It gets quite hot in the summer, so be sure to bring lots of water. If you're planning on walking, wear comfy shoes. It's possible to grab a taxi at any point if you're feet get sore or tired.
Start this first thing in the morning and beat the heat of the day. The mosque opens at 8am and is quiet in the morning.
Recommended time of the year
July and August are incredibly hot, but the winter can get a bit chilly. The best time to visit is May-June and September-October.
The entrance fees and taxi fare are very inexpensive.
About This Day
When traveling the Silk Road with kids, one must visit Bukhara, home to around 140 architectural monuments. That’s quite an overwhelming number. Therefore, enjoy this Silk Road for kids full-day itinerary that combines two of the better sites to see. Begin with the Kalyan Minaret and Mosque. There’s space to roam and take in the beautiful structures adorned with blue tiles, typical to Uzbek architecture. Next head over to the Ark of Bukhara, the former home of the Emir. Take in the museum and check out his throne. Lastly, cap off your day with a lovely afternoon eating ice cream and feeding the ducks by Lyabi Hauz pool. It’s a day on the Silk Road with kids that parents too will enjoy.
The Kalyan Mosque is beautiful and peaceful first thing in the morning. It's a stunning example of the blue tile work common around Uzbekistan. The front façade is especially pretty with the early morning light. The inside courtyard is massive and has a lot of room for the kids to run around, especially when there's no one else inside. The Kalyan Minaret, just outside the mosque, is a massive, ornately decorated structure that dominates the complex. Built in 1127, the Kalyan Minaret is an impressive site looking over the city. It's not possible to climb the interior stairs anymore and likely they'd be a bit rickety and scary anyways. Instead, take some time to study the patterns that decorate the exteriors and see if they match any of the patterned tile work on the mosque.
DIRECTIONS The complex is located on Khodja Nurobobod Street, towards the west side of the old city. If coming from the ring road, turn down Khodja Nurobobod Street along the south side of the Ark of Bukhara and the mosque will be ahead on your right.
TIP If you show up early there are a few small cafes across the north side of the street from the centre of the complex.
The Ark of Bukhara was once the heart and soul of the Bukhara Khanate. It was the home of the Emir and about 2000 of his closest friends, family and officials. Three quarters of the "city within a city" were destroyed in the early 20th century by the Bolsheviks and the remaining quarter has been converted into a museum. When purchasing a ticket, make sure to ask for an English guide. The tour includes a look at the inside of the Mosque, as well as the Emir's throne and the stables. Our girls loved being the "queen" sitting on the throne. Many of the rooms have air conditioning and contain various artifacts from the past few hundred years. It's one of the few places offering an English guide and was a great place to learn about life in the city from the glory of the Silk Road almost up to the present day.
DIRECTIONS Exit the Kalyan complex and turn left to walk up Khodja Nurobobod Street. At the first corner you'll see the Ark up ahead on the right. Carefully cross the road and let the kids run free through the large car-free area in front of the Ark entrance.
TIP There is a small public bathroom behind the mosque, but as with many public bathrooms in Central Asia it's not a pretty site. If you have to use it, be sure to bring your own toilet paper and some hand sanitizer.
Mekhtar Anbar Str., Buxoro
Lyabi Hauz was the central hangout in Bukhara after it was built in the 1600's. The locals have been exchanged for tourists, but it's still a lovely place to sit in the shade of the mulberry trees and relax during the heat of the afternoon sun. The kids can have an ice cream and the adults can have a coffee or a cold drink from one of the small drink stands. There are plenty of tables in the shade to sit and people watch. Give the kids a few thousand som to buy a round bread from one of the ladies by the canal or one of the small shops in the buildings on the south edge. They can sit and feed the resident ducks. Or, there are a number or camel statues they can climb for a great picture. Just pick one in the shade as they're metal and can get a bit hot in the sun. Once the sun goes down, a few bouncy castles will magically appear and the kids can spend the evening bouncing with other locals and tourists alike.
DIRECTIONS From the Ark of Bukhara, it's either a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute cab ride to Lyabi Hauz. If you choose to take a cab, head to the road along the south side of the Ark as cabs are plentiful there. If you walk, turn left and walk back down Khodja Norobobod Street, past the Kalyan complex until you get to Samarkand Street. Turn right onto Samarkand Street and follow this right to the north edge of Lyabi Hauz. Walk around the pool to the south or east sides where the ice cream and coffee stands are located.
TIP There are a few small cafes in the buildings that line the south side of the Lyabi Hauz where you can find a quick, cheap lunch. There's also a restaurant on the north side of the pool if you'd like something a little nicer. The ice cream stalls that line the pool can be a bit sketchy, so it might be safer to grab a packaged ice cream from one of the shops and sit and eat it by the pool.