Almaty is a spectacular city. The instant we arrived there, we knew we’d have a great time. It’s a university town with lots of young people and it’s apparent that there’s some oil money in this city as well. Nice buildings are everywhere, nice cars cruise along the streets, the people are very nicely dressed and, well, nice!

having lunch in kazakhstan
Enjoying a delicious lunch with our new friends from Kazakhstan

We took our time here and decided to not really make any plans for our days. We knew there were a few key sights that we really wanted to see, but we also spent some time just wandering around aimlessly.

Here’s our list of the Top 10 Things To Do In Almaty:

1. The Arasan Baths. This beautiful bathhouse is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours. Known as the best bath house in all of Central Asia and for good reason! The marble bathing area is gorgeous and the facilities are spotless. There are separate sections for men and women and you can shower, enjoy a steam and sweat it out in a variety of saunas. The option for massage is also available. (The cost is 1,500KZT on Mon – Fri and 2,000KZT on Sat and Sun.)

2. Panfilov Park. This park is named after the Panfilov Heroes, a group of 28 soldiers from the Almaty infantry unit who died in 1941 fighting off the Nazis. The park is a great place to relax with a book and an ice cream cone, especially in the hot summertime! (Free)

panfilov park almaty
Enjoying the fresh air in Panfilov Park

3. Zenkov Cathedral. Located at Panfilov Park, this colourful cathedral was built in 1904 and is a functioning Russian Orthodox Church. The frescoes on the inside are beautiful and the outside is stunning as well. (Free)

zenkov cathedral almaty
The Zenkov Cathedral in Panfilov Park

4. The Green Market. One of our favourite things to do in a city is visit the local market! This particular place is teaming with fresh fruit, all kinds of meats, nuts, clothing and household items. Not only are the fresh foods delicious, but the vendors are from all over Central Asia and are really friendly. (Free…unless you buy something!)

market in almaty
Delicious fruits and nuts at the Green Market

5. Central Mosque. This mosque is the largest one in Kazakhstan and can be visited every day except for Fridays. Note: women must cover their arms, legs and heads here. (Free)

central mosque in almaty
Gorgeous Central Mosque…ladies, don’t forget to cover up!

6. Wander around the Pedestrian Street. A great time to visit this area is around sunset when most people are out and about. There are people selling goods on the streets, musicians and best of all, no cars! (Free)

fresh fruit in almaty
Yum! Fresh berries for sale on Pedestrian Street

7. Big Almaty Lake (Ozero Bolshoe Almatinskoe). Just a 30 minute drive south of Almaty lies the stunning Zailiysky Alteau Mountain Range. There are many options here for hiking and lots of places to enjoy a picnic. One of the most beautiful spots is the Big Almaty Lake (it’s only 1.6kms long). The colour of the lake can be green, turquoise or even a gray’ish colour depending on the time of year. The forest is stunning and it’s a great place to get some fresh air! (Reach by: Bus 28 goes from the roundabout at Al-Farabi and Navoi up Dulati street, from there you’ll have to hike about 15kms to the lake; or take a taxi from the city for about 2,000KZT, or by Private Vehicle. 200KZT park fee)

big almaty lake
Beautiful Big Almaty Lake

8. Medeu Ice Rink and Chimbulak Ski Resort. These 2 spots make for a perfect day trip out of the city. During the winter you can put on some skates and skis and in the summer it’s a great place for hiking around the valleys, or just a great place to have lunch and a beer…while enjoying some spectacular views. (Medeu: 800KZT admission. Chimbulak: Day ski pass 5,000KZT, one lift ticket 600KZT, return gondola ticket from Medeu to the top of the mountain at Chimbulak 2,500KZT. Take bus #6 and #6A from Dostyk street, they run every few minutes. It’s a 30 minute bus ride up to Medeu.)

hiking in almaty
Hiking around Chimbulak Ski Resort is great in the summertime

9. Visit Kok-Tobe. At 1,100m above sea-level this is the place to go for great views of Almaty city down below. Once at the top, there are lots of things to see and do. Chill out at one of the restaurants, buy some souvenirs, enjoy some rides, go up the climbing wall and have a look at the bronze statue of the Beatles! (There are 2 ways to get here: take the cable car from Dostyk & Abay Aves. – 2,000KZT or take bus 95 or 99, 80KZT to the terminus. From there, take a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain 500KZT.)

By Edgarpo01 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Go to the Opera/Ballet. Almaty has a really good music and theater scene. Check out the Philharmonic, the Abay State Opera or the Ballet Theatre. There are three or four performances a week and if you have a midrange budget, it makes for a great evening out on the town. ( costs vary from 400-1700KZT)

There are so many things to do in this chilled out city, we couldn’t name them all. An extra thing to do (#11) is to just meander around, mingling with the local people and indulging in the fresh seasonal fruits and local food! Enjoy your stay in Almaty, we sure did.

fruit in almaty
Make sure to enjoy the fresh, seasonal fruits in Almaty!

Have you been to Almaty before? Did we miss anything? Let us know below!

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Chimbulak Ski Resort with text overlay The Best of Almaty KazakhstanZenkov Cathedral with text overlay Kazakhstan Travel Guide To AlmatyPanfilov Park and Central Mosque with text overlay 10 Must Have Experiences In Almaty Kazakhstan


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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Things To Do In Almaty, Kazakhstan

  1. I’d love to do some hiking at Kok-Tobe and the Big Almaty Lake. It looks so pretty and peaceful. And after being confined to the chaotic streets of Asia I’m dying for a pedestrian street! Great list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Thanks Dan!

    We felt the same way when we left China and set off into the countryside in Mongolia, it’s nice to get out of the cities and away from the traffic! Big Almaty Lake is stunning.

    Cheers and happy travels!

  3. Hey guys! One question as we are planning to visit Almaty in may/june. Big Almaty Lake is a trekking that takes 15 kms to go and another 15 kms to return, is it possible to do it in one day if we take the first bus to the park entrance? Is it too difficult?

    Great post! Thanks!!!

  4. Hello!

    We actually didn’t trek the lake as we met some local people who offered to take us up to the lake for the day and show us around. So, we did the lazy way and drove! Check out this article though for some information:

    The lake is beautiful, so either way, make sure you get up there to see it and the surrounding mountains 🙂

  5. All this talk of buses and taxis. I was a fan of the limp wristed hitch hiking flagging down random vehicles to get around the city. Also the subway is real new and like an underground museum. This city really has its own heart beat. The nightlife is real good. They have full on Japanese style karaoke bars which was very fun. Also the Donytsk Plaza is like the Rodeo drive like shopping mall. I’m not typically a mall guy, but I enjoyed going to malls in KZ because 1) their malls are actually pretty over the top and 2) it broke stereotype of being some eagle, horse and sheep place.

  6. Hitching is a great way to get around for sure. We met up with some locals and they ended up taking us around, which was awesome. Hitching is definitely the norm in this part of the world. Glad you liked Almaty 🙂

  7. Dear Sir,

    i am planning to visit Almaty on 1st of May 2016 and to stay for almost a week, please if you can advise if the the weather will be suitable for hiking activities or not?

    your quick reply will be highly appreciated


  8. Just a warning about hiking at the lake….don’t go too close to the lake itself unless you want told off by the police. Since it is a reservoir they don’t like people by the shore. Also one of the paths leads to Kyrgyzstan but is not an official border crossing so take your passport with you and be prepared to be turned back if police or soldiers tell you to. They were very polite to me and the lake is worth a visit, just giving some advice!

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