Top things to do

Top Choice Plaza in Samarkand

Registan

This ensemble of majestic, tilting medressas – a near-overload of majolica, azure mosaics and vast, well-proportioned spaces – is the centrepiece of the city, and arguably the most awesome single sight in Central As…
Top Choice Mausoleum in Samarkand

Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum

The beautiful portal and trademark fluted azure dome of the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum marks the final resting place of Timur (Tamerlane), along with two sons and two grandsons (including Ulugbek). It's a surprisingly mod…
Top Choice Islamic Tomb in Samarkand

Shah-i-Zinda

Samarkand’s most moving and beloved site is this stunning avenue of mausoleums, which contains some of the richest tilework in the Muslim world. The name, which means ‘Tomb of the Living King’, refers to its origina…
Top Choice Fortress in Bukhara

Ark

The spectacular-looking Ark, a royal town-within-a-town, is Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920, when it was bombed by the Red Army. For centuries it was the residence of th…
Top Choice Mosque in Samarkand

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The enormous congregational Bibi-Khanym Mosque, northeast of the Registan, was financed from the spoils of Timur's invasion of India and must have been the jewel of his empire. Once one of the Islamic world’s bigges…
Top Choice Islamic Site in Bukhara

Kalon Minaret

When it was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127, the Kalon Minaret was probably the tallest building in Central Asia – kalon means ‘great’ in Tajik. It’s an incredible piece of work, 47m tall with 10m-…
Top Choice International in Bukhara

Minzifa

Bukhara's most charming and professional restaurant is this perennially popular place with a fantastic roof terrace overlooking the sunset-framed domes of the Sarrafon hammam. The menu stretches to dishes like chick…
Top Choice Historic Building in Bukhara

Char Minar

Photogenic little Char Minar, in a maze of alleys between Pushkin and Hoja Nurabad, bears more relation to Indian styles than to anything Bukharan. This was the gatehouse of a long-gone medressa built in 1807. The n…
Top Choice International in Samarkand

Platan

Possibly the best restaurant in Samarkand, Platan has a classy interior and a summer terrace for shady al fresco dining in the summer. The menu includes some Middle Eastern and Thai influences alongside regional dis…
Top Choice International in Bukhara

Saroy

A welcome addition to the eating scene, this restaurant fronting the Lyabi-Hauz is housed in a beautifully appointed two-storey building with both traditional and European touches. The large menu has some vegetarian…