On a clear day you can see the beautifully rugged, snow-capped mountains, right at the city's doorstep to the south. The city, in general, slopes from south to north which makes navigating the streets easy. If you are traveling uphill, you're going south. There is also a small mountain range bordering the city to the east.
3,000 per person (Jan 2009). It is definitely worth the drive if you have a day or so to spend. You'll wind along the foot of the Tien Shan range through incredible landscape created by young volcanoes. Most of the "local" felt goods and rugs sold in Almaty come from tribes in Kyrgyzstan, and can be bought for a quarter of the cost in Kyrgyzstan.
place listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance
As an important hub, not just for Kazakhstan but for Central Asia as a whole, Almaty has a moderately large expatriate community and is on the itinerary for most tourists in the region.
Before the August 2015 tenge devaluation Almaty was in the top 50 most expensive cities worldwide for expats according to Mercer Human Research. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful gateway to this undiscovered and distinctive country. Kazakh people are very kind and welcoming, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the hospitality.
If you can read English and do not have a guide-interpreter in Almaty, then you can buy Pogulay, an indispensable guidebook to the city which is printed in English and Russian and sold at newsstands. It's priced at US$3 and covers all the attractions, including photos and descriptions.
- Tourist Information Office Kurmangazy street 33(M. Auezov house museum).Official tourist information facility, operated by the government.
- Alpine park. Outside town, on the road to Shymbulak. Medeu skating rink is on this road too.
- Big Almaty Lake. Big Almaty Lake (Bolshoye Almatinskoye Ozero) is one the most admirable mountain lakes in Almaty's outskirts, in Trans-Ili Alatau in the gorge of Bolshaya Almatinka River at an elevation of 2,510 m. It lies in the cavity and is like a sparkling mirror, surrounded on all the sides by majestic peaks. Three main peaks tower over the lake: Peak of Soviet (4,317 m) – in the southeast, Ozerniy (4,110 m) – in the south, Tourist Peak (3,954 m) in the southwest. Depending on the season the lake changes its color from light green to turquoise. Can be reached by car.
- Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is a 3.5 hour drive away on the best highway in Kazakhstan (pot holes are rare and you can keep a 100 km pace easily after leaving the Almaty oblast, but watch out for crazy oncoming passers). You can catch a taxi to Bishkek at "Sairan" international coach station. Approach a group of cars with Kyrgyz number plates and negotiate the price in advance. The average fare is KZT2,500-3,000 per person (Jan 2009). It is definitely worth the drive if you have a day or so to spend. You'll wind along the foot of the Tien Shan range through incredible landscape created by young volcanoes. Most of the "local" felt goods and rugs sold in Almaty come from tribes in Kyrgyzstan, and can be bought for a quarter of the cost in Kyrgyzstan.
- Kolsai Lakes. Lakes of amazing beauty about 250 km away from Almaty. The first lake can be reached by car. To see the other lakes you have to hire a horse for about KZT500–1,000. You can stay overnight in a small two storey houses for about KZT2,000–5,000 per night. The lakes are very clean and you can even drink it. You can see the fish jumping out of it.
- Lake Balkhash. If travelers have several days to spend (and are craving a beach experience), the largest lake in the country can be reached by bus within 12 hours or private car within 8 hours. Lake Balkhash is half fresh (the eastern half where the river enters from China) and half salt (the western half). There are a couple of hotels in the village of Balkhash, which is the half-way point between Almaty and Astana if you want to drive 800 km instead of flying or taking the train.
- Sharyn Canyon. The second largest canyon in the world. Located 200 km to the east of Almaty. Recommended for tours more than one day. One of the most remarkable natural wonders is the canyon of Sharyn river. Sharyn Canyon is considered to be a miniature Grand Canyon. It is unusual and very diverse in its forms that remind the towers of fairy-tale castle. That is why the canyon has another name, the "valley of castles". On the slopes there could be found the remains of fossil fauna, dated 300 million years.
- Shymbulak. Ski-resort with snowboard and ski tracks. Opened from November till April–May. A base for some great hikes. You can hike up to the top to get a great view of the city. Or you can bypass Shymbulak and carry along the road, past the hotel and walk up to the dam and then the glacier. A tough, but beautiful walk. Hiking is definitely a highlight here. To go to Shymbulak, you can take the bus from the corner of Satbaev and Baitursynuly at 08:00 every day; don't miss the way back. Every Tuesday is lift is closed.
- Tamgaly - Temple of Sun. The Tamgaly petroglyphs, a UNESCO site, are about 2.5 hours away by car (170 km, on the road to Bishkek). The petroglyphs range from ancient (3,000 years) to "modern" (75 years), and feature pictures of the Sunman and hunting nomad tribes. There are also several gravesites. Not to be missed in the spring, summer or autumn, but watch out for snakes when it's hot.
- Turgen Gorge. In the national preserve Ile-Alatau, 90 km from Almaty. In the gorge that has a depth of 44km. you can take pleasure from visiting hot springs, waterfalls, and plenty of forests. Gorge is famous with its waterfalls and relic Chim-Turgen moss fir woods that spread over the ground and create a dense fir-tree carpet.