Bukhara is a medium-sized city in Uzbekistan, located between Khiva and Samarkand. Nested along the ancient Silk Road, the main reason to visit Bukhara is the well-maintained mosques, madrassas and other stunning architecture matching the city’s rich history. Even though Bukhara has plenty to offer, in my opinion, you can skip Bukhara when you are short on time when visiting Uzbekistan since Samarkand and Khiva offer more distinct experiences. Nevertheless, if you have 10 days to visit Uzbekistan, Bukhara should be part of your itinerary. Therefore, this travel blog post highlights the best things to do in Bukhara and the best restaurants and places to stay in a full Bukhara Travel Guide.
Traveling around Uzbekistan is relatively easy with great train and flight connections. Depending on your travel route, you can reach Bukhara in multiple ways.
By Train: Multiple trains are running from all other main tourist cities in Uzbekistan. From Tashkent to Bukhara, the journey will last between 4 and 8 hours, depending on the type of train. Next to that, from Khiva to Bukhara, the train ride lasts about 8 hours, with the train leaving around 09:00 and arriving in Bukhara around 16:00. Lastly, the trip from Samarkand to Bukhara, takes between 1,5 and 3 hours, depending on the type of train. If you can, book the Afrosiyob, the most modern train. You can book all train tickets in advance and check the timetables through the website of Uzbekistan Railways. Also, book your tickets in advance, as they can sell out quickly.
By Plane: Bukhara has an airport, however, due to the proximity and fast train lines from Samarkand, flying is unnecessary.
By Shared Taxi: The are also opportunities to travel by shared taxi from one of the cities. Especially from Khiva, it might be worth it to switch up the transportation experiences in Uzbekistan.
Nevertheless, train travel is so easy, that I wouldn’t recommend any other means of transport to reach Bukhara.
We stayed in Bukhara for two nights, allowing us to explore Bukhara for a full day. On our day of arrival, we arrived at our hotel around 5 p.m. Subsequently, we could spend the following day discovering all the travel highlights in Bukhara. After our second night, I explored Bukhara in the early morning and grabbed some lunch before leaving for the train station and catching the 4 p.m. train to Samarkand. I believe Bukhara can be explored in a single day. However, that’s best done by spending two nights in the city.
Please be mindful when exploring this beautiful town and make sure to cover your knees and shoulders, especially when entering a mosque or madrassa.
Firstly, one of the best things to do in Bukhara is to visit Po-i-Kalyan, the main square in Bukhara. When visiting this Uzbek city, it is a sight that cannot be missed. Upon arrival on the square, you will find the Kalyan Mosque on your right, the Kalyan Minaret in front of you and the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah on your left. If you would like to visit the inside, which I would recommend, you have to pay a small fee.
Slightly outside the inner city, opposite the citadel of Ark, you can find the Bolo Hauz Mosque. The Mosque was built in 1712 and has been serving as a Friday Mosque, with the beautiful columns being added in 1917. If you plan to visit, the early morning is the best time, as the sunlight shines on the mosque beautifully.
Every city in Uzbekistan has a bazaar. In Bukhara, you will find Toqi Telpak Furushon, centrally located in town. Also, you can’t miss this bazaar with plenty of stalls when crossing the city. After the bazaar was built in 1570, it focused on selling books. Currently, the bazaar focuses on carpets, jewellery and other souvenirs.
Located a little further from other sights, you find the historic gatehouse, Chor Minor. To reach this sight, you can either walk (30 minutes) or take a bike taxi there. Upon arrival, you will straight away notice the four towers of Chor Minor. Each of these four towers, not minarets, has its decoration motive and is topped with a blue dome.
There is a small photo gallery in Bukhara located in the former Olimjon Caravanserai focused on the work of Shavkat Boltaev. All the work displayed focuses on the daily life and history of Uzbekistan and Bukhara, with many beautiful prints on sale.
Lyabi Khauz is one of the central squares in Bukhara with a ‘ pool’ in the middle. It is a central place where many locals come together to hang out. Also, you can have a drink or a meal at Labi Hovuz.
The Bukhara Tower is a metal construction with an observation deck for views over Bukhara with cafes and restaurants. Even though we decided not to enter the tower, it is still one of the main sights in Bukhara.
The Abdulaziz Han Madrassah in the town centre is another beautiful madrassah in Bukhara. If you are heading on a stroll through town, you can’t miss out on this Madrassah.
Similarly to all Uzbek cities, a local market can be found in Bukhara. Since we already visited a local bazaar in Tashkent, we decided to skip the central bazaar. Nevertheless, if you are keen on visiting a local market, this is the place to go in Bukhara.
Before I visited Uzbekistan, I expected a rich bath culture. However, Bukhara is one of the only places where you can find an original bathhouse. The hammam was built in the 14th century and still serves as a bathhouse.
Waking up early is the perfect idea if you would like to snap some beautiful photos and watch Bukhara unfold. On top of that, you can see the city building up all the shopping stalls, enjoy the beautiful lighting and connect with the locals.
After Khiva, it was a change of taste arriving in Bukhara and exploring more of Uzbek cuisine. As always, we’ve tried multiple restaurants, though our winner was Old Bukhara Restaurant, where they served lovely food and a decent Aperol Spritz.
This restaurant was our favourite restaurant on our visit to Bukhara. They served lovely snacks, some vegetable pasts (eggplant) and a great Aperol Spritz. Furthermore, they have a wonderful courtyard to enjoy your food.
Bukhara is home to several lovely teahouses, and we decided to test our luck at Silk Road Teahouse. You can order a pot of wonderful tea with some snacks. It is the perfect location to cool down on a hot day in Bukhara.
We have read about this bar/restaurant on many blogs, mainly because of the beautiful view. Firstly, I can confirm that the view of the beautiful buildings in Poi Kalyan is breathtaking. However, I would advise you to only go here for a drink, since the food tends not to be great. Next to that, the service does not feel as if you are in a restaurant. Don’t expect much besides beautiful views and you’ll be fine!
Next to the restaurant recommendations mentioned above, there are plenty of other great restaurants to visit. Firstly, if you enjoy a view over Lhabi Hauz, Labi Hovuz is the perfect place for dinner. Next to that, Mavrigiri Restaurant and Minzifia are great locations. The latter has a beautiful courtyard. Furthermore, if you are in for a change of taste, check out Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant in Bukhara. Lastly, Coffee & Donuts and Cafe Wishbone are good places to enjoy coffee.
During our visit to Bukhara, we had the pleasure of staying at Old Gate Guesthouse. Firstly, the guesthouse owners (a family) were the sweetest ever. The eldest man did not speak English but was very friendly and helpful. However, when we needed something, he straight away called his family who spoke English perfectly. Also, they serve some homemade breakfast in the morning. You can book your room for around €50 per night.
As you can see, Bukhara is full of great hotel options for a good price. Similar to the other hotels, in Old Bukhara you can enjoy a lovely breakfast and an air-conditioned room. Prices already start from €40 a night (including the Genius discount) and are on average €60 a night.