Destinations for city breaks in Kazakhstan: Vacationing Big City Style

Destinations for city breaks in Kazakhstan: Vacationing Big City Style

City Break

Top five biggest and most interesting cities of Kazakhstan, where you can definitely spend an unforgettable vacation

So, what’s a city break? Of course, it is all about shopping, visiting museums, exhibitions, parks, modern malls and classy restaurants. Sometimes we are so keen to have a drive, feel new feelings, meet new acquaintances and ways to move!

Nur-Sultan (Astana)


Nur-Sultan shines night and day. It is the city of culture, history and modern technology. Towering architectural achievements embody all the futuristic ideas of the best architects. Street-lamps light the night while statues overlook huge paved squares that are perfect for interludes between restaurants and bars spread throughout the city.


Make sure you walk along the Nurjol Boulevard in close proximity to many coffee shops and bars. When you take a city break here, these are the places you should visit:

  • Khan Shatyr is not just an unusual mall, but one of the top 10 world’s best eco-buildings! There is even a real garden, a lake and a beach. All this beauty with Maldivian sand, tropical palm trees and plants is located under the dome of the building; while downstairs you can enjoy up-market shopping at luxury stores, visit restaurants and even go on the rides.
  • Nur Alem Museum of Future Energy. Powered by autonomous solar and wind turbine generated electricity, this is the only building in the world in the form of a sphere with a diameter of 80 meters. There are 8 floors, each representing a certain scientific concept beginning with the energy of water and ending up with the energy of space. This Museum is the heritage of the World exhibition EXPO-2017.
  • Duman Aquarium . Here you can enjoy the atmosphere of an underwater kingdom. See more than 100 different species of sea inhabitants, including a 70m shark tunnel. Buy unique souvenirs or come face to face with exotic reptiles of the present and past as well!
  • Modern Art Museum. Form opinions about artists who have not made it into the history books (yet). Welcome to the home of very unusual creative works straight from the hearts and minds of our contemporaries. You will have plenty to discuss afterwards when you visit...
  • Nur-Sultan’s Finest Restaurants. Here you can find everything from steakhouses to sushi bars. There is something for every taste: begin city break expeditions in comfy bakeries where you can enjoy succulent breakfasts with pastries and coffee; break for lunch at atmospheric cafes combining several influences at once, and dine at restaurants serving the finest Asian and European cuisines.
  • The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is better known as the Pyramid. Here, you can visit the Kulanshi Center of Contemporary Art on the sixth floor and appreciate the original lithographs of Dali, Picasso and Chagall.
  • Bayterek Tower. Must-visit for any traveler in Nur-Sultan. A beautiful view of the city, opened from a 100-meter height, is enough to go and see it.
  • Astana Opera. Elegant interior, rich repertoire and perfect sound will impress fans of live music.

Of course, it is only a small sampling of the places that you can visit during your vacation in Nur-Sultan. You can start from them and find many more interesting locations as you explore.

For your information: the city is most convenient to travel by bus, but be aware, cashless payment (transport card can be purchased in the terminal) is 90 tenge, by cash you will have to pay 180, express bus is 250 tenge. Taxi will cost from 700 tenge and higher. CityPass tourist card will be an excellent option to save time and money. With this card you can buy tickets to various attractions of the city without leaving your home, saving up to 50%. Besides, the card can be delivered directly to the hotel, apartment, or wherever else you want. For accommodation you can rent a nice apartment or a hotel room. Prices will be more or less the same starting from 7000 tenge per day.

Almaty


Whereas the atmosphere of Nur-Sultan seems to be cool, sparkling and incredibly mobile, Almaty - ever busy megapolis - is warmer (both morally and physically). You can hide yourself from the noise in quiet back streets, but if you wish to join the massive flow of people surging through main thoroughfares, just go to the widest avenues of the city. There, hundreds of decorations shine, sculptures stand sentry over thousands of different restaurants, boutiques, souvenir stands, coffee shops and other interesting places attracting those with luxurious tastes. There is something for everyone. Almaty is one of the best locations for a city break. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Of course, if you come here for the first time, you just have to visit extremely popular places such as The Botanical Garden, Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen, The Green Bazaar, The Zoo, Aquarium and Aqua Park. And don't forget to take the cableway to the top of Kok Tobe Mountain. The views are worth the 2000 tenge (about 5 USD) you’ll pay to get there and back.
  • Almaty has every bit the romantic gravitas of Paris or New York City. With your beloved, you can visit The Alley of Love, The Bridge of Love, Nedelka Fountain, The Bench of Reconciliation on Gogol Street and many more.
  • Also we recommend you to visit Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Abay, if you love cultural recreation and aesthetic pleasure. Its elegant atmosphere will amaze, and performances from elite entertainers will make you fall in love with Opera and Ballet again.
  • Almaty’s nightlife has something for every taste: there is an endless array of bars, hookah bars, pubs and nightclubs, where the most fashionable DJs of the country can be found. Everyone knows how to have fun here.
  • There are also no barriers for gastro tourism here: you can taste any cuisine you want, and believe me, you will find a place that you will be happy about! Restaurants of Chinese, Korean, Italian, Georgian, Russian and many other cuisines of the world will surprise even real gourmets with their dishes.
  • If you come here to have some laughs and fun times with your friends, you can go to drive a car on a two-level karting, play paintball, billiards, bowling, take part in various quest rooms, and sing karaoke.
  • In a few kilometers from the city there are the main landmarks of Almaty - Medeu Skating Rink and Shymbulak Ski Resort. In winter, you can rent skates on Medeu (We don't think you travel with them) and enjoy a ride on the perfect ice, watching the majestic mountains, which look like a ring surrounding the rink. If you want more extreme experiences, just go to Shymbulak; there is everything you need to become a snowboarder or skier, even if you have never done it before. In addition, a spectacular view of the mountains and the valley, overgrown with tall Tien Shan firs, is opened from the observation platforms here. You can take hot coffee and a snack in a fast food cafe, or sit comfortably in a luxurious restaurant in Shymbulak – everything is up to you.



For your information: in general, as you may have understood, Almaty has absolutely everything for cultural and leisure activities. If you drive a car, just be ready for frequent traffic jams and dashing drivers. It is quite comfortable to travel by bus, but bear in mind: payment by electronic cards or phone number costs about 80 tenge; in cash, 150 tenge. The cost of good accommodation, as in Nur-Sultan (Astana), starts from 7-8 thousand tenge and higher, depending on the level of comfort you want.

Shymkent


Sunny, hot and always in a hurry, Shymkent leaves dual impressions. At first, it just overtakes you with its heat, always keeping you on the move. In the evening, everything seems to be even faster, but this rhythm already becomes pleasant and usual; the heat falls off, the lights come up and a real oriental fairy tale begins. There are a huge number of sacred historical places, monumental architecture and Turkic heritage in the region. All of it is intertwined with the most modern constructions, huge buildings, spacious alleys, all of which in no way detract from the flavor of the ancient places. Shymkent, in all modesty, is a very prosperous city; wealth is everywhere starting from spacious roads, new shopping malls, excellent restaurants, clubs, museums and neat parks. This city is a hidden gem soon to be found! We recommend you visit the following places:

  • Make sure you walk in at least three of the seven large Shymkent parks: Dendrological Park, Independence Park, and Abay Park. Here you can see different animals, to touch the nature markedly different from the nature of the capital or Almaty.
  • If you are a fan of shopping, branded stores and rest in huge malls in general, then you are welcome to stylish Shymkent Plaza, Mega Shymkent and TSUM.
  • Shoppers for oriental flavor and spicy notes welcome to the real oriental bazaars. Here you can feel like a member of the trade at the time of the Great Silk Way: hectic lifestyle is everywhere; the market stalls are bursting with all sorts of things, and you will find a huge selection of goods that you have not seen before. If you would like to buy sweets, spices, dried fruits and other delicacies, just go to the Upper Market. Bekjan Bazaar will please you with clothes and textiles for every taste and color (we advise you to bargain, look for cheaper and don't take all at once, because the quality doesn't always depend on the price). If you are looking for gold, silver, bronze, modern and antique, as well as stylized antique jewelry just visit Samal Bazaar (and make sure you bargain!).
  • The abundance of various cafes and restaurants will also please you: there are hundreds of them, and the prices are so pleasant and democratic that you can go to different places for breakfast, lunch and dinner and taste as many real Shymkent and Central Asia dishes as possible.

Summing up, Shymkent is a wonderful place for vacation both with family and with friends. Here you can profitably make a lot of purchases, try out a lot of delicacies, admire nature and cultural monuments, visit various entertainment venues and get home perfectly happy.

For your information: in general, Shymkent is much cheaper than Almaty and Nur-Sultan (Astana). Bus fare is around 80 tenge, rent an apartment or a hotel room will cost from 5000 tenge per day and higher, it all depends on how much you are ready to pay for your own comfort. The prices in cafes and restaurants will be almost the same as in stores. In general, Shymkent vacation is very yummy, warm and memorable. It’s very cozy. It is like your home, that you want to come back and where you are loved and always waited for.

Aktau


Aktau is a wonderful bright city as well as the one and only port city in Kazakhstan. The climate here is harsh and sharply continental; the influence of the desert climate zone is felt. Summer is very hot (the water temperature in July reaches up to + 26 degrees!) with a long swimming season (from May to October) and a cold winter. In just 50 years of its history Aktau has become one of the largest regional centers of the country, with a lot of attractions, unusual modern buildings, developed industry and infrastructure. Even though it is not officially considered as a resort area, thousands of travelers come here every year, because there is always something to see and do! For your convenience we have compiled a list of places to visit during the vacation.

In just 50 years of its history Aktau has become one of the largest regional centers of the country, with a lot of attractions, unusual modern buildings, developed industry and infrastructure. Even though it is not officially considered as a resort area, thousands of travelers come here every year, because there is always something to see and do! For your convenience we have compiled a list of places to visit during the vacation:

  • First of all, we recommend you to visit the Sea port to feel the atmosphere of the city. Here you can see huge super-heavy cargo ships, barges, tankers, oil tankers and much more. It is full of very impressive sights.
  • Then you can go to see the lighthouse located in the micro-district #4. This lighthouse is unique in that it was built on the roof of an apartment complex.
  • During an evening walk through the city, make sure you go and see the majestic mosque, with its snow-white color and blue domes, illuminated by hundreds of lights.
  • In Aktau, you can also recover your health in the hot geothermal spring with mineral water, located in the territory of the local recreation center.
  • Also you can contact various travel agencies, which organize very interesting tours to historical and simply amazing natural attractions near Aktau. For example, trips to Tamshaly Canyon, underground mosques, Torysh - the Valley of Balls, Mount Sherkala, Ustyurt Plateau and many others.

For your information: to get around Aktau is cheaper than in any other city of Kazakhstan, the bus fare is only 50 tenge, but to rent an apartment or a room in a good hotel will be more expensive - from 8000 tenge and higher, depending on the level of comfort. In summer it is very hot, and you should be prepared for constant thirst - have your bottle of water with you at all times. Interesting fact is that addresses in Aktau are mainly consist of numbers; so it will be quite easy to understand.