Our ‘Heart of Persia’ tour is aimed at those who display true pioneering spirit; a distinctive adventure that may not always follow the itinerary step-by-step, but will delight and enthrall with the potential for a surprise or two along the way.
Travelling in the ancient land of Persia, this unique journey by rail on board the fully en-suite Golden Eagle takes in destinations that have been off the tourist map for many years and therefore have rarely been experienced by the Western visitor, which makes it all the more special.
Note: The Golden Eagle train includes three Imperial Suites on all departures. These new compartments are the most spacious – 120 square feet – and feature a fixed king-sized bed, a dressing table and lounge area, and more. For details about this and other upgrades, click here.
Day 1: Tehran, Iran
Arrival day in Tehran where you will be met and transferred to the five-star Espinas Hotel (or similar). We will enjoy a welcome reception dinner, while you meet your fellow travelers on this highly anticipated journey.
Day 2: Tehran, Iran
During a tour of the capital this morning, we will visit Golestan Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that contains the Versailles-inspired mirror-encrusted Marble Throne Hall. This hall was used for the coronation of the last Shah. In the late afternoon we transfer to Tehran railway station with its huge portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Kamenei at the entrance to board the Golden Eagle, our home for the next twelve nights. Settle in to your cabin and later enjoy dinner as the train begins its exciting voyage through Iran.
Day 3: Mashhad, Iran
An early morning arrival provides us with the whole day to explore the city of Mashhad, which is home to the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the largest mosque in the world in terms of its dimension, followed by a tour of the Nader Shah Museum. After lunch in the city, we will visit the Tomb of Ferdowsi, the father of Persian Literature who lived over 1,000 years ago. Dinner on the train as we head south.
Day 4: Rayen & Mahan, Iran
After lunch we alight in Rayen. The 20,000 square metre Rayen castle is situated beneath the snow capped Mt Hezar in the Province of Kerman. A huge medieval mud brick citadel, it was considered second only to Bam before the 2003 earthquake. Rayen displays all the architectural elements of a deserted citadel (it was inhabited until 150 years ago) and is extremely well preserved. It is considered one of the most interesting sites in Iran.
We continue by road to Mahan where we visit the 19th century Royal building, Prince Garden and tomb. We later visit the sanctuary and tomb of the famous, Soufi, Shah Nematollah Vali, dating back to the Mongol Era. We re-join the train at dusk in time for dinner.
Day 5: Kerman, Iran
This morning we travel to the desert trading city of Kerman. The city has a mud-brick core centred around the historic and very lively bazaar, where we will have free time. We’ll also visit a 19th century old tea house and the Hamam Ganj Ali Khan, now restored and transformed into a museum. Wonderful frescoes adorn the walls and wax dummies illustrate the workings of a traditional bathhouse. Later this afternoon we re-join the Golden Eagle for dinner as we travel onwards to Yazd.
Day 6: Yazd
Yazd is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back over 3,000 years, and we spend the day here. Our tour takes in the Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Silent Towers, Amir Chakhmagh Square and the Friday Mosque, home to one of Persia’s finest mosaics (both 14thcentury) and finally the water museum. Lunch will be served in the Moshir Garden Hotel which features a lovely Pomegranate Garden (Yazd is famous for pomegranates). We return to the train late afternoon.
Day 7: Isfahan, Iran
This enchanting city, which served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722, is 2,500 years old and one of the oldest in Iran. As a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy, Isfahan has a rich mix of languages, religions and customs.
The city is famous for its silver filigree and metal work, array of great historical monuments, and the Life-Giving River, the Zayandeh-Rood, which has given the city its beauty. Isfahan is packed with some of Iran’s best sights and today we spend a whole day in the city, visiting the Vank Church in the Armenian Quarter. Following a traditional Iranian lunch we move on to Naghshe Jahan Square, a World Heritage Site and the second largest man-made square in the world, where the Ali Qapou Palace and Shah and Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques can be found. Here, the time is yours to enjoy the huge square and pick up a bargain at the handicraft Bazaar of Qaisarieh.
Day 8: Persepolis & Shiraz
Following breakfast onboard we arrive in Sadat Shaha to visit the nearby ruins of Persepolis, another World Heritage Site. Perhaps Iran’s most important archaeological site, this ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire dates back to the 6th century. Even now, the ruins are extremely impressive. Our final visit today is to the Necropolis at nearby Naghsh-e Rustam. After lunch we continue by road to Shiraz.
Shiraz is Persia’s cultural Capital. Dating back over 4,000 years it is also known as the city of poets, literature, wine and flowers. A visit to the Quran Gate, Hafez Tomb and the Vakil Citadel are the highlights of our afternoon tour.
Day 9: Kashan
Morning finds us in the ancient city of Kashan where we visit the Fin garden, Iran’s oldest garden dating from 1590 (a World Heritage Site), and nearby Sialk Hills archaeological site, dating back almost 8,000 years and Brojerdi and Taba Tabaei – 19th century historical houses. Kashan is the most important center for Persian carpets, so after lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the impressive and ancient bazaar to explore the exquisite carpets on offer, before returning to our train mid-afternoon.
As dinner is served we pass through Qom and arrive at Dorud, in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains around midnight.
Day 10: Shustar, Chogha Zanbil & Susa
As dawn rises in Dorud, our comfortable Iranian train awaits to take us to the fascinating city of Shushtar. Admire the magnificent scenery as we meander through the mountainous landscape before arriving in the city late morning. We first visit the Hydraulic system that dates back to 590 BC and still provides water to the town of Shushtar.
We move on to the Chogha Zanbil site dating back to 1250 BC and then tour the ancient city of Susa before re-joining the train for the spectacular return journey through the Zagros Mountains.
Dinner will be served as we head back to join the Golden Eagle for our onward journey.
Day 11: Pol-E Sefid, Iran
After breakfast we leave our train for a spectacular drive through the Alborz Mountains as we head towards Pol-e Sefid where our Iranian train awaits. This afternoon enjoy the ever-changing, mountainous landscapes as we climb the Trans-Iranian Railway, crossing the infamous Veresk bridge, hailed as the ‘Bridge of Victory’ in World War II, and the outstanding ‘Three Golden Lines’ spiral, as we make our way back to the Golden Eagle for our final dinner aboard the train.
Day 12: Tehran
This morning we arrive in Tehran and will pay a visit to the prestigious National Museum of Iran, opened in 1937, detailing many periods of the rich history of the country with some artifacts dating back approximately 30,000 – 35,000 years.
Early evening, you will be transferred to your hotel, the Espinas (or similar), for a two-night stay.
Day 13: Tehran
The highlight of our stay in Tehran is undoubtedly the visit to the breath-taking Crown Jewels Museum in the Central Bank of Iran Building, with its vast array of crown jewels used by the Qajar and Pahlavid royalty.
We will also take the opportunity to explore the city’s Grand Bazaar. Situated in the southern heart of Tehran, it is a historical market with a seemingly never-ending maze of bustling alleyways.
This evening we will host our Farewell Gala Dinner at the Espinas hotel, where you can join fellow passengers to reminisce on all the experiences you have shared together during this remarkable adventure.
Day 14: Tehran
Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flights.
2020 Dates:March 27-April 9
Please note: All prices are per person.
The religious holiday of Tassoura and Ashura, when all religious sites are closed, occurs during October departures of this tour.