Kazakhstan Itinerary: Best Time To Visit, Things To Do, Hotels, Food 2024

Hitch a cable car, go skiing, rejoice in the opera, and trek along glacier lakes in Kazakhstan with our 7-day itinerary.

Kazakhstan Itinerary: Best Time To Visit, Things To Do, Hotels, Food 2024
What To Do, Where To Stay, What To Eat: The Ultimate Kazakhstan Itinerary
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Moored in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth-largest country, extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east. Home to 131 ethnicities, Kirghiz steppe, architectural marvels, and myriad sacred sites, it promises a getaway teeming with cultural influences. Based on our research, a 7-day itinerary for Kazakhstan is ideal for exploring its multicultural hues and pocket memories of a lifetime.

Best time to visit Kazakhstan

The best time to visit Kazakhstan falls between April to May and September to October. While temperatures soar to over 40 degrees Celsius between June and August, they plummet to -20 degrees Celsius from December to February. So, it’s best to side-step the summer and winter months, and rejoice in the country’s vast mountainscapes, tundra, and empty steppe during the more temperate months of April, May, September, and October.

The Land of the Great Steppe: Our 7-day itinerary for Kazakhstan

Day 1: Astana

kazakhstan itinerary
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Start your 7-day journey in Kazakhstan’s capital city, Astana. Explore the iconic Bayterek Tower, a metallic sculpture that mirrors sci-fi movie aesthetics. Just 4.3 km from the tower (about a 10-minute walk) sits the National Museum of Kazakhstan: a repository of the country’s ancient and modern history, ethnography, artefact exhibits, modern art, and a hall of gold. From here, embark on a 1.5 km leisurely walk to the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a pyramid-shaped architectural marvel that depicts the religious faiths of the world. It also houses the national spiritual centre, educational facilities, meeting halls, and opera house.

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Kazakhstan 7 day vacation
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Another unmissable attraction in Astana is the Sky Beach Club. Located under the largest tent in the world, the club mimics a beach by letting its visitors sunbathe, build sand castles, swim, and indulge in sandy-toed volleyball. We also recommend hitting Duman, an Oceanarium Entertainment Centre that houses over a hundred marine species like piranhas, porcupine fish, and seahorses, in addition to a 3D cinema. End your day with a visit to the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet for scintillating Kazakh, Russian, and Italian opera.

Book your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Astana via Booking.com

Book your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Astana via Agoda.com

Day 2 and 3: Shymkent

kazakhstan itinerary 7 days
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The next port of call, Shymkent, is a scenic train journey from Astana. It delights with well-preserved Silk Road towns, museums, mosques, and palaces. Immerse yourself in the region’s history at the Alley of Glory and War Memorial, a poignant reminder of the enormous scale of loss in the Soviet Union during WWII. Visit the Museum of Victims of Political Repression to delve into Kazakhstan’s history. Thereafter, for those who fancy a sun-kissed afternoon, Shymkent offers a range of public parks like Ken Baba Park, Central Park, and Independence Park. We also recommend exploring the spiritual significance of the Koshkar Atta River. End your day with a stroll through the city’s bustling local markets, Shymkent and Samal Bazaar, selling pocket-friendly Chinese goods, dried foods, vegetables, and various kinds of cheese, among other articles.

Kazakhstan itinerary
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On the next day, explore Shymkent’s adventurous side by renting a car and visiting the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve. In addition to being the oldest national reserve in the country, it also houses the ethereal Aksu River (the longest river in the province), Aksu Canyon, and several hiking trails. If you have extra time on hand, add the Sairam-Ugam State National Park to your 7-day Kazakhstan itinerary.

Book your stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Shymkent via Booking.com

Book your stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Shymkent via Agoda.com

Day 4: Turkestan

Kazakhstan vacation
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Just 170.9 km from Shymkent, Turkestan deserves to be on your Kazakhstan circuit. The spiritual capital of the Turkic world, Turkestan enchants with unmatched architecture and vibrant markets. Begin your exploration at the Mausoleum Of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, a revered Muslim pilgrimage site boasting Timurid architecture and ornate tilework. Admire the Mausoleum Of Rabia Sultan Begum’s magnificent dome embellished with tilework. Delve into the spiritual ambience of the Underground Mosque and pay respects at the resplendent Masjid Khoja Ahmad Yassavi.

Kazakhstan itinerary
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After soaking up the cultural and religious sights, indulge in some retail therapy at Turkestan’s futuristic shopping complex, Karavan Saray, or go restaurant-hopping at the Samruk Flying Theatre.

Book your stay at Ramada by Wyndham Turkistan via Booking.com

Book your stay at Ramada by Wyndham Turkistan via Agoda.com

Day 5 and 6: Almaty

Kazakhstan culture
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Once the capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty promises well-rounded escapades in the form of the Kazakhstan Museum of Arts, the soul-soothing Central Mosque, ice-skating at Medeu, and the Zhibek Zholy Pedestrian Street. On your first day in Almaty, head to Kok-Tobe Hill for panoramic views of the city. Here, hitch the cable car that glides from amidst the mountains to verdant vineyards, and explore the zoo, shops, restaurants, and a children’s playground too. For traditional Kazakh cuisine, we recommend halting for lunch at the Green Bazaar. Spend your evening at the First Presidents Park, where you can saunter through the pretty lanes and enjoy live concerts at the amphitheatre.

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Next morning, pamper your body, mind, and spirit at the Arasan Baths located near Panfilov Park. Thereafter, soak up some sunshine and scenic views at the Big Almaty Lake. You can also rustle up some goodies and pack a picnic basket to rejuvenate by the lake.

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Lastly, for a tryst with the country’s culture, make sure to add the Kazakh Museum Of Folk Musical Instruments and Huns Ethno Village to your 7-day Kazakhstan itinerary.

Book your stay at InterContinental Almaty via Booking.com

Book your stay at InterContinental Almaty via Agoda.com

Day 7: Charyn Canyon

Charyn Canyon
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Culminate your 7-day Kazakhstan holiday with a visit to the Charyn Canyon, located just 215 km from Almaty. Spread across 154 km, the canyon boasts surreal red rock formations. Tourists can sign up for guided tours of the region. Explore the Valley of Castles, a natural monument formed by sedimentary rocks over millions of years. After spending a day amidst Kazakhstan’s unperturbed natural beauty, tourists can retreat to Almaty.

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Sip and savour: Must-visit restaurants in Kazakhstan

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You haven’t quite explored a place until you dig into its gastronomic flavours and local indulgences. Discover a selection of restaurants that deserve a spot on your Kazakhstan itinerary. For starters, dine at Gosti (Almaty) for Russian and European delicacies amidst the ambience of a 19th-century Russian country mansion, both indoors and al fresco. Sample Central Asian staples like Plov, Manti, and Lagman at Tarkhun Restaurant, also in Almaty. For a tryst with Kazakhstan’s culinary legacy, visit Arnau and Qazaq Gourmet in Astana, where local feasts including beshbarmark and kazy await.

Leisure meets luxury: The best hotels in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan itinerary
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At the core of any holiday lies the need to unwind, unplug and luxuriate. The plush hotels in Kazakhstan offer just that. Consider The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty, for refined elegance, unmatched hospitality, and breathtaking views of the mountains and cityscape. Another luxury lodging in Almaty is the InterContinental Almaty, offering curated culinary experiences across multiple dining options, ‘grab and go’ meals, an indoor pool, and state-of-the-art rooms.

Shop the best travel experiences here

For a five-star beachfront experience, Rixos Waterworld Aktau boasts a sandy beach, immaculately manicured lawns, sophisticated suites, and the Rixos Anjana Spa. When in Astana, immerse yourself in traditional Kazakh art and architecture with a contemporary spin at The St. Regis Astana, or experience culinary excellence and in-suite amenities at the Sheraton Astana Hotel.

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Visa, language and more: Things to know before visiting Kazakhstan

kazakhstan itinerary 7 days
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Before embarking on your journey to Kazakhstan, there are essential details to consider. To enter Kazakhstan, the largest landlocked country in the world, travellers must obtain a printed e-visa confirmation from an online portal before departure. Additionally, vaccination against Yellow Fever and Poliovirus at least four weeks before travel is mandatory. Travellers without valid vaccination certificates are subject to a six-day-long quarantine upon arrival.

Kazakhstan offers visa-free entry for citizens of 43 countries, including India, Brazil, Colombia, Russia, Hong Kong, China, and Oman. For the complete list of nations that can claim visa-free entry into Kazakhstan, click here.

As the majority of locals speak Kazakh, it is advisable to learn some common everyday phrases for convenient travel in the country. Here are some phrases to assist you:

  • Sälem (Сәлем) – Hi
  • Sälemetsiz be (Сәлеметсіз бе) – Hello (more formal)
  • Sau bolıñız (Сау болыңыз) – Goodbye
  • Rahmet (Рахмет) – Thank you
  • Qosh keldiñiz (Қош келдіңіз) – You’re welcome
  • Ötinemin (Өтінемін) – Please
  • Iä (Иә) – Yes
  • Jok (Жоқ) – No
  • Qayırlı tañ (Қайырлы таң) – Good morning
  • Qayırlı kesh (Қайырлы кеш) – Good evening
  • Qayırlı kün (Қайырлы күн) – Good afternoon
  • Tamaq (Тамақ) – Food
  • Su (Су) – Water
  • Därethana (Дәретхана) – Bathroom
  • Bunıñ bağası qansha? (Бұның бағасы қанша? ) – How much is this?
  • Ağılshınsha söyley alasız ba? (Ағылшынша сөйлей аласыз ба?) – Do you speak English?
  • Mağan kömektese alasız ba? (Маған көмектесе аласыз ба?) – Can you help me?

Location and how to reach

Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country flanked by the Caspian Sea in the west and the Altai Mountains on its eastern border with Russia and China. A former Soviet Republic, Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country in the world by land and has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Almaty International Airport, located in Almaty, is the country’s largest and busiest airport and attracts millions of passengers annually. Its modern infrastructure and remarkable amenities further enhance the travel experience.

(Feature Image Credit: Parilov/Shutterstock)

Related: Where To Eat, Sleep And Pose: Exploring Hong Kong With A Gen Z-Approved Itinerary

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– What are the must-visit destinations in Kazakhstan?
Some of the most visited destinations in Kazakhstan include Astana, Almaty, Turkestan, Taraz, and Shymkent, among others.

– How many days should I plan for a trip to Kazakhstan?
When travelling to Kazakhstan, an itinerary of 7 days is ideal for exploring the culinary pitstops, architectural marvels, and natural beauty of the country.

– What is the local currency in Kazakhstan, and are credit cards widely accepted?
The local currency of Kazakhstan is Kazakhstani Tenge, and is represented by the symbol ₸. Additionally, all major hotels, markets, and eateries accept credit cards. However, it is advisable to have some cash handy in case you’re dealing with local traders.

– What are the transportation options within Kazakhstan?
The public transport system in Kazakhstan comprises intercity buses, minibuses, trains, taxis and car or bicycle rentals. Additionally, metro service is available only in Almaty.

Written By

Yashita Vashishth

Yashita Vashishth

Writer by day, reader by night, Yashita has a flair for all things travel, wellness and food. She has previously worked at Condé Nast India and Times Internet. When not working, you can catch her binge-reading the latest thriller on the block, re-watching Friends, trying a new recipe or hosting her friends.