Countries that celebrate Christmas in January
7th January 2020
Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital, is most visitor's entry point to this vast Central Asian country. Chances are you're not just going to be passing through, but sticking around for a few days to enjoy the city's varied sights. Here's how we'd spend a day:
Start with breakfast at the Cafeteria at Baiseitova Str. 32, on the corner of Kurmangazy - serious coffee and a cosmopolitan atmosphere - take your time. When you're done head up by bus number 6 (stops in front of the Hotel Kazakhstan) or by taxi to Medeo, up in the mountains to the south of the city. From there take the cable car to Shymbulak and the Talgar Pass (3200 m) to take in the amazing mountain scenery and the views back over Almaty.
From Shymbulak ski station go back to the city for lunch. Almaty is definitely one of Central Asia's better eating cities, but don't expect prices to be all that cheap - Kazakhstan is the richest of the Central Asian republics and has a sizeable middle class who like to eat out. We would recommend Wild Asia and Argento for international food, and Tiubiteyka for local food.
To work off the food I would walk to Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral (officially known as Ascension Cathedral), both in the centre of the city. Panfilov has some interesting war memorials and is good for people watching. Zenkov is made completely of wood - without nails - and is an icon of the city. Not far away is the renowned Museum of National Musical Instruments - probably the country's best museum.
Rounding off the afternoon, head back to the Hotel Kazakhstan. Behind the hotel, to the right hand side is the cable car station to Koktobe Hill. You can get an amazing sunset view from here - like LA, the air quality means stunning colours!
Two alternative ideas if you need a few extra activities - firstly explore the new metro system. It only has seven stations, so will only a take a short time. Or head for the Arasan Baths - a real downtown banya with birch leaves for sale.
Kazakhstan is one of our more popular destinations. Check out our Kazakhstan country page with details of what do and see. All trips created by our local travel companies are 100% bespoke and unique to you. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.