Popularly known for its mosques and mausoleums, Samarkand is one of the cities that is being visited by tourists. It is also the second-largest city in the said country. And since a lot of tourists go here every year, people can also communicate in English. Some popular tourist destinations even have English explanations.

Being one of the continually inhabited cities in Central Asia, visiting Samarkand will teach you a lot about its rich history. So if you’re wondering what are the places to visit and things to do in Samarkand, we have the list for you. 

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Best Things to do in Samarkand

1. Registan

Your trip to Samarkand won’t be complete if you won’t go to Registan. Registan used to be the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand during the era of the Timurid dynasty. It is a public square with the Ulugh Beg Madrasa that was built in the 15th century and two others in the 17th century. The architecture is just breathtaking and in the evening it is lit up. Really well deserved of UNESCO heritage status. This is the ideal place to start and end your trip to Samarkand. Simply sit in the plaza and breathe it in.

Suggested Tour: Samarkand City Tour

2. Shah-i-Zinda

This is one of the most beautiful attractions in Samarkand. And also one of the most sacred religious sites. Women are asked to cover their heads and shoulders. It’s an awesome place to visit to know the history of the people who sacrificed their lives for a better country. The exterior of the mausoleums are stunning, many of the interiors and especially domes are beautiful. The colors will blow your mind, different types of blue are just wonderful. Prepare your camera as you will surely get some of the most gorgeous photographs in your collection. 

Suggested Tour: Shahi Zinda – Entrance ticket

3. Gur Emir Mausoleum

This is close to Registan Square and should be on your must-visit sites. It’s a historical site where you can see also locals paying tribute. The exterior is beautiful as are many of Samarkand’s blue-tiled buildings, but the interior is also stunning and a little different from all the gold decorations. The mausoleum isn’t a large complex, 15 minutes is enough to wander around the area. Except if you will stay a little longer to take great photos.

Suggested Tour: Samarkand City Tour

4. Bibi Khanym Mosque

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It was built between 1399 and 1404, and this was one of the Islamic world’s biggest mosques. However, the 1897 earthquake caused it to collapse. Bibi Khanym Mosque has beautifully restored buildings and tile work but it also has some areas that are perhaps not repairable. The beautiful tiles and very detailed decoration is just fabulous. This is one of many historic places that should be on your schedule. It is so worth seeing.

Suggested Tour: Samarkand One Day Tour – Departure From Tashkent

5. Ulugh Beg Observatory

If you wish to understand the history and culture of Central Asia, this forms a significant piece of the puzzle. There’s not much architecture to see here but you will learn a lot about history. There is a small museum at this site that has some interesting exhibits. Take the time to read the information in the museum so you can have a better understanding of the history of this place.

6. Central Bazaar

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If you want herbs, fruit or nuts you will all find it here. A big market with a nice atmosphere. The market is also partly covered which makes it nice to walk in the shadow. 

7. Ulugbek Madrasah

This is the oldest madrasah into the Regiatan complex. It dates back from the early 15th century. And it includes one conference hall and a mosque, in addition to the original dormitories of the students. The towering gates are covered with mosaic designs. The interior is also stunning. There are many shops with merchandise and souvenir vendors that are located here.

Suggested Tour: Samarkand Full Day Private Tour: Explore, Experience and Enjoy Like A Local

8. Tillya Kori Madrasah

This is the largest and the most important madrasah of Registan Square. The Interior and ceiling of the Tillya Kori Madrasa are truly magnificent. It consists of the Madrasah, Friday mosque, and courtyard. There are several small rooms in the madrasah where artists work and sell souvenirs. An absolute must in Uzbekistan for anyone’s bucket list!

9. Sher Dor Madrasah

Sher Dor Madrasah is one of the 3 Muslim clergy academies surrounding the Registan. And it’s probably one of the most photographed buildings. The sun gods and strange big cats on the portico are very recognizable. A must-see in Samarkand!

10. Art Gallery Happy Bird

The shop is amazingly decorated and offers beautifully tailored garments, designed by the shop owner herself. It is located right around the corner of Furkat Hostel. You can find stunningly beautiful products inside. A stop here will be one of the highlights of your Samarkand visit.

11. Imam Bukhari Mausoleum

The Imam Bukhari Mausoleum is located around 35 kilometers from the city center. Here lies the greatest and most respected scholar of Islam, Imam Bukhari. The mausoleum is tranquil and has a very beautiful design and architecture. It is big and the visit looks like a trip to a very sacred place. A very peaceful compound with beautiful courtyards and prayer halls.

12. Regional Studies Museum

The building belonged to a well-known Jewish merchant and is now a very good museum with explanations in English. It is is located in a respectable area with pleasant two-story houses and branded shops.  One of the most interesting things here is the restored interiors of the front hall. And on the second floor, there is an exposition dedicated to Samarkand Jews.

13. Afrasiab

15 Things You Must Do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Photo by Mon Œil CC BY 2.0

An interesting place for those history buffs out there. It is the site of an ancient settlement. The museum is located on the territory of existing excavations. The age of the settlement dates back to the 4th century BC. Inside the museum, you will find a lot of interesting things. The focus is on the work of restorers to restore the fresco, which describes a certain period of time in the ancient state.

Suggested Tour: Afrasiyab – Entrance ticket

14. Saint Daniel’s Tomb

15 Things You Must Do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Photo by Dan Lundberg CC BY-SA 2.0

It is unlikely that there will be such a place in the world where a Muslim, Christian, and Jew would come to pray. But there is such a place in Samarkand, this is where it happens. This is the grave of St. Daniel. The place is quite cozy, secluded despite the flow of visitors. A highly recommended place to visit. You can drink holy water and touch the ancient pistachio tree.

15. Hazrat Khizr Mosque

This is such a beautiful place, with an excellent viewing platform. The area that surrounds is ennobled by flowers and trees. The mausoleum is wonderfully built. When you go here, remember that you have to follow the rules of strict dress code. Taking pictures inside is also forbidden, but from the elevation on which the mosque stands, you can take views of the city.

Frequently Asked Questions About Samarkand, Uzbekistan

1. How much should be the budget visiting Samarkand?

Basically, the budget will depend on how long and what type of travel you will do in Samarkand or in Uzbekistan as a whole. Food in Samarkand doesn’t cost much. The most expensive food you can have might get up to $10 to $25. And the cheapest would be at least $1 to $2 per meal. As for accommodation, if you don’t mind staying in a dormitory, you’ll save a lot of money. Dorm bed only costs around $15 or lesser. For a good hotel, you can get up to $20 to $30. For the tours and activities, you can prepare at least $2 to $3. However, some attractions may require you to pay for several times. Some even charge for photo ops.

2. Is it safe to travel to Samarkand as a solo female traveler?

Uzbekistan is generally a safe country to visit including its cities such as Samarkand. It is rare for travelers to have any bad experiences in the city. Even solo female travelers can feel safe wandering around the area. 

3. What to Pack?

Aside from the basic needs, just remember as a female traveler, there is no dress code to follow in wandering the areas, however, wearing a conservative dress is common in the place. So don’t forget to bring long pants, long sleeves shirt, and comfortable shoes. Some attractions like mosques might require you to wear conservative clothes.

4. When is the best time to visit Samarkand?

The best to visit Uzbekistan or Samarkand might be the Spring and Autumn season. During these months, the weather is cool and dry. The summer season can get extremely hot and you might feel uncomfortable.

5. Is DIY advisable or getting a tour operator?

Traveling to Samarkand by doing a DIY trip is possible and can save you money. You’ll get to handle your own time and explore the city by yourself. However, getting a tour operator is also recommended if you wish to learn deeper about the popular mosques or other attractions other than just admiring the architectures. For the best tour experience, have Indy Guide handle everything for you.

6. Are credit cards acceptable?

Credit cards are not really common in Samarkand or in Uzbekistan as a whole. Aside from high-end restaurants or hotels, cash is always in use. If you will bring a credit card, a visa card is much accepted than a master card. But having Uzbek Som is always the best option. 

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