Uzbekistan is perhaps the most evocative country in Central Asia, with its splendid old Silk Road cities that conjure up images of its glorious past. This short trip is designed to show the very best that the country has to offer within just a week. We start in the capital Tashkent, seeing its historic quarter and bustling bazaar before flying west to the walled city of Khiva. Exploring this architectural gem is like entering another era, with imposing mosques, minarets and tombs around every corner, all superbly preserved. Crossing the Kyzyl Kum desert we reach Bukhara, once a powerful khanate and with monuments dating back a thousand years, including the impressive Chor Minor mosque, the Ark, and the Lyabi Hauz. Finally our journey takes us to fabled Samarkand where we explore its magnificent Registan Square, the Bibi Khanum Mosque and the observatory of Ulug Beg among other spectacular sights. For those short on time but wanting an insight into this ever mysterious region, this tour offers a chance to understand the fascinating history of the Silk Road.
Day 1: Tashkent
Arrive in Tashkent. After some time to freshen up, begin exploring the historic sites of the city including the Kukeldash madrassah, Khast Imam square – the heart of old Tashkent – and the Chorsu Bazaar.
Day 2: Khiva
Fly to Khiva. Enclosed by mud brick walls, the old part of Khiva, known as the Ichon Qala, has been virtually unchanged for centuries and is an open air museum packed full of intricately decorated minarets, mosques and madrassahs. We spend the day walking its narrow alleys and uncovering the best of its highlights including the Kalta Minor minaret, the Islam Khodja madrassah and the ark, where the khans of Khiva once lived.
Day 3: Bukhara
Drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert to Bukhara, passing small villages along the way
Day 4: Khiva to Bukhara
Bukhara is awash with breathtaking monuments and its historic centre is exceptionally well preserved, making a visit here like stepping back in time to the days when the Silk Road trade was at its height. We spend today exploring this enchanting city and visiting its most important sites, including the Kalon Minaret, the Lyabi Hauz ensemble, the bazaars, the Ismail Somoni Mausoleum and one of our personal favourites, the Chor Minor mosque with its four blue domed minarets. And of course no visit to Bukhara would be complete without visiting the Ark, the vast fortress that was home to the Emirs for over a millennium
Day 5: Shakhrisabz
Drive to Shakhrisabz, once the capital of Tamerlane. Visit the Kok Gumbaz mosque and the Ak Saray Palace among other sites before continuing to Samarkand.
Day 6: Samarkand
A full day exploring the marvellous sites of Samarkand, one of the most incredible Silk Road cities and with a wealth of monuments to explore. We visit the enormous Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by the wife of the Mongol ruler Timur, as well as the stunning Registan Square, one of Central Asia’s most iconic sites. We also visit the Shah-i Zinda complex of mausoleums, a stunning collection of buildings dating back to the 14th century that rivals the Registan for splendour, and also the observatory of Ulug Beg.
Day 7: Samarkand
Drive back to Tashkent and transfer to the airport for departure.