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Almaty, Kazakhstan

7 Things to See in Almaty | Luxury Kazakhstan Travel Blog

An Almaty doner vendorI stayed at the Ritz Carlton Almaty – just one year old, this well-appointed hotel is exactly what you’d expect from the Ritz: five-star luxury, comforts of home, and personable service. What it was missing though, I thought, was a local touch. However, I highly-recommend the hotel for a day or two to settle in to your new location, before heading off deeper into Kazakhstan or to nearby Kyrgyzstan.

The Monument of Independence.My first impressions of Almaty were that of surprise. It was totally different to what I had expected, with a real European feel to it. The roads were wide, the traffic light, and the city was quite clean, full of green parks and beautiful fountains. It did, however, feel a bit staged at times – I felt like I was walking on a movie set, because all of the modern luxury and European flavor seemed to lack soul. The city was missing some of the grit I was looking for – there was very little of the authentic Kazakh culture I’d been hoping to find.

Opera House

I noticed there was very little hustle and bustle in Almaty – rather, it is a calm, relaxing sort of place. To me, it was strange to see the Soviet architecture contrasted against modern luxury, with brands like Prada adorning shop windows. We even came across a Burger King and KFC! There was no need to indulge, though, as local specialties are delicious and plentiful in the city. And so began our tour of Almaty…

#1 – Monument of Independence

We started off in the city’s well-known Republic Square. Here, we took in the Monument of Independence, an architectural landmark dedicated to Kazakhstan’s rich history. The monument consists of a tall statue of an early Kazakh figure, circled by metal bas relief panels that act like a historical timeline for the country. The square itself – surprisingly tiny given its significance – is the city’s former administrative center.

#2 – Abay Opera House

A great place to take in some culture in Almaty is at the Abay Opera House, built in 1934 and most recently renovated in 2000. Here, over 40 western and Kazakh performances can be seen, including operas, ballets and classical music performances. There is also amazingly good value for money to be found here.

Almaty war memorial The Russian Cathedral, Almaty Museum of Kazakh Folk Music Medeo Gorge
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