Best Places to Visit in Tajikistan

Palace of Nations, the residence of the President of Tajikistan, in Dushanbe

Dushanbe

The largest city in Tajikistan, Dushanbe translates to mean ‘Monday’ in Persian as it was built on the site of a Monday market. Originally a small village of just a few thousand people, the city has seen rapid development since it was made the capital in 1924, with its population expected to reach 1.2 million by 2030. However, Dushanbe’s slow pace of life, combined with plenty of parks, fountains and lakes, makes it a great place to unwind after exploring the rest of Tajikistan. Highlights include the Navruz Palace, the National Museum and the Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre. The 18th century Hissar fortress also makes for an interesting day trip.

Beautiful view of Karakul lake in Pamir in Tajikistan

Karakul Lake

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Karakul Lake sits at an altitude of 3,600 metres at the foot of the Pamir Mountains. Boasting unreal scenery, the lake is known for its clear reflections and stunning colour, which ranges from dark green to azure, and even light blue in the summer months. This rugged landscape is home to local herdsmen, who graze their sheep, horses and camels on the nearby pastures. Visitors can gain a taste of their nomadic lifestyle with an overnight stay in a yurt, although no swimming is allowed in the lake as the locals use it for drinking water.

Ak-Baital Pass in Tajikistan, Central Asia

Pamir Highway & the Ak-Baital Pass

Also known as the M41, the Pamir Highway is the second-highest highway in the world and Tajikistan’s most famous road trip. Connecting Tajikistan with neighbouring Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Ak-Baital Pass is the highest pass along this famous route. At an elevation of 4,655 metres, it’s also one of the most dramatic as it’s surrounded by a wild landscape of snow-covered ridges. As you drive along, look out for herds of yak in the lower approaches. Then, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Marco Polo sheep in the upper reaches, which is famed for its long, curved horns.

Hiker in the Fann mountains, Tajikistan

Fann Mountains

Arguably the most beautiful mountain chain not only of Tajikistan, but of all Central Asia, the Fann Mountains are found in the western corner of the country. This spectacular range is easily accessed from the capital Dushanbe and features several snow-capped 5,000 metre peaks, the highest of which is Chimtarga at 5,489 metres. There are numerous trekking routes across this stunning landscape, with highlights including the Alauddin Lakes, Bibijanat Lake and Chukurak Lake.

Iskanderkul in the Fann Mountains, Tajikistan

Iskanderkul Lake

Situated in the Fann mountains, this triangular lake is connected to Alexander the Great through a number of legends. In fact, ‘Iskander’ is the Persian pronunciation of Alexander, however it has never been proved whether the famous commander did ever visit this beautiful lake or not. Surrounded by mountains and with an important nature reserve nearby, Iskanderkul is a great spot for hiking, wild camping and swimming, with several pebbly beaches along its shores.

Yamchun Fortress in the Wakhan Valley near Vrang in Tajikistan

Yamchun Fortress

Located in the remote Wakhan Valley, Yamchun Fortress is a remnant of the region’s past as a thriving corridor along the Silk Road. A number of fortresses were built here to protect traders and defend the Kushan Empire, however, the Yamchun Fortress is the best preserved of all these constructions. Originally built around 300 BC, earthquakes and landslides have taken their toll on this piece of architecture. From its remains you can enjoy fantastic views over the valley and, close by, you'll find the Bibi Fatima hot springs, named after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammed.

See Also

For more information on visiting Tajikistan, check out our other travel resources:

Best time to visit – seasons and weather in Tajikistan
Top travel tips – information on currency, food and much more
Tourist Visas - what you need to know to enter Tajikistan