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Best Things to Do and Top Sights in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, often finds itself overshadowed by the allure of more renowned destinations like Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva.

However, although frequently dismissed as a mere transit point, Tashkent quietly boasts its own distinctive charms that merit exploration. It is a city that beautifully blends history, culture, and modernity — from its historic monuments and bustling markets to contemporary attractions and a burgeoning nightlife.

Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit to Tashkent.

History

Tashkent, has a storied history dating back over two millennia. It has been a crucial center along the Silk Road, witnessing the influence of various cultures, including Persian, Turkic, and Islamic civilizations. The city has experienced periods of conquest by Alexander the Great, the Mongols, and Tamerlane, contributing to its diverse cultural heritage.

In the 20th century, Tashkent became the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and later, in 1991, the independent Republic of Uzbekistan.

Tashkent. Credit: Muso1996 / Wikimedia Commons

Geography

Situated in the eastern part of the country, Tashkent is located on the northern edge of the fertile Fergana Valley. The city lies along the Chirchik River and is surrounded by the Tian Shan mountain range to the south. Tashkent’s geographic position has historically made it a significant trade and cultural hub.

Population

As of the last available data in 2022, Tashkent is one of the most populous cities in Central Asia, with an estimated population of over 2.5 million residents. The city’s population is diverse, reflecting Uzbekistan’s multicultural identity, and includes Uzbeks, Tajiks, Karakalpaks, Russians, and other ethnic groups.

Language

Uzbek is the official language of Tashkent and Uzbekistan as a whole. Russian is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas and among older generations. English is gaining popularity, particularly in the tourism and business sectors.

Religion

Islam, predominantly Sunni, is the predominant religion in Tashkent and Uzbekistan. The city is home to numerous mosques and religious sites, contributing to its rich Islamic heritage.

Best Time to Visit Tashkent

Visiting Tashkent in late October.

The best time to visit Tashkent is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) months when the weather is mild and comfortable, with minimal rainfall.

During these periods, temperatures are generally pleasant, ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit), making it ideal for exploring the city’s historical sites, markets, and outdoor attractions.

Spring brings blooming flowers and green landscapes, while autumn offers clear skies and a respite from the summer heat.

I visited for two days in late October and the weather was sunny for the most part, but gloomy and rainy on my second morning there. Temperature-wise, I was comfortable walking around in my sweater and jeans, but I brought along a jacket in case in got chilly after the sun set.

You may also consider planning your visit during events like Navruz (Uzbek New Year) in March for a cultural celebration.

How to Go to Tashkent

By Flight

Tashkent International Airport (TAS) is the largest airport in Uzbekistan, located about 12 km from the city center. Major international airlines operate flights to Tashkent, connecting it to cities in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Getting from Tashkent Airport to the City

From the airport, taking a taxi is the fastest and most convenient way to get to the city center. The fare should be around 25,000 som (approximately USD 2). Upon exiting the airport, unofficial taxi drivers will approach you. Walk past them towards the authorized taxi stand about 50 meters away. 

However, do note that the airport official taxis cost significantly higher — potentially three to four times the amount you would find through ride-hailing applications.

There are also buses that run from 6 am till midnight. You can use the app 2GIS to see which bus(es) to take to get to your destination. Next, just hop on, and the bus conductor will come around to collect the fare from you.

By Bus

Buses are another option to reach Tashkent from other cities in Uzbekistan and surrounding countries. When traveling by bus between countries, be aware of the border crossing procedures and ensure that you have the necessary visas and documentation.

However, even if you have everything ready, keep in mind that the entire process at the immigration can be lengthy. It is not uncommon to have to wait for a few hours for your bus to get through the border crossing.

By Train

You can also reach Tashkent from various other cities in Uzbekistan like Bukhara and Samarkand, or Almaty in Kazakhstan, on the high-speed or normal trains. Uzbek trains are clean, comfortable, and remarkably efficient.

Tickets can be purchased online through their official website or third-party apps:

How to Get Around in Tashkent

Getting around in Tashkent is a breeze. The Tashkent Metro is an efficient and affordable way to travel. It is very well-connected, and the most interesting part is that every station has its own unique interior design. Buses and trolleybuses cover various routes, providing an economical means of transportation.

Since Google Maps does not work very well in Central Asia, you can download another app called 2GIS that will not only help you navigate the city on foot, but also give you accurate information on public transportation.

On top of that, taxis and rideshare services like Yandex are readily available. With taxis, you will need to negotiate prices before starting your journey, whereas the rideshare services will state the exact amount you need to pay before the journey starts.

Things to Do in Tashkent

1. Shop at Chorsu Bazaar

Chorsu Bazaar is my favorite spot in Tashkent.

A visit to the huge Chorsu Bazaar is a sensory journey through a kaleidoscope of fresh meats, spices, clothes, handicrafts, jewelry, beauty products, and many more.

Stalls brim with the bounty of the region, from the iconic Uzbek bread (non) to meticulously arranged piles of dried fruits and nuts.

Some of my favorite things in Chorsu Bazaar are the food court where you get to enjoy an authentic Uzbek meal, the dried fruit and nut section where you get to sample the goods on sale, and the bread section where you can observe the whole baking process and even try your hand at it too.

I think it’s pretty obvious now that food plays a major part in my travels!

The Chorsu Metro Station is right in the midst of the bazaar.

2. See the World's Oldest Koran

Hazrat Imam Complex. Credit: :ru:User:(WT-ru) Digr / Wikimedia Commons

This sacred site, located on the fringes of the old city, houses an ensemble of architectural marvels and revered religious structures. At its heart lies the Barak-Khan Madrasah, home to an ancient Quran believed to have belonged to the third Caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan — the world’s oldest Quran to date.

Other important structures within the complex are the Tillya-Sheikh Mosque, adorned with intricate tilework, and the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, honoring one of Tashkent’s venerated figures.

The Hazrati Imam Complex is about 15 minutes’ walk from Chorsu Bazaar.

3. Pay Tribute at Amir Timur Square

At the Amir Timur Square, with Hotel Uzbekistan in the background.

Amir Timur, commonly known as Tamerlane, was a 14th-century Central Asian conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire, which encompassed much of present-day Uzbekistan and surrounding regions.

He is revered in Uzbekistan as a national hero and is credited with expanding the empire, promoting arts and culture, and leaving a lasting legacy of architectural marvels and cultural achievements.

Today, the expansive Amir Timur Square in the city center serves as a tribute to his enduring legacy.

At the center of the square stands a majestic equestrian statue of Amir Timur, surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens, fountains, and ornate monuments, each symbolizing different aspects of Uzbekistan’s heritage.

The square is not only a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike but also a hub of cultural activity, hosting festivals, concerts, and public events throughout the year.

4. Visit Kukeldash Madrasah and Dzuma Mosque

Kukeldash Madrasah. Credit: Adam Harangozo / Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to the 16th century, the Kukeldash Madrasah reflects the grandeur and sophistication of the Timurid era. While the madrasah no longer functions as a traditional Islamic school, it still occasionally hosts cultural and educational events, exhibitions, and performances that showcase the country’s arts and traditions.

Adjacent to the madrasah lies the Dzuma Mosque, a historic place of worship that has witnessed centuries of prayer and contemplation.

5. Discover Uzbekistan History at the State Museum

Uzbekistan State Museum of History. Credit: David Stanley / Wikimedia Commons

Housed within a grand architectural complex, the Uzbek State Museum of History features artifacts, manuscripts, and archaeological treasures that chronicle the nation’s millennia-old history. From the ancient civilizations of the Silk Road to the Timurid Empire’s grandeur, each exhibit offers insight into Uzbekistan’s cultural evolution and contributions to world history.

Highlights include intricately crafted pottery, exquisite textiles, and priceless artifacts from archaeological sites across the region.

6. Explore the Metro Stations

One of the metro stations in Tashkent. Credit: Adam Harangozo / Wikimedia Commons

Beyond its practical function, the Tashkent metro is a living museum. Each station is a masterpiece of Soviet-era design, adorned with intricate mosaics, elegant chandeliers, and grand marble columns that reflect the city’s rich history and artistic heritage. From the ornate motifs of Alisher Navoiy to the celestial themes of Kosmonavtlar, every station tells a unique story, capturing the spirit of Uzbekistan’s past and present.

Get your metro ticket at the counter or simply use your credit / debit card at the gate, and visit as many stations as you have time for.

7. Climb to the Top of Tashkent TV Tower

File:Ташкент, телебашня.jpg
Tashkent TV Tower. Credit: Nikolay Bulykin / Wikimedia Commons

As one of the tallest structures in Central Asia, the Tashkent TV Tower stands as an iconic symbol of the city’s modernity and progress.

Ascending to the observation deck, visitors are treated to panoramic views that stretch across the city’s skyline, from the historic old town to the gleaming skyscrapers of the business district.

The towering structure also serves as a beacon of cultural exchange, with its revolving restaurant offering a unique dining experience that combines culinary delights with unparalleled vistas.

The tower is also beautifully illuminated at night. Time your visit well so that you will get a chance to view the sunset against the distant mountains, followed by the twinkling cityscape as Tashkent lights up for the night.

8. Watch Sunset at Hotel Uzbekistan

Hotel Uzbekistan. Credit: NUFoF / Wikimedia Commons

Perched majestically in the heart of the city, this historic hotel is another spot that offers panoramic views of the sprawling urban landscape. It is best visited when the sun is dipping below the horizon, painting the sky in a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues.

From the comfort of its elegantly appointed rooms or the bar on the top floor (that is free to enter), guests are treated to a spectacle of natural beauty that unfolds against the backdrop of the iconic landmarks of Tashkent.

9. Browse at the Book Bazaar

The Tashkent book bazaar is a narrow strip of stalls along a tree-lined pedestrian path near the city center. While the selection of literature might be limited, especially for non-Russian speakers, the charming shops are still worth a leisurely browse during your stroll.

At one end, visitors can find several respectable souvenir stalls, while scattered throughout are vendors selling old medals, coins, and other collectibles displayed on blankets.

10. Admire Art at the Art Gallery of Uzbekistan

From classical masterpieces to contemporary works, the Art Gallery of Uzbekistan showcases a stunning array of paintings, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts that span centuries of creativity and innovation.

Each exhibit offers a glimpse into Uzbekistan’s artistic traditions, reflecting influences from Silk Road civilizations to modern-day expressions.

11. Independence Square

Independence Square, Tashkent. Credit: Ibrahim Rustamov / Wikimedia Commons

The Independence Square in Tashkent is a sprawling urban oasis that serves as a tribute to the country’s independence and resilience. At its center stands the Monument of Independence and Humanism, a soaring architectural masterpiece embellished with symbolic motifs and inscriptions that commemorate Uzbekistan’s path to sovereignty.

Surrounding the monument are walking paths, ponds, and flowerbeds, inviting visitors to stroll or have a picnic amidst the serene surroundings.

12. Stroll Along Broadway Boulevard

Broadway Boulevard. Credit: Yunuskhuja Tuygunkhujaev / Wikimedia Commons

The Broadway Boulevard is a lively promenade lined with an eclectic array of shops, cafes, and entertainment venues that cater to locals and tourists alike.

Visitors can indulge in a leisurely stroll, soaking in the lively atmosphere and admiring the diverse architecture that dots the boulevard. In the evenings, the street comes alive with the sounds of live music, street performers, and bustling cafes.

13. Get Inspired at Tashkent House of Photography

The House of Photography in Tashkent showcases a diverse collection of photographic works that captures the essence of Uzbekistan’s landscapes, people, and traditions.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the power of imagery as each exhibit provides a unique perspective into the country’s cultural heritage through the artistic vision of local and international photographers.

14. Sample Traditional Uzbek Cuisine

Uzbek food at Chorsu Bazaar. Credit: LBM1948 / Wikimedia Commons

Begin your gastronomic adventure by savoring the quintessential Uzbek dish, plov (also known as osh), where the fragrant rice blends harmoniously with the succulent lamb and aromatic spices. Another staple in Uzbek meals is non, a traditional bread characterized by its round shape, soft, fluffy interior, and a golden crust often carved with intricate patterns. Also, don’t miss out on local sweets like halva and sherbet.

While good restaurants are scattered throughout the city, you can find pretty much everything at the Chorsu Bazaar — a culinary haven offering an array of street food delights, from samsa (savory pastries) to manti (meat dumplings) and shashlik (grilled kebabs).

15. Bring Out Your Inner Child at Tashkentland

A visit to Tashkent Land theme park promises an exhilarating escape into a world of fun and excitement for families and thrill seekers of all ages. Located adjacent to the Tashkent TV Tower, this sprawling amusement park offers a myriad of thrilling rides and entertainment options, from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to whimsical carousels.

Operating exclusively during the warmer months, “Tashkent Land” Park typically commences its season from late March and continues until approximately the end of October.

How Long to Stay in Tashkent

Is 1 Day Enough for Tashkent?

At Chorsu Bazaar, where I spent a huge chunk of my time at.

I stayed in Tashkent for 2 days and 1 night — a trip that had to be shortened from its original plan due to some transportation issues.

Nonetheless, even with the limited amount of time, and the leisurely pace at which I explored, I still managed to see some of Tashkent’s top sights, including Chorsu Bazaar, Amir Timur Square, Hazrati Imam Complex, Uzbekistan Hotel, and Tashkent City Park.

Had I moved a little faster (and woken up earlier), I would have been able to visit the Minor Mosque, Dzuma Mosque, Kukeldash Madrasah, Tashkent TV Tower, and maybe squeeze in a museum or two.

One day would allow you to see major highlights like the mosques, bazaar, and TV Tower, depending on your pace and preferences. A longer stay would let you slow down a little to explore the local cuisine, visit museums, and hang out at the square or the park.

Is Tashkent Safe for Tourists?

I felt quite safe as a solo female traveler in Uzbekistan.

Tashkent, and Uzbekistan in general, is considered a safe destination for tourists. The city maintains a low crime rate, and instances of violent crime are rare.

As a a solo female traveler, I felt quite safe in Uzbekistan, even when I walked alone on the streets, took public transports and overnight trains, and stayed in hostels. I didn’t even experience minor annoyances that are common in some other countries like staring or over-persistent sellers.

However, as with any travel destination, it is advisable for tourists to exercise common safety precautions, such as safeguarding belongings, being vigilant in crowded areas, and using reliable transportation options.

Uzbek people are known for their hospitality and friendliness, contributing to the overall positive and secure atmosphere for tourists.

Where to Stay in Tashkent

I stayed with a Couchsurfing host for my entire stay in Tashkent, but here are three top-rated accommodation options to suit different budgets:

Budget

Topchan, Tashkent – Located in the Mirabad district of Tashkent, 3 km from the airport, 2 km from the Central Station, and 800 m from Furkat Recreation Park, Topchan offers dormitory rooms with a desk, seating area, wardrobe, and private lockers. There is also free WiFi, a communal kitchen and lounge, and daily activities. From USD 6 for a Single Bed in Dormitory Room, inclusive of breakfast.

Mid-Range

Corner Hotel TashkentThe hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with a desk, kettle, minibar, safety deposit box, flat-screen TV and private bathroom. There’s an ATM on-site. From USD 70 for a Standard Twin Room, with free one-way airport transfer.

Luxury

Hyatt Regency Tashkent – This luxury hotel in the heart of Tashkent features restaurants, an indoor swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and luxurious guest rooms. The metro station is a 12-minute walk away. From USD 260 for a Twin Room.

Final Thoughts

Is Tashkent Worth Visiting?

After Bishkek, which I found a little underwhelming to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of Tashkent. After all, it’s just another capital city, not one of those historic old towns that I would have preferred.

However, I did find myself having a good time, especially at Chorsu Bazaar and the Hazrati Imam Complex. The Amir Timur Square and Tashkent City Park were also cool places to chill out at, giving me a short break after a long day of exploring.

Although it is often overshadowed by more renowned Uzbek cities, I feel like Tashkent gave me a more genuine glimpse into the daily rhythms of the country in a less touristy setting, making my experience feel more authentic and enriching.

Have you been to Tashkent before? What was your experience like? Share in the comment section below.

Posted in Uzbekistan

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