Ramadan (called Ramezan in Iran) is the ninth month of Islamic calendar. The most important ritual Muslims do in this month is Fasting, Which means refusing to eat or drink anything from dawn to sunset. Moreover, they try not to commit sinful acts like lying, getting angry or doing harm to other people. It is said in the Quran that every good deed you do in this month is considered more valuable.
Do’s and don’ts in Ramadan
Eating and drinking in public places is forbidden and illegal during this month. That being said, if police catch you eating on the street you might get arrested. Rules are usually not so tight for foreigners and you might be able to get away by apologizing and telling them you didn’t know about the rules. However it’s best to go by the rules in order to respect the country’s customs. You should also be aware that smoking in public places is also forbidden during Ramadan.
Most of the restaurants are closed during the day and the only food you can get is cold snacks. But you don’t need to worry about eating as all the hotels serve food and even if you are not staying in a hotel you can eat in the restaurant. Also, all the supermarkets are open and you can get whatever you need if you want to cook some food for yourself.
Travelling in Ramadan
You can easily travel around Iran in Ramadan and there’s nothing to worry about. It’s good to know that most of the restaurants on the roads are open during the day. That’s because a traveler who’s away from his home can not fast So… anybody who’s out on the road needs something to eat!
Pros and cons of travelling during Ramadan
If you are a food lover, it might be better for you to consider another time to travel to Iran. Although most of the restaurants and eating places open up after sunset, some good old restaurants, especially those located in old Bazaars, just serve food for the lunch and they’re closed throughout Ramadan. In my recent trip to Tabriz, I missed trying “Dizi” (a traditional Iranian food) in Tabriz’s great Bazaar because of Ramadan as it is served only at noon.
Ramadan is in spring for these years. That being said, you should be OK with tolerating the heat while wearing more clothes than usual and also not being able to drink water when you’re out on the streets.
The good thing about travelling during Ramadan is that most of the people get out in the streets after sunset and so the cities are so lively at night. Of course you can’t call it a nightlife if there is no alcohol or clubs but anyways… Some eating places and Cafe’s will be open throughout the night.
The other good thing is that Iranians don’t often travel during Ramadan so It’s somehow a low season here and the touristic places will be less crowded. You can also get cheaper accommodation.
What to eat in Ramadan
Muslims have two main meals when they fast. The first one is served right before dawn. You better make yourself full as that is the only thing you’re gonna have for the next 10-15 hours if you’re fasting. They call this course “Sahari” in Iran. The second one is “Eftar” which is served after sunset. Its common to break your fast with dates, tea and some bread. The main course and some deserts will follow it.
If you’re travelling to Iran during Ramadan don’t miss out trying these special deserts:
Zoolbia Baamieh – You can find this super sweet candies only in Ramadan
Halva – Made of flour, oil, sugar, rosewater and saffron
Shol-e- zard – Made of Rice, sugar, rosewater and saffron