Uzbekistan has taken travel Instagram by storm this past year and for good reason – the epic architecture and incredible details make it one of the most photogenic countries in the world.
Below is a round-up of the 15 most Instagrammable places in a country full of Instagrammable places. From the tiled expanses of Registan to the soaring beauty of the Kalon Minaret, these spots are guaranteed to make any photographer drool.
Tip: I highly recommend packing a wide-angle lens so you can capture the full scale of the architecture. For reference, we used a 10-20mm lens.
And if you want more detailed information on traveling to/around Uzbekistan, including what to do and where to eat, check out this in-depth country guide!
1 Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah
This madrasah is a colorful gem in a sea of blue tiles and sand-colored buildings. Instead of geometrical or astral designs, as is the norm in Uzbekistan, it’s decorated with bright wavy patterns. If you look closely enough, you’ll even spot images of a Chinese dragon and mythical bird called Simorgh within the waves.
Best Photo Spots: Stone ornament (?) in front of the madrasah (see photo above). Take the photo farther away to capture more of the madrasah or up close to showcase the details.
2 Bolo Hauz Mosque
Located across the street from the Ark of Bukhara, Bolo Hauz Mosque is an oasis in the city. The mosque’s airy aivan (aka portico) boasts rows of Insta-worthy wooden columns and an elaborate ceiling.
Best Photo Spots: Aivan. Shoot up for a beautiful view of both the columns and ceiling.
3 Chor Bakr Necropolis
When we first arrived at Chor Bakr we weren’t too impressed, probably because a majority of the site was under construction. We were about to leave in defeat when one of the workers offered us rooftop access for a small “tip” (a common occurrence in Uzbekistan) and we accepted, because hey, we were already there!
Best. Decision. Ever. Chor Bakr’s rooftop is virtual mini-city in and of itself. We spent so long running around, exploring, and taking photos that our driver had to come get us.
Best Photo Spots: Rooftop, on the street outside with a full view of the necropolis in the background.
4 Kalon Minaret
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Bukhara.
Tip: Wait for sunset when the minaret lights up and you can catch the glow from golden hour.
Best Photo Spots: Plaza in front of the minaret.
5 Ulugh-Beg Madrasah
I’ll admit, I overlooked this at first in favor of the colorful Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, which is located right across the street. However, I ended up shooting one of my favorite photos from Uzbekistan here (see above). What can I say? Symmetry and details make my heart sing.
Best Photo Spots: In one of the arches
HONORABLE MENTION: Chor Minor
I wasn’t impressed by Chor Minor when I saw it in person, but I’m adding it here because the roof is a great photo spot if you get the angle right.
Best Photo Spots: On the roof. Best if you have someone on the ground to capture the fact that you’re, well, on the roof!
6 Bibi-Khanym Mosque
This mosque is all about scale. The buildings are huge, the domes are huge, the doors are huge. You’ll look tiny but the photo will be epic.
Best Photo Spots: The entrance, in front of the inner courtyard’s central madrasah (see photo above)
My favorite landmark in Samarkand. The mausoleum is an architectural marvel, both inside and out. Prepare to be amazed by the details!
Best Photo Spots: Entrance to Gur-e-Amir. Squat down low at the bottom of the stairs to capture the full glory of the entrance. Shoutout to the kind cleaning lady who gave us this tip!
Registan may be the most Instagrammable place in Uzbekistan and for good reason: it’s a beauty. We came here at sunrise, when the structure was bathed in the sun’s warm orange glow, and it was stunning. Technically it doesn’t open until 8am but a guard saw us wandering disappointedly about and offered to let us in early for a small “tip.”
The main courtyard is framed by three madrasahs: the Tilya-Kori Madrasah, the Ulugbek Madrasah, and the Sher-Dor Madrasah. I didn’t see a huge difference between the three; they were all massive and elaborately tiled. Not that I’m complaining!
Best Photo Spots: Main square in the center of the three madrasahs, central archway of the Tillya-Kori Madrasah (the madrasah in the middle, facing the street), balcony in the inner courtyard.
One of my favorite spots in Samarkand. The tilework is out of this world and every nook and corner begs to be photographed. You cannot go wrong here, photography-wise.
Best Photo Spots: Alleyway between the mausoleums, the little courtyard at the end of the Avenue of Mausoleums.
10 Islom Hoja Minaret
Standing at 57 meters tall, Islom Hoja is the tallest minaret in Uzbekistan and an indispensable part of Khiva’s skyline. It’s Instagrammable at every angle, so play around and find a shot that works for you.
Note: Given how touristy the area around the minaret is, it’s best to shoot at sunrise before the vendors set up and the crowds arrive.
Best Photo Spots: Alley leading up to the minaret, plaza next to the minaret (there’s usually an outdoor bazaar here but if you go early enough it’ll be empty).
11 Juma Mosque
Juma’s elmwood columns and secluded atmosphere gave me serious Indiana Jones vibes – and some seriously cool photos. This is a great place to shoot if you want to switch it up from all the tiles and minarets.
Tip: Bring a tripod or a camera with a low f-stop (ideally f/2.8 or lower) because it is dark inside, even near the skylights, and your photos will turn out dark/grainy unless you have one of those two things.
Best Photo Spots: Wooden columns by the skylight.
12 Kalta Minor
I’m obsessed with Kalta Minor’s turquoise color and short, squat frame. It looks like a giant funnel and provides an Insta-worthy pop of color amidst all the sand-colored buildings.
Best Photo Spots: Alley with minaret in the background, courtyard in front of the minaret (taken wide so you capture the whole scene or up close so the minaret dominates the frame).
13 Toprak Kala
Technically not in Khiva, but you can take a detour to this fortress if you’re traveling between Bukhara and Khiva by car.
What it doesn’t have: a museum, artifacts, or on-site educational components.
What it does have: epically cool ruins.
Best Photo Spots: On the earthen structure (not sure what to call it but see photo above for reference).
14 Tosh-Hovli Palace
Hello, tile paradise! Between the sea of blue and relative quiet (aka: less people who might get in your shot) Tosh-Hovli is as Insta-worthy as they come. Even though the palace has more than 160 rooms, only a few are open to tourists, so make the most of them.
Best Photo Spots: Harem courtyard with blue tiles as your background.
15 Minor Mosque
I didn’t visit Minor Mosque when I was in Tashkent because I didn’t have time/I was lazy/it was raining/all of the above. However, based on photos it’s one of the city’s most Instagrammable spots. The white marble exterior is the perfect backdrop for a pop of color (aka you)!
Best Photo Spots: In front of the mosque or in the back (where the turquoise dome is fully visible).
HONORABLE MENTION: Tashkent Metro Stations
I’ll be honest: we didn’t actually use the metro when we were in Tashkent so I can’t speak in-depth on this subject. However, from what I’ve seen online, some of the stations are truly stunning. Uzbekistan also lifted their metro photography ban in June 2018, so now you can snap away to your heart’s content! Just beware commuters and be respectful of other people’s space 🙂
Tip: Bring a tripod. Metro stations are dark because they are, after all, underground. A tripod and/or a camera with a low f-stop is ideal if you want a bright, crisp image.
Best Photo Spots: Based on my research, the most Instagrammable metro stations in Tashkent include, but are not limited to, Mustakillik Maydoni (chandeliers and grand marble walls), Novza (hexagonal lights that look like honeycombs), Alisher Navoi (intricate domed ceilings), Bodomzor (geometric patterns), Yunus Rajabiy (hallway lined with columns), and Kosmonavtlar (Tashkent’s most famous metro station, dedicated to the country’s scientific achievements).
There you have it: the 15 most Instagrammable places in Uzbekistan! If you end up posting a photo of one of these places make sure to tag me on Instagram – I’d love to share it on my Stories!
In the meantime, make sure to check out this in-depth travel guide for everything you need to know about traveling to Uzbekistan and download this handy trip planning checklist to help you prep for your trip.