Bukhara Travel Guide + 19 Things to do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Updated July 2022, Bukhara Travel Guide was originally written in December 2019
Sat between Samarkand and Khiva along Uzbekistan’s Silk Road emerging like a mirage from the red sands of the Kyzylkum Desert, Bukhara more than warrants a visit being a short hop from less-intimate Samarkand.
With over 2,000 years of history and more than 140 protected and historic buildings, you’ll need two or more days to really get a feel for the ancient and holy city.
- Things To Do In Bukhara
- Labi Hauz
- Nadir Divan Begi Madrasa & Khanaka
- Kulkeldesh Madrasa
- Po i Kalon Complex
- Chor Minor
- The Covered Bazaars
- Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa
- Ulugbek Madrasa & Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa
- Relax at a Hammam
- The Ark
- Imam al Bukhari Memorial
- Ismoil Somoni Mausoleum
- Chashma Ayub Mausoleum
- History Of Carpet Weaving Museum
- Photography Gallery
- Bolo Hauz Mosque
- Minorasi Majmuasi Observation tower
- How To Travel To Bukhara
- Where To Sleep In Bukhara
- Bukharan Foods to Try
- Bukhara Tours
- Day Trips From Bukhara
Things To Do In Bukhara
Centered around a small pool, Labi Hauz feels like an oasis. The lake is surrounded by small cafes as well as some of Bukhara’s most important madrasas.
Nadir Divan Begi Madrasa & Khanaka
This caravanserai turned madrasa made its changeover in 1622 after the khan mistook it for an Islamic school. This is one of the most memorable buildings in Bukhara with two doves holding lambs in the sun tiles onto its facade. The complex also includes a Khanaka, which is a place for Sufis to reflect and rest. Entrance to the Nadir Divan Begi Khanaka is 1,500 UZS, entrance to the madrasa is free.
Going to Samarkand too? Check out the Samarkand Travel Guide for ideas
At the time of its construction, this was the largest Islamic school in Central Asia. Now the madrasa holds puppet shows from time to time. Entrance to the Kulkadesh Madrasa is free, except for during a puppet show in which prices are 40,000 UZS.
Po i Kalon Complex
Chinggis Khan spared the impressive 12th century minaret as he invaded and razed much of Bukhara. The brickwork of the Kalon Minaret is a sight to behold, that was originally decorated with the first blue tiles in Central Asia before they were popularized by the Timurid, though much of the blue has faded over the centuries.
On a darker note: the Minaret was nicknamed “the death tower” owing to its execution tossings of criminals from the top.
Kalon Mosque sits right next to Kalon Minaret, and while Chenggis spared the minaret, he did not have mercy on the mosque, reducing it to rubble. It was rebuilt to grandeur in the 16th century. Entrance to the Kalon Mosque is 10,000 UZS.
Mir i Arab Madrasa
This is an Islamic school built for the Yemeni Naqshabani Sheik. You can only visit the entrance, but you can get a glimpse in by peering through the latticed windows as it is still in use as an active school.
Chor Minor is essentially just a souvenir shop, but if you’re wondering what the building is on the cover of the 2014 LP Central Asia, this is it. Chor Minor is a short jaunt through high walled alleys from Labi Hauz. Chor Minor was originally a gate to a madrasa. For a fee of 4,000 UZS you can climb to the top of the towers for views of Bukhara, otherwise visiting Chor Minor is free.
The Covered Bazaars
Old covered bazaars (Toqi Sarrofon Bazaar, Toqi Telpak Furushon Bazaar, Tim Abdulla Khan Trading Dome, and Toqi Zargaron are the 4 trading domes).
Going to Khiva too? Start planning with the Khiva Travel Guide
Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa
Directly across the pond from Ulugbek Madrasa, Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa sits unrestored in its 16th century glory. But the student rooms of the Islamic school do house souvenir shops. Entrance to Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa is 8,000 UZS and entrance to the museum is 5,000 UZS.
Ulugbek Madrasa & Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa
Ulugbek is the first madrasa to be built in Central Asia, built by Ulugbek in 1417. The madrasa is unrestored and you will find a few shops inside. Entrance to Ulugbek Madrasa is 5,000 UZS and also includes entrance to Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa just across the walkway.
Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa dates back to 1652 and was constructed in honor of Abdul Aziz Khan’s defeat of the Mughal army over in Blakh (in modern-day Afghanistan). Like Ulugbek Madrasa, the Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasa is mostly unrestored and houses a few shops inside.
Relax at a Hammam
If you’re exhausted after a day of sightseeing around Bukhara, treat yourself to a hammam for a massage and scrub down.
The Hammam Bozori Kord is one of the oldest and well known in Bukhara. Visits to the hammam start at 120,000 UZS.
Combine Samarkand & Bukhara on your trip: The Samarkand Travel Guide
The Ark is Bukhara’s oldest structure that housed the emirs of Bukhara for several centuries. The Ark holds several museums that explain Bukhara’s lengthy history.
Imam al Bukhari Memorial
Located just outside the Ark this small museum is worth a visit, even if to only appreciate the unique exterior architecture. Entrance to Imam al Bukhara Memorial is 5,000 UZS.
Ismoil Somoni Mausoleum
Ismoil Somoni was the founder of the Samanid Dynasty, ruling over it from 892 until his death in 907. The Somoni monuments are more numerous in neighboring Tajikistan. This mausoleum is the oldest Islamic structure in Bukhara. I don’t recall having to pay a fee to enter the Ismoil Somoni Mausoleum, but I’ve read online of people paying 5,000 UZS to enter.
The perfect combo of history & nature: The two week Uzbekistan & Tajikistan itinerary
Chashma Ayub Mausoleum
Legend has it that Prophet Job jabbed his staff into the ground here discovering a spring. The spring is covered by a 12th century Karakhanid style roof and houses a museum to Bukhara’s water management. Entrance to Ayub Chashma is 10,000 UZS.
History Of Carpet Weaving Museum
Located inside of Magoki Attori Mosque, this museum houses 104 types of carpets made by Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and more. It costs 10,000 UZS to enter the museum and an additional 10,000 UZS if you want to take photos.
If you want to get a peek of pre-touristy Bukhara pop into this black-and-white photo gallery for great images taken by Bukhara. Photog Shavkat Baltaev. There is no entrance fee to the photo gallery.
Bolo Hauz Mosque
Just across from the Ark gate sits the Bolo Hauz Mosque, which served the emirs of Bukhara as a place of worship. The tall, painstakingly detailed pillars warrant a visit all on their own.
Minorasi Majmuasi Observation tower
This observation tower, built right outside the ark is the perfect place to head for aerial views of the city.
And yes, there’s an elevator. Entrance costs 40,000 UZS.
Looking for more ideas? Check out 30 Best Things To Do In Uzbekistan
How To Travel To Bukhara
By Air: There is an international airport in Bukhara, although it’s far more common for travelers to fly into Tashkent, followed by Samarkand. Bukhara Airport has services to Moscow, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg, Fergana, Tashkent, and Urgench on Uzbekistan Airways, Aeroflot, S7, Ural, Utair Airlines all fly here. Shop flights to Samarkand here.
By Shared Taxi: Shared taxi is one of the most common ways to get between cities in Uzbekistan. Shared taxis depart when full and are available to Bukhara from Samarkand, Tashkent, Khiva, Qarshi, Andijon, Fergana City, Kokand, Nukus, Termez, and Urgench.
By Train: Most cities of interest in Uzbekistan are reachable by train (there is an express and modern Afrosiyob train and the old school and slower Sharq trains). There are international trains to and from Uzbekistan as well connecting to Moscow, Ufa, Novosibirsk, Samara, Chelyabinsk, Saratov & Volgograd, Russia; Atyrau, Aktau, Shymkent & Almaty, Kazakhstan; Bishkek & Balykchy, Kyrgyzstan. Visit the Uzbek Railways website to see schedules.
Where To Sleep In Bukhara
Without a doubt, my favorite place to stay in Bukhara is the Hotel Okhun, conveniently located just a few minutes’ walk from Labi Hauz. Hotel Okhun is an old caravanserai that has been restored with beautiful rooms for a steal of a price. They serve up an excellent breakfast which you can eat right in the courtyard of the caravanserai.
They also have dorm beds for budget travelers, but to be honest the single and double rooms are so well priced they’re worth the few UZS more to stay in. Make your reservation on Booking.com.
If you’re looking for something with fewer backpacker vibes, the Usman Heritage Hotel is a great pick for visitors to Bukhara, located just a few meters east of the Kulkadesh Madrasa and Labi Hauz. The rooms are beautifully designed with traditional motifs. Compare prices on Booking.com and Hotels.com.
The Lyabi House Hotel is easily a favorite accommodation in Bukhara, sat right along Labi Hauz. The interior is perfectly decorated with traditional artwork and styles and the restaurant serves up some of the best Uzbek food you’ll find in the city. Check out rates on Booking.com and Agoda.com.
Bukharan Foods to Try
What Bukhara boasts in historical sites, it lacks in restaurants- there just aren’t that many standouts in the city, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing here to eat. But finding traditional Bukharan food is something I’ve never actually accomplished when visiting the city.
Some traditional Bukharan dishes include bichak (samsa filled with squash), non-toqi (a Bukharan variation of Uzbek flatbread), and bakhsh (plov with lamb and lots of cilantro). Read up more about Bukharan cuisine in this article in Moment Magazine.
As for personal favorites in Bukhara, I recommend heading into Silk Road Tea and Coffee to try some delightful spiced coffee and chai as well as order the spread of tasty Uzbek confections.
If you’re looking for a place with an epic view, go to the upper terrace of the Ulugbek Cafe that overlooks Ulughbek and Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasas. They serve up excellent coffee and have some nice desserts and snacks on offer.
You will find numerous restaurants serving up an array of Central Asian fare around the Kabi Hauz pool.
Shop day tours and more in Bukhara here.
Day Trips From Bukhara
Gijdovan is located right outside the city of Bukhara. The small town is most well known for the Gijdiovan Ceramic Museum, ran by the Narzullaev family known for their ceramic works.
Aydar Kul is a lake on the fringe of the Kyzylkum Desert, not far from Nurata. If you want to get out of the city and spend a night under the stars, I recommend staying at the Aydar Yurt Camp.
Located between the Nurata Mountains and the Kyzylkum Desert, Nurata is worth a visit to check out the Chashma Complex and Nur Fortress.
Rabat Malik Caravanserai
Not far from Nurata is the Rabat Malik Caravanserai, a ruin of a complex built under the Karakhanids who ruled Samarkand in the 11th century.
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