Almaty travel guide

Almaty Tourism | Almaty Guide

You're Going to Love Almaty

The mountainous city of Almaty is Kazakhstan's financial and cultural capital. Take a stroll among historic fountains, try your luck at winter sports, and taste the wild apples that gave the city its name.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Almaty

1. Relax by an Outdoor Fountain

Don't miss the famous Oriental Calendar fountain in the city center, which represents the 12 animals in the Kazakh zodiac.

2. Take a Selfie with the Beatles

Grab your selfie stick and snap a photo with the life-size statue of the Fab Four on Kok-Tobe Hill.

3. Experience Winter Sports

Take a spin around the Medeu ice-skating rink or travel to one of the winter resorts near Almaty for skiing and snowboarding.

4. Taste Wild Apples

The name Almaty is said to mean "full of apples," and wild orchards still grow in the mountains around the city. You can buy wild apples at an outdoor market or pick one off a tree during a hiking trip.

5. Shop at an Outdoor Market

Almaty offers several bazaars where you can purchase everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade rugs.

What to do in Almaty

1. Carefully Displayed History

Set aside the Borat fantasy to learn a little more about Kazakh history and culture at the National Museum. When the museum originally opened in 1931, it was housed in the former Almaty Church. Now in its new location across from political administration buildings in the central square, the National Museum showcases Kazakhstan's story from prehistoric times to the Mongol period, and through to the soviet occupation. With informative and engaging factual accounts, the National Museum offers a fascinating ethnographic experience.

2. Follow The Silk Road

Experience the artsy vibe of Almaty's premier tree-lined pedestrian street. Arbat is actually the commonly held nickname of the street, while its formal name of Zhybek-Zholy (Silk Road) gives you a better sense for the area's former purpose. Almaty was one of the major stops along the Silk Road for the craft and agricultural prowess found there between the 10th and 14th centuries. The street ends at the Silk Way Mall, where you can shop imitation Western brands in an upscale indoor environment.

3. A Winter Wonderland

Those visiting Almaty in the winter can take advantage of Medeu, the highest Olympic sized ice stadium. The ambiance is absolutely superb, with colored light shows and loud pulsing pop music to help skaters relax and enjoy their time on the ice. There are also several hiking and alpine skiing opportunities in the hills surrounding Medeu for those looking to extend their travel adventure scope. In the summer months, the complex also hosts a mountain water-fed swimming pool under the ice rink. But be warned before jumping in: the water remains at a crisp 15 degrees celsius.

4. A New Urban Outlook

Take the cable car up the mountain to gain a better perspective of the cityscape at Green Hill. One of Almaty's best vantage points, the park features many walking paths and open lawns to facilitate a variety of outdoor activities. Green Hill also boasts several other attractions including a mini zoo, amusement park, cafes, and a souvenir shop. Travel tip: take an hour to explore around the indoor/outdoor jungle of stalls at Green Hill marketplace, where you can pick up everything from hand knitted socks and fresh goat cheese to freshly made Korean dishes and DVDs.

5. Unwind And Feel Inspired

Take a nice long sauna break in the immaculate Arasan Baths which take up nearly an entire city block in the heart of downtown just west of Panfilov Park. The baths were created in 1981 in a uniquely central Asian modernist style, though its architects were highly influenced by other bath houses in Armenia, Russia, and Hungary to complete the design. Once inside, the huge spa complex offers separate men's and women's sections similar to a hammam-like atmosphere where you can shower, soak, steam, or get a massage. The entire experience generally takes between 1-2 hours, with an optional wind-down tea break following your soak.

1. Carefully Displayed History

Set aside the Borat fantasy to learn a little more about Kazakh history and culture at the National Museum. When the museum originally opened in 1931, it was housed in the former Almaty Church. Now in its new location across from political administration buildings in the central square, the National Museum showcases Kazakhstan's story from prehistoric times to the Mongol period, and through to the soviet occupation. With informative and engaging factual accounts, the National Museum offers a fascinating ethnographic experience.

2. Follow The Silk Road

Experience the artsy vibe of Almaty's premier tree-lined pedestrian street. Arbat is actually the commonly held nickname of the street, while its formal name of Zhybek-Zholy (Silk Road) gives you a better sense for the area's former purpose. Almaty was one of the major stops along the Silk Road for the craft and agricultural prowess found there between the 10th and 14th centuries. The street ends at the Silk Way Mall, where you can shop imitation Western brands in an upscale indoor environment.

3. A Winter Wonderland

Those visiting Almaty in the winter can take advantage of Medeu, the highest Olympic sized ice stadium. The ambiance is absolutely superb, with colored light shows and loud pulsing pop music to help skaters relax and enjoy their time on the ice. There are also several hiking and alpine skiing opportunities in the hills surrounding Medeu for those looking to extend their travel adventure scope. In the summer months, the complex also hosts a mountain water-fed swimming pool under the ice rink. But be warned before jumping in: the water remains at a crisp 15 degrees celsius.

4. A New Urban Outlook

Take the cable car up the mountain to gain a better perspective of the cityscape at Green Hill. One of Almaty's best vantage points, the park features many walking paths and open lawns to facilitate a variety of outdoor activities. Green Hill also boasts several other attractions including a mini zoo, amusement park, cafes, and a souvenir shop. Travel tip: take an hour to explore around the indoor/outdoor jungle of stalls at Green Hill marketplace, where you can pick up everything from hand knitted socks and fresh goat cheese to freshly made Korean dishes and DVDs.

5. Unwind And Feel Inspired

Take a nice long sauna break in the immaculate Arasan Baths which take up nearly an entire city block in the heart of downtown just west of Panfilov Park. The baths were created in 1981 in a uniquely central Asian modernist style, though its architects were highly influenced by other bath houses in Armenia, Russia, and Hungary to complete the design. Once inside, the huge spa complex offers separate men's and women's sections similar to a hammam-like atmosphere where you can shower, soak, steam, or get a massage. The entire experience generally takes between 1-2 hours, with an optional wind-down tea break following your soak.

Top activities & attractions in Almaty

Where to Eat in Almaty

The kebab stands throughout Almaty offer a traditional meal for ₸500. The popular Venetsia restaurant in the city center offers Kazakh specialties like the noodle dish beshbarmak for ₸1,800 per plate.

When to visit Almaty

Almaty in February
Estimated hotel price
$13
1 night at 3-star hotel
Almaty in February
Estimated hotel price
$13
1 night at 3-star hotel

Almaty has frigid winters and hot summers. If you want to take part in winter sports, the best time to visit is early spring and late fall when the average temperature is 46 degrees.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Almaty

Plane

Almaty International Airport (ALA) is 15 miles from the city center. You can take a bus costing ₸80 or a taxi costing ₸3,000 to downtown Almaty.

Train

Trains run to Almaty from all the major cities in Kazakhstan. You can also book long distance trips from Moscow and Ürümqi, China. Trains arrive at the Almaty-2 railway station.

Car

There are three main highways into Almaty: the M-36 from the north, the A-2 from the west, and the A-351 from the east.

Bus

There are two bus stations in Almaty. The Sairan station provides long distance buses to major cities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. The Sayakhat station connects local routes.

Airports near Almaty

Airlines serving Almaty

United Airlines
Good (2,634 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,791 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,179 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,029 reviews)
Iberia
Good (789 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (762 reviews)
Pegasus Airlines
Good (192 reviews)
Cathay Pacific
Excellent (34 reviews)
Egypt Air
Good (120 reviews)
Asiana Airlines
Excellent (70 reviews)
flydubai
Good (38 reviews)
Air Arabia
Excellent (7 reviews)
Air Astana
Excellent (7 reviews)
Jazeera Airways
Okay (6 reviews)
Uzbekistan Airways
Good (8 reviews)
China Southern
Excellent (7 reviews)
Neos Air
Excellent (10 reviews)
SCAT Airlines
Excellent (3 reviews)
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Where to stay in Almaty

City Center - the heart of Almaty offers historic sites like the brightly colored Zenkov Cathedral and the World War II memorial in Panfilov Park.

Popular Neighborhoods in Almaty

Almaly District - this neighborhood's gleaming skyscrapers, high-end shopping malls, and gourmet restaurants are part of Almaty's new-found prosperity.

Kok-Tobe Hill - ride an aerial tram to this southeast neighborhood for family fun at a children's playground and petting zoo.

Where to stay in popular areas of Almaty

Most booked hotels in Almaty

Renion Park Hotel
Excellent (9, 5637 reviews)
$62+
Samal Resort & Spa
Excellent (9, 444 reviews)
$59+
Royal Tulip Almaty
Excellent (8.8, 375 reviews)
$138+
Kazakhstan Hotel
Excellent (8.5, 3495 reviews)
$53+
Oi-Qaragai Mountain Resort
Excellent (8.5, 1400 reviews)
$85+
Hotel Tahar
Excellent (8.3, 778 reviews)
$12+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Almaty

Public Transportation

Almaty has a subway system and a network of buses, trolleybuses, and trams. The cost for all these forms of transportation is ₸80 per trip.

Taxi

To avoid unscrupulous drivers, book a taxi in advance. The fares range between ₸200 and ₸1,000 per trip.

Car

Driving is not recommended in Almaty because of the congested traffic, difficult parking, and strict police officers who tend to write large tickets to foreign drivers. However, you can rent a car at the Almaty airport from companies like Avis for ₸7,500 per day.

The Cost of Living in Almaty

Shopping Streets

The TsUM department store on Abylai Khan Avenue 62 sells affordable souvenirs and electronic goods. The Baraholka Market in the Zhetysu neighborhood has wholesale clothes and household goods at cheap prices.

Groceries and Other

The Interfood grocery store chain offers a good selection of groceries, wine, and gourmet items at three Almaty locations. A gallon of milk costs ₸1,100 and a loaf of bread costs ₸85.

Cheap meal
$6.05
A pair of jeans
$45.38
Single public transport ticket
$0.24
Cappuccino
$1.56
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