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Atyrau

The gateway to Kazakhstan's largest oil field, Atyrau (Атырау), formerly Guryev, 18.6 miles (30km) up the Ural River from the Caspian Sea, straddles the Europe/Asia boundary. Oil money is evident in the proliferation of expensive hotels and upmarket restaurants; nowhere in the country is the disparity between the haves and have-nots greater, and crime levels are above average. For most travelers, Atyrau is just a travel hub, though a couple of good museums are worth a day's stopover, and history buffs can make a half-day trip to the remains of the medieval settlement of Saraychik.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Atyrau.