21 Things to Do in Almaty: Top Attractions and Activities

 In Almaty, Things to do, Travel, travel guide, Travel Tips

Almaty, the biggest city in Kazakhstan and its former capital is a great place to start a trip to Central Asia. Many tourists see it as just a quick stop before going to another, more beautiful and exciting place.

But Almaty itself is a beautiful, exciting, and interesting place to visit that deserves more attention. There are many great things to do in Almaty that can keep you busy for at least a few days. The city can also be a great base for exploring the stunning southern Kazakhstan. You can explore our diverse Almaty tour packages to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the destination.

With its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and modern attractions, Almaty offers a variety of experiences for every kind of traveller. Here are 15 things to do in Almaty that show the best this city has to offer.

Best Things To Do In Almaty

Check out this handy list of amazing things to do in Almaty for an unforgettable holiday experience. Make sure to take notes for a smooth and stress-free trip!

1. Ascend Kok-Tobe Hill


Rising to a majestic height of 1,100 metres above sea level, Kok-Tobe Hill beckons with unmatched, sweeping vistas of the city of Almaty and the majestic encircling mountains. Your journey to the crown of the hill is an adventure in itself and one of the top things to do in Almaty. 

Upon arrival at the summit, a world of wonder awaits. Delight in the enchanting sights of a charming zoo, a lively amusement park, and a one-of-a-kind monument paying tribute to The Beatles – the one and only in existence showcasing all four members of the iconic band. To top it all off, savor the flavours of traditional Kazakh cuisine at the summit’s restaurant while being captivated by the awe-inspiring panoramas.

2. Explore the Green Bazaar


Experience the lively Green Bazaar, a busy market where locals buy fresh produce, spices, traditional crafts, and more. Explore the maze of stalls, taste local foods, and immerse yourself in the exciting atmosphere of this traditional market.

The main hall is divided into sections with signs in Russian and symbols indicating what is sold in each area. In addition to common items like fruits, vegetables, cheese, spices, and meat, you can also find products typical of Central Asia, such as kumys (fermented dairy products made from mare’s milk) and horse meat. Other parts of the bazaar offer clothes, furniture, and other items, but the food hall is a must-visit. Green Bazaar is undoubtedly one of the top Almaty tourist attractions and visiting this place is one of the top things to do in Almaty.

3. Stroll Through The Parks


Looking for a relaxing escape in Almaty? You’re in luck! Almaty boasts several beautiful parks in its centre, offering a green oasis within the bustling city. From the popular Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen to the charming Park on Astana Square and the iconic Central Park, there are plenty of options to choose from. You’ll find everything from playgrounds and electric cars for kids to fountains adorned with love locks, pigeons, and numerous benches for unwinding. 

If you’re up for a little adventure, make your way to the breathtaking First President’s Park, named after Nursultan Nazarbayev. This relatively new addition to the city, opened in July 2010, is a true gem. Marvel at the stunning colonnade, vibrant flower arrangements, and, most importantly, the awe-inspiring views of the majestic mountains in the backdrop. 

4. Explore The Museums


If you’re into museums, then checking out the Central State Museum is one of the exciting things to do in Almaty! It’s one of the biggest in Central Asia, with a whopping 200,000 artefacts showcasing Kazakh history and culture. You won’t believe the incredible collection housed in this modern three-floor building. 

And that’s not all – Almaty has around 30 museums to explore, including the Musical Instruments of Kazakhstan Museum, Kasteyev Museum of Fine Arts, and Tselliny Contemporary Arts Center.

5. Wander Through the Almaty Botanical Garden


The Almaty Botanical Garden is a peaceful place in the middle of the city. It is 108 hectares and has many different plants from around the world, including some that are rare and in danger. It’s a great place for a relaxing walk, a picnic, or to get away from the busy city. Visiting this place is one of the interesting things to do in Almaty.

6. Experience Medeu and Shymbulak


Get ready for a thrilling adventure at Medeu, the world’s highest ice skating rink! Nestled at an altitude of 1,691 metres, this breathtaking rink provides a one-of-a-kind skating experience with panoramic mountain vistas. 

After a thrilling cable car ride, you’ll arrive at Shymbulak, Almaty’s top-notch ski resort. In the winter, shred the slopes with fantastic skiing and snowboarding, and in the summer, conquer hiking and mountain biking trails. These places are counted as some of the top places to go in Almaty because of the beauty and the thrill it offers.

7. Photography at the Big Almaty Lake


The Big Almaty Lake, also known as Bao, is a popular spot for locals to relax and have a picnic. Located in the Tien Shan mountains, the lake is an important source of drinking water for the city’s residents. As a result, swimming or getting close to the water is not allowed. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to gather with friends and family and enjoy the sunshine. Capturing some beautiful scenery at this spot is one of the best things to do in Almaty.

8. Tour the Almaty Opera House


The Abay Opera House in Almaty is a beautiful building that is an important part of the city’s culture. It opened in 1934 and hosts opera, ballet, and classical concerts. Seeing a performance here is a great way to experience the city’s art and have a night of top-quality entertainment.

9. Discover the Arasan Baths


To experience traditional Kazakh relaxation, visit the Arasan Baths. This luxurious bath house offers various services, including Russian, Finnish, and Turkish saunas, as well as massage treatments. The beautifully designed interior, with marble and intricate tile work, provides a peaceful setting to relax and renew. De-stressing in this bath is one of the most relaxing things to do in Almaty.

10. Hike in the Ile-Alatau National Park


Ile-Alatau National Park is perfect for nature lovers. You can enjoy hiking through different landscapes like forests and meadows. Big Almaty Lake and Kumbel Peak are popular spots with amazing views.

11. Experience Almaty’s Nightlife


Almaty has a lively nightlife with options to suit everyone’s preferences. The city comes alive after dark with trendy bars, nightclubs, traditional teahouses, and live music venues. Chukotka Bar is popular for its diverse music and energetic atmosphere. The Shakespeare Pub offers a more relaxed setting with live jazz performances. These are some of the happening things to do in Almaty at night.

12. Check out the Government Buildings


Between 1929 and 1997, Almaty served as the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and later of independent Kazakhstan. Many important government buildings from that period can still be found throughout the city. Two prominent buildings are the Old Government House on Astana Square and the Akimat House (Mayor’s Office) on Republic Square. However, there are many more such buildings that you will likely come across while exploring the city.

13. Marvel at beautiful Zenkov Cathedral


The cathedral in the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen is a beautiful wooden masterpiece. It was built without nails and is the world’s second-tallest wooden building, standing at 56 metres. Finished in 1907, the cathedral recently underwent renovations, making it the prettiest building in Almaty.

14. Visit the Central Mosque


Kazakhstan, with a majority of its population being Muslim, boasts an array of breathtaking mosques, particularly in its capital, Nur-Sultan. One of the most striking examples is the Central Mosque in Almaty, situated near the vibrant Green Bazaar. 

This architectural marvel is a testament to Islamic artistry and grandeur. Following the unfortunate burning down of the old mosque, the Central Mosque was built and opened to the public in 1999. It stands as one of the largest mosques in Kazakhstan, with a capacity to accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers. Just make sure to dress modestly, covering your head, arms, and legs.

15. Take a Walk in Zhibek Zholy Pedestrian Street


Zhibek Zholy Pedestrian Street is a great place to explore the city at your own pace. You can stroll along the street during the day or in the evening. The street has cosy cafes, street performers, and artisan shops. It’s always lively and there’s plenty to see and do. So, chilling out here with your family and friends will definitely be one of the relaxing things to do in Almaty.

16. Learn at the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments


The Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments in Panfilov Park is a great place to learn about Kazakhstan’s musical heritage. You can see many traditional instruments there, like the dombra, kobyz, and syrnai. They also have interactive exhibits and live demonstrations, so you can really experience the rich musical traditions of the Kazakh people.

17. Get knowledge about nomadic traditions


If you want to learn about the nomadic history of ethnic Kazakhs, head to Huns Ethno village. The ancient mountain village is known for horseback riding and other adventures. You’ll see amazing mountain views and find traditional Soviet-looking hubs and Kazakh yurts. The locals will be happy to show you Kazakh traditions and customs.

18. Enjoy the Falcon Hunting Festival


The Falcon Hunting Festival in Kazakhstan is a vibrant celebration that perfectly captures the deep emotions and fervour of Kazakh hunters. It’s a compelling display of the profound bond between a hunter, their hunting bird, and dog. The festival is a testament to the immense joy that comes from the synergy between these skilled companions in the pursuit of prey.

One notable establishment at the heart of this tradition is the Sunkar Nursery, situated near Almaty in the Alma-Arasan Gorge. Here, a diverse array of hunting birds is expertly cared for and trained. The majestic art of eagle hunting, which has deep historical roots, particularly thrives in the central and northern regions of Kazakhstan, adding to the rich tapestry of the country’s hunting culture.

19. Explore the best places to eat


Almaty is a diverse metropolis blending the cultures of various peoples from Asia and Europe, making the city universal and interesting. This means you can find any cuisine you want to try and exploring these cuisines will be the best thing to do in Almaty. Here are the must-visit places to eat in Almaty:

  • Green Bazaar – The Green Bazaar is a lively market in the city centre that’s perfect for food enthusiasts. You can enjoy a variety of traditional Kazakh dishes like boiled meat with pasta, steamed dumplings, freshly baked bread, pastries, and fresh fruits from the many food stalls and eateries. It’s a great way to experience local food culture and try authentic Kazakh cuisine.
  • Kaganat – If you’re looking for Central Asian flavours in a fancy setting, visit Kaganat. This high-end restaurant specialises in Kazakh and Uzbek cuisine. They serve a variety of dishes made with top-quality ingredients and prepared with care. Enjoy tasty kebabs, flavorful pilaf, hearty soups, and delicious desserts. The restaurant’s classy atmosphere and attentive service make for a memorable dining experience, ideal for special occasions or a sophisticated meal.
  • Daredzhani – If you’re in the mood for Georgian food, head to Daredzhani. This cosy restaurant in Almaty serves up a menu packed with Georgian favourites like cheese-filled bread, dumplings, and a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. The friendly staff and inviting atmosphere make dining here a pleasure. And be sure to try some traditional Georgian wine with your meal.

20. Engage in some shopping


The city offers a great shopping experience for both locals and tourists. It has a variety of modern shopping malls and traditional markets with unique and fashionable items. Here are three places you must visit for a memorable shopping session:

  • Mega Park – Mega Park in Almaty is a modern shopping centre with many stores, including fashion, electronics, and home goods. The mall also offers entertainment, food options, and play areas, making it a popular choice for shoppers and those looking for leisure activities.
  • Green Bazaar – Green Bazaar is in the middle of Almaty. It’s a busy market with lots of things to buy. You can find fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, meats, dairy products, and traditional Kazakh crafts. The market is great for shopping. There are colourful stalls to see, local food to try, and a lively atmosphere to enjoy.
  • Arbat – Arbat is a street where you can walk without cars. There are stores, cafes, restaurants, and small shops. The stores sell both items from abroad and from Russia. Some shops have very new and cool clothes, bags, and shoes. You can find interesting things and take a relaxed walk on this nice street.

21. Visit places near Almaty


The Almaty area in Kazakhstan is incredibly beautiful. You’ll find stunning scenery and some of the most spectacular places you’ll ever see there. You can use Almaty as your base and take day trips to most of the places. Some trips might be very long day trips, so consider staying for 2-3 days to fully enjoy the natural beauty. Places you must visit from Almaty include Charyn Canyon, Kolsai and Kaindy Lakes, and Altyn-Emel National Park. Consider this too as one of the best things to do in Almaty.

Almaty is a city that invites exploration with its rich history, cultural diversity, and beautiful natural landscapes. You can delve into its cultural institutions, enjoy its natural beauty, or experience its modern attractions. Almaty promises a memorable and enriching travel experience through these 21 activities, offering a unique glimpse into the soul of this dynamic city. It’s a must-visit destination in Central Asia.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Almaty?

In Almaty, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking in the Ile-Alatau National Park, visiting the Big Almaty Lake, ice skating at the Medeu rink, skiing and snowboarding at Shymbulak Ski Resort, and strolling through the Almaty Botanical Garden.

What are the best places to experience local cuisine?

The best places to experience local cuisine in Almaty are Green Bazaar, Zelyony Bazaar, Rumi, Kaganat, Gakku.

When is the best time to visit Almaty?

The best time to visit Almaty is from late spring to early autumn, specifically from May to September. During these months, the weather is pleasant, with warm temperatures ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The city also hosts various cultural events and festivals during this period, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

Are there any unique festivals or events held in Almaty?

Yes, Almaty hosts several unique festivals and events, including Nauryz, Almaty Apple Festival, Star of Asia Music Festival, Almaty Marathon, Kok Tobe Jazz Festival. These festivals offer a great way to experience the local culture and community spirit.

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