Yazd is a desert city in central Iran and an ancient city dating back to the Sassanian Period (224-651 AD). Yazd is the driest major city in Iran, with an average annual rainfall of only 60 millimetres and summer temperatures regularly over 40°C. There are several things to see in the city centre, but the major attractions are outside Yazd and best visited in small tour groups as day trips. These include Kharanaq, Chak-Chak and Meybod.
The Orient Hostel is located inside a beautiful old Persian building and only 150m away from the Jameh Mosque. The view from the rooftop of the Orient towards the Jameh Mosque is beautiful, you can see it below. The hostel is located inside a hotel really, but one of the rooms down in a basement area has been turned into a dorm room. The room is very pleasant and spacious. There is good air flow despite it being quite low in the building. Breakfast is served for free and is delicious! There is a buffet choice of basic foods as well as scrambled eggs or omelette. Book Orient Hostel here!
The owners of Silk Road Hotel are actually the same as Orient Hostel. Silk Road appears to be the main hotel as it offers well priced tours and an excellent restaurant. I was directed to come here for both while staying at Orient. I didn't actually stay here, but did eat here several time and enjoyed it a lot. I am certain it would be a good option. Book Silk Road Hotel here!
I didn't stay here while in Yazd but I did hear a lot of good things about the place from other travellers. This a proper hostel with only dorm rooms as opposed to a hotel that has a couple of dorms for backpackers. The common area is very highly rated and it's a really good place to chill out for a few days. Next time I am in Yazd I plan to stay here. Book Badgir Hostel here!
Sights and Highlights
Kharanaq, a 4,000 year old abandoned town, is located 70 km from Yazd. Kharanaq is a city built entirely out of mud brick’s. While the town has been inhabited for 4,000 years, the mud brick buildings you see in these images date back around 1,000 years. The drive out to Kharanaq is very pleasant. Lots of mountains towering over the desert landscape. I was informed my the driver that this area of Iran reaches peak temperatures over 50°C in summer so keep that in mind if you are here in summer. I visited Kharanaq as part of a day tour organised by Silk Road Hotel. The price was 500,000 IRR (12.5€) and included stops in Chak Chak and Meybod as well. This appears to be about the cheapest you will find for this day trip.
Check out my blog post, Yazd – Trip to Kharanaq, to read more about Kharanaq and to see more of my photos.
Chak Chak is a small village in the mountains of Iran and located 65km from Yazd. It is also a Zoroastrian fire temple and the most sacred of the mountain shrines of Zoroastrianism. The story goes that Nikbanou, second daughter of the last Persian ruler, Yazdegerd III of the Sassanid Empire, fled here under attack by an Arab army in 640 CE. I visited Chak Chak as part of a day tour organised by Silk Road Hotel. The price was 500,000 IRR (12.5€) and included stops in Kharanaq and Meybod as well.
Check out my blog post, Yazd - Trip to Chak Chak, to read more about Chak Chak and to see more of my photos.
Meybod is an ancient city that dates back to the pre-Islamic era of Iran and is located only 55km from Yazd. A visit to Meybod is often included in tours that visit Kharanaq and Chak-Chak. The centrepiece of Meybod, and the reason that it’s included in day trips, is the Narin Qal’eh castle. Narin Qal’eh is a mud brick fort built around 2000 years ago. I visited Meybod as part of a day tour organised by Silk Road Hotel. The price was 500,000 IRR (12.5€) and included stops in Kharanaq and Chak Chak as well.
Check out my blog post, Yazd - Ancient City of Meybod, to learn more about Meybod and to see more of my photos.
Towers of Silence
There are two Towers of Silence located on the outskirts of Yazd, 10km or 15mins drive from the city centre. Both of these towers can be seen in the image above. According to Zoroastrian tradition dead bodies would be placed inside the pits atop the Towers and left exposed to the elements. As the bodies break down, carrion birds would perform an excarnation of the bodies.
The easiest way to get to the towers is by taxi. Any taxi off the street in Yazd will be able to take you here for around 100,000 – 150,000 IRR (less than 4 euro). Lots of backpackers in Iran are going here so it’s easy to share a ride. The best time of the day to visit is around sunset. If you do, it is wise to speak to a taxi driver near the entrance and arrange for him to wait for you to finish and then take you back to your hotel/hostel afterwards.
Check out my blog post, Yazd - Towers of Silence, to learn more about the history behind the Towers of Silence.
Jameh Mosque of Yazd
The Jameh Mosque of Yazd, or Friday congregation mosque, is a nearly 700 year old mosque. The mosque is a fine specimen of the Azari style of Persian architecture. The mosque is crowned by a pair of minarets. At 52m high, they are the highest in Iran, and the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour. The Jameh Mosque of Yazd is located very close to Silk Road and Orient Hostels
The Amir Chakhmaq Complex is a prominent it structure in Yazd noted for its symmetrical sunken alcoves. It is also a mosque located in the square of the same name. It also contains a caravanserai, a bathhouse, a cold water well, and a confectionery. At night, the building is lit up after sun set with orange lighting in the arched alcoves. Amir Chakhmaq is quite centrally located and easy walking distance from most accommodation.
I mostly ate food at the restaurant located inside the Silk Road Hotel. But there are plenty of other places to get kebab, burgers, hot dogs and other dishes. If you want to eat in a sit down restaurant than The Culture Trip has the useful article, Best Restaurants in Yazd.
Silk Road Hotel
Along with being a nice place to stay, this hotel has a nice restaurant inside the main courtyard around which the hotel is based. The menu is blend of Indian and Iranian fusion dishes and makes a nice change from the usual dishes, particularly if you have been in Iran for a while and are craving something with a bit of heat.
Haj Khalife Ali Rahbar
This is not a restaurant but rather a bakery and confectionary store. If you haven't managed to sample Iranian sweets yet, or you have and loved them, this is the place for you. All the prices are marked and cheap, so you know what you will need to pay before you go to the counter. It is located near Amir Chakhmaq complex.
Most of the sights in the old town are near the Jameh Mosque and Amir Chakhmaq square. You can easily walk between them on foot. For the sights on the fringes of the city such as the Towers of Silence the best option is take a taxi, preferably share one with another traveller. A trip out to the Towers is 14km so expect somewhere up to 150,000 for this trip.
Getting In and Out
The Yazd Bus Terminal is located away from the centre of town. You will require a 12km taxi journey to reach it from the centre of Yazd. It is possible to catch a local bus from the Yazd bus terminal to the city centre. Look for a little white hut, in front of the bus station. The local buses leaving from here will drop you off at Shehneh bus stop for 10,000 IRR (0.25€). From here you can walk or look for a taxi to get to the door of your accommodation, a taxi from Shehneh bus stop to a hostel should be no more than 50,000 IRR.
From the Yazd Bus Terminal you can easily find buses to Shiraz for 300,000 IRR, Isfahan for 260,000 IRR and Tehran for 460,000 IRR. If you want to go to Kashan you should take a bus to Tehran, but it will cost less.
Yazd stands on the railway line connecting Tehran and Kerman (6 hrs), passing Kashan (3-4 hrs). There are several trains per day including one overnight one. There is also one train daily which passes Isfahan (3-4 hrs). In order to purchase tickets you should walk into a local travel agent who can organise the ticket for you in advance, otherwise you need to purchase from the station and there may be no tickets left. I purchased a ticket through an agent located in a small shop near Orient Hostel. Trains depart from the Yazd Railway Station which is 7km from the city centre, about an 80,000 IRR taxi trip to get there.