For thousands of years, the Persians have been famous for their Silk Road bazaars selling exquisite and rare goods. Shopping in Tehran has diversified from the traditional bazaar and now includes luxury malls and huge shopping centers. This is not to say the bazaar has lost its place. Every day hundreds of thousands of Tehranis pass through the Grand Bazaar in downtown Tehran.
Tehran, Iran’s capital city with a population of approximately 20 million, has plenty of shopping options. Tehran is usually the last port of call for international travelers before they leave Iran, so naturally, it makes sense to fill up your suitcase in Tehran before jetting off.
We’ve compiled a list of where to go and what to expect. Read on to find out where to buy the best traditional handicrafts, souvenirs, rugs, fashion, jewellery and antiques in Iran’s capital.
Wanna find out more about Tehran? See Discover Tehran: A Brief Guide to the Capital of Iran.
Introduction to Shopping in Iran
To get the most out of shopping in Iran, there are a few things travelers should know beforehand.
Firstly, prices are often negotiable, especially in the bazaars. If something does not have a price tag then it pretty much means bargaining and haggling are expected.
Secondly, bazaars, shopping malls, and street shopping are all on offer and are three very different venues. The bazaars are a mix of regular shops and wholesale. Shopping malls offer the most comfortable shopping experience but this is reflected in the price tags. Street shopping is usually pretty cheap but the quality is sometimes low.
Thirdly, Iranians love, love, love brands. Everything is branded and 99% of it is (of course) totally fake. It’s almost impossible to buy a pair of socks that have not been marked with a fake Adidas or Ralph Lauren logo.
Fourthly, most shops are owned and operated by locals. There aren’t many chain stores in Iran and most of the shops will be run by local people, often selling only Iranian made goods. To book Tehran hotels online check out 1stquest.com
Lastly, if you’re after something in particular like jewellery, carpets, books or antiques there will be a dedicated shopping district or street in Tehran for this item. For example, Ferdowsi Street is the place to buy books, every shop there is a book store. Once you leave this district you mightn’t see another bookstore for 15 blocks. I do not know how this business model works but it seems to be the norm in Iran. Ask around you will be directed the right place.
Tehran Grand Bazaar
With over 20,000 shops and 10 kilometers of winding corridors, Tehran’s Grand Bazaar is a good place to get lost. As you enter the bazaar from the Panzdah Khordad Metro, you will witness locals partaking in a currency and gold auction. Not far from the main entrance is the carpet bazaar. Here you will be pounced on by carpet sellers inviting you to see their carpet showroom. Even if you are not in the market to buy a Persian rug, visiting a carpet shop is a special experience.
The deeper you go into the bazaar the narrower the alleys get and the weirder the shops become. Some shops sell only one item, for example, scissors. Say what??
The bazaar has wonderful fabrics, haberdashery, and leather at excellent prices. The jewellery is also spectacular – you’ve never seen so much gold!
As a word of advice, don’t expect to find what you need here. Rather head to the Grand Bazaar for Iran’s quintessential bazaar experience. Afterwards, you can visit the nearby Golestan Palace.
Spent all your money at the bazaar? Read our post: What to do in Tehran for free.
Do you need to get some last-minute souvenirs and spend your final Iranian Rials? Head to the Tajrish Bazaar where you will find a little bit of everything.
Located in Tehran’s north, Tajrish Bazaar is great for buying most things. A great variety of decent quality dried fruit and nuts, herbal teas and saffron are on offer. You can also pick up handicrafts, rugs, and Iranian knickknacks as you stroll through the ornately bricked halls.
Adjoining the bazaar is a 5-story mall, Qaem Passage. Qaem has great gemstones in the basement, two or three floors of fashion and cosmetics stores and art galleries on the top floor. Here are 10 things to do in Tehran.
In the evenings the streets around the bazaar fill up with street vendors mainly selling contraband movies and cigarettes and clothing. Open 7 days a week and well into the evening in the summer months Tajrish Bazaar is definitely worth checking out.
Are you looking for a hostel in Tehran? Check out: Tehran’s Top 10 Most Popular Hostels.
Jome means Friday and as such this bazaar only operates on Fridays (which falls on the Iranian weekend). Every Friday morning thousands of Tehrani stallholders flock to this multi-story parking lot in downtown to sell their wares.
It’s a bit of a hang out for young Tehrani hipsters who sip espresso and smoke ciggies by the food trucks serving quinoa brownies. But don’t let this description put you off! The Jome Bazaar is a real gem and the perfect flea market – you can find literally anything there. Antiques, copperware, records, vintage clothes, whale bones, hens teeth… Lots of local designers sell their arts and crafts at the Jome Bazaar for excellent prices.
Not sure how to spend your time in Tehran? Read our post: 1 day in Tehran – Explore Iran’s Capital City on foot.
Palladium Mall in Tehran’s north is an upscale shopping mall. It has plenty of international brands like Nike, Mango, Swarovski, Jeans West and LC Waikiki to name a few.
Zeeen is a fantastic (albeit a bit overpriced) Iranian gift shop selling exquisite locally made jewels, pottery, and accessories. The Book Land is also a good place to buy a collection of Iranian poetry.
Palladium has a decent food court with good Thai, Japanese and Turkish options as well as all the usuals. The subterranean level is home to an awesome supermarket stocking lots of international foods and Bunch, the attached bakery/cafe, has pastries that are to die for!
Palladium is very popular with the Tehrani expat community because of the huge supermarket stocking international foods and easy parking. If you are looking for luxury accommodations in Tehran check out this article: Luxury hotels in Tehran
The malls in Fereshteh Street, the Arg Centre, and Tandis Shopping Mall offer a similar experience. For more information on Tehran’s malls, visit Top Ten Tehran.
Meydan e Vali Asr
Meydan e Vali Asr (or Vali Asr Square) is a hub of shops, cafes, and eateries in central Tehran. Here you will find countless shops selling souvenirs, clothing, toys and all sorts of junk.
With a mixture of shop fronts and street vendors, Vali Asr Square is always buzzing with trade. As the name would suggest, it is located Vali Asr Street, which runs some 18 kilometers through Tehran. Taking a stroll or driving Vali Asr Street is a right of passage for all visitors to Tehran. Tehran has beautiful gardens to know more about them, check out this article: Tehran parks
If you’re looking for more like Meydan e Vali Asr, catch the bus up Vali Asr Street a few stops to Vanak Square where you can find a tonne more similar shops and malls.
Not sure what to buy? Find out about the best Iranian souvenirs in this post: Do not leave Iran without Persian Souvenirs.