Popular cities in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, the largest landlocked country in the world, is a land of diverse landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant cities. Among the popular cities in Kazakhstan are Almaty, Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana), and Shymkent. These cities have transformed over the years to become bustling metropolises that attract tourists and business travelers alike.

Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, is nestled at the foot of the majestic Tien Shan Mountains. Known for its stunning natural beauty, this city offers various outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing, making it a paradise for adventure enthusiasts. In addition to its scenic charm, Almaty boasts modern architecture and a vibrant nightlife. With its robust economy and numerous multinational corporations, it has become the financial and cultural center of the country.

Nur-Sultan, the current capital of Kazakhstan, is a testament to the country’s rapid development and modernization. This city was officially renamed in honor of the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who played a significant role in transforming the city into the futuristic capital it is today. With its impressive skyline, architectural marvels, and world-class expo centers, Nur-Sultan has become a global hub for international conferences and events.

Shymkent, the third-largest city in Kazakhstan, has emerged as an important economic and cultural center in the southern part of the country. It has a rich historical heritage, influenced by various civilizations that once inhabited the region. Shymkent is known for its vibrant bazaars, stunning mosques, and lively cultural festivals, which showcase the unique blend of Kazakh, Uzbek, and Russian traditions.

While these popular cities in Kazakhstan offer a captivating blend of modernity and tradition, they also face urban challenges. For instance, the rapid pace of development and urbanization has led to issues such as traffic congestion and environmental pollution. However, the Kazakh government has taken proactive measures to address these concerns, investing in sustainable transportation solutions and promoting green initiatives.

With its growing prominence on the international stage and its efforts to tackle urban challenges, Kazakhstan’s popular cities continue to evolve and flourish. Whether it is the cosmopolitan charm of Almaty, the futuristic allure of Nur-Sultan, or the cultural richness of Shymkent, each city offers a unique experience that reflects the spirit of modern Kazakhstan.

Popular cities in Kazakhstan

Which Are the Most Popular Cities in Kazakhstan?

The country of Kazakhstan is known for its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and bustling metropolitan areas. When it comes to exploring this Central Asian gem, there are several popular cities that attract visitors from all over the world. From the modern capital city of Nur-Sultan to the charming cultural hub of Almaty, each city in Kazakhstan offers a unique experience. In this article, we will delve deeper into the most popular cities in Kazakhstan and uncover the wonders that await in each of them.

Astana: The Capital City

Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, is one of the most popular cities in the country. It is known for its modern architecture, cultural diversity, and vibrant atmosphere. With a population of over one million people, Astana offers a unique blend of historical landmarks and contemporary developments.

One of the main attractions in Astana is the Bayterek Tower, a futuristic monument and observation tower that symbolizes the city’s aspirations and growth. Visitors can take an elevator to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the city. The city also boasts a wide range of museums, including the National Museum of Kazakhstan, which exhibits the country’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Moreover, Astana is home to many luxurious hotels, shopping malls, and entertainment venues. The city has attracted international investment and has become a hub for business and conferences.

Almaty: The Cultural Hub

Almaty, the former capital city of Kazakhstan, is another popular destination for both locals and tourists. With its stunning natural landscapes and vibrant cultural scene, Almaty offers a unique experience.

One of the main attractions in Almaty is the Medeu Skating Rink, which is one of the highest-altitude ice rinks in the world. Visitors can enjoy ice skating or simply take a walk around the area, surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

The city also offers a variety of cultural experiences, such as visiting the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan or exploring the Almaty Arbat, a pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes, and art galleries. Additionally, Almaty is famous for its traditional cuisine, where visitors can indulge in local dishes like beshbarmak (boiled meat with noodles) or kazy (horse meat sausage).

Shymkent: The Silk Road Gem

Located in southern Kazakhstan, Shymkent is a city with deep historical and cultural significance. It is often referred to as the “Silk Road Gem” due to its location along the ancient Silk Road trading route.

One of the highlights in Shymkent is the Zhetyssu State Museum, which showcases the region’s history and archaeological artifacts. Visitors can learn about the Silk Road trade and explore the ruins of ancient cities nearby.

The city is also known for its vibrant bazaars, where visitors can shop for traditional crafts, spices, and textiles. Additionally, Shymkent offers a range of parks and gardens, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city.

Karaganda: Industrial Heart

Karaganda, located in central Kazakhstan, is a city that played a significant role in the country’s industrial development. It is known for its coal and metal mining industries.

One of the main attractions in Karaganda is the KarLag Museum, which documents the history of the Gulag labor camps during the Soviet era. Visitors can learn about the harsh conditions endured by prisoners and gain insight into Kazakhstan’s past.

While Karaganda might not have the same level of tourist infrastructure as other cities, it offers a unique glimpse into the country’s industrial history.


According to recent data, Astana, Almaty, Shymkent, and Karaganda are among the most popular cities in Kazakhstan, with a high number of domestic and international visitors each year. These cities offer a diverse range of attractions, from historical landmarks to cultural experiences, making them must-visit destinations in the country.

FAQs for Popular cities in Kazakhstan

1. What are some popular cities to visit in Kazakhstan?

Some popular cities to visit in Kazakhstan are Almaty, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Shymkent, and Aktobe.

2. What is the best time to visit Kazakhstan?

The best time to visit Kazakhstan is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is pleasant and mild.

3. What is the capital city of Kazakhstan?

The capital city of Kazakhstan is Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana) since 1997.

4. What are the must-see attractions in Almaty?

Some must-see attractions in Almaty include the Medeu Skating Rink, Big Almaty Lake, Kok Tobe Hill, and the Central State Museum.

5. What is the currency used in Kazakhstan?

The currency used in Kazakhstan is the Kazakhstani tenge (KZT).

6. What are the top cultural festivals in Kazakhstan?

Some of the top cultural festivals in Kazakhstan include Nauryz Meyrami (Kazakh New Year), Astana Day, and the Almaty Apple Festival.

7. Are there any UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kazakhstan?

Yes, there are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kazakhstan: the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, the Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly, and the Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor.

8. Is it safe to travel to Kazakhstan?

Yes, Kazakhstan is generally safe for travelers. However, it is always advisable to take common safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

9. Can I visit Kazakhstan without a visa?

It depends on your nationality. Some countries have a visa-free regime with Kazakhstan, allowing short-term visits without a visa. However, most visitors will require a visa to enter the country. Please check with the Kazakhstan embassy or consulate in your country for specific visa requirements.

10. What are some traditional Kazakh dishes to try?

Some traditional Kazakh dishes to try are Beshbarmak (boiled meat with pasta), Kazy (horsemeat sausage), and Kymyz (fermented mare’s milk).


Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent are three of the most popular cities in Kazakhstan. Astana, the capital city, boasts stunning architecture, beautiful parks, and a rich cultural heritage. Almaty, the country’s largest city, offers a mix of modernity and tradition, with vibrant markets, ski resorts, and the breathtaking Tian Shan Mountains. Shymkent, known as the gateway to the Silk Road, has a fascinating history, diverse cultural attractions, and a vibrant nightlife.

These cities attract tourists and visitors with their unique attractions and experiences. Astana’s futuristic buildings, such as the Bayterek Tower and the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, showcase the city’s modern and progressive outlook. Almaty, on the other hand, has a more laid-back vibe, with its tree-lined streets, cozy cafes, and serene parks. The city also offers excellent opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking and skiing options in the nearby mountains. Shymkent’s historical sites, such as the Aisha Bibi Mausoleum and the Shymkent History Museum, provide insights into the region’s rich past and cultural heritage.

In conclusion, the popular cities of Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent offer a diverse range of attractions and experiences for visitors to Kazakhstan. Whether it’s exploring unique architecture, immersing in the local culture, or enjoying outdoor activities, these cities have something for everyone. Kazakhstan’s growing popularity as a tourist destination can be attributed to the charm and uniqueness of these cities, making them must-visit destinations for any traveler seeking to experience the beauty and culture of this Central Asian country.

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