By planning your trip to Central Asia do not hesitate to come and discover Almaty. Known as a city of high costs, Almaty in the meantime is nice place for budget tourists as well. It really has something worth a look except pricey restaurants and expensive ski resorts.
Here is a compilation on 10 places to see in Almaty and do not spend tones of money.
Address: Zhybek Zholy avenue, between Ablay Khan and Konayev str.
What to enjoy: paintings and street musicians
Arbat never stays quite, except for late nights. From morning till evening traffic noise and crowd voices are being interposed with sounds of street music. The street musicians play everything, from classics on saxophone or violin performance to rock and pop hits. Among them are self-taught ones who have recently mastered their first chords and now standing in front of numerous passers-by, and genuine masters of musical art, forced to exchange their talents for donations of street audience.
Arbat is also a place of street artists. They exhibit their creations for sale, asking in average for $200 per each picture. Nevertheless watching pictured Kazakhstan beauties is free of charge.
Arbat is good for shopping. There are lots of mass-market boutiques with democratic wear and shopping malls with luxury brands. Once the derived impressions cause hunger, Arbat is great place to grab a bite to eat: doner kebab, fast food, coffee, restaurant lunch.
Each year from late August to late September the contemporary art festival ArtBatFest with performances, exhibition of graffiti works, master classes, lectures and street dances is taking place here.
How much money to take: no money required if you won’t do your shopping.
Place: Park near the First President Fund
Address: between Furmanov – Zheltoksan, Gandi – Timeryazev streets
What to enjoy: picnic and yoga
Looking for a piece of Europe in Almaty? Visit the park on the North side of Nurly Tau business center and find calm place with people lying on grass, playing Frisbee and badminton, taking photos against beautiful landscape.
On Saturdays early in the morning healthy lifestyle followers meet for free classes on yoga.
How much money to take: no money required.
Place: Kok Tobe
Address: cable cars go up to Kok Tobe mountain from Dostyk and Abay avenues intersection (near Arman cinema). Shuttle bus goes from #95 and 99 bus terminus (Omarov str.).
What to enjoy: city view and Fast Coaster attraction
Kok Tobe is the highest point of Almaty and the must-see place for all tourists. It’s commonly noisy and filled with people walking along the alley, watching and feeding animals in mini-zoo, admiring panorama view of lookouts and just breathing fresh mountain air.
Once you are looking for some adrenalin go experience the Fast Coaster attraction. In order to combine the pleasure of attraction and stunning view of the shining city lights do it at nightfall. The Fast Coaster closes at 00:00 on weekdays and at 01:00 AM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost per one ride per two people is KZT 1500.
Once you are a Beatles fan go there to see the bronze statue of your favorites. Once looking for Segway ride in Almaty, enjoy it for KZT 1400 per 20 minutes.
How much money to take: from KZT 500 while riding the shuttle bus and KZT 2,000 while riding a cable car.
Place: The museum of Kazakh musical instruments
Address: Zenkov and Gogol streets corner
What to enjoy: kazakh instrumental music
Kazakh traditional instrumental music is a byway topic for most of foreign tourists. At the same time music is one of the best tolls to convey the soul and spirit of the nation. So to feel kazakhs deeply, learn about country’s musical heritage and enjoy the instrumental sounds, visit the museum.
Entrance fee is KZT 350. The museum is open 10 am to 7 pm all days except Mondays.
How much money to take: KZT 150 per children, students and pensioners, KZT 350 per adults plus KZT 650, if you’d like to book a tour.
Place: Gorky Central Park of culture and leisure
Address: Gogol and Baribayev streets intersection
What to enjoy: old city atmosphere, catamarans and boats
The 150-year old park is definitely a place to see. No other place can show what Almaty was like decades ago when the park used to be the citizens’ favorite place and was recognized as the best leisure park in the USSR. The contemporary Gorky park is a place where untouched beauty of old soviet alleys adjacent to modern entertainment.
Here you find an all-season aqua park, zoo and amusement park along with a small picturesque pond with fountain right in the middle of the park. For boating and riding catamaran in the pond get ready for quite a bit of queue on weekends. But the pleasure is worth waiting - where else, enjoying catamaran riding, you will hear predator roars and cry of exotic birds that live in the nearby zoo?
How much money to take: KZT 70 entrance fee, KZT 1500 per catamaran rental, KZT 1200 per boat rental. Mandatory deposit for catamaran and boat KZT 3000.
Address: The Gorky Park territory.
What to enjoy: animals’ custody
In spring 2014 the Almaty zoo has undergone great changes: rebranding, modernization, new programs. One of the programs is an opportunity to become animals’ custodian that allows receiving a guardianship certificate, name tag in animal’s aviary, free entrance to the zoo and permission for photographing with animals.
So, if you are going to stay in Almaty for month and longer and do not skimp on animals, this program is for you. If not, you may enjoy a single visit to Almaty zoo and acquaintance with its inhabitants.
How much money to take: from KZT 700 per entry to KZT 300 000 per hippo custody (prices for custody vary depending on each particular animal species).
Place: International Ski Jump Complex
Address: Al Farabi str. (next to Esentai Tower)
What to enjoy: city and mountains view, free flight
Almaty inherited the Ski Jump Complex from erstwhile 2011 Asian Winter Games. Are there any interesting things to do there? No. Still interesting things are nearby.
First, climb the mountain, located near the complex, and enjoy the urban neighborhood. It’s a beautiful place with fresh mountain air, observation deck, benches and no crowds of tourists and local people.
Second, here you find a wind tunnel EasyFly which allows you to experience the most incredible feeling of free flight. 2 minutes of pleasure cost KZT 4 700, 4 minutes cost KZT 9 000, 6 minutes cost KZT 13 000.
How much money to take: from KZT 0 to 13 000.
Place: reconciliation bench monument
Address: Gogol and Zheltoksan str. corner
What to enjoy: the old center
The idea of Almaty reconciliation bench is not that original. The same romantic attractions have already appeared in many cities around the world. Nonetheless, it’s a nice experience to have a rest on the bench and make friends with your fellow traveler at the same moment.
You may also be interested in bench’s location. It’s an old center of Almaty. Arbat, tiny square on Zheltoksan and Makatayev streets corner, the Old Square on Tole bi street are within easy reach. In contrast with financial uptown and sleeping downtown, there are no glass business centers or dilapidated residential houses around. Here is the heart of the city, its soul.
Walk around, do shopping on Gogol street, have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat in on of the coffee shops on Ablay Khan avenue. Don’t expect smooth sidewalks and smiling townspeople everywhere. There are ones in Almaty, but not everywhere.
How much money to take: depends on purchases.
Place: private shop "Теперь" (translated as «Now»)
Address: Shevchenko and Konayev streets corner
What to enjoy: souvenirs
Walking through the old center you may want to reach a place to buy some souvenirs. The recommended one is small private shop "Теперь". Not all locals know about it, not to mention tourists. But the place is noteworthy, with hundreds of nice trinkets on the shelves. Here you can pick up a souvenir or a gift and pamper yourself with new accessory. There are lots of quality handmade goods and Kazakh national products for every taste and budget.
How much money to take: depends on purchases.
Place: amusement park Fantasy World (in summer months only)
Address: Abay and Musrepov streets corner (near Almaty circus)
What to enjoy: adrenaline
Since the time of its inception, the park has been recognized as the best amusement park for kids and adults in the city. There is no such variety of carousels in any other amusement park Almaty. KZT 3000 payment allows going all the rides until closing at 11 PM.
Feeling adrenaline saturation, do not rush to get into bus or taxi and drive away. Walk around the neighborhood which is one of the most attractive places in Almaty. Nearby are circus, ice skating rink, central football stadium and sports palace.
How much money to take: from KZT 3000.
Place: Zenkov Cathedral (Ascension Cathedral)
Address: Panfilov park territory (Gogol and Zenkov streets corner)
What to enjoy: architecture, dove feeding
The Cathedral, known as a wooden church constructed with no nails, is pretty popular place among tourists. It’s quite and majestic inside and unique looking outside. The Cathedral was built in 1907, after soviet revolution was used as a museum. In 1911 it survived the devastating earthquake with minimal damage, which believers call «the divine intervention». Since 1990 till nowadays it is again a place for prayer and worship as well popular tourist attraction.
Pleasant moments are waiting for the visitors not only inside Cathedral, but also outside. There are numerous accustomed to humans doves approaching the Cathedral which are ready to surround those who feed them with bread crumbs.
At weekend nights the area becomes drastically different. Party people flocking here from all over the city as the most popular Almaty night clubs located beside. It becomes noisy and crowded there. So, once interested in Almaty night life, get back here after 2 am on weekends and experience local rave-up.
Oh, by the way, the belief that nails were not used in Cathedral construction is just a myth. Sorry.
How much money to take: no money required.