Mazār-e Sharīf

Mazār-e Sharīf is a city located in northern Afghanistan, known for its historical and cultural significance. It is the fourth largest city in the country and serves as the capital of Balkh province. The city is home to the famous Blue Mosque, a stunning architectural masterpiece dating back to the 15th century.

Mazār-e Sharīf is a major center for trade and agriculture in the region, with a vibrant and diverse population.

Places to visit

Key Phrases

Speak like a local

  • "سلام" - Hello
  • "خوش آمدید" - Welcome
  • "مرسی" - Thank you
  • "خدا حافظ" - Goodbye
  • "بله" - Yes
  • "نه" - No

Day plans

Spend a day exploring around

day 1

Exploring the City

morning:Start your day with a visit to the Blue Mosque, an architectural marvel showcasing stunning artistry and design. Afterward, head to Balkh Museum to dive into the region's rich history and cultural heritage. Don't miss the opportunity to try delicious local delicacies at Balkh Restaurant!

afternoon:In the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll through the Old City Bazaar, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant hustle and bustle. Explore the unique handicrafts and souvenirs while savoring a delightful meal at Dilmun Restaurant.

evening:For a memorable evening, wander over to the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, a mesmerizing spiritual site that exudes tranquility and serenity.

day 2

Nature's Beauty

morning:Embrace the beauty of nature at the enchanting Bagh-e Jahan Nama Park, perfect for a peaceful morning walk amidst lush greenery and picturesque landscapes. Satisfy your appetite with a delightful breakfast at Park View Restaurant.

afternoon:Venture to Samangan Park in the afternoon, an idyllic spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. Take in the serene surroundings and enjoy an authentic lunch at Samangan Restaurant, known for its delectable local cuisine.

evening:Experience a delightful evening at the Atta Turk Stadium, where you can witness the local sports scene and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.

day 3

Cultural Immersion

morning:Commence your day with a visit to Juma Mosque, an architectural gem revered for its captivating beauty and historical significance. Indulge in a hearty breakfast at Ghazni Restaurant, renowned for its delicious traditional dishes.

afternoon:Uncover the fascinating heritage of the city by exploring Mazār-e Sharīf Museum in the afternoon, which showcases a diverse collection of artifacts and artworks. Enjoy a satisfying lunch at Puli Khumri Restaurant, offering an array of tasty local cuisines.

evening:For a captivating evening, head to Rawze-e Sharif, a tranquil and breathtaking park where you can unwind amidst captivating natural splendor and serene surroundings.

day 4

Historical Journey

morning:Embark on a historical journey with a visit to the Castle of Mazār-e Sharīf, a fascinating fortress steeped in captivating stories and architectural grandeur. Energize with a delightful breakfast at Balkh Palace Restaurant, renowned for its delectable offerings.

afternoon:Discover the rich history and heritage of the region by exploring the Mausoleum of Hazrat Ali in the afternoon, an iconic and revered site that reflects the city's deep-rooted cultural traditions. Savor a delicious lunch at Ariana Restaurant, known for its authentic local flavors.

evening:For an unforgettable evening, delve into the vibrant atmosphere of the city's bustling bazaars, where you can immerse yourself in the lively energy while exploring the myriad of local offerings.

Mazār-e Sharīf's Famous Food

Delicacies in Mazār-e Sharīf you must try!

Kabuli Pulao

Aromatic rice dish cooked with lamb, raisins, and carrots. It's a staple in Afghan cuisine and can be found in local eateries and restaurants throughout Mazār-e Sharīf.

Must-Try!

Mantu

Steamed dumplings filled with minced beef or lamb, onions, and a blend of traditional spices, often served with a garlic yogurt sauce. Look for Mantu in local homes or at traditional Afghan restaurants.

Bolani

Thin, crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes, leeks, or pumpkin, spiced with cumin and served with yogurt. Visit street food vendors or local markets for freshly made Bolani.

Attractions in Mazār-e Sharīf

Nice places to capture memories

Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, also known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, is a stunning and important religious site with beautiful architecture and gardens, offering great photo opportunities.

Mazar-e Sharif Citadel

The historic Mazar-e Sharif Citadel, known as Qala Ikhtyaruddin, provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas, making it a great spot for capturing the beauty of Mazār-e Sharīf.

Bibi Maryam Shrine

The Bibi Maryam Shrine, dedicated to the mother of Hazrat Ali, is a picturesque location with intricate designs and a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for photography enthusiasts.

Seasonal Advice

Best times to visit and what to expect in different seasons

Spring

The best time to visit Mazār-e Sharīf is during spring (March to May) when the weather is mild and the city is in full bloom with colorful flowers and greenery. It is a great time for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Autumn

Another good time to visit is during autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and the city hosts the famous Mawlid al-Nabi festival, drawing visitors to the Blue Mosque for festive celebrations.

Outdoor Activities in Mazār-e Sharīf

Fun outdoor pursuits

Visit the Blue Mosque

One of the most famous landmarks in Mazār-e Sharīf, the Blue Mosque is a beautiful and historically significant site to visit.

Explore the Shrine of Hazrat Ali

The shrine of Hazrat Ali is a sacred and culturally significant site with stunning architecture and a peaceful atmosphere.

Take a day trip to the Band-e Amir National Park

Enjoy the natural beauty of Band-e Amir's lakes, waterfalls, and rugged terrain through hiking, picnicking, and photography.

Tipping & Payment

Ensure a smooth experience

Tipping

Tipping is not a common practice in Mazār-e Sharīf, Afghanistan. However, in some higher-end restaurants and hotels, a service charge may be included in the bill, so tipping is not necessary.

Payment

Cash is the most common form of payment in Mazār-e Sharīf. Credit card acceptance is limited, so it's advisable to carry enough cash for everyday transactions. Some large businesses may accept credit cards, but smaller shops and local vendors usually prefer cash.

Local Etiquette

Tips on cultural norms and respectful behavior

Respect for elders

In Mazār-e Sharīf, it is important to show respect for elders and individuals in positions of authority. This includes using proper titles and greeting them with deference.

Modest dress

It is important to dress modestly in Mazār-e Sharīf, particularly for women. This means avoiding revealing clothing and opting for attire that covers the arms, legs, and hair.

Hospitality

Hospitality is highly valued in Afghan culture, and this extends to interactions in Mazār-e Sharīf. Offering and accepting hospitality graciously is an important aspect of respectful behavior.

Food Markets & Street Food

A food market and street food guide

Qaysari Bazaar

The bustling Qaysari Bazaar offers an array of street food options, from sizzling kebabs to freshly baked bread. It's a great place to experience the vibrant street food scene in Mazār-e Sharīf.

Shir-e-Surkh Market

This market is a treasure trove of fresh fruits, nuts, spices, and traditional Afghan snacks like dried fruits and nuts. It's an excellent spot for sampling local flavors and picking up unique ingredients.

Nightlife in Mazār-e Sharīf

Nightlife in Mazār-e Sharīf is quite different from the bustling scenes typically associated with major cities around the world. The social culture is influenced by traditional Afghan norms and Islamic customs, resulting in a quieter, more subdued atmosphere after sunset. Unlike cities that boast an array of clubs, bars, and late-night entertainment venues, Mazār-e Sharīf's evening activities are more centered around family gatherings and community events. Tea houses, known locally as "chai khanas," are common spots where men gather to enjoy tea, converse, and play board games like chess or backgammon. These establishments often serve local snacks and are a hub for social interaction. Women tend to socialize within the privacy of their homes or at special events tailored to female attendees. Street vendors and small shops remain open into the evening, offering everything from kebabs and freshly baked bread to traditional sweets, providing ample opportunity for residents to stroll through markets and socialize in a relaxed setting. Religious and cultural events, especially those held at the revered Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali), also draw crowds, adding a spiritual dimension to the city's night-time landscape. Despite limitations due to security concerns and conservative societal norms, Mazār-e Sharīf's residents find ways to engage in cultural and social activities, creating a unique, community-focused nightlife experience.

Things to do in Mazār-e Sharīf

Unique local experiences...

Pet sitters in Mazār-e Sharīf

Relax and unwind while your furry friend enjoys making a new companion!

Continue exploring Afghanistan

Discover local cities, attractions and more!

KabulKandahārHerātFarāhLashkar GāhKunduzTāluqānJalālābādShibirghānZaranjKhōstMaīmanahMehtar LāmGhaznīPaghmānPul-e KhumrīBāmyānChārīkārBalkhBaghlānTarīn KōṯGardēzBāzār-e YakāwlangFaīẕābādQal‘ah-ye NowGhōriyānSar-e PulHaskah MēnahMaḩmūd-e RāqīĀqchahQalātAsadābādGūdārahAndkhōyKōṯah-ye ‘As̲h̲rōMaīdān ShahrBagrāmīBālā KōhKhulmKhānābādḨukūmatī BaghrānBāzārakSheghnānPul-e ‘AlamBarakī BarakSangīn