In case you haven’t already heard, Uzbekistan is open for tourism! 🇺🇿🎉
This Central Asian state was relatively hard to visit as a tourist until a few years ago when the new president began easing entry requirements. Since then the president has scrapped visa requirements for many countries, including the UK. The government has also introduced e-visas for 90+ nationalities, making the whole travel entry process much easier.
Uzbekistan is now quickly becoming one of the most popular emerging tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re planning to travel to Uzbekistan independently, you’ll find there’s so much to experience that itinerary planning can quickly feel overwhelming. So, we’ve decided to share some of our experience hosting tours to Uzbekistan to help you plan your trip better. This itinerary is suitable for you who want to explore not only the culture of Uzbek but also get to know more about the Islamic heritage in Uzbekistan.
Your 7-Day Itinerary to Exploring Islamic Heritage in Uzbekistan
A 7-day trip to explore Uzbekistan is the perfect way to introduce yourself to what this beautiful Central Asian country has to offer.
The easiest way to reach Uzbekistan is by flying to Tashkent with Turkish Airlines. Uzbekistan Airways is increasing the number of routes it flies and operates twice weekly from London-Heathrow Airport (on Tuesdays and Fridays). If you’re looking for ideas on how to spend each day and make the most of visiting this incredible country, here’s your very own Uzbekistan halal travel guide for your 7-day trip!
Day 1 – Arrival in Tashkent
Welcome to Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan and home to 2.4 million inhabitants!
Tashkent is well known for its Soviet-style architecture, but it’s also home to beautiful Islamic architecture as well as some important relics. We suggest you book accommodation near Chorsu Bazaar, for affordable and locally-owned and run hotels. You’ll find high-end hotels near Amir Timur Square, another central location with good access to roads and metro stations. From Chorsu Bazaar and Amir Timur Square, you can reach the airport in less than 20 minutes (driving).
For an authentic Uzbek shopping and dining experience, head straight to Chorsu Bazaar. Chorsu is a traditional marketplace in the centre of Tashkent’s Old Town. Here you’ll find daily necessities such as fresh meat, sausages, nuts and dairy products. Although you might not need to go grocery shopping, stopping here is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. It’s also one of the best places to introduce yourself to Uzbek cuisine. You’ll have the chance to sample non, somsa, shashlik, and so much more! Besides, you can take this chance to practice some Uzbek phrases that you’ve learned have in advance 😉
Nearby is the Hast Imam complex, where you can also pray. It’s here where the famous Islamic scholar, scientist, poet and craftsman, Abu-Bakr Muhammad Kaffal Shashi (also known as Hazrati Imam) once served as the first imam of Tashkent.
Most notably, the Quran of none other than the third Caliph, Uthman bin Affan رضي الله عنه, is located in Hast Imam square, making this a must-visit.
Day 2 – Chimgan Mountain and Charvak Lake
Now, this is something that you won’t usually find on travel itineraries to Uzbekistan, but it’s well worth the road trip into the mountains!
You’ll need to hire a car or a driver (a driver may be better, as they will know the roads better) to drive about 80 km into the mountains northeast of Tashkent. Enjoy the pleasant and scenic view along the way before you arrive at Ugam Chatkal National Park. Ugam Chatkal is one of the largest national parks in Uzbekistan. It’s home to wild animals such as mountain goats, wild horses, cows and bears. It’s here you’ll find the stunning Chimgan Mountain and Charvak Lake.
Enjoy the views of Charvak Lake before heading up in the nearby cable car to enjoy the fresh mountain air and stunning panoramas. It’s a perfect place to relax and disconnect from the world.
🌿 Responsible Travel Tip: If you’re planning to spend some time in the mountains, bring reusable items that you won’t need to dispose of to minimise your environmental impact. If making waste is unavoidable, plan in advance to bring a reusable bag in which you can carry your waste. Therefore, you can dispose it better once you’re back in the city ✅.
Day 3 – Samarkand
Today you’ll have an early start by taking the Afrosiob bullet train from Tashkent to Samarkand, the crown jewel of Uzbekistan. You can book your tickets online up to 30 days before your intended travel date on the Uzbekistan Railways website. Tickets sell out really quickly, so you’re the best bet is to get a local agent to arrange this for you.
Once in Samarkand, you’ll quickly realise why it’s described as the crown jewel. Here you’ll explore some of the most incredible Islamic architecture in the world, following in the footsteps of Silk Road traders, Mongol raiders and martyrs. We highly recommend hiring an expert local guide to bring the stories of this city to life. Only then will you begin to connect with some of the figures that emerged during what’s considered a Golden Age in Islamic history, including the mufassir and connoisseur of Fiqh, Imam al Maturidi رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ.
Registan Square, Shah i Zinda and Hazrat Khizr mosque
Begin by exploring Registan Square, a beautiful gem located in the very heart of the ancient city of Samarkand. In Uzbek, “registan” means sandy place, referring to when sand covered this central square. Amir Timur’s grandson, Ulug-Beg, is the person behind the development of Registan Square. He commissioned the oldest of the three madrasas (pictured), the Ulug Beg madrasa, in around 1420 AD. You can freely visit and enter all three madrasas, where you’ll find souvenir shops and workshops in the small cells where students once studied.
Nearby is the Shah i Zinda and Hazrat Khizr mosque, both of which you must visit during your stay.
P.S. If you love all the beautiful Islamic art and would love to hone your own skills, check out our tour in which you’ll have the chance to learn traditional Islamic calligraphy from a master craftsman inside Ulug-Beg madrasa.
Day 4 – Imam al Bukhari
You’ll need a car today to explore all the sites and head to your next location, Bukhara.
It’s only been a few decades since the burial site of Imam al Bukhari has been recovered. Imam al Bukhari is famous for compiling the most famous collection of hadiths of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. You can visit the burial site in Hartang Village, 25 kilometres from Samarkand. The mausoleum complex consists of Imam al-Bukhari’s tomb, a mosque, a madrassah, a library, and a small collection of Qurans.
After this, begin the drive to Bukhara via the town of Gijduvon. where you can visit the madrasa of Sheikh Abdul Khaliq Ghijduvani, known for helping spread Islam in Central Asia.
The town of Gijduvon is also famous for its pottery. Not only can you purchase pottery from local artisans, but you can also try to make your own at a local pottery workshop. If you hire a local guide they can book you a pottery masterclass and lunch with one of the master potters.
Day 5 – Bukhara
Before Islam arrived, Bukhara was already a key trader along the Silk Route. After Islam arrived, Bukhara became the intellectual centre of the Muslim world. Imam al Bukhari was from here, and centuries later Bahauddin Naqshabandi was born in 1318. He grew up to become a highly knowledgeable and influential scholar, founding one of the largest Sunni spiritual orders, the Naqshbandiyyah. As a Sufi tariqa, the main difference between this one and others is that the Naqshbandiyyah practise silent dhikr.
When Genghis Khan arrived to conquer ancient Bukhara, this minaret was one of the only things he left standing. But Bukhara was rebuilt, and to this day its madrasas serve as fountains of knowledge. Visit the Po-i Kalan Complex, which consists of Kalan Mosque, the Kalan Minaret (pictured below), and the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. In the older part of Bukhara, you’ll find some of the most historic buildings. One of the most famous of these is the Mir-i-Arab madrasa, built in the 16th century. Students have studied at the madrasa since it was built, for almost 500 years. The only time it was closed was for 21 years during the Soviet period, when religious institutions were dissolved and historical buildings were used as factories and warehouses.
In the 1940s, after many negotiations with the government, Mufti Eshon Babahan managed to get permission for students to resume studies at the madrasah. For a long time, the Mir-i Arab was one of the only Muslim educational institutions in the USSR. Today, the madrasa continues to serve as home to 120 students in Qur’an, Arabic and all the essentials required to become an Imam.
Day 6 – Free day to explore Bukhara and buy your gifts and souvenirs
As your trip is coming to an end, you may want to stock up on souvenirs and gifts. Bukhara is the perfect place to do this. Once a key stop on the Silk Route, Bukhara has been home to colourful markets and valuable products for centuries, and today this is no different.
You may already have your heart set on taking home a hand-woven rug, a suzani-embroidered cloth or an ikat-print jacket. There’s so much to offer here in the way of high-quality, unique, and handmade gifts.
And if you haven’t yet tried Bukharan plov, today is a great opportunity to book a plov masterclass at a local restaurant in the Old Town. It’s a signature dish typically made with rice, pieces of meat, grated carrots and onions. It is usually cooked in a kazan (or deghi, a huge griddle) over an open fire. Moreover, you’ll find chickpeas, raisins, barberries, or fruit may be added in varying amounts depending on which Uzbek city you’re in.
This evening you can take a short internal flight back to Tashkent, or a bullet train, which is more environmentally friendly and cheaper.
Day 7 – The trip ends here
You’ll have some free time this morning before going to the airport to catch your return flight home. If you still need to get some souvenirs, Hast Imam complex and Chorzu bazaar both have a good selection of authentic, locally-made gifts for all budgets.
There you have it, the halal travel guide for your 7-day trip to explore Uzbekistan! Whether you want to experience Islamic history, architecture and art, Uzbekistan has a lot to offer the adventurous traveller!
Inspired to visit Uzbekistan? Join our 5* trip – The Golden Age: Adventure in Uzbekistan
If you’re keen to immerse yourself in Uzbek culture, heritage and Islamic history, this trip is for you. We host this trip several times a year from March-June and again from October-early November. Reserve your space on The Golden Age: Adventure in Uzbekistan with only a £60 deposit. Go check out the Halal Travel Guide trip page and find out if there’s a set of dates that matches your schedule!
I’m Gia, Digital Content Creator of Halal Travel Guide. I’m an Indonesian living in Jakarta. Other than writing (mostly about travel-related topics), I’m also keen on travelling and cooking. My love language is food and I’m a cat person. Hope you enjoy this article! ☺️