15 Amazing Things to Do In Khiva & Itchan Kala

Uzbekistan

Things to do in Khiva Travel Guide

Last Updated on: May 13, 2024 

About the Blog: This is a complete travel Guide on Khiva, Uzbekistan. In this travel blog, you will find about the top things to do in Khiva and Itchan Kala (Ichan Qala), the walled old town in this Silk Road City of Uzbekistan . You will also find information about where to stay and the best places to eat at Khiva.

During our trip to Uzbekistan, we loved Samarkand and Bukhara; but it was Khiva that simply stole our hearts. Khiva is the farthest city that lies on the Uzbekistan Silk Road. Located about 970 km from Tashkent, the capital city, Khiva is far and often ignored by travelers. But it is so much worth the effort to get there. And we realized that once we entered the walled old town Itchan Kala in Khiva.

It was a different world altogether.

It was truly an open air museum as they say.

And we fell in love with Khiva immediately – with the turquoise blue glittering minarets, the shining tile works, the old mosques, clay colored houses and its gigantic fortress walls. Khiva is mystical. It is one of the dreamiest places we have visited.

Itchan Qala in Khiva Uzbekistan

As much as we loved the grand architecture of this grand place, the smaller things like carpet weaving workshops, the artisan working on designing tiles and mainly the smiling Uzbek people also charmed us. Everything that we saw in Khiva is so beautiful.

I can go on and on with my praises of Khiva. But for the sake of the, let us go ahead with all t he wonderful things that you can do in Khiva.

Khiva – A Brief History

Khiva is one of the oldest Turkic cities located in Uzbekistan Khorezm region. It has preserved its old monuments quite well. Ancient religious manuscripts state that Khiva was founded by Som (Shem), the son of Prophet Noah. Legend says that Shem had discovered a well (some say that he dug a well) while crossing the desert and it became a resting place for the caravans in the desert. The locals called it “khey-vakh” which means sweet water.

Statue of caravans in Itchan Kala in Khiva Uzbekistan

Khiva soon became a popular resting hub for the caravans and the merchants crossing the desert. Between the 10th and 16th century, Khiva became a thriving center and a major trading hub on the Silk Road. Khiva was part of different states and became a center of culture and education.

In 1220, Khiva was destroyed by the forces of Genghis Khan.

In 1598, Khiva became the capital of Khiva Khanate.  And this is when the history of Khiva becomes a bit darker.

Khiva was a bustling slave market during the 16th century, reportedly the largest one in Central Asia. Slave trading was lucrative and rulers had no qualms about turning a blind eye to it. This slave trading lasted for a few centuries in Khiva and also contributed in shaping the future of the country.

In 1740, Nadir Shah invaded the region and made Khiva a part of the Persian Empire.

In 1924, the Soviet Union took over the region until their collapse in 1991.

Itchan Kala or Ichan Qala

Itchan Qala in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Khiva is traditionally divided into two parts – the Itchan Kala (inner city) and the Dishan Kala (Outer City). Itchan Kala stands within a 10m (32 feet) fortified wall. The inner town spreads across 26 hectares and was built according to the ancient traditions of Central Asian buildings. This place was destroyed and rebuilt several times during the course of history.

The Khans (rulers of Khiva), clergies, high officials and rich merchants resided inside the Itchan Kala.

The ordinary people (the not-so rich ones), craftsmen and artisans resided in Dishan Kala.

Today, Itchan Kala is an open air Museum with over 50 historical monuments. There are about 350 houses inside Itchan Kala and almost 2600 people still live inside its fortified walls.

Itchan Kala or Itchan Qala has now received the UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Itchan Kala Entrance Tickets

Itchan Qala Tickets

You need to get a ticket to enter into Itchan Kala. You can buy the entrance tickets from the West Gate to get inside and visit the various attractions inside Itchan Kala.

However, if you are staying in one of the hotels or guest houses inside Itchan Qala, then you do not require a ticket to get inside the old city. You will only need a ticket to visit the attractions.

Earlier, there used to be 3 types of tickets to enter Itchan Kala. However, from 2023, there is only one ticket.  

Main entrance of Itchan Qala

The main entrance ticket costs 150,000 Som and is valid for 48 hours. This ticket allows you to enter the old city and visit all the main attractions, historical sites, museums and watchtowers, except two.

Entrance to the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum requires a separate ticket that you can get at the entrance of the mausoleum itself. It costs 25,000 Som.

Climbing the Islam Khohna Minaret also required a separate ticket costing 100,000 som.

Itchan Kala Opening Hours

Technically, the gates are never closed as people still live inside the old city. However, the main attractions have opening hours, depending on the season.

  • Summer (April – October): from 8 AM until 8 PM
  • Winter (November – March): from 9 AM until 6 PM

Things to Do in Khiva – Exploring Itchan Kala & beyond

The majority of the attractions in Khiva are located within the walls of Itchan Kala, the old city or the walled city that Khiva is known for.

Most of the things to do in Khiva can be found within a small area unlike Tashkent or Samarkand, which are more spread out. Here is a list of places to visit in Khiva.

1. Kalta Minor Minaret – Marvel at Khiva’s most well-known sight

Kalta Minor at Ichan Qala in Khiva

This particular monument can be seen even outside from the walls of the old city and is perhaps the most striking sight in Khiva. The stunning turquoise tiled tower is simply a sight to behold.

The Kalta Minor Minaret is also known as “unfinished minaret” due to the fact that it is only about one-third of its intended height. Maybe that is the reason it looks a bit different from other minarets in Uzbekistan.

Kalta Minor Minaret was built between 1851 and 1855 under the rule of Mohammed Amin Khan. He wanted to show his power. He wanted to build an 80 meter (262 feet) tall minaret that could be seen even from Bukhara and which would be even taller and more beautiful than the Poi-i-Kalyan Minaret in Bukhara. This minaret was supposed to be the tallest in Uzbekistan.

Unfortunately, Khan died in 1855 leaving the construction work incomplete.  The minaret is only 29 meters (95 feet) tall, yet looks quite impressive. I wonder what it would have looked like if it were completed.

During the sunset, Kalta Minor Minaret looks absolutely breathtaking when the blue tiles are covered with a reddish glow of the setting sun.

The Minaret looks equally beautiful in the evening lights.

Fun fact: The name “Kalta Minor” means short minaret.

2. Mohammad Amin Khan Madrassah

Mohammad Amin Khan Madrassah is located just beside the Kalta Minor Minaret. It used to be one of the largest madrassas in Central Asia.

Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasah Khiva

Today the Madrassah has a hotel, known as Orient Star Khiva Hotel, a café and a tour agency office. I am sure it would be quite an experience to stay inside an old madrassa.

3. Kunha Ark Fortress – Explore the Royal Palace

Road from Nukus to Khiva

Kunha Ark fortress was the fortress and residence of the former rulers of Khiva. You can reach Kunha Ark after taking a couple of left turns from the West Gate. It was first built in the 12th century and later expanded in the 17th century by the Khans. This is the place where the Khans lived and contains their arsenal, barracks, harems, mint, stables and mosque. It is like a city within a city and would give you a sneak peek into the lives of the rulers of Khiva.

The first thing that you will see on entering Kunha Ark is the summer mosque. The mosque has intricate blue and white tile work and is quite gorgeous. Next to the mosque is the mint that displays the old coins and banknotes.

There is also a throne room worth checking out. This is the place from where the Khan rulers ruled their Khanate.

There are lots to see and observe if you want to. Spend at least an hour here before going up to the watchtower.

4. Watch The Sunset from the Kunha Ark Watchtower

Watching the sunset from the tower of Kunha Ark Fortress in Khiva

If you want to view a perfect sunset in Khiva or photograph it, this is the place you have to be. You can access the watchtower by a flight of stairs at the back of the throne room. From the watchtower, you will get a great view over Khiva.

And the view is especially gorgeous during the sunset. In fact, watching the sunset from the watchtower is one of the best things to do in Khiva.

However, you might find it hard to get a good viewpoint for watching the sunset during peak season.

5. Juma Mosque – Find your Inner Peace

The wooden columns at Juma mosque in Khiva

The Juma Mosque is the oldest mosque in Khiva and displays wonderful woodwork. It is not like any other mosques that we had seen in Uzbekistan.

The roof of the Juma Mosque is supported by 218 wooden columns, all having various designs carved on them. And because of these pillars, the mosque has a unique ambience that is so peaceful and calming. Visiting the mosque should be on the top things to do in Khiva.

The center of the roof has an opening and when the sunlight falls from there, it lights up the mosque in a very beautiful way. Photographers will surely love this play of light inside the mosque.

Juma Mosque is also known as the Friday mosque. It is no longer an active mosque but it is said to hold almost 500 people.

The Entrance Fee to the mosque is included in the Entrance Ticket.

6. Islam Khodja Madrasa and Minaret

Islam Khodja Madrasa and Minaret at Itchan Qala in Khiva

Islam Khoja Madrasa and Minaret are one of the top attractions of Khiva. This was the first site in Khiva that was included in UNESCO World Heritage List.

Located in the center of Itchan Kala, construction of the madrasa began in 1908 and completed in 1910. Islam Khija Minaret stands at a height of 57 meters (157 feet) and is the tallest minaret in Khiva.

The tower was once used to call for prayers. Due to its impressive height, the minaret could be seen from a great distance and helped many travelers find their way to the city.          

You can climb up the tower of Islam Khodja Minaret and get a bird’s eye view of Khiva. Please note that the stairs are very steep and narrow. Also there is very little light. The space on top is also very cramped. However, the view is worth the trouble.

To climb the top of the minaret, you will need a separate ticket that costs 100,000 Som.

Fun fact: When we visited Islam Khoja Minaret for the first time, it was closed. The guard there was very helpful and was quite happy to know that we were from India. He seemed to be a great admirer of Amitabh Bacchan and even sang a Bollywood song for us! He told us to come back after 15 minutes and we would be the first ones to climb the tower that day!

7. Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum

The Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum houses the tomb of Pahlavon Mahmud, the patron saint of Khiva. He was a revered 14th-century Iranian poet, writer, philosopher and an accomplished wrestler. Even today, professional Iranian wrestlers pray to him before their wrestling matches.

It is believed that Pahlavon Mahmud had rescued many people that were brought as slaves to Khiva.

The tomb of Pahlavon Mahmud dates back to the 1320s, while his mausoleum was built around in the 19th century. The interior of the mausoleum is stunning with deep blue tiles, intricate decorations and some magnificent chandeliers. The mausoleum is an excellent example of Persian architecture.

You have to remove your shoes while entering the mausoleum and your shoulders and knees should be covered as well.

Entrance to this mausoleum requires a separate ticket of 25,000 Som.

8. Walk Along the Itchan Kala City Walls

Walking along the Itchan Kala city walls is one of the top things to do in Khiva

Walking along the Itchan Kala City Walls is one of the best things to do in Khiva, especially during the late afternoon. The city walls of old Khiva sets it apart from the other towns of Silk Road like Samarkand and Bukhara. The walls of the fortress are in excellent condition and you can walk along the northern and the north-western part of the city walls.

The northwestern part is closer to the Kunha Ark and is particularly beautiful during the sunset.

Wander on the Streets of Itchan Kala before the tourists get there

9. Tash Khauli Palace

Tash Khauli Palace, also known as the Tosh Havli is one of the most beautiful buildings in Khiva known for its extravagant interiors. It served as the summer palace for the Khans. Tash Khauli Palace was built between 1832 and 1841 by Allakuli Khan and it is the more opulent alternative to the Kunha Ark.

There are about 150 rooms and 9 courtyards inside this palace. It is said that the Khan had 5 wives and 41 concubines!

The palace has spectacular carvings and work of stone and wood with bright orange and red complementing the blue colored tiles.

This palace is like navigating a huge maze. There are small entrances and holes in the wall, which otherwise look nondescript, but often lead to some spectacular courtyards.

Some Other Interesting Things to Do In Khiva

10. Shop at the bazaars of Khiva

Souvenir shop at Khiva

The bazaars of Khiva are very colorful. You will find beautiful Uzbek textiles, jewelry, wood carvings, traditional fur hats, ceramics and what not in these markets of Khiva. There are souvenir shops in the alleys and inside the old madrasas with vendors selling beautiful handicrafts and textiles.

The prices are reasonable, but do not forget to bargain!

11. Visit a carpet weaving factory

carpet shop at Itchan Kala in Khiva

Khiva was located at the heart of the Silk Road and carpet weaving has always played an important role here. Khiva is known for hand-made silk carpets. If you wander around Itchan Kala, you will come across carpet weaving workshops.

The colors and designs of these carpets are inspired by the designs found around Itchan Kala. A big silk rug can even take 4 to 5 months to make and they can be quite pricey as well. 

There are a couple of workshops in Itchan Kala that you can visit and see the women at work. Please be respectful while visiting these workshops and be careful with their work. They will be happy to show you around, but please do not take advantage of that.

12. Explore Itchan Kala for Handicrafts

As you wander around Itchan Kala, you will find several workshops making handicrafts hidden in the alleys and small madrasas. Handicrafts had been a long standing tradition of Khiva.

We saw a number of handicraft workshops like woodwork, stone carving, hat making, leatherwork, tile making and many more. There were small shops selling dolls and various tile work. It was interesting to watch the artisan work .

13. Watch the town light up from Terrassa Café

View of Itchan Kala from Terassa Cafe

If you want a meal with a view, head over to Terrassa Café and Restaurant in Itchan Kala and get a seat on their terrace overlooking the Kunha Ark. The café has a great selection of Uzbek tea and great food. The ambience too is just top notch.

We visited Terrassa Café just after the sunset and saw Khiva gradually light up before us. With great food and views and even greater company, it was undoubtedly one of the best evenings we spent in Uzbekistan.

The restaurant has vegetarian options as well. If you are non-vegetarian, try their lamb shashlik.

14. Visit The Isfandiyar Palace/ Nurullaboy Palace

Isfandiyar Palace or Nurullaboy Palace is located in Dichan Kala or the outer city. It is located about 10-minutes walk from the West Gate of Itchan Kala.

The palace was built by Mohammad Rahim Khan in 1906 after his visit to St. Petersburg. The palace has a mixture of oriental and western architecture styles.

The entrance fee of Isfandiyar Palace is 60,000 Som. Visit the place if you have enough time.

15. Visit the Photo Exhibition of K H Devonov

The photo exhibition of K H Devonov is an interesting collection of old photographs depicting the daily life of Uzbek people during the first quarter of the 20th century.

K H Devonov was a pioneering photographer and film-maker of Uzbekistan.

Trips around Khiva – Things to Do in Khiva

Take a day trip to the ancient fortress of Khorezm Region

Ancient Khorezm Fortress- day trips from Khiva

The Khorezm fortress, also known as the Ellik Kala in Uzbek is a collection of 50 ancient fortress ruins lying around the Karakalpak desert.

These fortresses are listed as Desert Castles of Ancient Khorezm in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some of these castles are even 2000 years old. These days only 20 of these castles remain. Some of these kalas or fortresses are just in their ruins and you will find only the foundation there.

Some of these fortresses can be visited as a day trip from Khiva. There are 3-castle trip, 5, 7 and 10-castle trips organized by the travel agencies of Khiva. We had done a 3 castle trip that included Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala and it was totally worth visiting. We felt as if we were exploring the unknown and rediscovering the past, with hardly anyone around.

These trips can be done as a day trip from Khiva or on your way to Nukus by car. I don’t think there is any public transport available to these fortresses. You have to hire a car either through your hotel or travel agency. You can also go outside the old town and find drivers who can take you at a set price.

Multi Day Trip from Khiva to Moynaq and Aral Sea Ship Graveyard

Aral Sea ship graveyard at Moynaq

If you have 2 or 3 days in hand, you can go for a trip to Moynaq and the Aral Sea Ship Graveyard. Moynaq is a small town located in northwest Uzbekistan and is about 5 hours drive from Khiva.

However, I recommend starting this trip from Nukus. You can read more about Moynaq and Aral Sea in my blog. 

Khiva Travel Guide

How to Get to Khiva?

You can get to Khiva by either flight, train or by road depending on where you are coming from.

From Tashkent

By Air: the closest airport to Khiva is the Urgench Airport located around 30 minutes drive from  the city center. You can fly in from Tashkent to Urgench Airport. The flight will take around 1.5 hours.

Tashkent to Khiva By Train

You can also take the night train from Tashkent to Khiva. You can buy Uzbek train tickets online on the official Uzbekistan Railway Website. You can also download their app. If you have the tickets downloaded on your app, you do not even need to carry a printout of your tickets anymore.

Khiva Railway Station

From Bukhara

By Taxi via the Khorezm Fortress

You can get a taxi from Bukhara to Khiva and vice versa. A taxi typically takes around 7 to 8 hours with a lunch break in between.

To be honest, the road journey from Bukhara to Khiva is long, boring and dusty. However, you can visit a few Khorezm Fortresses that fall on the way. That would make your journey longer and a bit more costly.

Road from Nukus to Khiva

By Train

Trains are the most budget and efficient mode of transport from Bukhara to Khiva and vice versa. The journey takes around 5 hours. Train journeys in Uzbekistan are pretty comfortable. As mentioned above, you can book the train tickets online.

The train station in Khiva is located about 1-20 minutes on foot from the old city.

The train station in Bukhara is located about 20 minutes from the old city by car.

By Bus

Bukhara has 3 bus stations. The bus station from where you will get a bus to Khiva is near Karvon Bazar. We had not tried the bus journey and this information is the one that we heard from the locals.

How to Get Around Khiva

Khiva is a compact and small town and very walkable. You can visit all the major attractions in town by foot.

You will need a taxi or cab only when you are traveling to the railway station (10 minutes drive) or the airport at Urgench (30-minutes drive).

Best Time to Visit Khiva

Khiva has a desert climate and is dry for most of the year. The summers (June to August) can get quite hot with temperatures more than 40oC or 104o F. Similarly, winters (November to February) can get quite cold (around -15oC).

September to mid-October is the peak season and you will see a lot of tourists in Khiva. We visited at the end of October when the tourist rush was less. However, we explored the old city early in the morning when the alleys of Khiva were devoid of any people. We also explored during the evening when the tourist rush was very less.

April and May is also a good time to visit Khiva. March will still be cold and you will see very few tourists.

Where to Stay in Khiva?

For a small town, Khiva has surprisingly a large number of hotels and guesthouses. You can either stay inside the old city or outside. We recommend staying in Itchan Qala, near to all the popular attractions and sites of Khiva. Staying inside the city walls will also give you the opportunity to explore the old town streets at night and early morning, the time where you will find very few tourists.

Islambek Hotel in Khiva Uzbekistan

Best Budget Friendly Guesthouses and Hotels in Khiva

  • Islambek Hotel: We stayed at Islambek Hotel. The owner was quite friendly and helpful and the hotel has a great travel desk with reasonable rates for tours. The breakfast served is good with loads of fruits, bread, eggs and tea. Book your stay here.
  • Meros B&B: This is a charming bed and breakfast on the other side of the town and is highly recommended.
  • Bobur Guest House: This is a lovely family owned guest house located next to Kunha Ark and Terrassa Café.
  • Guest House Orzu: Another great option to stay in the old city near the East Gate.

Best Mid-range Hotels in Khiva

Unique Options to Stay in Khiva

  • Orient Star Khiva Hotel: The Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasa has been converted into this hotel. This is one of the nicest hotels in Khiva with large rooms and a beautiful courtyard.
  • New Star Boutique Hotel: This is another Madrasa turned hotel. The Muhammad Mahram Madrasa had been renovated and turned into this stunning hotel. This is located just outside the city walls and is only a 2 min walking distance from Itchan Kala.

These are only a few recommendations. Look for more stays here.

Best places to Eat in Khiva

There are some great places to eat in Khiva, both inside and outside the city walls.

The restaurants and cafes inside the city walls can be a bit more touristy and expensive than outside. So if you are on a budget, it is best to eat outside.

Having said that, here are a few best places to eat in Khiva.

Khorezm Art Restaurant: This is one of the best restaurants inside Itchan Kala. This has an open-air location, serves great food and the ambience is great.

Khiva Moon: This is a beautiful restaurant with a lovely courtyard. Located just 5 minutes walk from the Western Gate outside the old city. The prices here are reasonable and the food is great.

Terrassa Café: This is perhaps the most popular restaurant in Khiva because of its rooftop terrace from where you can get a great view of the sunset and the city. The food is good too. The lamb shashlik is quite tasty here.

Bir Gumbaz: Tea House Bir Gumbaz is a small restaurant near Kalta Minor minaret. It has a great ambience and the prices are reasonable as well. Their Kebabs and dumplings are quite tasty.

Café Zarafshon: this is a beautifully decorated restaurant and the food is good too.

If you are tired of having plov day in and day out, you can try the local and signature dish of Khiva – shivit oshi. This traditional Uzbek dish comprises green noodles topped with a meat or vegetable stew.

Vegetarian food is also available in Khiva. You can try Malika Kheivak Restaurant and Terrassa Café for good vegetarian options. 

ATMs in Khiva

Khiva has ATMs inside the old city and one just outside the main entrance near the ticket counter. You can use your Visa and Mastercard to withdraw money in Uzbek Som.

Most of the restaurants also accept credit cards and Travel Cards.

However, I would recommend keeping some cash with you in case the ATMs do not work or the establishments do not accept cards. You can also pay in Dollars and Euros.

How many days are enough for Khiva?

Khiva is a small place and all of the major places of interest can be visited in one full day. We had arrived at Khiva after our trip to the Aral Sea and Nukus and had spent two nights there.

You can take a guided walking tour in Khiva to visit the main attractions and get to know about the history and culture of the city. These tours usually take 3 to 4 hours that will leave you with enough time to explore the town on your own.

How to spend 2 days in Khiva? An Itinerary overview

While you can explore all the major attractions of Khiva in one full day, it will be a bit rushed. If you want to take it a bit slow, then 2 days are good in Khiva. Here is a tentative  itinerary for 2 days for slow travel.

Day 1: Explore Itchan Kala –  Visit the Kalta Minor Minaret, Juma Mosque, Isfandiyar Palace, Kunha Ark Fortress and stay for the sunset.

Day 2: Explore Khoja Madrasa and Minaret, walk along the city walls, visit Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum, Tach Khauli and do souvenir shopping. You can watch the sunset from Terrassa Café.

Exploring Khiva – 2 Backpackers Way – What We Did

Here is an account of our trip to Khiva in Uzbekistan.

Nukus to Khiva

Well, we had arrived at Khiva from Nukus by car. The distance was 170 km and it took us about 4 hours with a stop at Chilpik Kala, one of the ancient Khorezm fortresses.

Chilpik Kala

Chilpik Kala - ancient Khorezm fortress on the way from Nukus to Khiva

What’s interesting about this place is that Chilpik Kala is one of the most ancient Zoroastrian sites in Uzbekistan. The place is almost more than 2200 years old.

Chilpik Kala is also known as the Tower of Silence as this is the ancient burial site according to the Zoroastrian traditions. The bodies of the dead were left on top of the hill to be decayed. When only the bones remained, everything was collected in a vessel (ossuaries) and was then buried.

Chilpik Kala - ancient burial site of Zoroastrians

Chilpik Kala is located only 40 km from Nukus and is undoubtedly a very extraordinary and unusual place. The hill is not too high and you can see the Amu Darya River from the top of the hill. At present, everything is in ruins and many traces of archaeological excavations can be seen. Most of the artifacts found here are kept in Savitsky Museum in Nukus and the museums of Tashkent.

After our stop at Chilpik Kala, we drove on to Khiva and reached there in the afternoon.

Exploring Khiva – Day 1:

Right after checking in our hotel, we went out to explore Itchan Kala. We visited Kalta Minor, Juma Mosque, Mohammad Amin Khan Madrassah and Kunha Ark Fortress. We watched a wonderful sunset from the watchtower at Kunha Ark fortress.

While exploring the place, we found a group of musicians singing a traditional song. They were inviting the tourists to sing and dance with them. And guess what, I went and joined them. I did not know what made me do that, but I surely enjoyed shaking my legs and hands to the oriental tune.

Performers at Khiva

In the evening when Khiva lit up, we walked around Itchhan Kala exploring the nooks and corners of the beautiful and ancient town.

Exploring Khiva – Day 2:

We started quite early in the morning and walked through alleys and boulevards of Itchan Kala. The place was completely empty in the morning and it was a great experience to see the city light glowing with the morning rays of sun.

The first place we visited was Islam Khodja Madrasa and Minaret. The watchtower was closed, but the guard asked us to come 15 minutes later when he had opened the tower. And the guard was a great fan of Amitabh Bacchan and Bollywood.

After getting a great view of the city from the watchtower, we went back to our hotel, as we were going for a day trip to visit the 3 castles.

A trip to the 3 Castles

We started at 9.00 am and took a trip to the 3 castles. We visited Ayaz Kala, Kizil Kala and Toprak Kala.

Kizil Kala

Kyzyl-Kala, also Qyzyl Qala, in modern Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, was an ancient fortress in Chorasmia built in the 1st-4th century AD. You can visit there as a day trip from Khiva

The first fortress to visit was the Kizil Kala which was constructed between 1st to 4th century CE and was rebuilt again in the 12th to 13th century. Kizil Kala looked quite impressive.

It is believed that Kizil Kala was built as a guard to Toprak Kala fortress, one of the most important ancient Khorezm fortresses.

Toprak Kala

Toprak Kala

Toprak Kala is said to belong to the Kushan period around 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. This is the most important structure in the Khorezm region. It used to be the royal residence of the Kings of Khorezm region. This place is quite grand, though it is in ruins. One look at it and you can understand its grandeur.

Ayaz Kala

Ayaz Qala - 3 castles trip from Khiva

Ayaz Kala also belonged to the Kusha period, sometime in the 2nd Century CE. Ayaz Kala looks quite impressive. It is said that the fortress provided defense against nomadic raids.

In between Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala, there is a lake –  Akchakul Lake, which is definitely a piece of heaven amidst the desert area. The trip also included a visit to Akchakul Lake. There are some yurt camps near the lake and during the peak season, these yurt camps accept guests.

Yurt camps near Akchakul Lake - day trip from Khiva

Back to Khiva

After our trip to the 3 castles, we were back to Khiva. And then we explored Jumma Mosque, Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum and Isfandiyar Palace. We walked over the city walls in late afternoon.

It was a long day and so we decided to treat ourselves at Terrassa Restaurant. The place was truly worth the hype. We watched the sunset and then saw Itchan Kala lighting up before us as we were having dinner. There was live music and the ambience was just too romantic.

Khiva to Bukhara

Bukhara Railway Station

The next day we were leaving Khiva towards Bukhara. Our train was at 9.10 AM . The only place we regret not visiting was Tach Khauli. Otherwise, we had a great time at Khiva.

In Conclusion

Khiva is often missed by tourists as it is quite far from Tashkent. But the place is worth a visit. The town is quaint with an old-world charm. Some might say that the place is touristy with all the flocking tourists and high prices. But we found our own places of heaven in this place. We enjoyed exploring its crannies and corners and talking to random people, though we hardly understood what was being said. I think smile is the best language here. As I mentioned in the beginning, Khiva simply stole our hearts!

Best things to do in Khiva

Hope you liked this blog on things to do in Khiva. If you have any suggestions or additions to this, please let us know in the comments below. If you have any questions to ask about Khiva or Uzbekistan, please comment below or drop us a mail.

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Agni Amrita Travel Blogger

Hey! we’re Agni & Amrita.

We have been travelling together since the last 15 years and writing independent and personal travel content since 2014. Travel is one of the best teachers and through this blog, we aim to share our experiences and travel tips. We encourage you to travel more and see the world through your eyes and not through filtered templates.

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Uzbekistan Travel Guide – How to Plan the Perfect Trip

Uzbekistan Travel Guide – How to Plan the Perfect Trip

About the Blog: Traveling to Uzbekistan has been a long cherished wish. Finally we made it to the beautiful country so rich in history and culture. Read this blog to know the details about traveling to Uzbekistan. This comprehensive Uzbekistan Travel Guide will help...

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