A One Week Itinerary For Uzbekistan
The countries of Central Asia have long been associated with mystery, beautiful architecture and barbaric nomads. And thats more than enough to attract our wanderlust to explore the most interesting country there: Uzbekistan. If you have been dreaming about seeing it for yourself, then this one week Uzbekistan itinerary will convince you to book your tickets right away!
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a visit to Uzbekistan, including details on where to stay in each city, where to eat and even things to do in Uzbekistan. This free guide on the one week itinerary for Uzbekistan can be used to plan a trip for 7 days (1 week) or even upto 20 days.
History of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country and was once a part of the Soviet Republic (USSR). After the disintegration of the USSR during the Cold War Era, the country gained independence. But it was only recently that the country opened up its borders and began to welcome foreigners and businesses! Its only now that Uzbekistan tourism has begun to shine bright.
Uzbekistan is known for its towering mosques, beautiful mausoleums and blue tiled madrassahs. Most of these monuments were once a part of the grand Silk Road. This Silk Road was an ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean and involved a huge exchange of goods on either side.
In this Uzbekistan itinerary, we’ll take you to each of the major cities like Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara and even Khiva. Look out for backpacking ideas, food and stay recommendations, where to splurge for luxury and shopping and how you can travel cheap in Uzbekistan.
The perfect Uzbekistan itinerary
The one week itinerary for Uzbekistan listed here is actually do able in both ways. You can arrive in Tashkent, fly to Khiva (Urgench), then drive to Bukhara and Samarkand before coming back to Tashkent. Or you can do it the other way around. Both routes take the same amount of time and cost. Just make sure that your train schedules align well. You don’t want to waste precious time instead of immersing yourself in the beauty and rich history of the country!
The alternate Uzbekistan Itinerary
If you are flying in from Europe or other Central Asian countries, consider flying in or out of Urgench International Airport. This way you can avoid a roundtrip to Tashkent.
Day 1: Arrive in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan
With most international flights landing in Tashkent, this is where travelers begin their Central Asian adventure! Tashkent is a lot like Moscow, but maybe less wealthy in the first appearance. But thats exactly what makes this former Soviet city very appealing to budget travelers!
Tashkent has many interesting places to see starting with the Amir Timur Museum, Chorsu Bazaar, Minor Mosque, Hotel Uzbekistan and the National History Museum. The cafe scene in Tashkent is very popular! Dine at one of the many cafes at “The Boulevard” in the park or some of the quaint coffee shops near Shota-Rustavelli street. Spend the night at one of the nearby, funky hostels like Trip.LE or Art Hostel (they have private rooms too).
See more accommodation options here.
Tip: Download the local taxi app Yandex for cheap airport transfers and easy cab rides in Uzbekistan
Day 2: Fly into Khiva and go back to the fifth century
No Uzbekistan itinerary is complete without Khiva! Take an early morning flight from Tashkent to Urgench. Urgench is the nearest International airport and is 30 kms away from Khiva. Take a shared taxi from Urgench to Khiva for as little as UZS 50,000 (USD 5).
After checking in to your accommodation, wander to the the fortress of Khiva which encloses a walled city called the Ichan Kala. The entire city is an open-air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage sight with a beautiful collection of mosques, madrassahs, minarets, classic cafes and cultural centres. A few homes have been maintained as they were in the past centuries and as museums.
The most iconic Kalta Minor stands at the entrance of the Ichan Kala. On many days, you may even get to see traditional Khivan and Uzbek dance shows on the platform there all day long. Spend the night inside the Fortress at one of the beautiful BnBs (Khiva Orient Star) or at a hotel/hostel just outside the walls.
Read more on what to do in Khiva here: Exploring Timeless Khiva, Uzbekistan
Day 3 to 5: Visit Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara
Take a classic Desert Taxi from Khiva to the southern city of Bukhara, the next ideal destination in the Uzbekistan itinerary! The 5 hour, 450 km taxi ride (shared at UZS 100,000 or USD 10 per person) takes you through the vast open deserts of western Uzbekistan. Arrive at Lyab-i-Hauz in Bukhara.
The towering mosques, beautiful blue tiled madrassahs and the iconic Chor Minor define this city. Interestingly, Bukhara was also the home to Nasruddin Hodja, the wittiest man in Central Asia!
Take a walk through the city’s oldest alley ways in the evening. Of course, you must taste the best Lagman at Lyabi Hauz or at the Aladdin Restaurant near the Bolo Hauz Mosque. Spend your nights in the Lyab-i-Hauz neighbourhood.
Read more on what to do in Bukhara here: A Travel Guide To Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Day 6 to 7: Explore the grand city of Samarkand
A two hour ride on the super fast trains from Bukhara will bring you to the crown jewel of the country!
Samarkand has long been on Central Asia’s most important trade map, the Silk Road. It became a key city in the empire of the Islamic Orient led by Timur. Thus, the striking monuments came up over the centuries. The Registan Ensemble is one such monument and a meeting point of three giant schools. The city hosts cultural performances at the El Merosi theatre downtown.
Our favourite thing about Samarkand is the blue tilled arches. They are almost everywhere! Check out the workshops near the Bibi Khanym mosque where majolica patterns are made on small tiles that you can take back home.
Nonetheless, stay near the Amir Timur Mausoleum. This way you’ll get to see the glorious monument in the morning and even at night when its beautifully lit. The Registan is also only a 15 minute walk away. You must not skip Samarkand in your Uzbekistan itinerary!
Read more on what to do in Samarkand here: The Best Things To Do In Samarkand
Day 8: Explore more of the Uzbekistan Capital
Take a high-speed Afrosiyob train from Samarkand to Tashkent in the morning. Visit the remaining places to see from Day 1 and rest at the lower gardens in Amir Timur Squar. Instead, if you want to pick up souvenirs, buy them at Chorsu Bazaar. You can also buy good dates, nuts, pistachios and other dry fruits.
On the other hand, if you have more time, add these destinations to your Uzbekistan itinerary.
- Navoi is a city in central Uzbekistan and worth a visit, especially if you want to go camping in a Yurt (traditional Uzbek tent house) which is very popular in the northern and central villages.
- Ferghana Valley is also worth a visit as it adds a Nature experience to your Uzbekistan itinerary. The vast expanses of the valley stretch into Kyrgyztan and Tajikistan too!
Read more about Uzbekistan here
How to travel to Uzbekistan (cheap flights for Uzbekistan itinerary)
Uzbekistan Airways has excellent connectivity and is actually a pretty good airline! The prices are fairly reasonable. In fact from India, it can cost an average of INR 24,000 (USD 330) for a one-week roundtrip from Delhi. Thats only because the most popular Uzbekistan itinerary is made for 8 days.
Buy cheap flight tickets on Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan. That way you can even add a stopover at Almaty or Astana for upto three days.
There are land border crossings between all five Central Asian countries although some borders are difficult to cross because of corruption and security.
How to travel within Uzbekistan
Doing a budget backpacking trip in Uzbekistan is easy, thanks to the extensive connectivity offered at good prices. Flights between Tashkent and Khiva can be as cheap as USD 60. That is the best way to travel between Khiva and Tashkent if you don’t have enough time. Else, take an overnight train.
We recommend taking the high speend train if you are travelling between Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. The Afrosiyob and Sharq trains are built for high speed travel and are maintained very well. Many tour agencies arrange for purchase and delivery of train tickets. You can also buy them directly online and save a lot of commission money.
The fastest way of traveling between Khiva and Bukhara is to take a Desert Taxi or a Marshrutka from the main taxi stands in Khiva/Bukhara. The fare is UZS 100,000 (about INR 750 or USD 10). The journey takes 5 hours and during the hot seasons it can get uncomfortable in the non airconditioned vehicles.
Buy train tickets on the government website here
How to travel within cities in Uzbekistan
Travelling within Tashkent is easy because of the Metro network. Its also very cheap. Alternatively, you can take a Yandex taxi or flag one down on the street for a few thousand UZS. There are buses too and walking is a great option with the wide footpaths all over the city.
In Samarkand, there is a tram service (UZS 1,200 fee, thats INR 11 or a few cents in USD!) on major routes including from the Samarkand Vokzal or Railway Station. Taxis and Yandex cabs can be booked here too! But all the main attractions in the city can be reached on foot in a few kilometres.
Bukhara is best explored on foot, except when you have to go to the Bukhara Vokzal or train station which is a twenty minute drive out from the Lyab-i-Hauz taxi stand. Expect to pay about UZS 10,000 per seat at minimum.
In Khiva, the main attraction is the Ichan Kala which is a fortified city. Explore on foot and walking here is minimal. You will need a shared or private taxi if you are flying in or out of the Urgench airport which is thirty minutes away.
Read more about transportation in each of the three cities in more detail here
Where to stay in Uzbekistan
As mentioned in the itinerary above, you will have to spend atleast one night each in Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent. There is a wide variety of hotels, hostels, registered homestays and guesthouses in each of these cities. Prices are not too bad either! In most places you will find a good dorm for less than USD 10 and a private room for less than USD 15. This includes a hearty breakfast and unlimited tea during the day too.
Read more about our recommended stays in each of the cities in more detail here.
See all accommodations here
Travel costs, food and safety
The cost of travel in Uzbekistand is comparable to most other Asian countries. Accommodation ranges from USD 10 for a basic stay to fancy star hotels in the bigger cities. Transport is priced right for the type of vehicle and the distance. But you’ll have to bargain hard with taxis in all cities to get a fair price unless you book them on Yandex.
Although registrations slips are handed out by the hosts, they are not always check at immigration while leaving the country.
Cards are accepted in many places but Uzbekistan still prefers cash. And with the exchange rate of INR 1 = UZS 127 or USD 1 = UZS 9,500, you will end up carrying huge wads of Uzbeki Soms. It was hilarious at the bank while changing USDs into Soms! I actually got my cash in a black plastic cover like how crooks do in movies!
You can get good accommodation, food and some local sightseeing depending on where you are in the country for as little as USD 20/day. Expect to spend around USD 300 (INR 24,000) on this Uzbekistan itinerary including stay, food, transport, sightseeing and one internal flight to Khiva.
Important tip: Keep the large wads of cash in your backpack and zipped up for safety. Do not take out the cash in public. Use a waist pouch to keep some money hidden under your clothing. Keep some small and large notes in your wallet/pocket and safely keep the rest deep inside your backpack/purse and keep it with you at all times.
A culinary detour in the Uzbekistan itinerary
A good sightseeing plan takes into account the best food too! In fact the traditional Uzbeki cuisine makes the country a culinary destination as well. Central Asian cuisines are generally like a mix of Arabian, Oriental and Indian cuisine. There’s rice, noodles, curry, bread and meat amongst other food items. And tea flows endlessly everywhere!
The best dishes are Lagman, Plov (rice) and noodle soup. You can buy them for about UZS 30,000 (INR 270 or USD 4) in nice restaurants. It is far cheaper in smaller cafes. Most Uzbeki dishes have a vegetarian option too.
‘Choi’ or tea is very cheap and free in some restaurants too. Sometimes, you might just end up scoring a discount for being a foreigner. I got a 20% discount for apparently looking “Uzbeki”, from “Hindostan”. They are amazing people!
How to get a Uzbekistan Tourist Visa
Uzbekistan offers an electronic visa or E Visa for most nationalities including Indians. To apply for a Uzbekistan Tourist Visa, all you have to do is go onto this government website. Fill in the details, upload your photo and make a payment using a credit card or international debit card. Thats it.
In a few days you will receive an email containing your Uzbekistan Tourist Evisa. Take a printed copy for immigrations purposes. Alternatively you can apply at the consulate or embassy in your country. Click here to fill the online application.
If you have more questions, or want to explore Uzbekistan with us, write to us!