View of mosque dome against blue sky.


Originally built as a garrison town to house slaves in transit, Khiva, which is also known as Xiva by Uzbeks, was a prosperous city which fell into decline, was abandoned and then left to the ravages of the desert.

Today, thanks to UNESCO, Khiva has been restored to its former glory and unlike many cities in Central Asia, it has been preserved in its entirety. Although it has the air of a museum, slowly but surely, it is coming back to life. The harem, mosques, bazaar and madrassas are all there and to stay a night in one of the small private guest houses allows travellers to experience Khiva at its best, when the moonlit silhouettes of the tilting columns and madrassas, viewed from twisting alleyways, work their magic.

Itchan Kala, Khiva, Uzbekistan
Khiva, Uzbekistan

Why visit Khiva?

Day trips from the city can be arranged, taking in some of the local sites including a few of the historic buildings in Ichon-Qala; mosques, shrines and museums. Also a trip to Urgench, the capital of the Khorezm province of Uzbekistan, is recommended, providing a good launch point for the ‘Golden Ring’ of ancient fortresses in southern Karakalpakstan.


What do you really love doing? We curate your itinerary especially for you.

Registan Square, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Registan Square

Wander around Samarkand exploring the restored madrasas flanking the edges of Registan Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the countries most iconic images.

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The edge of Aydarkul Lake fringed by beautiful red foliage

Kyzylkum Desert

Visit Aydarkul Lake in the Kyzylkum Desert – camp out in yurts and ride a camel.

Fergana Valley Pass, Uzbekistan

Fergana Valley

Visit the fertile silk producing region of the Fergana Valley.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Chor Minor, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Discover Bukhara

Stroll through the atmospheric streets of Bukhara, home to bazaars, minarets and madrasas.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Ata Darvoza, Itchan Kala, Khiva, Uzbekistan


Explore the UNESCO city of Khiva, possibly the best preserved of all the Silk Road cities.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Person Hiking through the Chimgan Mountain landscape in Uzbekistan

Hike in the Chimgan Mountains

Embark on a day trek or a more challenging multi day hike in the Chimgan Mountains.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz.

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