20 top places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan: a travel guide

20 top places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan: a travel guide

Backpacking Uzbekistan: A travel guide about the best places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan for the independent budget travellerThis post is a travel guide with the best places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan Uzbekistan.

Tashkent might be the capital of Uzbekistan, but it receives little attention from tourists. It’s a city that travelers come through or where they start their journey, but often spend as little time as possible. They rather skip all the places to visit in Tashkent for the Silk Road attractions in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand

Are people right in doing so? Maybe. Tashkent is for sure no silk road city, despite its age. Modernization projects are changing Tashkent rapidly, for better and for worse. There is not much of the scenic neighbourhoods of old Tashkent left. And yet, I loved Tashkent.

Despite stories that there is nothing to see in Tashkent I wanted to give it a chance and I am glad I did. I was not only in Uzbekistan to see history, but also to get a sense of modern Uzbek culture. Tashkent was a great place to do so and there are in fact lots of interesting places to visit in Tashkent that makes the city a great start of any Uzbekistan itinerary.

Khast Imom complex in Tashkent Uzbekistan. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent

Why visit Tashkent?

With almost two million people, Tashkent is the biggest city in central Asia. However, for its growing size, Tashkent remains a very pleasant and green city. Even though Almaty in Kazakhstan is still my favourite in this region, Tashkent is a close second. 

Tashkent might lack the impressive Islamic architecture you see elsewhere in Uzbekistan, but there are many great places to visit in Tashkent. The colourful bazaars, the pleasant parks, the interesting museums, the great restaurants and the Soviet era architecture. 

Although Uzbekistan has done much to erase their communist past, it still feels like a Soviet city in many places. This is not a surprise. When an earthquake destroyed Tashkent in 1966 the Soviets had a blast rebuilding the city. The result are some of the finest examples of brutalist architecture.

What I liked most is that Tashkent’s Soviet heritage is pretty unique and almost always has it’s own Uzbek twist to it. Tashkents metro being a great example where the beautiful stations are decorated with Uzbek symbols. 

What I also loved about Tashkent was the food. Whether you want traditional Uzbek cuisine or something else. Tashkent has the best restaurants in the region with a wide range of international kitchens available. That alone made me happy to stay here for almost a week exploring the best places to visit in Tashkent. 

Chorsu bazaar in Tashkent Uzbekistan. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent

The best places to visit in Tashkent

1. Tashkent metro

One of my favourite places to visit in Tashkent were the Tashkent metro stations. Like many Soviet metro systems they have some of the most unique and ornate stations in the world.

For years it was forbidden to take pictures, but the new president realized the esthethical value of Tashkents historical metro stations. The Guardian was one of the first to show its beauty to the world and you can now happily snap away.

Tashkent Metro station

2. Hotel Uzbekistan

Hotel Uzbekistan is a typical Soviet hotel. During the Soviet Union every big city had a state run hotel. Examples are the Hotel Kazakhstan in Almaty, the Cosmos hotel in Chisinau and the hotel Moldova in Iasi.

The architecture of these communist era hotels is impressive, but they are huge and often have a hard time finding enough clients these days. Hotel Uzbekistan has changed rather succesfully into one of the best up market hotels in Tashkent.

Insider tip: From the top floor you have a beautiful view over Amir Timur square.

Nearest metro station: Amir Timur Xiyoboni (red Chilonzor line)

Hotel Uzbekistan in Tashkent Uzbekistan

3. Amir Timur square

Tashkents central square is one of the main places to visit in Tashkent. It was built in 1870 to become Tashkent’s central park.

Now the main monument in the park is Amir Timur on his horse, but several men have stood here before him. First it was Lenin, then Stalin, and finally Karl Marx untill Uzbekistan’s independence when Timur was reinstalled as hero of the past.

Most of the buildings you see have historical importance such as the Hotel Uzbekistan, The Law university, the Forum’s palace, the clock towers and the Amir Timur museum.

The large white International Congress hall is a recent addition from 2009 when the municipality also decided to remove the century old chinor trees. The result is a barren park. The men that used to play chess under the shadows of the trees have now moved elsewhere.

Nearest metro station: Amir Timur Xiyoboni (red Chilonzor line)

Amir Timur Square in Tashkent Uzbekistan. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent

4. Romanov palace

In Tashkent you will find a rather modest and small palace of the Romanovs. It belonged to the first cousin of Tsar Nikolai the second, who after a scandalous affair with a prominent American lady was deported to Tashkent to mine gem stones. 

Nearest metro station: Mustaqilik Maydoni (red Chilonzor line)

5. Independence square

In Soviet times this square surrounded by important government buildings used to be called Lenin square and was the place for celebrations of important days like Labour day and Victory day. It is still used for this purpose, but has now become a symbol for Uzbekistan’s independence.

Lenin was removed and in its place is the independence monument. A globe with the current borders of Uzbekistan. The fountains and buildings were renovated. At the right bottom of Independence square you can still find the memorial area with the crying mother monument to remember the 400,000 Uzbek soldiers that died in the second World war.

Nearest metro station: Mustaqilik Maydoni (red Chilonzor line)

Mustaqilik Maydoni in Tashkent Uzbekistan. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent

6. State history museum

The State History museum is a great example of a Soviet building with an Uzbek influence. The latticework around the building made use of Pandzharas. The decorative pandzharas are traditionally used in Uzbekistan as a facade to provide shade. The architecture alone makes it worth a visit.

The museum already opened its doors in 1876 as the National Museum of Turkestan. In Soviet times it became the Lenin museum. Now the exhibitions focus on the history of Uzbekistan from ancient times to president Karimov’s time.

I am normally not that much into museums, but because it was raining that day I decided to have a look. I must say that for central Asia it is a pretty good museum showing the long and complex history of the country. For sure it gives more context and background information on the things you will see in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.

Nearest metro station: Mustaqilik Maydoni (red Chilonzor line)

State History Museum in Tashkent Uzbekistan

7. Alisher navoi opera & ballet theatre

For a night out in Tashkent you can head to the Alisher Navoi Opera & Ballet Theatre. Worth a visit for its high quality and value for money performances and its architecture.

Nearest metro station: Mustaqilik Maydoni (red Chilonzor line)

8. Khast Imom complex

The Khast Imom complex is one of the best places to visit in Tashkent for Islamic architecture. It has been the religious center for Tashkent for centuries after the first imam of Tashkent was buried here.

Unfortunately, most of what you see today in the large empty square is the result of a modernization project in 2007. The Hazrat Imam mosque and the Muyi Mubarak library were constructed at that time. The library has a collection of ancient Qurans and claims to have the oldest Quran in the world.

For some of the older buildings you can visit the Tellya Sheikh mosque and the 16th century Barak Khan madrassah that is now full with souvenir shops. North of the madrasssah is the mausoleum of Abu Bakr Mohammed Kaffal Shashi, a scholar and poet from the tenth century. Legend goes that women who are unable to conceive should smear the dust of the tomb on their face for a succesful pregnancy.

Nearest metro station: Gafur Gulom (blue Ozbekiston line). As the Khast Imam complex is still rather far from the metro, it is better to take a taxi.

Khast Imom complex in Tashkent Uzbekistan. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent

9. Tashkent Circus

The Tashkent circus is another great example of Soviet architecture and almost looks like a stranded blue UFO, much like the circus in Almaty and Chisinau. The Tashkent circus is still very popular and tickets often sell out.

Nearest metro station: Gafur Gulom (blue Ozbekiston line).

Tashkent Circus

10. Chorsu bazaar

Chorsu bazaar is the commercial heart of Tashkent and the giant domed structure is a mayhem of merchants selling spices, meat, vegetables, dairy and other stuff. The beautiful oriental style dome was built after the earthquake in 1966, but there has been a market at this spot since at least the Mongol invasion.

Chorsu translates as four waters that was a symbol for the place where four neighbourhoods came together to trade. The four neighbourhoods were like four independent cities with the bazaar in the middle. The market now extends well beyond the dome with different sections all well worth exploring.

For foodies this is a heavenly place with lots of things to try. Bakeries sell fresh non bread straight out of the oven, barbecues have sizzling shaslycks on offer and in the dairy section you can buy different types of dried cheese and yoghurt (kurut). As souvenir you can bring back home plenty of spices or dried fruits and nuts.

Uzbek cuisine has its own specialities, but is also influenced by its neighbours and ethnic minorities. At Chorsu bazaar look out for the Uzbek Koreans that sell pickled vegetable salads. A visit to the meat section makes you understand why coronary heart disease is a major killer in Uzbekistan. The sheeps fat is a priced commodity and you have shops selling nothing but pure animal fat. Of course there is horse meat available as well.

Nearest metro station: Chorsu (blue Ozbekiston line).

Chorsu bazaar in Tashkent Uzbekistan

11. Kukeldash Madrassah

The Kukeldash Madrassah was built in the 16th century. An earthquake in 1868 damaged the building and it was reconstructed into a caravanserai. During the Soviet times it became a museum of atheism and folk music untill Uzbekistan became independent and the building was used once again for its original purpose.

Nearest metro station: Chorsu (blue Ozbekiston line).

Kulkedash madrassah in Tashkent Uzbekistan

12. Navoi Park

The Navoi Park is Tashkent’s largest park. There is lots of greenery, flowers and canals with a small lake as the cherry on top. It was founded by the Komsomol in 1932, but now has a new monument to Islamic poet Alisher Navoi in the centre. From there you can see the impressive dome of the Oliy Majilis or the parliament of Uzbekistan.

Nearest metro station: Miliy Bog (red chilonzor line).

Navoi Park in Tashkent Uzbekistan

13. Istiklol Palace

From the Navoi Park it is a pleasant walk to the Istiklol Palace. This is probably one of the best places in Tashkent for Soviet architecture and the brutalist design is impressive. The concrete facade was apparently supposed to represent the ancient desert fortresses in Khorezm, but I couldn’t see the similarities.

The palace of friendship of the peoples was the main concert and event venue for the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Now it is called the Istiklol Arts palace and still hosts cultural events and conferences. It overlooks a large public square with flowers.

Nearest metro station: Bunyodkor (red chilonzor line).

Istiklol Palace. One of the best places to visit in Tashkent for Soviet architecture

14. Museum of Applied Arts

Tashkent has some of the best museums in central Asia and the Museum of applied arts is another small gem with a nice collection of traditional Uzbek art. From ceramics, to jewellery and traditional clothes.

Nearest metro station: Kosmonavtlar (blue Ozbekiston line).

Museum of applied Arts in Tashkent Uzbekistan

15. State Fine Arts museum

The State fine arts museum was another museum in Tashkent that I really enjoyed. In four floors you get to see the history of art in Uzbekistan starting from the 7th century onwards. There is also a collection of Russian art that belonged to the Romanov prince that was deported to Tashkent after an affair.

Insider tip: Because there is also a section with applied arts it is better to visit the state fine arts museum rather than the museum of applied arts.

Nearest metro station: Oybek (blue Ozbekiston line).

16. Russian orthodox church

Although many Russian people have left Uzbekistan after independence there is still a large Russian minority in Tashkent. The bright blue Holy Assumption Cathedral is the biggest Russian orthodox church in Tashkent and the religious centre for Uzbek Russians.

Nearest metro station: Toshkent (blue Ozbekiston line).

Russian orthodox church in Tashkent Uzbekistan

17. TV tower

The Tashkent tv tower is the tallest in Central asia and an icon of the city. There are restaurants and an observation deck from where you have a beautiful view over the city. It is relatively nearby the Plov centre so it makes a great combination.

Nearest metro station: Shahriston (green Yunubod line).

Things to do near Tashkent

There are not a lot of day trips from Tashkent. Personally, I feel there are enough places to visit in Tashkent to occupy you for a couple of days, but if you really want to escape the city your options are limited to the sights in the beautiful Ugam Chatkal National Park.

Uzbekistan is not really known for its natural beauty. The neighbouring countries Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are much better at that. Except for a small mountainous part north of Tashkent.

Only 2 hours away you will find Tashkent’s favourite weekend get away. A ski resort in winter and a way to escape the heat in summer. More about the practicalities of visiting this part of Uzbekistan is in my post on the Chimgan mountains and Charvak lake.

18. Beldersoy

The Beldersoy Soviet era chair lift is especially fun in winter when it is a ski resort. In summer, the views are still nice, but there is not much going on. Personally I was a bit hesitant with the ski lift as it didn’t look very safe and with my fear of heights I decided not to go.

19. Chimgan

Chimgan is the main town in the Uzbek part of the Ugam Chatkal National Park. Again, most of the activities are in the winter sports season from November till March. Outside of that, you can still go horse riding or quad biking and enjoy Chimgan’s scenic location.

Chimgan town in the Chimgan mountains

20. Charvak Lake

Charvak lake was definetly the highlight of my day to the Ugam Chatkal National Park. Honestly, Beldersoy and Chimgan town were a bit of a disappointment and I wasn’t sure this area was worth the effort, especially considering the fact I was going to see more than enough mountains in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was untill I saw the bright blue Charvak Lake.

This artificial lake was created during the Soviet Union to provide cheap energy to Tashkent. Not everybody was happy with the new Charvak Hydro power station. Archeologists quickly researched and photographed a number of ancient petroglyphs that are now under water.

Insider tip: On your way from Charvak lake to Tashkent are several nice restaurants. We had a late lunch at 555 restaurant, that was absolutely delicious. 

Charvak lake in the Chimgan mountains

Best places to eat in Tashkent

1. Testo

Testo is the best place in Tashkent for all kinds of dumplings. From the central Asian manti’s to Russian pelmeni’s, Georgian khinkali and Italian Ravioli. They also serve good breakfasts and soups for lunch.

Nearest metro station: Oybek (blue Ozbekiston line).

2. National food

Without doubt this is the best place to visit in Tashkent for cheap Uzbek food. It’s not your most cozy restaurant. Furthermore its chaotic and always busy, but so much worth the effort. The most difficult part is choosing what to eat. The menu is extensive and there is lots of stuff going on.

Outside women are stirring in huge kazans with haleem, a mixture of wheat, lentils and meat. Men are pouring water into shurpa clay pots with delicious lamb and vegetable stews. Inside there is a large table where ariound 20 women are preparing Naryn, a cold noodle salad with horse meat. The bakery works on full speed, handing out fresh breads from the oven by the dozen.

This restaurant goes far beyond the standard plov and it is an excellent place to try something else. The dolma and the Naryn I took were absolutely delicious. It shows that Uzbek cuisine is so much more than just plov and shaslyck.

Read more about this restaurant in my post on National Food in Tashkent.

Nearest metro station: Gafur Gulom (blue Ozbekiston line).

National food in Tashkent Uzbekistan

3. Plov centre

Like National food, the Plov centre is low on decor, but high on local culture. It serves just one dish, plov. Uzbek’s most famous foood is popular all over central asia. The basic recipy is pretty simple with rice, carrots and meat cooked in sheeps fat. However, there are several varieties on this standard recipy.

The Plov centre has about 10 huge kazans with different types of plov. Most of them will be sold out by noon. When I arrived for lunch at 1 PM there were just three types left.

I was already one month in central Asia and felt I had enough plov, but I must say that they do a pretty good job and I did enjoy my plov here. This is not the overcooked mush you get in a lot of roadside restaurants. The meat was tender, the rice still had a bite and the nuts and barberries added a unique flavour.

Nearest metro station: Shahriston (green Yunubod line).

Plov centre in Tashkent Uzbekistan

4. Meryam dessert house

The best place to visit in Tashkent for cake and pastries is the Meryam dessert house and cofee shop. They alse serve nice breakfasts and are a good place for lunch as well.

Nearest metro station: Oybek (blue Ozbekiston line).

Best places to stay in Tashkent

1. Art hostel

Art Hostel is a good hostel in a nice neighbourhood of Tashkent. They have a good breakfast buffet and a swimming pool for those hot summer days. The staff is very helpful in giving tips and advice. 

Nearest metro station: Kosmonavtlar (blue Ozbekiston line).

2. Top hostel

Top Hostel is another cheap and profesional place to stay in Tashkent with clean dormitories and a nice breakfast.

Nearest metro station: Buyuk Ipak Yuli (red Chilonzor line).

3. Bukhara Gold hostel

Bukhara Gold Hostel is an excellent option near the train station with clean rooms and a friendly family that runs the place. 

Nearest metro station: Toshkent (blue Ozbekiston line).

Old Tashkent in spring

When to visit Tashkent

Winters are cold and cloudy, while summers get unbearingly hot in the city. The best time to visit is either spring or autumn.

Spring runs from March till June and starts with Nauruz. A huge festival celebrating the end of winter with several activities in the capital around the 21st of March. It’s a wonderful time in Tashkent when the trees bloom and temperatures are pleasant.

Autumn has even better weather with clear blue skies. This is when the trees turn red and gold. It is also harvest season and Chorsu bazaar will be full with melons, apricots and plums.

Central train station in Tashkent Uzbekistan

How to travel to Tashkent

By plane

Tashkent has an international Airport. Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines and Air baltic have relatively cheap flights to Tashkent, but in general Tashkent is not the cheapest city to fly into the region. It is sometimes cheaper to fly into Almaty in Kazakhstan if you have the time to take the night train to Shymkent and Tashkent.

By train

Tashkent is connected by train to Almaty and Shymkent in Kazakhstan and even all the way to Moscow. There is a twice weekly overnight fast train between Almaty and Tashkent (24 hours) and some slower trains that take longer (28 hours). The journey to Moscow takes 66 hours.

Within Uzbekistan there are daily fast trains to Samarkand and Bukhara. Overnight trains run several times a week to Urgench and Nukus.

Read more about how to travel by train in Uzbekistan in my post about trains in Uzbekistan.

By bus

I travelled to Tashkent by Kaznetwork bus from Shymkent in Kazakhstan. There are daily buses between Shymkent and Tashkent and the journey takes 5 hours. The border is easy nowadays without too much hassle.

Disclaimer: This Tashkent travel guide with the best places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!

Backpacking Uzbekistan: A travel guide about the best places to visit in Tashkent Uzbekistan for the independent budget traveller

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Anya at 1:05 pm

    Uzbekistan’s nature is amazing. My husband and I have been planning to visit this summer but went to other destinations instead. Hopefully we’ll get to visit next year and I know whose guide I will be referring to 🙂 great post, Ellis!

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