Tashkent Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Tashkent City View

Tashkent is the bustling capital city of Uzbekistan and offers a unique experience for travelers to this Silk Road country. The city is a patchwork of culture and architecture woven over more than 2,000 years of history in which it has been shaped by Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shaybānid, and Soviet influence.

If you’re planning a trip to the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva you can expect to experience centuries-old Islamic architecture characterized by intricate tilework and turquoise domes.

Tashkent however, offers a mishmash of Soviet apartment blocks, old Uzbek neighborhoods, wide tree-lined streets, green parks filled with young families, modern cafes, and the hustle and bustle of a busy, developing city.

Not to say that Tashkent doesn’t have its share of Islamic architecture and history. It’s home to what is claimed to be the oldest copy of the Koran in the world and it has a number of mosques and madrasas worthy of a visit.

As home to the largest number of museums, parks, and restaurants in Uzbekistan however, the city offers a much broader experience of a rapidly changing Central Asian hub.

If you’re visiting Uzbekistan then there’s a fair chance that you’ll enter the country through Tashkent International Airport. You might be wondering if Tashkent is worth a visit and if so then you’re in the right place.

In this Tashkent travel guide, we’ll introduce you to this overlooked city and share our reasons for visiting Tashkent in 2024. We also share tips for visiting the city such as what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.

We live here in Tashkent so we’d say we know a thing or two!

Alay Bazaar Sandwich
Yours truly, enjoying a sandwich at Alay Bazaar

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History of Tashkent

In order to understand Tashkent, it’s important to understand its history. We’re very poorly qualified historians but here’s our attempt at least.

Tashkent city is said to have been established somewhere between the 2nd or 1st century BCE and Islam was introduced to the region by the Arab conquerors in the 8th century.

In the 13th century, Tashkent became a part of the Mongol empire, led by the infamous Genghis Khan who destroyed much of the city in 1219. Later in the 14th century the city was rebuilt under the rule of conqueror Amir Temur (also known as Tamerlane), who is today seen as a national hero in Uzbekistan and whose statue sits in the center of the city.

Amir Temur Square, Tashkent Center
Amir Temur Monument, Tashkent Center

Tashkent then passed through the hands of various Turko-Mongol rulers including the Shaybānids who built much of Tashkent’s remaining Islamic architecture such as the Kukeldash Madrasah.

The city was later ruled by the Khanate of Kokand, based in Fergana, the Eastern region of Uzbekistan. Relative instability during this era allowed the Russian Empire to conquer Tashkent in 1865 and the city became the new capital of Russian Turkestan.

Uzbekistan officially became a Soviet state in 1924 and up to a half of all Islamic buildings in the city were demolished according to a tour guide we spoke to. Much of Tashkent’s skyline today is instead peppered with Soviet-style apartment blocks and Brutalist-style architecture.

State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan.
Brutalist Architecture at the State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan.

In 1966, an earthquake devastated the city, demolishing buildings and displacing 300,000 people. A massive reconstruction effort swiftly rebuilt the city, drawing thousands of workers from various parts of the Soviet Union, altering the city’s ethnic diversity as many chose to stay.

Best Time to Visit Tashkent

Much like the rest of Uzbekistan, the ideal time of year to visit Tashkent is either in spring or autumn when the weather is pleasantly warm and dry. The best months to visit are April through to early June or September to early November.

The worst time to visit Tashkent are the summer months of July and August. Average day time temperatures in July are 33.8°C/92.8°F but peak temperatures can easily surpass 40°C/104° in the afternoons, making it an uncomfortable time to visit.

Visiting Tashkent in the winter is definitely feasible as the winter weather is fairly mild. Bear in mind however that temperatures can fluctuate quite a lot and January 2023 saw temperatures plunge to -20°C/-4°F for several days.

The days are shorter and there may not be as much to do but if you’re looking for winter activities at least the ski slopes are open! You also get the added bonus of fewer tourists at this time of year.

Read more on the best time to visit Uzbekistan.

How Long to Spend in Tashkent

If you really want to get to know Tashkent, then spend at least 3 days in the city. This will give you time to explore its historical monuments, busy bazaars, museums, and leafy parks. You’ll also have enough time to sample plenty of Uzbek national food which differs in each region.

If you’re short on time however then Tashkent’s main attractions can be experienced in a day if using a taxi or the metro to move from place to place. We wrote a number of different Tashkent one day itineraries for different types of traveler.

If you’re really short on time and have to choose between spending time in Tashkent or one of Uzbekistan’s other tourist cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara, or Khiva, then we’d suggest skipping Tashkent for a more traditional experience.

What to Wear in Tashkent

Despite being a Muslim country, Uzbekistan is relatively liberal and certainly doesn’t enforce a strict dress code. Tashkent being the most modern and multicultural city of Uzbekistan, is perhaps a little more forgiving than other cities in terms of dress code.

It is still a conservative country however, and visitors should be particularly mindful of clothing when visiting religious sites.

Loose-fitting clothes covering at least shoulders and knees are recommended for all visitors regardless of gender. Tank tops and short skirts for example are rarely seen in public.

When visiting religious sites, it’s advisable to cover up arms and legs for both men and women. Women are encouraged to cover their head with a head scarf or shawl and although this is not strictly enforced it is deemed to be more respectful.

Is Tashkent Safe?

Uzbekistan as a whole is a very safe place to visit with a low crime rate against foreigners. The country is deemed safe to visit by most governments including the USA who rank it in the top safety tier along with Finland and New Zealand.

The president and his family live in Tashkent and a large number of international conferences are held here resulting in a heavy police presence which you’ll notice almost immediately.

In order to stay safe, take normal precautions such as securing belongings and not walking around alone at night. Busy areas like Chorsu bazaar are completely safe to visit but just make sure your possessions are out of view and be wary of strangers befriending you.

Road safety is perhaps the biggest worry in Tashkent. Take extra care crossing roads and if ordering a taxi via an app, it’s worth it to spend more on a higher class as they tend to be more experienced drivers.

To be honest, having lived in Tashkent for a combined 35 years, we have few safety concerns here.

Read more about safety in Uzbekistan.

Getting Around Tashkent

If you plan on sightseeing in Tashkent then you’ll need a mode of transport as the city sprawls across a wide area. The central span from Navoi Opera to Amir Temur Square is quite walkable but you’ll need some form of transit if you plan on visiting attractions further out.

Taxi

These days the most convenient way to travel around Tashkent city is by taxi ordered via an app like Yandex or MyTaxi. This way you won’t need to worry about language barriers or being ripped off on price.

Prices have increased recently but still remain incredibly cheap compared to most countries. As I write this, a 6 km taxi journey from Amir Temur Square to Chorsu Bazaar costs just 16,500 Som (~$1.30).

As a remnant of its former Soviet days, it’s legal for any driver in Tashkent to act as a taxi and pick up passengers on the street. You’ll need to negotiate a price and drivers will rarely speak English so it’s not the most practical option but it’s good to know just in case you get lost.

Tashkent Metro

Tashkent’s Metro is also an excellent way to travel around the city. With ticket prices fixed at 2,000 Som (~$0.16) regardless of your final destination, you can travel across the city for next to nothing!

There are 48 metro stations including many in popular tourist spots such as Independence Square, Chorsu Bazaar, and Amir Temur Square. Trains are very frequent with a new one arriving every few minutes so you won’t be waiting around long.

It even doubles up as a tourist attraction due to its unique and elaborately designed stations (see below). Even if you plan to use taxis to navigate the city, it’s worth riding the metro at least one time.

Bus

Tashkent’s bus system is very efficient and well organised but is not particularly tourist friendly due to the lack of information in English. A bus ticket is the same as the metro at 2,000 Som for a single journey.

Admittedly we rarely if ever use the bus as it’s not as convenient or practical as a taxi or the metro. You can use this website to plan a bus journey across Tashkent.

Things To Do in Tashkent

If you’re unsure on whether to visit, then knowing the best things to do in Tashkent might help you decide. We have a full article on this but here are some of the highlights.

Chorsu Bazaar

Chorsu Bazaar
Chorsu Bazaar’s Blue Dome

By far the biggest and busiest bazaar in the city, Chorsu is a must-visit if you want to sample daily life for many Uzbeks.

Selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to traditional Uzbek clothing, ceramics and gold. If you’re looking for souvenirs then Chorsu Bazaar is definitely worth a try.

Chorsu Bazaar Inside
The Second Floor of Chorsu Bazaar

If you want to sample Uzbek street food, this is one of the best places to do so. They have a street food area selling shashlik (meat skewers), hasip (liver sausage), and khanum, a steamed doughy meal served in tomato sauce.

Chorsu Bazaar Street Food
Street Food at Chorsu Bazaar

Chorsu Bazaar can be a bit overwhelming however, so for a more relaxing bazaar experience try Alay Bazaar (Oloy Bozori) which is a smaller market place selling mainly fresh food. It’s also a great place to buy spices and dried fruit to take home.

Alay Bazaar Vegetable Stall
Vegetable stall in Tashkent’s quieter Alay Bazaar

Tashkent Metro

Although it may sound strange for public transport to be listed as a tourist attraction, the Tashkent metro is quite unique. Construction of the metro began in 1972 by the Soviets, who made elaborate designs for each of its stations including mosaics, chandeliers, Soviet-era geometric art and more.

As the metro was also designed for use as a nuclear shelter, photography in the stations was banned until 2016 but visitors are now free to take snaps of this unique attraction.

Bodomzor Station, Tashkent Metro
Bodomzor Station, Tashkent

The metro’s most popular stations are Kosmonavtlar, Alisher Navoi, and Mustakillik.

Hazrati Imam Complex

Also known as the Khast Imam square or ensemble, the Hazrati Imam Complex is Tashkent’s main Islamic cultural draw. Home to what is claimed to be the world’s oldest copy of the Koran, it is a must-visit for the culture vulture tourists.

Hazrati Imam Complex
The Hazrati Imam Ensemble in Tashkent’s Old City

The complex includes a number of religious sites including the Hazrati Imam Mosque, identified by its 50m high minarets, topped by turquoise domes typical of Uzbek Islamic design.

The 7th century Osman Koran is housed at the Moyie Mubarek Library Museum which is open to the public. No photography is allowed however.

Other buildings at this site include the 16th century Barak Khan Madrassah and the Tilla Sheikh Mosque which is one of Tashkent’s largest modern mosques.

Tashkent TV Tower

Renovated in 2022, this 375m high structure is one of the tallest towers in Central Asia and gives an excellent view of the city.

Tashkent TV Tower
Tashkent TV Tower view from the Japanese Gardens

Head there just before sunset on a clear evening to see Tashkent at its finest. The restaurant offers a unique dining experience as the floor rotates, giving you a panoramic experience of the city elevated at 109m off the ground.

Read our review of Tashkent tower here.

Amir Temur Square

Cheapest Hotels in Tashkent
The view of Amir Temur Square from Hotel Uzbekistan’s top floor bar

Amir Temur Square is a small area located in central Tashkent surrounded by government buildings, expensive restaurants, Temurid Museum, and the infamous Hotel Uzbekistan. The centerpiece of the square is a huge monument depicting the Uzbek conqueror Amir Temur astride a horse.

Amir Temur Monument in Tashkent
Amir Temur monument at night

The square is a bit underwhelming to visit in the day time, especially when the weather is hot since there are so few people around. Head there in the evening when there are more people around and walk from there to Broadway Alley where you can pick up fast food and play street games.

Museums

Although Tashkent is lacking in ancient architecture, there are plenty of museums to visit. To be honest, many of the museums are a little disappointing due to their lack of sufficient content and information in English.

One of the most popular museums is the State Museum of the Temurids, located just off Amir Temur Square. The building itself is a landmark, identified by its circular white building with blue dome and surrounding fountains.

State Museum of the Temurids at night
State Museum of the Temurids at night

The museum acts as an introduction to the history of Uzbekistan, mainly dedicated to former ruler Amir Temur himself. You can visit the official site here.

Other museums worthy of note to tourists are the State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of Victims of Political Repression, and the Railway Museum (if with children).

Parks

One thing that separates Tashkent from the other tourist cities of Uzbekistan is the number of parks and green spaces in the city.

Most parks in Tashkent are immaculate and are kept this way by large numbers of workers working around the clock. Some of the nicest parks include Alisher Navoi National Park, the Japanese Garden, and Tashkent City Park.

Try here for a full list of parks in Tashkent.

Alisher Navoi National Park Lake
Alisher Navoi National Park Lake

Many of the parks are also amusement parks with children’s rides such as merry-go-rounds, dodgems, go-karts and even some rollercoasters. If visiting with young children, try Tashkent’s Magic City.

For a full list of things to do in Tashkent for families read here.

Tashkent Magic City
Magic City at sunset

RELATED ARTICLE: Best Things to Do in Tashkent for Tourists

Where To Stay in Tashkent

The best area for most visitors to Tashkent is in the center of the city, anywhere between Navoi Opera and Amir Temur Square. From here much of the center is within walking distance. See hotels around here.

For better value hotels, the Mirabad district has plenty of hotels for all types of travelers including families. See hotels around here.

There are a number of high-rated hotels and apartments for a reasonable price around Chorsu bazaar although there are fewer restaurants and attractions in this area. See hotels around here.

We wrote separate articles on the best areas in Tashkent for tourists and the best overall hotels in the city.

Best Cheap Hotels and Hostels in Tashkent

The two cheapest options are Topchan and Light Hostel which both offer incredibly cheap and cheerful dorm rooms from as little as $7 per night.

For high rated budget hotels try Anvar’s Guests near Kosmonatavlar station, popular Eco Art Boutique Hotel, or Chorsu’s Hotel Suzuk-Ota.

Read here for a comparison of Tashkent’s cheapest hotels.

5 Star Hotels in Tashkent

Hilton Hotel Tashkent
The Hilton Hotel next to Tashkent City Park

If you’re looking for more of a luxury stay, then Tashkent has three centrally located 5 star hotels.

The InterContinental was opened in 2023 and has the most to offer in terms of facilities, including huge indoor pool, gym and rooftop bar.

The Hyatt Hotel also has an indoor pool and the best hotel buffet breakfast in Tashkent (yes, we’ve tried them all).

We even stayed at the Hyatt for our wedding night!

The Hilton Hotel has the best views of the city, located in Tashkent City Park. It’s the best 5 star hotel for families and will be the perfect place for shoppers as soon as Tashkent City Mall opens.

Or read here for more 5 star luxury hotels in Tashkent.

Tashkent Tours

A general tour of Tashkent should include a mix of the city’s old and new including Chorsu Bazaar, the Tashkent metro, Khast Imam Complex and a stop off for lunch at the Plov Center.

This city tour is one of the highest rated tours of Tashkent and lasts a full day, including lunch and pick up from your hotel.

Alternatively, read our list of the best Tashkent tours and day trips including city tours, food tours, and day trips.

Where To Eat In Tashkent

If you’re a foodie then you’ll be glad to hear that Tashkent is home to the best restaurants and the widest choice of cuisine in the whole country. You’ll never be stuck for choices.

Uzbek Restaurants

For some of the best Uzbek cuisine, Afsona is a great choice. They offer all kinds of Uzbek cuisine and even have a vegan plov! It’s one of the fancier Uzbek restaurants and you can also order alcohol there.

The Plov Center (now known as Besh Qozon) is very popular with tourists and serves up mountains of plov, Uzbekistan’s national rice dish. You can also walk into the cooking area and watch it being prepared. If you only eat plov once, this is the place to do it.

Plov at the Plov Center, Tashkent
Plov at the Plov Center, Tashkent

For excellent value for money and a wide choice of Uzbek national food, Rayhon is a chain of very affordable restaurants.

For some of the best shashlik in Tashkent, you can go to Chorsu or Alay Bazaar but if you prefer to watch dancing Uzbek grannies as you eat your meat skewers, then Bek restaurant is the place to go for food and music!

Shashlik at Bek Restaurant
Mixed shashlik at Bek Restaurant

International Restaurants

If you’re looking for a broader set of options, Tashkent is home to dozens of different styles of cuisine including Turkish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Georgian and more. Although they come at a higher price than local Uzbek restaurants, they’re still reasonable compared to those in Western countries.

Our two favorite spots are fine dining Pan-Asian restaurant Hori and Georgian restaurant Gruzinski Dvorik.

Hori Restaurant, Tashkent
Fine dining at Hori Restaurant

For European food, Italian Basilic restaurant has been around for a long time and self-styled ‘cheese factory’ Syrovarnya is quite a popular place for all things fromage-related.

For cheaper restaurants selling a mix of international meals, try Bibigon for salads, pizza and Turkish breakfast, or Assorti for pan-Asian food including sushi and Korean food.

If you’re looking for a place for breakfast then Breadly, Chaykoff and the Swis Bakery are all good contenders.

Breadly Breakfasts
Breakfast at Breadly

Vegans and vegetarians visiting the city will find it tough but there are options such as the vegetarian Eco Cafe. Read on for a list of vegan-friendly restaurants in Tashkent.

We wrote a full article on the best restaurants in Tashkent.

Nightlife in Tashkent

If you’re planning on relaxing with a drink at the end of the day, there are plenty of bars, pubs and clubs dotted around the city. Tashkent is especially good for rooftop bars.

If you happen to be around Amir Temur Square, then Hotel Uzbekistan has a bar on the top floor with an excellent view not only of the square but of the surrounding city. Don’t expect any glamour here – just a down to Earth bar in an aging but fun spot!

The view from Hotel Uzbekistan Bar
View of Amir Temur Square from the Hotel Uzbekistan Bar

If you’re looking for something fancier, then the Hyatt rooftop bar and restaurant is nice at sunset. For a great view of Navoi Theater, Lotte Hotel also has a rooftop bar with live music although it’s not the liveliest place in the city.

Eslewhere there’s the Irish Pub on Shevchenko Taras, modern style Kazakh bar Skandalist, and Studio Cafe which is great for a beer on the terrace in the sun.

If you’re looking for something a bit livelier however, Steam Bar is the best all around club with its eclectic mix of music and steampunk aesthetics. One More Bar is a late-opening club popular with a younger crowd but certainly pricey by local standards.

Steam Bar Live Music
Steam Bar, Tashkent’s most popular club

Read more about the best nightlife in Tashkent.

Tashkent Travel: Final Thoughts

If you’ve managed to read this far then perhaps you’re now considering a trip to Tashkent. Whether you’re staying for a few days or you’re on a quick trip to Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva and you happen to be passing by Tashkent.

Having lived here as a foreigner for almost 2 years, I understand that Tashkent at first seems a little subdued. But delve beneath the surface and there’s plenty to see and do.

From historical monuments and bustling bazaars to family-friendly parks and quirky nightclubs, Tashkent offers a diverse list of things to do as well as some of the country’s best cuisine.

For more information on visiting Uzbekistan in 2024 read our full guide to travel in this unique Silk Road destination.

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