Central Asia’s biggest showstopper, Uzbekistan promises rich travel experiences on the Silk Road in historic cities but also a vibrant living culture. The nation is alive with bazaars, arts and crafts, sustainable fashion and exciting music festivals.
With the extreme continental climate, the best time to visit is spring and autumn, but other seasons appeal to adventure seekers and budget travelers. Whatever you are looking for along the Silk Road, here are the best times to come to Uzbekistan.
March to June and September to October are the best times to visit for perfect weather
Spring arrives early in Uzbekistan, and apricots blossom by the beginning of March. The weather in spring is warm and relatively dry, with temperatures hovering between 14°C (57°F) and 30°C (86°F). From March till early June, you can enjoy comfortable weather and make the most out of the sunny days. This is the ideal time to wander around the historical cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, enjoy natural escapes in the mountains or discover art and culture in the capital, Tashkent. However, you can expect to pay more for flights, local transport and accommodation at this time.
The autumn season is also mild and pleasant. From September to early November, the daytime temperature usually falls between 21˚C (70˚F) and 30˚C (86˚F). Best of all, in autumn you can indulge yourself with a feast of fruits, including Uzbekistan’s famous melons and watermelons. Local people are enthusiastic consumers of seasonal produce and very proud of the sweet taste and variety of the fruit produced by the nation’s sun-kissed farms and orchards.
A special treat is visiting the Fergana Valley at harvest time, particularly around Margilan, with its long streets of grape growers’ houses. Other highlights of the valley include the cozy restaurants of Fergana city and visiting the home studios of world-famous ceramic artists such as Alisher Nazirov and Rustam Usmanov in Rishtan. Margilan is also one of the birthplaces of traditional ikat weaving, which uses patterns dyed into the fibers. You can learn all about the history of Uzbekistan’s ancient crafts at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory and artisan-run pottery centers all over this small town.
December to January is the best time for skiing and winter sports
A nation in the desert might not sound like an obvious ski destination, but the quality of the snow and the improving infrastructure in Uzbekistan is earning growing respect from winter sports lovers. The 2019 opening of the Amirsoy mountain resort, easily accessible from Tashkent, has transformed Uzbekistan into Central Asia’s newest high-end skiing destination.
This makes winter a great time to visit Uzbekistan’s mountains, which are home to a wide variety of resorts catering to all types of travelers. The beautiful Charvak reservoir, the Unesco-listed Chatkal mountains, and highland regions such as Beldersay and Chimgan compete with the Alps when it comes to easily accessible winter activities.
Mountain lovers will also enjoy Zaamin National Park in the Jizzakh region – a popular destination year-round thanks to summertime temperatures that stay below 25°C (77°F). It snows a lot here in winter, but the Wyndham chain has opened three modern hotels and resorts at Zaamin, so your stay in the mountains can be both comfortable and adventurous.
If you’re after good deals, winter is also perfect time to visit the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva on a budget while avoiding the crowds. Prices fall for both accommodation and transport as the weather cools, but winter temperatures rarely dip below -3°C. Heating might be an issue in remote regions, but if you come from November to early December or in late February, the weather will be mild, and prices will be a pleasant surprise.
The hot summer sees visitor numbers drop in Uzbekistan
Summer in Uzbekistan is dry and hot, with temperatures reaching 35°C (75°F) to 40°C (104°F) degrees in July. In southern areas, including Bukhara, Khiva and Karakalpakstan, temperatures can be uncomfortable – even local citizens have a little siesta in the afternoons and stay indoors for much of the day.
However, this is also a time for low prices and few tourists. At the height of the summer season, guides will suggest going sightseeing in the morning or after 5pm; fill the rest of the day visiting museums, booking onto an art class or arranging a spa treatment.
While days are quieter, nightlife becomes more active in summer. There’s a special holiday vibe at this time of the year – enjoy late dinners on restaurant terraces with fogging machines or small fountains, evening walks in the city parks, lots of shopping and souvenir hunting, enjoying ice-cream and staying up at local bars and clubs.
Catch the marathon vibe four times a year
Running a marathon in one of Uzbekistan’s historic cities or out in beautiful nature is a great reason to plan your trip to Uzbekistan around a particular date. Even if you are not a runner, these big sporting events are great for socializing, and a good excuse to spend a weekend making new friends.
The number of runners coming to Uzbekistan is growing steadily thanks to a lively program of events staged by local sports societies. It all started with the Samarkand Half Marathon, held every September – two days of events for runners and their cheering followers, including modern music shows between the monuments in historic Registan Square.
The Bukhara Night Race happens in late summer, providing an outstanding opportunity to see the city’s magnificent historical architecture lit up by the colorful lights installed specifically for the event. In spring, watch or compete in the Zaamin Ultra, a 42km ultra-marathon through this long-established national park; this race gives participants the opportunity to sleep under the stars and see this beautiful mountain region at the greenest time of year. Tashkent also hosts an international marathon in spring as part of the Navruz holiday celebrations.
Time your trip to coincide with Uzbekistan’s big festivals
While we’re talking about Navruz, the official date for this celebration of the spring equinox and the Persian New Year is March 21. The government announces five days of holidays around this date, so it’s a great time to enjoy street festivities, arts and crafts fairs, music and gastronomic events. If you plan to visit Uzbekistan during Navruz, book well in advance, especially for the high-speed trains to Samarkand and Bukhara.
The important Sharq Taronalari festival (celebrating traditional Central Asian melodies) and Maqom festival (showcasing Arabic-inspired maqom music) are held in Samarkand and Shakhrisabz every other year in September. Folk musicians gather from around the world to perform concerts at various stages, including in Samarkand’s Registan Square. Jam sessions and open-air events will further immerse you in Uzbekistan’s vibrant artistic life.
If you prefer electronic music, consider the Stihia (Element) Festival held in the desert in at the end of August. Exploring music, social activities and the human impact on nature, the festival can be a highly emotional experience.
If you're interested in art, fashion and food, Uzbekistan’s annual art and fashion weeks should feature on your trip calendar. Uzbekistan Fashion Week, Visa Fashion Week Tashkent and the Tashkent International Biennale of Contemporary Art (hosted by the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan), usually take place in the autumn, but smaller arts and crafts fairs such as Tashkent’s Art Bazaar and Teplo Market are held every weekend, offering a chance to meet and talk with the founders of local brands. Spring is the season for Bukhara’s Silk and Spices Festival, held in May and June, where you can find handmade souvenirs, watch music and dance shows and try local Uzbek cuisine.