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Best attractions in Kazakhstan: Top 25

Kazakhstan is a large country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, which is always welcoming its guests, attracting them with its rich nature and ancient monuments. In this beautiful and colorful country, hundreds of cultures and nationalities have harmoniously coexisted for centuries, giving its image a unique versatility. The sights of Kazakhstan include natural and man-made, historical and modern monuments, which are concentrated in this land in abundance. One of the main treasures of the country is the boundless steppes, preserving countless artifacts of antiquity. Everyone finds something to see in Kazakhstan, discovering something new and special here.

What to see in Kazakhstan first

It is recommended to plan the route in advance in order to make your future trip well-coordinated and organized. To make the right choice, what to see in Kazakhstan in 1 day, a week or other period, you should familiarize yourself with the best attractions of the country and read the recommendations given in this article.

1. Astana-Baiterek Monument

Flower Alleys in Front of Astana-Baiterek Monument

Astana-Baiterek, one of the main symbols of the country representing its prosperity and well-being, opens the ranking. According to the idea of architects, this landmark of Kazakhstan has embodied in itself the idea of a three-tiered Peace Tree symbolizing the antagonism of good and evil and uniting the world of the dead, the world of the living and the heaven. In the lower level of the structure is a cafe, an art gallery and a large aquarium with fish. The middle level of the monument is a high tower with modern high-speed elevators. The upper level is designed as a huge glass ball, from the inside of which there is a beautiful panoramic view of the surroundings of Astana.

2. Khan Shatyr

The Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment center at night

In the short years of its existence, the Khan Shatyr Shopping and Entertainment Center has become a popular attraction, to which entire tours in Kazakhstan are organized. A huge 150-meter “tent” of the shopping center is already visible from afar, organically entering into the architecture of surrounding buildings. Once inside, you can spend almost the whole day - there are so many interesting things concentrated on the Khan Shatyr squares. These are numerous stores, restaurants, Internet cafes, greenhouse, a huge parking lot and even a large water park with three pools and a real sand “beach.

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3. Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum

Architectural complex of the XIV century in the time of Emir Timur

Among other attractions guides in Kazakhstan recommend visiting this most important shrine on the vast steppes of southern Kazakhstan. The mausoleum was built in honor of the famous poet Ahmed Yasawi in 1405 in the place where his modest tomb used to be. Over time, this architectural ensemble combined a variety of premises - a tomb, a mosque, a library, a pantheon of Kazakh khans with 43 tombstones, a bathhouse, and various auxiliary rooms.

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4. Baikonur cosmodrome

Proton Rocket Launcher at Baikonur Cosmodrome

For many decades, the Baikonur Cosmodrome has been and remains the world’s main site for the launch of spacecraft. It was from here that the first man flew into space, the first artificial satellite, the famous manned spacecraft and orbital stations, and other spacecrafts that still prowl the vast expanse of the solar system. There is no doubt that a visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is among the first to go - this trip will leave the most extraordinary memories.

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5. Museum of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The main entrance to the Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

This museum stands out from other museums in the capital Astana, and above all because its halls once housed the residence of the first president of the country. Today in the museum you can see the originals of the most important archival documents, valuable books, awards and other exhibits that have some relation to the history of the country. There are also regularly held photo exhibitions and exhibitions devoted to political and scientific activities.

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Be sure to watch this beautiful video about Kazakhstan!

6. Palace of Independence in Astana

A place for conferences, international meetings and forums Alex J. Butler

Guests of Astana sometimes surprised by the large number of buildings with an unusual architectural execution. Feedback suggests that the Palace of Independence belongs to such buildings. In fact, this building does not correspond to the classical idea of the castle. Trapezoidal construction of glass and metal bars, according to architects, symbolizes Kazakhstan and rapidly developing Astana. The palace has three floors, on the first of which halls for important business events are located, on the second - galleries with expositions of modern art, on the third - the historical museum of Astana.

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7. Palace of Peace and Harmony

Park and entrance to the Palace of Peace and Harmony Ninaras

Returning to the question of what to see in Kazakhstan, being in its capital, we can recommend the Palace of Peace and Harmony, another landmark of Kazakhstan from the category of unusual architectural structures. The building is in a futuristic style in the form of a regular pyramid 62 meters high, the facets of which symbolize the openness of the Kazakh people to all nations and religions. Inside the structure there is an Opera Hall and several presentation halls, various official meetings, presentations and marriage ceremonies are held.

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8. Map of Kazakhstan “Atameken”

Map of Kazakhstan "Atameken" - sights of Kazakhstan Ethno-memorial complex “Map of Kazakhstan “Atameken” Alex J. Butler

It’s hard to imagine, but to go around all of Kazakhstan, to see its interesting places and main sights is possible in just one hour - it is enough just to be in the unique historical and ethnographic complex “Map of Kazakhstan Atameken”. The park spreads over an area of 1.7 ha and presents a model of the whole country: on an area the size of two soccer fields there are endless fields and steppes of Kazakhstan, ancient temples and other major sites, marked all the regions of the country and the location of the two major cities of the country - Almaty and Astana.

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9. Almaty Zoo

Verglades in the enclosure of the Almaty Zoo

There is something to see in Kazakhstan for lovers of wildlife - spacious Almaty Zoo has become a home for 5,600 specimens of different animals, of which there are about 3.5 hundred species, including 28 species listed in the Red Book. These include the animals of the African continent, the tropics, and Kazakh steppes, which are distributed on the territory of the zoo into 6 different sections. Four sections are devoted to animals, and two more - to feathered inhabitants, exotic and local. There is also an aquarium with sea creatures, an exotarium with amphibians and insects.

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10. Sport Complex Medeo

The ice rink of the high mountain sports complex - "Medeo"

The mountain gorge Medeo is a sports complex of the same name, the highest mountain sports complex in the world, designed for winter sports. This is a true paradise for active tourists - for example, a huge ice rink with the area of 10.5 thousand square meters became a place of numerous world records, and was awarded the status of “record factory” for it. The modern rope way, 4.5 km long, allows getting up from the Chimbulak base to the ski piste for 15 minutes, and Medeo stadium can accommodate up to 8,500 people at a time.

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11. Nur-Astana Mosque

The Nur-Astana Mosque with a fountain in the foreground

Where to go in Kazakhstan from religious shrines? One such attraction is the Nur-Astana Mosque in Astana, a modern structure from 2005 that strikes both with its exterior and interior splendor. The snow-white building is topped with a huge gilded dome and its four minarets reach 62 meters into the air. The internal premises with the area of several thousand square meters can accommodate up to 5 thousand worshipers at a time. Around the mosque there is a spacious courtyard with a big bowl of fountain.

12. The Beket Ata Underground Mosque

The Road to Beket-ata Underground Mosque Ashina

One of the most revered Kazakh people was the famous hermit Beket-ata, who passed many roads during his earthly journey and built four mosques. One of these mosques, carved out in the Oglandy tract right in a rock, has become one of Kazakhstan’s significant landmarks and a famous place of pilgrimage. Locals say that after visiting the tomb of the saint, believers are granted a cure for any ailments. The mosque has four rooms that are arranged so as to create perfect audibility during the recitation of prayers.

13. Khazret Sultan Mosque

View of Khazret Sultan Mosque

The largest sanctuary in Kazakhstan is located in its capital and is called Hazret Sultan. This is a modern landmark of Kazakhstan, the countdown of the history of which began not so long ago - in 2012. Both exterior and interior decoration of the mosque attracts its airiness, solemnity, gorgeous paintings and volumetric decor. The internal prayer halls of the mosque can accommodate 10 thousand worshippers, and the total area of the shrine is as much as 11 hectares. The structure is especially beautiful at night, when each of its tiers is advantageously emphasized by night illumination.

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14. Ascension Cathedral in Almaty

Facade of the Holy Voznesensky Cathedral in Almaty

Another religious landmark in Kazakhstan is the Ascension Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its unique feature is that it was built of wood at the beginning of the 20th century, and even a major earthquake did not shake the strength of the structure. Today this wooden structure knows no equals not only in Kazakhstan, but all over the world. The cathedral still shines with its splendor and colorfulness, and daily services are held in its halls, symbolizing the indomitable power of faith.

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15. Arystan-Baba Mausoleum

The Arystan-Baba Mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims

There is something to visit in Kazakhstan and among the funerary structures - 150 kilometers from the city of Shymkent there is a mausoleum, erected on the tomb of the famous spiritual preacher Arystan-Baba. The building consists of a mausoleum and a funeral hall, united between a wide corridor. In the shrine, in addition to the tombstone of the spiritual master, there are tombstones of his three followers. And the mosque houses the prayer hall and various auxiliary rooms.

16. Aksu-Zhabagli Reserve

Margin on the slopes of the mountains of Aksu-Zhabagly Reserve Tomiris

In addition to the cultural and historical attractions, there is something to see in Kazakhstan among the numerous natural monuments. The Aksu-Jabagly Reserve is an unbelievably beautiful place, where all the splendor of mountain nature can be seen: snowy caps of the highest mountain peaks, breathtaking gorges, rushing waterfalls, and alpine meadows. The lands of these territories are rich in fossil remains of plants and animals of the Jurassic period. The flora of the reserve today is varied and includes more than 1700 plant species, and among the animals the most populous is the fauna of birds - there are about three hundred of them.

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17. Altyn-Emel National Park

Landscape of Altyn-Emel National Park

The largest nature conservation area in Kazakhstan, Altyn-Emel National Park, is located in the desert and mountain areas of the country. It is here that the famous Singing Barkhan, the unusual Katutau and Aktau mountains, as well as the famous Sak barrows are located. This land beckons with amazing landscapes, clear mountain air and numerous monuments of antiquity. Another attraction of the park - radon springs with warm healing waters.

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18. Singing Barkhan of Altyn-Emel Reserve

Singing Barkhan - a natural phenomenon of the Altyn-Emel Reserve

Altyn-Emel National Park is so big that some of its objects are perceived as unique landmarks of Kazakhstan. This applies to the singing barkhan - a sand dune about a hundred meters high and more than 3 kilometers long. The barkhan was formed by the constant wind Shilik, which walks in this area. It is called a singing dune because its quicksand emits a unique vibrating hum that somehow resembles the sound of an organ. The hum is the result of sand grains rubbing against each other.

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19. Tamgaly Tas Petroglyphs

Stone drawings found in the Tamgaly tract

Lovers of mysticism and all kinds of mysteries of nature will find something to see in Kazakhstan - the territory of the republic is rich in anomalous zones. Tamgaly-Tas tract is one of such places. This unusual place consists of sheer cliffs, many of which are completely covered with mysterious inscriptions and drawings, which attract not only tourists but also scientists. Experts are still beating the riddle, who were these masters, who left the descendants of the rock messages.

20. Borovoe resort (Burabay)

Natural beauty of Borovoe (Burabay)

Akmola region is distinguished by the extraordinary beauty of the landscape and a comfortable climate. That is why the resort Borovoye, often called the “pearl of Kazakhstan”, is located here. It’s a beautiful oasis of blue lakes framed by high mountains and century-old pines. Sanatoriums of the resort offer a whole complex of health-improving services: mud treatment, balneological procedures, treatment in salt mines, radon therapy, etc. Besides sanatoriums, Borovoe has the best hotels in Kazakhstan, which offer a high level of services at affordable prices.

Sightseeing in Kazakhstan: what else to see in Kazakhstan

The Republic of Kazakhstan is rich in sights, and even a seasoned traveler familiar with this land will always find something to see in Kazakhstan. Below is an overview, which includes descriptions of other, no less interesting places in the country.

21. Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake and Snowy Peak of the Soviets

Not far from Almaty there is a real miracle of nature - a high-mountain lake framed by snow-capped mountain peaks, one of the most beautiful places in Kazakhstan at an altitude of 2,500 meters. Everyone, who has been to this unreal by its beauty place, come back here again and again. The main mystery of the lake is a variable color of water, from light greenish to deep turquoise. Another peculiarity of the lake is sharp seasonal drops of water, which can reach 20 meters.

22. Lake Balkhash

Balkhash Lake and the Bektau-ata mountain range at sunset

The largest lake in the Republic of Kazakhstan is Lake Balkhash, which stretches for 600 km in length. The numerous beaches of the lake are covered with sand and are ideal for recreation from May to September. The main unique peculiarity of this lake is that its waters are of different compositions: the lake water area is divided into parts by a narrow strait, fresh waters fill the western part and salty waters the eastern one. The salty waters and mud of Balkhash have properties beneficial to the human body.

23. Aral Sea

Ship cemetery on the Aral Sea

Another landmark of Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea, is unique in that it is essentially a salt lake, and is called a sea because of its impressive size. Alas, this lake is now known not only for its size - it is notorious for human activities, namely the systematic withdrawal of water from the rivers that feed the lake. This has led to the fact that in the 1960s the lake began to dry up rapidly. Today the area and volume of water of the Aral Sea decreased several times, the area of lifeless desert in its place is rapidly growing, and since 1989 the Aral split up into two reservoirs - the Northern and Southern Aral Sea.

24. Charyn Canyon

Charyn Canyon is the most beautiful natural monument

The nature of Kazakhstan is diverse, and this diversity is complemented by the picturesque 154-kilometer gorge - Charyn Canyon, stretching along the valley of the Charyn River. It was this river that for several million years has been chiseling the gorge in the rock, creating a unique landscape in this area. Today the canyon has a relief that surprises with its diversity - bizarre rock shapes, steep slopes, steeps, hills, arches and columns attract attention and resemble some kind of sculpture-monsters.

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25. Lake Issyk

Scenery of the high mountain Lake Issyk

In a mountain gorge east of Alma-Ata lies Lake Issyk, a landmark in Kazakhstan that has, along with the Aral Sea, its own sad fame. The population of Kazakhstan still remembers the tragedy of 1963, when a mudflow from the mountains knocked down the lake’s natural dam, emptying it literally in a matter of hours. After a while Issyk managed to be restored, an artificial dam was installed, but the lake has not reached its former size - today it is half its original size.

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Modern trends in tourism suggest that trips to countries of the former Soviet Union are gaining popularity, and Kazakhstan is no exception. Excursions to Kazakhstan with a Russian-speaking guide will allow you to get acquainted with the sunny and hospitable country, appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the Kazakh land. Read also about the best sights of Tajikistan and be inspired for your further journey through Asia!