12 Best Things to Do in Almaty, Kazakhstan: Must-See Attractions

by Emil Backup
This post may have affiliate links, where I may receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Are you looking to visit Almaty, Kazakhstan in the near future? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Almaty. These captivating sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Welcome to Almaty, a city where the vibrant pulse of urban life harmoniously coexists with the tranquility of nature. Nestled at the foot of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains in Kazakhstan, Almaty is a destination that promises a myriad of experiences to its visitors. The city, once the capital, still pulsates as a vital cultural and economic heart of the nation. With its lush green parks, towering skyscrapers, and bustling markets, Almaty is a fascinating blend of modernity and tradition.

What makes Almaty stand out on the traveler’s map? It’s the effortless blend of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences that the city offers. From the adrenaline-pumping ski resorts and hiking trails in the nearby mountains to the serene walks in Panfilov Park, the city caters to both adventure seekers and those in pursuit of relaxation.

The rich tapestry of history is woven into the city’s museums, theaters, and its vibrant arts scene, providing a deep dive into Kazakh culture and heritage. As we explore Almaty together, you’ll discover why this city is not just a stopover, but a destination worth exploring in its own right. Let’s embark on this journey through Almaty, uncovering its secrets, and creating memories that will linger long after the trip ends. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Almaty.

The top things to do in Almaty, Kazakhstan right now.

Best Places to Visit in Almaty

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Almaty? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this diverse vacation spot in Kazakhstan. So keep reading to discover all these unique Almaty places to visit.

Are you looking to explore vibrant markets and savor local cuisine? Or would you prefer to embark on outdoor adventures amid stunning natural landscapes? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Almaty can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Almaty that you should know about.

1. Kok-Tobe Hill

Kok-Tobe Hill is a popular recreational area and ranks among the best things to do in Almaty. The hill provides visitors with a range of activities and stunning views of the city. Located just south of Almaty’s center, it’s easily accessible via a cable car that begins at Dostyk Avenue. Once at the top, visitors are greeted with a variety of attractions, including an amusement park, restaurants, and cafes. The hill is also home to the Kok-Tobe TV Tower, which is not open to the public but remains a notable landmark.

Visitors can explore the Beatles monument, a notable attraction for music fans, and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the well-maintained walking paths. The hill also features a mini-zoo and several souvenir shops, offering a range of activities for families and solo travelers alike. For those looking to capture the panoramic views of Almaty, there are several vantage points providing excellent photo opportunities.

Kok-Tobe Hill is also a venue where events and concerts are held, especially during the summer months. It provides a pleasant escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, with its serene environment and refreshing mountain air. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a meal with a view, have fun with family, or simply relax amidst nature, Kok-Tobe Hill offers a fulfilling experience. Every visitor can find something to enjoy here.

Ensure to check the cable car operation times and any scheduled events on Kok-Tobe to optimize your visit. And don’t forget your camera – the views are truly snapshot-worthy!

Atop Kok-Tobe Hill, panoramic bliss unfolds, revealing Almaty's beauty against Kazakhstan's mountains.
Atop Kok-Tobe Hill, panoramic bliss unfolds, revealing Almaty’s beauty against Kazakhstan’s mountains.

2. Central State Museum

Step into a world where every artifact tells a story at the Central State Museum. Established in 1931, and one of the largest museums in Central Asia, it has played a pivotal role in the preservation of the region’s history. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, spanning various epochs and civilizations that have shaped Kazakhstan. Visitors can explore numerous exhibits that delve into the nation’s rich past, from archaeological finds to more recent historical events.

One of the unique places in Almaty, the museum comprehensively displays the country’s cultural and historical development. Exhibits showcase Kazakhstan’s ancient, medieval, and modern history, plus its people’s cultural heritage. The museum’s collections include Bronze Age artifacts, Silk Road history items, and exhibits of Kazakh art.

The Central State Museum also hosts various temporary exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs throughout the year. These events cater to both locals and tourists, providing additional insights into specific aspects of Kazakh history and culture. Besides being a place for historical exploration, the museum is also a platform for cultural exchange and learning.

Engaging with exhibits and participating in the museum’s events are among the coolest activities in Almaty for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. The museum provides a thorough and accessible way to understand the complexities and nuances of Kazakhstan’s history. It is a worthwhile destination for those looking to delve deeper into the nation’s past.

Immersing in history at Central State Museum, Almaty—a journey through Kazakhstan's rich heritage and cultural tapestry.
Immersing in history at Central State Museum, Almaty—a journey through Kazakhstan’s rich heritage and cultural tapestry.

3. Big Almaty Lake

Welcome to the Big Almaty Lake, a hidden gem tucked away in the Ile-Alatau mountains. The lake is set in a gorge of Bolshaya Almatinka River, 2,511 meters above sea level. It’s notable for its stunning, vibrant blue color, which changes depending on the season. In the summer, the glacial waters reflect the surrounding landscape, while in the winter, it can freeze over, offering a different kind of beauty.

Visitors to Big Almaty Lake can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, bird watching, and photography. The area surrounding the lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including the rare Saker Falcon and Himalayan brown bear. The lake is also a source of drinking water for Almaty, supplied by a special water pipeline.

The road to the lake is quite scenic and is itself an attraction. Along the way, visitors can stop at various viewpoints to take in the majestic landscape of the mountains and the dense forests. The lake is accessible by car, and there are also organized tours available that offer guided experiences.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature lover, or simply someone who appreciates stunning landscapes, Big Almaty Lake has something to offer. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to Almaty, providing a peaceful and refreshing escape from the city.

Serene reflection of the heavens in Big Almaty Lake—a pristine gem nestled amid Kazakhstan's majestic mountains.
Serene reflection of the heavens in Big Almaty Lake—a pristine gem nestled amid Kazakhstan’s majestic mountains.

4. Panfilov Park

Panfilov Park is one of the best places in Almaty for both relaxation and exploring local history. The park is steeped in historical significance. It is named after the Panfilov Heroes, 28 soldiers who bravely fought against Nazi tanks in World War II. A large, impactful war memorial featuring the soldiers stands prominently in the park. This serves as a reminder and symbol of their bravery and sacrifice.

Visitors to Panfilov Park can explore the vibrant green spaces. They can walk along its peaceful paths and enjoy the various monuments and structures scattered throughout. The park is also home to the Ascension Cathedral, a magnificent wooden structure often noted for its impressive architecture. Built without using any nails, the cathedral is a remarkable architectural sight that attracts visitors and photographers.

In addition to its historical and architectural aspects, Panfilov Park serves as a recreational area for locals and tourists. Children can enjoy the various play areas, while adults can relax on the benches or stroll through the well-maintained paths. Various vendors selling snacks, souvenirs, and balloons add a lively atmosphere to the park.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply looking for a pleasant place to unwind, Panfilov Park offers a multifaceted experience. It’s a popular spot for leisure and is often included in city tours for its cultural and historical value.

In Panfilov Park, history whispers through ancient trees, honoring the brave and capturing Almaty's timeless spirit.
In Panfilov Park, history whispers through ancient trees, honoring the brave and capturing Almaty’s timeless spirit.

5. Almaty Central Market

Almaty Central Market, also known as Zelenyy Bazar, bustles with activity and commerce in Almaty’s heart. This vibrant market is a sensory delight, offering a wide array of goods and a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals. From fresh produce, spices, and meats to textiles and traditional Kazakh items, the market is a dream destination for those looking to experience the local culture.

Exploring the market is one of the coolest things to do in Almaty, especially for those interested in culinary adventures. Visitors can find a variety of local delicacies, such as kurt, a salty dried cheese, and beshbarmak, a traditional Kazakh dish. The market also offers an array of dried fruits, nuts, and local sweets, providing a flavorful journey through Kazakh cuisine.

The market is also a social and cultural venue where locals gather. The interactions between vendors and customers, the bargaining, and the exchange of goods provide insight into the local way of life. It’s a place where tradition meets the present, offering a unique perspective on Almaty’s culture and daily life.

For those wondering where to go in Almaty to experience the local vibe, Almaty Central Market is a must-visit. The market is a goldmine of local culture, offering a wide array of items from fresh produce, spices, and meats to textiles and traditional Kazakh items.

At Almaty Central Market, a symphony of colors and aromas dance, celebrating Kazakhstan's culinary treasures.
At Almaty Central Market, a symphony of colors and aromas dance, celebrating Kazakhstan’s culinary treasures.

6. Moai of Kazakhstan

The Moai of Kazakhstan is an intriguing collection of sculptures located in a quiet corner of Almaty. While not as famous as their counterparts on Easter Island, these sculptures offer a unique and unexpected sight. For those seeking an interesting thing to do in Almaty, the Moai is the place to be.

The Moai statues, resembling the iconic figures of Easter Island, were created by Kazakh artist Saule Suleimenova in the early 21st century. They were inspired by the Moai statues of Easter Island but have their own distinct charm. These sculptures are made from local stone and are scattered across a peaceful park.

Visitors to the Moai of Kazakhstan can stroll through the park, admiring the statues and the serene atmosphere. This is a relaxing and contemplative experience, perfect for those looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.

The Moai of Kazakhstan might not be on every traveler’s radar. Still, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of art and creativity in Almaty. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply looking for a tranquil place to unwind, this unique attraction is worth a visit.

In summary, the Moai of Kazakhstan provides an unexpected and intriguing experience in Almaty. Here, you have the chance to appreciate the creativity of local artists. This is one of the more offbeat and interesting things to do in Almaty, that is worth exploring for its artistic and cultural value.

7. Arasan Baths

Arasan Baths is a renowned bathhouse that offers a blend of tradition, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Established in the 1980s, this facility has become a staple in the daily life of the locals. This is a must-visit spot for tourists seeking to experience traditional Kazakh wellness practices. Besides being a place for relaxation, the bathhouse is also a socializing venue. People gather here and engage in meaningful interactions, embodying local culture.

When considering Almaty things to do, Arasan Baths provides a unique opportunity to delve into a wellness experience that combines Russian, Finnish, and Kazakh bathing traditions. The facility features separate sections for men and women, ensuring privacy and comfort. Visitors can indulge in various saunas, steam rooms, and plunge pools. They can also avail professional massage services, enhancing the overall rejuvenating experience offered by the baths.

The architecture of Arasan Baths reflects the aesthetic values of the Soviet era with detailed mosaics and domed ceilings. These elements add to the authentic atmosphere of the place. The bathhouse stands as a testament to the city’s history and its commitment to preserving traditions amidst the bustling urban environment.

Arasan Baths distinctly stands out among the best places to go in Almaty, offering a space to unwind and refresh. Both locals and tourists engage in a cultural practice cherished for decades. It’s a locale where the traditional and contemporary coalesce, providing a genuine and enriching Kazakh experience.

Relaxing at Arasan Baths, where tradition meets rejuvenation—a timeless experience cultural oasis.
Relaxing at Arasan Baths, where tradition meets rejuvenation—a timeless experience cultural oasis. | Photo credits: TripAdvisor

8. Rakhat Chocolate Factory

Welcome to the sweet universe of the Rakhat Chocolate Factory! This factory is a sweet spot that has been delighting chocolate lovers since 1942. With a rich history and a reputation for producing some of the finest chocolates in Central Asia, the factory is recognized for upholding tradition in the confectionery world. In the factory, visitors are greeted with the irresistible aroma of chocolate as they witness the meticulous crafting process.

When exploring cool destinations in Almaty, Rakhat Chocolate Factory emerges as a delightful stop, especially for those with a sweet tooth. The factory allows visitors to peek into chocolate-making, and offers a wide range of products at the store. From classic chocolate bars to unique Kazakhstani sweets, the store is a paradise for candy aficionados. It provides an array of treats that cater to diverse palates.

Among the various Almaty places to visit, Rakhat holds a special place, offering a unique experience that goes beyond mere sightseeing. The factory tour provides insightful details about the history of Rakhat and the evolution of its chocolate-making techniques. This destination immerses visitors in the heritage of Kazakhstani chocolate-making, offering a flavorful journey through time.

Indulging in sweetness at Rakhat Chocolate Factory is a delightful journey through delectable confectionery and craftsmanship.
Indulging in sweetness at Rakhat Chocolate Factory is a delightful journey through delectable confectionery and craftsmanship.

9. Palace of the Republic

The Palace of the Republic is an architectural marvel and a notable landmark in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This cultural hub is a pivotal point for those wondering where to visit in Almaty. Located in the heart of the city, this venue hosts various events, including concerts, conferences, and exhibitions, contributing to the city’s vibrant cultural life.

Visitors admire its grandeur and array of activities, making it one of the unique things to do in Almaty. The palace is renowned for its large auditorium, which can accommodate over 3000 people. This space is often utilized for significant national and international events, showcasing the cultural diversity and talent present in the region.

For tourists, the Palace of the Republic offers an insightful peek into the city’s social and cultural pulse. Aside from being a place for entertainment, the palace symbolizes Kazakhstan’s rich history and modern strides. The building itself is a blend of Soviet and modern architecture, reflecting the nation’s journey through different eras.

In a city that beautifully marries the old and the new, the Palace stands out as a testament to its resilient spirit and cultural wealth. For history lovers and architecture enthusiasts, the Palace of the Republic should be on your list of places to visit in Almaty.

At the Palace of the Republic, grandeur meets culture, echoing historical significance.
At the Palace of the Republic, grandeur meets culture, echoing historical significance. | Photo credits: visitalmaty.kz

10. Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden is a splendid spot for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility in the bustling city. As one of the prominent Almaty attractions, it offers a serene escape and a chance to explore diverse flora. Spanning a vast area, the garden hosts a myriad of plant species, both native and exotic, providing a colorful spectacle for its visitors. The garden is a place for leisure walks and an educational hub, providing insights into various ecosystems.

When considering what to do in Almaty, the Botanical Garden stands out for families, tourists, and locals alike. The well-maintained paths, vibrant flower beds, and thematic zones cater to different interests, making it a versatile destination. It’s a popular spot for weekend strolls, casual meetups, and even academic explorations, given its rich biodiversity.

Visitors can explore different sections, each dedicated to a particular type of vegetation, such as tropical plants, desert flora, or local Kazakhstani species. The garden also facilitates several educational programs and workshops, aiming to spread awareness about plant conservation and biodiversity.

The Botanical Garden is a place to both admire nature and find education and inspiration through its locale. It is a breath of fresh air amidst the urban landscape, making it a noteworthy inclusion in your Almaty itinerary. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or looking for a peaceful retreat, the Botanical Garden offers a refreshing experience.

Lost in nature's gallery at Botanical Garden—a haven of biodiversity amidst its urban landscape.
Lost in nature’s gallery at Botanical Garden—a haven of biodiversity amidst its urban landscape.

11. Kazakhstan Museum of Arts

The Kazakhstan Museum of Arts is a dream destination to explore the rich tapestry of the nation’s artistic endeavors. As a must-see in Almaty, the museum offers a deep dive into the vibrant and diverse world of Kazakhstani art, spanning various time periods and styles. Visitors will find a wide array of artworks, ranging from traditional Kazakh pieces to more contemporary works, all under one roof.

The museum proudly displays a vast collection, providing insights into the country’s cultural and artistic history. It features works from renowned Kazakhstani artists, ensuring a genuine representation of the nation’s artistic development. Additionally, the museum also hosts international artworks, providing a global perspective and showcasing the universal language of art.

Visitors can explore different sections, each dedicated to a particular era or style, making it an educational and enriching experience. The museum also organizes various exhibitions, workshops, and events, aiming to promote art appreciation among locals and tourists alike. Whether you are an art aficionado or a casual visitor, the Kazakhstan Museum of Arts offers a comprehensive look into Kazakhstani art. It makes for a worthwhile visit during your stay in Almaty.

At Kazakhstan Museum of Arts, creativity unfolds—Almaty's cultural heartbeat pulsating through diverse exhibits.
At Kazakhstan Museum of Arts, creativity unfolds—Almaty’s cultural heartbeat pulsating through diverse exhibits.

12. Zhibek Zholy

Zhibek Zholy, a bustling and vibrant street, is often highlighted as one of the best things to do in Almaty. This prominent avenue is not only a commercial hub but also a cultural and social hotspot that has become a lively and essential part of the city. Visitors can explore numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants, each offering a unique taste of local flavors and international cuisine. It’s a place where modernity and tradition coexist, providing a multifaceted experience to everyone who strolls along.

When considering Almaty places to visit, Zhibek Zholy offers an array of options to explore, shop, dine, and immerse in the local culture. The street is lined with various retail outlets, from high-end boutiques to local shops. These cater to a wide range of preferences and budgets. Additionally, the avenue is home to several historical buildings and monuments, offering a glimpse into the city’s past and architectural grandeur.

Zhibek Zholy is also a locale where events, performances, and festivals take place, enhancing the city’s social calendar. It’s a place where you can witness the city’s pulse, interact with locals, and partake in the vibrant urban life. Whether you’re looking to shop, dine, explore, or simply take a leisurely walk, Zhibek Zholy provides a dynamic and engaging environment. 

Strolling down Zhibek Zholy, Almaty's bustling promenade—a vibrant fusion of tradition, commerce, and modern allure.
Strolling down Zhibek Zholy, Almaty’s bustling promenade—a vibrant fusion of tradition, commerce, and modern allure. | Photo credits: vesselfinder.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Almaty

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Almaty? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Almaty:

What is the best time to visit Almaty?

Spring and autumn are ideal for visiting Almaty, offering mild weather and beautiful natural vistas. These seasons allow comfortable exploration of the city and surrounding nature, providing a delightful experience with blossoming trees or autumnal colors enhancing the city’s charm.

Is Almaty safe for tourists?

Almaty is generally safe for tourists, maintaining a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Standard travel precautions apply, such as safeguarding belongings and staying vigilant in crowded areas. The city is friendly, but it’s wise to be mindful of your surroundings.

How do I get around Almaty?

Almaty offers various transportation options, including buses, a metro system, and taxis. The Almaty Card, specifically designed for tourists, provides unlimited access to public transportation, ensuring convenient and economical travel throughout the city during your stay.

Can I visit Almaty without knowing Kazakh or Russian?

Navigating Almaty without knowledge of Kazakh or Russian is feasible. English is increasingly spoken, especially in tourist-centric areas. While communication might be limited in some instances, the city’s warm hospitality ensures a comfortable and enjoyable stay for all visitors.

Is it worth visiting Almaty?

Absolutely, Almaty is well worth a visit for its stunning natural scenery, vibrant city life, and rich cultural experiences. From the breathtaking landscapes of the surrounding mountains to the lively, modern city filled with history, art, and gastronomy, Almaty offers a diverse array of experiences for every traveler.

Exploring Almaty's vibrant streets, embracing culture, and savoring flavors and breathtaking cityscape and beyond.
Exploring Almaty’s vibrant streets, embracing culture, and savoring flavors and breathtaking cityscape and beyond.

What is Almaty Kazakhstan known for?

Almaty, Kazakhstan is renowned for its spectacular natural surroundings, notably the majestic Tian Shan mountains and serene Big Almaty Lake. The city is a harmonious blend of modern urban life and rich cultural history, featuring vibrant markets, historical buildings, and a thriving arts scene, offering a multifaceted travel experience

Closing Thoughts on Visiting Almaty

Explore Almaty and dive into a city that balances vibrant urban life with calming natural scenes. The city proudly displays its cultural wealth in various museums and on lively streets, all set against a backdrop of impressive natural landscapes. Almaty positions itself as a destination where every visitor can create lasting memories. 

Whether you’re navigating through its energetic streets, exploring its rich history, or soaking in the natural beauty, Almaty welcomes you to discover its blend of old and new. The city offers attractions for every type of traveler, ensuring varied experiences for everyone. 

In all, Almaty is more than a mere stopover; it’s a destination that offers a wide array of experiences to all its visitors.

Best things to do in Almaty Kazakhstan for all types of travelers.
Enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Almaty, Kazakhstan? Pin it! 

You may also like

Leave a Comment