Skip to Content

Travel guide to Khiva in Uzbekistan.

Legend has it that Khiva is a city that dates back more than 2500 years.

For the next thousands of years, Khiva has developed a small well in the middle of the desert.

This well is said to be discovered by Shem, the elder son of Biblical Noa.

From a small oasis in the middle of the desert, Khiva has come a long way in becoming one of the main trading centres on the historical silk road.

The history of the city is also known for being one of the most important slave markets in Central Asia.

Are you wondering what the food will be like in Uzbekistan? Check out this post about 16dishes you should try while in Uzbekistan.

The main entrance to the old town of Khiva. Uzbekistan
The main entrance to the old town of Khiva. With the famous Kalta Minor minaret in the back.
Khiva old town
The main entrance to the old town.

The city got added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1990. Khiva has now become one of the main tourist stops in Uzbekistan, along with Bukhara and Samarkand.

But surprisingly few tourists seem to visit Khiva compared to the two other even though this city is as impressive as the other two.

Maybe travellers find it inconvenient to travel there because it is located remotely.

Wondering about what´s the food likes in Uzbekistan? Check out this post about 21 Traditional dishes to try in Uzbekistan.

However, if you do make it to Khiva, then Itchan Kala is the place that you should be exploring. Why?

Khiva is divided into two parts, “Itchan Kala”, meaning inside the walls.
The Itchan Kala is surrounded by a 10meter high wall that can only be entered through four gates. It is an old walled city and is famous for its history.

Dichon Kala means outside the walls. Everything that the outer side of the wall offers is available in every other town of Uzbekistan, which is why you must explore Itchan Kala.

Part of the 10 meter tall wall surrunding old town Khiva travel guide
Part of the 10-meter tall wall surrounding old town Khiva.
khiva old town Uzbekistan
Walking on top of the old city walls

Khiva is home to around 50,000 people, with 3000 of those living inside the old city walls.

The Old Town is so protected these days that even locals are doing small modifications to their homes has to be approved by the UNESCO organization. It´s also impossible to buy any of the houses here as they can only be passed down through families.

Khiva travel guide
Overlooking the old town from the city walls.

The only way to get around the Itchan Kala is on foot. It´s compact enough to cover the entire place in just a few hours, but that´s no fun.

It´s better to spend hours just walking around the small alleys or having a cold beer or warm coffee while watching the numerous local couples taking their wedding photos in front of the Kalta Minor, the most famous landmark in Khiva.

The iconic landmark Kalta Minor is not old compared to the rest of Khiva, Kalta Minor dates back to 1852. Back then, the ruler Mohammad Amin Khan wanted to build a minaret high enough to see the city of Bukhara, which is 400km away.

The legend says he wanted the minaret to be 110 m high. But Mohammad Amin Khan died three years after the construction began. Hence the building came to a halt.

When the construction was stopped, the building was a 26 meters tall stump with a massive base of 14.5 meters in diameter.

The local’s names it Kalta Minor, which ironically means short minaret.

 UzbekistanKalta Minor the most famous land mark in Khiva
Kalta Minor, the most famous landmark in Khiva.
tiles Uzbekistan
Close up with Kalta minor; it´s covered with small tiles.
 resturant in Khiva.Uzbekistan
My favorite restaurant in Khiva. I could sit here for hours while enjoying a cold beer and watching all the wedding parties going by.
Uzbekistan wedding
Wedding party nr 1
Uzbekistan wedding Khiva
Wedding party nr 1000

It´s easy to get stuck inside the old city the whole day. It is amazing just to experience one of the greatest sunsets in Central Asia.

I was lucky to witness a stunning sunset every day while staying in Khiva, each more beautiful than the other.

Khiva uzbekistan stunning sunset
Sunset inside the old town of Khiva.

Additional Information About Khiva.

How to travel to Khiva?

First of all. There´s no train station, no airport or bus station in Khiva.

Urgench city, which is 30km away, has all the means of public transport.

From Khiva to Urgench, there are shared taxis running all day for around 1 USD.

Urgench has all the options that you need.

There are international flights from all the big cities in Russia and even a flight with Uzbekistan Airlines from Paris and Milan.

There are also at least two daily flights between Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and Urgench.

You can also use the daily night trains between Tashkent – Urgench, and Bukhara – Urgench.

The train travelling in Uzbekistan is very comfortable and safe. Train schedules can be found here.

Travelling by train through Uzbekistan is more comfortable than train travelling in etc. Norway.

There are daily buses between Urgench and most of the cities in Uzbekistan as well.

Urgench to Tashkent is an extremely uncounterable 20-hour bus ride.

A bus trip to Bukhara takes around 8 hours.

If you are going to Turkmenistan, then there are shared taxis taking the 5Km trip for 2 USD.

If in need of a guide, driver, or accommodation in Khiva and Uzbekistan, check this guide.

Where to go next?

Turkmenistan is the obvious answer, but only if you have obtained a very difficult visa.

There´s also an easy day trip to Moynaq and what remains of The Aral Sea.

Like it? Share it! Pin It!

Travel guide to Khiva in Uzbekistan a perfect stop on the historical silk road
The ultimate guide to Khiva a historical stop on the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.
Travel guide to Khiva in Uzbekistan a perfect stop on the historical silk road
The ultimate guide to Khiva a historical stop on the Silk Road in Uzbekistan