Samarkand, Uzbekistan has captured the imagination of traders, travelers and wanderers for centuries. Although the Great Silk Road and the empire of Tamerlane, the two elements that brought this city to world-renowned fame, have long vanished, Samarkand continues to beckon people the world over to its enduring charm and historical wonders.
On the Golden Road to Samarkand Tour, join countless travelers before you on the road to one of the greatest cities of all time. You’ll begin your journey in the capital city Tashkent, continue to Samarkand to explore both the well-known and lesser sights of the area, and end in Bukhara, another famed Silk Road city. With this private tour option, you’ll have the freedom to choose the tour structure and price range, allowing for a tour down this well-traveled path that’s uniquely you.
Your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel to begin your Tashkent city tour. Your private tour will include:
- Excursion to the Old City, including the Khazret-Imam Architectural Complex, which holds the oldest known Quran in the world. Also on site are the Madrasah of Barak-Khan (16th century), Tillya-Sheykh Mosque, Juma Mosque and Mausoleum of Saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi (15th century).
- Visit to Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent’s most well-established bazaar that includes a large selection of traditional Uzbek ceramics, jewelry, handbags, garments and more.
- Ride on the Tashkent Metro, an immaculate subway system with each station decorated in colored mosaics and ceramics to depict a specific theme.
- Walk through Amir Temur Square, with a massive statue of none other than Tamerlane himself at the center.
- Independence Square, including the moving Mourning Mother Monument and the Eternal Flame, burning continuously in memory of more than half a million Uzbek soldiers who died during World War II.
- Drive to the Sacred Heart Cathedral, a 20th century Roman Catholic Church with beautiful stained-glass windows and Gothic-style architecture.
- Tour of the Applied Arts Museum, an informative collection of Uzbekistan’s finest handicrafts housed in an ornately decorated villa.
Tour duration: 4.5 - 5 hours
- Gur Emir, the imposing burial site of Tamerlane and Mirzo Ulugbek.
- Registan Square, the commercial center of Samarkand for centuries and Samarkand’s most famous site today. The square includes three madrasahs: Ulugbek Madrasah (15th century), Sher-Dor Madrasah (17th century) and Tilla-Kori Madrasah (17th century).
- A boulevard lined with workshops, souvenir stores and ice cream stands.
- Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlane for his favorite wife
- Siab Bazaar, a multi-level complex where you can shop for souvenirs and sample sweets, fruits and Samarkand’s famous bread.
- Shakhi-Zinda, a burial complex built between the 9th-14th centuries. Climb the blue-domed path and explore more than 20 small mausoleums that line the broad alleyway.
- Ulugbek Observatory, where you can see the remains of a 14th-15th century sextant and tour the Ulugbek Museum.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
- Visit to the excavation site and museum of the ancient city Afrasiab.
- Tour of the mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar, believed to be the tomb of the prophet Daniel, whose remains were brought here by Tamerlane.
- Drive to Konigil Village to observe the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry leaves; you’ll also have the chance to buy these unique souvenirs.
- Excursion to the Oriental Silk Carpet Factory to see firsthand how top-quality carpets are created. You can even learn basic skills from the masters and try carpet-weaving yourself!
Total duration: 4-5 hours
With your private local guide, enjoy a walking tour of the most impressive sights of Bukhara’s Old City:
- Lyabi-Hauz ensemble holding the largest artificial reservoir of medieval Bukhara (14th-17th centuries). This ensemble includes some of the largest madrassahs in the city: the Khanaka Madrassah, Kukeldash Madrassah and Nadir Divan Beghi Madrassah (all 16th century).
- Magoki-Attori Mosque, the oldest mosque in Bukhara (12th century)
- Four Trade Domes (15th-16th centuries), which still house local handicrafts for sale.
- Poi Kalyan Ensemble (12th-16th centuries), consisting of the Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Amir-Alimkhan Madrasah and Miri-Arab Madrasah.
- Ulugbek Madrasah (15th century) and Abdulazizkhan Madrasah (17th century), relatively untouched yet impressive religious schools.
- Ark Fortress (4th century), the ancient center of Bukharan statehood and currently home to a small museum.
- Bolo-Khauz Complex, consisting of an artfully decorated 18th century mosque, a minaret and reservoirs that once provided water for the entire city.
- Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), believed to be the most ancient brick building in Central Asia, and the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
- Chor Minor ("Four Minarets"), an unusual madrassah built by Niyazkul in the 18th century, whose four minarets are said to reflect the four major world religions of that period.
- Emir's Summer Residence, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa (19th century), a unique site boasting of a blend of Oriental and Russian architecture.
- Bakhautdin Naqsband Mausoleum, an ensemble dedicated to the founder of the Sufi Order "Naqshbandia"; the site includes a mausoleum, mosque, pond, and museum.
- Chor-Bakr Necropolis, (City of the Dead, 10th century), ancient burial grounds which were developed into a memorial complex in the 1500s.
Tour duration: approximately 4 hours
- Airport and train station transfers;
- Accommodation based on double/twin room in 3-star hotel with breakfast (5 nights);
- Private, local English-speaking guide and entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
- Transportation during the city tour (1-2 ppl in sedan; 3-8 in minivan);
- Economy class train tickets for the Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara-Tashkent route (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace it with a ticket on the regular train).