In this Samarkand travel guide, I’m going to share with you some of the best food and historical attractions that you don’t want to miss when you visit.

Samarkand (sometimes also spelled Samarqand) is an ancient city in Uzbekistan, once a prosperous city along the ancient Silk Road.

From monumental Mosques and Mausoleums, to jaw-dropping plates of plov and kebabs, Samarkand is a living museum that will blow you away with every sight and bite.

Get ready to discover the best of Samarkand!

Samarkand food guide
My favorite food in Uzbekistan!

Without a doubt, the city I was most looking forward to visiting on my trip to Uzbekistan was Samarkand.

Samarkand is the oldest inhabited city of Central Asia, settled at first in the 8th Century BC, and having been one of the most strategic cities along the Silk Road, located en-route from China to the Mediterranean.

UNESCO labels Samarkand a “crossroad and melting pot of world’s cultures.”

Watch the full Samarkand video here:

(Or watch it on YouTube here)

things to do in Uzbekistan
Gur-e Amir Сomplex, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

We only had 24 hours in Samarkand, so we made the most of our time, exploring both the incredible food and history of the city.

In this Samarkand travel guide, I’ll share all the details about some of the best things to do in Samarkand and especially about the best food to eat in this fascinating city in Uzbekistan.

First of all, where to stay? We stayed at the DiliMah Premium Luxury, a newly decorated, slightly over-the-top, pink and purple hotel. Rooms were clean, and new, and great value for the price we paid.

what to do in Samarkand
Inside of the mausoleum of Amir Timur

Gur-e Amir Сomplex

Staring off in the morning at about 8 am, we headed straight to Gur-e Amir Сomplex, the mausoleum of Amir Timur.

Amir Timur is the founding father of Samarkand, an important conqueror and founder of the empire.

The outside of his mausoleum is spectacular, with minarets and a turquoise dome, but step inside the mausoleum and the gold and blue decoration will blow your mind.

I just stood there in awe for a few moments, barely able to grasp the detail and construction.

It’s a must-visit in Samarkand, and going at the beginning of the first day will set a great foundation in your mind.

things to do in Uzbekistan
Registan, the impressive center of ancient Samarkand

Registan – The Center of Samarkand

There’s nothing more grand and monumental than Registan, a huge public square, and the historical center of Samarkand.

Imagine the entire square as a buzzing bazaar, packed full of traders and goods being transported, sold, and bought, from China to Arabia, all the way to the Mediterranean.

Registan is the ultimate representation of Timurid Samarkand, and over time it has even influenced cultures and architecture throughout all the surrounding regions.

Tilla Kori
Inside Tilla Kori

The square is also currently home to Madrasas (Islamic schools) and Mosques.

The Tilla Kori mosque and madrasa, with its unbelievable detail and preservation will again blow you away.

The entire interior of the dome is illuminated in gold-work with laces of beautiful blues, oranges, and turquoise. It’s spectacular.

Samarkand travel guide
Selling Samarkand bread, like a huge bagel

Siab Bazaar

Just a short 10 minute walk from Registan is Bibi-Khanym Mosque, and next to that is the Siab Bazaar, a large food marketplace.

If you have time, quickly stop by Bibi-Khanym Mosque, another magnificent landmark of Samarkand, one that dates back to the year 1404.

Samarkand travel guide
Dried fruit at Siab Bazaar, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

But back to Siab Bazaar.

Within the market you’ll find fresh vegetables and fruits and bread – essential foods of Samarkand – but one of the real highlights is the dried fruit and nuts piled high throughout the bazaar.

Uzbekistan is well known for its dried fruit, and this is the place to sample and buy.

I especially enjoying the dried melon rolls, which were like melon jerky, but probably the highlight for me were all the dried apricots.

best restaurants in Samarkand
Preparing Samarkand plov

Lunch at Osh Markazi

Plov (palov, pulao) is the national dish of Uzbekistan, and every city and region has their own version.

When you’re in Samarkand, you don’t want to miss Samarkand plov – it also happens to be my favorite version of any I tried throughout the country.

We arrived to Osh Markazi at about noon – you have to get there on time because they can run out quickly.

The rice is cooked in a massive pan, braised in flax-seed oil, with tons of yellow carrots and beef.

When you order a plate, the plov master dishes you out huge proportions of rice drizzled in the fragrant oil, followed by a layer of fall apart tender carrots.

things to do in Samarkand
Massive platter of the best plov in Uzbekistan (my opinion)

Finally, he chops up a hand selection of beef, adds it on top of the carrots, and decorates your plate with quail eggs and chilies.

The rice was so fragrant and nutty from the oil, the carrots are so sweet and caramelized, and the meat is fall apart tender.

Uzbek food in Samarkand
A plov feast!

During my trip to Uzbekistan I ate a lot of food, but Samarkand was probably my favorite city for food. Though it’s a very tough decision, Samarkand plov was probably my favorite dish of the entire trip.

Samarkand plov is truly a masterpiece of Uzbek cuisine.

Osh Markazi Restaurant
Address: Corner of Vohid Abdullo Street and Afrosiyob Street, Samarkand (see map here)
Open hours: No totally sure, but about 11 am – 2 pm for lunch
Total price: 140,000 UZS ($17.17), we ordered the massive platter for 8

things to do in Samarkand
Ulugh Beg Observatory

Ulugh Beg Observatory

Full of plov, we continued to Ulugh Beg Observatory, an astronomy observatory built in the 1420’s by Ulugh Beg.

At its peak it was one of the most advanced observatories in the world, and they could measure the time, day, and season, almost perfectly.

You can see the remains of the observatory and visit the small adjacent museum.

restaurants in Samarkand
Your choice of salads

Domashnii Restaurant

We didn’t stay long at the observatory because just a 5 minute walk around the corner you’ll find Domashnii Restaurant, a popular local restaurant, tucked within the neighborhood that’s famous for their chickpeas.

The salads are also fantastic, a selection of fresh herbs, pickles, and yogurt that you can’t go wrong with.

best restaurants in Samarkand
Signature chickpeas and lamb at Domashnii Restaurant

For the main dish we got what nearly everyone else gets: chickpeas stewed until they’re so tender they almost dissolve into broth, with lamb that’s almost equally as juicy and soft.

There was very little spice and seasoning, but the comfort that the dish’s textures offer is on another level.

top attractions in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Fall apart tender lamb and chickpeas

I just sat there, spooning myself chickpeas and alternating bites of fall-off-the-bone lamb. It’s a hearty dish, and well worth a visit as a second lunch in Samarkand.

Domashnii Restaurant
Address: M2F4+M9 Samarkand, Uzbekistan (see map here)
Open hours: 10 am – 9 pm daily
Prices: 74,00 UZS ($9.08) for everything we ordered

Ikrom Shashlik
Legendary grill-master at Ikrom Shashlik

Ikrom Shashlik

They call him the greatest grill-master in Samarkand, and when you see him work, you’ll know why.

Ikrom Shashlik is a locally famous restaurant for all things Uzbek kebabs in Samarkand. He’s been working the 21 meter kebab grill for over 20 years, and without a smile, he focuses on perfecting each and every skewer that goes on the grill.

Uzbek food guide
Masterful kebabs

We ordered a selection of their kebabs – from right to left, layers of lamb and fat, fish, minced meat kebab, and bull testicle.

Each was totally different, marinated in light spices, but mainly relying on the cuts of meat, and the expert grilling with perfect smoke point.

Uzbek kebabs
The layered kebabs were spectacular

The testicles came first and were delightfully good, with a bit of a spongy texture, but not chewy at all.

The actual kebab was spectacular, and like many Uzbek kebabs I enjoyed, it was very dense and spongy in texture.

Finally, the highlight of this kebab meal at Ikrom Shashlik restaurant was the thin layers of alternating lamb meat and fat, providing a perfect balance of flavor and juiciness.

Ikrom Shashlik
Address: Sat-Tepo Street, Samarkand, Uzbekistan (see map here)
Open hours: 8 am – 11 pm daily
Prices: 7,000 UZS ($0.86) per kebab

Shah-i-Zinda
Overview of Shah-i-Zinda complex

Shah-i-Zinda

We couldn’t spend much time relaxing after devouring the kebabs, because in order to complete this all-out best of Samarkand day, we had to make it to one more spectacular sight in Samarkand.

To be honest, I might have felt a little history-ied out by this time.

But we pressed on.

top attractions in Samarkand
The mosaics immediately induce feelings of wonderful relaxation

At about 5 pm, just as the sun was lowering, we arrived to Shah-i-Zinda, an alley of intricately decorated mausoleums built between the 9th and 14th centuries.

Even after visiting many other monumental sights of Samarkand in the morning, Shah-i-Zinda again made my jaw drop, observing the incredible colors and designs.

Samarkand travel guide
Alley of turquoise

The turquoise and blue colors literally changed my mood into a mellow state of relaxation.

Included within this Samarkand travel guide, Shah-i-Zinda is perhaps the most spectacular of them all.

Samarkand guide
Home-cooked dinner in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Home-cooked Dinner

For this Samarkand travel guide of best food and historical attractions we covered everything in one-single day. It was a long, yet fascinating and rewarding day.

Nothing could conclude the day better than having a home cooked Samarkand meal for dinner, prepared by one of the nicest and most hospitable families in Samarkand at Muborak-Opa Guesthouse.

At Muborak-Opa Guesthouse, the family have opened their home as a restaurant and cultural experience.

You find a table somewhere in the courtyard of their home, eat home-cooked food, and they often have cultural music and dance performances (you’ll have to watch the video to see more!).

Uzbek food
Starting off with local soup

Along with all the salads, fruits like grapes dangling from the vines above us, and breads, which were all sitting on our table as we sat down, we started with a local soup of meat, potato, and carrots.

Uzbek food guide
A hearty stew of meat and potatoes

Next for the main dinner dish we had a simple stew of lamb, potatoes, and carrots, all simmered down with tomatoes and onions.

The spices were minimal, but the flavors were fresh and local, and the love in the cooking shined.

It was a meal in Uzbekistan that I will never forget, and an absolutely perfect way to end one of the most memorable days in a city that has both an immense history and such wonderful food.

Samarkand
Trade routes leading to Sarmarkand (Samarqand)

Conclusion

In this Samarkand travel guide you will find some of the most important and monumental things to do in Samarkand, and some of its best restaurants to try.

Samarkand is one of the cities I was most looking forward to when visiting Uzbekistan, and I can honestly say it even exceeded my expectations.

From the magnificent beauty of the mausoleums and mosques, to the massive platters of plov and kebabs, Samarkand really is a historical melting pot of Uzbekistan.

NOTE: Thank you to the Tourism Ministry of Uzbekistan for inviting me to Uzbekistan, and especially Bekruz for organizing my entire trip.

38 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Anwar

    1 week ago

    I love this! I’ve been talking with a friend about trying to visit Uzbekistan? did you do it on your own or with a tour? I’ve been trying to figure out if its easy enough to do it w/o a tour (and maybe add in a few of the neighboring stans into the trip)

  • Matthew Bailey

    1 week ago

    Oh man, this looks delicious. Home cooked meals are the best. Haven’t made it to this part of the world yet, but we try to eat either home-cooked or very local most of the time when overseas.

  • Be

    1 week ago

    Wow, the colors are just unreal, both in architecture and food. Looks like such a vibrant city.

  • nui acain

    2 weeks ago

    Hey Mark, I wish I could go with you and dive into those fantastic foods. What a country and what a fabulous dishes and most of all excellent video and presentation. Thank you so much

  • Ahmed Noman

    2 weeks ago

    Very Yummy. A real feast you enjoyed in Uzbakistan. When you will post the jopurnal of Pakistan Trip? I was following you for so many years but I feel sorry that I was not aware of your visit to Pakistan. I had invited you to be my guest here but alas I was not aware when you visited.

  • Bama

    2 weeks ago

    Many thanks for writing about the dishes you had in Uzbekistan, Mark! This will be useful for anyone planning a trip to the Central Asian country who want to try their local food. Your blog posts are in fact the most comprehensive compilation of Uzbek dishes that I’ve come across. Keep traveling, eating, and inspiring us to try the world’s cuisines!

  • Whitney

    2 weeks ago

    Wow, you are an inspiration and a shining light!

  • malichat ua-anant

    3 weeks ago

    Wow, beautiful country and food look yummy. I’ll keep Uzbekistan in mind. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Abdurayim

    3 weeks ago

    Can you upload more videos about Uzbekistan on youtube. Your videos are awesome and I really liked Uzbekistan tour with you bro!!!

  • Diago Fernandes

    3 weeks ago

    Thank You Mark. Beautiful pictures & Simple but delicious Food.

  • Teresa

    3 weeks ago

    Hello from Arizona. Mark we just love your videos – I think we have watched all of your trip to Africa (my girlfriend who is from Lebanon was born near where you filmed) She had fond memories of the food when I told her what you were eating. I have just finished the trip to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, the food looked so wonderful. It is amazing how you make every meal a beautiful journey. I have been sick for the past week so your videos have kept me company while I recoup. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into producing your channel. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Yogesh

    3 weeks ago

    Very informative and knowledgeable for food and history lovers.

  • Bob George

    3 weeks ago

    This video was great. I was mesmerized through the whole thing. I noticed you had aerial clips cut into some portions which were great also. Did you do these yourself or did you get a local to fly the craft? I’ve watched quite a few of your videos, I’m wondering if you ever got stricken with food poisoning? That would make most trips unbearable. All I can say is, “Keep them coming.”

  • Davina Harrington

    3 weeks ago

    Hi Mark,
    Great series 💜 Do you know the names of the last two dishes you ate at the family guesthouse, as I would love to try and make both of them. Thanks so much for sharing your travels.

    Kind regards
    Davina

  • Belfe

    3 weeks ago

    So thank you I have watched all your video awesome it’s like I’ve been there. Can’t wait to see the new places your going to take us. Hope everyone is well

  • Trang binh Nguyen

    3 weeks ago

    It is magnificient and wonderful.You are nice to send me these beautiful pictures and video clips.Again thank you very much.

  • Christopher Mary

    3 weeks ago

    Sup how is ying going
    This 3 videos tour of Uzbekistan is well edited. You have become a Master at filming and editing, even without a team … except ying haha.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 weeks ago

      Thank you very much Christopher, really appreciate you watching.

  • Paul Lloyd Warner

    3 weeks ago

    I am writing you to say that your trip to Uzbekistan and Samarkand are way way the top best food and travel shows I have ever seen. Unbelievably beautiful architecture that had me breathlessly watching. Your guides and all the people you met are so hospitable. You showed, and taught me, things I never knew or understood about this central Asian country – Spectacular is too small a word to describe this series.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 weeks ago

      Really appreciate your kind words and support, thank you Paul. I was also blown away by the culture, history, and architecture in Uzbekistan. Thank you!

  • Bonnie Hagihara

    3 weeks ago

    Love seeing all your videos to different places around the world Mark, keep it up…<3

  • Bonnie Hagihara

    3 weeks ago

    I loved your video about your fabulous trip to Uzbekistan, the food looked yummy! 🙂 <3

  • Mary Leo

    3 weeks ago

    It’s always nice to see and know about another country that I would otherwise never see like you did.

    They serve huge plates.

  • Lauren

    3 weeks ago

    Thoroughly enjoyed this blog and video. The food looked so delicious, especially the lamb and also the chickpeas and plov. Made me want to visit!

  • Anthony Blignaut

    3 weeks ago

    Thank you Mark and all who made this series of your travels possible for all of us all over the World. Until watching tis series I honestly did not even know that Uzbekistan existed, let alone the fantastic Food and Amazing Hospitality as well at the incredible country itself. Regards from South Africa.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 weeks ago

      Thank you Anthony, I’m with you, I knew very little about Uzbekistan before visiting. It was an incredible learning experience. Thank you for your amazing support.

  • Trevor

    3 weeks ago

    So good that you find the time to Blog in such interesting detail as well as Vlog! Thanks, Mark.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 weeks ago

      Thank you Trevor. Probably don’t blog as much as I’d like to, but trying to get back into it. Thank you for your support.

  • Donald R Lambert

    3 weeks ago

    Amazing-

  • Fred J

    3 weeks ago

    Your blog should be on SAVEUR award 🥇. Scrumptious meals Mark!

  • Fatima

    3 weeks ago

    Wow!!! such an amazing post. “Massive platter of the best plov in Uzbekistan” is looking so yummy!! I want to try this item.

  • Sahlan

    3 weeks ago

    Plus send me the detail package tour & price. Thank you