Last spring, we set off on a journey to visit Almaty, the lush former capital of Kazakhstan, and came back with numerous exciting stories to share! From mesmerizing natural wonders to lively city attractions, here are five spots that enticed us and are sure to captivate you as well.

1. Altyn Emel National Park

Doing justice to the reputation of Kazakhstan’s largest national park, our trip to Altyn-Emel was packed with out-of-this world landscapes. We spent an incredible couple of days surrounded by a variety of steppes and sights like the Aktau Mountains and the Singing Sand Dunes. What surprised us was the strange yet beautiful sound the sand makes when it’s windy. You’ve got to hear it to believe it. The Katutau volcanic rocks too are another highlight worth your time when you are in this beautiful National Park.

2. Sharyn Canyon

After Altyn Emel, we made our way to the Sharyn Canyon which is about 200 kilometers from Almaty. The striking cliffs and vastness of the canyon set a majestic scene. Prepare yourself to spend a substantial part of the day due to the distance, but rest assured the sight of this natural wonder will make it worth every moment! Some people would compare it to the United States’ Grand Canyon; though it is much smaller, it has been described as being equally impressive. (I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon so I can’t tell yet for sure!)

3. Saty Village and Kaindy Lake

Up next were the serene Saty Village and the mystical Kaindy Lake. At Saty, the basic yet wonderful home-cooked meals allowed us to blend in with the community while taking in the leisurely pace of rural life. It’s absolutely unforgettable. Just a walk away from the village, Kaindy Lake wows with its turquoise hue and underwater forest. Your eyes and camera will thank you for the visit!

4. Almaty Green Bazaar

The recognizable heartbeat of Almaty, the Green Bazaar surprised us with an intoxicating mix of colorful goods and irresistible scents. From tempting regional food items to trinkets for a memorable souvenir, this hub offers more than meets the eye. Remember, bargaining is an unexpected sport you can engage in while shopping here! So many things to buy so make sure to bring sufficient cash with you 😉

5. Shymbulak Ski Resort

Shymbulak Ski Resort, located just a short drive away from Almaty’s city center, is a great destination to visit. You can enjoy at Shymbulak even if you’re not a skier! Simply taking the cable car ride up the mountain offers memorable views that you’ll find hard to forget, long after your trip ends. (That’s right, we are not skiers at all but we would totally go back to Shymbulak if given the chance!)

6. Zenkov Cathedral

We also made a pitstop at the Zenkov Cathedral, tucked away in the heart of Panfilov Park. This remarkable wooden build isn’t just memorable—it’s jaw-dropping! Crafted entirely without nails, every carved detail of the cathedral tells a story of exceptional craftsmanship from yesteryears. Amidst the calm, it’s a must-visit spot especially if you love architecture.

A final word for potential visitors – Almaty is a treasure trove of rich experiences, and every corner holds a story waiting to unravel. You will be returning to your country with a suitcase full of memories and will always long to revisit this enchanting city. Speaking based on personal experience 🤭