DAY 1 YEREVAN ARRIVAL & CITY TOUR
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport early in the morning. Meet your Phoenix Tour representative. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Breakfast. Start exploring Yerevan, the Armenia’s capital city and one of the oldest cities in the world. Stop at the Victory Park and Mother Armenia monument to get a spectacular view of the Biblical Mt. Ararat with a panorama of central Yerevan.
Take a walking tour of the Cascade Complex, with its Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Visit the magnificent building of the Opera House, the postmodern Northern Avenue and the city's main Republic Square. Be sure to return to Republic Square after dark to see the "Dancing Fountains", a choreographed water show synched with lights and music (The fountains are on from May until the end of October).
Continue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on the hills of Tsitsernakaberd. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex houses both the Armenian Genocide Museum, and the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial.
Take a tour of an open air "Vernissage" market, where you can buy some gifts, souvenirs, jewelry and other handicrafts. Stop at the popular fruit market "Shouka" to buy traditional sweets and dried fruits. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2 YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – SYMPHONY OF THE STONES – LAKE SEVAN – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia, the 13th century cave monastery of Geghard (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The name of the monastery originates from the spear, which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, and currently stored amongst many other relics in the Echmiadzin's Cathedral Museum.
Continue to the oldest surviving building on the territory of Armenia, the 1st century Garni Pagan Temple. The Garni Temple was built by the Armenian King Tiridates with the money he received after visiting Emperor Nero in Rome, and was dedicated to Sun God Mithra.
Take a local 4x4 jeep down to the bottom of the Garni Gorge, to see the breathtaking vertical cliffs of the well preserved octagonal basalt columns, called the "Symphony of the Stones". Usually, visitors must walk or take a local car, as our buses do not make trips down there.
Continue to Lake Sevan. Lake Sevan’s proximity to Yerevan, coupled with its cooler summer temperatures, outstretched blue waters and historic sights make it one of Armenia’s key places to visit. Walk up to the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank on Sevan Peninsula, one of Armenia’s iconic landmarks. Return to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3 YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to Echmiadzin, the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Visit the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). Visit the Main Cathedral of Echmiadzin, the oldest state-built church in the world, having been built by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 303 AD (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral's Museum, where amongst other relics, you can see the Holy Spear, with which Jesus Christ was pierced on the cross.
Drive back to Yerevan. En route to Yerevan visit ruins of the 7th century Zvartnots Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Zvartnots Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 930 AD, and was lost to history until its discovery in the early 20th century.
Return to Yerevan. Visit one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Visit the Republic Square to see the "Dancing Fountains", a choreographed water show synched with lights and music. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 4 YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – ARENI – TATEV – GORIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Khor Virap Monastery, where the Mt. Ararat reveals its breathtaking size and splendor. Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia, primarily because it is where the St. Gregory the Illuminator, the future head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was imprisoned here for 13 years.
Continue to the masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture, the 14th century Noravank Monastery, a major religious and cultural center of Armenia in the past. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni Village, which is famous for its delicious dry red wine.
Drive to one of the most spectacular and impressive places in Armenia, the 9th century Tatev Monastery, which hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, whose scholars contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.
Take the cable car "Wings of Tatev" from the Halidzor Village to the magnificent complex of Tatev. The "Wings of Tatev" built by the Swiss company, is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as world’s longest non-stop double track cable car, clocking in at around 5.7 km.
Continue to Goris, a major junction stop between Yerevan, Stepanakert and Iran. Goris is known for its variety of homemade fruit vodkas, including the deliciously potent Mulberry and Cornelian cherry vodkas. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Goris.
DAY 5 GORIS – MEGHRI – AGARAK – JOLFA – TABRIZ
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Armenia-Iran border. Arrive in Meghri. Meghri is the last major center and the gateway for those entering Iran. Visit the 17th century beautiful St. Sargis Basilica, which absolutely covered in bright frescoes inside.
Pass through Meghri town and arrive at the Agarak-Nordooz border crossing. After border formalities, change the guide and transportation. Start the Iranian part of the tour and continue to Tabriz.
Stop at Jolfa, a bustling border town, that connects the Islamic Republic both with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Visit the 9th century St. Stepanos Monastery, an Armenian monastery, situated in a deep canyon along the Araks River (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Many Armenian historians believe that the first church on the site was built in the 1st century by St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Continue to Tabriz. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tabriz.
DAY 6 TABRIZ – SHIRAZ
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Start exploring Tabriz, the second largest city of Iran and important commercial center of Persia since antiquity. Visit the Bazaar of Tabriz, one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Transfer to Tabriz International Airport and take a domestic flight to Shiraz. Arrival to Shiraz International Airport in the evening. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Overnight in Shiraz.
DAY 7 SHIRAZ – PERSEPOLIS – SHIRAZ
Breakfast. Drive to Persepolis, one of the most majestic ancient monuments in the world, the capital of the Achaemenid Kings of Persia (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Return to Shiraz. Start exploring Shiraz, the treasure trove of Persian culture. It is the former capital of Iran and the celebrated birthplace of the great Persian poets Hafiz and Saadi. Visit the Citadel of Arg of Karim Khan built in 1767, currently a museum operated by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.
Visit Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque. The designers used extensively stained glass on the facade and other traditional elements, which create a breathtaking effect of the interior, like standing in a kaleidoscope.
Continue to Eram Garden (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Eram Garden is a historic and monumental Persian garden in Shiraz. The Pahlavi Dynasty heavily invested in this Garden, renovating it to an internationally recognizable status.
Visit the Shah-e-Cheragh Mausoleum, is one of the most beautiful mosques and an important pilgrimage center of the city of Shiraz. The tombs of Amir Ahmad and his brother Mir Muhammad, sons of the seventh Imam, are covered with millions of pieces of colored glass, that glitter in the light and magnify its brilliance a thousand times.
Visit the Mausoleum of Hafez (1324-1391), one of the greatest masters of Persian lyric poetry and the literary giant of the 14th century in the west and central Asia. Visitors to the tomb can still, as they have done for centuries, sit by his tomb and read his sonnets. Overnight in Shiraz.
DAY 8 SHIRAZ – PASARGAD – YAZD
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Visit the ruins of the ancient Persian city of Pasargad (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Pasargad was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great who had issued its construction (559–530 BC), as it was also the location of his tomb, the most important monument in Pasargad.
Drive to Yazd, an architecturally unique city and the center of the Zoroastrian culture. The scenery on the journey will range from green valleys to jagged mountains, and a flat deep desert with some moonscape vistas. Arrive in Yazd. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yazd.
DAY 9 YAZD – MEYBOD – ISFAHAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Start exploring Yazd, a home to Iran’s second largest population of Zoroastrians. The ancient city of Yazd can lay claim to being one of the oldest, continuously inhabited places on earth.
Visit the 14th century Jameh Mosque. The magnificent Jameh Mosque (Friday Mosque) with its tiled entrance portal is one of the tallest in Iran.
Visit the Eskandar Prison. Eskandar Prison is an ancient domed structure, alleged by some to have been built by Alexander the Great to hold his captives during his conquest of Persia, and alleged by others to have been built by the Persians to hold Alexander himself.
Visit the 13th century Amir Chakhmagh Complex. The stunning three-storey facade of this religious complex makes it one of the largest such structures in Iran. Look out for the huge wooden palm Nakhl, an important centerpiece once used in the observance of the Shiites’ passionate Ashura commemorations.
Visit the Yazd Atashkadeh Fire Temple, where Zoroastrians from all over the world come to see the sacred fire that has been burning without interruption for 1,500 years.
Drive to Isfahan, the Iran’s number one tourist destination. Stop by the Narin Castle, a mud brick castle in the town of Meybod. Explore the old part of Naeen desert city. Arrive in Isfahan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Isfahan.
DAY 10 ISFAHAN
Breakfast. Visit Chehel Sotoun (The Forty Pillars). Built in 1647, Chehel Sotoun is a pavilion in the middle of a garden, covering 67,000 square meters at the far end of a long rectangular shaped pool. The palace is now a museum of Safavid paintings and ceramics, which attracts numerous visitors.
Stop by the Ali Qapu Grand Palace. Built at the very end of the 16th century as a residence for Shah Abbas I, this six-storey palace also served as a monumental gateway to the royal palaces that lay in the parklands beyond.
Visit the Naqsh'e Jahan Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the second biggest square in the world (after Beijing's Tianamen Square). During the reign of Shah Abbas I and his successors, this square was an area where festivities, polo, dramatics and military parades took place.
Visit the Armenian Vank Cathedral in Isfahan. The Holy Savior Cathedral, also known as the Church of the Saintly Sisters, is one of the largest and most beautiful churches of Iran.
Visit the Khaju and Siosepol bridges. The Khaju Bridge, or Pol-e-Khajoo in Isfahan, besides having a beautiful golden look during the night, also serves as a dam, with sluice gates under the archways. The Siosepol Bridge, translated as the bridge of 33 arches, is one of the most famous bridges in the world, renowned for its beauty and for the remarkable architecture, and one of the most famous sites in Iran. Overnight in Isfahan.
DAY 11 ISFAHAN – KASHAN – TEHRAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Tehran. En route to Tehran stop at Kashan town and visit the 19th century Boroujerdis House. The unique features of the House have resulted in a minimal amount of renovation and alteration of the original structure.
Continue to Fin Garden. Fin Garden is a historical Persian garden, and it contains Kashan's Fin Bath, where Amir Kabir, the Qajarid chancellor, was murdered by an assassin sent by King Nasereddin Shah in 1852. In keeping with many of the Persian gardens of this era, the Fin Garden employs a great many water features. The canals are lined with blue-green tiles, a color which contrasts wonderfully with the desert outside the garden walls. Arrive in Tehran. Check into hotel. Overnight in Tehran.
DAY 12 TEHRAN DEPARTURE
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Take a tour of the National Museum of Iran. It is the best place to see the history of the Persia through preserved ancient and medieval Persian antiquities.
Visit the Golestan Palace. The "Palace of Flowers" is a true masterpiece of the Qajar era, one the oldest of all historic monuments in the capitol of the Islamic Republic (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Take a tour of the famous Grand Bazaar. Historic, expansive, and dizzying, Tehran’s Grand Bazaar consists of over 10 kilometers of labyrinthine covered alleys, and is divided up into sections selling different types of product.
Visit Iran’s National Jewelry Museum. Most of the royal jewelry of Iran is on display in this museum from Safavid, Afsharid, Ghajarid and Pahlavid dynasties such as the Darya-ye-Noor diamond (The Sea of Light), The Naderi Paisley, The Crown of Queen Farah Pahlavi, The Kiyani Crown, The Gemmed Globe, The Peacock Bed (Ghajarid) (The Sun Bed), and many others.
Transfer to Imam Khomeini International Airport. Departure from Tehran in the evening.