places to visit in Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif, located in northern Afghanistan, is a city known for its rich history and cultural significance. One attention-grabbing fact is that Mazar-i-Sharif is home to the famous Blue Mosque, a stunning architectural marvel adorned with intricate tile work and dazzling blue domes. This city attracts tourists and religious pilgrims alike, who come to witness the splendor of this sacred site.

The history of Mazar-i-Sharif dates back thousands of years, with evidence of settlements from the Bronze Age. However, its current significance stems from being the burial site of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad. As such, Mazar-i-Sharif has become a major pilgrimage destination for Shiite Muslims. The presence of the Blue Mosque, also known as The Shrine of Hazrat Ali, further enhances its importance.

Despite the challenges faced by the region, Mazar-i-Sharif continues to attract visitors from around the world. One compelling statistic is that nearly 400,000 tourists visited this city in 2019. This demonstrates the enduring appeal of Mazar-i-Sharif, despite the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan.

In addition to the Blue Mosque, Mazar-i-Sharif offers several other notable places to visit. The Balkh Fortress, located nearby, is an ancient citadel that once served as the capital of the ancient region of Bactria. It is a testament to the rich historical heritage of the area and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Another prominent attraction is the Cheshma-e-Shafa, a healing spring believed to have therapeutic properties. Visitors often come to drink the water to seek relief from ailments and improve their well-being.

Mazar-i-Sharif is also known for its vibrant bazaars where visitors can explore local crafts, carpets, and delicious Afghan cuisine. The city’s bustling markets offer a glimpse into the daily life and traditions of the Afghan people.

With its beautiful architecture, historical significance, and cultural treasures, Mazar-i-Sharif is a destination that captivates the hearts and minds of those who venture here. Whether it is to explore the sacred Blue Mosque, unravel the layers of its ancient history, or immerse oneself in the vibrant local culture, Mazar-i-Sharif offers an unforgettable experience for those willing to embark on this extraordinary journey.

What are the must-visit attractions in Mazar-i-Sharif?

Mazar-i-Sharif, a city rich in history and culture, offers visitors a wide range of captivating sights and experiences. From ancient shrines to bustling markets, there is something for everyone in this enchanting city located in northern Afghanistan. In the following sections, we will delve into the top tourist attractions in Mazar-i-Sharif, providing comprehensive details and insights to help you plan your unforgettable visit.

Sightseeing in Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif, also known as the “Noble Shrine,” is a city in northern Afghanistan with a rich history and cultural significance. Here are some of the must-visit places in Mazar-i-Sharif:

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, also called the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, is the most famous attraction in Mazar-i-Sharif. It is considered one of the holiest Islamic sites in Afghanistan and is known for its stunning turquoise dome. The mosque was originally built in the 12th century but was extensively renovated in the 20th century. It attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year.

Buzkashi Ground

Buzkashi is a traditional Afghan sport that involves horse-mounted players competing to grab a goat carcass and score points by throwing it into a designated area. The Buzkashi Ground in Mazar-i-Sharif is where you can witness this thrilling and unique sport. The atmosphere is electric as riders showcase their equestrian skills amidst the cheering crowd. It offers a fascinating insight into Afghan culture and traditions.

Mazar-i-Sharif Citadel

The Mazar-i-Sharif Citadel, locally known as the Ark-i-Tashkuf, is an ancient fortress situated in the heart of the city. Dating back to the 16th century, the citadel was once a stronghold of the Uzbek rulers. It features impressive architecture, including tall walls and towers. Exploring the citadel allows you to step back in time and imagine the history that has unfolded within its walls.

Qaisari Bazaar

When visiting Mazar-i-Sharif, a trip to the Qaisari Bazaar is a must. This bustling marketplace offers a vibrant display of local Afghan culture. You can find a wide variety of goods, including traditional clothing, handicrafts, spices, and locally grown fruits and vegetables. The bazaar is an excellent place to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and interact with friendly vendors.

Sultan Razia School

The Sultan Razia School is a symbol of female empowerment and education in Mazar-i-Sharif. As the first all-girls school in northern Afghanistan, it plays a vital role in providing education opportunities to girls who were previously denied this right. Visitors can learn about the school’s initiatives and witness the determination and enthusiasm of the students. It is an inspiring place to visit and support.


Mazar-i-Sharif attracts thousands of tourists each year, with the number steadily increasing. In 2019, the city recorded a 20% increase in tourism compared to the previous year, highlighting its growing popularity as a travel destination.

FAQs – Places to Visit in Mazar-i-Sharif

1. What are the must-visit historical sites in Mazar-i-Sharif?

Mazar-i-Sharif is home to several remarkable historical sites, including the Blue Mosque (or Shrine of Hazrat Ali), which is one of the most sacred places in Afghanistan. Other must-visit sites include the Balkh Ruins, the Mazar-i-Sharif Citadel, and the Mazar-i-Sharif Central Mosque.

2. Are there any natural attractions near Mazar-i-Sharif?

Yes, there are some stunning natural attractions near Mazar-i-Sharif. The Band-e-Amir National Park and the Serapium Forest are both located within a few hours’ drive from the city and offer breathtaking landscapes, lakes, and hiking opportunities.

3. Can you recommend any shopping areas in Mazar-i-Sharif?

For shopping in Mazar-i-Sharif, head to the popular Shar-e-Naw Market. Here you can find a wide range of traditional Afghan handicrafts, carpets, jewelry, and clothing. Additionally, the Balkh Bazaar is worth exploring for its local produce, spices, and textiles.

4. What are some family-friendly activities to do in Mazar-i-Sharif?

Mazar-i-Sharif offers various family-friendly activities. You can visit the Balkh Martyrs’ Cemetery, which holds historical significance, or enjoy a picnic at the Serapium Forest. The city’s amusement parks, such as Zohak Park and Amir Kabir Park, are also great options for kids.

5. How can I reach Mazar-i-Sharif?

You can reach Mazar-i-Sharif by air through the Mawlana Jalaluddin Balkhi International Airport, which offers domestic and international flights. Alternatively, you can travel by road from major cities in Afghanistan or neighboring countries.

6. Are there any accommodations available in Mazar-i-Sharif?

Yes, Mazar-i-Sharif offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. You can find luxury hotels, mid-range guesthouses, and budget-friendly options throughout the city. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

7. What is the best time to visit Mazar-i-Sharif?

The best time to visit Mazar-i-Sharif is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). The weather is pleasant, and the city hosts several festivals during these seasons. However, do check the current travel advisories before planning your trip.

8. Are there any safety concerns for visitors in Mazar-i-Sharif?

While Mazar-i-Sharif is generally considered safe for visitors, it is always important to stay updated on the local situation. Be aware of any travel advisories or warnings, respect local customs and traditions, and take necessary precautions while exploring the city.

9. Can you recommend any local cuisine to try in Mazar-i-Sharif?

Mazar-i-Sharif is known for its delicious Afghan cuisine. Some local dishes worth trying include Mantu (steamed dumplings), Kabuli Pulao (flavored rice), Ashak (vegetable-filled dumplings), and Kebabs. Don’t forget to try the popular Afghan green tea as well!

10. Are there guided tours available for exploring Mazar-i-Sharif?

Yes, guided tours are available for exploring Mazar-i-Sharif and its surrounding areas. Many tour operators offer packages that cover the main historical sites and attractions. Hiring a knowledgeable guide can greatly enhance your experience and provide deeper insights into the city’s rich history and culture.


In conclusion, Mazar-i-Sharif offers a range of attractions and historical sites that are worth exploring. The city’s key highlight is the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, which is a major pilgrimage site for Muslims and features exquisite architectural designs. The Blue Mosque is another prominent landmark in Mazar-i-Sharif, known for its stunning blue-tiled interior and tranquil ambiance. Furthermore, the Balkh Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich history, displaying artifacts dating back to the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the area. For nature enthusiasts, the Darwaz-e-Sharif Park provides a scenic retreat with lush greenery and a beautiful artificial lake. Lastly, the Qargha Lake, located a short distance from the city, offers a serene environment for relaxation and picnicking.

When visiting Mazar-i-Sharif, it is important to respect the local customs and traditions. It is advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and to seek permission before taking photographs, particularly in more conservative areas. Hiring a knowledgeable guide can greatly enhance the experience by providing historical and cultural context to the various attractions. Overall, Mazar-i-Sharif is a city with a unique blend of spirituality, history, and natural beauty, making it a compelling destination for travelers seeking an authentic Afghan experience.

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