Uzbekistan, like many of its Central Asian neighbours, has a continental-type climate. Winters are cold and very dry and summers are swelteringly hot, with a large variation in temperature between day and night. In other words, for nice weather the best time to go is in spring and autumn. Here's a more detailed look at the best time to visit Uzbekistan.
The coldest month of the year is January
January is one of the worst times to visit Uzbekistan, as the entire country is in the grip of freezing cold weather. In the capital, Tashkent, temperatures do not get above zero. With plenty of warm clothing, it's still possible to enjoy the beautiful sun that usually lights up the city at this time of year.
There's more to the place than meets the eye : this ancient staging post along the Silk Road is home to a few gems. Visit the Chorsu Bazaar, a treasure trove of products from all over the country, and climb its spiral staircase to take in the magnificent view of the mountains.
If visiting the Samarkand region, remember to pack a lot more layers . This region experiences heavy snowfall and it can be bitterly cold. But like Tashkent, the days are very bright.
The central areas also have fantastic sunshine and temperatures that often drop below zero; the same goes for the cities around the Amu Darya basin (Gazli, Uzunkuduk, Kochka...). But the latter see a little less sunshine.
For some warmth, head to the border towns in the south of the country, bordering Afghanistan. Temperatures are often above zero, even in the morning, and the sun often shines.
Note to hikers : the regions of Karakalpakstan and the mountainous areas of Tian Shan are very difficult to explore in January. Temperatures can drop to -40°C and the passes are often closed because they are impassable.
February : a slight increase in temperature
There is a noticeable slight thaw in February. The southern border towns are the first to feel the effect, with temperatures sometimes in the region of 10°C. The cities in the south and centre of the country also feel the benefit, with temperatures a few degrees above zero.
To warm up even more, visit Ternez, which has a microclimate because it lies in a hollow between the Kugitang Mountains and Mount Khabatag, located to the west and east of the city, respectively. This is the region's only cave Buddhist monastery .
In the Tashkent region, while mornings are still chilly, temperatures start to climb a little during the day. It's not time to ditch the warm clothes though .
The story is more mixed in Samarkand and the surrounding region because the sun and clouds frequently trade places, often accompanied by snowfall.
The cities surrounding the Amu Darya basin don't see snowfall and maintain a similar climate in January, with sunny days and very low temperatures.
March: the first signs of spring
The weather starts to picks up again in March Temperatures rise considerably in most parts of the country, and the sun starts to flex its muscles. Again, the towns along the southern border are the big winners.
This is then followed by central region and around the Amu Darya basin. Spring is on its way and it's ideal for exploring without worrying too much about the cold.
Temperatures in the Samarkand region also go up a few notches without winter relinquishing its grip. But there is a fair amount of sunshine though. When it does put in an appearance, be sure to visit the hill-fort settlement of Afrosyab, an ancient city dating back to the eight century BC. It has traces of successive civilisations, from the Iron Age to the Mongol Conquest.
April: peak season begins
There's no doubt about it, spring has sprung in April and with it come the visitors. It even starts to get hot in the southern border towns. The best bet at this time of year is to focus on the country's natural wonders rather than the cities. Aral-Paygambar island is a great excursion. It's a seven-acre nature reserve covered with green vegetation and off the tourist trail.
In Tashkent and the surrounding area, there are clear skies most of the time and in the middle of day it's almost time to don the summer wardrobe. The same goes for the cities in the Amu Darya basin.
Samarkand, on the other hand, is a different story because there is still fairly regular rainfall.
Instead, head to the southern and central cities, which have fully embraced spring. Then pay a visit to the ancient city of Bukhara, described by some as the most beautiful city in the world.
May: the continental summer is approaching
Uzbekistan's climate continues to improve in May with temperatures still quite tolerable throughout much of the country.
Only two areas buck the trend : Samarkand, which is still under a deluge, and the southern border towns, where the heat starts to become oppressive.
On the other hand, the air in Tashkent is mild from sunrise, making it ideal for early risers.
The air warms up in the south-central part of the country and in the cities around the Amu-Darya, but without temperatures soaring. Our favourite : Khiva, the best preserved museum city on the Silk Road.
June : the really hot weather arrives
It's a fairly mixed picture across Uzbekistan in June. Some places are ideal for visiting, while others are already feeling the intense heat of the continental summer.
This is especially so in the southern and central border towns, which are already hot. Tashkent suffers the same fate with even more uncomfortable weather caused by pollution. When temperatures peak, seek refuge in the city's parks, such as Alisher Navoi National Park or Uzbekistan's National Park.
For a milder climate, opt for the Samarkand region or the cities near the Amu Darya basin.
July: the heat wave reaches its peak
The whole country is hit by drought in July. If travelling at this time, it is highly recommended to stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day, regardless of the destination.
To the east, nothing new : the mornings start off hot and temperatures continue to rise throughout the day. These conditions apply to the majority of the country, apart from Samarkand and its slightly milder neighbours. Must-see : The Shah-i-Zinda necropolis that once led to the gates of the city.
August : things gradually start to cool down
Even though it is still far from autumn weather, temperatures start to drop a few degrees in some regions.
Tashkent and the surrounding area, the southern border towns and the Samarkand region are the lucky few. At the hottest times of the day in Tashkent, why not visit some of the interesting museums the city has to offer ? The Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, dedicated to Uzbek art, is probably the most interesting.
At the same time, the areas in the centre and around the Amu Darya basin are still experiencing oppressive weather. You'll need to be up at dawn to enjoy some cool, fresh air !
September : the tourist season returns
The country emerges from the grip of summer in September. Temperatures in the Tashkent region are quite reasonable, averaging between 23°C and 32°C.
It's the same story for Samarkand and the surrounding area, apart from a little coolness in the morning.
The rest of the country is similar, making it suitable for a whole host of tourist activities. Like the caravans travelling along the Silk Road in olden times, take the northern road from Samarkand to Bukhara. Hug the edge of Lake Aydar Kul, with countless yurts dotted along on its shores.
October : an early taste of autumn
Uzbekistan is still a good place to visit in October. Just remember to pack some autumn gear though, especially for the mornings and evenings.
The sun continues to shine everywhere, especially in the southern part of the country and in Tashkent, where temperatures range between 15°C and 24°C. Ideal weather for walking the streets of Tashkent.
Don't be caught out in Samarkand though as the mornings are quite cold (8°C on average). Just be a little patient and wait for the temperatures to rise during the day. The same applies to the area around the Amu Darya basin.
Approaching the centre, it's time to dig out the warm clothing as it feels considerably cooler here. A little further south, explore the remote region of Khorezm. Shaded houses, rice farms, orchards and cotton fields form a picturesque scene.
November : the cold is back
Although November is still a reasonable time to visit, don't overlook the arrival of the rains and the cool climate. In some areas, such as Tashkent, the middle of the day is fairly warm but with some rainfall.
The border towns to the south experience pleasantly mild weather. If you visit Samarkand from Termez (south of the country), there are historical remains dating from, among others, the time of Alexander the Great who used this route
Arriving in Samarkand, warm clothing is needed despite the fact the sun is out, and the same goes for the Amu Darya basin.
December : winter is definitely here
December is certainly not the best time to visit Uzbekistan and should be avoided. As well as the cold, there are heavy showers and/or snowfall, and the sun rarely puts in an appearance. This applies across the country.