Half the reason Almaty is one of Central Asia’s top tourist destinations is because of its burgeoning nightlife. Set against a mountainous backdrop, this former capital of Kazakhstan offers an array of restaurants, cafes, clubs, museums and arts scenes. With the snow-capped peak of Zailiysky Alatau in the background, Almaty’s restaurants and cafes, its nightclubs and new ski resorts and its sophistication make it a must-see destination for visitors to Kazakhstan, the world's ninth largest country by area.
Almaty is a huge city, so what should you do as a first time visitor?
You can take a trip to Almaty’s major attractions such as Palace of President, Republic Square, the heart of the city, and Monument of Independence. One of the highlights of the tour is a visit to the Zelyonni (Green) Bazaar where you can buy souvenirs. What makes Almaty a compelling destination is that it is also one of the cheapest cities in the world.
An orientation of Almaty is best begun from the Panfilov Park. No trip to Almaty is complete without a visit to Panfilov Park and the spectacular Cathedral of the Holy Ascension Cathedral of the Ascension. Topped with onion domes, this Russian Orthodox church was built in 1907.
Ride the gondola up to Kok Tobe, the city's hilltop amusement park, to find the spectacular views of the city and Tien Shan Mountains.
Get acquainted with Kazakhstan's nomadic culture and lively history at the eclectic Central State Museum, the largest museum in Almaty. Those who have a fascination for eccentric museums should visit the Folk Musical Instruments of Kazakhstan Museum in Almaty. It is situated in Panfilov Park.
Excursions from Almaty
While Almaty itself could take a lifetime to explore, it's also ideal as a base for visiting several places of attractions which can be visited as day-trips from the city.
A five-hour drive from Almaty will take you the natural wonder in the form of an amazing turquoise lake hidden in the Tien Shan Mountains. Created by an earthquake in 1911, the lake will assault your senses.
Those who love adventure love Almaty
For outdoor enthusiasts Almaty is a big draw. If you’re into skiing, a short 30-minute drive from Almaty city centre will take you to Shymbulak Ski Resort a premier hotspot of adventure sports. Shymbulak is located at an altitude of 2230 meters above sea level.
Not to be missed while you are in Kazakhstan is a visit to Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan’s equivalent to the Grand Canyon- easily managed as a day-trip from Almaty.
A shopping paradise
Other attraction that will detain you in Almaty is the shopping experience. Green Market or Zelionyj Bazar is a famous market which is known for horsemeat. You can find Kazakh dessert wines and chocolate in this market.