The most common form of recreation in Iran is visiting friends and relatives. Many families go out several times a week to see family and friends in their homes. The adults relax and talk while the children play together. Chess and card games such as poker, blackjack, and passur have traditionally been popular pastimes at visits, but these games were banned after the revolution. Iranians move house infrequently and also develop close ties with their neighbours. Much social life centres on the kuche or laneway, where children can play and neighbours can chat.

In summer, Tehranis who can afford it may desert their hot city for the cooler hills of Shemiran, for all-day picnics under the trees. Those able to get away for longer holidays may go down to the Caspian Sea, to enjoy the novelty of moist warmth, grey skies and rain.

Because Iranian children put in long hours doing homework and girls often help with household duties, children have limited time for play during the school year. Pickup games of soccer fill the long days of summer for boys who don't have to work, but girls are allowed to play sports only in special enclosed areas. Often, girls prefer to play with dolls and doll clothes. Many Iranian girls learn needlework skills at a young age by sewing special clothes for their dolls, and embroidery is a popular female pastime.

Men enjoy playing and watching sports or spending their evenings with male friends at a local café. The most popular sport in Iran is football (soccer). The Iranian team qualified for the 1998 World Cup, and several athletes play in major European leagues. Men also enjoy volleyball, basketball, swimming, fencing, horseback riding and wrestling, which is held in a special building called a zurkhaneh. Women's recreation in Iran is largely restricted to entertaining close family and female friends at home. However, many women also enjoy watching soccer, and a few Iranian female athletes continue to compete in international competitions, particularly in the areas of shooting, fencing and archery.

  Did you know?
The Iranian zurkhaneh, which means "house of power and strength," is a unique tradition. Built with lavish decoration, the zurkhaneh contains a lowered pit in which a group of men performs wrestling, dances and feats of strength to the beat of a drummer.