New flights to Almaty

On April 29 airBaltic is launching new direct flights from Riga to Almaty.  Book your tickets now, from 159 EUR one way. 


The former capital Almaty is the centre of commerce of Kazakhstan and its largest city. Once an important strategic link of the old Silk Road, it is now a thriving metropolis, expertly combining old traditions and modern style.

Untouched nature

Almaty is a gateway to some breathtaking sights of nature, so make sure you travel outside the city as well. Sharyn (Charyn) Canyon is a place you will surely love to see with your own eyes. It is just as impressive as the Grand Canyon in USA, even if it's no rival to it in size. The canyon is situated on Sharyn River, 200 kilometres east of Almaty, close to the Chinese border. When you walk among the huge red rocks, the views are truly amazing. The Charyn area also offers hiking and rafting opportunities, as well as off-road jeep touring, and simply enjoying beautiful nature.

Untouched nature

Big Almaty Lake is another wonder you should not miss – and it's much closer to the city, too. Set high up in a gorge of the Bolshaya Almatinka River, it sits 2,500 meters above sea level just 28 km south of Almaty. It lies in a hollow like a gleaming mirror, surrounded on all sides by majestic 4,000 metre peaks, with glacial water streaming down towards the lake.

The combination of nature's and human's art

First President's Park (so named in honour of the first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev) is the most popular meeting and relaxing spot in Almaty – set to a spectacular mountain backdrop and filled with water fountains, music, flowers and plants. The atmosphere is lively, but you can also relax in silence and enjoy wild nature, as picturesque paths will lead you to cozy and secluded shelters with seating areas and benches.

The combination of nature's and human's art

If you are seeking some serious solitude, head to Tien Shan Mountains – the name means "Mountains of Heaven", and it is the least visited mountain range in the world. The nearest spot that's easily reached from Almaty is Shymbulak Ski Resort, about 25 km from the city. And you don't have to ski to enjoy the views from the cozy terrace café. But if you're up for demanding activities, challenge yourself on the rope-track for climbing – with spectacular mountain views.

Religious monuments

The main religion in Kazakhstan is Islam. Among the 2300 mosques in the whole country, the Central Mosque of Almaty – a magnificent Timurid-style building – is the largest and considered to be the most beautiful. Visitors are allowed to enter the mosque at any time, if they adhere to the dress-code – arms and legs should be covered.

Religious monuments

Zenkov Cathedral is one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world. It’s a 19th-century Russian Orthodox cathedral, pretty unique due to the fact that it was built without a single nail. It is situated in Panfilov Park, surrounded by blue spruce trees. It looks different from each side, so make sure you walk around it to see the full picture.

Ancient gastronomy traditions

There's no returning home without having tried the traditional food of your destination. Meat has a special place in Kazakh cuisine, and the most popular dishes, served at all local restaurants, are beshbarmak or kazy, made of horse meat (yes, seriously!). You will also see kumys in all local menus – a dairy drink made from mare’s milk. Even if it is a dairy product, kumys contains alcohol. So be careful with the quantity of this delicious drink!

A very heart-warming and generous welcome awaits both in traditional family-run cafes and high-class modern restaurants where they will serve everything to your taste and preferences. But be warned that vegetarian restaurants in Almaty are few and far between – it's a strong meat-eating culture.

Ancient gastronomy traditions

If you’ve never been to a real yurt and never tried the most delicious manti, you should definitely plan a visit to one of several restaurants styled like a yurt and enjoy the authentic atmosphere there.

To experience the variety of local tastes, head to the markets. Though there are many of them, the most famous and worth visiting is the Green Bazaar. The smell of freshly baked tandyr nan, a traditional bread made in the tandoor oven, is sure to drive you crazy. There are several different sorts, and you will want to taste each and every one!

Cultural entertainment and shopping

Lonely Planet vouches that Almaty is eagerly embracing a Western lifestyle, complete with glitzy shopping malls, Western-style coffee lounges, expensive restaurants, dance-till-dawn nightclubs and new ski resorts to enjoy life to the full.

Get ready to have your mind blown at Interactive-Entertainment Park EVRIKUM, a place where science is performed in the most unusual ways. It is situated in one of the biggest city malls in Almaty – MEGA MALL. Speaking of malls, another popular destination is the Underground shopping mall in Republic Square – worth a trip for its illumination in the dark hours alone!

The Central State Museum of Almaty is the largest museum in the city, and history buffs will love its rich collection.

Cultural entertainment and shopping

The Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments is a place both for kids and adults to have fun and learn things. They have excursion programs and masterclasses on playing folk instruments.

Even if you are not planning to take the metro, pop into Almaty subway to see the station artwork.

And what about going out? Almaty has many cool bars and nightclubs. One of the premier entertainment centres is Cartell – nightclub, lounge and karaoke rooms. Most nightclubs in Almaty are open mainly on weekends though – but then they have visiting celebrities and artists to entertain guests.

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