If you are contemplating traveling the Silk Road with kids, Uzbekistan should be the first destination on your list.
Not only does Uzbekistan have an exciting, eclectic combination of things to see and do, but it is very child friendly. Uzbekistanis like to travel with their extended families — often three generations together — so hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions cater for everyone, young and old.
Uzbekistan’s summer heat and long distances can be a challenge, but the country’s high-speed trains have AC and it’s easy to plan an itinerary based around shorter steps. Here’s what you need to know about family travel in Uzbekistan.
Is Uzbekistan good for kids?
Uzbekistanis love children and take their kids with them everywhere, whether it is to a festival, a historic site or a high-end restaurant. Visitors to the country will find it easy to do the same. People will go out of their way to accommodate your needs, including allowing you to skip the line or helping you find a quiet spot for a change or feed.
You’ll have no trouble pushing a stroller around most city centers: Uzbekistan’s streets and squares are well-paved, and as petty crime is almost non-existent, you can leave a buggy outside without worrying. At historic sites, a baby carrier will be more convenient, as you’ll usually have steps to climb or uneven slopes to scramble down.
Where is best in Uzbekistan for kids?
The best places to see in Uzbekistan with children are the country’s Unesco-listed Silk Road cities, but the dramatic landscapes – from deserts to mountain ranges – offer stiff competition. In fact, it is this wide variety of sights and activities that makes Uzbekistan so child friendly.
Start in the capital, Tashkent, ride the high-speed train to Samarkand and Bukhara, then venture out into the Chimgan Mountains to ski. For extra adventure, visit the Kyzylkum Desert for a yurt stay, or head up onto the Ustyurt Plateau to see the Aral Sea.
Best things to do in Uzbekistan with babies and toddlers
Go to a puppet show
Puppetry has a long history in Uzbekistan. The Republican Puppet Theatre in Tashkent was built to look like a fairy-tale castle, and Bukhara and Nukus both have professional puppet theaters. In Khiva, puppeteers roam the streets of the Ichon-Qala with almost life-size puppets. Puppeteers typically use a mixture of sock puppets and marionettes to tell popular stories, many of which will be familiar to international audiences.
Recharge in gardens and parks
For a country predominantly covered by desert, Uzbekistan is surprisingly green. Every city has well-kept parks where local families come to relax in the evenings and at weekends.
Storks, ducks, and peacocks wander free in the Japanese Garden in Tashkent and are always grateful to be fed. The Ak Serai, Timur’s palace in Shakhrisabz, is surrounded by graceful gardens, and Bukhara’s Samani Park offers a good balance of historic monuments and safe spaces for little ones to run about.
Best things to do in Uzbekistan with older kids
Storm a fortress
There are fortresses all across Uzbekistan, dating from the 1st millennium BCE to the 19th century. Many of them are in good condition, so kids can race along the battlements, march through gates, and climb towers, imagining themselves as soldiers in attacking armies or as citizens under siege.
The greatest concentration of forts is in Karakalpakstan, but don’t overlook the Ark in Bukhara (whose dungeons have a fascinatingly gruesome past), or the Nurata Fortress in Navoi Region, said to have been built by Alexander the Great.
Dive into history in Khiva’s Ichon-Qala
The entirety of Khiva’s Old City is a vast open-air museum, and it’s very family friendly. The monuments – minarets, madrassas, mosques, and mausoleums – of the Ichon-Qala are magnificent, and the streets and squares are a constant source of entertainment. You might pause to snap selfies with a camel, stumble across a wrestling bout, or suddenly be surrounded by a troupe of wandering musicians or puppeteers.
Stay in a yurt for the ultimate stargazing experience
Three things epitomize the Silk Road – deserts, camels, and yurts – and Uzbekistan offers all three. The best yurt camps are near Aydarkul, but there are also good options for yurt stays near Bukhara, in Urgench, and across Karakalpakstan. Combine a night in a yurt with a camel ride, a bonfire, and some unforgettable stargazing – kids will love it.
Cool down at a water park
Temperatures soar in Uzbekistan in summer, and one of the best ways to cool down (whilst still having fun) is to spend a few hours at a water park. Tashkent’s Aqua Park is the largest, with multiple flumes, wave pools, and hot tubs. The Aqua Park in Namangan even has open-air discos on summer evenings.
Best things to do in Uzbekistan with tweens and teenagers
Learn to ski
From December to April, Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s premier destination for winter sports. The country’s top ski resort, Amirsoy, opened near Tashkent in 2019, with international-standard infrastructure and equipment. Lift passes, kit hire, and ski lessons in Uzbekistan are a fraction of the cost of those in European resorts – so, a great way to keep kids of all ages entertained.
Visit the Aral Sea
Just getting to the Aral Sea is an adventure: the desert landscapes are vast, much of the drive is off-road, and you need a rugged 4WD vehicle. But the challenge is part of the appeal, and the journey takes in skeleton ships, abandoned communities, canyons, and even an otherworldly salt flat. It is a prime opportunity to discuss the impact of humankind on the natural environment, and to see evidence of climate change firsthand.
Uzbekistan Airways, the national airline, offers discounted tickets for babies and children and lets you take foldable buggies onboard. These policies apply on both domestic and international flights, so families will find it easy to get around by air.
The Afrosiyob high-speed train links Tashkent with Samarkand, Navoi and Bukhara, and the line will be extended to reach Khiva and Nukus by the end of 2026. Not only are the trains fast and affordable, but you also get guaranteed seats, free snacks, AC, and plenty of space to run around. Book tickets online via the official e-ticket portal.
Bring your kids’ medications, processed foods, and diapers with you; baby products are widely available in local supermarkets, but the brands may be unfamiliar and not meet the quality you’re used to. Restaurants in Uzbekistan rarely have children’s menus, but the food is not spicy and there’s always plenty of choice.
If your kids turn their noses up at local specialties such as plov (rice cooked with meat and vegetables) and shashlik (kebabs), don’t worry – it’s easy to find bread, soups and salads, plus bite-size dumplings known as manti, spaghetti-like laghman, and chuchvare, a button-shaped pasta. Strawberries, cherries, apricots and melons are plentiful, especially in the summer months.