Forget about what you have heard about Iran being all dry and hot; Golestan is the place you should head to. By the end of your journey, you’ll treasure the memories and moments you captured in this wonderful place. The picturesque nature, gorgeous lively towns, traditional architecture, and the spirited vibe of the people might go beyond even your wildest expectations.
What You Should Know about Golestan before Hitting the Road?
Geography: Golestan is located in the north of Iran (Shomal) with Gorgan as its capital city, Gonbad-e-Kavus, Bandar-e-Torkaman, and Ali-Abad as its major towns.
Golestan’s weather is mild in the southern sphere and semi-dry in the northern sphere.
Access routes: Air travel, railway journey, and road trip get you to Golestan.
Accommodation: ‘Botanik’ is Golestan’s best hotel with an incredible view. There are other fine hotels like ‘Shahab’, ‘Azin’, ‘Nahar Khoran’ and ‘Jahangardi’. The only problem is that they are mainly located around Gorgan.
Hostels, villas, traditional houses, and eco resorts too, welcome travelers and visitors 24/7. In addition, camping sites are also available in almost every town and village.
The prices fluctuate; however, they usually range from 400,000 Rials per night at eco resorts, to 4,000,000 per night at the hotels.
Golestan on map
Get a Glimpse of Heaven in Golestan
Golestan has everything! deep blue lakes, wild rivers, lovely beaches, beautiful mountains, vast forests, rural villages, and many other marvels. Although for visiting every nook and cranny one has to spend several weeks, this article will help you explore the best of Golestan in a short trip.
Forest and Parks in golestan:
Golestan’s National Forest Park: (Park-e-Melli). National Forest offers you the best chance to explore the greatest wildlife sanctuary in Iran. Truly a heaven on earth, this forest is extended on mountains, steppes, valleys, and hosts many rivers and waterfall. it has hundreds of animal, bird, and insect species, as well as more than a thousand of plant genus. The beauties of National Forest indulge your passion for nature and cleanse your mind.
Tuskastan: A dense and old-growth forest lying at the heart of Golestan. A curvy road stretches out and directs you into the forest and its scenic splendor. Being located between two mountains gives the forest an excellent panoramic view. In autumn, the forest becomes mesmerizingly colorful and vivid, so people have started calling it ‘the thousand-color autumn’.
Why go there? Golestan’s forests are a hotpot of plant and animal life, the perfect spot for nature lovers. Want more? ‘Alangdareh’ and ‘Naharkhoran’ are other attractive forest parks in Golestan.
Where are they? National Forest is in West Golestan (standing at the border of three provinces, there exist many entry routes to this vast park). Tuskastani: 15km from Gorgan.
Countryside and Villages:
Jahan-Nama: Bubbling springs, beehives, grazing sheep, horses, and cows, humble cottages, and fresh products are waiting for you in Jahan-Nama. In Persian, Jahan Nama means a place where you can see the world form; it is an apt name for the amazing view that the heights of the village present you.
Ziarat: Adjacent to a river valley, Ziarat is another rural village that attracts passengers as a summer resort. They come to this place for its nice weather, splendid waterfall and spa. In addition, many traditional houses, dating back to Qajar era, are to be found here.
Why go there? Away from the clamor of urban life, the charming and unpolluted nature of these villages let you experience rural life at its finest. Go hiking, biking, mountain climbing, explore the natural wonders of the milieu, and eat delicious organic products.
Where are they? Jahan-Nama: South Golestan. Ziarat: Gorgan, central Golestan.
Gol-e-Ramian: Everything is stunningly green here: the pond’s deep green water is surrounded by green trees and bushes. There exists an ancient spring with rooted culture and history, precious to the locals and popular with the travelers. It is known as one of the world’s deepest cold-water ponds.
Why go there? This unforgettable emerald green is a fine place to have a picnic, go fishing, and relax.
Where is it? Ramian, West Golestan. 80-min drive from Gorgan.
Caspian Sea’s Beach Town: Located on the eastern border of the Caspian Sea, Golestan has pristine and tranquil beaches where you can feel your feet on the warmth of the sun-kissed sand.
Bandar-e-Torkaman: A beautiful recreational beach with good facilities (local market, entertainment, restaurants, etc.). Its only remaining dock presents you with a spectacular view to watch the sunrise, sunset, or to see Caspian Sea’s sole island, ‘Ashouradeh’.
Why go there? It is a cultural hub full of local crafts, colorful folk costumes, and amazing food. Plus, if you are a fan of sporting events and festivals, do not forget to check the horse races and shows. Turkman horses are eminently fine species, well-known throughout the world.
Where is it? West Golestan, a 40min drive from Gorgan.
Gomishan: or ‘Kümüş depe’ means Silver Hill in the local dialect. The town hosts one of the most gorgeous, kid-friendly, and safest beaches of the area. Do not stop at the beach and explore this historic town and go to see its street markets.
Why go there? In Gomishan you also get to see a rare and amazing geologic phenomenon, mud volcano (gel feshan). Adjacent to these volcanos you will also find a natural pond with a strange color! That is, owing to the presence of certain minerals, the pond’s color ranges from pink to purple. Marvelous, isn’t it?
Where is it? In Naftlije, Gomishan. A 20-min drive from the town center.
Looking for other must-go natural wonders? Check out ‘Rango’, ‘Kaboud-val’ and ‘Shir Abad’ waterfalls. Kaboud-val is Iran’s largest mossy waterfall.
Golestan has More to Offer than its Flamboyant Nature:
Although the list of Golestan’s sights is endless, one should not disregard the rooted history of the province. The population consists of many ethnic communities, such as Turkman, Turk, Kurd, Mazani, and even Baluch. What is more, many ethnic rituals are still practiced and traditional foods are still being cooked and served.
The traditional dishes of Golestan are hard to pronounce but tasty on the mouth! Make sure you try ‘Chekdermeh’, a pilaf dish cooked in a special pot called ‘qazan’. ‘Khoresh Sak’ is a Turkman meat stew and is commonly served during holy holidays. ‘Bastermeh’ is another specialty with fish, rice, pomegranate, and potato as its ingredients.
Turkmen delicious desserts: ‘Borek’, ‘Bishmeh’ and ‘Katlama’.
From among the long-established traditions of Golestanis, Turkmen wedding ceremonies, New year (Nowrooz) festivals, and ‘Eid-e-Qorban’ rites are the most popular with the visitors.
Plus, another characteristic expression of Turkman culture is their music. Attending music festivals and events offers you a chance to get yourself acquainted with the area’s arts.
After all, no trip to Golestan is complete without paying a visit to its historical and architectural monuments:
Gonbad-e-Qabus: Also known as Qabus-ibn-Voshmgir Tower, it is an architectural landmark listed as a UNESCO heritage. At first, this construction may look regular to you, however, you should not be deceived by its minimal design. It is where simplicity and sophistication meet in Iran’s architecture. You will increasingly embrace its majesty: take a look at the way the decagonal dome is placed on the circular base. Check out the engraved inscriptions that tell you when and by whom it was built. Also, walk inside and try the excellent acoustics of this ancient tower.
Why go there? Gonbad-e-Qabus is the world’s highest brick tower that dates back to a thousand years ago.
Where is it? Gonbad-e-Kavus town.
Khaled Nabi Ancient Graveyard: Well-known for its eccentric headstones, Khaled Nabi is a pre-Islamic graveyard. It is situated on a greenfield site, at the heights of which stands the Holy Shrine of Khaled Nabi, a beautiful green and white monument. Many things about this historical place are still cloaked in mystery.
There are many theories as to what the shapes of the headstone resemble or represent. Some consider them as crosses, some hypothesize that they are fighting men, and many believe that they resemble male and female private organs.
Why go there? It is a one-of-a-kind graveyard the like of which cannot be found anywhere in the world. Khaled Nabi has miraculously survived the unfortunate wreckages and attempted arsons of the recent years.
Where is it? A 60-km drive from Kalaleh or an 80-km drive from Golestan gets you to the site.
And Finally, What Should You Take Home from Golestan?
The top choices to buy as a souvenir in Golestan are rugs and silk clothes. Turkmen rugs designs are inspired by nomad tribes’ beliefs and lifestyle; and silk work, as a symbol of Gorgan, is one of the oldest traditions of the city.
Turkmen jewelry is beautifully designed and made. Typical jewelry of the area include ‘Bileh Zik’ (twin bracelets), ‘Sam-Souleh’ (head chain), Gardani (choker and pendant).
Are you looking for sweets and delicacies? ‘Nan Zanjebili’ (gingerbread), ‘Halvah Omaj’, ‘Paderazi’, ‘Katlama’, and ‘Borek’ are delicious and light confections that make perfect gifts.