A visit to Uzbekistan is usually centered around visiting the medieval city centres of Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva, with a sampling of the country’s arts and crafts mixed in.
Those are of course highlights, but there is much more to Uzbekistan. Experience a bit of modern city life, take a day off in the mountains or the desert, and definitely visit the village: that’s where the heart of Uzbekistan still is.
Below are some suggestions to get you started, in no particular order.
- Catch an opera in Tashkent’s renovated opera house
- Admire the unique art collection at the Savitsky Museum in Nukus
- Bargain for groceries in Tashkent under the dome of Chorsu bazaar, rummage for treasures at Yangiabad flea market, or stop over at Namangan for the country’s most colourful and hectic bazaar.
- Enjoy some of the finest Soviet brutalist architecture ever built, walking through the heart of Tashkent
- Learn to make paper at the Samarkand paper museum
- Get invited for a wedding
- Get yourself scrubbed like never before during a visit to a hammam
Village life, crafts & folk culture
- See the silk weavers at work in Margilan and buy ceramics from the source in Rishton and Gijduvon
- Find your rural idylle in the Nuratau mountains
- Buy a handmade knife or a skull cap from the masters of Chust
- Drink tea in a tea house and chat with old men
- Stay another day in Katta Langar to see its atmospheric mosque, and explore the canyon
- Enjoy music and dance at one of Uzbekistan’s many festivals
- Watch a game of kokpari
- Head to picturesque Sairob to see the village pride: two 1000-year-old chinor trees
Outdoor adventures, fauna & flora
- Take a break from Samarkand’s crowds and go picknicking in the Zaamin national park
- Go birdwatching at Lake Aidarkul
- Go hiking or rafting in the Chatkal national park
- Hang around in the weird desert oases of Uchquduq and Zerafshan, then take the road less travelled through the Kyzylkum desert to Moynaq
- Explore the Techkitosh and Berloga caves in the valleys beyond Derbent (or the Dark Star!) and sleep over at Machay
- Make a camel safari through the Kyzylkum and spend the night stargazing from a yurt
- Ski at a resort like normal people, or take the only helicopter in Uzbekistan and heli-ski off the longest slope of your life
- Eat a watermelon a day and sample everyone’s bread
- Get to the bazaar on time to eat plov every day and state loudly that your home town makes the best one
- Eat Korean food from Tashkent’s large minority of koryo-saram
- Get loaded at Samarkand’s wine factory
- Escape the city to villages like Nanay, Brichmulla, Aktash or Kumsan, and get high on their mountain honey
- See the spectacular buildings of Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara
- Discover the forgotten history of the Kokand khanate, walk Old Tashkent, and follow Amir Timur to Shahrisabz
- Visit the remains of once-powerful Khorezm, now forlorn in the desert
- Hunt petroglyphs on the shiny black slates at Sarmysh
- Make your way to Termez to peel back the layers of history on the Afghan border: Buddhist, Greek, Arab, Turkic.
- Pass by Tashkent’s Oqsaroy, where Islam Karimov held Uzbekistan in his iron fist
- See the ship graveyard of the Aral Sea in Moynaq
- Shuffle through ghost town Angren
- Cross a dozen borders to visit the mausoleum of Hazrat Ali in the beautiful exclave of Shahimardon