Almaty, Kazakhstan’s famous city of apples has plenty of attractions to offer. The laid-back vibe of Almaty makes it a refreshing destination with spellbinding mountain views, natural beauty, and turquoise lakes. Perfect for outdoor lovers, or urban park fans, the cafes, cuisine, Soviet Era buildings, and modern architecture, all come together to earn Almaty its title of the ideal Silk Road Gateway. Let us discover the most exciting things to do when in Almaty.
30 Top Things to do in Almaty, Kazakhstan
1) Appreciate the Bright Ascension Cathedral
We’re taking you around the best places to visit in Almaty. Hence, our visit starts off with the Ascension Cathedral- the perfect place to see in Almaty. A highly recommended place to see in Almaty, this unique structure is built out of wood and no nails. Not just that, the cathedral is the second tallest wooden building in the world. Hence, a must-visit place to begin your Almaty tour with.
Recommended For: Historic Orthodox landmark
Location: Panfilov Park, Almaty
Timings: Sun: 6 a.m. – 7 p.m | Mon – Fri: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Sat: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Pro tip: Attend the Sunday service; the golden domes and magnificent brass chandeliers are a beautiful sight.
2) Walk Through the Panfilov Park
Named after the famous Great Patriotic War heroes, the Panfilov division is the inspiration behind the Panfilov Park. A famous Almaty attraction surrounding the Zenkov Cathedral, this memorial here symbolizes the sacrifice and courage of the fallen 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit. Therefore, the site holds a special place in the hearts of the locals and tourists too.
Recommended For: Popular park for locals and tourists to hang out
Timings: Open 24/7
Pro tip: Keep an eye out for several interesting memorials and statues around the park.
3) Soak in the Sunshine at First President’s Park
A charming urban park at the intersection of Navoi Street and Al-Farabi Avenue, this is a great spot to enjoy musical fountains, immaculate gardens, gorgeous flowers, and see the snow-capped mountains on the horizon. If you’re lucky enough, then you might even get to witness a local wedding. Fingers crossed!
Recommended For: Seeing the city’s largest fountain show every hour
Timings: 5 a.m (9 a.m in winter) to 10 p.m
Pro tip: Since there are no shops or food carts, you can pack your own snacks to take to the park.
4) Admire the Views From the Kok-Tobe Hill
If you’re a fan of panoramic views, then this 5-minute ride is a must to soar over the hills and mountains of the city. One of the most talked-about places to visit in Almaty, there is also an amusement park and a mini zoo here to keep kids and adults entertained and happy.
Recommended For: Impressive mountain cable car ride
Price: USD 5.25 for a return trip
Timings: 10 a.m – 12 a.m (Depends on weather)
Pro tip: If you wish to see all the city lights on for a magical view, then plan your trip around sunset.
5) Feel Relaxed at the Arasan Baths
If you are tired, then it is time to rejuvenate the traditional way. An experience as exotic as the name itself, the best things to do in Almaty include a visit to the opulent public baths. Located centrally near Panfilov Park, the place offers a luxury spa-like feeling with stunning designs, lavish interiors, tiling, and mosaics. Hence, we would not recommend you to miss this for the world.
Recommended For: Local spa, bath and recreation complex experience
Price: Starts at USD 6
Timings: 7 a.m –11:30 p.m
Pro tip: Bring a pair of slippers (compulsory), a towel and a bottle of water.
6) Indulge in Shopping at the Zhibek Zholy Pedestrian Street
Once you’re done relaxing your tired muscles, walk through the Zhibek Zholy Pedestrian Street to discover local coffee houses, works of art, and shops. This unique pedestrian experience is one of the top things to do in Almaty for visitors- feast on ice cream or grab some juice kebabs from one of the many restaurants.
Recommended For: Local street shopping
Location: Pedestrian street between Nazarbayeva and Ablai Khan
Pro tip: This street is also known as Arbat Market.
7) Buy Authentic Kazakh Food at Green Bazaar
If exploring local cuisine is high on your to-do list, then your places to visit in Almaty should include Green Bazaar or Zelionyj Bazaar. Selling a wide range of grocery items and other goods, you can enjoy sampling and feel an authentic Almaty atmosphere in this market.
Recommended For: From dried fruit to chocolate, you’ll find all kinds of authentic food here
Location: Zhibek Zholy Street, Almaty
Timings: 9 a.m – 7 p.m
Pro tip: Horsemeat is a famous delicacy. Hence, do sample some if you’re feeling adventurous.
8) Sip on Some Warm Kymyz
Along with the popularity of horse meat, the best things to do in Almaty will find you uncovering the city’s love for Kymyz- or horse milk. Drinking fresh horse milk is considered a traditional delicacy and many locals head over to horse farms called Baytur for this yummy drink. If you are looking to explore the Almaty culture from its root, then you might want to start your morning with a glass of Kymyz.
Recommended For: Healthy local drink
Location: Various Baytur resorts in Almaty
Pro tip: Kymyz is fermented horse milk, hence making it slightly alcoholic in content.
9) Feel Peace of Mind at the Central Mosque
A powerful representation of local architecture, you cannot miss the huge golden dome of the Central Mosque when in the area. Decorated with a large prayer hall accommodating up to 7000 visitors, a glittering chandelier, the mosque is widely respected for its welcoming atmosphere.
Recommended For: Religious landmark and Almaty attraction
Location: Pushkin Street, Almaty
Pro tip: Since the place is busy with congregational prayers, try to avoid visiting on Friday
10) Go Hiking in the Almaty Mountains
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking trails in and around this city- counted amongst top things to do in Almaty, lace up your boots for the pristine mountains and lakes. Almaty is located at the base of the Tian Shan mountains. Thus, trails like Kok Zhailau – Three Brothers – Peak Kumbel are well known in the area.
Recommended For: Some of the finest hiking trails in Central Asia
Pro tip: Fog and clouds can impact visibility, so plan carefully.
11) See the High Tech Almaty Museum
If you’re looking for recommendations on the best things to do in Almaty, then the Almaty Museum is a secret gem that can not be easy to miss. With exhibits showcasing the time of early settlements, here you’ll enjoy the transformation of the country all the way to its modern era.
Recommended For: Speciality history museum
Pricing: USD 0.25
Timings: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pro tip: For a deeper experience, hire an English speaking guide.
12) Discover Medeu Skating Rink – the Highest Rink in the World
Located a short drive from Almaty, the views, pine tree scents, exciting energy, and facilities are ideal for snow lovers to feel like they are a part of an Olympic arena setting. If you’re visiting during winter, there’s also a cable car that takes visitors to the ski resort of Shymbulak for more mountain views.
Recommended For: Great views and skiing
Pricing: Adult/child USD 6/2
Timings: 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. / 6 -11p.m.
Pro tip: There are many restaurants to enjoy sightseeing if you’d rather not ski.
13) See Surreal Beauty at the Big Almaty Lake
When doing your research on Almaty, Kazakhstan tourist attractions, you’re bound to come across a mention of the Almaty Lake. A natural wonder, it provides fresh water to the city and is conveniently accessible with taxi fare being less than 20 USD from the city.
Recommended For: Scenic beauty and amazing turquoise water
Pro tip: Visitors are not allowed to touch the water because it’s for drinking.
14) Discover the Majestic Kolsai Lakes
You cannot do justice to your list of things to see near Almaty without heading over to the Kolsai Lakes. These three alpine lakes not only have the clearest waters but also the freshest air and serene surroundings to see natural beauty at its absolute best.
Recommended For: Breathtaking lake and camping site
Pro tip: Bring your passport in order to pass the security checkpoint before the village of Salty.
15) Pay a Tribute to the Legendary Beatles
See the fantastic four up close and personal- an Almaty top attraction that’s perfect for fans of this amazing band. The statue in bronze dedicated to the evergreen Beatles is a pop culture icon on its own. Located on the Kok Tobe mountain in Almaty, it’s a tourist favorite.
Recommended For: Fun photo opportunity
Pro tip: Secret speakers play Beatles music around the statue for added entertainment.
16) Book an Evening at the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
There’s no question about it, the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is one of the best places to visit in Almaty. From the lovely paintings, budget-friendly acts, great auditoriums to mesmerizing performances, this theatre has it all. If you are particularly an opera lover, then you must pre-book a show and keep an evening reserved for this place.
Recommended For: A memorable evening to enjoy the Almaty art
Pro tip: To save money, buy your ticket at least a week in advance.
17) Taste the Wild Apples of Kazakhstan
Almaty’s original name is Alma-Ata, meaning “father of apples”. Amongst the many intriguing places to see in Almaty are what remains of the wild apple forests. Growing in the forests in the Tian Shan mountains near Almaty, the flavourful fruits have a delicious rich taste. Hence, it is highly recommended for the Almaty guests to visit these Apple orchards at least once.
Recommended For: Tasting famous local produce
Location: Near Sarkand, northeast of Almaty
Pro tip: The peak season for apple growing is in May, while the harvesting season is in September.
18) Revisit History at the Republic Square
If you are a history buff, then get ready to experience the history of Almaty at the Republic Square with its main monument being a golden man standing on top of a snow leopard. Overlooking the old Presidential Palace, the Soviet-style monuments and buildings surrounding it are picture-perfect sights to admire.
Recommended For: National landmark
Location: Near Abay Station, Almaty
Pro tip: The eastern part of the square has the State Museum with over 300,000 exhibits.
19) Appreciate the Quirky Metro Stations
The public transport system here has come a long way. And this is why, Almaty, Kazakhstan’s things to do deserve a mention of a ride on the metro. The metro stations are practically pieces of art on their own. If you are not looking to travel, then you can enjoy the mosaics and take memorable pictures with the stained glass windows.
Recommended For: Cheaply traveling around Almaty
Price: USD $0.25
Timings: 6 a.m – Midnight
Pro tip: There’s only one metro line, thus the routes are easy to navigate.
20) Take a Picture With Mahatma Gandhi
A gift from India to Kazakhstan, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi can be found in the Zhambul Park. This nine-foot statue pays respect to the great leader, with the opening ceremony being attended by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Gandhi’s grandson Sri Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Hence, this place is frequented by several tourists.
Recommended For: Famous monument
21) Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at the Rakhat Chocolate Factory
One of the largest chocolate factories in Kazakhstan, the best things to do in Almaty should include a walk to Zenkov Street where the Rakhat Chocolate factory is located. Serving hundreds of different chocolate varieties, this is the place where you’ll never run low on options to take back home. If you love chocolates from the heart, then there is no other place like this one for you.
Recommended For: Famous confectionary factory
Location: Zenkov Street, Almaty
Timing: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
22) Explore the Remains of Tsarist Era Architecture
Even though the 1887 and 1911 earthquakes destroyed much of the distinct architecture, the Russian Almaty site is still worth a visit. A rare treat amongst other places to see in Almaty, you’ll be delighted to see the spectacular buildings around Tatibekov Street, Bolshaya Stanitsa and the Historic House of Polya Gunde on Kabanbai Batyr Street.
Recommended For: Seeing Tsarist Era Architecture
23) Find Your Rhythm at the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments
Music lovers will love the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments. Dedicated exclusively to traditional Kazakh instruments, there are also master-classes on playing folk instruments, and occasional performances to promote local artists.
Recommended For: Speciality Music Museum
Location: Panfilov Park, Almaty
Pricing: Approx. USD 1.30
Timings: Tues – Sun: 10 a.m – 7 p.m / Closed on Mondays.
Pro tip: If you are seeking a memorable Almaty experience, then look out for the concerts of the ethnic-folk group called Turan.
24) Feast on Beshbarmak- the National Dish of Kazakhstan
Things to do in Almaty Kazakhstan should start off with a taste of Kazakh cuisine. The word Beshbarmak literally means “five fingers” because it’s meant to be eaten with hands. Consisting of boiled meat served atop large pieces of pasta, this dish is pure joy for the tastebuds.
Recommended For: Trying national cuisine
Pro tip: The meat is usually a horse, lamb and occasionally veal.
25) Rent a Bicycle to Explore Almaty
Depending on the weather, seeing the city on a bike can make it easier to explore Almaty’s top attractions with ease (and affordability). With so many shops renting and repairing bikes, it’s a great idea to push your spirit of adventure and head out with a trusted navigation device.
Recommended For: Discover Almaty on a bicycle
Pro tip: The Almaty Bike rental program can be found near central streets and some metro stations.
26) Find Unique Souvenirs at Kasteyev Museum of Fine Arts
As the name suggests, the Kasteyev Museum of Fine Arts is home to art and fantastic one-of-its-kind gifts to take back home. With a large gallery of paintings and sculptures to admire, you will find decently priced souvenirs at the attached shops here. Hence, you should come here to explore some of the greatest arts of Almaty.
Recommended For: Enjoy Kazakhstan art and buy gifts
Pricing: USD 1.35
Timings: 10 a.m – 6 p.m | Monday: Closed
Pro tip: Dedicate at least 2 hours to this museum due to the extensive collections on display.
27) Dine-in a Traditional Yurt
About 200 years ago, 90% of the locals lived in little huts called Yurts. Giving tourists a taste of the nomadic lifestyle in modern-day, many restaurants and hotels still operate out of Yurts to stay close to their roots and history.
Recommended For: A meal in a traditional Yurt setting
Pro tip: The yurts have bright interiors and visitors sit on the floor on comfortable cushions.
28) See the Grand Palace of the Republic
Originally called the Palace of Culture, the Palace of the Republic is one of the top places in Almaty to visit. A concert hall that also hosts festivals and cultural events, its unique fountains and Kazakh poet Abai’s statue make it a prominent sight.
Recommended For: Seeing landmark representing 100th-anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin
Location: Intersection of Dostyk and Abay Streets, Almaty
Pro tip: The lobby has a large crystal chandelier made in Czechoslovakia weighing 7.5 tons.
29) Catch a Show at the Kazakh State Circus
A unique show that’s entertaining and daring, the Kazakh State Circus is held in a unique arena that still holds a strong soviet era vibe. Almost 3 hours long in duration, the circus is both a family-friendly and thrilling experience.
Recommended For: Famous circus performance
Pricing: Starts at approx USD $3
Timings: Saturday and Sunday: 4 – 6 p.m | Other days: 9 a.m – 6 p.m.
Pro tip: The circus is recognized as a cultural and historical place of local significance.
30) See the Small yet Mighty Nikolski Cathedral
This elaborate Orthodox cathedral is a calm teal color filled with relics and art showcasing the Russian style architecture. A colorful building that truly stands out, it feels more like a monastery than a cathedral. If you are seeking some quiet and peace while admiring the art, then do add this to your Almaty itinerary.
Recommended For: Tranquil Russian Orthodox church
Pro tip: Since the dress code is modest here, you can rent scarves from here.