“The ancestral home of the apple”.
Where is Almaty?
The city of Almaty is located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan near the border with Kyrgyzstan. In the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, it is at an elevation of 2,300 – 3,000 feet. Almaty was the capital of both the Soviet and independent Kazakhstan from 1929 to 1997. Astana (renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019) taking that role in 1997.
The journey from Tashkent to Almaty was on the overnight sleeper train.
Whilst in Almaty we chose to stay at the Modern apartment in the heart of Almaty. Booked through Airbnb.
Places of interest
To see everything that Almaty has to offer means a fair bit of travelling around as the sites are spread out in and around the city.
It is the “Blue Hill” mountain overlooking Almaty. Popular among visitors and tourists is Kok Tobe Park. A recreational area that has an amusement park, attractions, and restaurants on top of Kok Tobe. The park is connected to the city by a cable car.
The City Terminal is located near Hotel Kazakhstan. The 372 meters tall TV Tower (Almaty Tower) on the top of the mountain can be seen from most parts of the city. Also in the park are a 30m high ferris wheel, a mountainside roller coaster, an upside-down house, the fountain of desires, a Beatles monument, and a “zoo”. Of course, it goes without saying, there are beautiful views from the top. Although it was hazy when we were up there.
We wanted to go up Kok Tobe, but for some reason, the cable car was closed. The alternative to this was to catch the bus. There are 2 buses that run up Kok Tobe. Number 99 or number 95. We caught the number 95, simply because it was the first one that arrived at the Respublika palace bus stop.
The journey takes about 30 mins and costs 150 Tenge per person. The bus does not take you to the top of Kok Tobe, instead, it terminates at the bottom of the mountain at the Kok Tobe bus station. From the bus station, there are a couple of options to get to the mountain top. Walk the 1.5 km or take the minibus up, 500 Tenge per person for the round trip.
Located in Park 28 Panfilovtsev, Zenkov Cathedral is also referred to as The Ascension Cathedral. A Russian Orthodox cathedral made out of wood but without nails. It is 56m tall and is claimed to be the second tallest wooden building in the world.
Located in the mountain valley of Malaya Almatinka River, on the south-eastern outskirts of the city is Medeu. An outdoor speed and ice skating rink. Remaining one of the best-known tourist locations in Kazakhstan. The stadium is open to the public all year round. Allowing visitors to skate at high altitude day or night.
A large farmers market selling some obscure produce.
The Almaty Metro system is open every day from 0620 hrs until 1130 hrs. Trains run every 10 minutes on weekdays, every 8 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes at the weekends. There is only one line on the system. Ticket offices are at the entrance of every metro station which is indicated by a sign “Kassa”.
Tokens for the metro are purchased at the ticket office or machine for 80 Tenge each. A prepaid card is also available for 100 Tenge and can be loaded with a max of 60 trips. The card being valid for 3 years.
Entry to the metro is by a turnstile which is operated by the token purchased at the ticket office. One token allows unlimited use of the metro, provided you don’t exit a station.
Expect to have your bags scanned as you enter the metro system.
Buses are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around the city. There are basically two types of tickets for travelling on the bus.
The Unified Transport Card. This card costs 500 Tenge, which includes 1 trip and a 420 Tenge card fee, which is repaid on the return of the card. One fare using the Unified transport card is 80 Tenge.