Trekking, mountain-biking, heli-skiing, horse riding, climbing, bird-watching – the region around Almaty is all about nature and outdoor activities. There is no point staying in town when the most amazing wonders – such as the Tian Shan Mountains and Issyk-Kül Lake – are a short trip away. Any taxi will give you a ride from the city centre to the world famous Chimbulak ski-resort and won't charge a fortune, just because it's a routine trip for locals. But exploring Almaty itself is fun too.
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory, which is not far from the city, is in the world's Top 10 observatories.
Check out the huge Zelenyi and Barakholka markets for a great selection of dried fruits, homemade preserved meats and crazy bric-a-brac, or enjoy the funicular railway that climbs up to the town's highest point, Kök-Töbe. Eat well, too – but beware, the meat and lamb pilafs are so good you may forget your limits.