Best places to visit in UZBEKISTAN
Maybe you are planning a trip to Uzbekistan and wondering what are the best places to visit in Uzbekistan? Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country in Central Asia. Once it was the heart of the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes connecting the East and West. Many of the top Silk Road sights are to be found in Uzbekistan.
Known for the beautiful Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, Uzbekistan is home to well preserved Islamic architecture and some of the most majestic shrines and buildings in the region.
Uzbekistan is not a land of dramatic landscapes and jaw-dropping natural wonders. It’s more of a cultural experience. If you love history and architecture, Uzbekistan is a place to go!
But what exactly to see in Uzbekistan?
To help you with the task of planning we’ve created this list of some of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan.
6 best places to visit in Uzbekistan
Tashkent is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan, as well as the most populous city in Central Asia. It is also the economic and cultural centre of the region.
Uzbekistan is well known for its beautiful Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Unfortunately, Tashkent hasn’t gained such popularity among foreign visitors, and undeservedly so.
Tashkent is an interesting place to visit. It has a rich heritage — a whopping 2200 years of written history! With a mix of Islamic and Soviet architecture, Tashkent is a fascinating place for history and architecture enthusiasts. Tashkent doesn’t lack modern architecture and wide avenues, as well as good restaurants and nice hotels.
Highlights of Tashkent:
- Chorsu Bazaar — a traditional bazaar located in the centre of the old town. It’s known for its distinctive blue-coloured dome.
- Hazrat Imam Complex — a beautiful square with religious buildings.
- Kukeldash Madrasah — a medieval madrasa (Islamic educational institution).
- Metro of Tashkent — with its beautiful stations, the metro of Tashkent is a masterpiece. Beautiful mosaics, chandeliers and marble columns adorn the most beautiful metro stations.
- Tashkent TV tower — with a height of 375 m, is the 12th tallest tower in the world.
- Central Asian Plov Center — a famous restaurant specialising in plov (pilau/ pilaff); a great place to enjoy local food and atmosphere.
Samarkand is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan.
As there is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic Era, Samarkand is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia.
Along with Bukhara, and Khiva, Samarkand is a Silk Road city. In the old days, during the Silk Road times, it was a melting pot of the world’s cultures.
Since 2001, Samarkand has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is on the list as “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”.
Modern Samarkand is into two parts: the new city and the old city. The old city is where all the beautiful monuments and historical buildings are located.
Registan is the most popular landmark in Samarkand, and one of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan. It was the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand. Now, this public square with three madrasas attracts travellers from all around the world. It is known for the splendour of its buildings which are adorned with vibrant tiles. These signature tiles can be seen also on other buildings in Samarkand.
Other famous landmarks in Samarkand are:
- Gur-e-Amir Complex and Mausoleum — a mausoleum of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Amir Timur who founded the Timurid Empire.
- Bibi-Khanym Mosque — one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. In the 15th century, it was one of the largest and most impressive mosques in the Islamic world.
- Shah-i-Zinda Complex — a necropolis, one of the most important historical sites in Samarkand.
- Ancient site of Afrasiab — ruins of Afrasiyab and a museum with famous ancient frescoes.
It is the fifth-largest city in Uzbekistan and one of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan.
Bukhara is a Silk Road city with an authentic vibe. Just like Samarkand, Bukhara boasts amazing architecture and spectacular ancient monuments.
Some of the most popular famous historical buildings in the city are more than a thousand years old. A good example is Central Asia’s oldest surviving mosque — Magok-i-Attari Mosque which dates back to the 9th century.
Bukhara is filled with so many jaw-droppingly beautiful landmarks. Here are some of the most beautiful places here, just to name a few:
- Ark of Bukhara
- The Kalyan Minaret and Po-i-Kalan Complex
- The Samanid Mausoleum
- The Ulugh Beg Madrasa
- Lyabi Khauz Ensemble
- Bolo Hauz Mosque
- Chor Bakr Memorial Complex
- Magok-i-Attari Mosque
…and many more!
Established around 1500 years ago, Khiva is a Silk Road city with a rich history.
Khiva is filled with wonderful buildings and monuments, just like the other two Silk Road cities,
Samarkand and Bukhara.
Numerous madrasas with impressive tilework, ancient mosques and palaces, as well as turquoise and sand-coloured minarets are waiting to be explored.
Itchan Kala, Kalta-minor Minaret, Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah, Tach Khaouli, Kuhha Ark, Juma Mosque and Khoja Minaret are among the best places to visit in Khiva.
Greater Chimgan and Charvak lake
Once Uzbekistan was at the very heart of the Silk Road. And that’s why for so many it is as a land of historical monuments and rich cultural heritage.
Uzbekistan, however, it’s not really famous for its nature, mountains especially, as about 75% of the land is a desert.
But there are a couple of places that may surprise you. The Greater Chimgan Mountain and Charvak lake, for example.
The mountains and the lake are located in the territory of the Ugam-Chatkal National Park. With its pristine alpine meadows, pretty lake views and a ski resort, this area is a great change of scenery from the cities and the desolate landscapes of the country.
The Fergana Valley is the most fertile part of Uzbekistan.
Known for its skilled craftsmen and rich history, Fergana Valley is one of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan.
What to see in Fergana Valley?
Kokand is Ferghana Valley’s most beautiful city with a few interesting buildings and landmarks to explore.
Rishton, a town in Fergana Region, is famous worldwide for its ceramics. Made with traditional machinery from high-quality clay, Rishton’s ceramic items feature elaborate patterns and distinctive colours.
The silk industry has its roots since ancient times here, in Fergana Valley, and Margilan is the main silk production centre in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan travel tips
- Citizens of many countries do not need a visa to travel to Uzbekistan. If you aren’t a citizen of any of the visa exempt countries, you may get an e-Visa before your trip (at least a few days in advance).
- The best time to visit Uzbekistan is in spring or autumn.
- Although more expensive than Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan is still a cheap destination. A cheap meal will set you back around 2-3 EUR, and a cheap room — 15-20 EUR. Dorms are super cheap — about 5-7 EUR per person. Train tickets cost 5-15 EUR, depending on the length of the journey.
- The official language is Uzbek. But many people speak Russian, as Uzbekistan is an ex-Soviet Republic.
- Plov (pilaff) is the signature dish of Uzbekistan. Definitely try it during your trip to Uzbekistan! It’s a dish made of rice, pieces of meat and vegetables, and cooked in a large pot, kazan. There are several kinds of plov, and each region has its own variety.
- Food in Uzbekistan is traditionally meat-heavy. However, if you are a vegetarian, you’ll find some options in tourist places. But, all in all, there are not many options for vegetarians.
- High-speed trains are the most popular mode of transport for tourists.
- Shared taxis are common and cheap. You can even travel between the cities in a shared taxi.
- In some places in Uzbekistan, you can use Yandex taxi (ride-hailing app, similar to Uber).
- There’s a metro in Tashkent. It consists of four lines.