Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, is a melting pot of breathtaking natural beauty and cultural richness. Tucked in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, this vibrant city offers an array of experiences catering to diverse interests. From historical sites to outdoor pursuits and delectable food, Almaty offers a tapestry of unforgettable experiences. Join us on a virtual adventure filled with exploration and enchantment.
Exploring the heart of Almaty and its charming backstreets is a delightful experience for visitors. The city's tree-filled avenues quickly transport you away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Hidden in these picturesque corners are numerous cosy cafés, restaurants, and small shops.
While the city centre is expansive, it's a joy to wander through. A particularly enchanting section lies between Abay Avenue and the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen, an area known for its array of delightful cafés and eateries.
If you are seeking relaxation or peace of mind, you must visit one of the many parks in Almaty. This city is known for its lush green spaces that offer a tranquil reprieve amid the chaos of a big city. Central Park, often considered the heart of Almaty's outdoor spaces, not only has sprawling greens but also hosts several cultural events throughout the year. The Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen, named after 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting against the Nazis, is home to the Ascension Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church, one of Almaty's most recognisable landmarks.
First President's Park, perhaps the most exquisite park in Almaty, is a little bit further up from the centre. The park is renowned for its colonnade and exquisite floral composition, but the backdrop views of the majestic mountains are the main attraction for visitors.
The Republic Square in Almaty is an excellent spot to begin exploring the city. The monument commemorating Kazakhstan's independence, a 28-meter-tall column with a statue of an ancient warrior perched atop a flying snow leopard, is located there. This warrior figure, considered a prince, dates back approximately 2,500 years. His remains were unearthed nearly half a century ago in a burial mound not far from Almaty. The discovery of the Golden Man holds significant historical and cultural importance for Kazakhstan. Following Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Golden Man and the snow leopard—an endangered big cat that lives in the mountains near Almaty—were adopted as symbols of the country and Almaty.
The Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Almaty is the finest place to visit if you want to learn more about the Golden Man and Kazakhstan's history. This museum is housed in a distinctive building, easily recognisable by its striking blue dome, which is a landmark in itself within the city's architectural landscape. The permanent collection transports visitors from the Stone Age to the Space Age. This chronological exhibition provides a vivid portrayal of Kazakhstan's history, culture, and technological advancements.
A particularly fascinating exhibit within the museum is dedicated to the nomadic origins of the Kazakh people. This section is highlighted by a traditional yurt, a conical felt tent integral to the nomadic lifestyle. The yurt display allows visitors to step inside and experience the ingenuity of this portable dwelling, which was used by herders for centuries as they migrated with their animals according to seasonal changes. For visitors to Almaty, a trip to this museum is a must for a deeper understanding and appreciation of Kazakhstan's rich and varied history.
Situated just a stone's throw north of the iconic Zenkov's Cathedral, the Green Bazaar stands as one of Almaty's most historic marketplaces. It's a bustling activity hub frequented by locals and visitors alike, where a diverse array of items are sold. The range of goods spans from modern electronics to an array of fresh produce, including raw meats, vibrant vegetables, and fruits. Even if you're not much of a shopper, the Green Bazaar will provide you with an opportunity to fully experience the local way of life. You can observe the vibrant exchanges between vendors and customers, and you might even get to sample some Kazakh street food or traditional delicacies.
For an unparalleled sunset viewing experience in Almaty, Kok Tobe Hill is a destination not to be missed. This well-known hill, located conveniently close to Almaty, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city below, set against the backdrop of stunning, snow-draped mountains. Situated at an elevation of around 1,100 metres (3,600 feet), Kok Tobe is connected to Almaty by cable car, offering a scenic and panoramic ride to the top. You can catch one from Kok Tobe Hill Gondola Station directly from the city centre, which makes getting there without a car much easier.
Ice skating at Medeu, located in the picturesque mountainous outskirts of Almaty, is an absolute must-do for anyone visiting the city during the winter months. This renowned outdoor skating rink, one of the largest and most famous in the world, is not just about the sport but also about the experience it offers amidst breathtaking natural scenery.
The rink is nestled within a valley, surrounded by towering mountains and alpine forests, creating a stunning backdrop that enhances the skating experience. Visitors are treated to the spectacular views of the snowy peaks and the serene landscape, making it a perfect spot not just for sports enthusiasts but also for nature lovers and photographers.
The Almaty International Airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is the largest in the country and boasts direct connectivity from Delhi. The direct flight lasts up to 6 hours and 40 minutes. If you are flying in from other Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru, there's likely to be a layover at Dubai, Doha or even Delhi, depending on the airline you choose.
In addition, Indian passport holders can get visa-free entry in Kazakhstan as long as the trip lasts up to 14 days. However, if you are travelling for other purposes, you can avail an e-visa.