How to travel to Iran?
If most of the tourists arrive in Iran at the Imam Khomeini International Airport, many prefer to travel overland. If it’s your case, then this article is for you. You’ll find all informations about crossing the borders of Iran. First of all, note that no visa will be issued at the border. For more informations, please read our article “Get a visa for Iran”.
How to get in Iran from …. ?
Turkey : 3 border-crossings
Gürbulak-Bazargan : Located on the road between Dogubayazit and Tabriz, this is the busiest border-crossing between the two countries. Open 24/7, you’ll easily find plenty of cars or buses heading to Tabriz. I would recommend this border-crossing for hitchhikers. What seems to be the easiest way to cross this border is to take a straight bus between Tabriz and Dogubayazit? That said, border control could sometimes be tough and one can be stopped for hours. In this case bus will not go and you’ll be stuck for hours.
The best, though not the easiest solution, is to get in the minibus going from Dogubayazit to the border. Once there, cross the border and get another minibus or shared taxi to Bazargan where you get a last car to Maku and Tabriz.
Note that you can also share a taxi straight from the border to Tabriz although it’s a little more expensive. You’ll easily encounter many Iranians heading to Tabriz willing to share a car with you.
You’ll find exchange offices on both sides of the border although the rate is really bad.
Esendere – Sero : Open to foreigners.
One bus is leaving from Van to Urmia.
Minibuses are leaving from Van to Yüksekova from where you can easily get a taxi to the border.
Open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Kapiköy-Razi : Most of the travelers who cross here have their own car. You’ll find minibuses between Van and Kapikoy from where you can grab a taxi to Razi or Khoy and then a bus to Tabriz. Once more, if you don’t have any mean of transportation, try to find Iranians heading to Tabriz and share a taxi with them.
Open from 8:00 am to 6:00pm.
For more informations on buses between Turkey and Iran, read our article : Travel by bus in Iran
Armenia : two border crossings
Agarak – Syunik : A bus is travelling from the hotel Erebuni in Yerevan (close to the Square of the Republic) straight to Tabriz and Tehran. Bus is leaving at 11:00 am and arrives in Tabriz the very next day at 2:00am. After a short break, the bus sets off to Tehran and reaches around 10:00am.
You can easily buy your tickets at the office of the “Royal Bus Agency” in Yerevan.
On the other way, you bus is leaving at 08:00pm from Tabriz and arrives in Yerevan around noon. In that cas you’ll buy your tickets from the Saat Square in Tabriz (Time’s square).
Please note that except this direct bus, the border is not well connected to the main cities. From Yerevan, you can take a Marshrutka to Meghri (8 kilometers from the border). The Marshrutka is departing from the bus station of Sasuntsidavi next to the Central Train Station. Only one a day so don’t be late. Be there before 8:00am and get ready for a chaotic journey.
In Iran, the first public transportation you’ll find will be in the town of Jolfa. From the border you’ll have no choice but taking a taxi.
For more informations about buses between Armenia and Iran, please read our article “Travel by bus in Iran“.
Afghanistan : two border-crossings
Please check the situation in Afghanistan before intending any travel there.
Islam Qala-Taybad : No doubt that this is the main border crossing between the two countries. Located on the road between Mashhad (Iran) and Herat (Afghanistan), it is open to foreigners during daily hours. Road is in good condition and the journey is pretty fast (around 6 hours). Taxis are leaving from the bus station of Mashhad to Herat. Take advantage of this journey to visit the mausoleum of the Sufi poet Jami in the small town of Torbat-e Jam.
You can also take a bus from Mashhad to Taybad (some of them are going straight to Herat). You’ll find plenty of buses or taxis at the border that will offer to take you to Herat. Honestly this solution is not really cheaper than shared taxis and definitely longer.
Milak – Zaranj: Although officially open to foreginers, this border crossing is renowned as extremely dangerous. It’s not even a road but looks like a simple path across the desert.
Turkmenistan : three border crossings
Sarakhs – Saraghs : Expect a three hours ride between Mashhad and Sarakhs. You have to take a shuttle between the Turkmen and the Iranian border posts. Once you’re done with the formalities you can take a taxi to Mary (between 2 and 4 hours). As the transportations seem quite unreliable, try to be there in the early morning.
Open from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Gaudan – Bajgiran : On you way out of Iran, you’ll need around one and half hour between Ouchan and Bajgiran. A bus is leaving every two hours from 6:30am. From Bajgiran, you can walk one kilometer to the border or take a taxi. On the Turkmen side, you’ll find plenty of shared taxis to Ashghabat.
From Turkmenistan, you’ll have to take a taxi in Ashghabat to the border. After crossing the border, you have to take another taxi to Bajgiran. There, you should find a bus going to Mashhad … or not. Most of the travelers share a taxi from the border to Ouchan from where you’ll definitely find a bus to Mashhad.
Open from 8:00 am to 5:30pm (7:30am to 3:30pm for the Iranian side).
Gudurolum: You need to have your own mean of transportation as there is no public service.
Azerbaijan : four border crossings
Astara – Astara: Easy and straightforward border crossing. You can walk between the two posts that are both inside the town.
Bilasuvar: Open to foreigners.
Nakhchivan Jolfa – Julfa: Open to foreigners.
Poldasht – Shahtakhti: Ouvert 24/7.
Pakistan : two border crossings
Do we need to remind you that travelling to Pakistan is unsafe? Insecurity on both sides is not a legend and tourists were abducted and killed by different armed groups.
Mirjaveh – Taftan : On the road to Zahedan. A bus leaves Quetta at night to arrive in the early morning in Taftan from where you can get a taxi or walk to the border. After crossing, you can take a taxi to Zahedan.
Mand – Pishin: This border crossing is closed to foreigners.
Irak : four border crossings
For security concerns, travels to Iran should be avoided.
Piranshahr – Haji Omran: Located between Erbil and Mahadar. You’ll easily find plenty of buses between Erbil and Tehran or Ourmia. In Iran, take a taxi to Piranshahr where you’ll find many buses to Tehran.
Bashmakh – Penjwen: Located on the road between Suleymanieh and Marivan. Plenty of buses everyday between these two cities.