How To Have An Epic 2 Days In Yazd, Iran
Updated June 2023, How To Have An Epic Two Days In Yazd, Iran was originally written in April 2020
Truth be told, I almost skipped Yazd. I’d read it was too touristy, that, and paired with the fact that I’d spent too much time in Shiraz and over on Hormuz Island already and I needed to get moving on my way north and eventually west to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan.
Oddly enough, I’d never heard of the city of Yazd prior to the start of my research before my Iran trip, so that was the only inkling that maybe I should still visit. I finally managed to book an evening bus ticket out from Shiraz, say goodbye to my newfound friends in the city, and head north in the pouring rain for the city of Yazd.
I arrived to a torrential downpour at about 3 am, wading through shin-deep rainwater in the streets to grab my backpack from under the bus and walk over to a taxi. The taxi driver was beyond nice, we chatted in (my limited) Farsi on the drive over to my hostel before I crashed for the remainder of the night.
What I can honestly say, is, is that Yazd was one of my favorite destinations (I’d say my third favorite after Hormuz and Shiraz) I visited on my month-long trip throughout Iran. It didn’t seem painfully touristy like I had read and been told (not compared to what I’d encounter in Esfahan, which was my least favorite city in Iran- but more on that in a later post).
So based on my visit to Yazd, here is a perfect two day Yazd itinerary, including the best things to do in Yazd, where to stay, best restaurants, and more.
Start planning your Iran trip here: The 1-4 Week Iran Itinerary
- How To Have An Epic 2 Days In Yazd, Iran
- A Quick History of Yazd
- Yazd Itinerary Day 1: A Self-Guided Walking Tour Of The Old City
- Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex
- Saheb a Zaman Zurkhaneh
- Yazd Water Museum
- Imam Shahzade Fazel Complex & Bazaar
- Masjid e Jameh
- Boghe ye Sayyed Roknaddin (Mausoleum of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi)
- Kohan Traditional Hotel
- Zindon e Eskander (Alexander’s Prison) & Maghbareh-ye Davozdah Emam
- Fahadan Museum Hotel
- Khan e Lari Historic House
- Optional: Catch Sunset at Chakhmaq Mosque Complex
- Imam Zadeh Jafar
- Yazd Itinerary Day 2: Zoroastrianism & Gardens
- Where To Stay In Yazd
- Best Restaurants In Yazd
- Getting In & Out Of Yazd
A Quick History of Yazd
Settled by humans over 5,000 years ago, Yazd has seen a fair share in its long-standing history sat perched between the Dasht e Lut and Dasht e Kavir deserts. Yazd has a long history on the ancient Silk Road as an important trading post with the likes of explorers such as Marco Polo passing through.
Yazd is an oddity in that regard though as it was never destroyed by either Genghis Khan or Amir Timur, which seems to be a common connecting element in most important centers of trade along the Silk Route. The city is a great place to learn more about the ancient Zoroastrian religion as the city still boasts nearly 5,000 practitioners of the religion.
The UNESCO protected Yazd Old City is like taking a walk back in time with its narrow and winding alleys (some of which are called ‘friendship alleys’ because passersby have to come so close), and gorgeous architecture- much of which dates back to the Timirid era.
Yazd Itinerary Day 1: A Self-Guided Walking Tour Of The Old City
The best way to kick off your two day Yazd itinerary and become acquainted with Yazd is to dive straight into it. Depending on where you’re staying in the city you may want to reverse this self-guided Yazd Old City walking tour, but I am going to share with you how I did it in the order I completed it.
I ended up staying at Yazd Backpack Hostel which looks out into the Chakhmaqtin Mosque Complex and ends in the northwest part of the Old City. If you’re staying at the highly recommended Silk Road Hotel or any of the other traditional or historic hotels you’ll likely already be located in the Old City.
- Walking distance: 3 kilometers
- Time: 4+ hours
Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex
The Amir Chakhmaq Complex was built under the Timirid Dynasty and named after the governor of Yazd at the time, Amir Jalaleddin Chakhmaq.
The complex is comprised of the Amir Chakhmaq Mosque on the south side of the square, the Tekyeh Amir Chakhmaq (the three-story facade that serves as a Shia Muslim site for the mourning of Muharram), a caravanserai, a bathhouse, and a well. Underneath the complex, you’ll find a bazaar of kebab stalls- known for their specialty of jigar, which is grilled liver (I didn’t partake as liver is one of the few foods I truly despise and avoid at any cost).
Amir Chakhmaq’s three-story facade is one of the most iconic sites in all of Yazd. The only downside of putting Amir Chakhmaq at the beginning of your Yazd Old City walking tour is that it is actually best viewed in the later afternoon near to sunset, or when it’s illuminated in the evening, so I’d recommend returning to see it in all its glory to relax in the square. I loved staying next to it as my favorite thing to do at breakfast time and in the evening was to enjoy a saffron ice cream in the square.
Head just to the north edge of the Amir Chakhmaq Complex to visit the Saheb a Saman Zurkhaneh.
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Saheb a Zaman Zurkhaneh
Zurkhaneh translates out to ‘house of strength’ which is what this old ob anbar (reservoir) was converted into after the ob anbar wasn’t needed for water storage any longer once modern irrigation descended on the city of Yazd. Saheb e Zaman Zurkhaneh serves as men’s gym, if you will, where men still to this day practice an ancient sport involving wooden clubs.
Next, you’ll dart across Imam Khomeini Kheyabun (Imam Khomeini Street) to the Yaz Water Museum.
Yazd Water Museum
Qanats can be found all over Iran, but Yazd is the most famed for its underground aqueducts. Dedicated to the people who build qanats, the Yazd Water Museum is inside an old mansion that showcases photographs, displays, charts (and even its own aqueduct) that span the 2,000 years in which these aqueduct systems have been in use in Iran.
From the Yazd Water Museum, continue back along Imam Khomeini Kheyabun to the northeast about 200 meters where you’ll find the ornately decorated Imam Shahzade Fazel Mausoleum on your left. Imam Shahzade Fazel Mausoleum.
Imam Shahzade Fazel Complex & Bazaar
Imam Shahzade Fazel Complex is located right on Imam Khomeini Kheyabun and is attached to the Shahzade Fazel Bazaar.
The shrine and mausoleum at Imam Shahzade Fazel’s interior is intricately decorated with mirrors. The complex was built roughly 800 years ago by Amir Mobarezo Aldin. The Hussainiya of Imam Shahzade Fazel Complex is one of the largest in Iran and each year Shias come from all around the country for Muharram.
The Shahzade Fazel Bazaar is accessible from the complex. The Shahzade Fazel Bazaar dates back to the Timirid era and has some incredible ceilings scattered about the maze of covered alleys.
Optionally, pop into Haziera Mosque across Imam Khomeini Kheyabuni afterward (and up about 200 meters) on your way to Masjid e Jameh. To get to Masjid e Jameh, continue up Imam Khomeini Kheyabun (200 meters from Hazierh Mosque, 400 meters from Imam Shahzade Fazel Mausoleum). When you reach Jameh Mosque Kheyabun (Melli Bank will be on the corner), turn left to make way to Masjid e Jameh.
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Masjid e Jameh
Construction of Masjid e Jameh initially began in the 12th century atop an ancient Zoroastrian Sassanid fire temple, but the structure present today wasn’t started until the 14th century, later completed in honor of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi in the 15th century. The mosque’s pair of 52 meter high Safavid era minarets are the tallest in Iran are visible from a good distance, and are even present on the 200 rial note.
The front and back entrance portals are adorned with extensive tile work (warning: looking up at the front entrance portal will probably cause a kind in your neck from looking up as long as you need to appreciate the fine tilework!).
Inside, the fine tilework of the Mihrab is truly something to behold with insanely incredible details.
Masjid e Jameh is a place that having a guide knowledgable in reading Arabic calligraphic scripts who can interpret the meanings can help enhance your experience.
The small museum located in the courtyard is worth visiting to see old photographs and artifacts.
After you’re finished appreciating the beautiful craftsmanship of the Masjid e Jameh, exit through the back entrance portal to see it, before continuing east (to the right). Walk until the path crosses with another and head left there and the Mausoleum of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi. Take the next right around the complex to find the entrance.
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Boghe ye Sayyed Roknaddin (Mausoleum of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi)
This is the tomb of Sayyed Roknaddin Mohammed Qazi, which was constructed in the 14th century. The details on the dome are quite impressive. Inside is adorned in a mosaic of mirrors, similar to many other tombs throughout Iran.
Afterward, walk back toward the back entrance to Masjid e Jameh. Right before you reach the entrance take a right and continue northeast along it to eventually reach a park, from which a turn to the east will take you to the Kohan Traditional Hotel.
Make sure to take your time exploring the side “friendship alleys” veering off the route. If you’re wondering why they’re called friendship alleys, it’s because they are so narrow that passersby, whether friend, stranger, or foe would be forced face to face and say hello- forcing peace to be made again.
Kohan Traditional Hotel
Kohan Traditional Hotel is a historic family home in the heart of the Old City of Yazd. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel you may still visit. The main attraction is the gorgeous courtyard framed magenta-flowered bougainvillea trees.
If you’re hungry at this point, I recommend sitting down and having lunch at the courtyard restaurant. There are also countless restaurants in the general vicinity as well.
Continue northeast from the Kohan Traditional Hotel and take a left on Mirzazadeh Kheyabun to reach Zaiee Square on your left to visit Zindon e Eskander and Maghbareh ye Davozdah Emam.
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Zindon e Eskander (Alexander’s Prison) & Maghbareh-ye Davozdah Emam
Zindon e Eskander, in English meaning Alexander’s Prison, the Maghbareh ye Davozdah Emam (Shrine of 12 Imams), and the Yazd tourism office all sit together around Zaiee Square.
Alexander’s Prison was built under Zia Addin Hossein Razi and originally functioned as a school. Though heavily disputed, some believe the name of Alexander’s Prison refers to Alexander the Great converting it into a prison (because a hole dug in the middle that was thought to be a dungeon) when we arrived in Yazd as he made his conquest across Iran and the Silk Road.
Others believe that the hole in question came to be due to a network of underground pipes as part of a primitive attempt at distributing water throughout the city after studies were conducted prior to the renovation of the site. Those that believe the latter thus do not think that Alexander converted it into a prison and think that his name came to play because of a reference to Alexander’s prison in a poem of Hafez:
My heart contracted from dread of the prison of Sikandar
I bind up my chattels, and to the Land of Suleiman- I go.
Built in the Seljuq era, in the 11th century, Maghbareh ye Davozdah Emam, or in English, the Shrine of the 12 Imams is a funerary mosque and religious shrine to the 12 shia imams, none of which are actually buried here. Read more about the Shrine of 12 Imams and its architecture here.
Next up, the Fahadan Museum Hotel, is located on the northwest side of Zaiee Square.
Fahadan Museum Hotel
The Fahadan Museum Hotel is another popular Yazd Old City landmark, arranged around a beautiful courtyard. If you didn’t stop off at Kohan Traditional Hotel, this is another great opportunity to grab a chai and a snack at their teahouse.
Continuing west about 70 meters away on Mirzazadeh Kheyabun you’ll find the Khan e Lari Historic House on the opposite side of the street.
Khan e Lari Historic House
Khan e Lari is arguably the best-preserved Qajar era home in Yazd with a lovely courtyard. From the 150 year old courtyard, you can enter into various rooms of the house.
Congratulations! You’ve now completed most of the important and iconic sites in Yazd’s Old City. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, you may want to head back to your hotel to escape the afternoon heat at this point in the day. If not, you can continue to wander the charming alleys of the Old City discovering beautiful mosque portals and other historic homes.
If you venture further north beyond the main conglomeration of Yazd Old City sites you’ll get to see the more local side of the area. I actually stumbled across a lovely mosque portal that I wanted to photograph, and after the caretaker spotted me snapping a few pictures as he went to lock the gates for the afternoon he quickly introduced himself and ushered me inside to give me a tour. After we said our goodbyes the family that lived across the street poached me to invite me inside for lunch.
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Optional: Catch Sunset at Chakhmaq Mosque Complex
As mentioned earlier, the Chakhmaq Mosque Complex is quite spectacular in the later afternoon and at sunset. You could opt to omit it in the morning from the itinerary.
Imam Zadeh Jafar
In the early evening, head back toward the southwest to visit Imam Zadeh Jafar, either on foot (about 1.5 kilometers from) or by taxi. It’s a more recent construction that is quite beautiful in the evening when its lit up. The beautiful mirror work inside the shrine is worth a look.
Women will need to wear a chador to enter, which are available to borrow at the women’s entrance.
Yazd Itinerary Day 2: Zoroastrianism & Gardens
Day 2 of your two day Yazd itinerary is a little slower-paced, but involves more sites located on the fringes of the city as you get to know the Zoroastrian history of the area a little better. Truth be told, the only thing I didn’t do that I am mentioning today is the Bafgh, or Hidden Desert as I had been in Kerman prior and was able to spend some time exploring the Kalouts Desert. With that said, I kinda wish I’d have just gone to see it for myself.
If you don’t go to the Hidden Desert it will afford you more time to revisit any sites from day one, or to just chill at a chaikhana (teahouse) in the afternoon.
Dakhma ye Zartoshtiyun (Towers of Silence)
Out in the desert just outside of Yazd sits a Dakhmaye Zartoshtiyun, the Towers of Silence, a place where Zoroastrian sky burial rituals, a form of excarnation, were performed from ancient times up until a little over 50 years ago when the Iranian government banned them and orthodox Zoroastrians were forced to find new burial methods.
The Towers of Silence are in pretty good condition compared to the dakhma at Chilpik Qala in Uzbekistan.
The barren land surrounding the two towers are ruined buildings. These buildings ranged from homes of the Nesa-Salars, and where they worked on the death ceremonies in.
Nesa-Salars were the people who brought the bodies up to the towers for the purification process, so because of their exposure to disease from handling the bodies, they were not allowed to leave and return to their home villages for fear they could spread disease.
You’ll need to grab a taxi out here to reach the towers, just say Dakhma to any taxi driver and they’ll know where you want to go (it cost me about 500,000 IRR/$4 USD including, return including wait time in April 2019).
Either on your way to or from the Towers of Silence, you’ll want to make a stop at the Ateshkadeh, a beautiful Zoroastrian fire temple located southeast of the Chakhmaqtin Mosque Complex. This temple houses an eternal flame that’s believed to have been burning since 470 AD.
Fire is an important component of Zoroastrianism, the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. The flame can be seen through a glass window inside the temple. The Aateshkadeh is surrounded by a lovely garden and has an oval-shaped pool in front of it. There’s also a small Zoroastrian museum on the grounds.
I did walk to the Ateshkadeh from Yazd Backpacker Hostel and though it is a little long, it is a nice walk if you meander through the alleyways between the mudbrick homes on the way there, rather than take the main thoroughfare.
Bagh e Dolat Abad
Serving as the home to Mohammad Karim Khan Zand, who ruled all of Persia, minus Khorasan from 1751 to 1779, and the founder of the Zand Dynasty, Bagh e Dolat Abad Garden was built in 1750. Dolat Abad was built in the same manner as traditional Persian gardens are using symmetry and adorned with evergreens, orange trees, and pomegranate trees. There is a coffee shop inside, making this a great place to relax for part of the afternoon.
Bagh e Dolat Abad is located just a bit northwest from most the other sites in Yazd (about 2.5 kilometers away).
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Bafgh (Hidden) Desert
The Bafgh Desert (Hidden Desert), is located a mere 30 minutes outside of Yazd and is a great place to catch the sunset (I’m saying this as if I know this for a fact, but as mentioned earlier that I didn’t). So for transparency’s sake, since I didn’t make the journey myself, I encourage you to check out Naomi’s post on her visit here (it also compares two other deserts she visited in Iran and gives a good pro/con breakdown on each). The Bafgh Desert can easily be reached by taxi or even hitchhiking, but you can also book day tours here too.
Want to go a bit further and check out the Kaluts? Read my Kaluts Desert Guide
Where To Stay In Yazd
I stayed at Yazd Backpack Hostel and have no complaints as it’s located right next to Chakhmaqtin Mosque Complex with a balcony that overlooks the square. You can reach them on WhatsApp at +98 913 520 5100 to book. I’ll list some others below that come highly rated and are bookable at 1stQuest.
Best Restaurants In Yazd
There are heaps of dining options in Yazd, especially in the Old City. There are several shops in Chakhmaqtin Square serving up simple Iranian and Middle Eastern fare, though prices are a little higher owing to it being a tourist attraction. Here are a few excellent spots I tried:
Malek o Tajjar: Located near the Yazd Water Museum, Malek o Tajjar serves up Iranian cuisine and some regional specialties from the Yazd area.
Haj Khalifa Ali Rabar: Located on Amir Chakhmaqtin Square, Haj Khalifa Ali Rabar is famous for its shirini- Iranian sweets.
Kohan Traditional Restaurant: Located in the Kohan Traditional Hotel, serving up excellent Persian dishes.
Silk Road Hotel Restaurant: All kebabed out? The Silk Road Hotel Restaurant does awesome curries.
Getting In & Out Of Yazd
Getting to and from Yazd from just about anywhere a tourist would venture in Iran is easy and possible. Being located smack in the middle of the country it really is at a crossroads. Several buses each day and night connect Yazd to Shiraz, Kerman, Esfahan, and beyond. If you are an advance planner, I recommend booking your bus tickets online with 1stQuest.
Have Any Questions About This Two Day Yazd Itinerary?
Ask in the comments section below. I recommend getting a copy of Bradt’s Iran guidebook to plan your visit to Yazd and beyond!
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