Built by the Russians as a border fortress in 1854, the city went through a period of rapid development after Kazakhstan seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991, and it became a popular destination for travelers, thanks to its charming scenery. The name of the city, Almaty, comes from Alma-ata, which means ancestor of the apple in Kazakh. Along with its reputation for the apple orchards that once surrounded it, the city is now very popular for its well-preserved nature and its cultural fabric, reminiscent of its Soviet past. Some of the historic apple orchards are still there for you to enjoy if you are a fan of the scent of apples. Kazakh and Russian are the main languages spoken in Almaty, but since it is a major touristic center, a considerable portion of the locals do speak English, and you do not have to worry about not being able to communicate. Winters in Almaty are fairly cold, but the spring and the summer seasons are very temperate and warm. If you are not fond of cold weather, plan your trip for the summer months.
|ALMATY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (ALA)||MAIN TERMINAL|
Pegasus has evening flights to Almaty, which shares a border with China. Traveling with an Istanbul–Almaty flight ticket, you arrive at Almaty International Airport in the early morning hours after a night flight. When your plane lands, you can get to the city by taking a taxi, because the buses do not start running until after 7 a.m. The airport is 15 kilometers from the city, and keep in mind that you can make affordable deals with the taxis lined-up at the airport.
Transportation in Almaty is very comfortable, thanks to its well-developed public transportation system. You can choose between taking a tram, a bus or the subway get to anywhere in the city. If you would like to travel more comfortably, taxis are whizzing through the streets of the city twenty-four hours a day.
Most Kazakhs, especially those who live in the rural areas, make their living from animal husbandry. This led to a meat-oriented food culture in Kazakhistan, but you need to be aware of one thing: Kazakhs frequently use horse meat in their dishes. This applies to Almaty cuisine as well, which derives from Kazakh cuisine and meat dishes in most restaurants are prepared with horse meat.
Almaty food and drink culture is very rich. While you can experience new and local flavors if you like to, those who do not want to break their dietary habits will not have trouble. Almaty hosts many world-famous fast-food and cafe chains, but you should give the local dishes a chance if you do eat meat.
Pastries are another important element of Kazakh cuisine : beshparmak is a must-try for pastry lovers. Another pastry called bavursak, very similar to the Turkish pişi, is also very popular. Lamb is another important ingredient in Almaty cuisine, and the traditional lamb stew with vegetables is a favorite.
Serving its guests an elegant menu enriched with Eastern European delicacies, the prices at Daredzhani may come off as a bit expensive at first, but do not rush your decision. Finish your meal first, and then see what you think.
Address: Kunayeva Street, 85
At Tiubiteyka where selections from the Central Asian cuisine offer a feast for the guests, make sure to try the pastry, plof.
Address: Satpaeva Street, 32 A/1
Decorated like a Russian aristocrat’s residence, you must try Gosti if you want to experience Russian dishes. You should try one of their smoked fish dishes, which are truly delicious.
Address: Kunayeva Street, 78
If you would like to go for familiar tastes in a relatively more European venue, you might want to give My Café a try for its easily accessible central location. The prices are on the more expensive side, but the quality of the service and its cozy atmosphere are absolutely worth it.
Address: Furmanova Street, 128/104
If you are craving a well-baked pizza with crispy crust, set your sails towards Mamamia. The restaurant's menu offers a lot of delicious salads as well, presenting ample alternatives for vegetarians.
Address: Gogolya, 72
Kazakhs love shopping, and Almaty, the most touristic place in the country, is also a real trade center. Shopping in Almaty ranges from immense complexes that bring together world-famous brands to small local shops. Trying to find souvenirs in Almaty may be a bit exhausting, since the vast variety of souvenirs the city offers make it very hard to pick one. You can get an authentic souvenir like local Kazakh garments and hand-made objects, or you can always opt for something more modern from the many shopping centers in the city.
If you are looking for places to visit in Almaty for shopping, make sure to visit the Gogol and Zhibek Zholy neighborhoods. Shopping is busiest in these areas.
To experience the local culture, you must visit Zelvony Bazaar first. The bazaar contains restaurants that serve delicious meals, designers offering inexpensive gifts and greengrocers with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Address: Zhibek Zholy
One of the largest shopping centers in Almaty, Dostyk offers a leisurely shopping experience with famous brand-name stores, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets.
Address: Samal-2, 111
In addition to popular brands and restaurants, you can find the most prestigious hair salon in Almaty at TSUM.
Address: Abylay Khana Avenue, 62
Villa Boutiques & Restaurants
A shopping district that hosts high quality brands as well as Chinese and Italian restaurants.
Address: Al- Farabi Avenue, 140A
Arvest Art Gallery
Full of elegant works of art crafted imaginatively by local artists, Arvess is an art gallery whose kind and friendly owner will welcome you graciously. It is the best place to find a stylish Almaty souvenir.
Address: Bogenbai Batyra, 75/68
Downtown Almaty is where the heart of the city beats. Keep that in mind when you are planning your accommodation in Almaty. If you are planning a visit that involves a lot of shopping, try to book a central location. However, the prices of Almaty hotels in the city center are higher. If you are visiting Almaty to see its charming natural beauties, you might want to choose one of the more affordable hotels or hostels scattered around the entire city.
If you would like to spend your vacation in Almaty in the most luxurious hotel with the most professional staff in the city, you should head to Rixos. The world-renowned hotel chain offers its guests many facilities such as a spa center, a pool, and jacuzzis. And, as a bonus, it is located right in the heart of the city.
Address: Seifullina Avenue, 506
The Ritz-Carlton Almaty
One of the highest quality hotel chains in the world, the Ritz-Carlton has a branch in Almaty. The hotel’s upper floors offer a great view, and it caters to its guests’ every need, including a pool, a spa and a fitness center.
Address: Esentai Tower 77/7
If you would like to stay at a relatively more affordable boutique hotel located near the city's center, D'Rami is here to answer all your needs. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, but has only 4 rooms, so do not forget to make your reservation in advance.
Address: Abylai Hana Avenue, 123
With its location near historic and touristic spots, Kazzhol is another nice place to stay in Almaty. In addition to its small pool and its fitness center, the hotel is also recommended for its cleanliness and friendly staff.
Address: Gogolya Street, 127/1
Rahat Palace Hotel
One of Almaty’s hotels with Turkish management, Rahat Palace Hotel offers its guests affordable prices, charming Soviet architecture and a courteous staff. The hotel's location is not right downtown, but, thanks to the abundance of taxis, this is not an inconvenience.
Address: Akademika Satpayeva Avenue, 29/6
Places to Visit in Almaty
There are too many places to visit in Almaty to list, so, the best course of action is to make a plan beforehand and work out a route accordingly. The tourist attractions in Almaty are surrounded by malls and parks that display the modern face of the city, and monuments and structures resonating with history behind them. The city’s skyscrapers also provide great insight into Almaty architecture’s development.
Located right in the heart of the city, this square is the host of national holiday celebrations and the occasional festival. One of the symbols of Almaty, the Independence Monument is located in the center of the square, and provides a great backdrop for your snapshots.
Located in the center of the city and home to many cultural sites and scenic beauties, Panfilov Park is also known as the Park of the 28 Panfilov Guards. This name was given to the park to commemorate 28 Kazakh soldiers who fell while fighting the Nazis, while Panfilov is the name of the famous Soviet soldier who led them in battle.
Located 3 hours away from Almaty, you can behold the stone tablets of ancient civilizations in this historic location.
Known as the second tallest wooden structure of the world, this incredible cathedral is located in Panfilov Park.
Cathedral of Saint Nicholas
Seen as an important place of worship by the Orthodox Church, this cathedral enchants its visitors with its golden domes. To see the cathedral at its most colorful, visit it on Easter.
Address: Baitursynova Street, 56/5
Built upon the highest hill of Almaty, Kök-Töbe is accessible by aerial tram. The city’s tallest building, the Television Tower, is located here.
Address: Dostyk Avenue, 104A
Country Code: +7
Fire Department: 101
Airport: +7 (727) 270-33-33
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