Are you planning to visit Bukhara and wonder what things to see? In this post, I’m gonna share the 19 most fascinating things to see in this ancient city.
Bukhara, the city that holds hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrassas, bazaars and caravanserais is a must-stop on every Uzbekistan trip.
The relaxed vibe, the sand-coloured buildings and the charming ancient sights on every corner, Bukhara quickly becomes are town you’ll love. Most people think of Samarkand when they want to visit Uzbekistan, but let me tell you that Bukhara might become your new favourite.
With more than 140 historical buildings scattered throughout the Old Town, there is no shortage of things to see.
How To Get To Bukhara
Train: Uzbekistan is best explored by modern and fast trains. You can book your tickets for the high-speed train easily via Viator for guaranteed tickets or you can check with Uzbekistan Rail and reserve your seat. I’d recommend doing so a few days in advance. Should you not find your connection, keep checking every other hour if new seats become available! That’s the trick some locals told me. Train tickets start as low as 6 USD.
Getting a Yandex taxi (Russian version of Uber) to the city should cost around 20.000 Som (1,70 USD). Alternatively, you can book a private shuttle in advance and arrive comfortably to your hotel.
Bus: Buses are also a reliable and cost-effective way to get around Uzbekistan. Every city has a bus terminal in which you can buy your ticket. I believe you cannot reserve tickets online, only at the bus station or terminal.
Driver: If you are looking to see even more of Uzbekistan, hiring a driver is a fantastic idea. There are several routes you can take, and tick of some more sightseeing. From Bukhara to Khiva is a popular route to see some of the Desert Castles and should cost around 60 USD for the car & driver.
Another option can be the route from Bukhara to Samarkand (or reverse) combined with a visit to Shaqshirabay.
Fly: Bukhara has an airport with international and domestic flights. Check direct flights from Tashkent here to plan ahead! This option comes especially handy if you are short on time and want to skip the 6-hour drive to Khiva.
Where To Stay in Bukhara
I stayed at Hotel Old Bukhara Boutique and loved it! its got a beautiful modern Uzbek interior and they serve the best breakfast,
Another great one can be Lyabi House Hotel in the centre of the old town of Bukhara. It sits in a 14th-century building and looks gorgeous.
How To Get Around Bukhara
I recommend you choose a hotel close to the Old Town – and, most of them are. It’s a small area, easy for you to walk around. From the Old Town towards the Bukhara, Arc takes around 10 minutes and even to the Mausoleum, it’s a leisurely 20 min walk tops.
There are Yandex taxis you can call, to get to the outskirts to visit Sitori and Necropolis. A taxi ride to these places shouldn’t cost more than 12.000 Som each way.
Best Time To Visit Bukhara
The best time to visit Bukhara and see all the best things, is in Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to early November). Summers can get extremely hot with regular 40 degrees celsius and winters can also be brutally cold. . I’d recommend doing most of your sightseeing before 1 pm and after 5 pm.
What To Know Before Visiting Bukhara
How much time should you stay in Bukhara: 2-3 Full Days
Wi-Fi: I have spent a full week in Bukhara to unwind and get some work done. As a Digital Nomad, I found the Wi-Fi to be working great and fast enough. I’d suggest getting an eSIM Card to be prepared and avoid language barriers when arriving.
Dresscode: There really is no dress code and as Bukhara is a popular city for tourists, locals are used to you. I wouldn’t wear the shortest Jeans, but in knee-long shorts and sleeveless shirts you wouldn’t face any problems.
19 Fantastic Things To See in Bukhara
1. Kalyan Mosque
The Kaylan Mosque, as part of the Po-i-Kalyan Complex, is hands down one of Bukhara’s most outstanding monuments. Dating back to the 15th century it used to be the second largest mosque just behind the Bibi Khanym Mosque in Samarkand, hosting up to 12.000 people.
The Kaylan Mosque is the main mosque of Bukhara for about 500 years now and such a must-visit! On the sides of the main building, you can find two blue domes as well as a vault with 209 pillars.
Start your trip in Bukhara with this full-day Old City sightseeing walking tour that begins at the Po-i Kaylan Mosque Complex and covers all the gems!
Talk about good timing, if you visit just before sunset you might be lucky and walk right into the call of prayer. There is almost nothing more magical!
Entry: 10.000 Soms
2. Kaylan Minaret
With 48 metres, the Kaylan Minaret is the tallest Minaret in Central Asia. It’s also called the Tower of Death because criminals were executed by throwing them off it until early in the 2oth century.
The mighty symbol of the city is about 9 centuries old and has never been restored. Therefore stay a little long and admire this structure by day and especially, night!
3. Mir-i-Arab Madrassa
The Mir-i-Arab Madrassa is one of the must-see sights of Bukhara and hard to miss. It’s situated on opposite the Kaylon Minaret, just a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.
It was built in the 1530’s and has always been a place of Islamic spiritual education. To this day it is an acting institution for future imams and religious mentors and cannot be visited.
I’d recommend coming her for sunset and nighttime to admire the light show!
4. Chor Minor
Tucked away in the city of Bukhara lies this little gem, the Chor Minor Madrassa. Relatively unknown to most tourists, it’s quirky and charming building that is different to any of the city’s other sights.
The madrasah with four minarets was built in 1807 and each of its dome is differently decorated. You can also climb to the top, just ask the shopkeeper and leave a small donation 🙂
Entry is free!
Definitely, one of my favourite things to see in Bukhara, especially for sunrise!
5. Old Bazaar
In the Old Town are about 4 different bazaars you will likely come across, like the Toqi Sarrofon, Toqi Zargaron or Toqi Telpak.
The colourful and lively markets are one of Bukhara’s main highlights. Nestled in small buildings with opulent domes, they are hard to miss while strolling through town. Take your time to get to know them all, each one has something different, alluring to offer. From vintage chapans and tunics, to copperware, hand embroidered silk pillows and colourful scarfs that make you drool.
Most of the markets are quiet between 2 and 5 pm and light up towards the evening. Closing time is roughly around 9 pm.
Prepare to haggle your way to some beautiful pieces to remember you time in this city!
6. Sitori-i-Mokhi Khosa Palace
Sitori-i-Mokhi Khosa Palace was the summer palace of one of the last emirs of Bukhara and makes for a wonderful visit.
Inside you can see the White Hall featuring some amazing typical Bukhara stucco. Other rooms are splendidly decorated with a mix of European, Russian and Oriental influences.
A big gate with colourful tiles greets you on your way to Sitori-i-Mokhi Khosa Palace. The stunning summer palace which lies around 4km north of Bukhara’s city centre, belonged to the last emirs of Bukhara.
Book an organized tour to the countryside of Bukhara, and learn about the Sitori-i-Mokhi Palache, Chor Bakr and the famous Naqsband Mausoleum in one go!
The beautiful courtyard with its turquoise wooden veranda already looks so much different to all other sights in Uzbekistan. Inside, you can admire The White Hall, with traditional stucco, exquisite wall paintings and unique pieces.
Opening times: 9 am to 9 pm
Entry: 50.000 Som
7. Ark of Bukhara
Bukhara’s oldest structure, the massive Ark-Citadel is a wonderful sight you cannot miss. The sand-coloured fortress dates way back to the 5th century and was home to over 3000 people. It’s massive structure lets us imagine how much of a city in a city it actually was.
Mainly it was known to be the residence of the Bukharan emirs, but also included royal palaces, government offices and stables.
Inside you can visit the Friday Mosque with its stunning carved column heads, as well as the former living quarter of the emirs. Nowadays there are a few interesting museums, housed in other former royal quarters.
Book this full-day walking tour and get access to the Ark of Bukhara while also learning about it’s impressive history!
Opening times: 8 am to 8 pm – closed on Wednesday
Entry: 30.000 Soms
8. Bukhara Museum Architectural Art Museum
Situated in the Ark Citadel, its a great addition to your visit. The Architectural Art Museum or Bukhara Museum was established in 1945 and displays 18 permanent exhibitions. Placed in architectural monuments, it also features over 100.000 objects of the spiritual culture of the region.
Entry: Included in your ticket of the Ark Citadel
9. Bolo Hauz Mosque
A very different-looking mosque, the Bolo Hauz Mosque features the most unique wooden ceiling and columns. The complex is situated opposite of the Ark Citadel and includes a Friday mosque, pond and a minaret. It also is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was built in 1712.
If you visit during sunset, you’ll be greeted with some of the nicest colours, reflected of its colourful tiles. Definitely recommend going at this time!
Women are allowed to enter with a covered head but only up to a certain point of the inside.
Entry: free to visit
10. Qosh Madrassa
The Qosh Madrassa consists of two ensembles, the Modari-khan Madrasah and Abdullah-khan Madrasah. Built-in 1588, the school aimed at spreading enlightenment, culture and science in the city. Also, it contains more than 70 classrooms!
The school is certainly one of a kind, especially due to its majestic Islamic decoration and mosaic. The highlight of this place is that you can ask to gatekeeper to take you up to the roof. For a little tip he happily takes you up and is keen to take pictures of you sitting on the top of the mosque.
Very offbeat place in Bukhara!
11. Ulugbek Madrassa
As one of only a handful of Timurid-era buildings, the Ulugbek Madrassa survived in Bukhara till today. It was built by Timur’s grandson, Ulugh Beg and completed in 1420.
At its gate you can find a carved inscription from the Koran: ‘The pursuit of knowledge is the responsibility of every Muslim man and woman’.
Nowadays you can visit for free inside but need to pass several souvenir stands. I actually found the prices to be one of the most competitive. Therefore, if you haven’t yet bought souvenirs, in there is a great place to do so!
Entry: free to visit!
12. Abdulaziz Khan Madrassa
One of my Bukhara main photo spots and favourite things to see, the Abdulaziz Khan Madrassa sits in the middle of the Old Town. With its amazing pink mosaic, wavy plant designs and even a Chinese dragon, its very distinctive from the rest.
I recommend visiting early morning for some fantastic photos!
The Abdulaziz Khan Madrassa has never been restored over the course of the 9 centuries. Inside you can still see the cracks that happened over the last 370 years.
Inside it you can visit a summer and winter mosque and admire their splendid decoration. Besides this, you’ll also encounter many souvenir shops with interesting headpieces. Super interesting to learn about their past traditions.
Entry: free to visit!
13. Lyabi Khause
A stone’s throw away you have the famous Lyabi Khause and its pond. Surrounded by benches, a restaurant and a Mosque, you can also see a 1400-year-old Mulberry Tree.
Back in the day, the city of Bukhara was home to many of these ponds, used for people to gather and socialize. Sadly, as the water wasn’t changed very often, it became a breeding ground for diseases. Nowadays this one is the only pond left, while another one is about to be built.
The adjacent restaurant is decent enough, and I enjoyed a few evenings here. There is live music, the pond’s fountains get turned on later at night and it’s always buzzing.
14. Nadir Divan-Begi Madrassa
One of the top things you need to see when in Bukhara is the Nadir Divan-Begi Madrassa. With its outstanding mosaic-covered gate and big courtyard, it’s a gem to visit.
With its overflowing amount of blue tiles, the arches on both sides of the gate make a great photo location, not only for Uzbek wedding shots. It’s free to visit the Madrassa and browse through the various stalls selling cute souvenirs.
At night, there is a daily Uzbek Dance Performance in which you get transported into long-gone times.
Price for this is 50.000 Som
15. Chor Bakr Memorial Complex
The Chor Bakr Memorial Complex lies about 5 km west of Bukhara and is a place good to visit if you have extra time on your hands!
Also called the City of Dead, the Chor Bakr Necropolis appeared in the 16th century during the rule of the Samanids. It was Abu Bakr Said who died here and made this place to a pilgrimage site ever since.
The whole complex is divided by small lanes and mulberry trees – making it quite a special place to wander around.
I’d recommend getting here on a private tour with a guide to really learn about the history and make the most of your day in the countryside of Bukhara.
Opening times: 8 am to 5.30 pm
Entry: 10.000 Som
16. Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum
The Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum is another one of Bukhara’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and quite a unique one! It sits in the middle of a cemetery and consists of a mausoleum and a holy spring.
According to the legend, people in Bukhara were dying of thirst and prayed to God for salvation from the drought. The prophet Job came to the city, hit the ground with his stick and encountered a well with cool pure water.
Indeed, the mausoleum stands directly above the well and water is still obtained the old way, using a bucket on a rope.
Nowadays the place is officially the Water museum which is open to visitors.
Opening times: 9 am t0 6 pm except. Closed on Saturday and Sunday
Entry: 5000 Som
17. Samanid Mausoleum
The Samanid Mausoleum is one of Bukhara’s architectural masterpieces, erected during the Samanid dynasty. Nowadays the tomb stands alone in the middle of the park and makes one of the more interesting things to see in Bukhara.
Built in the 10th century, truly is a special one as it did survive all these decades. Therefore, it shows us a glimpse into the great funerary architecture of the Islamic world.
Opening times: open 24 hours
18. Khoja Gaukushan Ensemble
One of Bukhara’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Khoja Gaukushan Ensemble used to be a former animal trading area. It translates to ‘Killing Bulls’ and was a butchery in the year of 1570.
The whole complex consists of a madrassah, mosque, minaret and pond – which is partly under restoration. Its minaret is the second in height to the Kaylan Minaret and people believe it was a copy of it.
On the opposite side, you can find a lovely restaurant (Mavrigri Restaurant – Chicha Bar) which a fantastic Uzbek interior. Can definitely recommend having dinner here!
19. Caravanserai Excavations
As Bukhara was a major place on the Silk Road, it comes to no surprise that there are remains of a former Caravanserai. Catering to back-then merchants travelling through the area, there are many sights dating back to this time.
Right outside the Toqi Sarrafon Bazaar, you can marvel at some recent Caravanserai excavations. According to locals, there is the foundation of an old Bath House.
It’s only possible to view the excavations from outside of the fence.
Best Restaurants to Eat and Drink in Bukhara
Bukhara is certainly a city that you cannot miss on your Uzbekistan trip. The relaxed outdoor museum with its ancient buildings is a wonderful stop and gives a little more insight into how life on the Silk Road used to look.
Wishbone is a great German-owned cafe in the centre serving great cakes and coffee
Near Kavsar Boutique are two nice coffee shops serving decent coffee
Bukhara Restaurant Lunch & Dinner
Mavrigri Restaurant – Chicha Bar for amazing interior
Minzifa is a great restaurant with a rooftop
Old Bukhara is always lively and filled with tourists. Great food and atmosphere!
Ayvan is more of an upscale place with gorgeous interior and veggie options
For more images and info to save, head to my Instagram stories on Uzbekistan @christintheilig!
I hope this guide gives you enough inspiration on things to see in Bukhara. The relaxed vibe, quiet streets, cute rooftop terraces and overall more Oriental influence will surely enchant you!
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For more blog articles on Central Asia head to my Kyrgyzstan blog here!
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