A visit to Kandovan, the troglodyte cave city in Northern Iran, is a must for anyone staying in Tabriz. Here’s how to get to Kandovan from Tabriz as cheaply as possible.
Kandovan is a lively town comprised of hundreds of small troglodyte (caveman) caves dug into volcanic rock spires. Though it may seem a bit touristy, due to the large numbers of residents hawking their crafts to sustain themselves, it’s a great destination for a day trip if you’re staying in nearby Tabriz. Here’s how to get from Kandovan to Tabriz, for those uninterested in going as part of a tour.
How to get to Kandovan from Tabriz
Getting a minibus at Railway Square
Minibusses to Osku, the closest town to Kandovan, depart from Railway Square in Tabriz. The square is a bit far out from the city center, so you’ll have to take transportation to get there.
Being completely lost and confused as to where to go (the Lonely Planet was not accurate in this case), we were eventually put in a taxi by a friendly Iranian man. The taxi from the center of Tabriz to Railway Square was 20,000 IRR, and took about 10 minutes. Once there, ask the taxi driver to help you find the minibus to Kandovan, so he can let the driver know where you want to get off.
The minibus ride to Osku took about an hour and cost 25,000 IRR for two people.
From Osku to Kandovan and back
Unfortunately, there aren’t many, if any, minibusses from Osku to Kandovan–you’ll have to taxi it.
A taxi from Osku to Kandovan set us back 150,000 IRR, a little less than $5, for a one-way trip, and the scenic ride through the rocky hills was about 20 minutes long. To enter the park, you have to pay a 40,000 IRR entrance fee for the car. You can also get out of the car a bit before the entrance. That way you won’t have to pay the fee for the car.
Once there, you can pay the taxi driver to wait, but we didn’t bother. After walking around Kandovan for a few hours, and having lunch in the sun at one of the many small restaurants/picnic areas alongside the stream through the city, we just wandered around the main street until we spotted another taxi (which turned out to be the same taxi driver). The ride back was the same price: 150,000 IRR to Osku, then another 25,000 IRR for the minibus back to Tabriz. The taxi driver helped us find the minibus location in Osku. It’s a bit beyond the main roundabout if you continue on in the direction you were traveling from to leave Osku.
From Railway Square to Tabriz city center
Once your minibus has arrived in Railway Square, you can take a public bus back to the city center.
To get to the buses, walk out of the minibus terminal, and turn right. Continue walking straight until you hit a wide road filled with buses. Listen for the bus drivers’ shouts–one will be shouting “Bazaar! Bazaar! Bazaar!” for the bus that heads to–you guessed it–the Grand Bazaar.
Looking for more places like this? Check out our off the beaten path Iran itinerary!
Don’t forget that the fronts of buses are men-only, women in the back. Enter at the middle of the bus so you can pick the proper side. To pay for the bus, sit and wait until a worker walks down the bus, collecting money or scanning the transport cards of the passengers. The bus ride is cheap, at about 10,000 IRR, and it only takes 15 minutes or so.
Have you recently gone to Kandovan from Tabriz? If you have updates to our information or know which bus to take to get to Railway Square from the city center, do share! We’re always on the lookout for up-to-date information.