each house (150,000 rials), but if you want to visit more than one you can buy a combi ticket (350,000 rials). THe best time to visit Abbasi and Tabatabaei house is in the afternoon when the sun shines through the glass stained windows.
8. Sultan Mir Ahmad Hammam
The Sultan Mir Ahmad hammam should not be missed. The inside is very beautiful and it will take your breath away. Ask if you can visit the roof for a nice view on the hammam’s domes, the old town and the interesting tower of Borujerdi house. It should be included in your ticket price, but most likely they will ask for a tip to open the door to the rooftop.
9. Imamzadeh-ye Sultan Mir Ahmad
The Imamzadeh ye Sultan Mir Ahmad is a small local shrine. As it is right next to the Tabatabaei house it is worth a small stop if you are in this area anyways.
10. The Old City walls & the park
My last evening I walked all the way to the old city walls and the park that is right behind it. Almost every town in Iran has one or more parks where families and young couples go to hang out. A picnic blanket and a thermos of tea is all they need to enjoy the evening.
Two sisters with their 3 little boys gave me a hot chocolate and a group of curious young girls started to ask me questions. One of them reprimanded me for the amount of hair that was peeking out from my scarf. She started to put my scarf right while her friends were laughing. At first she also did not want her picture taken, but her friends were so excited that in the last moment she joined. She ended up with the biggest most generous smile.
The best things to do near Kashan
One popular day trip from Kashan is to visit Abyaneh, a traditional village in the mountains. We left early and the road to the village was scenic. Just as I taught that I would try to make some pictures of these beautiful mountains our driver got nervous.
He informed us we can not take pictures. We were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by desert and mountains. Our driver could not speak English, so all he could tell us was: “no pictures, atom bomb, radar”. We were close to one of Iran’s uranium enrichment plants in Natanz. After a few miles I could indeed see some buildings far away on the horizon.
We arrived early in Abyaneh and everything was still closed. The good thing about this was that we were there before the tour buses arrived and could enjoy the town in peace and quiet. I was wondering tough how many people actually still lived here. The small village of red mud houses looked abandoned, except for a few souvenir shops.
Our guide explained that the young people all leave the village for the luxuries of bigger cities like Kashan or Tehran. The older generation still lives here tough, and they keep the traditions alive. The women still wear the typical white chadors with a design of roses on them, men can be seen on their donkeys and bakeries are making fresh bread from the oven.
How to get there: There is no public transport to Abyaneh, but it is very easy to arrange a private taxi or tour in Kashan. Ehsan house helped me to pair up with three other passengers so we paid $10 dollar each.
12. Maranjab desert
Kashan is surrounded by spectacular desert and it is easy to arrange day tours into the Maranjeb desert from Kashan. The tours are a bit touristic and you are likely to stop at a caravanserai, a salt lake, a clay fortress and an underground city.
How to get there: a tour with a private taxi should cost between 10 and 20 dollars per person. There are also overnight tours into the desert for $150 a person.
13. Hilal Ibn Ali shrine in Aran va Bidgol
Aran va Bidgol is only 15 kilometers from Kashan and therefore it is easy to visit from Kashan. It is a typical Iranian shrine with lots of shiny glass and mirror decorations. Women should wear a chador that you can pick up at the entrance. Women and men have a seperate entrance.
How to get there: there is no public transport, but a taxi should not cost more than 200,000 rials.
Another possible daytrip from Kashan is to the religious town of Qom and the shrine of Fatemeh Massumeh. Read more about my visit to Qom.
How to get there: There are frequent buses from Montazeri square to Qom (less than 2 hours).
For a true desert adventure head to Mesr, also known as Dasht-e Kavir in Persian. It will require your own transport or a tour, but it is the best place for a desert experience.
If you want to book a tour beforehand I can recommend FirstQuest. They are one of the few companies where you can plan most of your trip to Iran beforehand. They can book hotels online, arrange airport pick ups, domestic flight tickets and bus tickets.
Firstquest also has a 2 day Mesr desert adventure.
The best hostels in Kashan
Booking hotels online is rather difficult for Iran. Because of the sanctions, most regular sites like Booking.com or Airbnb won’t work.
To book your hotel beforehand you either need to contact them directly or use FirstQuest
1. Ehsan house
Ehsan House is a very good hotel with a delicious breakfast buffet included. The prices are reasonable for backpackers, especially if you stay in the dormitory. It is best to make a reservation, especially for double rooms.
How to get to Kashan?
If you are going to Tehran there is no need to go all the way to the bus terminal. You can catch a bus to Tehran at Montazeri square. Coming from Tehran this is also a convenient place to get out and catch a taxi into town.
Safety in Kashan
Kashan is a very safe city with low crime levels and if you follow normal precautions you should not face any problems.
For solo female travellers I wrote a post with tips and advice about traveling as a woman in Iran.
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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.