How to travel Kazakhstan in 2024? 10 Steps to get you there and make the most of it!
We love to travel to Central Asia. Here, we're happy to welcome you to Kazakhstan, where history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes converge.
In 2024, this vast and diverse country is emerging as a must-visit destination for adventurous travellers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. And it’s not at all a difficult place to travel to. It just gets more complicated the deeper you go!
Let's embark on a 10-step journey to visit all the sites to make the most out of your Kazakhstan trip in 2024.
Top tip: If you'd rather a longer, more intensive tour to Kazakhstan in 2024 led by expert local guides, we have a full Kazakhstan tour page. You can also join them up with different countries in Central Asia, too!
On these specialist tours, we visit some of the more off-the-beaten-path places in Kazakhstan and to some pretty interesting and unique spots. 👇
Our adventure begins in the modern capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. Formerly known as Nur-Sultan. Prior to that known as Astana, and also previously known as Akmoly, Akmolinsk, Tselinigrad, and Akmola - all in less than two centuries!
This city is a testament to Kazakhstan's rapid development, with futuristic architecture, including the Bayterek Tower and the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center. As you wander through the city, you'll encounter a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation.
Make sure to visit some of the massive Mosques, for stunning examples of Islamic architecture, and see the Presidential Palace and other large strictures showing off Astana's architectural quirks and ambitions.
The city's cultural scene is thriving, with theatres, museums, and art galleries offering a glimpse into Kazakhstan's rich heritage as well as connections to the wider world.
We end our main tour in Almaty -the most pleasant city in Central Asia. A former capital of Kazakhstan and an incredibly beautiful and scenic place nestled against the backdrop of the majestic Tien Shan mountains.
Almaty boasts a lively atmosphere with its bustling markets, vibrant street art, and charming cafes.
In Almaty, you can take a stroll through Panfilov Park, home to the Zenkov Cathedral. This is a beautiful wooden structure that stands as a symbol of religious tolerance in the region.
For those who love nature, Almaty is the perfect gateway to outdoor adventures.
Skiing in Kazakhstan?
Shymbulak Ski Resort, located just outside the city, offers winter sports enthusiasts a chance to hit the slopes, while the Big Almaty Lake provides a serene escape for those seeking tranquillity amid stunning mountain scenery.
Sticking with nature lovers - but also an absolute must for those visiting Kazakhstan, venture to Charyn Canyon. Often referred to as the Grand Canyon's little brother!
The breathtaking landscape, carved by the Charyn River over millions of years, reveals towering red rock formations and dramatic cliffs.
Hike through the canyon, explore its hidden corners, and witness the changing colours as the sun sets, creating a magical atmosphere.
Kazakhstan has played a significant role in space exploration, and the Baikonur Cosmodrome is a testament to this history.
It's one of the world's oldest and largest space launch facilities.
Baikonur has been the starting point for numerous space missions, including the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.
A truly very interesting and unique place!
Kazakhstan's nomadic heritage is deeply ingrained in its culture, and you can experience it firsthand on the vast steppes.
Join nomadic families for a taste of traditional Kazakh hospitality in yurts, the portable homes used by the nomads.
Learn about their ancient customs, share stories around the campfire, and witness the time-honoured art of eagle hunting, a practice that has been passed down through generations.
One for the foodies - no travel experience is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Kazakhstan offers a diverse palate of flavours.
Make sure to try traditional dishes such as Beshbarmak, a hearty meat and noodle dish, and Plov, a rice-based dish infused with aromatic spices.
You can also try Kumis, a fermented mare's milk beverage that holds cultural significance in Kazakh tradition.
Ethnically diverse, architecturally intriguing, and usually bypassed, Karaganda is a bit of a gem and one of the highlights of our visits to Kazakhstan.
With a massive and lovely central park, a wealth of intriguing statuary, funky hotel options, and vibrant nightlife, this is a fine city to stop for a night or two.
Also, this is where early soviet cosmonauts were accommodated as they prepared to go to space. So the city has an association with the space race too. You can even ask to stay in rooms used by these pioneers!
Nearby there are dark tourism sites such as the HQ or the local gulag system (now a chilling museum), as well as memorial execution grounds.
Formerly known as Semipalatinsk, this eastern city was a Russian Empire frontier fortified town established around 1778. It then grew into the smaller city it has become today.
Semey is a fun place with a very walkable downtown. It has galleries, lovely cafes and restaurants, as well as a museum dedicated to its most famous former resident: Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The town of Kurchatov now lies semi-abandoned but with enough life to provide a hotel, some cafes, and places to explore in the town and beyond.
This was the HQ of the Soviet Union's atomic weapons program. A secret place. And one closed to outsiders and the highlight of our visits to this area.
We take a couple of days to drive around the enormous former test site, seeing atomic weapons testing areas, and sites built and destroyed by this technology. These are areas dug up and looted in recent years. You can learn all about the dark and fascinating history of this secretive and incredible area.
Not to be missed by anyone with any interest at all in 20th-century history.
As you plan your journey to Kazakhstan in 2024, here are some practical tips to enhance your experience.
Whether you're exploring the modern marvels of Astana, immersing yourself in the cultural richness of Almaty, or venturing into the wild landscapes of Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan is a destination that will truly surprise you with its beauty and leave you with lasting memories.
Get there before everyone else does!