Planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan and not sure what to do in Osh? Then fear not, we have you covered!
Osh is located in the Fergana Valley, one of Central Asia’s most diverse regions. It is Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city with a history dating back over 3000 years.
This, combined with its close proximity to the Uzbek border has created an ethnically mixed population of Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks and Kyrgyz.
Whereas Bishkek, has a modern, almost westernised feel in places, Osh is more traditional than its bigger brother to the north.
Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan, and is the administrative center of the Osh Region.
It is a great place to relax and recharge after a trip along the Pamir Highway, or hiking to the basecamp of Lenin Peak. Often referred to as the capital city of southern Kyrgyzstan, its location makes it a key part of many Central Asian routes and itineraries.
Without further ado, let’s check out some of the best things to do in Osh.
Best Things To Do In Osh Kyrgyzstan
Here is our list of the absolute best things to add to your Kyrgyzstan itinerary when visiting Osh.
From exploring downtown Osh City, to taking day trips around the Fergana Valley, there is quite a lot to see and do in this special area of Kyrgyzstan.
Read Next: Need help planning your trip to Kyrgyzstan? Be sure to read our comprehensive Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide!
1) Hike to the top of Sulaiman Too
Offering some lovely views over Osh, a hike to the top Sulaiman Too is one of the top things to do in Osh. This is also a Unesco World Heritage Site, a testament to its importance both historically and within modern-day Kyrgyzstan. If you’re not sure what to do in Osh this is a pretty good place to start.
For many locals, Sulaiman Too is a place of pilgrimage. This Central Asian Sacred Mountain has played an important part in the area’s religious history. The trail to the top is a path that takes you through the region’s pre-Islamic and Islamic history. The winding paths and sacred caves offer a glimpse into the areas of fascinating history.
The caves along the trail are dotted with prayer relics, religious sculptures, and petroglyphs. In addition, there are numerous points along the way where locals engage in rituals that have been going on for millennia.
The most notable of these is the fertility mini-cave. The rocks have been worn smooth by ladies sliding down it to further enhance the chances of pregnancy.
Taking a lovely hike up to the top of Sulaiman Too is one of the best things to do in Osh. It is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it can be particularly pretty around sunset.
2) Haggle for bargains at the Jayma Bazaar
The Jayma Bazaar has stood next to the Ak Buura for more than 2000 years and as a result, it is one of the oldest bazaars in Central Asia.
A bustling place of commerce since the days of the old silk road, its heyday may have passed but there are still bargains to be had amongst the local produce and handicrafts on sale.
Taking a wander through this bazaar is a classic Osh experience. The bazaar is open from 7am to 8pm, and is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
3) Visit the Memorial Park
Close to Lenin’s statue is the Memorial Park. This peaceful outdoor space is dedicated to the memory of some of the tragic events that have impacted the people of Osh.
As in many cities across Russia and the former Soviet Union, there is an eternal flame for those that died in the Great Patriotic War (how Russia refers to the Second World War).
Also, there are memorials to the Kyrgyz citizens who were sent to Chernobyl in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster. There is also a memorial to those who lost their lives during the ethnic riots in Osh.
4) Find Lenin’s statue
One of the interesting things about Kyrgyzstan is that the statues of Lenin were not torn down after the fall of the Soviet Union unlike in many of the other Soviet Socialist Republics. As a result, a statue of Lenin can be found in most towns in Kyrgyzstan.
This is one of the stranger Osh activities, but it’s a highlight of the city center. Lenin’s statue occupies a prominent place in the city. Many people in this part of Asia look back on the Soviet Union with a certain level of nostalgia, particularly those in the older generations.
The Lenin statue in Osh is the most impressive of the few remaining statues. Whereas in Bishkek he is hidden away, in Osh he stands proudly in a central square, backing onto the Navoi Park.
5) Visit the 3-Storey Yurt
One of Osh’s most notable buildings is the 3 storey yurt. The outside is probably more interesting than the inside where an exhibition on Alymbek and Kurmanjan Datka stands alongside a gift shop.
Sadly the museum has seen better days, but the building it resides within is a well-known Osh attraction. If you’re sightseeing in Osh Kyrgyzstan, it’s worth checking out.
- Address: Alymbek Datka Park
- Hours: 8am – 10pm daily
- Cost: 80 Som, any photos in the museum are 10 Som each
READ MORE: Don’t forget to add Sary Mogol to your Kyrgyzstan itinerary!
6) Check Out the city’s Soviet murals
One of the hallmarks of the Soviet era is the concrete apartment blocks that lined the roads of its cities. While they are not the most inspiring of sights, the murals that adorn the sides of many of these buildings are the exact opposite.
With a strong Soviet ideological focus, it gives a fascinating insight into life in the Soviet Union. Check out this useful google map of some of the best murals in Osh.
Osh is not the only city in Central Asia with Soviet murals, there are also quite a few in Tashkent.
7) Visit the Cave Museum
Looking like an ostentatious bonnet sticking out of the southwestern crag of Sulaiman Too, the Cave Museum is a unique spot to visit.
It’s an interesting place to learn about the region’s history. There are thousands of artifacts on display, and there is a special emphasis on archaeology. The museum is carved straight into the mountain, so the walls are all rock.
The artifacts and the museum itself are super cool to see, and the views as you exit are particularly lovely.
- Address: There is no exact address as the museum is part of the mountain. Find a map on this website.
- Hours: Every day 9am – 12pm, 1pm – 6pm
- Cost: 150 Som
8) Check out the Animal Bazaar on Sunday Mornings
If you are lucky enough to be in Osh on a Sunday then this is an absolute must. Bus 5 or marshrutka 105 to the Old Bus Station are your public transport options, or you can take a taxi from your accommodation. It’s on the outskirts of the city, so hiring taxi drivers is probably your best bet.
This is one of the largest animal markets in Central Asia. It is a place where, every week hundreds of sheep, cows, donkeys and horses are sold to the highest bidder.
Remember this is a working market, so when visiting do your best the keep out of the way of the farmers and wholesalers. It’s definitely one of the top things to do in Osh Kyrgyzstan.
9) Eat the biggest Samsa in Kyrgyzstan
Depending on how long you have been in Kyrgyzstan, the thought of Samsa may not be one that leaves you jumping for joy.
Elsewhere in Central Asia, notably in Uzbekistan, Samsa are small parcels of meat, cheese or potato cooked with onions and spices wrapped in dough. In Osh, they are significantly larger, similar to a good-sized Cornish pasty for the Brits reading this.
In Osh, Samsa are baked inside a clay tandoor oven, whereas elsewhere they are cooked in an ordinary oven. This is the perfect meal to enjoy after hiking up to the top of Suleiman Too.
Like many old Soviet cities, there are a number of lovely parks to stroll and while away a summer afternoon, Tashkent and Bishkek spring to mind.
The leafy Alisher Navoi Park is home to small amusement stalls and old men playing chess. The park is very much a throwback to the Soviet Union, with many of the old men playing chess thinking back to the good old days.
Other things to do in the park include strolling along the Ak-Buura River or stopping at one of the little cafes.
11) Enjoy some Osh Style Plov
The ultimate Central Asian staple, plov can be found all over the region, with every country claiming to have the best version.
Osh and the nearby town of Uzgen are famous for having the best plov in Kyrgyzstan. The town of Uzgen is famous for producing red rice, which is the key ingredient of plov in this area.
Incidentally, the cuisine in Osh is considered to have the best food in Kyrgyzstan, so get stuck in and chow down on some classic Central Asia fare. If you’ve already been in the region a while this may not be too appealing, but hopefully, our next entry will help to change that!
12) Chow down on Vegetarian Specialties
One thing you will notice about Central Asian food is that vegetables do seem to be an optional extra. Salads generally consist of tomato, cucumber, and an almost offensively large amount of dill.
Therefore you will go through a period where you are craving some veg, and Osh has some excellent vegetarian options.
Maida manti are dumplings (manti) filled with potato. You can find these in Uzbekistan but they are much harder to find in Kyrgyzstan in my experience. In the right season, it is possible to find some pumpkin manti.
Gok chuchvara is a small dumpling filled with local greens that are similar to spinach.
13) Check out the Mahalla Neighbourhoods
Being located in the Fergana Valley gives Osh an ethnically diverse area. Throughout history, people of different ethnicities have lived side by side.
Tensions between smaller ethnic groups blighted the area after the collapse of Soviet rule, with ethnic Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks struggling to adapt to the new status quo.
Mahalla neighbourhoods are commonplace in Uzbekistan and amongst Osh’s Uzbek citizens. The walled community houses make up mazes of narrow alleyways, where it is not uncommon for eyes to peer out, followed by offers of tea.
The backstreets around Amir Temur street leading away from Suleiman Too are a good place to start. However do remember these are people’s homes, so do not be intrusive. Definitely one of the most interesting things to see in Osh.
For more ideas while exploring this fascinating country, check out our list of the best things to do in Kyrgyzstan!
14) Wander around the Russian Orthodox Church
This church is the heartbeat of the Russian community in Osh. During the Soviet Union’s peak, it acted as a cultural centre, and was recommissioned as a church in 1992.
Painted in a vibrant blue, the church is quite pleasing to the eye. It’s a small and humble church, and it’s near the Lenin Statue and other monuments in Osh.
15) Visit the Regional Museum of Fine Arts of Sadykov
Located close to Suleiman Too, this tiny museum is home to a number of interesting paintings.
Like many museums in this part of Asia, it does need a bit of a refurb, but the paintings are worth checking out. There are works from locals and other artists around the Osh region.
If you’re heading over to Suleiman Too anyway, stop in here to learn about the history and culture of the locals through art.
- Hours: Open daily 9am – 5pm
- Address: Alebastrova St. 31
16) Check out the Rabat Abdullakhan Mosque
One of the oldest structures in Osh, this mosque dates back to the 16th Century. Whilst Kyrgyzstan isn’t quite blessed with the same epic Islamic architecture as its neighbour Uzbekistan this is certainly worth checking out.
Located at the bottom of Suleiman Too, it can easily be combined with a trip to the city’s most well-known destination.
Rabat Abdullakhan Mosque was built at a time when regional Khanate underwent great expansion, conquering an area larger than modern-day Uzbekistan.
The mosque has been well restored in recent years after a mixture of earthquakes and soviet neglect. In spite of all of this, the original structure has remained intact.
17) Visit the Shahid Tepa Mosque
Located close to the Jayma Bazaar, the Shahid Tepa Mosque is another religious structure worth visiting.
As the largest mosque in the country, it’s a very impressive place to check out while sightseeing in Osh City. The building was built in the early 20th century, originally out of wood.
After being restored with the help of Saudi money, it was reopened in 1943 and is now truly amazing to look at.
- Address: Mamadjan St, Osh, Kyrgyzstan
18) Find the Old Soviet Jet
As you take a leisurely stroll through Navoi Park you may end up stumbling across a now decommissioned Soviet passenger plane. A Yak-40, decked out in Aeroflot insignia to be more precise.
Supposedly this was once a cafe inside, however now it’s more of a dumping ground for rubbish.
There is a Ferris wheel next door that is usually operational. This is certainly one of the stranger Osh attractions.
19) Take a Cooking Class
Osh’s reputation as having the best food in Kyrgyzstan means this is a great place to take a cooking class. It is possible to take a cooking class to learn how to make the local Samsa that Osh is most well known for.
In addition, there are plov cooking courses which are well worth checking out. The red rice harvested in the local town of Uzgen (see our day trips below for more information on Uzgen), helps to contribute to Osh having the best plov in Uzbekistan.
The city center of Osh is known for having great European and local cuisine, but a local cooking class allows you to really get into the local food.
20) Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
Museums in this part of Asia don’t enjoy a great reputation, often underfunded and in need of refurbishment. The work inside of them is not always appreciated as it should be.
The Museum of Fine Arts is both of these. However, there is some interesting work that is worth checking out. The staff are friendly and passionate about the art, and they all speak Kyrgyz or Russian.
You can find modern art as well as socialist realism, all from local artists around this area of the Fergana Valley.
- Address: Köl-Onorculor
- Hours: Open daily 9am – 5pm
- Cost: 25 Som
Day Trips from Osh
Aside from all of the great things to do in Osh, there are also some great day trips from the town.
Here are a few top suggestions for how to get out and explore more of southern Kyrgyzstan around Osh. The local bus station is well connected to these destinations.
21) Visit the ancient town of Uzgen
Uzgen is a small ancient town that is known most for its 11th-century mausoleum complex.
These stunning buildings are more common in the Islamic architecture seen in neighbouring Uzbekistan or the complex of Konye Urgench in Turkmenistan. This is definitely one of the most interesting things to do around Osh.
There are shared taxis that leave from the bus station, or you can organise a taxi through your accommodation.
Read next: The 23 Best Things To Do In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
22) Go Hiking in Kyrgyz Ata National Park
If you are missing the spectacular alpine scenery for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned, the Kyrgyz Ata National Park would be the place to head. An easy day trip from Osh, Kyrgyz Ata is a great option for those looking for a day hike as opposed to the longer multi-day treks.
The Kyrgyz Ata National Park is much nearer to Osh than the Alay Mountains. So if time is not on your side, then this is an excellent option if you want to check out some of the spectacular mountain scenery Kyrgyzstan is known for.
This is absolutely one of the best activities during your stay in Osh, and can easily be done as a day trip.
23) Take on the Alay Mountains
Osh is an excellent starting point for the Pamirs, most famously the Pamir Highway. However, there are a number of other excellent hiking destinations very close to Osh, with one of those being the Alay Mountains.
This off-the-beaten-track hiking destination has some epic single and multi-day treks available for you you to take on.
One of the most popular single-day treks is the Koshkol “Four Lakes” trek. Starting close to the village of Sary Mogul which is a few hours away, it’s certainly a stretch as a day trip from Osh although it can be done!
The trail has numerous lakes, gorges, and spectacular alpine scenery that have made Kyrgyzstan the dream travel destination for many.
Where To Stay In Osh Kyrgyzstan
Though Kyrgyzstan isn’t always on tourists’ radars, there are still some lovely accommodation options around.
Because Osh is a pretty big city, there are some nice hotels and guesthouses available for travelers of all budgets. Here are some recommendations!
Budget Accommodation in Osh: Eco House
Just 3km from the famous Sulaiman Too Mountain, Eco House is an affordable place to stay in Osh.
There is a nice garden and there is a cafe on site which serves delicious local food. Eco House has lots of great reviews on Booking.com and is a great value for money.
Mid-Range Accommodation in Osh: Silk Way Boutique Hotel
Silk Way Boutique Hotel has nice, comfortable rooms, a buffet breakfast, a bar, garden, terrace, and more.
It’s a beautiful hotel that is still quite affordable. Most of the accommodation in Osh is affordable, so you can easily treat yourself to a nice hotel without breaking the bank.
Luxury Accommodation in Osh: Rayan Hotel
The Rayan Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Osh, and it’s prices are still relatively low compared to other nice hotels around Asia.
Located right in the city center, you can enjoy a lovely stay near all the best local attractions.
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