Headed to Almaty? Here are Top 10 places you should visit during your stay:
Kok-Tobe: Located at the highest point in the city, the 1,130 meter (3,707 feet) high Kok-Tobe mount rises above the city. A park of the same name provides a picturesque and panoramic view, giving visitors a perfect glimpse of the Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city. A magnificent view atop the snow-covered Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range is another reason to climb to the top of Kok-Tobe, which means “a green hill” in the Kazakh language. Visitors can reach the top by cable car, or drive themselves up the winding road.
Arbat: Considered the most popular street in the city, Arbat is home to art galleries, theaters, shops, cafes, pizzerias and restaurants, as well as street musicians, who play classical and modern music. Each year the street is home to the ArtBatFest festival of contemporary art, a great place to wander and enjoy photography exhibitions, experimental theatre, and possibly get caught in the midst of a flashmobs.
Ile-Alatau National Park: Launched in 1996 on the extreme northern arc of the Tien Shan mountain range, this park is a must-see on the tourist trail. Ile-Alatau mountain range is home to more than 2,000 species, including the snow leopard, Pallas’ cat and Himalayan brown bear. Try not to miss the Big Almaty Lake – the color of its water varies depending on the season, while the breathtaking view of the entire canyon will definitely impress you.
Medeu: Did you know that Almaty and its outskirts are the best place to spend your winter holidays? Located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan and in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau, the city is home to a range of ski resorts and sport complexes. The most popular is Medeu – the world’s largest mountainous complex that covers the territory of more than 10,000 square meters (107,639 sq ft). An ice rink set in Medeu often hosts competitions, including the 1974 European Speed Skating Championships.
Shymbulak: Opened in 1954, this ski resort used to be a training site for Soviet Olympic skiers, while its slopes have played a host to a series of championship competitions in the USSR and now Kazakhstan. Shymbulak is open all year round and offers guests a variety of activities, including biking, mountain climbing, paragliding, buggy riding, and excursions with a professional guide.
The Ascension Cathedral: Completed in 1907, the 56 meter (184 feet) high cathedral made of Schrenk’s spruce survived an earthquake in 1911, thanks to new methods of construction in seismic zones. The Russian Orthodox church is said to be the second tallest wooden building in the world, after church of Sapânta and the monasteries of Bârsana and Peri in Romania.
Central State Museum: Central Asia’s largest museum features nearly 300,000 items, including a collection of artifacts related to the life of nomads, who are the ancestors of modern-day Kazakhstanis. Collections also include ancient coins and gold ware, as well as World War II artifacts related to war time in Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union at the time.
Butakov Waterfalls: Those who love extreme sports, particularly climbers, should visit the Butakov Waterfalls, one of the most beautiful places of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range. Located in the gorge of the same name and close to Almaty, it is a favorite for rock climbers around the world.
Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory: The observatory has been operating since 1954 in the area of the Big Almaty Lake at an altitude of 3,000 meters above sea level. Located 30 km (18.6 mi) away from Almaty and situated in the Tien-Shan Mountain range, the observatory gives visitors a perfect glimpse of the mountain’s slopes covered with Tien-Shan spruces and snow peaks, which can reach a height of 6,000 meter (19,700 feet).
Museum of Folk Musical Instruments: Launched in 1980, this unique museum features more than 1,000 exhibits, including 60 types of Kazakh folk music instruments used by singers, improvisers, poets and composers of Kazakhstan. In front of the museum you can take your photo with a sculpture of a kyl-kobyz, an ancient Kazakh string instrument made of two strands of horsehair.