Kashan sits in between Tehran and Isfahan just of the major highway heading south, all buses travelling to Isfahan or Yazd from Tehran will pass by Kashan. If you have the time to spare, a few days in Kashan is definitely worth it. There are some lovely old traditional houses (more like mansions!) to visit, a beautiful bazaar and some great day trips leave from Kashan. In Kashan you can also visit the Fin Gardens, a UNESCO protected oasis sandwiched between the mountains and deserts of Iran.
A lovely boutique hotel/hostel inside a traditional Persian house. The location is perfect as it is only a 3 minute walk from the historic houses in Kashan as well as the bathhouse. There are dorms available here, however it seems that you can get a private room for the same price. A big traditional breakfast of bread, soft cheese, boiled eggs and tea is provided. Sadeghi can also arrange day tours to Abyaneh and Maranjab Desert. The prices for these day trips seemed very reasonable.
Located on a quiet back street, but still quite close to the centre of the city. I booked a private room here for a night and was really happy with the room. The WiFi did not function very well, but this is not unusual in Iran at all. I really tasty breakfast was provided, one of the best free breakfasts I had in Iran.
Sights and Highlights
This bathhouse has been expertly restored and filled with well placed artificial lighting providing some really good photo opportunities. It would be lovely to be able to see it in use as a bathhouse, alas it is now merely a museum. After visiting the interior, make sure you head to the roof. From here you will get to see the skylights used to light up the interior and get a fantastic view of Kashan as well as the surrounding mountains. The bathhouse can be visited for 150,000 IRR or you can purchase a combined ticket to the bathhouse and two of the historical houses for 350,000 IRR, about 9€.
There are three famous historical houses in Kashan that can be visited. They are the Borujerdi, Abbasian and Tabatabaei historical houses. Build during the 18th and 19th centuries, these houses possess classic features in traditional Persian residential architecture, such as biruni and andaruni. They are called houses, but they are more like palaces and clearly lived in by wealthy families in Kashan. In Iran you will find beautiful examples of Persian architecture, but most of this exists in the Mosques you will visit. Here you get one of the best opportunities to see Persian architecture in a residential setting.
The Bagh-e Fin is one of the most famous gardens in Persia and since 2012 a UNESCO world heritage site. Some of these trees are over 400 years old and a tremendous amount of care has been taken to keep them alive in the deserts of Iran. Within the Fin Gardens is a fresh water spring fed by the nearby mountains. Surprisingly, it seems to be a hot spring as the water is steaming as it flows through the gardens and feels around 30°C to touch. You can reach the Fin Gardens via a short taxi trip from center of Kashan. It is an 8km journey so should cost no more than about 100,000 IRR. For a return trip, with the driver waiting for you to visit the garden, expect something closer to 350,000 IRR. Entrance to the gardens is 200,000 IRR (5€).
Read my blog about visiting the The Fin Gardens in Kashan.
Bazaar and Caravanserai
One of my favourite spots in Kashan was the caravanserai located inside Kashan bazaar. As you enter the Aminoddole Caravanserai, the corridors of the bazaar suddenly open out into a masterpiece of Persian architecture. What I liked most about this space, is that it is not a mosque, museum or a historical house that requires a fee to enter. It is just a public space within a bazaar where people sell carpets and drink tea.
Abyaneh is a village located about 80km south of Kashan by car. Abyaneh is an isolated town, particularly in the winter when snow and ice makes it difficult to reach. Because of this, Abyaneh has developed a unique culture. Many elderly residents speak Middle Persian, an earlier incarnation of Farsi that largely disappeared centuries ago. The local clothing is also unique and consists of a long scarf with a colourful floral design. This colourful floral pattern contrasts strongly with the typical plain black hijab that older women wear elsewhere in Iran. Abyaneh is characterised by a peculiar reddish hue that comes from the mud bricks quarried from the mountains nearby. Like many of the traditional villages in Iran, these mud bricks are used almost exclusively to build the houses in the town. A trip to Abyaneh can be organised with a local taxi driver for less than 1,000,000 IRR (25€). This includes a return trip to the town and the driver will wait while you explore the town. This cost is for the entire car, so find some other travellers to share the cost and it becomes a very inexpensive day trip.
The Maranjab desert is located about 60km from Kashan and can be easily visited as either a day trip from Kashan or with an overnight stay in a Caravanserai included. I have heard mixed reviews of the overnight stay and only went on a day trip myself. Read about this experience in my blog post, Kashan - Maranjab Desert. A trip out to the desert will normally include a visit to Namak Salt Lake as well as sand dunes in the desert. A lot of tours to this desert are overpriced but I can recommend organising something through the Sadeghi House hotel listed above. Their prices for day trips was very reasonable.
Kashan is a smaller city compared to most others you will likely visit in Iran, as such, there are not as many options for cheap food as there are in the larger cities. Walking the streets, you will see many shops selling meats, vegetables and bread but few restaurants. This suggests to me that most people in Kashan cook and eat at home. I did manage to find a couple of take away fast food places that make hotdogs, burgers and even pizzas. They were located around this square and on the major streets leading towards it.
There are also a few restaurants that you can go to for 'traditional meals'. You can try Abbasi Tea House & Traditional Restaurant or Mozaffari Restaurant. as with any restaurant that advertises as selling traditional food, both of these places are touristy and over priced. However, with a lack of many other options, you might have to go to one of them. Expect to pay between 8€ - 10€ for a full meal here.
All of the attractions within the city centre itself are walking distance. For all the other sites, you will need to use a taxi. All of the accommodations in Kashan can organise taxis for day trips and sightseeing and I was always satisfied with the price offered. As a general rule, a trip of 5km in a taxi should cost about 60,000 IRR and a 10km trip, about 100,000 IRR.
Getting In and Out
All intercity buses leave from the Kashan bus station which can be reached from the city centre by taxi for about 60,000 IRR (1.5€). The bus station is very easy to use, just walk in and go up to any counter asking if they sell tickets to the city you are trying to get to. If they do not, they will point you towards the counter that does. Tickets to Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd will all cost around 200,000 IRR (5€) by VIP bus.