If you visit in the summer, check the opening hours of the Registan ahead of time. There's an international dance competition held in mid-August and the opening times will vary depending on practice and performance times.
Good to know
It's quite hot in July and August, if you can visit in the spring or fall it will be more enjoyable.
The Timur Mausoleum is at it's best lit up in the evening, after the crowds have died down significantly, right before closing. It's best to do this at the end of the day.
At the playground you pay by the half-hour, but they don't check in. Pay for the minimum amount of time you think you'll stay and then don't worry about it if you're there longer.
About This Day
Samarkand is the crown jewel of the Silk Road in Uzbekistan. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Samarkand will dazzle you with its numerous sites. This adventure highlights two of the best. Begin at theheart of ancient Samarkand, the Registan, and afterward travel to the second site, the Timur Mausoleum. Both of these are easy to visit with your nugget. Plus, the day includes a well-earned trip to the playground. It all adds up to a memorable day in Samarkand with kids. The day begins at the Registan, the pinnacle of any Silk Road itinerary. The complex is large and often crowded, yet the courtyards tend to offer some quiet. The gold ceiling is the highlight, but there's plenty more amazing architecture to see.Once you're tired of the crowds (and the heat), head across the street from the Registan to the Registan Supermarket. Here you’ll find a wonderful highlight in Samarkand for kids: there's an indoor playground inside the supermarket! The kids can burn off a bit of steam and everyone can cool off and relax. After playground time is over, you can find dinner at any of the restaurants around the supermarket and the Registan.As the sun begins to set, head west to the Timur Mausoleum. By this time, the crowds have died down and you'll be able to appreciate the second gold ceiling of the day in relative quiet. Once you've had your fill of the golden splendour, walk back outside to see the building all lit up. It's truly an impressive sight. Sadly, you’ll have to appreciate it from afar as it closes not long after the lights come on.
The Registan is the crown jewel of the Silk Road buildings in Uzbekistan. The large complex contains three beautiful blue-tiled buildings that are amongst the oldest surviving madrassas (Islamic schools) in the world. The three madrassas are Ulugbek (1420), Sher Dor (1636) and Tilla-Kari (1660). You can search for the lions (that look like tigers) on Sher Dor, marvel at the gold ceiling in Tilla-Kari and haggle with souvenir vendors in the courtyards of each of the three buildings. Tilla-Kari also has a great photo display showing what the area looked like at the turn of the century, prior to restoration and mass tourism. Our favourite was definitely the gold ceiling, as well as relaxing in the Tilla-Kari courtyard in the shade of the trees.
DIRECTIONS The Registan complex is at the heart of Samarkand and every taxi driver will know exactly where to go. If you're staying close by and walking, it's located on Registon ko'chasi, between Toshkent yo'li(N)/So'zangaron ko'chasi(S) to the east and Umarov ko'chasi to the west.
TIP There can be a lot of people looking at the gold ceiling, so keep track of your kids so they don't wander off while everyone's looking up. The bathroom is on the North side of Ulugbek Madrassa.
After spending some time exploring the Registan in the heat, the kids will be happy to get out of the sun and have time to just play. The playground is best suited for younger kids, the ideal age would be 3-7 depending on the child. There was enough to keep our 5 & 6 year-olds entertained for over 2 hours. There are tables set up outside where parents can sit and watch or work. And the grocery store downstairs has cold drinks and snacks if the kids need a little break.
DIRECTIONS The supermarket is across the street (south) from the east side of the Registan. You can't miss it. The children's play area is upstairs, just follow the Disney pictures.
TIP The bathroom is atrocious and you'll have to ask a staff member if someone needs to use it. Once you're done playing (or before you start), there are a number of restaurants just west of the grocery store, directly across from the Registan where you can grab lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day.
The Timur Mausoleum courtyard in front of the main building is beautiful, but at first glance, the inside of the main building seems underwhelming. Don't be deterred. Toward the back of the building is a small door on the right-hand side. This door leads into a grand room with a large domed ceiling covered in gold. In the middle of the room are a number of stone markers. The actual tombs are buried in the ground well below the surface. A stand just inside the entrance shows which tomb belongs to whom. Once you're finished looking at the splendours of the ceiling, head back outside and tour the courtyard. If you've come just before closing it will be beautifully lit up. The lighting adds a whole new dimension to the blue-tiled mosaics and the azure dome towering above the complex.
DIRECTIONS From the supermarket, or one of the restaurants across from the Registan, head west on Registon ko'chassi street. You'll cross Umarov ko'chasi street and see the Tourist Information Centre on your right and Rukhobod Mausoleum on the left. Wander through the square on the west side of Rukhobod Mausoleum, then through the gate and down a tree-lined path to Timur's Mausoleum.
TIP The Timur Mausoleum closes at 8 p.m. in the summer, so although it's best to go in the evening, don't go too late.
WE LOVEDThe location was fantastic and the family room was reasonably sized for a family of 4. There was a large bathroom as well and breakfast was included in the already reasonable price. In front of the hotel was a large green space with plenty of room for the kids to run around and play.
WE DIDN'T LIKEThe family room had 4 single beds and was a bit cramped with a table in the middle. Also, the lobby wasn't air conditioned so it was always a race to our cooler room.
TIPThe hotel can be a bit tricky to find, so it's best to arrange pick-up from the train with the hotel itself.