Top 12 Things to do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (2023)

In this travel guide, you will get acquainted with the top 12 things to do in Samarkand that are worth experiencing for every kind of traveler.

Samarkand is one of the most important places in Uzbekistan. It was founded in the 7th century BC and is the ancient beating heart of the country. As one of the oldest towns in Central Asia, it has been shaped by many different cultures and religions over the years.

Samarkand, in Uzbekistan, is becoming a real tourist hotspot because it has some of the most intricate and beautiful architecture in the world. Historians know this big city best for being the center of Timur’s empire and for its amazing Silk Road buildings.

Before diving deeper, let’s have a quick look at the top 12 things to do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Things of InterestLocation
RegistanRegistan Ko’chasi, Samarkand
Bibi-Khanym MosqueBibikhonim Str, Samarkand
Siab BazaarBibikhonim St, Samarkand
Shah-I-Zinda Necropolis ComplexM-37, Samarkand
Afrasiab Museum of SamarkandToshkent yo’li, Samarkand
Hazrat Khizr MosqueMX7M+97H, Samarkand
Gur-e-Amir ComplexUniversitetskiy Boulevard Bustonsaroy St, Samarkand
Ulugh Beg ObservatoryToshkent yo’li, Samarkand
Khodja Abdi Darun ShrineSadriddin Ayniy Street, Samarkand
Imam Bukhari MausoleumHartang Village, 25km from Samarkand
Uzbek Plov
Night Show at the RegistanRegistan, Samarkand

Suggested Read: Read our travel guide on why you should visit Uzbekistan as a traveler.

Best Things to do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Now, we are going to discuss the top 12 things to do in Samarkand, Uzbekistan for making your trip memorable.

1. Go to Registan

Registan is one of the most visited places in Samarkand. It was the heart of the old city. Its beautiful architecture has made it famous all over the world, and no trip to Samarkand is complete without at least a few hours spent here. There are three madrassas, which in Arabic means “schools.” They all face the central square.

registan, samarkand

Each madrassa has its own door, beautiful tile work, and two large entrances. The three madrasas are Islamic schools with very different styles of building. Ulugh Beg Madrasah, Tilya-Kori Madrasah, and Sher-Dor Madrasah are from left to right.

  • Location: Registan Ko’chasi, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 40,000 UZS per person
  • Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.

Suggested Read: Read our blog on the most interesting facts about Uzbekistan to understand the country perfectly.

2. Bibi-Khanym Mosque

After you’ve seen Registan, you should go to the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, which is one of the most important and best places to see in Samarkand. The beautiful mosque is said to have been built by Tamerlane’s wife between 1399 and 1405, after his successful campaign through India. 

bibi khanym mosque
Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The inside is really beautiful, and the courtyard is great. This is something that should be on any list of things to do in Samarkand. If you go to Uzbekistan, then don’t forget to visit Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand.

  • Location: Bibikhonim Str, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 25.000 UZS for Adults
  • Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.

Suggested Read: Read our travel guide on the most exciting and vibrant nightlife spots in Uzbekistan to make your trip more enjoyable.

3. Shop at Siab Bazaar

Siab Bazaar, which is also called Siyob Bazaar, is the oldest and biggest market in Samarkand. It is right next to the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The bazaar has become more modern over time, but it still has its own unique and interesting appeal. 

siab bazaar samarkand
Siab Bazaar

After you’re done seeing the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, walk through the huge arches next door to get to the bazaar. You’ll smell different things and see so many brightly colored fruits and vegetables that you won’t know where to look first.

  • Location: Bibikhonim St, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Opening Hours: Open till late night.

Suggested Read: Read our travel guide on the 10 best things to do in Tashkent for every kind of traveler.

4. Shah-I-Zinda Necropolis Complex

Shah-I-Zinda Necropolis Complexe is one of the best places to see and take pictures in Samarkand. The Shah-I-Zinda is also called “The Living King.” Necropolis is a huge complex that grew up over the course of 800 years (from the 11th to the 19th). 

shah I zinda necropolis complex
Shah-I-Zinda Necropolis Complex

It has many temples, mausoleums, and buildings used for ceremonies. There are 11 mausoleums there, and they are all lined up along a medieval street. They were built one after the other in the 14th and 15th centuries. Old royals and other important people are buried there.

  • Location: M-37, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 15,000 UZS per person
  • Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.

5. Go to Afrasiab Ancient Site and the Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand

One of the biggest archaeological sites in the world is the Afrasiab Ancient Site. As you search for the greatest things to do in Samarkand, have a peek at what used to be a historic city that is now just a collection of dirt hills.

afrasiab museum of samarkand
Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand

From 500 BC to 1220 AD, people lived in the old city. In the 13th century, the Mongols destroyed the city. Afrasiyab is the oldest part of Samarkand’s old city. It is 220 hectares big. On the site, you can find a museum. We didn’t go in, but it has 5 rooms for the different times when people lived in the Afrasyab fort.

  • Location: Toshkent yo’li, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 25,000 UZS per person
  • Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.

6. Hazrat Khizr Mosque

The Hazrat Khizr Mosque is on top of a hill on the edge of Afrasyab. Because of where it is, you can see a great view of Samarkand from there. From the minaret, you can see the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda, and Afrosiab.

hazrat khizr mosque
Hazrat Khizr Mosque

 In the same place, there used to be a mosque from the 8th century, but Genghis Khan burned it down in the 13th century. It was built again in 1854, and in the 1990s, it was fixed up. It is one of Samarkand’s newest and most beautiful mosques. It is a very important as well as worth visiting place to visit in Samarkand.

  • Location: MX7M+97H, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Opening Hours: All day.

7. Go to Gur-e-Amir Complex

If I had to pick my three favorite places in Samarkand, they would be the Registan, the Shah-I-Zinda Complex, and the Gur-e-Amir Complex. Gur-e-Amir, which means “Tomb of the King” in Persian, is where Timur, his two sons, two grandsons, and his personal teacher are all buried.

gur e amir complex
Gur-e-Amir Complex

Muhammad Sultan, who was Tamerlane’s grandson, died suddenly and needed a place to be buried. This is why the Gur-e-Amir complex was built in the 1400s. It is one of the best places to visit in Samarkand, which is in Uzbekistan. If you go to Samarkand then don’t forget to go to Gur-e-Amir Complex.

  • Location: 1/4, Universitetskiy Boulevard Bustonsaroy St, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 25,000 UZS per person
  • Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.

8. Go to Ulugh Beg Observatory

This monument’s location on top of a hill on the edge of Samarkand is very important. It was built in 1420 by Ulugh Beg, who was the grandson of Amir Timur and an astronomer. It is a small, simple place, but Ulugh Beg needed it to make his astronomical observations and calculations. 

ulugh beg observatory
Ulugh Beg Observatory

Ulugh Beg began building the observatory in 1424 so that he could study astronomy at the madrasah. Scholars thought it was one of the best observatories in the Islamic World when it was finished in 1429.

  • Location: Toshkent yo’li, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 25,000 UZS per person
  • Opening Hours: 9 am to 7 pm.

9. Khodja Abdi Darun Shrine

Khodja Abdi Darun Shrine is not as popular as some of the other best places in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, but it is still worth a visit. This mausoleum has beautifully decorated pillars, nice iwans, and a pool in the middle of the courtyard. It was built in the 12th century and has been in use as a madrassah for more than 400 years.

khodja abdi darun shrine
Khodja Abdi Darun Shrine

 It was fixed up in the 15th and 19th centuries. From Registan, it takes about 30 minutes to walk here, so if you want to get away from the crowds in Samarkand, this is the place to go.

  • Location: Sadriddin Ayniy Street, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Opening Hours: All day.

10. To see Imam Bukhari Mausoleum

Visiting the Mausoleum of Imam Bukhari is another one of the best things to do in Samarkand. It is 25 km from the city. This complex is where one of Islam’s most important scholars, Imam Bukhari, is buried.

imam bukhari mausoleum
Imam Bukhari Mausoleum

If you go to Samarkand then don’t forget to go to this place. It also has mosques, a library, and even a hotel for religious tourists. Muslims often visit the mausoleum of Imam Bukhari as part of a small one-day “Hajj” that also includes the mausoleums of Rukhabad and Shakhi-Zinda. This is because it is one of the most important Islamic sites in Samarkand.

  • Location: Hartang Village, 25km from Samarkand
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Opening Hours: All Day.

 11. Eat Plov in Samarkand

Plov is a trademark of Uzbek food, and no journey in the country would be complete without at least one meal of it. This hearty rice meal is prepared in a saucepan made of cast iron and topped with chunks of lamb and a variety of vegetables. It is one of the best dishes in Samarkand.

uzbek plov
Uzbek Plov

The Osh Markazi Filial 1 restaurant in Samarkand is widely regarded as the city’s best spot for plov. It is a little bit outside of town, yet it is situated in a very handy location just a few blocks away from the Ulugh Beg Observatory.

12. See the Night Show at the Registan

If you listen to our advice and stay in the Registan courtyard until the sun goes down, you’ll see something else that’s worth seeing. Every night at 7 pm, there is a traditional music and dance show in the courtyard of the Sherdor Madrasa, except when they don’t feel like it.

night show at the registan samarkand
Night Show at the Registan

Five men play instruments in a small group while others sing and dance. The show lasts 50 minutes, and you’ll be entertained the whole time. The colorfully lit interior walls of the courtyard are a beautiful backdrop for the performance.

  • Location: Registan, Samarkand
  • Entry fee: 60,000 UZS per person to see the 50-minute show
  • Opening Hours: The 50-minute show begins at 7 pm.


That brings an end to our conversation on the various activities available in Samarkand. Uzbekistan’s capital city, Samarkand, is one of the country’s most important cities. Founded in the seventh century BC, Samarkand, a city in Uzbekistan, features some of the world’s most stunning and detailed architecture, making it a popular tourist destination. 

You can visit Imam Bukhari Mausoleum, Khodja Abdi Darun Shrine, Registan, and Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Plov is a dish that should not be missed if you find yourself in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.