Iran is a big country so putting your bike on the bus or a train occasionally can help you make the most of a short time there.
Both options are possible but come with challenges.
On the whole, Iranian bus drivers are not as friendly as their neighbours the Turks when it comes to putting bicycles in baggage compartments. They will always charge you an extra fee, even if the bus is almost devoid of other passengers, and this can often run more than the cost of the ticket for your seat. The fee is negotiable – bargain hard – but can rise dramatically during peak periods and will depend on the length of the journey and class of the bus.
For the first-class Volvo buses which have heating or air conditioning and include a drink and snack in the ticket price, you’ll pay anything up to 100,000 Rials (about $10) to transport your bike. The older Mercedes buses have lower standards and accordingly lower fees. You’ll be in the best position to bargain down the price if you go ahead of time to buy a ticket and choose a destination served by many operators. Once you agree a price, make sure it’s written on the ticket so there is no second-guessing at departure time.
The train is another option, possibly more relaxing and luxurious and a great way to meet Iranians but no more cost effective. Your bike must be checked as cargo at a charge of about 100,000 Rials. You may have to be at the train station ahead of time if you plan to check your bike as cargo so ask when you buy your ticket. Train tickets are more limited than bus tickets and tend to sell out so you may have difficulty buying a ticket on the day of travel.
If there is any kind of holiday or general travel disruption, due to weather for example, train tickets will disappear extremely quickly.
Second-class train tickets usually cost less than their bus equivalents. First-class tickets are easier to obtain but cost over double the price of a bus ticket to the same destination. For example, a bus ticket from Tabriz to Tehran costs 60,000 Rials but the first-class train ticket is 150,000 Rials.
In Tehran, you can buy train tickets on the top floor of the station or look for the train symbol in the window of a travel agent. Not all agencies sell train tickets but if you can find one it’s often more convenient than going to the station.
Some hotels may arrange train and bus tickets for you.