Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and is the largest city in the country. It is also the most populated city in Central Asia with a recorded population of 2.4 million people in 2018. With so many incredible places to visit in Tashkent, this city is fast becoming a tourist attraction and is a must-visit if you are travelling through Central Asia.
The city of Tashkent has an interesting and turbulent past. The original city was destroyed in 1219 by Genghis Khan and was then rebuilt to become an important part of the silk road, which ran from China to Europe. In 1865 Tashkent then fell to the Russian Empire, and encountered a lot of change throughout the times of the Soviet Union until Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991.
Tashkent is known to be one of the main cultural and economic centres within Central Asia, and so is a great destination to visit. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about this city including the most popular Tashkent attractions and the authentic dishes you need to try.
The best places to visit in Tashkent
Chorsu Bazaar is one of the most popular places to visit in Tashkent and should be at the top of your list. It is one of the most important markets in Asia and has been around for centuries.
It was a very important part of the silk road that was a network of ancient trading routes which connected China and the Far East with Europe and the Middle East. Today you can find an array of items at Chorsu Bazaar including fruit, meat, clothes and crafts. If you are looking for an authentic travel experience, then this is one of the top things to do in Tashkent.
Aside from the metro being the best way to get around the city, it is also the place to go if you are a fan of beautiful architecture. It was designed to be an artistic masterpiece and it doesn’t disappoint. Throughout your journeys on the metro, look out for beautiful mosaics, murals and candelabras.
The design of the metro was based on current metro systems from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It was actually the seventh metro system to be built in the USSR and was opened in 1977. The Tashkent Metro consists of 43 stations and in 2019 it served around 71 million people.
Hazrat Imam Complex
The Hazrat Imam Complex is one of the top places to visit in Tashkent and is known as the official religious centre of the city. This part of Tashkent is known for its beautiful Islamic architecture and is not to be missed.
The complex is home to some incredible monuments including the Mausoleum of Saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi, the Tila Sheikh Mosque and Barak Khan Madrasa. You can also find the Muyi Mubarak Library here which is home to oriental manuscripts and the worlds oldest Koran.
During the era of the Soviet Union, this square was used for celebrations of labour day and Victory day and was named Lenin Square. After Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991, the square was renamed Mustakillik Maydoni (which translates to Independence Square in English).
Today the square is used to celebrate Independence Day and New year among other festivities and is a popular spot among locals.
The square is surrounded by important government buildings including the cabinet office and the senate and has some pretty impressive monuments. However, the most beautiful part of the square has to be the fountains and the Independent monument itself.
The TV Tower
The TV Tower in Tashkent is actually the 11th tallest tower in the world at an impressive height of 375m. If you are feeling adventurous and aren’t afraid of heights, then you can take the elevator up to the 6th floor and marvel at the views of the city from the observation deck.
There is also a restaurant located on the 7th floor if you are looking for a tasty meal and a beer. The TV Tower is one of the best places to visit in Tashkent as it gives your panoramic views and is a great spot to take photographs of the city.
The Hotel Uzbekistan is a huge soviet hotel that is located in the centre of Tashkent. The architecture is typical of other communist-era hotels and is an impressive sight to see. The hotel is made up of 17 floors and has over 250 rooms.
The hotel accepted its first guests in 1974 and has been a popular choice ever since. If you are travelling on a budget, then staying at this hotel might not be an option but you can certainly visit and see this amazing building for yourself. If you head up to the top floor, you can even get an amazing view over Amir Temur Square.
The State History Museum
If you love culture and history, then visiting Tashkents State History Museum is a must. The museum opened in 1876, and the exhibitions focus on Uzbekistan’s history for the past 2,500 years all the way up to President Karimov’s time.
The museum is open daily, and if you want to make the most out of this experience then it’s best to hire an English guide. It is one of the oldest museums in Central Asia and has over 250,000 listed exhibits.
Some of the most unique exhibits in this museum include a stone sculpture of two snakes from the 2nd millennium BC, the decor of the Bukhara governor’s palace and fragments of a 7th-8th century mural painting. However, one of the most impressive is probably the remains of a primitive man from Sel-Ungur cave that dates back to 1.5 million years BC.
Navoi Park is one of the best places in the city to get some fresh air and take a walk. It is the largest park in the city centre and was founded in 1932. The park is actually named after Alisher Navoi who was an Islamic poet.
Covering an area of 65 hectares, Navoi Park is one of the best places to visit in Tashkent if you are wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle. You can spend hours walking around the greenery, canals, fountains and flower beds, but the most popular part of Navoi Park is the large lake located within the centre.
Amir Timur Square
Amir Temur Square is one of the most popular Tashkent tourist attractions, and so is a must for any itinerary. Built in 1870, this square has seen various monuments includes statues of Lenin, Stalin and Karl Marx.
Today, the monument that stands here is Amir Timur on his horse. Amir Timur is the national hero of Uzbekistan and the most famous Central Asian conqueror. This monument has stood proud since it was built after Uzbekistan’s independence and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
Aside from the monument, Amir Temur Square is a great place to take a walk and unwind. Some of the other popular spots located here include the Amir Timur Museum, Hotel Uzbekistan and the Clock Towers.
A trip to Tashkent isn’t complete without an evening stroll along Sailkough Street. Also known as Broadway Boulevard, this street connects the two main squares in the city; Independence Square and Amir Timur Square.
During the evening, Broadway Boulevard is lit up with beautiful lights and is filled with food stalls, art stalls and street artists. It is also popular with families as there are plenty of carnival games located down this street for children.
Places to Visit Near Tashkent
There are lots of popular day trips you can take from Tashkent. Here are the places you need to visit:
Charvak Lake is located in the Northern area of the Tashkent region and offers beautiful views. It is an artificial lake that was made during the Soviet Union to provide cheap energy to the city of Tashkent. The construction of the dam started in 1964 and was completed in 1970.
Aside from the surrounding snow-capped mountains, lush greenery and the beautiful blue lake waters, there is something even more special about this place. When the reservoir was filled, about 150 archaeological sites ended up being submerged underwater.
There are no direct public transport options to Charvak lake from Tashkent, however, there are a few options. You can either get a public bus part of the way and then get a taxi, or you can book a day trip from the city centre. However, the easiest way would be to hire a car.
Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and was founded in the 7th century BC. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has jaw-dropping architecture that will leave you amazed.
Samarkhand was invaded by Alexander the Great and then destroyed by Genghis Khan, which meant the city was in need of a serious rebuild. Amir Timur took on the task and made it the capital city of the Timurid Empire in the 1370s. The stunning architecture that you will see all across Samrkhad is from this time period, so make sure you bring your camera.
When it comes to travelling to Samarkand, the most popular options are train and bus. The train journey from Tashkent is a lot quicker, taking around 3 hours whilst the bus takes about 6 hours.
See my full guide to Samarkand for more information.
Silk Road Bukhara is the 5th largest city in Uzbekistan and is located along the ancient Silk Road. The city has around 140 architectural monuments, so there is plenty of history to explore.
The most popular places to visit in Bukhara include the Chor Minor, the Ark of Bukhara and Bolo Hauz Mosque. However, aside from visiting the architectural masterpieces, there are also plenty of opportunities to shop, as there are lots of bazaars located within the city.
When travelling from Tashkent to Bukhara, there are a couple of choices. The most popular option is the train which takes about 6 hours, although a hire car would probably be more convenient.
The city of Khujand dates back around 2,500 years to the Persian Empire. It is situated on the Syr Darya River and is actually located in Tajikistan. Khujand is located close to the borders of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and was once a major city along the famous Silk Road.
Khujand is the largest city in Tajikistan and so has plenty to offer. The most popular places to visit include the Panchshanbe bazaar, the Citadel and the Sheikh Muslihiddin Mausoleum. You can also take a cable car over the Syr Darya River if you are feeling adventurous.
The most direct way to get to Khujand from Tashkent is by bus, and the journey takes about 5 and a half hours. However, if you choose to hire a car instead of taking public transport you will cut your journey in half. The one thing to be mindful of with this day trip is that there will be an immigration point and border control, as you are travelling to another country.
Getting to Tashkent
Tashkent International airport is located about 10km outside the city centre. There are plenty of direct flights from various countries making the city easily accessible.
If you are travelling into Uzbekistan from neighbouring countries, then there are a couple of journeys you can do. You can travel by rail into the city of Tashkent from various cities in Russia, the city of Kharkov in Ukraine and Almaty in Kazakhstan. If you don’t mind changeovers and multiple visa’s you can also arrive from China.
More info: Almaty to Tashkent Train
Getting Around Tashkent
There are plenty of different ways to get around Tashkent. The most popular and easiest way is the metro which runs between 5 am and midnight. Waiting times in the metro are pretty short, and the system is easy to use. It is very well signposted and security is tight so police will check any belongings.
Getting a taxi is another popular way to get around, but it can be quite complicated. There are two types of taxi in Tashkent – licensed taxis and ‘independent’ taxis. Independent taxis are quite flexible with fares, and are just random cars with a little taxi sign on the roof. Licensed taxis are a lot more expensive, so make sure a price is negotiated beforehand.
Food in Tashkent
There are lots of different authentic food dishes for you to try in Tashkent. Here are a couple of the most popular ones!
Plov – Plov is Uzbekistan’s national dish, and is a must-try during your visit. The dish consists of rice, meat, onions and carrots boiled within a light broth. There are so many different variations of this dish, and you’ll often find it served with eggs, sausages and many other foods.
Lagman – Lagman is a dish that consists of noodles with meat and veg, and there are different ways it can be served. It is either served as a soup or light broth, or it is fried in a sticky sauce.
Shashlik – Shasklik kebabs are often found on street markets and roadsides throughout the country. They are cubes of meat that are placed onto skewers, alongside peppers, onions and tomatoes. They are usually grilled over coal or wood and make a great snack.
The climate in Tashkent varies throughout the seasons. Summer is known for being hot, arid and very clear. Winters are known to be very cold, with plenty of snow.
The warmest month to visit Tashkent is in July when temperatures can reach up to around 36°C. The coldest month is January with an average low temperature of around -2°C. Tashkent’s summer season lasts between May to September, and the cold season lasts between November to March.
Best Time to Visit Tashkent
The best time to visit Tashkent is between the months of May to June, as the weather is starting to turn but isn’t too uncomfortable.
The summer months are also a popular time to visit as Tashkent receives around 10 hours of sunshine a day. However, the heat can become pretty unbearable if you are exploring the city all day, which is why many people choose to visit in the spring.
Is Tashkent Safe to Visit?
Although Tashkent isn’t at the top of many bucket lists, it is a relatively safe city to visit for tourists. Violent crime is known to be incredibly rare in this city. However, petty crime like pickpocketing is still common in touristy areas. It is also a good idea to be careful where you choose to exchange your money. Only change money at banks to avoid scams.
As with the police in some former Soviet countries, they can be corrupt so best to try and avoid any contact with them unless absolutely necessary. Tashkent has a reputation for police trying to scam tourists, however, it is not as bad as in the past. I’ve visited Tashkent on multiple occasions and never had any problems.
The most likely problem you will encounter is being ripped off by a taxi driver!
Accommodation in Tashkent
There are plenty of different accommodation options in Tashkent. Here are some great options for each budget:
Budget accommodation: Topchan Hostel
I’ve stayed at Topchan on every visit to Tashkent and have found it an excellent place, especially for backpackers. The location isn’t perfect as it’s a little way out from the centre, but it’s walkable from the station. On my last visit, I hired a 50cc scooter from the hostel which made getting around much easier.
Book Topchan on HostelWorld today!
Mid-budget accommodation: ATECA Hotel Suites Tashkent (a standard king room with a double bed)
Luxury accommodation: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel (a superior king room with a double bed)
If you are a fan of architecture, tasty dishes and culture, then this city should be on your bucket list. Considering much of the city was destroyed in the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, the rebuild was based on other Soviet cities, so the architecture is stunning and has intricate detail.
There are so many incredible places to visit in Tashkent including the History Museum, Chorsu Bazaar and Navoi Park. If you are looking for a destination that is off the beaten path and often overlooked by other tourists then this is your place.
Looking for more of the Silk Road? Check out our guides below.
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang, the tropical paradise of Sanya and Hong Kong.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.