A Guide to Ardabil

This ancient city is located in the Northwestern Iran. This city is located within 70 kilometers of the Caspian Sea among the spectacular hillside of Sabalan Mountain. Ardabil was once one of the cities located along the rout of the ancient Silk Road. Today, as a neighboring city of Republic of Azerbaijan, Ardebil is considered as one of the important economic and political poles of Iran. The city is mostly famous for its mesmerizing nature and cool summer days. Aside from this, there are world famous historical attractions located in Ardabil. In this article, we will get more into the points that has made Ardabil an exceptional destination. Also, we are going to give you a special travel guide  by telling its story, points of interest, special Handicrafts, local food, how to get around and more.


The Story of Ardabil

The story of this city probably starts in about 3,000 years ago. Archeological findings such as copper swords and Bowie knifes in Ardabil suggest that this area was active during the Bronze Age. However, it was not until the early Islamic era that Ardebil gained recognition. During the Arab Conquest, this city was made the capital of an Umayyad governor. The locals of Tabriz fought continuously to take back their city during those eras and even until the Mongol conquest. It was these conflicts and wars (around the beginning of 13th century) that Ardabil was completely destroyed. The importance and prosperity of Ardabil was regained when the Sufi mystic Sheikh Safi made it his center in 13th century. Sheikh Safi al-din established the Safavid order of Sufism in Ardabil. Later on, during the reign of Safavid Dynasty, Ardabil remained one of the important cities in Iran. Under the reign of other dynasties in Iran, during the wars of Iran and Russia, Ardabil’s treasures and libraries were robbed by the armies.  The story of Tabriz continues until today. Out of this history, comes some of the most remarkable monuments and points of interests which we will be introducing below.

What Makes Ardabil Exceptional?

The spectacular natural landscape of Ardabil is one of the major highlights of this city. These landscapes range from hills, cliffs, and native plants to its many mineral lakes. Among the most famous lakes of Ardabil are the Neor Lake and Shorabil Lake. The list of the natural beauties of Ardabil do not stop here. The mayweed fields and Fandogloo Forest in Ardabil are among some of the most beautiful jungles in Iran and the World. As for the historic and exceptional attractions of Ardabil, we can name the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sheikh Safi Ardabil Monument. Below, we are going to introduce more of these exceptional points of Interest along with the traditions, handicrafts, and signature dishes of Ardabil.

Need to Know

People & the cultural customs

The primary language spoken by the Locals of Ardabil is Azerbaijani language (also known as Turki). Other languages such as Tati and Talysh are also spoken in some areas. The locals of Ardabil hold specific rituals for the mourning ceremony of Muharram such as ‘’Tasht Gozari’’ and ‘’Sham Gozari’’ (a ritual with candles). Also, they have a way of celebrating Nowruz (New Year) by singing special songs in the streets. This kind of celebration is called ‘’Takam Gardani’’.

What is the best time to travel to Ardabil?

Ardabil is surrounded by Sabalan Mount and Talysh Mount as a part of Alborz Mountain Range. That being said, Ardebil is considered as one of the coldest regions of Iran. If you want to enjoy the moderate weather and beauties of the forests and nature of Ardabil, the best time to travel to Ardabil is during spring and summer. Therefore, from May to September is the best time to explore there. Also, from June to September is the perfect time for climbing mount Sabalan. During other months, the rainy autumn and cold winter weather prevails in Ardabil. If you have skiing plans, the best time for it, is during March and April.

What is the best way to get to Ardabil

You can get to Ardabil by international flights from Iraq that land in Ardabil International Airport. There are daily or weekly domestic flights from Tehran and Mashhad to Ardabil. There are also intercity bus services to Ardabil. You can also rent a car or book a driver guide to drive you to Ardabil while you enjoy the natural beauties of northern and northwestern roads of Iran. If you need a private guide, driver or simply if you need to book domestic flights, trains or intercity buses, you can get the best deals through Travelopersia.

How to get around Ardabil

The bus services are available through different regions of the city. However, the best way to get around the city is by taking a Taxi. Also, you can simply use the available Online Taxi Apps to get around the city or visit the villages and nearby attractions. Also, if you are looking for car rentals for your trips you can rent a car through Travelopersia.

دریاچه نئور (1)

The City Map

Trip Ideas

As mentioned before, the exceptional nature the city has made it one of the most unique travel destinations in Iran. Also, for hiking and trekking the third largest mountain in Iran known as Sabalan Mountain, you need to start your adventure from Ardabil. Below, we will be introducing the natural and historic monuments of Ardabil along with its nearby unique villages and surroundings. You can find more information on these attractions by checking out our Blog’s posts.

Attractions near Ardabil

  • Natural spas of Sarein ( within 30 kilometers of Ardabil)
  • 365-meter-long suspension bridge of Meshgin Shahr in the heart of Sabalan Slopes and Khiyo Chaei River( within 102 km of Ardabil)
  • Fandogloo Forest as one of the most beautiful forests in Northwestern Iran ( within 36 km of Ardabil)
  • Gardaneh Heyran ( Heyran pass) as one of the most dazzling roads in Iran where you can enjoy the views of the scenic views of Azerbaijan and Iran’s Nature ( within 40 km of Ardabil)
  • Hir Suspension Bridge known as one of the first arched glass suspension bridge ( within 32 km of Ardabil)


  • Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble as the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Ardabil. This complex is of much universal value. Most notably, the maximum use of space that is used in its construction has given this 16th century religious complex recognition. Aside from the delicate Iranian architecture and patterns, the complex holds inside it the soldiers’ graveyards of Chaldiran Battle.
  • Old Bazaar is one of the unique examples of Islamic and traditional Bazaars. The Bazaar is located in the heart of Ardabil. This complex used to an important center of commerce during the Safavid Dynasty (14th and 15th century). Different sections of the Old Bazaar of Ardabil depict a special historic setting.
  • Ardabil Anthropology Museum which actually used to be a Bath House before the reign of Safavid Dynasty. This museum exhibits the local costumes, artworks, and historic manuscripts.

Other Attractions

  • Mausoleum of Sheikh Jebrail
  • Mirza Ali Akbar mosque and school
  • Ardabil bridges
  • Imamzadeh Saleh mausoleum
  • Saint Mary church

Local Food & Signature Dishes

From breakfast to every other meal in the day, Ardabil Dishes are of one of the most exciting ones. For breakfast you can try the Sarshir and Asal (Top Milk Cream with Honey) on a piece of a special kind of bread named Fatir. Other signature dishes of Ardabil consist of special stews called Dizi and BozBash which are cooked with some of the best quality meat.

Since Ardabil is one of the coldest cities in Iran, a range of pottages can be find here. Ash-e Dogh is one of the most famous pottages in this area. The most famous dish of Ardabil is Kase Kababi (Bowl of Kabab) which is a kind of Kabab served with special butter coating in a bowl with bread. You can try these signature dishes and local food in most of the restaurants located in Ardabil. Here is a list of hand-picked Restaurants and Cafes in Ardabil.  As souvenirs, you can find many sweets such as Ardabil Baklava, Top Milk Cream, Sabalan Honey, and different types of bread while exploring Ardabil.

Handicraft & Souvenirs

Ardabil gains most of its fame from Ardabili Ghali (Ardabil rugs and carpets). A pair of Ardabili Rugs are on the list of top 50 masterpieces in the World. Today, these rugs are kept in Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other significant handicraft of Ardabil are mentioned below.

  • Kilim which is a special rug made from silk, wool and goat hair that are woven in cheerful colors and patterns
  • Jajim of Khalkhal which is another handwoven traditional handicraft of Ardabil that comes in special patterns
  • Varni Bafi which is a popular weave in Azerbaijan
  • Plus weaving which is the weaving of woof or wool rugs that are waterproof and used by nomads
  • Saddle weaving that aremade of colored wool, cotton yarn, and goat’s hair
  • Glass Cutting is done by special machinery for engraving patterns on the glass which is one of the most beautiful crafts of Ardabil

The list of Ardabil’s handicrafts goes on as the handicrafts and the way they are patterned and weaved differs in villages around Ardabil. You can purchase these handicrafts as souvenirs while exploring Ardabil and its adjoining villages.

Explore the City