Discovering Southern Iran: A Blend of Ancient Wonders and Natural Beauty
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Khuzestan is one of the most important provinces of Iran and among the most populous. Many attractions of southern Iran are located in this province. Khuzestan, home to many of Iran’s oil and petrochemical companies, boasts a civilization dating back more than 5,000 years. With an area of over 64,000 square kilometers and a population nearing five million, it is the fifth most populous province of Iran. This fertile delta has always been at the forefront of various dynasties and regimes. Due to the flow of some of the country’s major rivers, like Karun, Karkheh, Dez, and Arvand, through Khuzestan, this province holds high significance in transportation, economy, and agriculture.
From the forests, gardens, and green areas in the north and east of the province to the palm groves in the center and south, all these assets make Khuzestan deserving of the title “terrestrial paradise.” To this unique nature, add the marvelous structures and remnants of ancient civilizations. Arabs, Persians (from Ahvaz, Dezful, and Shushtar), Bakhtiari Lurs, and Turks (Qashqai) are the main ethnic groups and dialects of Khuzestan. As the capital of Khuzestan, Ahvaz, along with cities like Shush, Shushtar, Abadan, Dezful, and Bagh-e Malek, are among the most important tourist destinations. Hundreds of natural and historical attractions in Khuzestan rank it among the top tourist destinations in southern and southwestern Iran. Some of the most notable attractions in Khuzestan include:
- Bagh-e Malek County
- Shush Castle
- The historical city of Haft Tepe in Shush
- Daryoon or Darius River in Shushtar
- Chogha Zanbil in Shushtar
- Shadegan Wetland
Shushtar Water Structures
The water structures of Shushtar are among the must-see attractions of southern Iran and are one of the world’s astonishing ancient feats. Recognized as the most extensive old hydraulic system in Iran, these structures consist of thirteen parts that function harmoniously, built during the Achaemenid and Sassanid eras. This site is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Five dams, three bridges, a set of waterfalls and water mills, a tower, a castle, a canal, and a river comprise Shushtar’s water structures.
The Karun River symbolizes the splendor of Iran and the beautiful city of Ahvaz. As the largest and most water-abundant river in Iran, Karun plays a significant role in the development and prosperity of Ahvaz. The coastal road along the Karun and the White Bridge are among the most beautiful urban attractions in southern Iran. I was visiting the restaurants and cafes in this area, and walking along the Karun shore offers unparalleled experiences every Iranian should have!
Bushehr is one of the wealthiest provinces of Iran in terms of oil and gas resources and ranks third in the country’s economy. The history of Bushehr dates back to the Elamite and Mesopotamian civilizations. Therefore, it is natural to expect a trip to a region with unique historical attractions. Bushehr province has a long coastal strip along the Persian Gulf. The majority of the population of this province are Persians, with Arabs and Bakhtiari as other ethnic groups. Beautiful palm groves and picturesque shores of the Persian Gulf, along with more than 1,200 historical relics from ancient civilizations, are the main tourist attractions in southern Iran in Bushehr Province. Among the most important tourist attractions in Bushehr are:
- Saadat School
- Bushehr Market
Bandar Siraf is one of the most beautiful attractions in southern Iran that captivates every tourist. With a history of over a thousand years, this port city served as an important port and trade route from east to west for several centuries. The rocky cemetery and the coastal town of Siraf are among the most beautiful areas of Bushehr province.
Genaveh is one of the most beautiful ports in southern Iran, located 160 kilometers northwest of Bushehr on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The beautiful coast of Genaveh and its magnificent tranquility, combined with numerous historical monuments present in the city, have turned Bandar Genaveh into one of the best tourist attractions in southern Iran.
The southernmost province of Iran is one of the record-holders for the most tourists in Iranian cities and boasts the most famous attractions in southern Iran. Due to its long coastal strip along the Persian Gulf, stretching 900 kilometers, Hormozgan hosts some of the most beautiful islands in Iran. The province, being close to the Strait of Hormuz and the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs, holds significant strategic importance. Hormozgan is one of the largest provinces in Iran, covering over 70,000 square kilometers and housing more than 1.8 million residents. The province comprises thirteen counties and fourteen islands.
These islands, especially Kish and Qeshm, have the highest tourist inflow among Iranian cities. Hormozgan has many beautiful islands and shores, with its key attractions being:
- Genu hot spring
- Traditional markets of Bandar Abbas
- Hindu temple
- Delgosha Mosque
Kish Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the country and a key tourist attraction in southern Iran. This splendid island is a precious pearl in the heart of the Persian Gulf. Kish is among the most modern cities in Iran and the Middle East, attracting millions of visitors annually. The island’s main highlights are its beautiful beaches, coastal and maritime recreations, modern and expansive markets, and historical attractions.
Qeshm is the largest island in Iran and the Persian Gulf. Its diverse and astonishing natural attractions qualify it as one of the world’s significant geoparks and the only registered geopark in the Middle East within UNESCO’s geopark network. Mangrove forests, Valley of Stars, Naz Islands, Chahkooh Strait, Qeshm rooftop, unique natural caves, and dozens of historical and natural attractions draw millions of tourists to Qeshm annually.
Hormuz Island is among the top tourist attractions in southern Iran. Known for its distinct and peculiar soil, it is often called a geological paradise. The island boasts numerous natural wonders, including the Red Beach, Rainbow Valley, Valley of Statues, and Salt Cave.
Located just two kilometers southeast of Qeshm Island, Hengam Island is a small yet stunning destination. Its serene and exquisite beaches have recently become a significant draw for numerous tourists. Hengam is an island with hospitable and warm-hearted inhabitants, making one’s stay there memorable. Untouched shores, soothing tranquility, coastal activities, dolphin-watching, palm groves, and the island’s native deer transform Hengam into one of the best attractions in southern Iran.
- Historical castles and structures of Zabol include Rostam Castle, Three-Mountains Castle, and the Forty Daughters Castle.
- Maki Mosque in Zahedan
- Traditional markets of Zahedan
- Burnt City (Shahr-e Sukhte)
The Burnt City is one of the historical attractions of southern Iran that every Iranian citizen should visit. The Burnt City is located in the Hamun district, about fifty kilometers from Zabol. A visit to this well-organized and advanced civilization over 5,000 years old will leave any observer in awe. The artifacts and objects discovered from this ancient civilization are fascinating and can be seen in the Burnt City Museum. Historical buildings and windmills located in the ancient Hozdar region are also among the historical attractions of southern Iran, located near this area.
Chabahar Port is one of the most beautiful attractions in southern Iran, boasting a unique and diverse nature. Chabahar is located on the Makran coast and is the only Iranian port with access to the ocean. In Chabahar, you will encounter sights and phenomena that will mesmerize and astonish you. This beautiful and significant port contains some of the most pristine attractions in southern Iran. The most influential companies in Chabahar include Lipar Lagoon or Pink Lake, Miniature Mountains or Martian Mountains, Darek village, Gwadar Port, Beris beach and dock on the Makran coast, Mokran trees, and Hara forest.