12 Best Things to Do in Astana, Kazakhstan: Top Attractions to Visit

by Emil Backup
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Are you planning to visit Astana, Kazakhstan in the near future? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Astana. These sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Welcome to Astana, a city that bridges the gap between tradition and modernity in a way that will leave you both awestruck and inspired. Nestled on Kazakhstan’s steppe, Astana is a testament to the nation’s ambition and vision. As you embark on this journey with me, prepare to uncover the hidden gems and unforgettable experiences that make this city a rising star on the travel map. There’s a world of incredible things to do in Astana, where ancient traditions and futuristic visions converge, offering travelers a unique and captivating experience.

Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, underwent a remarkable transformation from a provincial town to the dynamic capital of Kazakhstan. The city’s skyline boasts futuristic architecture that seems to defy gravity. Gleaming skyscrapers reflect the sun, creating a mesmerizing interplay of light and steel.

But Astana is not just about the glitz and glamour of modernity. Amidst the architectural wonders, you’ll find pockets of history and culture waiting to be explored. Museums delve into Kazakhstan’s rich heritage, while traditional bazaars offer a glimpse into daily life.

Join me as we delve into the best things to do in Astana, a city where ancient traditions and futuristic visions converge, offering travelers a unique and captivating experience. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Astana.

The top things to do in Astana Kazakhstan right now.

Best Places to Visit in Astana

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

Are you looking to explore cutting-edge architecture and futuristic attractions? Or would you prefer to indulge in the rich culinary heritage of Kazakhstan? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Astana can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Astana that you should know about.

1. Bayterek Tower

In the heart of Astana, the Bayterek Tower stands as a symbol of the city’s innovative spirit and its rapid development in the 21st century. This 105-meter tall monument isn’t merely a sight to behold but a narrative of the Kazakh people. It encapsulates their myths, progress, and aspirations into its one-of-a-kind design.

Visitors are welcomed into a modern marvel where they can ascend to the observation deck providing them with a panoramic view of the city’s futuristic skyline. Meanwhile, the golden sphere at the top is not only an aesthetic masterstroke. It also houses a handprint of Kazakhstan’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev that symbolizes the nation’s push towards the future under his leadership.

While the Bayterek Tower is undeniably a focal point in Astana, it’s also a beacon of Kazakhstan’s post-independence identity and progress. Visitors often find themselves contemplating the city’s architectural prowess while gazing out from the observation deck. The juxtaposition of the old and new city offers a visual treat and a moment of reflection on the nation’s journey.

Exploring the Bayterek Tower is one of the unique things to do in Astana. More than just an architectural wonder, it’s a symbol, a viewpoint, and an experience that provides insight into the nation’s history and its ambitious leap into the future.

Bayterek Tower stands tall, embodying modern allure and architectural mastery.
Bayterek Tower stands tall, embodying modern allure and architectural mastery.

2. Palace of Peace and Reconciliation

The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation serves as a landmark of the city and a hub for cultural and political events. For those wondering where to go in Astana, this landmark offers impressive architecture crafted by renowned British architect, Sir Norman Foster. The structure, shaped like a pyramid, is not only visually striking but also engineered to withstand the test of time. The glass and steel pyramid is adorned with elements that pay homage to Kazakhstan’s cultural heritage, blending traditional motifs with its futuristic design.

The Palace hosts various international conferences, meetings, and cultural events. It is home to the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held every three years, which gathers leaders from various religious backgrounds to promote dialogue and understanding. This event underscores the Palace’s role as a platform for fostering international and interfaith dialogue. Visitors may also explore the Museum of National History and the Museum of Art, housed within the Palace, offering deeper insights into Kazakhstan’s rich history. 

The panoramic views of the city from the top of the pyramid are yet another reason why tourists and locals alike are drawn to this remarkable structure. This structure provides a bird’s eye view of Astana’s evolving skyline. Whether you are interested in architecture, politics, or culture, the Palace provides a multifaceted experience, solidifying its status as one of the unique places in Astana.

Amidst Astana's skyline, Palace of Peace radiates serenity, symbolizing a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.
Amidst Astana’s skyline, Palace of Peace radiates serenity, symbolizing a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

3. Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a remarkable structure that stands out with its pristine white walls, sky-blue details, and gleaming golden domes. Built in 2011, it is recognized as the largest Orthodox church in Central Asia. The cathedral is adorned with traditional Orthodox icons and paintings, providing a visually stunning and spiritually uplifting environment for both worshippers and visitors. The interior is notably immaculate, featuring floor-to-ceiling icons and vibrant, colorful religious paintings that captivate all who enter.

Visitors often find serenity and peace within its walls. The cathedral is known to welcome everyone, even during mass, reflecting a spirit of inclusivity. The cathedral complex is expansive, featuring a courtyard with a statue of a saint. An impressive gate arch on Magzhan Zhumabaev Avenue is often mistaken for the church itself due to its grandeur. 

Visiting the Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral is one of the coolest things to do in Astana, offering a glimpse into the religious and architectural splendor of the city. The cathedral is a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving and showcasing its religious and cultural heritage.

Admiring Astana's spiritual richness, Assumption Cathedral graces the skyline, a testament to its cultural diversity.
Admiring Astana’s spiritual richness, Assumption Cathedral graces the skyline, a testament to its cultural diversity.

4. Hazrat Sultan Mosque

The Hazrat Sultan Mosque is a notable Friday mosque that has become an essential thing to do in Astana for visitors interested in architecture and religion. The mosque’s construction adheres to a classical Islamic style, embellished with traditional Kazakh ornaments. The mosque can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers, while during holidays, it can hold up to 10,000 people. 

Notably, Hazrat Sultan boasts the largest dome in Kazakhstan, featuring eight smaller domes and four minarets. The architectural plan also intended for the temple to be crowned with a spire topped with a crescent pointing directly towards Mecca. The mosque is not only a spiritual hub but also a place where architectural grandeur and religious solemnity converge. The mosque’s interior is adorned with stunning artworks and calligraphy, offering a visual feast for art and history enthusiasts.

The mosque also provides spaces for ritual bathing, wedding ceremonies, Quran reading, and educational group sessions. It organizes various religious events, lectures, and community gatherings, providing insights into Islamic teachings and Kazakh traditions. Guided tours at the mosque provide deep insights into Kazakhstan’s cultural and religious nuances through its rich history.

Captivated by Astana's diversity, the Hazrat Sultan Mosque embodies cultural vibrancy and religious harmony.
Captivated by Astana’s diversity, the Hazrat Sultan Mosque embodies cultural vibrancy and religious harmony.

5. Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall

The Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall is a renowned performing arts center and one of the best places in Astana. Often referred to as “The Flower of the Steppe,” the hall is not only a visual spectacle but also a technological marvel, with its state-of-the-art acoustics and engineering. The hall designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti, is not only an architectural marvel but also a hub for various events. The building’s unique petal-like structure is both aesthetic and functional, providing optimal acoustic environments within its halls. 

The building’s exterior features curved inclined walls of concrete, clad with blue back painted glass panels, protecting the interior from Astana’s harsh weather. Inside, a thirty-meter-high foyer spans more than 3,000 square meters. It is designed as an urban-scale internal public square, welcoming citizens throughout the year. The building houses three different music halls and also encloses restaurants, shops, and bars, providing a comprehensive entertainment experience.

The main concert hall has a seating capacity of 3,500, making it one of the largest of its kind. The hall’s acoustic flexibility allows hosting a variety of events, including classical and pop music concerts, ballet, and conferences. Additionally, two smaller halls can host chamber music, cinema, and conferences, offering a diverse range of entertainment and cultural experiences in the city. The hall, with its architectural, cultural, and political significance makes it a pivotal spot for Astana things to do.

Central Concert Hall echoes with an artistic heartbeat, a symphony of diversity.
Central Concert Hall echoes with an artistic heartbeat, a symphony of diversity. | Birla White

6. National Museum of Kazakhstan

Dive into the rich tapestry of Kazakhstan’s history at the National Museum, a standout among the cool destinations in Astana. This museum has quickly become a focal point for both locals and tourists, providing a comprehensive overview of the nation’s heritage. Spanning over 74,000 square meters, it is the largest museum in Central Asia.

The museum is segmented into various halls, each is dedicated to different epochs and aspects of Kazakh culture and history. These include archaeology, ethnography, and modern art. Explore artifacts from Kazakhstan’s past, understand its present, and get a glimpse into its future through various exhibits and displays. The Hall of Gold, which features golden artifacts from the Saka period, is particularly noteworthy.

The museum also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions, workshops, and lectures, providing varied experiences for its visitors. The museum’s strategic location, near other major attractions, makes it a convenient spot for those exploring the city. The National Museum provides an inclusive representation of Kazakhstan’s multifaceted history and culture, offering enriching experience for all ages. 

Delving into Kazakhstan's history at the National Museum, Astana unfolds its rich cultural narrative.
Delving into Kazakhstan’s history at the National Museum, Astana unfolds its rich cultural narrative.

7. The President’s Park

The President’s Park is a vast urban park providing a green escape amidst the city’s significant landmarks. The park spans a considerable area, with flower beds and trees occupying most of the territory and offering a refreshing retreat in the bustling city. Surrounded by multi-story residential buildings, the park integrates urban living with natural tranquility. An artificial stream, adorned with fountains and shaped as the Simurgh, a bird symbolizing Kazakhstan’s independence, adds a unique feature to the park.

One of the best things to do in Astana, The President’s Park offers a variety of amenities and attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages. The well-maintained walking paths makes it a popular spot for both leisurely walks and jogging among locals and tourists. Families often frequent the park due to its child-friendly facilities, such as modern playgrounds and safe play areas.

The President’s Park both serves as a recreational space and a venue for various public events and gatherings. The serene environment it provides amidst the urban landscape makes it one of the top Astana places to visit. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, a place to unwind, or to engage in community events, the President’s Park caters to a myriad of experiences.

The President’s Park blooms, a serene oasis symbolizing a commitment to nature's beauty.
The President’s Park blooms, a serene oasis symbolizing a commitment to nature’s beauty.

8. Ishim River

The Ishim River, flowing through Astana, offers residents and visitors a serene escape from the bustling city life. The river, which is navigable in certain sections, provides a picturesque setting that is enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Various bridges cross the river, each with its unique architectural style, offering splendid views of the cityscape. The riverbanks are well-developed and feature a number of amenities such as walking paths, seating areas, and recreational facilities, making it among the Astana attractions for various outdoor activities.

Thinking about where to visit in Astana for a unique and enjoyable recreational activity? Ishim River is the answer. In the winter, the river transforms into a massive ice-skating rink, as the water freezes solid. During the warmer months, boat rides on the river become a popular activity, offering a different perspective of the city. The river is also flanked by numerous cafes and restaurants, where visitors can enjoy a meal with a view.

When wondering what to do in Astana, the Ishim River offers a versatile option, catering to a range of preferences. Whether it’s a peaceful walk along the riverbanks, a lively boat ride, or simply enjoying the scenic views, the Ishim River provides a variety of experiences. The river’s accessibility and the range of activities available ensure that every visitor finds something that appeals to them. 

Reflecting on Astana's beauty along the Ishim River, where nature gracefully intertwines with urban charm.
Reflecting on Astana’s beauty along the Ishim River, where nature gracefully intertwines with urban charm.

9. Nur-Astana Mosque

Nur-Astana Mosque, with its striking architecture and spiritual ambiance, has established itself as a must-see in Astana for travelers. It is the third-largest mosque in Central Asia and can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers. The mosque features a grand dome and two towering minarets which are visible from various points in the city. Visitors are often captivated by the mosque’s impressive size and the intricate designs that adorn its interior and exterior.

Aside from being a place of worship, the mosque is a symbol of the country’s Islamic faith and tradition. It is open to visitors of all faiths, and guided tours are available to provide insights into its architectural features and the religious practices observed within. The mosque’s design incorporates traditional Kazakh ornaments and modern architectural techniques, reflecting the nation’s blend of tradition and modernity.

When considering the best places to go in Astana, Nur-Astana Mosque offers a peaceful and enlightening experience. It provides a glimpse into the religious and cultural aspects of life in Kazakhstan. Whether you are exploring its architectural grandeur or immersing yourself in its tranquil environment, a visit to Nur-Astana Mosque provides a unique and enriching experience, contributing to the diverse offerings of Astana.

Under the night sky, Nur-Astana Mosque shines, a beacon of spiritual magnificence and beauty.
Under the night sky, Nur-Astana Mosque shines, a beacon of spiritual magnificence and beauty.

10. Quay Astana

Quay Astana, also known as Nurzhol Boulevard, is a vibrant and dynamic area that stands out among Astana places to visit. Located in the heart of the city, it is a pedestrian-friendly zone that offers a variety of activities and sights. The boulevard is lined with numerous modern sculptures, fountains, and green spaces, providing a pleasant environment for leisurely walks and relaxation. Visitors can explore a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants along the boulevard, offering local and international cuisines.

One of the unique things to do in Astana is to explore the various architectural wonders along Quay Astana. The boulevard is flanked by some of the city’s most notable buildings, showcasing the modern and futuristic architecture of Astana. It’s a hub for social and cultural activities hosting various events year-round, thus enhancing the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Quay Astana is not only a place for leisure and entertainment but also offers opportunities for shopping and dining. It’s a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the city’s modern charm. Whether exploring architecture, enjoying a scenic meal, or taking a stroll along the boulevard, the boulevard appeals to all visitors. 

Along Quay Astana, the city's heartbeat echoes, a vibrant waterfront narrating the dynamic spirit and vitality.
Along Quay Astana, the city’s heartbeat echoes, a vibrant waterfront narrating the dynamic spirit and vitality.

11. Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center stands as a remarkable architectural feat and a hotspot for various forms of entertainment and leisure. Designed by the renowned British architect, Sir Norman Foster, the structure takes the form of a giant transparent tent. Not only is it an architectural marvel, but the center also serves as a symbol of the city’s modern and progressive spirit.

Inside the tent, visitors find a myriad of shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering options for retail therapy or delightful meals. The center features a wide array of retail outlets, from high-end international brands to local Kazakhstani shops, catering to a diverse spectrum of shoppers. Additionally, the dining options within Khan Shatyr ensure that visitors have a variety of culinary experiences to choose from, be it local Kazakh cuisine or international dishes.

For those seeking the coolest activities in Astana, Khan Shatyr does not disappoint. The entertainment center houses an indoor beach club, a mini-golf course, and an indoor amusement park, providing fun and excitement for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking to escape the winter chill or simply seek leisure, Khan Shatyr offers a unique experience. It goes beyond conventional venues, making it a must-visit destination in the city.

Khan Shatyr's glowing silhouette paints Astana's night, a testament to lively nightscapes and innovation.
Khan Shatyr’s glowing silhouette paints Astana’s night, a testament to lively nightscapes and innovation.

12. Atameken Map of Kazakhstan

Atameken Map of Kazakhstan serves as a distinctive and informative attraction, offering a miniature representation of the entire country. The outdoor map provides a unique opportunity for visitors to explore Kazakhstan in a nutshell. It features detailed miniatures of the nation’s significant buildings, landmarks, and geographical features, allowing visitors to gain insights into the diverse landscapes and architecture found across Kazakhstan.

The map is divided into sections, each representing different regions of Kazakhstan. Varied terrains, from mountains and forests to cities with notable structures are being showcased in the map. Visitors can stroll through the miniatures, observing the detailed craftsmanship that has gone into replicating the various elements accurately. Each miniature is accompanied by informative plaques, providing valuable information about the landmarks and regions. This makes it an educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Recognized as one of the best things to do in Astana, Atameken Map of Kazakhstan is a notable tourist attraction. This is also an educational center where individuals can learn about the country’s geography, history, and cultural heritage in an engaging manner. Appealing to both adults and children, this attraction provides a fascinating journey through the country’s diverse landscapes and significant landmarks. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a local resident, Atameken offers a unique perspective on Kazakhstan, making it a must-visit when in Astana.

Exploring the miniature marvel, Atameken Map unveils diverse landscapes and cultural heritage.
Exploring the miniature marvel, Atameken Map unveils diverse landscapes and cultural heritage.

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

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

What is the best time to visit Astana?

Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, experiences extremely cold winters and warm summers. The ideal time to visit would be during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is pleasant, and the city is lively with various events and festivals. This period allows travelers to explore the city comfortably and engage in numerous outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Is Astana family-friendly?

Absolutely! Astana offers a plethora of activities and destinations that are suitable for families and travelers of all ages. From interactive museums, beautiful parks, and entertaining shopping centers like Khan Shatyr, there’s no shortage of fun and exciting experiences for the whole family to enjoy together.

How to get around in Astana?

Astana boasts a well-developed transportation system, offering various options such as buses, taxis, and rental cars. The city’s bus network is extensive, providing an economical way to travel around. Taxis are readily available and can be hailed on the street or booked via apps. For those preferring more flexibility, renting a car is a viable option.

What is Astana famous for?

Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, is famed for its futuristic architecture, hosting international events, and being a symbol of Kazakhstan’s post-independence modernization. The city showcases impressive buildings like the Bayterek Tower and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, reflecting a blend of modernity and tradition in its rapid development.

Marveling at Astana's futuristic skyline, a glimpse into modernity and architectural brilliance unfolds.
Marveling at Astana’s futuristic skyline, a glimpse into modernity and architectural brilliance unfolds.

Is Astana worth visiting?

Astana (Nur-Sultan) is worth visiting for its strikingly futuristic architecture, rich cultural venues, and vibrant city life. The city offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition, providing visitors with a glimpse into Kazakhstan’s rapid development and its blend of cultures, making it a fascinating destination.

Which is better, Almaty or Astana?

The choice between Almaty and Astana (now known as Nursultan) depends on your preferences. Almaty, in southern Kazakhstan, offers a more traditional and cultural experience with its historic sites and natural beauty. Nursultan, the capital, is modern and showcases the country’s contemporary side with impressive architecture and infrastructure.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Astana

Astana, now recognized as Nur-Sultan, stands as a notable destination in Kazakhstan, offering travelers a distinctive blend of historical and modern attractions. The city, with its impressive architectural structures and significant historical landmarks, provides a comprehensive insight into the nation’s past and its forward-looking aspirations. Visitors to the city can expect a combination of experiences, from exploring the detailed miniatures at Atameken, admiring the modern architectural feats, to diving into the rich cultural aspects of the nation.

Each aspect of the city provides a glimpse into its transformation from a small town to a vibrant capital, offering you a chance to explore its evolving story. Astana ensures a diverse and memorable experience for every visitor, with its array of attractions and welcoming atmosphere. 

So, pack your bags and set your sights on Astana, where every visit is a new adventure waiting to unfold.

Best things to do in Astana, Kazakhstan for all types of travelers.
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