Must-see attractions in Kazakhstan

  • The aerial view of Beket Ata underground mosque and madrassa on Ustyurt plateau, Aktau region, Western Kazakhstan.



    Some 285km east of Aktau, Beket-Ata is an important and extremely popular place of pilgrimage for those wishing to visit the underground mosque and final…

  • Charyn canyon

    Charyn Canyon


    Over millions of years, the swift Charyn (Sharyn) River has carved a truly spectacular 150m- to 300m-deep canyon into the otherwise flat steppe some 200km…

  • Interior of the Museum for the Victims of Political Repression.

    KarLag Museum


    Housed in the old KarLag headquarters building, this poignant museum walks you through KarLag's role in the Soviet Gulag Archipelago. The repression of…

  • Kazakhstan, Astana, Khan Shatyr (by Sir Norman Foster)

    Khan Shatyr

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan's most extraordinary building (so far), the Khan Shatyr is a 150m-high, translucent, tentlike structure made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene …

  • Kolsai National Park

    Kolsai Lakes National Park


    Located around 12km by paved (from 2018) road from Saty village, these three spruce-and-mountain-hemmed lakes are Alpine-esque beauty at its best and a…

  • Palace of Peace and Reconciliation pyramid

    Palace of Peace & Reconciliation

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    This beautiful glass-and-steel pyramid was opened in 2006 as the home for the triennial Congress of World and Traditional Religions, hosted by Kazakhstan…

  • Underground mosque Shakpak-Ata in Kazakhstan in Mangistau.



    Perhaps the most intriguing of all Mangistau’s underground mosques, 10th-century Shakpak-Ata is a cross-shaped affair with three entrances and four…

  • Ship remains on shore of the Aral sea, Kazakhstan.

    Aral Sea


    A trip to the slowly replenishing Aral Sea is the main – the only! – reason to come to Aral. Near its northern shore rise the sculpted rock formations of…

  • Dead submerged trees in the Kaindy (Kaiyndy) lake in South East Kazakhstan.

    Kaiyndy Lake


    Created by a major earthquake in 1912, this deep, cerulean lake is fed by a glacial river and is notable for its forest of drowned spruces, the branches…

  • ALZhIR Museum-Memorial Complex


    During the Stalin years, Akmol, 35km west of Nur-Sultan, housed ALZhIR, a notorious camp for wives and children of men who were interned elsewhere as …

  • Akkem Lake and Mt Belukha.

    Mt Belukha


    Right on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia, the myth-rich, snow-tipped peak of Mt Belukha (4506m) – Altay's highest – attracts true mountaineers…

  • Semipalatinsk Polygon


    Between 1949 and 1989, 456 nuclear tests were conducted on the territory of the Polygon, the Soviet Union's primary nuclear test site, both above and…

  • (GERMANY OUT) Teppiche mit traditionellen Mustern - Kunsthandwerk auf dem Basar im Zentralen Staatsmuseum der Republik Kasachstan in Almaty  (Photo by snapshot-photography/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

    Central State Museum


    Almaty’s best museum takes you through Kazakhstan’s history from Bronze Age burials and nomadic culture to WWII sacrifices, telecommunications and the…

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    Bayterek Monument

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nurzhol bulvar's centrepiece is this 97m-high monument, a white latticed tower crowned by a large glass orb. This embodies a Kazakh legend in which the…

  • Aysha-Bibi & Babazha-Katun Mausoleums


    In Aysha-Bibi village, 16km west of Taraz, are the tombs of two 11th- or 12th-century women, legendary protagonists of a local Romeo and Juliet tale. The…

  • Kök-Töbe


    This 1100m hill on the city’s southeast edge is crowned by a 372m-high TV tower visible from far and wide, and affords great views over the city and the…

  • Levoberezhny Park


    This large park on the south bank of the Irtysh contains several interesting exhibits and is well worth a couple of hours of your time. Moving west from…

  • Big Almaty Lake


    This picturesque turquoise lake, 1.6km long, rests in a rocky bowl at 2500m altitude, reflecting the Tian Shan mountains and the giant fir trees in its…

  • Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve


    With more than 200 steppe lakes in and around the reserve, the area is a vital stop on major bird migration routes from Africa, the Middle East and India…

  • Kazakhstan Museum of Arts


    This is the best art collection in the country, with Kazakh, Russian and some Western European art and a room of top-class modern Kazakh handicrafts, with…

  • Museum of the Armed Forces

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    The yurt-shaped museum showcases beautifully presented exhibitions on weaponry and warfare, with striking murals greeting visitors. On the ground floor,…

  • Turgen Gorge


    Part of the Ile-Alatau National Park and located 70km east of Almaty, this beautiful, densely forested gorge, carved out of rock by the whitewater of…

  • Soviet Grain Silo

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    This rare relic of the 1950s may be gone in a few years' time, banished by the relentless wrecking ball, but for now you can see this enormous, decaying…

  • Lake Markakol


    This gorgeous lake is a thriving habitat of over 200 different bird species. Apart from its attraction for birdwatchers and general scenic beauty, there…

  • Singing Dune


    A couple of hours' drive from the settlement of Basshi that's part of the Altyn-Emel National Park, this sand dune emits a rumbling sound not unlike an…

  • Lenin Statues


    A curious collection of 15 communist busts and statues, mostly Lenins – including Kazakhstan's tallest Lenin! – stands in a small park behind Hotel Semey…

  • Panfilov Park


    This large and attractive rectangle of greenery is one of central Almaty's most popular strolling and hangout places for all ages. At its heart stands the…

  • Respublika Alany


    This broad, Soviet-created ceremonial square provides a panoramic view of the snowcapped mountains on a clear morning and is surrounded by several…

  • Akyrtas


    Lovers of mysterious, remote ruins should venture out to Akyrtas – Kazakhstan's Stonehenge – on the steppe 6km south of Aksholak village. What you'll find…

  • Sherkala


    Around 22km northwest of the town of Shetpe, this awe-inspiring, 332m-high, 1km-long chalk outcrop that resembles a lion's head looms over the desert. To…

  • Tamgaly Petroglyphs


    The World Heritage–listed Tamgaly Petroglyphs are the most impressive of many petroglyph groups in southeastern Kazakhstan. Set in a lushly vegetated…

  • Regional Museum of Southern Kazakhstan


    In its shiny new quarters on the northern outskirts of the city, this regional museum has well-presented, trilingual displays on local geology, Iron Age…

  • Green Market


    This large, two-level market has a true flavour of Central Asia, and is worth putting on your itinerary even if you're not really food shopping. It's been…

  • Ploshchad Poyushchykh Fontanov

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    The eastern half of Nurzhol bulvar starts with this plaza, which springs to life with music-and-water shows at 9pm on summer evenings. Further east stand…

  • Dostoevsky Museum


    This well laid-out museum incorporates the wooden house where the exiled writer lived from 1857 to 1859 with his wife and baby. The displays range over…

  • Karaganda Ecological Museum


    The Karaganda Ecological Museum, run by a dedicated, campaigning environmental NGO, is aimed at local schoolchildren and is the most imaginative museum in…

  • Zhumbaktas


    The most celebrated Burabay legend links Zhumbaktas, the Sphinx-like rock sticking out of the lake, with Okzhetpes, the striking 380m-tall rock pile…