How we got there:
Because it was our last day in Tabriz, we decided to take a bus instead of hitchhiking to the Lake Urmia. We left the city at 9:30 AM and in about 1,5-2 hours we got to the lake. We spent about 2 hours wandering on the shores of the lake, and managed to return back to Tabriz before it got dark, so we could explore the city. If you want to save time, then going there by bus is the best option. Besides, the bus is cheap and you’ll have a chance to talk to locals while on the road.
Option #1: Hitchhike! Hitchhiking in Iran is easy and fast. You can cover 600-700 kilemeters in one day (from morning to evening). So if you have plenty of time, and you’re looking for experiences with local people, then just hitchhike to Lake Urmia. To get to a more or less suitable spot, from Rah Ahan square take any bus that goes in the direction of Sardroud, and leave the bus once you’re out of Tabriz. The roadside is wide, and there’s plenty of good locations where you can start hitchhiking.
Option #2: Take a bus! The bus is quite cheap, so if you’re short on time, then it’s the best option. From Mohaghgheghi street in Tabriz take the bus #104 and get off at the last stop (it’s a bus terminal). Costs 300 toman per person. Proceed to the ticket office and buy a regular bus ticket to Urmia city – 10,000 toman per person. If you don’t want to visit the city, and your intention is to see the lake and walk around it, then you’ll have to get out of the bus at the toll gate before the bridge over the lake.
Returning to Tabriz:
For returning back to Tabriz, either hitchhike again, or take a bus. Stand by the roadside cafe after the toll gate and wait for it. Costs 8000 toman per person.
Exchange rate: 1$ = 3,600 toman (as of December 2015)
Tabriz to the city of Urmia – ~145 km
Tabriz to Lake Urmia – ~100 km
Before actually walking along the causeway to get the shore, report yourself to the nearby police station to avoid any problems later. We didn’t do it and we actually got off right before the bridge passed the toll gate. On the way back, we were taken to the police station. From what I understood, we had to get off the bus at the toll gate and report ourselves to the police before actually proceeding towards the bridge. “Well, we didn’t know about it, and the bus driver didn’t say anything about it,” I said, and it seemed to satisfy him. Anyway, there was no big problem, they just photocopied our passports, asked us to sign some papers, gave us their phone number to call them if we get into troubles, and that’s it. We were free to go.