The most attractive city near the northern stretch of Kazakhstan's border with Russia, Petropavlovsk was founded in the 1750s and is older and architecturally more diverse than many cities in Kazakhstan.
Hotel Kochevnik, basic but clean and in a quiet but central location, is a good budget bet. Well-run Hotel Skif, with large, contemporary rooms and an excellent 24-hour restaurant, is a fine midrange choice.
The fast, comfortable Talgo train No 152 to Astana (tourist/business class 4590/7600T, six hours) and Almaty (16,215/23,750T, 19 hours) runs every two days. At least two other trains head daily to Astana (2560T, eight to 11 hours), and daily trains head to many Russian cities including Moscow (47,800T, 39 to 45 hours) and Omsk (7350T to 11,108T, 4½ hours). Rail timetables here use Moscow time.