If you’re travelling to Kazakhstan with a Kazakhstan eVisa there’s a lot that you can see on your travels. It is the seventh biggest country in the world and is known for its dry and dusty steppes. However, some of the amazing experiences Kazakhstan offers to tourists might surprise you. It is truly a land of diversity, with multiple climates and landscapes for foreign visitors to explore as well as some amazing historical sites to enjoy.
In the following article, you’ll discover a few of the country’s biggest tourist highlights, no matter the type of trip that you’re planning. Whether you’re coming for a city-break in Nur-Sultan or traversing the wild plains for an exotic getaway, there’s plenty Kazakhstan has to offer for intrepid tourists.
Enjoy the Futuristic City of Nur-Sultan
Kazakhstan is one of Central Asia’s most technically advanced countries and that’s clear to see on a trip to Nur-Sultan (known from 1997-2019 as Astana). This futuristic-looking capital city has only been the country’s administrative center since 1997 when it moved here from Almaty.
However, there’s no shortage of impressive architecture to enjoy in this city. From the marquee style Khan Shatayr shopping center to the pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (both designed by Norman Foster), this is the place to see and enjoy modern Kazakhstan in all its glory.
Step Into The Country’s Past In Almaty
The nation’s largest city is also its oldest and most prestigious. Surrounded by mountains, and wooded plains, this huge city is the place to enjoy the evolving national culture of Kazakhstan at its finest along with some of the finest echoes of its past.
This diverse and popular city first came to prominence as a major silk road trading post and eventually became a capital of culture in the Russian empire and later the Soviet administrative capital of the Kazak SSR. Much of the classical architecture like its impressive opera house and the colorful Zenkov cathedral stand as a testament to its rich history.
Marvel at the Nation’s Natural Wonders
When many people think of Kazakhstan, they imagine dry deserts and flat steppes. However, that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Being such a big country, there’s plenty of natural diversity to enjoy and there is in fact a wide mixture of terrain and beautiful nature to be found here.
Big Almaty Lake
Whilst Kazakhstan is notable for being landlocked, it does, however, have a few natural bodies of water to be enjoyed. One of these is the turquoise blue Big Almaty Lake.
Located just a short distance away from Almaty itself, this is a beautiful and unusual sight to behold. Whilst it is forbidden to swim in the lake as this is also used as a reservoir to provide drinking water to citizens of the city below, it is a sight you don’t want to miss.
Wild Apple Forest
Apples in fact originate in Kazakhstan and the legacy of this is the Wild Apple Forest found in the country’s southern region in the Tian Shan mountains. This is actually the last wild apple forest of its kind in the world but it is possible to visit the remaining natural orchards as a tourist to observe the genesis of this symbolic fruit.
Charyn canyon is sometimes colloquially known as “Kazakhstan’s Grand Canyon” and it is easy to see why. This 200-300m deep canyon stretches on for approximately 50 miles in distance. This is naturally a great hiking spot but is also a fantastic location for enjoying rafting and river canoeing if you’re looking for a slightly more adventurous experience.
Explore the Country’s Soviet Legacy
The Soviet-era of Kazakhstan still provides a bitter-sweet memory for the country today. A lot has changed since those years, although relics of that period in history remain for curious tourists to explore.
The Aral Sea
Perhaps one of the greatest environmental tragedies of the 20th century is the drying of the Aral Sea. It was at one point the 4th largest lake in the world spreading over an area of 68,000km².
However, due to damming and industrial development in the region, the source of the lake’s water stopped flowing, leading to it shrinking by over 70%. What remains is an eerie reminder of the old ecosystem, with the degrading hulls of old fishing vessels and a dry desert in the place of the former lake.
Kazakhstan has the dubious honor of being the site of 456 nuclear tests, including the world’s biggest nuclear explosion. It is now possible to visit these former test-locations as a tourist and view the damage that a nuclear blast can do to terrain. Radiation suits and Geiger counters are provided as a matter of course although these tours do not stray too close to really dangerous areas of radioactivity.
KarLag was once the biggest of the Soviet Gulags and was home to some 1,000,000 prisoners over its history. The museum provides a grim reminder of the hardships inmates experienced during the Stalinist purges of the late 1920s and early 30s.
Take a Trip to a Space Centre
It’s worth remembering that the first successful space missions were launched in Kazakhstan. In fact, many of the world’s ongoing extraterrestrial missions still take-off from the nation to this day.
It is possible today for tourists to visit Baikonur Cosmodrome and see the workings of an active spaceport. For fans of space travel, this is one of the best places in the world to explore the history of some of the most famous space missions such as Yuri Gagarin’s successful trip into orbit and the iconic Sputnik 1, which both launched from Baikonur.
Ski in Shymbulak
With it’s varied and highly mountainous landscape, you might not be surprised to discover that Kazakhstan offers pretty good options for avid skiers. The Shan Tian mountains contain several resorts where visitors can enjoy amazing slopes such as Shymbulak, where Prince Harry holidayed back in 2014. With flights to Kazakhstan being relatively cheap this is a highly cost-effective way to enjoying a ski holiday with a difference.
Savour the Sights in Historic Turkistan
It is possible to view the remnants of a time when Kazakhstan was a key part of the historic silk road. Turkistan was a major commercial center on this route and provides a wonderful gaze back into the country’s past.
Amongst the treasures of this UNESCO World Heritage site include the Mausoleum of Khodja Ahmed Yassawi. This dazzling blue, domed, tiled, 14th-century mosque is a famous site of Islamic pilgrimage and is a must-see attraction on any trip to the country.
Kazakhstan is a country with lots to see and with an easy online Kazakhstan eVisa application its never been easier to visit. If you’re eager to travel here with an eVisa be sure to check first that you fit the eVisa entry requirements to Kazakhstan and possess the correct travel documents for Kazakhstan before completing your application.