Almaty – jewel of Central Asia

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Beautiful Almaty, Kazakhstan


During the last twenty plus years while living in Seattle, I was able to go back to Almaty 3 times and my very last trip to the city was in May 2015. What made this journey so distinct was that this time we have traveled together as a family and I finally had an opportunity to introduce my beloved city to my wife and my daughter.

In my honest opinion, Almaty is the most beautiful city in Central Asia and was the very first town that I have traveled to.

In other words I was born in this fabulous city and have lived there until me and my family have immigrated to Seattle in September of 1994.

Some facts about the city of Almaty

Almaty (formerly known as Alma-Ata) is the largest city in Kazakhstan and despite losing its status as the capital to Astana, Almaty remains the major commercial and cultural center of Kazakhstan. The name “Alma-Ata” is derived from two Kazakh words “Alma” which translates as apple and “Ata” which translates as father, so together it means “father of apples“.

Almaty was founded in 1854 as Russian frontier fort called Verny. Many Chinese,  Cossacks and Siberian peasants started to settle around the fort. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was a place of exile and the most famous outcast was Leon Trotsky.

In 1927, Almaty became the capital of Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.

In 1991 Almaty was the place for the meeting at which the USSR was finally pronounced dead, when all five Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union together with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Russian, Ukraine and Belarus joined the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

Almaty lost its status as capital of Kazakhstan in 1998.


Almaty is loaded with extremely friendly people (which are much more friendlier that people in some other Republics of the former Soviet Union), beautiful parks, dozens of world class shopping malls, hundreds of restaurants, cafes and public markets (bazaars) and many many other kinds of places where tourists can fulfill their entertainment thirsts.  

The uniqueness of Almaty is that the city is situated in the foothills of the Zailiysky Alatau which is part of the Northern Tian Shan mountain system in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Combination of mountains and tall buildings creates impressive and breathtaking sight and forms a stunning skyline of the city.

Some views of Almaty skyline




Almaty, Kazakhstan


Almaty Skyline




Almaty, Kazakhstan




I can boast about Almaty skyline all day long but enough about that and let me tell you more about our trip and the places we have visited.

Before this recent trip, my previous visit to Almaty was accomplished in 2004 and honestly not much has changed since.

Here are the changes that I have certainly observed since my last journey 11 years ago.

More tall buildings, more cars, more traffic jams, more churches, more mosques, couple of new freeways, and the biggest newbie structure was…



Construction of the Almaty Metro began in September 1988 when Kazakhstan was still part of the Soviet Union. However, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, funds from Moscow dried u and the new Kazakhstani government was unable to continue construction.

In 2003, the government of Kazakhstan laid out a new development initiative which included government funds for continued construction on the metro and by 2005 the project has restarted.

The first section of the Metro opened in December 2011 with initially five stations and one more section with two stations was added to the system in April 2015.


For me it was simply a MUST to try the long awaited Almaty Metro
And to my surprise it turned out to be world class subway system
Photos of Almaty’s Subway System










More photos and Videos


Taxi drivers at the airport are playing chess while waiting for the clients

2015-05-10 23.01.41


First President’s Park

2015-05-23 04.26.49


Kazakh Yurts

Kazakh Yurts


One of the Orthodox Churches


One guy is selling Peacocks on the side of the road: Asking price was $1000.00 per one (I am NOT kidding)

Selling Peacock


Iconic Television Tower


Security guy at the construction site

2015-05-26 17.03.38


Famous Cathedral at Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen Park

Cathedral at Panfilov's 28 Guardsmen Park


View of Almaty from airplane


Since Almaty is situated at the base of a mountain range, winter sports and activities are very popular among local residents and tourists.

Two most famous mountain attractions in Almaty are
Sports Complex Medeu


Ski Resort Chimbulak (Горнолыжный курорт Чимбулак)

The Medeu, is an outdoor speed skating and bandy rink.

It is located in a mountain valley on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Medeu sits 1,691 metres above sea level, making it the highest skating rink in the world.

Ski Resort Chimbulak is further up the valley located at 2200 meters (7220 feet) above see level and it is Central Asia’s top skiing resort.

Both Medeu and Chimbulak are connected by the road and a cable car which was installed in 2011 and before cable car option Ski Resort could be reached on by cars or by hiking.

Here are some photos of MEDEO and Chimbulak







On the way to Ski Resort Chimbulak via cable car









One of the mountain rivers

mountain river


Very famous Central Asian food – LULYA KEBAB (ШАШЛЫК)

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One of many mosques in the city


Another Orthodox Church

Orthodox Church


One of the Burger King restaurants

Burger King


Cathedral at Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen Park (Парк 28-ми Панфиловцев) which always features lots of pigeons


Ski resort Chimbulak (Горнолыжный курорт Чимбулак)


Almaty – Kapchagay freeway (Капчагайская трасса)


Views of Almaty from airplane while landing at Almaty (ALA) airport


Taking off from Almaty (ALA) airport. Zailiysky Alatau mountains

I hope that after reading my post and going over photos and videos, you are going to include Almaty, Kazakhstan in your travel bucket list. 

If that is the case then feel free to contact me before you start planning trip to Kazakhstan. It would be the honor for me to help any tourist with either flight itineraries, hotels, transportation, attractions, shopping, entertainment, local markets, cafes and restaurants.

Almaty has a special place in my heart and I miss this city all the time, especially mountains and lulya kebab.

29 thoughts on “Almaty – jewel of Central Asia

  1. Wow, not to sound ignorant but I never heard of this city before but it is absolutely gorgeous. What do people do with the peacocks though? Are they pets? Haha. So glad you got to go with your family and by the way, I love Seattle!

    1. I am sorry for such a late response. Thank you for going over my post and I am so glad that you have learned so much about Almaty. Speaking off Peacocks, I assume that people (if anybody) would buy them as pets.

  2. Our 2 children are adopted from Kazachstan so we stayed for several week in this beautifull country. It was the most stressfull and most special time of our life. It’s an amazing country!

    1. I am sorry but it took me a while to respond to your comment and I want to thank you for going over my post about my beloved city of Almaty. Speaking of adapting children from Kazakhstan, it is not the best country in the world and that would include the government as well which is known for corruption (this is true for most countries that were part of former Soviet Union).
      But at the end of the day, I am so glad it worked out for you.

    1. I am so sorry for late response and thank you very much for spending time at my post. I am so glad you like the mountains. They are pretty indeed.

    1. Thank you so much Lily for taking time and going over my post. Skyline of Almaty was not as great just several years ago but now it is truly amazing.

  3. I actually am adding Almaty to my bucket list because of this post! It looks beautiful! And there is so much cool stuff to do and see. How kind of you to offer to help with itineraries, I may well take you up on that one day. Thanks for the lovely post, always great to read about a new place (especially from someone from there.)

    1. I am really sorry for late response and I am so glad that you are adding Almaty to your travel bucket list after reading my post.
      As I said, it would be an honor for me to help you with itineraries or other questions related to potential future trip to Almaty so feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, Instagram or other social media.

    1. Thank you so much for reading my post about Almaty. It is truly amazing and modern city and the mountains add special charm and unique beauty to it.

  4. I’ve never heard of this city. This post is great travel inspiration for me. You’re photos are so amazing! Thank you for sharing your beautiful to us. One day, I’ll get to see this place. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for going this post which provided you some knowledge about my beloved city and I am so glad that my story inspired you for potential trip to this place in the future.

    1. Thank you for going over my story. It is indeed lovely city to visit in Central Asia and as I said it would be an honor for me to help you with any part of planning your trip to Almaty Kazakhstan.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I have never been able to go up television tower and as far as I know no tourists allowed anywhere near the tower for security reasons.

  5. Thank you for reading my story about Almaty. The city has countless number of stunning view points and honestly it was kind of surprise for me as well to see a guy selling peacocks right on the street, especially the asking price. So, is selling of peacocks banned in Singapore?

  6. Hi Dmitriy,

    What a stunning city. And what a hometown to have grown up in, to enjoy, to see, to experience.

    I had never heard of Almaty but I sure ain’t forgetting it now. A gem indeed, a crown jewel, and those mountain backdrops are among the most gorgeous and eye-popping you will see for any city around the world. Reminds me a little of San Jose, Costa Rica but you have not snow covered mountains complementing the city there 😉

    From friendly folks, to peacock dealers (LOL), to great grilled food to amazing beauty, we will have to visit when we do our Central Asia trip down the road.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


    1. Many thanks for spending time over this post. I am so glad that you like the city and many things that it offers. Never been in Costa Rica yet but I would love to visit it one day so I would be able to compare Almaty with San Jose.
      Please fill free to contact me with any questions about Almaty during or before your Central Asia trip.


  7. Such a beautiful city. I honestly never heard of it before, but it is a good reference for another unique travel. The architecture is amazing. I have trouble adjusting that this is in Asia, Central Asia, it looks like Europe to me. But wait, they sell peacock at the side of the road? And for $1000 each? Wow, that’s totally new to me and that’s expensive! But they are beautiful so I think it is understandable. But selling them on the side of the road tho haha. Anyhow, super attractive City, the view is amazing as well from the resort. Since it almost springs you should visit Bali, get some sunshine and hang out at the beach! Rent a villa is the best deal you can get while you’re in Bali. Please do check our website and see our luxury villas! Thank you.

  8. Thank you so much for reading my post. Almaty is indeed unique, incredibly interesting with many strange aspects like selling peacock on the side of the road and absolutely amazing city, the best in Central Asia in my opinion. I have checked your site about luxury villas in Bali and definitely will consider renting a villa when I will plan for my inevitable future trip this world famous island.

  9. I went to Almaty about 5 years ago, but didnt get the opportunity to see nearly as much as you posted here. I have to say that in Central Asia, I did very much enjoy Samarkand.

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