Here I compare a day trip to Persepolis in Iran with an Acropolis of Athens visit. Which day trip makes for the best day out?
Getting to the Monument
The Acropolis and Persepolis are in different worlds. As a result, getting to each monument is a completely different experience.
Getting to Acropolis
Firstly, the Acropolis is in the center of Athens which is of course the capital of Greece. Athens is served by several buses, trains as well as airlines. For this reason it’s incredibly cheap and easy to visit the Acropolis of Athens. Moreover, it’s unlikely you’ll need a visa to enter Greece.
Getting to Persepolis
Getting to Persepolis is another story. It’s 50 km north of Shiraz in the Fars Province of Iran. You can fly to Shiraz but you must take either a bus or taxi for the remaining 50 km of the journey. Several nations can get a visa on arrival at Shiraz airport. However, if your from the UK, US or Canada you must organise your whole visit in advance and follow a strict and expensive visa policy. Contact me directly if you require an honest guide who can take you on a day trip to Persepolis from Shiraz.
Persepolis 0 – 1 Acropolis
To enter the Acropolis you must pay 20 Euros. Fair enough, this is an impressive monument in a European capital. Unfortunately, everyone must line up for a ticket in whatever weather. As a matter of fact, when I visited in the busy summer period there were only 2 ticket booths and huge lines of tourists exposed to the heat. This madness must happen everyday.
I’m going to include the 50 km round trip taxi ride and guide from Shiraz as part of the Persepolis entry fee. After all you must get there from your hotel. For less than 40 euros you can organise a roundtrip taxi, lunch, entry ticket and guide for the day. That means if 2 of you are visiting it’s much better value than visiting the Acropolis. Moreover, if you’re in a larger group it becomes much much cheaper.
Persepolis 1 – 1 Acropolis
Friendliness of Staff
As you can imagine, the 2 members of staff at the Acropolis constantly selling tickets all day are overworked and consequently not in good moods. Comparatively, at Persepolis, the staff under worked and more likely to say ‘Welcome to Iran’ and have a friendly chat with you.
Persepolis 2 – 1 Acropolis
Walking to the Monument
Acropolis – From the Main Gates to the Monument
As you walk up to the Acropolis there are quite a few interesting sites. Firstly is the huge Theatre of Dionysus. Following this is the equally as impressive Odeon of Herodes Atticus. If you’re lucky you may also see some tortoises around here.
Persepolis – From the Main Gates to the Monument
A long wide road connects the ticket office to Persepolis. There is no shade here or indeed throughout Persepolis therefore make sure you have water with you!
Persepolis 2 – 2 Acropolis
Main Monument Gates
The main gates to Persepolis are open and there are few tourists. In contrast, the main entrance to Acropolis is a windy staircase full of tourists.
Beule Gate – Acropolis
Beule Gate is a traffic jam of people which makes even Bangkok traffic look light. Here you have the worst kind of tourists from huge groups of slow cruise ship passengers to selfie taking Chinese tourists further making the entry procedure more stressful. Then, of course, you have people pushing in and some simply block the way to take needless photos. To further add stress to this situation members of staff are shouting at people who don’t move as they wish. This situation doesn’t improve much as you reach the top of Acropolis. Consider not visiting at all and viewing Acropolis at sunset from an adjacent hill instead.
Gates of All Nations – Persepolis
Not only are the gates to Persepolis more impressive but you can view them without a stampede around you as in Acropolis. Welcome to Iran.
Persepolis 3-2 Acropolis
Ancient Carvings and Statues
For preservation reasons, most of the ancient carvings at the Acropolis have been moved to the nearby Acropolis Museum. It’s a covered building where you can view the ancient artifacts in a cool location. However, you’re charged an extra €10 to enter Acropolis Museum. In contrast, Persepolis still has its original carvings in their original place. Some of them are covered to help preserve them.
Carvings at Acropolis
As I mentioned, the majority of art has been moved to the Acropolis Museum. Nonetheless, there are a few interesting sculptures on and around the Acropolis itself. Keep your eyes open!
Relief Art at Persepolis
As you explore Persepolis you’ll discover countless relief art in addition to several huge statues and sculptures. The art is almost always in its original location and you can see it all with you entry ticket.
Persepolis 4 – 2 Acropolis
Persepolis is isolated therefore you can only witness a panoramic view from within the complex. In comparison, the Acropolis is in the heart of Athens. For this reason, you can view it from all over the city including small hills and also from the Panathenaic Stadium.
Acropolis of Athens Panoramic
Persepolis 4 – 3 Acropolis
At Persepolis you can hire a virtual reality headset. As you explore the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire simply put on the virtual reality headset and see how it looked. This surprisingly enhances your visit because you see what all these columns actually were. Furthermore, you see Persepolis in color as opposed to the dull sand color it is today. Acropolis, a top monument in a European capital does not offer a Virtual Reality headset to enhance your experience.
Persepolis 5 – 3 Acropolis
Instagram Worthy Locations
You may wish to pose for photos in and around Persepolis or Acropolis. But which location is best for making Instagram poses? Firstly, Acropolis is more famous so you may get more likes for a picture at this location. However, Persepolis has so much art as well as many artifacts to pose in front of. Add to this the fact that you’re more likely to be alone and can take your pictures in a more relaxed setting. Not to mention, the reaction you’ll get when your followers realize you’ve been to Iran.
Instagram Worthy Spots in Persepolis
You’re free to pose wherever you want at the pace you want. Bring some colorful clothes (i.e. an Iranian scarf) to enhance your pictures at Persepolis.
Instagram Worthy Spots in Acropolis
Despite there being thousands of tourists at the Acropolis I’m sure you can find a quiet spot to take you picture. Consider visiting early morning or late evening as they begin to throw people out of the complex to take your pictures. Additionally, visit off season when the ticket price is reduced to €10.
Persepolis 6 – 3 Acropolis
Never once was I stressed on my visit to Persepolis. On the contrary, it was one of the best day trips of my life. What’s more, this day trip is often combined with a visit to a nearby Necropolis which is also impressive. With the Acropolis however, I wish I’d just viewed it from a nearby hill at sunset.
Visiting Iran, read about the Things to do in Tehran. Stay in a Caravanserai in the Iranian desert. Lastly, did you know there’s an Acropolis of the North in Scotland?