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Hidden Gems: Best Places To Visit in Idaho
While Idaho may not top your list of vacation spots, its tourism is more engaging than most know. With feats of scenic beauty and hubs of art and culture across the state, Idaho has plenty of worthwhile attractions to visit. Check out these places to visit in Idaho that will make you want to journey through the Gem State.
Trek through the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho
Perhaps the most beautiful laces to visit in Idaho is the Sawtooth Mountains, a scenic marvel. The jagged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains spans 678 miles . The location was once a favorite spot for beloved author Ernest Hemingway to hang out. Now, it sees thousands of visitors turn out each year to hike its ranges in Sawtooth National Forest.
Along the trails surrounding Sawtooth, visitors can expect to see glowing blue lakes, thick green vegetation, tall trees, and vast wilderness. The attraction draws in all types of outdoor adventurers and offers opportunities for backpacking, camping, climbing, and more. The Sawtooth Mountains are a must-see destination if you’re looking for an outdoor trip to restore your wonder in the world.
Passes are required to enter the Sawtooth National Forest via vehicle or bike. You may also need to purchase permits for camping or professional photography within Sawtooth National Forest. For overnight travelers, many guests look for lodging in the nearby towns of Ketchum and Stanley.
- Allows you to stay active on your vacation
- Stunning sights and scenery
- Requires an extensive amount of walking, which may not be good for someone with physical limitations
- Some trails are not accessible to beginner hikers
Adventure Through the Heart of Boise, Idaho
If you’re looking for a mix of nature and urban, Boise one of the best places to visit in Idaho. This buzzing tourist destination hosts Idaho’s most significant city population. It’s a great spot to try local cuisine, visit art and culture museums and check out the phenomenal architecture of the capital.
Boise is between several scenic sites. This nature-friendly city allows you to bike the stunning Greenbelt, raft down the Boise River (or go north to raft the rapids of Payette River), and hike to local rock formations. Since it’s near Boise National Forest, traveling north of Boise offers winding roads through the landscape.
Spend a fun day in the town, then enjoy pleasant drives through thick forests and alongside running rapids. Whether your ideal vacation day looks like a nature walk or a museum tour, Boise has you covered.
The attraction-filled setting offers a mixture of free and paid activities. You can expect to shell out money for food, hotel/rentals, and activities like water rafting. But scenic walks exploring the cityscape will only cost you energy.
- A range of activities for every type of tourist
- It offers a city-exploring adventure
- Hard to do and see it all during a short trip
- More expensive food/board than other Idaho destinations
Take an Intergalactic Journey Through Craters of the Moon National Monument
About Moon National Monument
You’ll feel like you’ve entered another world at the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Central Idaho. The 750,000-acre park is an eerie cousin to the moon’s surface. Historic lava fields from the past have created a textured landscape covered in lava tubes, cinder cones, craters, and more.
Visitors to this spot can walk through miles of fascinating formations from the past (though be careful not to fall into a crater!). Those interested in science, nature, or outer space will love this chunk of planetary greatness.
Entrance fees are the main cost. It costs $20 to bring in a vehicle, $15 for a motorcycle, and $10 to walk in. If you plan to bring in a passenger van (7+ people), you’ll be looking at a $40 charge. Camping costs $15 a night, and some days are fee-free .
- A seven-mile trail through the park lets you observe the setting safely
- Unique in its appearance/unlike any other spot like it in Idaho
- First come, first serve camping; no reservations
- Not accessible to those with limited mobility
Boat Through One of the World’s Most Beautiful Lakes at Lake Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho
National Geographic once cited this breathtaking lake in Coeur d’Alene as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. This is also one of the best places to visit in Idaho. This high honor is well-deserved, as its crystal blue waters, mountainous backdrop, and coastal beachfront draw in travelers from far and wide. Boating and swimming are encouraged in the open lake, with cruises frequently offered.
The nearby town of Coeur d’Alene has a rich background in Native American history and French colonization. With tourism providing much of its current economy, visitors can find numerous theme parks, outdoor sports (including skiing!), and water-based activities. This charming lake town is a perfect retreat for couples, families, and solo travelers looking to get in touch with the wilderness.
Hotels and resorts in Coeur d’Alene vary in pricing, with chain hotels costing less than lodge-style resorts and rentals. Daily river cruises can cost approximately $20 to $30, while brunch/dinner and holiday cruises will increase from this base price.
- Scenic lakeside views and countless outdoor activities
- Positioned by walkable areas with food/lodging in close distance
- Limited options for shopping outside of local businesses
- Very busy during tourist season (summertime)
- Very cold during winter
Hit the Springs and the Slopes in McCall, Idaho
Can’t decide between soaking in a hot spring or riding the slopes? Why not both? McCall, Idaho is one of the best places to visit in Idaho, it offers the chance to engage with the outdoors every season. Skiiers, snowboarders, and tubers will love Brundage Mountain Resort , where McCall’s high winter snowfall has lent itself to a snow-centric tourism culture.
Including areas for experts and beginners, this spot will satisfy travelers of all ages and skill sets.
Once you’ve cooled off, there’s nothing more refreshing than slipping into the warm waters of the Gold Fork Hot Springs . The springs offer crystal clear pools with varying heat ranges, adding relaxation between your adventures.
Tickets to ride the lift at Brundage cost between $64 and $88 for adults. You’ll need to pay $10 a head (including children) to enter the Gold Fork Hot Springs.
- It offers a range of recreational activities for all ages
- One of the best spots in Idaho to visit in the wintertime
- It may not be ideal for those looking to do things outside of a touristy lens.
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14 Top Things to do in Bukhara: Uzbekistan’s Sacred Open-Air Museum
Last updated: October 18th, 2023
A trip to Uzbekistan would not be complete without spending a few days in Central Asia’s holiest city — the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bukhara. The historic center of Bukhara is essentially an open-air museum; ornate with ancient madrasahs, mosques, and fortresses that encapsulate over 2,000 years of history . The city itself hasn’t changed much in the last 200 years and was once the center of culture, scholarship, trade, and religion during the Silk Road. It was also the intellectual heart of the Islamic world. Needless to say, Bukhara is definitely one of the most spectacular destinations to visit , and this article will guide you on the absolute best things to do in Bukhara, a true highlight of Uzbekistan.
Disclosure : This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you . You can learn more about this in my disclosure policy .
Context: A Brief History of Bukhara
In the 6th century BC, Bukhara flourished as one of the main Silk Road cities and drew a lot of invaders to the region, including the Achaemenids and Alexander the Great. Fast forward to the 9th and 10th centuries AD, Bukhara became the capital of the Samanid Empire and Central Asia’s cultural and religious heart . A lot of philosophers, poets, and scientists were nurtured there, including Firdausi, Rudaki, and Ibn Sina, who in the Persian Islamic world, hold as much status as Shakespeare and Newton do in the West.
In 1220, Genghis Khan invaded Bukhara and completely destroyed the city. Then, Amir Timur of the Timurid Empire took over in 1370. In the 16th century, the Shaybanids took control and created the Khanate of Bukhara , turning the city into a major hub of culture and trade with over 100 madrasahs (Islamic schools), 300 mosques, and countless bazaars and caravanserais. A lot of the monuments in the city today can be credited back to the Shaybanid era. In the 18th century, Manghit emirs slowly took control of the khanate and created the Emirate of Bukhara. The city then fell under Russian rule in the 19th century, and Uzbekistan became a part of the former USSR in 1924.
14 Top Things to do in Bukhara , Uzbekistan
1. explore the po-i-kalyan complex.
The Po-i-Kalyan complex is the historic jewel and icon of Bukhara. It consists of four monuments: the Kalyan Minaret (which is directly in front of you when you enter the ensemble) sandwiched between the Kalyan Mosque and Mir-i-Arab Madrasah , and Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, which lies south of the latter. You can easily spend hours admiring the beautiful courtyard and tilework of the architecture here.
At 46.5 meters (152 ft) tall, the Kalyan Minaret is well-referred to as the symbol of Bukhara. It’s also the oldest of all the structures and has an incredible history. In fact, erected in 1127 by the Karakhanids, it’s the only monument in the complex that hasn’t been restored . The story goes that back in the 13th century, Genghis Khan saw it from a distance every day as he rode towards Bukhara. He became so fond and impressed by it that when he sieged and destroyed the entire city, he decided to spare this minaret. The Kalyan Minaret is also known as the ‘Tower of Death’ because for centuries, it was used to execute criminals by throwing them from the top.
To the right of Kalyan Minaret is Kalyan Mosque , which has been Bukhara’s main mosque for 500 years now. It was completed in 1514 by the Shaybanids and it’s around the same size as Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand . Directly facing Kalyan Mosque is Mir-i-Arab Madrasah , which was also built between 1535 and 1536 during the Khanate of Bukhara. The madrasah has two floors and is beautifully ornate with mosaics and colorful patterns. There’s also a mausoleum inside dedicated to Sheikh Abdullah Yamani of Yemen, who was the spiritual mentor of the Shaybanids. Today, the madrasah is still a functioning Islamic college, almost 500 years after it was built!
2. Enjoy a Meal with a Surreal View
Right across the Po-i-Kalyan complex is Chasmai-Mirob Restaurant , an unmissable stop on any trip to Bukhara. If you go up to the top floor of the restaurant, you’ll find a terrace where you can enjoy a delicious meal and drinks with an absolutely stunning view of the Kalyan Minaret and its surrounding monuments. It’s a great way to relax after all the sightseeing! Make sure to try some of Uzbekistan’s national dishes while you’re there, such as plov, manti, lagman, shurpa, and somsa.
3. Visit the Mysterious Chor Minor
Of all the Bukhara attractions, Chor Minor might just be the most intriguing one. It’s quite unclear when this monument was built, or what exactly it was built for. The most probable explanation, though, is that it was constructed in 1807 (though some say as early as the late 17th century) as the historic gate of a madrasah that has long been destroyed. It’s also said that the top floor of Chor Minor had a chamber that was likely used as a library for the madrasah.
Chor Minor’s name translates to “four minarets”, which refers to the four charming blue-domed towers crowning each corner of the building. Each of them has a different shape and design, and together, they’re believed to represent four different religions practiced in Central Asia — Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. In fact, you can see certain elements of these religions depicted on the decorations of the towers, including a Buddhist praying-wheel and a Christian fish motif. You can also climb to the roof of the building to get a closer look at them!
4. Immerse Yourself in History at the Ark of Bukhara
The spectacular Ark of Bukhara is a massive fortress built in the 5th century AD. Being the oldest structure in the city , it’s definitely one of the most remarkable things to see in Bukhara. Many notable poets, scientists, and mathematicians once lived and worked inside this fortress, including Rudaki, Ibn Sina, and Omar Khayyam. According to Ibn Sina, there was apparently a unique library inside the Ark, but it was unfortunately destroyed in one of the many sieges that took place. In fact, the Ark of Bukhara has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the course of its history. In the 13th century, it was ransacked by Genghis Khan, and in the 16th century, rebuilt by the Shaybanids.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Ark was inhabited by over 3,000 people and was essentially a city within a city , housing royal palaces, government offices, and homes of high officials. It remained the residence of Bukhara’s emirs for centuries before falling to Russia in 1920. Today, the Ark of Bukhara houses several museums where you can learn about the history of the city. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a traditional dance performance right outside!
5. Get a Massage at a Traditional Hamma m
One of the most authentic experiences you can have in Bukhara is to take a break from sightseeing and lie down for a massage at a medieval bathhouse. Back in the 16th century, people in Central Asia loved relaxing in hammams, and it was a very common leisure activity especially in Bukhara, which had over 16 different bathhouses. One of them is Hammam Bozori Kord , and despite being built in the 14th century, it’s still functioning today! In fact, it’s one of the oldest bathhouses in the world , and yes, you can enjoy a traditional steam bath there — an exotic ancient ritual.
The experience takes place in an ancient basement that’ll take you back in time . You’ll start off in a circular sauna/steam room where you can relax and prepare for the massage. Then, you’ll be laid down on a stone-bed, where you’ll get soaped, scrubbed, stretched, and massaged. They’ll also put ginger and honey on your body during the process. When it all ends, some warm tea will be waiting for you. There are also several other hammams operating in Bukhara and I highly recommend visiting at least one of them, especially if you’re a fan of cultural experiences!
6. Admire the Details of Ulugh Beg Madrasah
Completed in 1417, the stunning Ulugh Beg Madrasah is one of the few remnants of the Timurid Empire in Bukhara. At the time, conservative Bukhara was the Islamic capital of Central Asia, and sultan Ulugh Beg of the Timurid Empire really wanted it to become a center for science and education as well. Ulugh Beg (the grandson of Amir Timur) was both a ruler and an accomplished astronomer, and he really cared about the advancement of science in his kingdom. That’s why he built this madrasah in Bukhara — to attract scientists and scholars from around the Muslim world.
And attract them he did. Ulugh Beg Madrasah nurtured lots of respected poets and scientists , and students studied everything from math and astronomy to Arabic and religion there. Carved onto the gate of the madrasah is an inscription from the Quran which says “ The pursuit of knowledge is the responsibility of every Muslim man and woman .” This quote was said to be Ulugh Beg’s life motto. If you look carefully, you can also spot astral designs on the madrasah’s facade, a testament to the many famous astronomical studies done by the sultan!
7. Browse the Souvenirs at Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah
Directly facing Ulugh Beg Madrasah is the breathtaking Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah , an epitome of medieval Central Asian architecture. The madrasah’s colorful details and intricate patterns are simply astounding; they really showcase just how talented the architects at the time were! Completed in 1652, Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah was built a few centuries after Ulugh Beg Madrasah, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. While the Timurid-era Ulugh Beg Madrasah is a lot more modest in size and design, Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah is splendidly decorated with ornate tiles and patterns . It’s also covered with verses from famous poets.
Even the designs and patterns on the two madrasahs contrast each other; Ulugh Beg Madrasah showcases astral and geometrical decorations, whereas Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah’s designs are brighter and wavier. Among them, you can also spot images of a Chinese dragon and a Simurgh (a mythical bird in Iranian mythology). Today, you’ll find a lot of souvenir stores inside and around the madrasah selling everything from t-shirts to handicrafts. It’s the perfect place to admire the incredible architecture while shopping for souvenirs!
8. Enjoy Traditional Tea & Sweets at Silk Road Tea House
If you want to experience some true Bukharan hospitality and taste some traditional spices that were traded on the Silk Road, then you have to stop by Silk Road Tea House . Located in the heart of the historic center, this restaurant is owned by a family that has been making tea and trading spices for over 600 years . How incredible is that? In fact, the herbs and spices in their tea have been brought in through the Silk Road from India, Saudi Arabia, and Iran . Today, they sell samples of them at the entrance to their restaurant, and the owner is also more than happy to give you ideas on how to blend them perfectly with different kinds of food.
Inside the cozy restaurant, there’s a nice selection of tea and sweets to choose from. Make sure to have their Silk Road Confection Sweets and Spices and Herbs Tea . The latter is a true specialty as it’s uniquely blended by the owner himself with cardamom, mint, oregano, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. If you really enjoy their tea, you can also buy some to take home with you!
9. Watch the Calm Reflection of the 40-Pillar Mosque
Bolo Hauz Mosque is one of the most peaceful places to visit in Bukhara. Built in 1712, it served as a Friday mosque that the emir of Bukhara himself visited for Friday prayers; he wanted to show his people that he, too, was just an ordinary man. This mosque is also known as the ‘40-Pillar Mosque’ because its ceiling is held by 20 wooden pillars that reflect elegantly in the pond at the foot of the building; so in total, you see 40 pillars. The wooden pillars are simply gorgeous. They’re covered with intricate carvings and decorated with colorful muqarnas — ornate vaults commonly featured in Islamic architecture.
The pond in front of the mosque is also quite significant. In fact, the name ‘Bolo Hauz’ translates to ‘children’s pond’. Because of water shortages back in the days, lots of ponds were built to source drinking water , and this pond was one of them. Water taken from the pond would be delivered in special leather containers to residential areas and sold in bazaars. Unfortunately, the stagnant water also became a source of infection and diseases, so the Soviets drained the pond when they gained control of the region.
Today, Bolo Hauz Mosque is still used by the public for prayers , 300 years after it was built. Make sure to step inside — the interior details are simply stunning and will have you staring at them for a while.
10. Relax at the Lyabi-Hauz Plaza
Lyabi-Hauz is one of Bukhara’s most popular tourist attractions and often used as a resting stop thanks to its central location and relaxing atmosphere. Built in 1620, its name means ‘around the pool’ , which refers to the big pond in the middle of the square. Up until a century ago, hundreds of stone pools cluttered the city of Bukhara. They were popular gathering spots for locals, who drank and washed with the water as they socialized. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of water-borne diseases (the average 19th-century Bukharan didn’t live past the age of 32), so when the Soviets arrived, they drained most of the pools around town, and the Lyabi-Hauz pond is one of the few that still remain today.
The Lyabi-Hauz plaza was also a popular trading square in the Middle Ages, and today, it’s the perfect place to sit on a bench, relax, and people-watch. The atmosphere there is both calming and lively , which is really cool. There are also lots of restaurants around the pool with outdoor seating areas, and I highly recommend checking some of them out.
One place you can’t miss during your time in Lyabi-Hauz is the beautiful Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah . Its facade showcases some absolutely magnificent tilework, and when you go inside, there are lots of souvenir shops surrounding its large courtyard. Evening concerts are hosted there, as well as important public events. For example, when I was there, they welcomed the president of Uzbekistan in the courtyard with a gigantic party and festive decorations!
11. Shop Inside the Ancient Silk Road Trading Domes
Back in the 16th century, Bukhara flourished under the rule of the Shaybanids and was a center of trade on the Silk Road. The city was covered with markets and trading domes stretching from the Po-i-Kalyan complex to Lyabi-Hauz plaza. Today, four of these trading domes still remain; they are Toqi Telpak Furushon , Tim Abdulla Khan Trading Dome , Toqi Sarrofon Bazaar , and Toqi Zargaron Trading Dome . They’re all conveniently located around the city center, and you’ll likely pass through at least one of them while walking around the city.
In these bazaars, you can find all kinds of souvenirs, including suzanis (traditional hand-embroidered textiles), jewelry, musical instruments, scarves, knives, books, and ceramics. The prices in the trading domes are higher than in other places, so be prepared to bargain and aim for at least 30% off the original price.
12. Marvel at the Chor-Bakr Memorial Complex
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chor-Bakr Necropolis is located just about a 15-minute drive from the center of Bukhara, and it’s absolutely worth visiting if you have some extra time in the city. This memorial complex dates back to the 16th century and is also known as the ‘Town of the Dead’. It houses the remains of families from the Juybari dynasty , who for 500 years were a leading political force in Bukhara. Walking around the compound today, you can see lots of mausoleums, an orchard with roses and grapevines, a minaret meant to resemble the Kalyan Minaret, and at the center of the necropolis — a mosque, madrasah, and khanqah built as gifts to the Juybari dynasty. It’s also believed that if a pilgrim makes a wish in Chor-Bakr and visits all the 4 mausoleums of the saints named Bakr, that wish is bound to come true.
13. Explore the Hidden Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace
Within only a 15-minute drive from the historic center of Bukhara is a beautiful hidden gem most tourists don’t know about. Built in the 19th century, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace was the former countryside residence of the emirs of Bukhara . The architecture of this palace was influenced by both eastern and western styles, showcasing brilliantly ornate walls with traditional murals. It’s said that the intricate mural designs were there to keep guests entertained as they waited hours to meet the emirs.
The palace also features magnificent mirrors, charming gardens, pavilions decorated with gold leaf, and colorful windows. Today, this site is a museum that displays (among other things) the ancient furniture used in the palace and an impressive collection of national dresses from the 19th century. If you enjoy going off the beaten path, then Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace is definitely one of the coolest places to see in Bukhara. It’s also a great change of scenery from all the mosques and madrasahs!
14. Visit the Quaint Ismail Samani Mausoleum
Built in the 10th century, Ismail Samani Mausoleum (also known as the Samanid Mausoleum) is one of the most ancient buildings in Bukhara and the oldest Islamic monument in Central Asia . It’s located inside a park and makes a nice 30-minute stroll from the city center. As the capital of the Samanid Empire in the 10th century, Bukhara really flourished politically and economically, and it’s believed that this mausoleum was built to commemorate the Samanids’ achievement. Members of the Samanid dynasty rest here, including the founder Ismail Samani.
This ancient monument has quite an incredible history — it remained undiscovered for almost a thousand years and even survived Genghis Khan’s invasion because it was buried in mud and sand from landslides and floods. It was only discovered in 1934 by Soviet researchers. Today, the mausoleum is a very peaceful place to visit; definitely a different atmosphere from the crowded streets of the city center.
Where to Stay in Bukhara
I recommend staying in the historic center, near the Po-i-Kalyan Complex or Lyabi-Hauz plaza so that you’re within walking distance from almost all the main attractions. Some great options are:
Komil Bukhara Boutique Hotel – Hands down the most beautifully decorated hotel in town; every room is uniquely adorned with traditional art, and staying here is truly a unique experience. Remember to book well in advance as it’s a very popular place to stay in!
Hotel Khurjin – Set in a historic madrasah from the 18th century, this stylish hotel is decorated with colorful tiles and has a beautiful courtyard to relax in.
Lyabi House Hotel — An absolutely gorgeous establishment set in a 19th century building; the antique furnishings and wall decor here are simply stunning.
Find more accommodations in Bukhara
How Many Days to Spend in Bukhara
Recommended: 3 days (at least 2 days if you’re tight on time)
There’s a lot to do in Bukhara, from exploring ancient monuments and shopping in bazaars to relaxing at a hammam and visiting hidden attractions. If you want to have a relaxing time in this city and avoid rushing from place to place, then spend at least 3 days here.
Travel Insurance for Uzbekistan
I highly recommend getting travel insurance before traveling to Uzbekistan. It’s something I always do before I travel as it gives me peace of mind. I buy mine from World Nomads — their prices are affordable, their coverage is great, and they offer a 24/7 on-call service. They also let you book and make claims online while you’re on the road!
Get a quote from World Nomads
Getting Into Bukhara
From tashkent :.
By train: It’s very easy to reach Bukhara from Tashkent. The comfortable and convenient Afrosiyob high-speed trains depart daily and connect the two cities in 3.5 hours. Tickets cost around $7 USD at the train stations.
By train: Getting between Samarkand and Bukhara is also very easy. With the Afrosiyob high-speed train, the journey is 1.5 hours and you can leave Samarkand either in the morning or in the evening. Tickets start at $7 USD if you buy them at the train station. You can also take the slower Sharq train which takes around 2.5 hours and is slightly cheaper.
By train: The train from Khiva to Bukhara runs on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The journey is around 5 hours and an economy class ticket costs around $16 USD on Global Connect if you want to book it online. Alternatively, you can get it for much less at the local train station.
By taxi via the Khorezm fortresses (recommended): A taxi from Khiva to Bukhara typically takes around 7-8 hours with a stop for lunch, and you can arrange it directly from your hotel in Khiva. The whole trip in a shared taxi for 2 costs $20 USD per person. With an extra $10 USD though, the driver can make a little detour to let you visit the enchanting Khorezm fortresses in the middle of a desert. There are barely any tourists at these fortresses and you will feel like an archeologist who just stumbled upon some truly intriguing ruins. This little detour would prolong your trip by just about an hour or two, and it’s absolutely worth it.
Getting Around Bukhara
Bukhara is a very walkable city, and if you stay inside the historic center, you can basically reach all the main attractions by foot. There are a few places listed in this guide that would require a taxi ride to get to, such as the Chor-Bakr Necropolis and the Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace. It’s quite easy to hail a taxi in the city center. You can also ask your hotel to arrange them for you. Unfortunately, while the Yandex taxi app works in Tashkent, it does not operate in Bukhara yet.
Where to Eat in Bukhara
- Doston House – This restaurant is simply gorgeous; the walls are beautifully decorated and the staff is really friendly. They have good vegetarian options and their pumpkin manti is especially delicious!
- Temir’s Restaurant – A friendly and stylish place with an interesting and authentic menu. Try out their ‘mimoza’ dish!
- Mavrigi Restaurant – A beautiful and friendly place with a great atmosphere; they have live music in the evenings! Make sure to try their Uzbek spice tea, it was the best tea we’ve had in the country.
- Chor Bakhr Restaurant – This hidden gem is very popular among locals and can be visited on your way to the Chor-Bakr Necropolis. The food is absolutely delicious and very authentic. Try their tandoor and shashlik!
- Minzifa – Delicious food paired with a stunning rooftop view. They have vegetarian dishes too!
Other Tips for Visiting Bukhara
- Best time to visit Bukhara: March to May / September to October for the most ideal weather
- ATMs in Bukhara: The ATMs that are most likely to work are the ones inside high-end restaurants and hotels. Keep a bit more cash on you than you may need; not every ATM in the city may work with your card.
- Taxis in Bukhara: The typical rate is 12,500 som ($1.25 USD) for a 10-15 minute ride
- What to pack for Bukhara : Bring modest clothes that cover your shoulders and knees for sacred places. Outside of mosques and mausoleums, you can dress however you want.
- Safety in Bukhara: Bukhara is incredibly safe, even for solo female travelers. In fact, Uzbekistan has a very low crime rate, and I found traveling here safer than Europe in general.
My Travel Photography Gear
This is the photography gear I use to capture the best of Bukhara and Uzbekistan. You can also see my article on the best cameras for bloggers for more options other than the ones listed below.
- Cameras: Nikon D610 + Sony A6400 (check out the best Sony lenses )
- Main lens: Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8
- Wide-angle lens: Tokina AF 16-28mm f/2.8
- Prime lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G
- Tripod: Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod (Ball Head)
I hope you enjoyed learning about the top things to do in Bukhara!
For further reading on Uzbekistan, discover: 🇺🇿 The Ultimate 10-Day Uzbekistan Itinerary & Travel Guide 🕌 11 Top Things to do in Samarkand: The Silk Road Gem of Uzbekistan 🏰 12 Top Things to do in Khiva: The Stunning Sandcastle City of Uzbekistan If you’re interested in other less-visited destinations, discover: 🇵🇰 11 Best Places to Visit in Lahore, Pakistan: A Complete City Guide 🇦🇿 27 Best Places to Visit in Baku, Azerbaijan 🇮🇷 36 Most Beautiful Places in Iran: The Perfect 2-Week Iran Itinerary 🇴🇲 A 10-Day Oman Itinerary: The Ultimate Road Trip Guide 🇫🇯 Top 12 Things to do in Nadi, Fiji: The Ultimate Guide
🖼 If you enjoyed my Uzbekistan photos, you can also purchase some of them from my print store !
Pin for later.
A big shoutout to Lukáš Platinský for contributing his gorgeous photography to this article .
Samarkand, Uzbekistan: 14 Top Things to Do + A Complete City Guide
The Ultimate 10-Day Uzbekistan Itinerary: A Complete Travel Guide
Khiva, Uzbekistan: 14 Top Things to Do + A Complete City Guide
This looks stunning! Your whole post is so detailed. The views from Chasmai-Mirob Restaurant were absolutely stunning too!
Thank you Linnea! 🙂
Uzbekistan looks so beautiful and I can’t wait to visit someday. Your photos are stunning! I’ll definitely save this post for whenever I get the chance to go 😁
Thank you Jen, happy you liked it! 🙂
Wow! What beautiful tile work everywhere! I love the teal on the tops of the domes. Uzbekistan looks like such a wonderful place to visit.
Yes it totally is! Love the tilework too! 🙂
Great guide with lots of detail! I sooo want to visit here someday. 🙂 Amazing photos!
Thank you Sara! 🙂
Looks like such a beautiful city! Visiting the “stans” is SO high on my bucketlist! 🙂
Happy to hear it is! 🙂
I have serious wanderlust at the moment! This is now on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing and your pictures are stunning!
This post is amazing & so detailed…. and your photos are stunning!! I’m glad to see Bukhara was honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because it is gorgeous. I’m glad you got to go to the hammam.
Bukhara looks amazing! I would love to get a traditional massage in a hamman and explore Chor Minor. Such beautiful architecture and photos!
Oh my – I absolutely love your photos! Uzbekistan was never on my travel list before but I am so in love with all the patterns and how colourful it looks! Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive guide 🙂
This blogpost is so complete and appealing Jiayi! Your dreamy pictures made me want to visit as soon as possible, and can we talk about those wonderful tiles??
The place looks stunning and the buildings look so pretty with all the blue. I look forward to visiting myself one day.
What an outstanding post! Uzbekistan has been so high on my list for awhile now and this is inspiring me to go once I start traveling again! I’m in love with the architecture, colors and tiles. I’d love to spend hours photographing it all and ending the day at the tea house!
Bukhara! Seriously you make me forget the cold when (re)-reading your blog!
When I was in elementary school, I would occasionally hear fairytales mentioning Bukhara. Since then, it’s really been a place I can’t get out of my head. It truly does look like an open-air museum with so many beautiful buildings. And what impresses me the most are the entry fees of the attractions. Other very touristy places like Bangkok tend to charge around $15 as an entry fee for the famous temples, which can definitely affect a traveler’s budget by a lot. I’m glad to hear that in Bukhara you can visit all the must-sees for a reasonable price!
I so want to visit this magical city. Thanks for sharing
It’s really a place that is made for exploration as I can see! I am amazed by all the beautiful places there! Thank you for all the precious info Jiayi!
Uzbekistan looks absolutely phenomenal. I would love to go here. Bukhara looks and sounds amazing, between the incredible architecture and wealth of history and culture, I couldn’t imagine a better place to visit.
Uzbekistan was on my short list this year for travel, but then Covid-19 happened. Really enjoyed getting to travel vicariously through your blog though, thanks for sharing these details of the museum.
Wow what a post – stunning stunning photos! I can’t wait to visit Bukhara – and staying at that boutique hotel!
Wow this place is so colourful! It looks amazing. I like the little intro with a bit of history added too!
Bukhara looks absolutely stunning! Would love to visit this colorful place 😍
This looks like an incredible place, how lucky that you got to visit! Beautiful photos.
Can’t believe how beautiful your photos are! I’ve never considered going to Uzbekistan, but now I see where all those wonderful architecture pictures come from. Maybe I’ll visit one day!
I love your photos! such a great guide, Uzbekistan is so high on our bucket list!
I’ve been wanting to visit Uzbekistan for years. Your photos give me major wanderlust. Thanks for sharing all these tips with me. I’ll remember them when I’ll be planning my trip to this beautiful country!
These places are just wonderful, I think I should explore and learn more about these places in Bukhara. Next month I will plan to visit here. Thanks for sharing.
As far as I can tell, Bukhara is the most adventurous place! The gorgeous locations there astound me! Thank you for sharing the extremely valuable information! and all these pictures are perfect.
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I'm Jiayi, a Chinese-Italian photographer who's been on the move since age 6. With this blog, my goal is to provide you with invaluable tips to help you plan epic trips to both popular and unpopular destinations, and to photograph them the way you'd want to. Happy Travels! :)
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- Landmarks and Attractions
Landmarks and Attractions of Bukhara
You will need at least two days to visit and see Bukhara main architectural sights. Bukhara is a holy city of Muslim world. A great many mosques, shrines, madrasahs, with the latest one among them dating back to the XIX century, preserved there. All the excursions start from Lyabi-Khaus pond, which decorates the entry to the Nadir Divan-begi madrasah of the XVII century.
The Bukhara symbol is the 47-m high Kalyan minaret, built under the Karakhanids in the XII century. At that time it was the highest minaret in Central Asia, which as a light house, showed the way to Bukhara to trade caravans and pilgrims. You must visit the Ark fortress – a citadel which was a residence of local rulers for several centuries. The Samanid Mausoleum – Bukhara oldest monument erected early in the century, features elaborated beauty of décor and orderliness of proportions. Not far from it there is another Bukhara sight - Chashma-Ayub with a holy spring, which according to a legend was formed by strike of Saint Job’s staff.
Bukhara historical center includes altogether 140medieval structures, which managed to preserve their look unchanged for centuries. There, you will find yourselves in the world of the medieval East with narrow paved side streets and magnificent structures, decorated with intricate ornament, majolica, Arab ligature and blue domes. Bukhara four trade domes are extant almost intact, where even now Bukharian residents offer gold embroidery products, karakul, carved furniture, silk and spices.
Popular Landmarks and Attractions of Bukhara
Kalyan minaret was designated to summon Muslims to prayer five times a day. Normally, each mosque had its own minaret, but the main minaret was situated near the Djuma Mosque. It was from the gallery, at the top of the minaret, that the muedzin summoned the believers to prayer at the top of his voice. More
Khoja-Gaukushon is one of the largest ensembles of the city and includes mosque, minaret and madrasah. In past Gaukushon was the large trade square of Bukhara. It got its name due to the slaughter-house, which once existed on this site, because "Gaukushon" is translated as "killing of bulls". More
Lyabi-Hauz rectangular (36 – 46 meters height), stretched from the east to the west, is buried in shadow of venerable chinaras. Its shores are formed with stair launch to the water, made from massive blocks of yellow limestone. In old times there was «tea bazar», there sold sweets, dainties, bread and made food. More
Nadir Divan-begi madrasah is a part of the architectural complex located round well-known Lyabi-Hauz in Bukhara. The madrasah building, as well as khanaka nearby, were named after vizier Nadir by whose order they were constructed. Vizier Nadir served at a court yard of one the strongest and powerful representatives of Ashtarkhanid dynasty Imamkuli-khan, who ruled in Bukhara in 1611-1642. More
Samanids mausoleum was erected as a family crypt immediately after the death of Ismail Samani's father. Later, Ismail himself and his grandson Hasr were also buried in it. It is interesting to note that erecting crypts was against Islamic law at that time, for Islam forbade erecting any post-mortem monuments upon the tombs of Muslim believers. More
Chashma-Ayub well means Saint Job’s Source. A legend has it that the Bible prophet Job, having visited this land, decided to help the people who suffered from water shortage in the desert. He struck the ground with his stick, making a source of crystal clear water sprang at that place. More
Abdullaziz-khan madrasah built it in 1651 – 1652 and it is the last large madrasah in Bukhara. The building is typical by composition, with four-ayvans yard, but with unordinary divergent fan of hudj groups after side ayvans and cupola buildings on the central axis. More
Miri-Arab madrasah is one of the best Bukhara sights of 16 century. Architecture and décor of Miri-Arab distinguish by highest culture and taste. At present in this monument, which underwent catastrophical destruction, portal and whole northern wing of main fasadewere restored up, cupola and yard-arcades construction were strengthen. More
Magoki-Attori mosque in the city's centre is an example of an urban mosque in a residential quarter. The mosque was built on the site of the pre-lslamic Moh temple mentioned above. Excavations have revealed the fact that even under the Samanids there was a six-pier mosque, which apparently was also domed. More
Trading domes are stretching in procession from Lyabi-Khauz to the Miri-Arab madrasah. Long ago, in the XVI century under the Shaybanides dynasty, Bukhara became the capital giving rise to unprecedented growth of the city, and since it was located on the Great Silk Road, the markets and trading stores even more congested cross-roads of public roads. More
Ark Citadel is a residence of Bukhara khans. According to the last excavations, it was determined the citadel was on this place from 4 century BC. For many years of building and destruction, 20 meters height artificial hill was formed; its upper layers were built over in the time of last Bukhara emirs. More
Bukhara Vicinity – Where to go
Gijduvan museum of ceramics.
Gijduvan ceramics school has its deep roots. The skills have been passed from father to son from generation to generation. Today Gizhduvan is home for the sixth generation of potters from Narzullayevs family which glorified Gijduvan school ceramics all over the world. More
Jeyran Ecocenter was established in 1997 for the purpose of the breeding and protection of rare and endangered species of animals.The breeding center is located in the south-west of Kyzyl-Kum Desert, 42 km from Bukhara and has the status of protected natural area. More
Memorial complex of Naqshbandi
Memorial Complex of Khoja Bakhautdin Naqshbandi is one of the most important Muslim shrines. Every self-respecting Muslim knows and reveres this name. The great theologian of the XIV century, founder of the Sufi Order "Naqshbandia" was buried 12 km from Bukhara in his native village of Kasri Orifon. More
Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace
Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace is the only remained sample of Bukhara emir country palaces. The palace was quartered on two territories. Old palace of Abdul-Akhad-khan (1892) is a traditional three-house complex with one- and two-storey building in the spirit of bukharian dwelling houses. More
Bukhara – Top Places to See
Bukhara at a glance.
Population: ca. 300 000
Altitude: 220 meters above sea level (738ft)
Founded: more than 2000 years ago
The Samanid Mausoleum – one of the most important monuments in Central Asia
The Ark of Bukhara
Up until the 20 th century, terrible torture and executions took place in front of the Ark. Punishments were harsh. Convicted criminals were beheaded; one notable occasion saw such a punishment meted out to British officers Charles Stoddart and Arthur Conolly in 1842. You can read more about the events leading up to the beheading in Peter Hopkirk’s book, The Great Game . Some people escaped with their head, though their fate was unpleasant, to say the least. Cheats were thrown into a bag filled with wild cats and there was a bug pit with specially bred scorpions used for torture purposes. Finally, in 1920, the last Emir (ruler) of Bukhara fled under Bolshevik attack and the Ark was left severely damaged.
The Bolo Khauz Mosque and its surroundings
The Lyabi Hauz ensemble
It has been repurposed shortly after its completion as a madrassa and in front of stands a statue of Hodja Nasredin, a half-mythical figure who crops up in local legend.
Po-i – Kalyan and the surrounding complex
Bukhara – once the educational center of Central Asia
The Last Emir of Bukhara and his palace
Just outside the city, if you have time, we’d recommend you visit Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace. Its name translates to mean a palace as beautiful as the moon and stars. It’s relatively new, built at the start of the 20 th century and inspired by Russia’s great imperial palaces – the last Emir of Bukhara studied in St Petersburg and got on well with the Tsar. It was the Emir’s summer residence; he preferred it to the Ark.
Moreover, you will see the harem quarters with its pool that could be observed from the Emir’s outside throne. Since 1927 it has been a museum.
A vibrant Silk Road community
Bargain hard and you’ll feel like a Silk Road trader searching for exotic goods to take with you – or a tourist who’s just found the perfect souvenir to take home from one of our many Uzbek tours . For example, you can get Silk Road spices packed in such dried and decorated pumpkins, or tool to make traditional decorated round bread.
Check out our Uzbekistan Tours or read more about the Silk Road Cities of Uzbekistan.
city sightseeing Uzbekistan
Samarkand - top places to see.
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BLOG , BUKHARA , Destinations , Uzbekistan · February 7, 2022
15 Spectacular Things To See And Do In Bukhara Uzbekistan
Are you looking for the best things to do and see in Bukhara? No need to look further cause this Bukhara travel guide covers all of the best places that you can visit!
Bukhara is located on the Silk Road and has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Uzbekistan and just like the city of Khiva , the old city of Bukhara is like an open air museum without any cars.
So what’s there to see in Bukhara?
Bukhara is a wonderful mix of the hustle and bustle that is the big city of Samarkand and the sand stone alleys of the always peaceful Khiva. The city is an ocean of mosques madrasa’s and other architectural marvels, surrounded by the modern sprawl of the city.
Compared to the sometimes overly touristy vibes that you get in Samarkand, the city of Bukhara feels like a breath of fresh air. Yes, there are a ton of shops but it’s not overwhelming in the streets.
You can at least spend a couple of days exploring the best places in Bukhara. Below you can find my top picks of things to do in Bukhara!
Bukhara was our second stop on this whirlwind trip through Uzbekistan and it immediately stole my heart. From the warm welcome we received at the hotel we were staying at to the beauty of all the intricate archways and turquoise domes.
And just like with Khiva, once you enter the old city all of the top sightseeing attractions are within walking distance.
A brief history of Bukhara
Bukhara is an oasis city , located right in the middle of the desert. Once located on the Great Silk Road, Bukhara is one of the oldest cities and its history exceeds 2500 years . Because of that the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion.
It attained its greatest importance in the late sixteenth century, when the Shaybanids’ possessions (a Dinasty in Central Asia) included most of Central Asia as well as northern Persia and Afghanistan. Education courses during this period included theological sciences, mathematics, jurisprudence, logic, music, and poetry.
This system had a positive influence upon development and wide circulation of the Uzbek language and the city remained well-known and influential through the nineteenth century, playing a significant part in cultural and religious life of the region.
Its old city section, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, is famous as a “living museum” and a center for international tourism.
It is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact.
How to reach Bukhara
Chances are very high you’ll be traveling to Bukhara from either Samarkand or Khiva so those are the two options that we will discuss below. It’s also possible to travel from Tashkent to Bukhara but that would mean you would either skip Samarkand or Khiva, which I do not recommend, or that your travel itinerary would make zero sense.
Getting to Bukhara from Samarkand
By train – From Samarkand you can take a train straight to Bukhara every 3 hours. The train ride itself will last about 1.5 hour.
💡 TIP – On the day of departure, arrive 1 hour in advance at the train station. There might be long queues at the entrance (especially in Tashkent) where your luggage and passport get checked.
💡 TIP – Don’t forget to bring your passport cause you need it for booking your ticket!
💡 TIP – Especially during high season it’s best to buy your train ticket a day in advance at the local train station.
Getting to Bukhara from Khiva
By train – There’s a daily train running from Khiva to Bukhara which has a transfer in Urgentsch.
By private transfer – Another option is to take a private transfer from Khiva to Bukhara! You can arrange this at your hotel. The drive will take 6 to 7 hours and costs 40USD. The good thing about taking a private transfer is that you can also make a stop along the way to visit the Khorezm fortresses . It will add about 1 hour to your total driving time but is highly worth the trip!
Why you should visit Bukhara
There are endless reasons why you should visit Bukhara but I’ve listed my favorite ones for you below:
- There are a ton of sacred sites in Bukhara – Legend says that the prophet Job (from the Old Testament) performed a miracle in Bukhara: he struck the desert sand with his staff and water spew from the ground. This is the reason why Bukhara is an oasis.
- It’s a place where you can walk around for days and marvel at spectacular architecture .
- Bukhara has some buildings that are over a thousand years old and the old centre hasn’t changed much since its original construction.
- Bukhara is a city where you can find a ton of ancient water pools which help in reflecting the blue mosaics even more.
When is the best time to visit Bukhara
The best time to travel to Uzbekistan is from April until October . Outside of these months the temperatures drop immensely. We traveled to Uzbekistan at the end of October and start of November and I honestly don’t recommend it to anyone. Our toes were freezing off and we were wearing 3 layers of clothing and thermal underwear the entire time.
On the other hand you’ll also want to avoid the months of June, July and August cause temperatures get crazy hot and can go up to 40°C/ 104°F .
So the best month for good weather which isn’t either melting your face off or freezing your toes the months of April, May and September are your best option! These months temperatures will range from 14°C to 26°C/ 57°F- 87°F.
Where to stay in Bukhara
- Komil Bukhara Boutique Hotel – An incredible boutique hotel in the heart of Bukhara. The rooms are decorated in true Uzbek style and the breakfast is amazing!
- Hotel Fatima Boutique – A cute boutique hotel in true Uzbek style that is located in the heart of the touristic area of Bukhara.
What to do in Bukhara – 15 The best things to do in Bukhara
1. spend the morning at nadir divan-begi madrasa.
The Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa is a puzzling piece of architecture as it resembles a caravanserai— a combination warehouse and hostel for traveling caravans. Evidence for this is that the main entrance opens directly onto the courtyard; the usual practice is to provide a screen wall to shield the interior courtyard from the public eye.
But besides all of these curiosities the main reason for walking over to this madrasa is its incredible tile work ! Make sure to snap some photos during your visit and also take a peek inside cause the Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa is free to visit. Inside you’ll find a beautiful courtyard that is lined with souvenir shops.
Opening hours – 9am until 8pm daily
Entrance fee – Free
💡 TIP – Go in the early morning for the best photography light.
2. Take photos in front of the Abdulaziz Khan Madrasa
The Abdulaziz Khan Madrasa definitely is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Bukhara, maybe even in entire Uzbekistan! The colorful tile work in the arch dates back to the 17th century and is a perfect representation of medieval art in Central Asia.
3. Visit the Kalyan Mosque
The Kalyan Mosque is the third part of the Po-i Kalyan Complex and is located right in front of the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa. But in contrast to the school you can actually visit this mosque. The Kalyan Mosque serves as the Friday mosque and is the largest in central Asia apart from the Bibi Khanum mosque in Samarkand and the Friday Mosque of Herat, Afghanistan.
Opening hours – From 8am until 8pm daily
Entrance fee – 10.000 SOM
4. Have dinner with a view over the Po-i Kalyan Complex
The Po-i Kalyan Complex is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bukhara and it’s not hard to see why! This small square holds a mosque, a madrasa and one of the most beautiful minarets in entire Uzbekistan.
And right across from this wonderful square is a fabulous Uzbek restaurant: The Chasmai-Mirob Restaurant is an unmissable stop during your visit of Bukhara. The restaurant lies in a small alley and the ground floor looks pretty random. But once you reach the top floor you’ll see what all the fuss is about. There’s a terrace overlooking the entire The Po-i Kalyan Complex but if you would be cold you can also have dinner inside.
This is a great place to try some of the traditional Uzbek dishes such as Plov, Shashlik, Lagman soup or Dimlama.
5. Walk next to the historic Ark of Bukhara
The Ark of Bukhara is the city’s oldest structure and is an absolute delight to visit in the early morning. It’s definitely one of the top attractions to visit in Bukhara!
During the course of history the Ark of Bukhara has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. And by the start of the 20th century the Ark was inhabited by nearly 3000 people, making it a city within a city .
Opening hours – From 8am until 8pm
Entrance fee – 15.000 SOM
💡 TIP – There’s a camera fee of 5000 SOM
6. Check out the Bolo Hauz Mosque
The Bolo Hauz Mosque is located a little outside of the centre but definitely a must visit place in Bukhara. It’s most impressive feature are definitely the large wooden pillars with all its intricate carvings and I personally loved the green mosaics on the ceiling. They were a little more understated than all of the others in Uzbekistan but sometimes that’s a good thing.
The mosque was built in the 17th century and if you wish to visit the inside you’ll have to take off your shoes. As a women you do not need to wear a headscarf.
7. Take a peek inside the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa
The Mir-i-Arab Madrasa is also part of the Po-i Kalyan Complex . Until this day the madrasa is still an active school and for that reason it can only be admired from the outside. Pretty impressive if you consider that this building already stand over 500 years!
You can’t actually visit this Madrassah, at least so we were told by the people at the entrance. However the outside makes for stunning photos! It is conveniently located next to the Minaret.
8. Visit the Abdulaziz Khan Madrasa and have a look at former student life
The Abdulaziz Khan Madrasa is an architectural masterpiece of medieval Central Asia and its interior might be even more beautiful.
First you’ll bump into a bunch of local street vendors all displaying their finest wear and jewellry for you to browse. But there are also two mosques inside of this madrasa. The summer and winter mosques in the madrasa are also splendidly decorated. The winter mosque is in the western corner of the entrance hall; the summer mosque stands right in the courtyard.
You can also visit one of the former dormitories of the students. It’s crazy to think some of these tiny rooms used to be classrooms and that students actually lived here.
Opening hours – Opens at 9am
Entrance fee – 13.000 SOM and your ticket is valid for 3 days.
9. Go down history lane at the Ulugh Beg Madrasa
The Ulugh Beg Madrasa is a lot more modest in design but its history is phenomenal as it’s one of the best madrasa’s in entire Uzbekistan.
There are a few small shops inside but the architecture simply can’t compare to that of other buildings in Bukhara.
It was completed in 1417 and is one of the few remains of the Timurid Empire in Bukhara . During these days Bukhara was the Islamic capital of Central Asia but sultan Ulugh Beg of the Timurid Empire also wanted to make it a centre for science and education. For this reason he built this madrasa in Bukhara, hoping it would attract scholars and scientist to the city of Bukhara.
10. Sip on tea at a local teahouse in Bukhara
There are a lot of tea traditions in Uzbekistan and tea is also the main drink in this country. So it suffices to say that you can’t leave Uzbekistan without trying out one of the local teahouses.
The most popular Uzbek tea is green tea and it’s originally taken without sugar.
The chaikhana (tea-house) is an institution in Uzbekistan. It’s a place where people come to drink tea, talk with friends and relax. Often the chaikhanas are the towns social centre within small communities. They can be quite simple, just a small group of table/s under a tree in the shade or have a more elaborate layout located in picturesque surroundings, shaded with trees or vines spreading their branches over a steel or wooden frame next to pool full of water.
11. Admire the Kalyan Minaret
The Kalyan Minaret is part of the the Po-i Kalyan Complex , one of the most beautiful locations in Uzbekistan. The Kalyan Minaret is one of the most prominent features of the city of Bukhara and with its 45 meters it towers high above the city.
The Kalyan Minaret is also known as the ‘Tower of Death’ because for centuries, it was used to execute criminals by throwing them off the tower.
12. Go shopping at the ancient Silk Road trading domes
I always love to bring home a souvenir from my travels. Wether it’s a piece of clothing or something to further decorate my house with. Well Bukhara is an excellent city to do just that!
As you might recall, Bukhara used to have a prominent position on he Silk Road and used to be a very successful trading centre. The city was covered with markets and trading domes and today four of these trading domes still remain: Toqi Telpak Furushon , Tim Abdulla Khan Trading Dome , Toqi Sarrofon Bazaar , and Toqi Zargaron Trading Dome .
They are located within the city centre and chances are very high you’ll pass through several of them while exploring Bukhara.
13. Take a trip to the Chor Bakr Memorial Complex
The Chor Bakr Necropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located about 20 minutes driving from the centre of Bukhara.
Chor Bakr is also known as the ‘Town of the Dead’ but when you walk around the complex you’ll see a lot of mausoleums, a beautiful garden with peacocks running around, a minaret, a mosque and a madrasa.
How to get there – This location is a 20 minute drive from Bukhara but in my honest opinion totally worth the visit. A taxi ride there and back to the city centre (including a 20 minute wait) should be around 60.000 SUM. Chor Bakr is one of those hidden gems in Uzbekistan that not many people know of and therefore one of the more unique places to visit in Uzbekistan.
Opening hours – 8am to 5.30pm from Monday to Friday and 8am until 6pm during the weekend.
Entrance fee – The entrance fee is 15.000 SUM and an extra 5000 SUM to take photos.
14. Visit the strange Chor Minor
Chor Minor, what literally means four towers, is a little tucked away in the streets of Bukhara. The purpose of the building is not entirely clear, but it likely served as the forepart of a spacious madrasa which no longer survives.
The four towers include cryptic references to religions other than Islam including Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism. And indeed, there are certain designs that resemble a Christian upturned fish, and others that faintly resemble the Buddhist “wheel of the law”.
Chor Minor is located on the East side of Bukhara and 15 minutes walking from the city center. I went with the idea to go up on the tower to take photos but unfortunately the woman that holds the key wasn’t there.
When to go – Go for sunrise or sunset if you can. When we were there the gate was closed unfortunately and the street vendors across the street said none of them had a key. But it is at time possible to go up the roof of Chor Minor for an additional fee of 4000 SOM.
15. Take as many photos as possible
The city of Bukhara is a fantastic place to visit and one of the best things that you can possibly do is take hundreds of photos! You won’t find architecture like this anywhere else in the world.
One of the biggest tips I can give you is to bring a wide angle lens with you. It’s the only way to capture the grandeur of these buildings!
I used the Canon ED 16-35 to capture 80% of all of my photos in Uzbekistan.
How many days do you need in Bukhara
I would say you need at least 2 full days to be able to explore everything at ease in Bukhara. You don’t want to speed through all of the sightseeing and all of the buildings contain so many details that it would be a shame to rush through them.
Getting around Bukhara
The city of Bukhara is on the smaller side and if you stay at one of the suggested hotels you’ll be able to explore all of the top attractions in Bukhara on foot.
The only time that you’ll need a taxi is if you want to visit the Chor Bakr Memorial Complex.
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings. Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice. She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay. Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.
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Alana Howard says
June 25, 2022 at 5:32 pm
Why do travel bloggers insist on ruining every photo with themselves in a long flowing dress? It looks ridiculous, you look like a narcissist and it’s all a big joke to the rest of us. Not to mention, everywhere I go now there is some idiot holding up the chance to enjoy the sites because they need the perfect photo for their blog. If you care about other travelers at all, please stop this idiocy.
July 2, 2022 at 1:23 pm
Nice article with useful details !!! For info about MBBS in Uzbekistan, visit : https://www.pacificeducation.in/mbbs-fees-in-uzbekistan/
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17 Tourist Attractions which We Visited in Bukhara
Bukhara is a former Silk Road oasis city. It is a large city with a current population of approximately 230,000, but most of the attractions are concentrated in the old town area.
We spent three nights in Bukhara sightseeing. Here are some of the tourist highlights of Bukhara.
Nodir Devonbegi Madrasah
Nodir devonbegi khonako, maghoki attori mosque, abduraziz khan madrasah, mir arab madrasah, kalan mosque, bolo hauz mosque, ark of bukhara, chor minor madrasah, ismail samani mausoleum, turki jandi tomb, chashmai ayub mausoleum, palace of the emir of bukhara, sayfiddin boharzi mausoleum, sitorai mokhi-khosa palace, chor bakr memorial complex, green market, accommodation in bukhara, dining in bukhara.
This madrasah stands in the centre of the old town, to the east of the fountain cistern. It is characterised by a phoenix design at the top of the facade. Apart from that, there are also patterns with sun and human motifs, which is unusual for an Islamic site.
It was initially built in 1623 as a resting place for caravans on the Silk Road, but was later converted into a madrasah.
Once inside, cafés and shops line the patio. It is fun just to walk around and admire the architecture. Although we didn’t see it, there are live folk music and dance shows in the courtyard later in the evening. In the green area in front, there is a statue of a legendary hero.
The facade of the madrasa faces west, but it is best to take photos in the early afternoon due to the shadows cast by the trees in the late afternoon.
On the other side of the reservoir (Lyabi Khauz) and opposite Nodir Devonbegi Madrasah is Nodir Devonbegi Khonako. Khonako is a Sufi temple and once the residence of Sufis.
Restaurants are lined up around the reservoir, where visitors can dine while enjoying the view of the fountain. The reflections of Khonako and swans on the water making to very picturesque.
Before the Arabs who brought Islam to Bukhara, there was a market near here where Zoroastrian idols, medicinal herbs and spices ‘atron’ were sold, called the Attron Bazaar. The mosque was built after the destruction of the original Zoroastrian temple in 714. It was subsequently destroyed by fire several times and rebuilt each time.
The façade of the mosque has preserved its ancient atmosphere. The round, double-curved columns on either side of the door are remnants of the pre-Islamic period.
In an area where many Islamic buildings have been meticulously reconstructed, this mosque stands out from the rest with more original atmosphere. I enjoyed the unpainted, rustic appearance.
Built in 1653, this madrasah was a lavishly decorated madrasah building planned from the outset. It is said to be the first Central Asian building in which yellow paint was used for decoration. Its motifs are diverse and include flowers, animals, birds, dragons and trees.
Particularly eye-catching is the flamboyant façade. The dome section has two levels of arches, with an even finer arch over the top. The exquisite decoration in each of the hollows and the colours that change subtly in the sunlight make it a wonderful place to visit several times a day. The façade alone is probably the most beautiful of any Islamic building in Bukhara.
This madrasah stands opposite the Kalan Mosque. This blue two-domed madrasah was built in the 16th century.
The facade is covered with blue tiles and decorated with geometric and botanical patterns and calligraphy.
This mosque is located opposite the Mir Arab Madrasah and is flanked by the beautiful Kalon Minaret. It is said to have been first built in the 15th century.
The entrance fee is 5,000 soms per person. Part of the interior was under renovation when we visited, but you should still go. Gates have been built on each of the four sides of the courtyard, which is lined with small rooms, and there is a prayer hall in the direction from where you enter.
This is the Friday mosque on the opposite side of the road from the Ark fortress. ‘Hauz’ means reservoir, and Bukhara mosques traditionally tended to be built adjacent to reservoirs, as is the case with this mosque.
The open space with 20 columns on the east side was used as a summer prayer hall, and it is known that this brick-enclosed area on three sides was extended in the 20th century.
The summer mosque area, which opens towards the reservoir, has a gorgeous painted ceiling above the relief-embellished wooden pillars, which are reflected in the reservoir. Be sure to go around to the other side of the cistern and sit on the benches. You can admire the beauty of this mosque from a different perspective.
A fortress is known to have existed here since the 4th century BC. It was the residence of the Bukhara Khan and included state institutions, a mint, various shops, an armoury, a prison and a mosque.
This is an unusual madrasah with four domes and each of the towers has a different design. Featured on the cover of Lonely Planet’s Uzbekistan 2014 edition.
Completed in 905, this is the oldest Islamic monument in Bukhara and one of the oldest buildings made of baked bricks in Central Asia. Ismail Samanid, founder of the Samanid dynasty, built this mausoleum for his father, but it is believed that all Samanid clans were later buried here. It remains a sacred place for the local people.
The geometric cubic structure is very attractive. As we approached, we were surprised to see that it was a meshwork, allowing us to see through to the inside. The mausoleum looks massive from afar, but up close it is light and cool. This is a place you should definitely visit.
The mausoleum is said to contain mausoleums built in the 12th, 14th and 16th centuries, but the exact date is unknown; it was restored in 2020.
Located south of the old town centre, it is dedicated to Turki Jandi, who lived in the 10th century. He was a scholar and a leader in the field of science who came to St Bukhara from Jand (an ancient city on the Shirdarya River) to study in the Bukhara madrasa as a young man.
Even today, local people come to pray in his honour.
This is a sacred site with a legendary healing well. The conical dome is unusual in Bukhara.
Located near Bukhara railway station. We did not go inside, but the building itself is beautiful and worth a visit.
Located 3 km east of the old town centre. The main building with two spiky domes stands beside a small minaret. Appropriate clothing is required to enter, like all mosques.
As it is a bit far from the old town, we took a Yandex taxi to get there. The entrance fee is 40,000 som per person and can be paid by credit card.
It was built between 1912 and 1918 on the orders of Mir Said Muhammad Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara. Bukhara masters of the time and Russian engineers were involved.
The White Hall, located immediately after the entrance, makes extensive use of mirrors. The walls are decorated with relief decoration, but they never used the same pattern design repeatedly.
The building where the bedrooms were located is now used as a museum. The outdoor areas of the large grounds may have once been manicured as a garden, but some parts now need a bit of love.
Located in a village about 5km west of Bukhara. It was too far to walk there, because if the temperature, so we took a Yandex taxi. Entrance fee is 10,000 som per person. Chor Bakr means ‘four brothers’, but for some reason it seems to be known abroad as the ‘city of the dead’. The return journey to Bukhara was by minibus at 5,000 som for two of us.
Completed in 1563, it was apparently built over the tomb of Abu Bakr, who died in the 10th century. The large site includes a mosque, minaret and khonaka. The freely spreading branches of trees and fruit trees were well reflected in the brick colour. Today it remains a sacred place and many locals visit the site.
A small market, but crowded with people early in the morning. Especially when we visited on Sunday, there were many cars outside and it was very lively.
There was a section selling kitchenware as well as a variety of foodstuffs such as vegetables, fruit, condiments, homemade yoghurt and honey, bread, etc. There were also shops outside selling clothes.
There were no travellers other than us and the vendors were all friendly. Figs were sold for 25,000 som a kilo, so we bought 500g. I think the local price may be a bit less than this, but still very affordable and delicious! July is a bit early in the year for figs, but stil delicious.
We stayed at Hotel Mironshox in Bukhara. We booked the first night online and then stayed for consecutive nights. A double air-conditioned room with breakfast was USD 19 per night and from the second night onwards it was USD 215,000 som. We were very happy with the new guesthouse and the air conditioning and wifi worked very well. A detailed review can be found on Google Maps .
Bukhara’s old town is a busy area for travellers, so there are plenty of restaurants. However, the main drawback is the touristy prices. One of the closest to the old town centre and still reasonably priced, was Chayxana Xo’ja Nasriddin .
We also visited Milly Taolilar , an authentic professional plov shop. This one is completely for locals and is not touristy. Of course, the prices were normal and full of local customers.
- Border Crossing
- Travel Plan and Preparations
The Best Things to do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
This post is about the best things to do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. An ancient trade center on the famous Silk road that connected China with the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Walking through the small streets in the old town of Bukhara you get the feeling that nothing has changed in this city for centuries.
Tourism is there, but easy to forget when you walk on your own through the narrow alleyways of ancient neighbourhoods. It’s the ruins of mosques and madrassah’s around every corner that reveal Bukhara’s true age. For those that love history there are plenty of things to do in Bukhara.
Not all of the ancient historical buildings are well maintained. Bukhara feels modest compared to the well restored and lavish decorations in Khiva and Samarkand . Renovations by the Soviets have been subtle and therefore it all feels much more authentic in Bukhara.
A short history of Bukhara
In its glory days, Bukhara was anything but modest. The city is 2500 years old. In the 6th century BCE it was the centre of Persian civilization and soon developed in a centre of commerce on the Silk road.
Later in the 9th century Bukhara also became the intellectual centre of the Islamic world. Ironically it took a long time for Islam to take hold in Bukhara. In fact it was a stronghold for persecuted christians. When the Arabs conquered Bukhara it took more than a century for Islam to become the dominant religion.
In 1222 Genghis Khan burned the city and after the Mongols the city was slowly rebuilt by the Khanate of Bukhara. The last emir of Bukhara was Alim Khan before Bukhara became part of Soviet Uzbekistan.
Bukhara is still full of places that reflect the different time periods the city went through. The Persians, the Samanids, the Arabs, the Mongols, the emirs of Bukhara and the Soviets all left their own legacies behind.
There are so many things to do in Bukhara that you need at least 3 days in this city.
The best things to do in Bukhara
Khoja gaukushan complex .
The Khoja Gaukushan is the largest architectural complex in Bukhara with a mosque, a madrassah and a minaret. It is in a quiet corner that used to be less peaceful. Gaukushan means killing of the bulls and this was once the market place where cows were sold and slaughtered.
Bukhara Photo gallery and Caravan Serai
In a former caravan serai opposite the Khoja Gaukushan complex is a small private photo gallery. The pictures are beautiful and reflect daily scenes of Uzbek life. Entrance is free, but of course they hope you buy one of their pictures in postcard or poster format.
The old caravan serai is also interesting to see if you understand its importance in the history of Bukhara. They were a type of resting place that were commonly found along trade routes in the Middle East and Central Asia. These establishments served as crucial stopping points for merchants and travelers, providing them with shelter, food, water, and facilities for their animals.
Caravan serais were important economic and social hubs, where people from different cultures and backgrounds would converge. They served as meeting places for merchants, a center for the exchange of goods and ideas, and sometimes even as venues for entertainment and performances.
The caravan serai of Bukhara still has lots of traditional features such as a large enclosed courtyard surrounded by buildings that once functioned as guest rooms and stables. Besides the photo gallery there is also a small cafe.
The Lyab I Haus pond is home to some of the top things to do in Bukhara. You could say that this pond is the heart of the city and every day the teahouses are full with both locals and tourists.
The friendly atmosphere will tempt you to join them in eating ice creams or drinking tea with baklava, especially in the evenings.
For those that love Islamic architecture Lyab I Hauz has some beautiful gems. The earliest and largest building is the impressive Kukeldash madrassa . More interesting is the Nadir Divan madrassah , because it is the only one depicting living beings rather than geometric shapes.
Lyab i Hauz was also home to a Jewish community . Muslims and Jews used to pray together in the Magokki Attor mosque and in one of the side streets there is still a synagogue.
Chor minor is among the top things to do in Bukhara. It is a bit of a mystery what this building was used for and why it’s architecture is rather unique. For sure it was not a mosque, even though the towers seem to resemble minarets.
People believe it was the entrance to a madrassah that is no longer there and the towers were used for storage. It also looks much older than it is, because it was only built in 1807. Quite a newcomer, compared to the other historical buildings in Bukhara.
The bazaar in Bukhara reminded me a lot of the bazaars in Iran . The current bazaar in Bukhara used to be much larger in the days of the Silk Road and each section had their own specialization. The three domed bazaars that are left are nowadays more geared towards tourism. Still, it is among the top things to do in Bukhara and tells a story of different times.
Ulugh beg Madrassa & Abdil Aziz Khan Madrassa
You will hear the name of Ulugh Beg more often in Uzbekistan . Ulugh Beg or Mīrzā Muhammad Tāraghay bin Shāhrukh, ruled the Timurid empire in the 15th century. He was the grandson of the Great King Timur (Tamerlane).
When his father Shah Rukh died, Ulugh Begh gained controle of the Timurid empire. He was actually more interested in astronomy, science and arts than governing his empire. Although there was a cultural peak known as the Timurid Renaissance, he coudn’t establish his power as a ruler and was overthrown.
In his short reign he was able to build the Ulugh Beg observatory and madrassa in Samarkand and the Ulugh Begh Madrassa in Uzbekistan. Right opposite the Ulgh Begh Madrassah is the even more beautiful Abdil Aziz Khan madrassa that was built a few centuries later.
Po I Kalyon complex
For centuries religious structures have been built, destroyed and rebuild at the Po-i-Kalyan complex. The very first building was a Zoroastrian fire temple.
Zoroastrian fire temples, also known as Atash Behrams or Atashkadehs, are places of worship for followers of the Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest religions, originating in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) and founded by the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) around the 6th century BCE.
Fire has a significant symbolic role in Zoroastrianism, representing purity, light, and divine energy. Fire temples are specially designated spaces where sacred fires are kept burning continuously. These fires are believed to be a direct connection to Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity in Zoroastrianism.
When Islam entered Uzbekistan, the Po I Kalyan transformed into an Islamic center. Now the Po-i-Kalyan is most famous for the 12th century Kalyan minaret . This minaret was so beautiful that even Genghis Khan ordered it to be spared when he invaded Bukhara. The Minaret is also known as the tower of death, because up till the twentieth century, it was a place where criminals received their death sentence by being thrown from the top.
The current mosque and madrassah at the Po I Kalyan complex are from the 16th century and the Kalyan mosque was built to rival the Bibi Khanum mosque in Samarkand.
Ark of Bukhara
The Ark of Bukhara was meant to keep Bukhara’s rulers safe and the fortifications that were built as early as the 5th century are a city in its own right. The museums inside tell the story of Bukhara’s magnificent history.
A visit to the Arc is among the top things to do in Bukhara, even if you just come to see the impressive entrance gate and city walls from the outside.
Bolo Hauz mosque
It is easy to miss the small Bolo Hauz mosque. What it lacks in grandeur and size is compensated by its beautiful intricate patterns and decorations. Don’t forget to look up, because the ceilings are amazing.
Sukhov water tower
When we arrived in Bukhara in April 2019 the water tower built by Soviet engineer Vladimir Sukhov in 1920 had just reopened as a tourist attraction. It was already very popular with locals and tourists alike.
On the second floor is a pricey restaurant and on the third floor there is an observation platform with a nice view on the Arc of Bukhara.
Samonid Park offers a nice break from the hectic city. Even here you find history with the Samonid mausoleum. It doesn’t look that impressive, but it is one of the oldest buildings in Bukhara. It is also unique because it combines Zoroastrian elements with Islamic ones. Inside are the remains of Ismail Samani that ruled Bukhara in the 9th century.
Like any park in Uzbekistan there is also an amusement park popular with families and their kids.
Merchant Khojaev house
If you want to see how wealthy merchants in Bukhara used to live in the 19th century you can pay a visit to the Khojaev House museum. Faizulla Khojaev was a leader of the young Bukhara political party and fought for equal rights and democracy.
People in Bukhara still remember him and his family home was turned into a museum that offers a glimpse of life in the 19th century.
The best things to do near Bukhara
Chor Bakr is the burial site of Abu Bakr Said, who is believed to be a descendant of Mohammed. It’s a large complex with mosques, tombs and courtyards. Some parts are renovated while other parts are somehow left the way it was.
The Chor Bakr is a pilgrimage site for Muslim Uzbeks that come here to pray. You will see many Uzbek women paying a visit to the main tomb of Abu Bakr.
How to get there : From Markazi bazaar bus 202 leaves to Chor Bakr.
Sitora i mokha palace
The Sitora i Mokha palace or summer palace of the Bukhara kings is among the top things to do near Bukhara. It gives an insight into court life in a time when the influence of the Bukhara emir was decreasing and the Soviet Union was about to take control.
Some of the rooms decorations are very colourful, although other rooms are more modest. It is definetly worth a visit. The designs remind me a lot of the Mughal architecture in places like Delhi , Jaipur and Agra showing the big influence Uzbekistan had in Asia.
How to get there : from the bus station, bus 70 and 71 leave to the palace
The memorial complex of Naqsbandi is even more important for Uzbek Muslims than the Chor Bakr.
Naqsbandi was a theologist and founder of the Sufi order in Uzbekistan. His message was to have your heart with god, work hard and be modest. This place sees few tourists, but is always crowded with locals that come here to pray.
Like Chor Bakr it is a pilgrimage site. Even muslims from neighbouring countries such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan come here to honour Naqsbandi.
Bukhara Travel Tips
Where to sleep in bukhara.
Parviz Guest house : in Bukhara the Parviz guesthouse is an excellent budget option near the Chor Minor and the Lyab I Hauz.
Where to eat in Bukhara
Minzifa restaurant : The best place in Bukhara for Uzbek inspired international cuisine is Minzifa restaurant near Lyab-i-Hauz. I kept coming back here and the menu is a welcome change from plov and laghman. The Minzifa chicken in walnut sauce comes recommended.
Tea and coffee khona : This little tea house is near Lyab-i-Hauz in a former mosque. I walked in when they were still closed for the season and preparing the opening ceremony that was later that day. Rather than sending me away I got free tea and snacks. Everything was absolutely delicious.
Cafe Wishbone : This cafe near the Ulugbek madrassa and the covered bazaars has delicious German cakes like apfel strufel, buckwheat torte and cheese cake.
How to travel to Bukhara
Bukhara has a central location in Uzbekistan and that makes it is easy to travel to Bukhara whether you are in Tashkent or remote Nukus .
Also, travelling from Khiva to Bukhara has become much easier with the new high speed train between the two cities.
By train : Bukhara has daily trains to Samarkand (2-3 hrs) and Tashkent (5-6 hrs) as well as trains that run to Khiva (6 hrs) and Nukus about 3 times a week. Read more in my post about how to travel by train in Uzbekistan .
By Bus or shared taxi : Bukhara has three bus stations, each serving different destinations in the country. The northern bus stand serves Samarkand (4 hrs) and Tashkent (8 hrs). The Karvon bazaar bus stand serves Urgench
How to get around in Bukhara
Bukhara’s historic core is relatively compact and easily navigable on foot. Many of the major attractions, such as the Ark Fortress, Po-i-Kalyan Complex, and Lyab-i-Hauz, are located within walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to explore the narrow streets, bazaars, and discover hidden gems at your own pace.
Taxis are readily available in Bukhara, and they can be a convenient mode of transportation, especially for longer distances or if you prefer not to walk. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting into the taxi or use a taxi hauling app. It’s always helpful to have the address or the name of your destination written down in Cyrillic or the local language to avoid confusion.
When to visit Bukhara
Bukhara has a desert climate with surprisingly cold winters and very hot summers. The best months are April, May and June (Spring) and then again in September and October (Autumn).
Springtime in Bukhara brings mild temperatures and blooming landscapes, creating a picturesque atmosphere. The weather is generally sunny, and the city is less crowded compared to the peak tourist season in summer.
In spring you can also experience the Nowruz celebrations. Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is celebrated in Bukhara and throughout Uzbekistan with great enthusiasm and cultural festivities. Additionally, there is the Silk and Spices Festival, held every 2 year in May.
Autumn is another favorable time to visit Bukhara. The temperatures start to cool down, and the weather remains pleasant for outdoor activities.
Sustainable travel in Bukhara
Samarkand sees more tourists every year. While Tourism is a welcome source of income it can also have negative consequences. Traveling sustainably in Samarkand, involves conscious choices that minimize your environmental impact and support the local community.
Support the local community: You can support the community by purchasing goods and services from local vendors, artisans, and restaurants. It is better to try Uzbek cuisine that uses local ingredients rather than imported foreign foods.
Stay in small scale sustainable hotels : It is also better to stay in locally-owned guesthouses or homestays to support the local economy directly. These accommodations often have a more positive impact on the environment compared to large hotels. Where possible, I can recommend staying in a homestay for an authentic cultural experience. You might want to bring a small book with pictures of your family to break the ice.
You can also try to look for guesthouses or homestays that prioritizes sustainable practices. That said, environmental awareness is still low. It’s up to you to use water sparsely, turn off lights, air conditioning, and heating when leaving your accommodation.
Use public transport : Samarkand has a well-developed public transportation system with shared taxis and marshrutkas. Opt for public transport, whenever possible, instead of private cars to reduce carbon emissions.
Avoid plastics : To avoid single-use plastics, invest in reusable items. For example, you can bring your own water bottle with a filter that you can refill at your accomodation. At last, use biodegradable and eco-friendly personal care products to minimize pollution of water sources.
Respect the culture : Uzbekistan is an Islamic country that is just opening up to tourism. Therefore, learn about the local customs and traditions beforehand and be mindful of your behavior.
People will appreciate it, if you dress modestly, especially at religious sites. Learning a few basic phrases in Uzbek or Russian, can go a long way in building meaningful connections and to learn more about the local culture. Not everybody is happy to have their picture taken. When in doubt, ask permission.
Disclaimer : This Bukhara travel guide with the best things to do in Bukhara Uzbekistan contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!
2 thoughts on “The Best Things to do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan”
Nice article! SUKHOV WATER TOWER seems to be interesting. Where exactly it is in Bukhara? I think we have missed it or didn’t pay attention to it.
It is opposite the arc of bukhara.
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19 AWESOME Things to Do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan 
Our expert list of all of the most incredible things to do in Buhkara, Uzbekistan!
A city synonymous with Uzbekistan’s fascinating Silk Road history, Bukhara is one of Uzbekistan’s most captivating ancient cities. With buildings as old as 1000 years, the city oozes history at almost every turn.
The centre of Bukhara’s old town still retains much of its ancient charm despite the ravaging of the city by both Genghis Khan and the Soviet Union.
Unlike Samarkand , where the old has very much intertwined with new, Bukhara’s old town has barely changed since the pre-Russian days.
As a result, Bukhara is one of the best places in Central Asia to see what Central Asia was like before the Soviet Union took hold.
Table of Contents
1. Watch the Sunset from the Small Cafe Chashmai Mirob
2. visit the ark , 3. visit the kaylon mosque and minaret and mir-i-arab madrasa , 4. wander the city’s backstreets , 5. enjoy some shade at lyabi-hauz, 6. check out ulugbek madrasa , 7. get lost wandering around madrasa kosh, 8. visit the bug pit at zindon prison, 9. check out samanidov park and the kolkhoz bazaar , 10. visit chor minor, 11. explore the emir’s summer palace, 12. learn about bukhara’s jewish history, 13. visit magok-i-attari mosque the museum of carpets, 14. check out the spectacular abdul aziz khan madrasa , 15. chow down on some bukharan plov, 16. find the hoja zayniddin mosque, 17. abdulloxon madrasa, 18. visit the bolo hauz mosque, 19. wander around the deserted khoja kalon mosque, the best hostel in bukhara – hostel payraviy guest house, the best midrange hotel in bukhara – hotel yasmin, the best luxury hotel in bukhara – grand-boutique hotel, kolkhoz bazaar , old bukhara, the best things to do in bukhara.
With 140 or so protected buildings, there is plenty to keep you busy. The cities back streets offer plenty of exploring opportunities.
Make sure you take the opportunity to chow down on some Bukharan plov, which locals say is the best in Central Asia.
Without further ado, let’s check out some of the best things to do in Bukhara.
READ MORE: Be sure to read through our Uzbekistan travel guide to help you plan your entire trip!
One of the top things to do in Bukhara is a strange one. However, we promise it’s worth it.
Just to the north of the Kalon Minaret, you will find a set of stairs that will take you up to the cafe Chashmai Mirob.
However it’s not the food or drinks that people come here for, it’s the views at sunset.
The cafe overlooks the Kalon Mosque and Minaret as well the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa and the views at sunset are spectacular. If you want to see the city at its most splendid, this may be one of the best things to do in Bukhara.
This certainly still seems to be a hidden gem. With many of the most popular eating and drinking establishments being in the vicinity of Lyabi-Hauz this cafe is well away from the evening hubbub.
After a long day exploring Bukhara on foot, this is a wonderful place to put your feet up and enjoy a beer.
Just down the road from the Kaylon complex, this is Bukhara’s oldest and most well-known building. It was here the various rulers lived and governed from the 5th century all the way up to 1920 when the Red Army decided to bomb it.
Now it houses some great museums where you can understand a little about Bukhara’s history and the opulence of its rulers.
Inside the ark walls, check out the Juma mosque and the exhibitions about Charles Stoddart and Arthur Connelly, two British soldiers who were executed outside the ark in 1842.
The latter event certainly cemented the reputation of cruelty that many Emirs of Bukhara had and nearly overshadowed the city’s prominent place on the Silk Road.
If you can get here early you will avoid the larger tour groups.
This is one of the most well known Bukhara attractions and is a perfect demonstration of Bukhara’s imperial majesty prior to Russian arrival.
Of the many religious structures in Bukhara, these three are probably the most spectacular and definitely the top things to visit in the city.
The Kaylon Mosque is a massive structure that upon its completion in 1127 was the tallest building in Central Asia. Legend has it that Genghis Khan was so impressed by it he ordered it to be spared during his invasion.
If you’re not sure what to do in Bukhara then this is a great place to start.
Sadly tourists cannot climb it to date. But maybe one day it will reopen for this purpose.
The Kaylon Mosque is a gigantic structure that can hold up to 10,000 people. Blessed with spectacular tile work, it was easily one of the most spectacular warehouses in the Soviet Union (yes, that’s really what it was used for!)
Of the three, the Mir-i-Arab is probably the most spectacular. Gorgeous tile work adorns its entrance and two glistening blue domes sit either side. As the sun sets a gorgeous orange washes over everything making it absolutely spectacular.
One of the best things to do in Bukhara is simply to walk around the city. With 2000 years of history, Bukhara is a city that has grown naturally over the centuries.
The old town is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the most complete and unspoiled example of medieval Central Asia.
As the city has grown from its days along the Silk Road, layer upon layer has been added creating a maze of backstreets that wind their way amongst the numerous mosques and madrasas.
It is easy to while away the hours exploring, discovering small mosques and madrasas in various states of repair.
The best time to head out is early in the morning as the city is waking up. The cooler temperatures and morning light bring relief and great photo opportunities.
This is one of my favourite things to do in Bukhara as it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
If you’re not sure where to go, then the city’s west and southwestern areas are great places to start.
The centre of Bukhara emanates from Lyabi-Hauz. The plaza was built in 1620 and throughout history has been a place where local Uzbeks would congregate to relax and discuss the issues of the day.
The surrounding mulberry trees offer shade and respite from the sometimes overbearing heat (from mid-May until Autumn the temperature regularly hovers in the 40s C).
Numerous small shops and eateries run along the edge of the plaza.
From Lyabi-Hauz make sure you check out the alleyways to the southwest that snake around numerous small mosques, crumbling madrasas and plenty of friendly locals inviting you in for cups of tea.
Around Lyabi-Hauz there are numerous gorgeous mosques and madrasas that are well worth checking out as well.
The Nadir Divanbegi Madrasa was originally built as a caravanserai. However, it became madrasa in 1622.
Interestingly the beautiful exterior tile work depicts a pair of peacocks holding lambs on either side of the sun with a human face. This is remarkable, despite the fact that the depiction of living creatures is forbidden in Islam.
The Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka has an absolutely gorgeous blue facade and has some interesting photos and exhibits on old Bukhara.
This rather beautiful madrasa can be found just to the east of Kaylon Minaret. Incidentally, it’s also one of the oldest buildings and one of the best things to see in Bukhara.
Although the interior is empty and in need of conservation work, its design became the basis for many others. Therefore you may see plenty of other similar looking structures in Uzbekistan.
READ MORE: Make sure you visit the awesome city of Tashkent on your travels around Uzbekistan!
Just south of the Kolkhoz Bazaar you will find Madrasa Kosh. A mixture of the well maintained and the slowly crumbling, it’s far enough away from the historic centre that you are more than likely to have it all to yourself.
A good tip is to pick up lunch at the Kolkhoz Bazaar and then head over to Madrasa Kosh.
Just to the north of the Ark, you will find Zindon Prison containing one of Uzbekistan’s most gruesome historical destinations.
Charles Stoddart and Arthur Connelly languished in this pit in the years leading up to their execution.
The pit is a 4m deep hole accessible only by rope where guards poured rodents, insects and scorpions on the unfortunate prisoners.
Alongside the bug pit are numerous other interesting, if not slightly gruesome, exhibits on show here.
To the west of the Ark you will find Samanidov Park. This is a classic Soviet-style park with various statues, walkways, and a few dodgy rides here and there.
There are plenty of shady spots where you can chow down on some fresh watermelon and watch the world go by.
Around the park, there are also quite a few mosques and madrasas that are well worth poking your head into.
If you’re looking for some cheap, fresh eats then the Kolkhoz Bazaar is an absolute must. Uzbekistan is one of the largest exporters of fruit and nuts in the region and as a result, there is plenty of decent fresh produce to try.
The dairy section has plenty of classic Central Asian fair including kurt , a traditional cheesy Central Asian delicacy.
These cheese balls are made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat, camel, or mare and have been enjoyed by the people of Central Asia since the middle ages. They certainly are an acquired taste.
Some of the best samsa I ate during my time in Uzbekistan we found in this market for the low, low price of around 1000 som. Enjoy!
Out in the northeast, just steps from Lyab I Hauz, is one of Bukhara’s most recognisable landmarks and top things to visit in the area.
Chor Minor is quite unique in that it has four decorative towers (not minarets) of equal height. It achieved it’s fame thanks to its position on the cover of Central Asia’s Lonely Planet.
Its location, away from the old town’s heart, means it’s away from many of the larger tour groups with some interesting back streets to explore on your way there and back.
It is possible to check out the inside of the Chor Minor mosque as well. Opposite there is a shop that sells a fine selection of Soviet-era badges.
Out in the city’s northeast, you will find the Emir’s summer palace. It was here where Bukhara’s last Emir, Alim Khan would come to get away from it all.
With the buildings taken care of by Russian architects, the decorating was left to local artisans.
No expense was spared leading to the most spectacular and most over-the-top aspects of both styles making this place one of the best things to see in Bukhara.
In front of the Harem is a pool where the Emir’s many women would frolic and relax.
He would relax in the pavilion overlooking and toss an apple to the woman with whom he wanted to spend the night.
The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from the city centre for a few thousand Som. Drivers will generally charge for a return trip and waiting time.
Bukhara, like Samarkand, was once home to a large Jewish community. However, the Jewish population in the area has shrunk dramatically since the fall of the Soviet Union.
As major players in Bukhara commerce, the Jewish community occupied an enviable position in society in spite of deep-rooted discrimination that existed at the time.
A legacy of Bukhara’s Jewish population can be found to the southwest of the old town’s centre. Historically this area was the heart of Bukhara’s Jewish community.
Often overlooked, visiting the Jewish landmarks throughout the city is one of the better things to do in Bukhara.
A small cemetery that shows the evidence of the size of the Jewish community throughout history, with tombs going back centuries.
There are also a couple of synagogues that are worth checking out, including one next to Lyab I Hauz.
Nestled in the heart of Lyabi-Hauz is the oldest mosque in Central Asia. Originally built in the 9th century, it was given and restoration in the 16th century it is an interesting mix of the two.
There is evidence to suggest that this is the holiest spot in Bukhara. Archaeologists have found evidence of a Zoroastrian temple from the 5th century and an earlier Buddhist temple.
The mosque supposedly survived the rampaging hordes of Gengis Kahn by residents of the city burying it in the sand.
Inside you can see some of the Zoroastrian excavations as well a rather ostentatious museum of Bukharan carpets.
This stunning madrasa to the east of the Kaylon Minaret is well worth checking out. Situated directly opposite the Ulugbek Madrasa it’s one of the jewels in Bukhara’s architectural crown.
Interestingly it was actually built to compete with its neighbour opposite.
Inside there are a number of gift shops selling souvenirs, a common theme of many old madrasas in Uzbekistan. There are often some great finds in these little shops.
The prayer room has been converted into an excellent museum of wood carvings.
Depending on how long you have been in Central Asia you may not be too keen on any more plov. However, I promise you the plov here is worth it!
The best plov I ate during my time in Uzbekistan was at Hotel Yasmin . The owners began the ritual early in the afternoon.
A cauldron of rice, carrots, onions, fatty lamb, and various other spices and secrets simmered in a cauldron until the early evening.
We then sat down to one of the best meals I have eaten, period. This was not like plov we’d eaten anywhere else. This was something special.
If you are lucky enough to get a room a Hotel Yasmin which, plov aside, is a fantastic guesthouse in its own right, then make sure you see if there is some plov on the menu. Visiting here is one of the top things to do in Bukhara.
Nestled in Bukhara’s backstreets you will find the stunning Hoja Zayniddin Mosque.
This is very different from many of the other mosques and madrasas in the city.
The white outer exterior is at odds with the blue and yellow that adorns the city’s other architectural wonders.
Inside the mosaics and artwork inside is absolutely incredible, and is certainly some of the most impressive in the city.
It’s a great place to explore early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the light is best.
Just opposite Madrasa Kosh is the Abdulloxon Madrasa. The outside tile work is exquisite, and being away from the old town’s centre it is often quieter than the more well know architectural wonders that can be found in the old town.
Close by there are few mosques ad madrasas that have fallen into a state of neglect that adds a certain level of charm and intrigue to this unknown area of the city.
Spending a little extra time in this part of the city is one of the best things to do in Bukhara.
Just over the road from the Ark you will find the gorgeous Bolo Hauz Mosque. The outer pool gives an oasis feel, and the white walls and wooden pillars are rather similar to the Hoja Zayniddin Mosque.
It’s a great place to stop en route to Samanidov Park and the Kolkhoz Bazaar.
Tucked away in the city backstreets you will find this little gem. The blue tiles that adorn the pishtaqs (entrance ways) of other mosques or madrasas may be missing, but this adds to it’s deserted and isolated feel.
It’s a location away from Bukhara’s more prominent attractions means that it is rarely visited.
The attached minaret is built in a very similar style to the larger and more well know Kaylon Minaret.
Early morning or sunset will give the best lighting for photographs.
Bukhara City Guide
Now that you know all of the great things to do in Bukhara, here are some travel tips on the best places to stay and where to eat when you visit the city.
Where to Stay in Bukhara
Bukhara has a wonderful mix of affordable and luxury options for accommodations within the city. Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Bukhara.
This lovely little hostel is tucked away in the north of the city. With dirt-cheap dorms and cheap 2 and 4 bedroom private rooms, this is a great option for those with a careful eye on the bank balance.
A communal patio and free breakfast make this a fantastic option for anyone.
This is one of the most comfortable places to stay in all of Uzbekistan . Rooms are spacious and immaculately clean, and the courtyard is the ideal to chow down on the superb free breakfast.
The husband and wife team that run are quite possibly the friendliest and kindest people you could meet.
This luxury option two minutes from Lyabi-Hauz has been receiving some rave reviews from travellers.
Large ornate rooms, free breakfast and great service make this an excellent option for those at the higher end of the budgetary scale.
Where to eat in Bukhara
There are plenty of great things to eat in Bukhara. Here are a few of our favorites places to eat and what to order when you’re there.
Located close to the Ark this huge bazaar is an excellent option for finding some cheap and delicious eats.
Fruit, nuts and dairy products are plentiful and there are some excellent hole-in-the-wall places serving some classic Uzbek fare. The samsa here are absolutely fantastic.
Located along Bakhovaddin Nakshband Street, just to the east of Lyabi Hauz. The large menu offers a wide variety of Uzbek and Central Asian dishes.
It’s popular with both tourists and locals ensuring a near-constant buzz of excitement and hubbub.
The highlight of this restaurant is its open-air layout with the mosques and madrasas around it being lit up after the sun has set.
Whilst being more expensive than many other places in Bukhara, the extra cost is well worth it. Expect to find dishes bursting with flavour, with the shashlik, in particular, being excellent here.
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About the Author - Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes is our resident China, New Zealand and Central Asia expert, having spent more time than just about anyone backpacking and travelling around there. He is also one of half of the British-Chinese couple that make up abearandapig.com , a blog focusing on travel, life as a local and an expat in the middle kingdom and Chinese social media.
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Must-see attractions in Bukhara
The spectacular-looking Ark, a royal town-within-a-town, is Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920, when it was…
When it was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127, the Kalon Minaret was probably the tallest building in Central Asia – kalon means…
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At the foot of the minaret, on the site of an earlier mosque destroyed by Chinggis Khan, is the 16th-century congregational Kalon Mosque, big enough for…
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Lyabi-Hauz, a plaza built around a pool in 1620 (the name is Tajik for ‘around the pool’), is the most peaceful and interesting spot in town – shaded…
This mausoleum in Samani Park, completed in 905, is the town's oldest Muslim monument and one of its most architecturally interesting. Built for Ismail…
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Built in 1417, this is Central Asia’s oldest medressa, and may well be familiar to you as it became a model for many others. The blue-tiled medressa, one…
The working Mir-i-Arab Medressa, with its luminous blue domes, is among Uzbekistan’s most striking buildings, especially in later afternoon light. The…
The Nadir Divanbegi Medressa was built as a caravanserai, but was converted in 1622 after the khan mistook it for a medressa (the khan was considered…
This museum of art has a worthy collection of mostly 20th-century paintings by Bukharan and Russian artists, including the atmospheric works of Pavel…
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