Uzbekistan was visited by 5.2 million tourists in 2022 and that number is set to be even higher in 2023. The peak seasons to visit Uzbekistan are spring and autumn/fall as the sun shines and the temperatures are comfortable.
Fewer tourists make it here during the colder months of December to February but many are missing out as there are plenty of things to do in winter in Uzbekistan!
From ski resorts and ice skating to winter celebrations and warming winter cuisine, this article we’ll have a look at all the best winter activities to do in this beautiful Central Asian Silk Road country.
Is Uzbekistan Worth Visiting in Winter?
Although Uzbekistan is less popular to visit in the winter, there are many winter activities to try out. Visiting during the quieter months also has the advantage of fewer tourists to compete with for hotels and photo spots.
You can visit some of the most beautiful places in Uzbekistan and expect few other tourists at the same time. For a country with so many photogenic historical sites, it’s a dream for photographers.
There are excellent hotel deals during the winter, especially if booking in advance. Even some of the luxury hotels can be hugely discounted during the winter months.
Read more about the best time of year to visit Uzbekistan.
Things to Do In Uzbekistan In Winter
Winter in Uzbekistan welcomes tourists with options ranging from cozy comfort to thrilling adventures, so you can choose what suits you best.
There are plenty of winter activities but you can also stick to the regular tourism attractions and sightseeing in the popular cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva.
Ski Resorts and Snow-Capped Mountains
Uzbekistan is more known for its mausoleums and madrassahs than its ski resorts, but being a mountainous country with reasonably mild winters makes it a great destination for skiing and snowboarding.
The main three resorts are Amirsoy, Chimgan and Beldersay, all located in the Tien Shen mountains to the East of Tashkent. They can all be reached by car from the capital within an hour or two.
Amirsoy is currently the most developed of the resorts, with 10 slopes of various difficulty covering a total of 15km. The resort offers lessons for beginners, quad biking and snowmobiling, and tubing for children and adults.
For those looking for a calmer experience there’s a spa area with Turkish hammam, Finnish sauna, and Russian bath.
Chimgan is one of the most popular ski resorts in Central Asia although less well publicized, especially in English. It’s also good for beginners with a variety of slope difficulties.
Infrastructure at Chimgan is currently less developed but a huge project is currently underway to invest $269 million into the resort, creating extra cable stations, hotels and restaurants. We’ll keep you updated.
Open from December until March, Beldersay is the place to go for more advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Visit Samarkand in Winter
Samarkand is perhaps the grandest of all the cities of Uzbekistan, at least in terms of its architechtural attractions such as the Registan, the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, and the Gur-E Amir Mausoleum.
Travel to Samarkand in winter and you’ll be one of very few tourists around to visit these attractions. Uzbekistan has some world class places to visit and they make for excellent photo opportunities.
During the winter in Samarkand, you’ll often find clear skies, bare trees, and an absence of crowds. You can take some wonderful photos and spend time wondering the ancient wonders in peaceful, uncrowded spaces.
Hotels are much cheaper and even luxury hotels at Silk Road Samarkand resort can be booked from $40 a night if booked in advance!
Read about the best areas to stay in Samarkand.
Celebrate Festivities Across the Country
The New Year is one of the biggest events on the Uzbek calendar and is celebrated across the country.
New Year in Uzbekistan is celebrated like many other places in the world with family gatherings, feasts, and sharing gifts.
Due to Russian influence over the centuries, the festive season looks a lot like Russian-style Christmas. You’ll see lots of Ded Moroz or ‘Grandfather Frost’ figures in parks. Many of the main streets are lit up with bells, stars and giant Christmas trees.
In Tashkent, many of the festivities are held in the center of the city, just opposite the Hyatt Regency hotel. Samarkand’s Kuksaray square also has daily concerts and performances.
Ice Skating and Snow Slides at Tashkent’s Ice City
If you’re looking for places to entertain children in Tashkent, look no further than Ice City, a large indoor winter-themed park with ice skating, slides, and a mini indoor snow slope.
It’s very affordable as you pay a 5,000 Som (~$0.40) entry fee and then just top up your card for whichever attractions you wish to ride. It’s aimed at kids but there’s plenty for adults too!
Read our full Ice City review here.
Enjoy Hearty Uzbek Winter Cuisine
Uzbek food might be the ultimate food for cold temperatures. National dish plov, made from fried rice with meat and vegetables, is certainly energy rich and perfect for winter.
Uzbek soups are also a great way to warm yourself up during the cooler season. The most popular Uzbek soup is mastava, which is made with meat, vegetables and rice and flavored with cumin, corriander and dill. It is usually served with a small side dish of cream or yoghurt to pour into the soup.
Shurpa, another type of Uzbek soup, is made of lamb broth with vegetables and lamb meat on the bone.
One of our favorite Uzbek Tashkent restaurants is Rayhon Milliy Taomlar for cheap, tasty food and fast service.
Learn more about traditional Uzbek food here.
Although it certainly gets chilly in the winter in Uzbekistan, there’s plenty to do for all types of traveler. Make the most of the cheaper hotels and quiet streets at this time of year.
Whether you’re into skiing and snowboarding or you just prefer a cool, quiet atmosphere to go sightseeing, bring a jacket and a hat, and let Uzbekistan’s winter charm impress you!
Read our guide to travel in Uzbekistan here.