Discover the 5 Largest Cities in Iran

Tehran, Iran
iStock.com/mazzo1982

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: June 30, 2023

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Iran is a country in Western Asia featuring 0.63 million square miles of land and 86 million people, making it the 17th-largest country in the world. It is home to one of the earth’s oldest civilizations, dating back to the fourth millennium BC. And is known across the world for its rich culture, which it shares through literature, architecture, and cuisine. Discover the five largest cities in Iran by land size and learn about their attractions and notoriety.

Iran largest cities

Note: The largest cities by area are only estimates. Many cities within the country do not have exact measurements. Check out this article for the most populated cities in Iran.

Tehran

Tehran is the largest city in Iran and features the second-largest metropolitan area in the country. This city is famous for its historical sites.

Land Size: 320 sq. miles (city), 863 sq. miles (metro)

Population: 9 million (city), 15 million (metro)

Location/Geography: Tehran is the largest city in Iran and is located in Tehran Province, north of the central plateau. It has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. The area features hilly and flat areas with a Mediterranean climate.

What It’s Known For: Tehran is famous for its historical sites, mosques, shopping centers, museums, hotels, education, parks, architecture, theater, football, and restaurants.

Best Tourist Attractions: Golestan Palace, Azadi Tower, Tabiat Bridge, Milad Tower, Treasury of National Jewels, Saadabad Historical Complex, Niavaran Palace Complex, Tehran Grand Bazaar, and Tajrish Traditional Bazaar

Isfahan

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, Iran. This is a major city and is best known for its Perso-Islamic architecture, tiled mosques, and monuments.

Land Size: 213 sq. miles (city)

Population: 2.2 million (city), 3.9 million (metro)

Location/Geography: Isfahan is a major city in the Central District in the Isfahan Province of Central Iran. It is the capital of Isfahan Province and the third-largest city in Iran by population. The city lies on the plain of Zayandeh Rud at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range.

What It’s Known For: Isfahan is best known for its Perso-Islamic architecture, tiled mosques, monuments, paintings, bridges, football, medical tourism, fried pastries, yogurt beverages, bazaars, museums, and ancient baths.

Best Tourist Attractions: Si O Se Pol Bridge, Vank Church, Chehel Sotoon Palace, Khajoo Bridge, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Aali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, and Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Mashhad

Haram complex and the Imam Reza Shrine, the largest mosque in the world by dimension in the holiest city in Iran – Mashhad.

Land Size: 136 sq. miles (city)

Population: 3.3 million (city), 3.6 million (metro)

Location/Geography: Mashhad lies in a remote northeastern area of the country. It is the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province and was once an oasis along the Silk Road during ancient times. It lies between two mountain ranges in the valley of the Kashafrud River.

What It’s Known For: Mashhad is famous for its literature, art, music, ancient history, religious seminaries, parks, tombs, education, sports, and famous people.

Best Tourist Attractions: Imam Reza Holy Shrine, Kooh Sangi Park, Goharshad Mosque, Mellat Park, Water Waves Land, Daroogheh Historical House, Arman Shopping Center, Armitaj Golshan Tower, and Almas Shargh

Tabriz

Tabriz, Iran

Tabriz is the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. It is notable for its local handicrafts, cultural institutes, historical monuments, and Persian literature.

Land Size: 125 sq. miles (city), 600 sq. miles (metro)

Population: 1.5 million (city), 1.7 million (metro)

Location/Geography: Located in Northwestern Iran, Tabriz is the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. It lies in the Quru River Valley between volcanic cones and mountain ranges.

What It’s Known For: Tabriz is famous for its local handicrafts, prestigious cultural institutes, historical monuments, architecture, Persian literature, contemporary poets, traditional music, Tabrizian-style paintings, Thick noodle soups and stews, sports, and shopping.

Best Tourist Attractions: Tabriz Grand Bazaar, Qajar Museum, Museum of Azarbaijan, Constitution House of Tabriz, Laleh Park Shopping Center, Blue Mosque, Arg-e-Alishah, Behnam House, El Goli Building

Shiraz

Shiraz, Iran

Shiraz is the capital of Fars Province and is a famous tourist destinations for its mosques, museums, caves, recreational activities, and gardens.

Land Size: 86 sq. miles (city)

Population: 1.5 million (city), 1.8 million (metro)

Location/Geography: Shiraz is located in southwest Iran and is the capital of Fars Province. It sits at the foot of the Zagros Mountains on a green plain. Dry River (seasonal river) flows through the northern portion of Shiraz.

Notable For: Shiraz is a famous tourist destination with literature, poets, gardens, fruit trees, inlaid mosaics, wine, nightingales, mosques, museums, caves, recreational activities, football, and famous people.

Best Tourist Attractions: Tomb of Hafez, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Eram Garden, Vakil Bazaar, Tomb of Saadi Shirazi, Qavam House, Vakil Mosque, Quran Gate, and Vakil Historical Bath

Summary of the 5 Largest Cities in Iran

RankCityLand SizePopulation
1Tehran320 sq. miles (city), 863 sq. miles (metro)9 million (city), 15 million (metro)
2Isfahan320 sq. miles (city), 863 sq. miles (metro)2.2 million (city), 3.9 million (metro)
3Mashhad136 sq. miles (city)3.3 million (city), 3.6 million (metro)
4Tabriz125 sq. miles (city), 600 sq. miles (metro)1.5 million (city), 1.7 million (metro)
5Shiraz 86 sq. miles (city)1.5 million (city), 1.8 million (metro)


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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