- Explore the remarkably well-preserved city of Khiva, an open-air museum surrounded by mud-brick walls
- Tour modern Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and the largest city in Central Asia
- Visit the charming Old City of Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Discover ancient Khorezm, including the ruined fortresses of Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala
- Be wowed by the spectacular Registan and the other architectural wonders of Samarkand
Experience the best of the Silk Road cities during Kalpak Travel’s classic Uzbekistan tour. Now protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these ancient settlements were formed by nomads and conquerors, and the flourishing of Islam and the great Timurid Empire left a permanent architectural legacy. Mosques, madrassas, fortresses, and unforgettable landscapes await, with views ranging from fertile valleys to open steppe and never-ending deserts.
- Day 1 - Arrival in Tashkent & City Tour
Welcome to Uzbekistan! Transfer to the hotel and early check-in at the hotel. You can have a rest after your long flight, take a shower, and have breakfast before meeting your group and guide in the late morning in the hotel lobby. Today, you will begin an authentic journey deep into the remarkable history of Uzbekistan.
Please note: If you arrive a day early, we can book an extra night for you at the hotel.
Where better to start than a tour of Tashkent? The largest city in Central Asia exhibits a curious blend of Islamic and Soviet influences. We will visit the Old City to find the Khast Imom complex, which houses the historic holy Quran of Caliph Osman. At Chor-Su Bazaar, you will mingle with the bustling crowds of traders. You will visit Amir Timur Square to view the statue of the great conqueror and, nearby, grand Independence Square.
Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar
- Day 2 - Tashkent - Urgench (flight) - Khiva (40 min transfer) - City Tour
Today we will need to get up very early to catch the domestic flight to Urgench, which departs from Tashkent at 7:15 AM. Arriving at Urgench Airport at 8:55 AM, we will then transfer to Khiva (c. 40 min). We will have breakfast in Khiva before starting our walking tour of the city. Khiva is bursting with historical sites, and today you will get a chance to see them all. We will visit the walled inner-city called the Ichan-Kala. There are more than 50 historic monuments, plus hundreds of old houses dating back centuries. The entire citadel is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk through the enormous city gates, you will be confronted by a glistening beacon of Islam, the Kalta Minor, a dazzlingly tiled minaret. This tour will enable you to delve deep into the past and discover all the city sites, including a bird’s eye view from the top of the Islam Khodja Minaret (the highest minaret in Khiva) and a panorama of the Ichan-Kala from atop the Kunya-Ark citadel.
Hotel Zarafshan 3* or similar
- Day 3 - Day trip to ancient Khorezm or free time in Khiva - Bukhara (flight)
Today you are free to spend a day on your own in Khiva, or to join the half-day trip to the Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala ruins in the Kyzylkum Desert. If you choose this option, it will require some steep ascents on foot. First, we will drive two hours to Toprak Kala, which was the capital of Khorezm around the 2nd century AD. From there, it is another shaky one-hour drive to Ayaz Kala. According to archeological excavations, the oldest parts of the Ayaz Kala fortress date from the 2nd century BC. It was one of a chain of border fortresses which stretched from east to west and defended the Khiva oasis from attack. Return to Khiva where we will have lunch and free time in the afternoon. Late check-out from the hotel. After dinner, we take the flight to Bukhara, departing at 9:00 PM. Upon arrival at 10:00 PM at Bukhara airport, transfer to the hotel.
Hotel Safiya 3* or similar
- Day 4 - Bukhara City Tour
Bukhara is the second of our UNESCO World Heritage Site stops. The city’s very name -Bukhara – conjures up images of the exotic Orient. For centuries, it was an important trading post and center of scholarship. The Old City has been well preserved and is crammed full of minarets, mosques, and madrassas. Its once-notorious canals and pools, the source of many an epidemic, have now been drained, but the most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, is still there. Today it’s an oasis shaded by mulberry trees in the heart of the city. Your guide will show you the Bukhara’s unmissable sights, and you can soak up the atmosphere wandering through the labyrinthine alleyways. Highlights of today’s walking tour in Bukhara include the Poi Kalon complex, the Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, the Ayub Mausoleum and spring, the bazaars inside Bukhara’s unique trading domes, and the Samanid Mausoleum. The guided tour will end in the early afternoon and you will then have some free time before dinner, which will be in the city.
Hotel Safiya 3* or similar
- Day 5 - Bukhara - Samarkand (train, 2h)
Today morning you can choose to spend some free time in the city or to visit a couple more sights near Bukhara. First, you may visit the Mausoleum of Naqshbandi, 15 km outside the city center. There are many orders in Sufism, all of which have been represented at different times in what is now Uzbekistan. The Naqshbandiyya order has a great and long-lasting influence, and his memorial place is still a popular place of pilgrimage for Sufis. From here, we will visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. In Persian it is called Sitorai Mokhi Hossa, “the place where the moon meets the stars”. Return to Bukhara for lunch.
In the afternoon, on the way to the train station, we will stop to see the Chor Minor Madrassa. The style of the madrassa and its four minarets (chor means “four”) is reminiscent of the Char Minar in Hyderabad, India. Our high-speed train departs from Bukhara at 3:50 PM and we arrive in Samarkand at 5:20 PM. Transfer to the hotel for check-in and dinner.
Hotel Rabat 3* or similar
- Day 6 - Samarkand City Tour
Sublime Samarkand evokes an almost mythical past full of romance and intrigue. This was the domain of Emperor Timur, one of history’s greatest (and most ruthless) conquerors. His vast empire rivaled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe. He ruled his kingdom with an iron fist, whilst at the same time patronizing the arts and literature. Much of Samarkand’s Timurid-era architectural heritage has been preserved, allowing us to see how the city might have been at the peak of Timur’s power. We will start the day with a visit to the Gur-e-Amir, the mausoleum where Timur is buried. Our guide will tell stories from Timur’s life and how and why he began to build in Samarkand. We will then go to the Registan, Samarkand’s central square, which is undeniably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark. This focal point of medieval Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools): Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tillya Kori. Next, we will stroll through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, an impressively tiled structure that is said to have been gifted to Timur by one of his wives. After lunch, we will have time to explore Siyob Bazaar, where fruit and vegetables grown in the rich soils of the Zarafshan Valley are sold in a colorful market. You may explore the city on your own during your free time this evening.
Hotel Rabat 3* or similar
- Day 7 - Samarkand City Tour -Tashkent (train, 2h)
After breakfast we will check-out from the hotel and continue to explore the fairytale city of Samarkand. We go first to the Shah-i Zinda, a magnificent tiled necropolis; and then visit Ulgubek’s Observatory, which was once the biggest research center in Central Asia. Ulugbek was decades ahead of the West with his observations of the solar system and the Earth, and we will learn more about his story in this prestigious setting. Our next stop will be the Konigil Paper Mill. Here you will see the process of making paper from mulberry tree bark, just as it was done in 8th century Samarkand. We will enjoy lunch together, after which those who wish to do so can visit Afrasiyab Museum to learn about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – which was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. Alternatively, you may choose to skip the museum and have some extra free time.
We will catch our train to Tashkent late in the afternoon. The train arrives in Tashkent at 7:40 PM, and we will be in time to enjoy dinner in a local restaurant before checking in at the hotel.
Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar
- Day 8 - Tashkent & Departure
Check-out at the hotel is any time before noon. You will have free time until your transfer to Tashkent International Airport for your flight home.
- 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
- Hotel Accommodation (7 nights)