Best Places to Travel in Uzbekistan. All the best places to visit in Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent, and more. Best things to do in Uzbekistan, best tourist attractions, best hiking places, best places for camping, places for homestay in the mountains, top historical sightseeing places, the best places to eat in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is so much extended, and the best places to visit in Uzbekistan are so varied, during your trip you will see a combination of steppes, deserts, valleys, mountains, villages, and cities. You will discover that there is much more to see than the beautiful architecture of mausoleums and palaces and madrasas. Below you will find all the best attractions to visit in Uzbekistan cities, the best places for a village stay in the mountains, the best places for yurt camping, the best places of Uzbekistan for hiking, the greatest places to eat, best places to visit in Uzbekistan while you will be driving from city to city, and even the places that you are not recommended to go during your trip in Uzbekistan. All these tourist destinations of Uzbekistan are worth adding to your list.
Best cities to visit Uzbekistan
The #1 best tour destinations in Uzbekistan are Samarkand, Khiva & Bukhara. However, there are other 6 top tourist places that tourists usually visit in Uzbekistan which are: Shahrisabz, Tashkent, the Aral Sea, the ancient Desert Citadels, Nurata camping sites, and the Fergana Valley. Any of these top 6 places of Uzbekistan can be a perfect add-on to the main top 3 cities.
- Best places to visit in Uzbekistan in 5-7 days - If you want to visit only the top 3 cities of Uzbekistan, you can count a minimum of 5-7 days. Otherwise, you will not have enough time to see to learn and fully enjoy the best attractions of the cities. Ideally, you will need not less than 1 full day to see the most interesting places in each city. You can make this trip either by train or as a road trip with a private driver.
- Which places do usually tourists visit in 8-10 days in Uzbekistan? – During an 8-10 Day Trip to Uzbekistan, you will have more time to visit Samarkand. You can also visit the palaces and huge architectural complexes outside the old city of Bukhara and it will be good for some sightseeing in Tashkent. Besides, you can add either Shahrisabz or Urgut or the Desert Citadels of ancient Khorezm (near Khiva) to your trip.
- Top cities to visit in Uzbekistan in 10-12 days - 10-12 Day Trips are the most common in Uzbekistan. That’s a perfect duration for visiting all the best places in Uzbekistan. This trip can include the top 3 cities, Tashkent, Shahrisabz, a tour to the desert citadels, and even a night in a yurt camp. Alternatively, you can make a hiking day or a village during 10-12 days in Uzbekistan.
- Best places to travel in Uzbekistan during a 2 weeks trip – Tours longer than 13 days are the most diverse because they can include any region of Uzbekistan. Your 2 weeks Uzbekistan itinerary can include some of the top 9 places of Uzbekistan. You can have the best sightseeing tour in the cities, go hiking in the mountains or drive camels in the desert and stay in nomadic yurts, go to the Aral Sea or to Fergana Valley. If you don’t like long distances, you can stay longer in/around any place that you like.
Finally, a 15+ Day Uzbekistan tour can include all of these activities in 1 tour.
Top Places to See in Uzbekistan during a road trip, along the road
Best hidden gems of Uzbekistan
The cities of Uzbekistan are connected by plane and normal or high-speed trains but the best of culture/adventure can be best seen during a road trip around Uzbekistan. Far from popular, busy cities, you will find a ton of hidden gems – monuments, ancient ruins, craft shops, unique places to eat, extremely typical bazaars, etc. Almost none of these visits require extra payment and they don’t take too much time without doing any impact on your planned itinerary. If traveling Uzbekistan by car is your idea, there are so many interesting inspirations along the road. However, so many tourists are still missing the following places on their way:
♦ Best things to see on the road Muynaq – Nukus
Distance: 200km, driving time, 3 hrs.
The necropolis Mizdakhan is a must place to see while you will be driving from the Aral Sea (Muynaq) to Nukus or to Khiva. This 2000-year-old antique necropolis is a complex of ancient mausoleums and this is one of the top Uzbekistan places for photography hunters.
♦ Best places to visit on the road Nukus – Khiva
Distance: 170km, driving time, 2.5 hrs.
Ancient citadels and unique desert forest
The antique citadels of the Ancient Khorezm Chilpik Kala, Toprak Kala, Kiliz Kala, and Ayaz Kala are not far from your way and you can fill your day with visits to any of these best historical places of sightseeing in Uzbekistan. If history is not your stuff, you can mind visiting a unique desert forest and its 1500 desert gazelles in Badai Tugai Nature Reserve.
♦ Top places to visit on the road Khiva – Bukhara
Distance: 450km, driving time, 6.5 hrs.
This is one of the longest drives during your trip to Uzbekistan. During most of the trip, you will drive through the Red Desert – Kizilkum. It can be interesting with its numerous herds of sheep, some rare desert animals, lunch in an interesting desert restaurant as well as a stop to see a beautiful panoramic view of the Amu Darya river.
♦ Best places to see on the road Bukhara – Nurata
Distance: 250km, driving time, 3.5 hrs.
If you drive from Bukhara towards Navoi/Nurata/Samarkand you should consider the ceramics workshop of Gijduvan. The ceramics workshop of the Narzullaev family is the place where you will see the preparation of yellow-brown ceramics of the region from ceramists of the 6th generation.
The water reservoir of ancient caravans
A little bit further, close to the city of Navoi, you can make s stop to visit the Sardoba (old water reservoir, 14th century) in Raboti Malik. This ancient construction is true proof that you are traveling on the same road as Marco Polo, Ghenghis Khan, and other famous travelers of the Silk Road. This Sardoba and the ruins of a caravanserai in front of it used to be the first stop of caravans after they left Bukhara.
Sarmish rock paintings
The road to Nurata is famous for the amazing rock paintings of Sarmishsay. Located between Navoi & Nurata, Sarmish has some 4000+ rock paintings most of which date back Bronze Age. These old rock paintings are the witnesses of all history of the Silk Road in Central Asia and they offer you a visit to one of the most untouched tourist attractions of Central Asia.
♦ Best places to visit on the road Samarkand – Shahrisabz
Distance: 90km, driving time, 2 hrs.
Urgut & Chor Chinor
40 kilometers far from Samarkand, on the road to Shahrisabz, you can visit the bazaar of Urgut. The bazaar of Urgut is one of the biggest in all Uzbekistan and it can be perfect if you want to shop traditional textiles, suzani-embroideries, and some antique jewelry products. Besides the bazaar, Urgut is interesting with its pilgrimage site – Chor Chinor. Chor Chinor is a complex of an old mosque, and plane trees that are up to 1000 years old.
The Plateau of Demons
After Urgut, you will start going higher to the Takhtakaracha mountain pass. Just in the beginning of the mountains, you will see imposing granite rocks which is also the beginning of a mythical place called Shaitan Zhiga – the Plateau of Demons. The Plateau of Demons is a valley of huge granite rocks. For thousands of years, the rocks have been reshaped by a sculptor called “wind” and some of them look like living creatures. You will see rocks which look like snakes, rabbits, bears and other animals. It is one of the best places you can visit during a road trip in Uzbekistan.
Takhtakaracha mountain pass
When you reach the top of the mountain pass Takhtakaracha, you start seeing so many small eateries which are the places of “tandoor meat”. Tandoor meat is an entire lamb cooked in a traditional clay oven for several hours and perfumed with the herbs of the mountains. Takhtakaracha mountain pass is one of the best places to eat tandoor meat which is a very special food in Uzbekistan.
Top Places in Uzbekistan for Homestay – Village Stay
Rustic homestays, guesthouses in the mountains, and small villages are the places where you will feel that Uzbekistan is not only about Samarkand and Bukhara. You can go to remote villages where people seem to be living at the beginning of the 20th century. Beautiful landscapes, homemade traditional cuisine, people dressed in pure local style, elder men with white beards and typical headwear… Here are some places where you can experience all of these:
Best Homestays in Nurata mountains
Sentab, Ukhum, and Hayat, Asraf – all these 4 villages guarantee you beautiful landscapes, close contact with the locals. You can have a chance to experience the daily life of the villagers. Besides, there are several options for hiking in the mountains, walking in the village, and even making a short trip to the Aydar Kul lake for swimming and camel riding. All these guesthouses offer 3 meals a day.
How to get there? – All these villages are located close by. You can get there from Bukhara through the city of Navoi or from Samarkand through Forij. The villages are close to the yurt camps in the desert (Ardar Yurt Camp, Sputnik Yurt Camp, Qizilqum Safari Yurt camp) and you can easily combine the homestay with yurt camping in the middle of a desert.
How long should I stay there? – If you come to the villages from Nurata (80 km) one night can be enough. But if you are coming from Bukhara or Samarkand, you will arrive in the village in the afternoon and you can plan a 2 nights stay.
Best Homestays in Zerafshan Mountains
Ayaktchi Village – Ayaktchi is a typical mountain village located alongside a river called the same name. Apart from all standard facilities (relaxing time far from cities, experiencing rural lifestyle, immersion with the locals) that all these villages offer, Ayakchi is known for its hiking options. You can make a short hike (14km round trip) to go to the Albasti Kol lake, make a picnic in a beautiful place near a small river, and swim in the lake (if the weather permits).
How to get there?- You can go to Ayakchi from Samarkand (110 km), Shahrisabz (60 km) through the village Rusqishloq which is located on the road between Samarkand and Shahrisabz.
How long should I stay there?- If your timing is flexible, 2 nights stay will be good. It will let you spend your first day discovering the village and making a small hike/walk around the guesthouse and on the second day you can take a hike to Albasti Kol.
Tersak Village – Tersak is a village with well preserved local traditions and a trip to Tersak can be better named as an ethnic tour in a very beautiful village. You can make an easy hike towards the Tersak waterfall. The road to the waterfall goes through the village, fields, rocks, and beautiful landscapes of the mountain and this is one of the best places to see a real Uzbek village.
How to get there?- Tersak is located 45km far from the city of Samarkand on the road to Shahrisabz.
How long should I stay there?- 1 night will be perfect for a stay in Tersak. You can spend your day hiking to the waterfall and with a relaxing stay in a typical guesthouse.
Apart from these, you can search more about Gilon Village and Boysun mountains. They are also among interesting village stay locations, though they are located slightly far from the main tourist routes.
Do you want an Exclusive village stay, immersion with locals, a portrait photography tour in a non-tourist village? We have some untouched places where you will feel Uzbek life more than anywhere else.
Best Places for Hiking in Uzbekistan
1. Nurota/Nuratau mountains
The Nurata mountains are popular for hiking in Uzbekistan. Hiking itineraries of Nuratau include lots of lakes, waterfalls, petroglyph-rock paintings, and passing time in small villages. Hiking in Nuratau has a lot of contact with the local population and it offers to share local lifestyle, baking bread, picking fruits, etc. Therefore, they look like ethnic-cultural hikes.
Best time to go hiking in the Naratau mountains – April-October.
2. Charvaq, Chimgan & Beldersay
About 1.5 h. drive from Tashkent, Chatkal mountains offer plenty of options for hiking and trekking. These places are doubtlessly the best places for seeing captivating mountain landscapes. The main hiking places are Gulkamsay Canyon, Marble river, Urungach lake, Aksay waterfall, Kizildjar peak. If you want a more longer-trek, you can go for Oxotnichiy – Hunters Peak.
The best time of the year for hiking is from April to October, though there are hiking itineraries available for all seasons of the year. Alternatively, for skiing, you can consider the Amirsoy Resort area.
3. Zaamin National Park
Zaamin or Zamin is a natural park located between Samarkand and Tashkent. Hiking in Zaamin is a great option for travelers who want to go to see gorgeous mountain views after a few days of cultural visits. Zaaamin is a popular place in Uzbekistan with Juniper forests, numerous springs, 1000-year-old trees, and exotic animals like the snow leopard.
The best place for hiking in Zaamin is the Waterfall Sharilak.
The best time to travel – March to October.
The Yurts & Best Camping Places in Uzbekistan
There are several yurt camps available for travelers in Uzbekistan which permits travelers to combine classical tours with some adventure. Most of the yurt camps are located in the area of Nurata, in the villages Yangigazgan and Dongalak (Kyzylkum desert). Being close to the lake Aydarkul, they all give an opportunity to swimming in the lake (depending on the weather).
The facilities of the yurt camps - Each camp has 10-15 yurts decorated in a very traditional style with handmade embroideries, wool carpets, etc. They can provide 3 meals. There are bathrooms and shower in all of the camps (not private). The camps offer some enjoyable activities like camel riding, trekking in the desert, a traditional Kazakh music program around the campfire, and enjoying Kazakh traditional foods.
The best yurt camps of Nurata are Kizilkum Yurt Camp & Safari Yurt Camp, Aydar Yurt Camp, & Sputnik.
The city of Ellikkala, between Nukus & Khiva, has its own yurt camp – Ayaz Kala Yurt Camp. This one is amazing because it is located right in front of a 2000-year-old antique citadel. Ayaz Kala also offers the same services as the other yurt camps.
Best Historical Places to Visit in Uzbekistan
Interested in a trip to the ruins and best ancient places in Uzbekistan? Then these places are for you – Ayaz Kala, Toprak Kala, Kizil Kala, Guldursun Kala. These 2000+-year-old fortresses are located close to each other and they can be a 1 Full-Day Trip of the Antique Citadels. They can be reached easily from the airport of Urgench (70km), or from Khiva (110 km). You can also visit these antique sites during your transfer to/from Khiva/Nukus or Khiva/Bukhara.
If you want more of such places, you can go closer to the area of Nukus or further to the south of Uzbekistan, to Termez. The ancient Buddhist heritage of Termez and the citadel Kirk Kiz will b great places for you.
Best places to visit in Uzbekistan in winter
Nearly all parts of Uzbekistan can be visited in winter. Though, as a winter trip, we would recommend considering a tour to the highlights of Uzbekistan. Start your tour in Tashkent, fly with a domestic flight to Urgench/Khiva and then drive (or take the train) back to Tashkent by visiting Bukhara & Samarkand.
Restricted places in Uzbekistan
What not to do in Uzbekistan?
Among thousands of top cultural places in Uzbekistan, there are still some places that travelers are not recommended to go. Some of these places are less accessible or can be dangerous for traveler’s health. One of such dark places is called VOZ Island.
The Voz island is situated in the territory of the Aral Sea, split between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Voz is the short version of Vozrozhdenye which is translated from Russian as Rebirth/ Renaissance. The Voz is the result of the Military Researches of the Soviet Empire in the 20th century. During a few decades, it was used as a site of researches on biological weapons. The site was abandoned after the end of the USSR, in the 1990s. With the disappearance water of the Aral Sea, the island has now become a part of the steppes of Central Asia. The government of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan do not recommend travelers visiting Voz Island.
Best places to eat in Uzbekistan
Top Tourist attractions of Uzbekistan, in cities
Best places to visit in Tashkent
Tashkent has a large number of places to visit but what are the top places that everyone should visit in Tashkent?
- Hazrat Imam Complex for its architecture and for seeing the oldest Qur’an (Coran) in the world;
- Botanical Garden for getting far from the city noises;
- Tashkent Metro( Subway station);
- Central Asian Plov Center;
- The Bazaar Chorsu.
Best places to visit in Samarkand
- Registan with its 3 magnificent madrasas;
- Bibi Khanum Mosque and the bazaar Siab;
- The mausoleum of Amir Temur – Guri Emir;
- Shakhi Zinda Necropolis with its beautiful 20+ mausoleums;
- Observatory of Ulugh Beg;
- Konighil Samarkand Silk Paper workshop.
Best places to visit in Bukhara
- The citadel Ark;
- Bolo Khauz Mosque;
- Poi Kalon Complex;
- Lyabi Khauz Complex;
- Mausoleum of Samanids;
- Madrasa Chor Minor;
- Mausoleum of Naqshbandi - the place of Sufism.
Best places to visit in Khiva
The Ichan Kala citadel in Khiva is a huge city-museum under the open sky. As a complex it’s a huge attraction, though we can count some of its main monuments:
- Citadel Kunya Ark with its Reception Hall, the summer mosque, and the observations tower;
- Juma Mosque decorated with 213carved wooden pillars;
- Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Mamud with the biggest dome in the entire city;
- Tash Khovli Palace & the Harem.
Best places to visit in Fergana Valley
What to see in Ferghana Valley?
Ferghana – the silk valley has been the main step for traders traveling from Central Asia to China. Going to Ferghana Valley means enjoying the charm of endless gardens, breathing the air of beautiful mountains, visiting the ancient city of Kokand, and discovering some of the biggest ceramics and silk workshops of all Central Asia. Going to Rishtan (village of ceramists) and Margilan (silk producers’ town) are the MUST in Ferghana.
- Khudoyorkhan Palace Kokand
- Jome Mosque Kokand
- Ceramics of Rishtan
- Yodgorlik Silk Factory
Best things to see in Termiz
- At-Termizi Complex
- Kirkkiz Citadel
- Sultoan Saodat Ensemble
- Minaret Jarkurgan
Best places to see in Shakhrisabz:
- Crypt of Tamerlane
- Mosque Kok Gumbaz
Best places to see in the Aral Sea area
The graveyard of fishing boats of the Dead Sea in Muynaq is one of the top things to see in the area. Travelers who want to see the sad but spectacular cemetery of boats of the Aral Sea need to drive about 200 kilometers from the city of Nukus, where there is the closest airport.
- You can also visit the museum of the history of the Aral Sea;
- On the road to Muynaq, in Khojeyli, you can visit the necropolis Mizdakhan – Mazlumkhan Suluv;
- Next to the Mizdakhan complex there you can visit the ruins of the fortress Gaur Kala.
- The best place to visit in Nukus is the Savitsky Art Museum and the Chashma Complex is the best attraction to see in Nurata.
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