For security reasons and the geographical location Astana was officially declared capital of Kazakhstan in 1998. Touristically talking the old capital Almati in the south of the country was in better location to visit town, cities and countries in the region. Astana in this case is quite far from everything and distances in Kazakhstan are long but the good news is: there are too many things to do and see in Astana!
How to go to Astana?
The best and cheapest way to visit Astana is from Eastern Europe (Budapest) or EuroAsia (Georgia). If you search with time you can find good flight offers for less than 100 dollars return with the low cost airline WizzAir. The only problem is the schedule is really good. There are 2 flights per week but if is perfect if you planning to visit the city for 3 days and come back. Once you arrive at the airport the best way to go to the city center is by taxi or bus number 10: https://kz.easyway.info/en/cities/astana/routes/15
What to see in Astana?
Astana is a big city so the distances are long to walk from one point to another and the public transport is not really efficient for the tourist. This is an important point to keep in mind during the hotel reservations because there are too many cheapest hotels and hostels close to the train station but walking to the city center will take around 1 hour 15 minutes or more.
The good news is the majority of the touristic attractions are close each other in the city center and we can visit everything in 2 or 3 days.
1. Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center
A neofuturistic building located in front of lovers park. Basically the building has a modern shopping inside with a huge variety of stores.
2. Nurzhol Boulevard
This is one of the main walks in the city. It has 2.5 kilometres long and is practically an open air museum of futuristic architecture and a show of lights at night.
3. Baiterek Tower
This monument is located in the center of the main boulevard and it was built inspired in a popular story of a bird and golden egg in a life tree, symbolising the happiness and born so the touristic which access to the top can will be the witness of the happiness and born of modernity in Kazakhstan.
Close to the boulevard we can find this big mosque, the third biggest in Central Asia. Entrance is allow for non muslims as well.
At the end of the boulevard, behind the presidencial and the other side of the river Ishim we’ll find this weird building with pyramidal shape buit by a british architect. The building is used for special events but we can visit it with guide visit.
6. Hazrat Sultan Mosque
Another monumental mosque located infront of the pyramid and considered the biggest in central Asia.
7. Independence Palace
A few meters from the Pyramid we’ll find this modern palace in which we can enter for free but there are not too much to see inside. Is usually use as special events.
At the same street than the Independence Palace we can find one of the most important museums in Astana. The museum has several floor where we can find objects and information about the history of the country and the region.
9. Night in Astana
During the night the city looks completely different, in the center all the buildings has lights as well important buildings around the city center. In terms of security we can walk at any time without any problem and the police presence is visible, the only zone which is better to avoid at night is the train station are but the city and the country in general is considered safe.
10. Outside Astana
For to be honest outside Astana there are not too many things to do because the distances are long and the country is practically a desert for travel around and enjoy the landscapes.
From 37 kilometres we can an ex-gulag or soviet concentration camp (Alzhir, Memorial museum of victim of totalitarianism). In theory there is a bus/public transport but the best way is take a taxi.
Alzhir, Memorial museum of victim of totalitarianism
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 6pm
Address: Kurgaldzhinskoye Highway, 37th km. from Astana, Malinovka, Kazakhstan
11. More futuristic architecture
In practically any point of the city center we can find interesting building to see. The interesting thing here is discover the buildings for yourself instead of follow a map route.