Established as recently as 1997, Astana is Kazakhstan’s rapidly growing, forward-thinking capital. The city’s skyline comprises quirky, unique architectural masterpieces and its every corner holds something intriguing for the curious traveller in you.
Top things to see and do
- A must-see is Khan Shatyr, Astana’s iconic shopping mall in the shape of a giant tent. The mall is considered one of the key symbols of the city. Here you can shop, watch a movie or relax with a cup of tea at one of Khan Shatyr’s countless restaurants and cafes. You can even get a taste of the beach at the indoor Sky Beach Club. This purpose-built water park boasts real tropical island sand imported from the Maldives as well as temperature controlled atmospheres.
- Take a walk down Kazakhstan’s history at the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Located in the center of Astana at the Independence Square, the museum is the largest in Central Asia. Through its seven halls, you can explore the country’s ancient and medieval history as well as its modern art and culture.
- Within close proximity to Independence Square is the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Marvel at this structural work of art, built in the shape of a 60-metre tall glass and steel pyramid. After you’re done admiring its exterior, check out the national museum of culture housed here or catch a performance at the opera.
- If you love music and the performing arts, visit Central Concert Hall for a variety of entertainment including classical music, pop, ballet performances and more. Designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti, the Hall resembles a traditional Kazakh musical instrument – the dombra.
- Nature lovers can embark on a lakeside adventure at Burabay National Nature Park. Just over 200 kilometers north of Astana, set aside some time to visit this stunning spot where you can enjoy breathtaking views of rolling hills and pine forests. In the spring and summer months, take a tour of the lake Burabay, consider a hike in the forests and visit the adjoining zoo. While in the winter months, you can enjoy ice fishing, skiing and sleigh rides in the snow.
- For foodies, Astana offers plenty of opportunities to savour true Kazakh cuisine. Try the national dish of beshbarmak – a combination of diced boiled meat and noodles in onion gravy. Literally meaning “five fingers,” this dish is meant to be eaten with your hands, so roll up your sleeves!
Tips for travellers
If you’re travelling with kids, make sure to visit Astana’s wacky flying saucer-shaped circus located at Qabanbay Batyr Avenue.