21 Top Things to Do in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

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Things to Do in Bukhara – Our 21 Best

The historical city centre of Bukhara is over 2000 years old. Its gorgeous madrasahs, mosques and buildings number more than 140 and were UNESCO-listed in 1993. You are spoilt for choice regarding the sheer number of things to see and things to do in Bukhara.

Ancient Bukhara rose to fame between the 08th and 17th centuries as an important stop on the ancient Silk Road trading routes. These routes passed through both Tashkent and Samarkand. Over the centuries, this remarkable city transformed itself into an important economic hub and centre for Islamic culture.

You now become the modern-day Marco Polo who wanders and marvels at the architectural magnificence of Bukhara. You won’t be left short on what to do in Bukhara.

Bukhara-madrasah viewed with sun set rays,-Uzbekistan
Bukhara’s architectural splendour on show ©Lifejourneytwo

Planning a Trip to Uzbekistan?

Map: Bukhara Things to Do

Bukhara’s Inner Beauty ©Lifejourney4two

When is the Best Time to Visit Uzbekistan?

There are two periods in the year that are the best times to visit Uzbekistan to avoid the temperature extremes:

  • Spring (March to May), and
  • Autumn (September to November).

We visited in October and enjoyed lovely daytime temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius, topped off with clear, blue skies. Nighttime temperatures, however, did dip to single figures, with the wind adding the chill factor. So remember, pack some warm gear, too.

Visiting Bukhara outside of these seasons isn’t so bad. Winter temperatures can drop to -5 deg C, with summer temperatures climbing to 40 deg C. Our October autumn weather was just perfect.

Our visit to Bukhara, a city in the southwest of Uzbekistan, was preceded by visits to Tashkent and Samarkand. Our route was similar to that taken by those travel-savvy traders using the Silk Roads of old.

More questions? Read our comprehensive guide on travelling to and through Uzbekistan

Kalon Minaret at dusk, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Top 21 Things To Do In Bukhara

Here’s our list of the top 21 Bukhara attractions that we visited. We spent two pleasurable days ambling the streets during the day and evening. A real selling point for visitors is that all these highlights are within an easy walk of the other, meaning you get the most out of your available time.

1. Visit Lyabi Khause

Bukhara’s old city centre seems to radiate from the central Lyabi Khause, otherwise named Lyabi-Hauz. A hauz or pond was once used by locals to collect water, but during the Soviet reign (1924 to 1991), many of these pools were filled in due to sanitary reasons. Only a few remain.

Old-mulberry tree-at-Labi Hauz, Bukhara
Lyabi Khause with its remarkably old mulberry tree (on the left) ©Lifejourney4two

Lyabi Khause, with its palm tree-fringed perimeter, provides a popular meeting place for both locals and travellers alike. Don’t miss taking a walk around Lyabi Khause to look at the huge Mulberry tree near the kitchen area.

The tree was planted in 1477 A.D.

Mulberry-tree-at Lyabi Krause, Bukhara
Mulberry tree at Lyabi Khause, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Quiet by day, Lyabi Khause takes on a vibrant atmosphere by night. The sounds of Uzbek musicians infuse the air with soothing Middle Eastern tunes from a lute (a traditional Uzbek banjo-like string instrument).

Lyabi Khause showing the bench seating , Bukhara
Lyabi Khause with its bench seating, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Waiters buzz between the tables, skillfully taking orders whilst delivering round trays of local cuisine. A small queue forms close by with those waiting for their chance to sit, feed and join the people watching. Yes, it’s a popular watering hole.

Evening-at-Lyabi-Khause, Bukhara
Evening at Lyabi Khause ©Lifejourney4two

Some guests choose to laze on the tapchans, a traditional raised eating platform popular in Uzbekistan, sitting in the customary cross-legged fashion. Don’t worry; chairs are available for those who don’t have enough bodily stretch.

This open-air area of Lyabi Khause, surrounded by madrasahs, is just perfect for soaking in the ambience of Bukhara.

A-hauz-in-Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Another example of one of the few remaining Bukhara hauz ©Lifejourney4two

2. Explore Madrasah Nadir Devon Begi (at Lyab-I-Hauz Ensemble)

This is one of three 17th-century complexes surrounding the Lyabi Khause pool. Madrasah Nadir Devon Begi is located to the east of Lyabi Khause. The exterior mosaics of this madrasah display prominent, eye-catching depictions of colourful tigers and antelopes.

Things to do in Bukhara: Beautiful mosaics on the Nadir Devon Begi Madrasah
Beautiful mosaics on the Nadir Devon Begi Madrasah ©Lifejourney4two

Whilst outside this madrasah, a rhythmic hammering noise caught our attention. Walking into the madrasah interior in search of the sounds, we discovered a few artisans using hammers and chisels to delicately create patterns in soft metal plates.

It was commonplace for a madrasah’s internal courtyard to house small handicraft shops within its walls. This madrasah was no exception.

An artisan working a metal plate with hammer and chisel
An artisan working with a hammer and chisel ©Lifejourney4two

3. The Kukeldash Madrasah (at Lyab-I-Hauz Ensemble)

The Kukeldash Madrasah is found close by and to the northeast of Lyabi Krause. The exterior of the building does not have the colourful artwork facade of the Madrasah Nadir Devon Begi, but don’t let that convince you it’s not worth a visit.

Shop front of ‘Anor’ – Suzani Shopping Centre ©Lifejourney4two

A small unobtrusive sign on the outside of the madrasah, Anor–Suzani Shopping Centre, with some of its handicrafts on display, lay within. Entering, we could see that the walls and floors were covered with tapestries. But not just any tapestries, but the special Suzani needle embroidered tapestries.

The proud owner, Zaynab Muradova, proudly showed us the differences between the Persian Suzani and other different types of embroidery.

Zaynab Muradova, the proud owner of ‘Anor' Bukhara
Zaynab Muradova, the proud owner of ‘Anor’ ©Lifejourney4two

Zayna explained how the stories of life were stitched into patterns and that depicting the popular pomegranate was a sign of good luck. Zaynab, a Suzani embroidery teacher at the local university, told us that she plans to offer tourists embroidery courses. 

4. Nodir Devonbegi Tekke Khanaka (at Lyab-I-Hauz Ensemble)

The Nodir Devonbegi Tekke khanaka or lodging house, is found to the west of Lyabi Krause. At the time of our visit, this khanaka was somewhat hidden behind the trees bordering Lyabi Krause, and fencing prevented us from entering the lodging house.

The front façade, similar to many of Bukhara’s historical buildings, is intricately worked with carved inscriptions.

The intricate mosaics of Khanaka, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

5. Admire the Hodja Nasruddin Statue (at Lyab-I-Hauz Ensemble)

To the east of Lyabi Krause is an interesting statue of a comical-looking man gesturing with his hands on a somewhat undersized donkey.

This is the famous Hodja Nasruddin statue. Hodja Nasruddin was possibly a scholar or a learned man who lived during the 13th century, travelling widely to share his life stories and wisdom through humour and wit.

He is a legend throughout Asia, Africa and Arabia, sometimes going by a local derivative of his original name.

The statue of Hodja Nasruddin ©Lifejourney4two

We watched a constant stream of people taking photos with Hodja and rubbing the statue for what we were told was good luck. Hodja was probably laughing at all this fanfare, but regardless, he was certainly receiving plenty of attention from locals and visitors alike.

6. Visit Chor Minor and the Nearby Market

A mere 500m east of Lyabi Krause, the compact 19th-century Chor Minor gatehouse is resplendent with four blue-domed towers. Chor Minor was once used to access a now-destroyed madrasah and is sometimes referred to as the Madrasah of Khalif Niyaz-kul.

Of the towers, each one adorned with different motifs, three were used for storage and one has an interior stairwell to the top.

Once inside Chor Minor, it’s squeezing room only! There’s just enough space for a single vendor selling the Uzbek traditional handicrafts packed into the ground floor space. 

Entry into Chor Minor is free.

Chor Minor, Bukhara, ©Lifejourney4two

We found an interesting pop-up market close by Chor Minor. An array of old war memorabilia was on sale, including uniforms with medals from past wars. 

This was the only market selling this type of wares that we saw during the whole of our Uzbekistan travels. Imagine the stories of bravery, sadness and loss.

War medals on old war uniforms
War memorabilia on sale ©Lifejourney4two

7. Bukhara Photo Gallery

If you are interested in photography, old cameras or prints of the old city, then the Bukhara Photo Gallery is the place to visit whilst in Bukhara. This private gallery has paintings and prints depicting typical Uzbek life for sale.

Photo Gallery with its discrete entrance, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two
Photo Gallery, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

8. Gaze at the Kalon Minaret (part of the Po-I-Kalyan Ensemble)

The Kalon Minaret is one of three main buildings that form the Po-i-Kalyan ensemble. The other two, close by, are the Poi Kalyan Mosque and the Miri-Arab Madrasah.

In the old city of Bukhara, the 12th-century Kalon Minaret certainly dominates the skyline at an impressive 45m in height. This also makes it a handy landmark to get your bearings when walking the streets.

In 1220 A.D., the conqueror Genghis Khan was so impressed with the Kalon Minaret that he commanded it to remain standing. Up until the early 20th century, those caught breaking the law were marched to the top of the minaret and pushed over — sealing their fate.

Kalon Minaret by day, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Visiting the Kalon Minaret at sunset offers some great views and maybe a pic or two. Although we would have liked to climb the minaret, we were not permitted to do so.

Kalon Minaret by night, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

9. Visit Poi Kalyan Mosque (part of the Po-I-Kalyan Ensemble)

The 16th-century Poi Kalyan mosque is something to behold. Its true size is only fully realised once you walk into its huge, open inner courtyard.

The expansive Poi Kalyan Mosque ©Lifejourney4two

Central to the courtyard is a large, lone mulberry tree that provides respite from the sun with bench seating about its base. Interestingly, the minaret that forms part of the mosque (seen in the above image) dates back to the 12th century.

The magnificent Poi Kalyan mosque contains galleries that encircle the courtyard, with a staggering 288 domes resting on 208 pillars.

Note: The mosque still operates as such and closes to visitors just before the start of sunset prayers.

system of pillars inside Poi Kalyan Mosque, Bukhara
A huge system of pillars exists within the Poi Kalyan Mosque galleries, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two
Poi Kalyan Madrasah at sunset, Bukhara
Poi Kalyan Madrasah at sunset, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

10. Drop by Miri-Arab Madrasah (part of the Po-I-Kalyan Ensemble)

The Miri-Arab Madrasah is located just opposite the entrance to Kalyan Mosque and is recognisable by its two large blue domes and spectacular tiled mosaics.

This madrasah was completed in 1535 A.D. and is still being used to educate future imams and religious leaders. The interior is honeycombed with hujra, dozens of small cells used as student dormitories.

Miri-Arab Madrasah is a working madrasah ©Lifejourney4two

During the reign of the Soviets, the operation of the Miri-Arab Madrasah was initially suspended but allowed to re-open in 1945.

11. Admire the Abdulla Khan and Modary Khan Madrasahs

These two 16th-century madrasahs, Abdulla Khan and Modary Khan face each other and are located close by the eastern entrance to the Samonids Recreation Park. Both madrasahs have impressive blue-tiled mosaics and beautifully inscribed portals.

During our visit, we could take a peek into the Modary Khan madrasah courtyard, which looked generally neglected and, at a guess, possibly unused. It was refreshing to see one of Bukhara’s historic buildings that had not undergone complete restoration and yet still retained its original structure.

Inner courtyard of a madrasah seen through a lttice
Inner courtyard of the Abdulla Khan Madrasah ©Lifejourney4two
madrasah with coloured mosaics
More intricate mosaics, this time on the Modary Khan Madrasah ©Lifejourney4two

12. Visit the Samanid Mausoleum

The Samanid Mausoleum, found in the northern part of the Samonids Recreation Park, built in the 9th century, is quite special as it was built at a time when Islam forbade the erection of any post-mortem monuments.

This family crypt is devoid of any of the intricately coloured mosaics seen in the buildings of later centuries. Instead, symmetrically patterned mud bricks give the building its own uniqueness.

The old earthen-bricked Samanid Mausoleum, Bukhara
Samanid Mausoleum, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two
Inside the Samanid Mausoluem ©Lifejourney4two

13. Be Amazed at Bolo Haouz Mosque

Setting itself apart from other mosques, the 18th-century Bolo Haouz Mosque rises above the ground on twenty beautifully coloured and sculptured wooden columns. Bolo Hauz is found opposite the Ark Fortress and serves both as a Winter and Summer prayer room.

Bolo Haouz translates as above the pool, which references the pools of drinking water that used to be in front of the mosque but were in-filled during Soviet times because of the spread of disease.

The many wooden pillars of the Bolo Haouz Mosque, Bukhara
Bolo Haouz Mosque with its many wooden pillars ©Lifejourney4two
Bolo Haouz Mosque, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Bolo Haouz has an exquisitely patterned ceiling.

The patterned ceiling of Bolo Haouz Mosque, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

14. The Ark

The Ark, is a huge earthen-walled citadel, dating back to the 4th century, covering an area of roughly two hectares. This structure was a residence for the ruling Khans, but it has been converted into a museum.

The word Ark is actually taken from the Persian word Arg, which refers to a castle or citadel.

The Ark with its monstrous earthen walls, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

If you’re walking from the Kalon Minaret, then The Ark is just a few hundred metres away.

Access to the interior of The Ark is via a long uphill passageway through a massive portal. The walls tower above the surrounding flatlands to a height of 20m.

Western gateway entrance to The Ark, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

The inside of the Ark boasts a throne room, music pavilion, jewellers, stables, stores, jail and other rooms, which can all be viewed once inside the walls. The entrance fee per person is SOM 40,000 or approximately USD $ 3.50 per person.

The Ark museum pieces, Bukhara ©Lfejourney4two

15. Climb the Sukhov Observation Tower

From The Ark’s parapets, you can see a 20th-century modern observation tower called the Sukhov Tower. This 33m high tower was originally built as a water tower designed by Vladimir Sukhov but, in the 1970s, became obsolete.

Sukhov observation-Tower-seen-from-the-ark,-Bukhara
Sukhov Observation tower seen from The Ark, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

The structure was then converted into a restaurant, which failed. Finally, it was re-purposed as an observation tower, as you see it today. The cost to climb the tower is SOM 40,000 or approximately USD $ 3.50 per person.

It has one of the highest vantage points across Bukhara.

Sukhov Observation Tower, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

16. Visit the Memorial Complex of Imam Al-Bukhari

Within 400m of the Sukhov Observatory Tower is the striking memorial to Imam Al-Bukhari, who lived in the 1st century as one of the most revered Imams of Islam. He collected some of the most authentic sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, which number in their thousands. 

Inside this complex lies his tomb and a museum. At the time of our visit, the complex was not open to the public.

The curving structure Memorial of the Complex of Imam Al-Bukhari resembles the crescent moon ©Lifejourney4two

17. Wander Through Bukhara’s Old Town

Ambling through the streets of Bukhara’s old town is interesting. Seemingly forgotten and neglected madrasahs and mosques dot the streets within easy walking distance of each other. The buildings are generally chained shut; however, you can often spy through small openings to see the unkept inner courtyards.

Uzbek local lady dressed in colourful clothes and half-smiling
Warm and friendly is an accurate description of the locals here in Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Local markets spring up in most of the free spaces in Bukhara, whether on the pavements or back streets. We found that the locals were warm and friendly and not at all pushy to make a sale. It made our visit just that much more memorable.

Bukhara’s streets are full of life in the evenings ©Lifejourney4two

18. Maybe Think Twice About a Visit?: House Museum XIXth Century

At this location is a small dilapidated dwelling with a hand-painted sign, House Museum XIXth Century, on the outside of its courtyard. The yard was filled with random collections of local bric-a-brac without any sort of meaning. A dumping ground of sorts.

We reluctantly parted with 20,000 SOM, even though no prices were on display, on the insistence of the owner.

The owner claimed there were great views of the old city from the rooftop, but I can personally vouch that this was not the case. The ascent itself was a rather precarious climb via frail roof timbers.

Our recommendation would be to avoid this place.

19. Weddings In Bukhara

It is popular for newly betrothed couples to have their wedding photos taken in and around the Madrasahs. The madrasahs’ traditional colours and brick workmanship give a true Uzbek feel to the joyous event.

Uzbek wedding in Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

20. See Local Green Tea Being Brewed

Tea is a traditional drink in Uzbekistan. It is customary to start and finish meals with green tea, known as kuk-choy, which is the most popular. It is enjoyed without sugar.

Uzbek-tea-with locals
Tea drinking is serious business ©Lifejourney4two

The process of filling the teapot is a process in itself being completed in stages.


The pre-warmed teapot is firstly half-filled, then after a couple of minutes, 3/4 filled, and finally, after another couple of minutes, filled to the top.

21. Gander at the Street Markets

You can expect to see a lot of street markets in the old town of Bukhara. The small pop-up stalls are commonplace. Whether it be souvenirs, food or handicrafts, there’s sure to be something to pique your interest.

Uzbek markets wares ©Lifejourney4two
The scissors depict the legendary Humo bird – a symbol of Uzbek happiness and freedom ©Lifejourney4two

Where to Eat in Bukhara

Look for Lyabi Khause, an old water storage pond in the old town, where you’ll find a very popular restaurant and beside it a cafe. Nestled amongst the madrasahs, it is a great open place to relax, and you’ll also be treated to some local nighttime music whilst you tuck into the great food on offer.

For more places to eat, check Lonely Planets Bukhara Restaurant Guide here. 

Where to Stay in Bukhara

We stayed at the Amir-Yaxyo Hotel during our time in Bukhara. It was a great location and only a few hundred metres from Lyabi Khause. We can also vouch for the fantastic breakfast and fast wifi here.

For more options – check out the Bukhara accommodation deals available on Booking.com

Kalyon-mosque, Bukhara
Kalyon Mosque, Bukhara ©Lifejourney4two

Things to Do in Bukhara … That’s a Wrap

We really enjoyed ourselves in Bukhara. The old town is filled with grand monuments and buildings with enough variety to keep you interested all the while.

Besides the many tourist attractions, simply wandering the streets to investigate the many interesting nooks and crannies will be rewarding and lead to some great surprises. There certainly are plenty of things to do in Bukhara.


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These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Lars, grew up in the Australian countryside and discovered his love for nature early on. Leaving Australia at 20, he began a life of travel and exploration. As a co-owner of Lifejourney4two with Shelley, Lars captures their journeys through his photography. Join him here and see the world through his lens.

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