If you have planned to travel to Iran, you may already have read that the best time to travel to Iran would be during spring or fall, which is considered high season in this country. However, if either of these high seasons coincides with the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, called Ramadan, your trip might be a kind of challenging and at the same time a good opportunity to visit a different Iranian lifestyle.
How is the Iranian lifestyle different from other times of the year during Ramadan?
All Iranian Muslims except for children, the elderly suffering from illness, and sick people are supposed to b fasting from sunrise to sunset. For this reason, all restaurants and café are closed during day hours and the opening hours are shifted to evening. As citizens are fasting during the day, cities witness a lively atmosphere a night instead. This lively nightlife is more evident when Ramadan is in spring or summer. Families and friends get together and socialize in restaurants and cafés or in the parks to enjoy night hours.
Working hours for businesses and companies including public places such as the banks, also change. It starts an hour later than the usual time, which is often 8:30 instead of 7:30 in the morning.
Tips to keep in Mind
Eating, drinking, and smoking in public is strongly forbidden during fasting hours in Ramadan, and tourists are expected to respect the rules.
It is already mentioned that restaurants and coffeehouse are closed during day hours, however, some restaurants and fast-food outlets, especially the restaurants and cafes in the hotels, highways, airports, railways, and bus stations are exceptions and you as a tourist in Iran may have a meal whenever you wish at the hotel. However, Iranians are so welcoming and understanding about tourists, so if you ever happen to be far from your hotel and feel that there is no way to avoid eating and drinking in public, do not be frightened to stand in some corner and have something! It is OK.
There are special rituals during Ramadan including Qadr Nights when Iranian have special public events in the mosques to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and all tourists are expected to respect the spiritual events even if they are not aware of the philosophy behind this Islamic culture.
Activities to Enjoy
Traveling to Iran during Ramadan is not all about restrictions! There are things to enjoy as well! The first and foremost one is trying varieties of delicious Iranian foods particularly prepared in Ramadan. Iranian Muslims eat less but more diverse food during Ramadan as they believe that fasting people should be strong enough to fast the whole holy month. Among these amazing traditional Persian cuisines of Ramadan in Iran are Halim, Aash Reshte (or thick vegetable and noodle soup), Shole Zard (or saffron rice pudding dessert), Zulbia, and Bamiye (sweets of Ramadan). You really should not miss any of these foods and they are served in many shops and restaurants during this month!
The lovely tradition of inviting friends and family members over to Iftar is so common in Iran; Iftar is actually the meal fasting people have at sunset to break their fast. If you are those tourists fond of immersing yourself in the culture of the country you travel to, this would be the best part of your trip to be invited to an Iranian home for Iftar and enjoy especially delicious foods of this month. Socializing with Iranian Muslims and visiting their traditions during Ramadan would be a life-long experience for you! And if you do not like to engage with people, you can simply enjoy the special Iftar meal which is served particularly during his month and all the restaurants.
Ramadan rituals and events include Qadr nights and Eid-al Fitr when Muslims get together in holy places such as mosques to have their rituals and praying. The holy city of Mashhad is among the most crowded destinations during this month. If you are into social and religious event photography or would like to visit Muslim rituals, traveling to Iran during Ramadan would offer you the best opportunity.
Remember unless you find these restrictions easy to follow, you are not recommended to travel to Iran during Ramadan. We wish you experience an amazing unforgettable time with your adventure in Iran!