"What? You're travelling to Iran? Why? It's dangerous!" are the first things travellers about to set sail to hear from their relatives. Dangerous, really? Well, it's in fact completely different. Iran has been rated as safe as Sweden, Germany, Australia, and most European countries by the independent experts of "International SOS" in their Travel Risk Map. This study considers several criteria such as terrorism, unrest, crimes, and point out that risks for travellers in Iran are "Low".
The country is often depicted as "the safest to travel" by most visitors who experienced it, especially solo female travellers and families, and the Lonely Planet calls its people the "friendliest in the world". It's no surprise for those who are familiar with Iranian culture and the great hospitality its people are famous for. Be ready to chat with perfect strangers in the street, be invited for tea or a family meal wherever you go. Actually, Iranians people are often the first reason why people literally fall in love with Iran. So the question is not "Why?" going to Iran, but rather "Why wouldn't you travel to Iran?"
Iran is a country full of paradoxes. And when it comes to the topic of safety, the paradox is the following: Iran has an unfair reputation among most western media, often linked to the instability of the Middle East, the fear of terrorism. And at the same time, Iran is proclaimed by most travellers and backpackers as one of the safest destinations in the world. So, where is the truth among all this? Without a single doubt, in the second answer.
First, because Iran is nothing like the media depict it. The crimes rate is rather low, especially toward tourists, and nothing in comparison with a city like Paris, which is still the first touristic destination in the world. Most parts of Iran's majors' cities like Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, are safe to walk in, even at night. Indeed, one of the things that amaze lots of tourists is to see how full of life streets become as soon as the night fall down on the city. Lights everywhere, people walking around, grabbing some food, hanging out with friends or family in the parks.
Secondly, in Iran, you'll quickly see that tourists are taken care of as precious stones. Iranian people are famous for their hospitality and that may explain why they take so much care of their visitors. Iranians are proud and happy to share their culture and they will gladly do it with you, at the first chance they get. As a matter of fact, it's almost impossible to get lost in this country, or it won't last more than two minutes before someone comes to your rescue, to give you the right direction, and most of the time, to accompany you to the door of your hotel, just to be sure you've arrived safely. They would also be glad to offer their company, share a meal, show you the beauties of their city. However many experienced tourists have learned to beware of such offers from strangers, in Iran, it's more than often pure genuine and heartful offers. Despite the deeply rooted hospitality of Iranians people, this behaviour can also be explained by the fact that Iran has just recently been opened to tourism. Foreigners are not that numerous yet and even rare in some parts of the country, which makes locals so happy to exchange with them.
Once again, feedback from women who travelled to Iran are unanimous: Iran is probably one of the safest countries to travel. There is both among men and other women a tendency to protect (sometimes overprotect) women. And for a visitor, it's comforting to find some help without even asking for it, when for instance, you step out of the bus in an unknown city, early in the morning...
Of course, and also unfortunately, many women know they have to be more cautious than men during their travels. In Iran, where most physical contacts are prohibited in public and most transportation are separated by genders, it somehow provides a sense of safety in the public space. However, the best advice that can be given to any woman is to always follow their instinct and only do what they're comfortable at.
Having to carry lots of cash is a source of stress for many tourists who are used to pay by credit card in their countries as well as on most of their travels. Unfortunately, in Iran, the necessary amount of money must be brought in cash. Hopefully, most hotels provide lockers, but the safest option is also to keep it always with you. Most people have those « secret wallets » into which they can fold their money and then carry it close to their body.
Contrary to other major touristic countries and cities, the probability of being robbed of your money in the street is almost none. However, it's still good to remind tourists that they should always keep an eye on their belongings, especially their money. It's not because Iran is a safe place that you have to forget about basics safety behaviours.
All this being said, there are probably less to worry about safety in Iran than in most other touristic countries. The traditional Iranian hospitality is probably what makes this country so warm to all the visitors who experienced it. And Iranian are so proud and happy to show that their country has nothing to do with the negative prejudices sometimes spread on media.
Finally, the biggest concern most visitors might have to worry about could be the extra kilos they'll bring back from their trip, due to all sweets and delicious meals they have shared with their many encounters during their trip!