Places to visit in Kazakhstan

Looking for places to visit in Kazakhstan? Look no further than this comprehensive guide to the world’s ninth largest country.

From the ultra-modern capital Nur Sultan (formerely known as Astana), to alpine Almaty, desert Aral and the Caspian resort of Aktau, there is enough to keep avid adventurers occupied for some time.

As well as being a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, Kazakhstan offers plenty for those searching out more interesting destinations on the old Silk Road.

The country is home to the Baikonour Cosmodrome where manned space missions start off, a former soviet nuclear testing site at Semipatalisnk, and the gulag complex at Karaganda.

Read on to find out more!

Places to visit in Kazakhstan

Top Places to Visit in Kazakhstan

Places to visit in Kazakhstan
Almaty

Almaty is the mountainous former capital and beating heart of Kazakhstan. A winter playground and home to Central Asia’s premiere ski resort, leafy Almaty is a must-visit for anyone travelling to the country.
Rusting fishing boat
Aralsk

Once a thriving fishing port on the Aral Sea, the small town of Aralsk has seen better days. You will see more camels than ships here now as the coast has moved some 40km away as a result of Soviet damming.

Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Nur-Sultan (Astana)

Kazakhstan’s shiny new capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) is the business and financial centre. Due to ists northern location, Nur Sultan is the second coldest capital in the world (after Ulaanbaatar). 

Tourist Attractions in Kazakhstan

Getting around Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a very large country and the distances between cities can be huge. The country benefits from a comprehensive rail network.

Trains in Kazakhstan

The old Soviet era trains are gradually being replaced by faster more modern wagons, complete air conditioned carriages, bar and dining car.

Prices are generally cheap by western standards but tickets can sell out so it’s always best to book a few days in advance. You can buy tickets at the station or online at the official Kazakh Railways website.

Sample fares and journey times for Kazakh Trains

DepartsArrivesTrip LengthApprox Cost
AlmatyNur-Sultan (Astana)15 hours9,000₸ ($20)
AlmatyShymkent11 hours8,000₸ ($18)
Nur-Sultan (Astana)Karaganda4 hours3,000₸ ($7)
Nur-Sultan (Astana)Aktau30 hours14,000₸ ($32)
ShymkentAral14 hours8,000₸ ($18)
ShymkentAktau28 hours10,000₸ ($22)
Approximate journey time and cost for trains in Kazakhstan. Taken from Kazakhstan Railways website January 2020.

Buses in Kazakhstan

Buses are another to travel and are slightly cheaper than the trains. As the roads are not all paved, the journeys can take much longer.

Taxis in Kazakhstan

It’s also possible to take taxis long distances and you will find people at transport hubs offering rides to other cities.

You will find taxis waiting at train stations and long distance bus stations such as Sayram in Almaty. To hail a cab on the street, simply hold out your hand towards the traffic. Any car can be a potential taxi and you must agree a price before entering.

You can also use the Yandex Taxi app (similar to Uber) if you speak Russian or Kazakh.

Getting to and from Kazakhstan

To get to and from Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries, see the following guides:

Almaty to Bishkek (Kyrgystan)

Almaty to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)

Almaty to Urumqi (China)

Kazakhstan Weather

The Kazakhstan weather can differ greatly depending on where in this vast country you are. The interior is an arid land consisting of desert and steppe.

Due to the geographic location far from any sea (the Caspian and Aral are technically lakes) the country has hot summers and very cold winters.

The capital Nur-Sultan (Astana) is the second colest in the world after Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and sees averge winter temperatures of around -14c. The average winter termperature for Almaty is around -4c.

Astana sees milder summers due to its northern location, and Almaty has hot and sunny summers with the occasional thunderstorm.

Safety in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a very safe country with very little crime reported against foreigners. However the harsh landscapes across the country mean that you should be well prepared before setting off. Read more in my guide; Is Kazakhstan Safe, and ensure you have proper Travel Insurance when travelling!

Further Reading about places to visit in Kazakhstan

More of the Silk Road

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
China
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Darvaza, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan