Population: 1500

At least a millennium old, Masuleh is one of Iran’s most beautiful villages. Rising through mist-draped forests, earth coloured houses climb a cupped mountainside so steeply that the roof of one forms the pathway for the next.

In summer, daytripping local tourists merrily fill its appealing tea-terraces, seek out its two minuscule museums and peruse the tiny bazaar’s trinket and halva shops. To avoid the coach-tour hordes, come on a weekday or stay overnight, hike the surrounding mountains or visit in winter when cold and snow mean you’ll often get the place virtually to yourself. Many villagers rent out rooms, which makes for a great way to experience a taste of rural Gilan.