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Almaty Kazakhstan

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan, and considering the various nearby ski resorts, it can be used as a base for your Kazakhstan ski trip. Many people prefer to stay in the city considering the affordable hotels, the abundant choice of restaurants, and the many activities to absorb the culture.

The city of Almaty is incredibly scenic considering its backdrop of the snow covered Trans-Ili Alatau Mountain Range that has peaks of over 4,000 metres.

Almaty used to be the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997 and its various former names provide an indication of its history. In ancient times it was known as Almatu or Almata, which are Turkish derived names to reflect the many apples around the city. In the 19th century when the city was controlled and influenced by the Russians, it was called Alma-Ata (also meaning something to do with apples), and this became official when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union. When Kazakhstan gained independence in 1991, it was called Almaty to reflect its original Kazakh name. Just call it the apple city and you should be fine!

Skiing Near Almaty

There are various ski resorts near Almaty so the city can be used as a gateway or base to go skiing or snowboarding.

Shymbulak (Chimbulak) Ski Resort is the premier Kazakhstan ski resort and has some modern lift infrastructure and other well developed amenities. Shymbulak is just 25km/15.5 miles from downtown Almaty and if you don’t have a rental car or are on tour, there are public buses to get there.

Ak-Bulak Ski Resort is 45km/28 miles northeast of Almaty; a drive that takes 1 to 1.5 hours. Ak-Bulak has 11 lifts, 10km of piste, and a vertical of 1,032 metres (1,632-2,664m).

Tabagan Ski Resort is 70km/43.5 miles east of Almaty. This ski resort is decent sized by Kazakhstan standards and has various lifts and 22km of piste.

Tau Samaly Ski Resort is located approximately 80km/50 miles northwest of Almaty. This is a very small ski area that’s at relatively low elevation.

You can click on the map icon above to see the location of some of the Almaty ski resorts.

Other nearby snowboarding and skiing includes snowcat skiing in Tuyuksu Valley and a couple of heli skiing operators.

Where is Almaty?

Almaty is located in the southeastern region of Kazakhstan, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan. It sits in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains which are a part of the Tian/Tien Shan Range.

Almaty International Airport (IATA code: ALA) receives direct flights from various international destinations including Dubai, Frankfurt and Moscow. You can look at flight routes and options here.

Almaty Hotels

Almaty offers a wide range of lodging options including luxury hotels, boutique hotels, apartments and hostels/backpackers. The 5 star hotels are pricy yet more affordable than many other countries, there are several very good 4 star hotels that provide good value deluxe accommodations, whilst 3 star hotels are delightfully affordable.

A great pick for a deluxe hotel is the Kazakhstan Hotel, which is well located to explore some of the main city attractions. It is also well connected to public transportation options.

See the Almaty accommodations here where you can filter by lodging type, quality, and facilities.

Almaty Hotel Listings


One of the advantages of staying in Almaty compared to staying at the ski resorts, is a better opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and visit various attractions after skiing or on rest days. The city also has a very wide range of restaurants, cafes and nightlife.

Almaty is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage. Cultural and historical attractions include the Central State Museum, the Zenkov Cathedral, and the Green Bazaar. The city also has various winter festivals such as ice sculpting competitions and special markets. Or just wandering through the food market can be fun, but be sure to have your google translate app at the ready.

Almaty and surrounding areas are also known for the natural hot springs. Whilst not quite in the same league as the Japanese onsen experience, visiting a hot spring is still a nice way to relax after a hard day on the slopes.
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