ALMATY TRAVEL GUIDE
Almaty can best be described as a city that bridges Europe and Asia. It is the largest city and former capital of Kazakhstan, where every morning you can wake up to the view of the city’s skyline set against the snowcapped peaks of the mighty Zailiyskiy Alatau Range.
This lovely and laid back city derives its name from the Kazakh term for apples because Almaty produces the fruit in abundance. Almaty is slowly catching up with its neighboring towns when it comes to tourism. This charming city has a lot to offer and will quickly make you fall in love with the welcoming smiles of the locals, picturesque cafes, delicious Kazakh cuisine and its stunning natural wonders! If you’re thinking twice about adding Almaty to your travel list, don’t. This city will leave you pleasantly surprised!
Best Time to Visit Almaty?
The best time to travel to Almaty would be during the pleasant summer months of June to September, as the city witnesses freezing snow-covered winters. If your Almaty tourism itinerary includes skiing and ice skating, then you can try visiting during the winter months of December, January and February.
We have curated this travel guide to get you all caught up with the best things to do in Almaty and all the places that you must visit while you’re here! So without further ado, let’s get started with the Ultimate Almaty Travel guide-
1. PANFILOV PARK & ZENKOV CATHEDRAL
The Panfilov Park was built as a memorial to the soldiers from Almaty who died fighting during the Second World War. The park is a green oasis in the midst of a bustling city and is a great place to head to for a refreshing morning stroll. At the center of the park stands the stunning and vibrantly colorful Zenkov Cathedral which is made entirely of wood, including the nails! The cathedral is truly an architectural genius and took nearly 40 years to complete, making it all the more reason to pay a visit.
2. KAZAKH MUSEUM OF FOLK MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
A trip to the Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments is a must if you are looking for an offbeat Almaty tourism experience. Set inside the Panfilov Park, this museum is a music lover’s paradise. The museum displays a number of folk instruments that most of us have never even heard of! The best part about this museum is that you can watch these instruments being played in the musical programs that are held to educate people about the rich culture of the Kazakhs. This museum is closed on Mondays so you might want to plan accordingly.
3. THE MEDEU
Nestled high up in the mountains, the Medeu is the highest Olympic-sized ice skating rink in the world, which is unsurprisingly thronged by tourists all year-round. In summer the rink is closed but the surrounding area is great for hiking and getting out the city for the day. Gondolas also go from just below the rink to the ski fields. In winter you can hire skates or watch one of the many events which take place in this arena.
4. THE GREEN MARKET
Bursting with life, the green market is a maze of shops that sell fresh vegetables, fruits, sweets, meat, spices, pots, clothes and even souvenirs. This is a great place to brush up on your negotiation and bargaining skills as it is common for the shopkeepers to charge a higher price for tourists. An interesting fact about Almaty is that horse meat is considered a local delicacy and is also sold at this market! We suggest trying out shubat (fermented camel milk) and kymyz (fermented horse milk) when in Green Market.
5. KOK TOBE HILL
Kok Tobe is the highest point in Almaty, situated at a height of 1100 meters! You can get up here by a taxi or a bus, but we would recommend that you take a cable car ride to the top which in itself offers breathtaking views of the lush valley underneath as well as of some of the oldest parts of the city! Kok Tobe offers a jaw dropping panoramic view of Almaty city with the backdrop of the mighty snow-capped Zailiyskiy Alatau mountain range. Apart from ogling at the beautiful views, you can also spend your time exploring the Kok Tobe Park which has a roller coaster ride, a petting zoo, an art gallery and a ferris wheel! Not only that, Kok Tobe is the ideal place to try some local as there are numerous restaurants situated here.
6. CHARYN CANYON
The Charyn Canyon, a part of the Charyn Canyon National Park, is a place that offers stunning views of spectacular, monolithic red rocks, some of which are 300 meters high! The Charyn Canyon follows the Charyn River for about 50 km and offers an easy and scenic hiking path. Apart from hiking, you can even go white water rafting and wildlife spotting. Getting here is a bit tough as it takes about 4 hours from the city to reach the National Park. Many tourists opt for day trips over the weekend, however, that can get a bit crowded. If you want to avoid tourists, then your best chance would be to hire your own vehicle and travel to the park on weekdays. To make the most of this beautiful canyon, we recommend you to camp in the canyon or stay in a yurt, under a starry night sky.
7. KOLSAI & KAINDY LAKES
The stunning, glacial Kolsai & Kaindy Lakes are situated within the Kolsai Lakes National Park. This is a really beautiful national park with some amazing and extremely scenic hikes. In summer it's a popular destination with homestays and yurt camps by the lake. There are several day trips from Almaty that take you to Charyn Canyon and Kolsai Lakes. However, we recommend that you should spend atleast a night in this national park to fully enjoy the natural beauty all around you!
8. BIG ALMATY LAKE
Big Almaty Lake lies 15 km away from the main city of Almaty and is a natural alpine reservoir surrounded by the Tien Shan mountain range. Being a major source of drinking water in Almaty, this milky turquoise lake is guarded by armed personnel and swimming here is prohibited. The view of the pristine lake surrounded by lush greenery and the snow-capped Big Almaty Peak is one of the major reasons behind the steady growth of Almaty tourism today. Even though it is easier to access the roads leading up to Big Almaty Lake during the summer months, this lake is especially alluring during autumn.
9. FIRST PRESIDENT PARK
The First President Park in Almaty is named after the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and was inaugurated in 2011. This park covers over a whopping 73 hectares! The First President’s Park is like a breath of fresh air with over 1000 varieties of trees and flowers, acres of manicured gardens and walkways all of which is set with stunning views of the magnificent mountains in the backdrop. The fountain in this park is the largest in the city and is decorated with bright lights. The annual music festival of Almaty is hosted in this park every year, so do not miss it if you happen to be in the city during that time.
10. ARASAN BATHS
The Arasan Baths is one of the largest bath houses in Asia! The women’s section itself has 2 floors with different sauna cabins, showers, massage rooms and a pool. Sit back and relax in the Arasan Baths near Panfilov Park after a long day of sightseeing. The Arasan Wellness Center offers a luxurious spa experience at very affordable rates and is definitely the best place to unwind in Almaty.
11. ARBAT SHOPPING STREET
Arbat Shopping Street is Almaty’s most famous street with shops lined on either side of the road. The best time to head over to Arbat shopping street would be in the evening when the streets are all lit up and the sidewalks are lined with street food vendors selling delicious kebabs and other famous Kazakh delicacies! A walk down this street is made more pleasant by live local music and paintings by local artists. Arbat Shopping Street is a great place to buy locally crafted items that would serve as perfect souvenirs for your loved ones.
12. CENTRAL STATE MUSEUM
Set in Republic Square which is the main square in Almaty, is one of the largest museums in Central Asia - The Central State Museum. The striking architecture of this museum will make it hard for anyone to miss it. Built in 1985, this museum houses an extensive collection about Kazakhstan’s history and is definitely worth visiting.
Almaty has some of the most exquisite and interesting places to see and offers truly unforgettable experiences to all its visitors! All of these unforgettable experiences that you’ve created deserves to be captured in the best manner possible, and for that we recommend you to hire professional travel photographers from Travographer. Our photographers are the best at what they do and are locals; hence they'll know all there is to know about the best locations for an incredible photoshoot! So go on and hire one of our photographers to follow you around as you create beautiful memories in this vibrant and fascinating city!