City of Aktobe (Aktobe Region)

The city of Aktobe is included to the province Aktobe Region

Presentation of the destination

The highlight of Kazakhstan's central highlands

Known as Aktyubinsk until 1999, when the city traded in its Russian moniker for a Kazakh one, Aktobe is a 19th century city of around 370,000 people. The city was first a Russian military fort built at the confluence of the Kargala and Ilek Rivers, along an important caravan route in Kazakhstan’s Central Highlands. The city's population exploded in the late 19th and early 20th century, and there was a spate of building work, from churches to mosques, schools to movie theatres. Nowadays Aktobe is flourishing, with growing cultural and economic opportunities, excellent transportation links, and oil and gas wealth resulting in new infrastructure every year. Kazakh and Russian are spoken widely, the time zone is UTC +5, and climate ranges from maximum temperatures of 30°C in summer to lows of -20°C in winter. The currency is the Kazakhstani tenge.

Points of interests / things to see

The Aktobe Regional Museum

Founded in 1929 by a group of local scientists, this interesting ethnographic and historical museum only employed one lone curator at first. It was housed in a variety of buildings before moving to its current home, an old hospital with classical columns and bright blue walls, in 1965, and opening in 1967. Nowadays the museum has blossomed, with 1555 m² of exhibition spread throughout eight halls and around 90,000 individual items, there's plenty to catch your interest. From traditional wooden animal carvings and bone spoons with colourful decorations to Sarmat knives and other weapons dating back to the sixth century BC, history is brought to life with the careful display of these precious objects. There are also many fantastic fossils, including some remains of the indricotherium, a gigantic mammal, whose bones were first discovered in 1912 in the nearby district of Irgiz. The Cosmos Hall is also fascinating, as many Russian cosmonauts came from this region, and there are brilliant reconstructions of two Soviet spaceships. Address: 14 Altynsarin Street. Admission: 50T. Opening hours: 9am – 1pm & 2 – 6pm.

The glittering St Nicolas Cathedral

St Nicolas Cathedral on Mametova Street is a great place to begin your exploration of religious Aktobe, as its towering spires, glittering gold domes and minarets make it an eye-catching feature. The minarets are topped with Russian Orthodox eight-pointed crosses, with a slanted footboard indicating the guilt and innocence of his neighbouring thieves during the crucifixion. In the snow the building looks like a fairytale castle, and is well worth exploring inside to see the rich Orthodox icons contained there. Despite its timeless appearance, the cathedral was actually only built in 2008, opened with great fanfare with the presidents of both Russia and Kazakhstan present. The cathedral is unique in that it is the only one in the Orthodox world that is dedicated to the Kazakh St Nicholas, and a shrine in his honour can be discovered inside. The nine bells, all cast in Voronezh, were cast in iron, with the largest weighing 1260kg, and the tallest tower is 45 metres above the ground. Nowadays the building is well known for its ‘youth squad’, a club that mixes Christian doctrine with getting fit. Address: 6 Mametova Street. Phone: (8) 7132 775245. Please remember that you must have both arms and legs covered in order to enter Orthodox churches.

-Gasyr Mosque, the glory of Islam

Rivalling its neighbour, St Nicholas Cathedral, the Nur-Gasyr Mosque was constructed in 2009, and is also a grand and beautiful building, with four slender white towers around the central golden dome. Look closely, and more details begin to emerge, the gorgeous patterning on the panels of the central dome, the tiny crescent moons of Islam that top each tower, the glowing yurt-shaped lanterns at the entrance, and the brilliantly illuminated star-shaped fountain all combine to make the mosque an inspirational sight by day or by night. Islam is the most common religion in Kazakhstan, with some 70% of the population practising some form of the religion, with most ethnic Kazakhs belonging to the Sunni school. The religion first arrived in the eighth century, when the Arabs arrived in central Asia, and gradually spread north under the Samanid rulers. Despite Soviet efforts to force practising Muslims to bend to communist ideologies in the 20th century, the religion still flourishes, with those who claim descent from the original 18th-century Arab missionaries granted special respect and status in Kazakh cultural life. Address: Abulkhair khan dangili 46. Phone: (8) 3172 563027.

Aktobe Reservoir and the Eset Batyr Mausoleum

Head out of town on the Kandyagash Road to visit two favourite destinations for local people, the Aktobe Reservoir and the Eset Batyr Mausoleum. Your first stop, the reservoir, is around 10 km out of town, located on the Ilek River. Locals call it the Aktyubinsk Sea, and flock there in the summertime for swimming and sunbathing at the Sayahat Beach complex, where there’s snacks, drinks and umbrellas. Once you've topped up your tan and enjoyed some lunch, continue for another 17 km to the village of Bestamak, famous as the burial place of the great Kazakh military leader Eset Batyr, who led the Kazakhs against the Khiva and Kokand Kingdoms and spearheaded the national liberation movement. The mausoleum itself is a tiny pink building at the far end of the village, where Eset Batyr, carved in stone, looks out from above the doorway. The building was constructed in 1992, guarded by the stone heads of warriors who keep watch over the great hero’s final resting place. Sayahat Beach complex opening hours: 10am – 10pm (summer only). Admission: adults 300T/children 100T.

The Aliya Museum – in memory of a heroic Kazakh woman

The Aliya Museum, devoted to the brave life and heroic early death of the female sniper Aliya Moldagulova, is located on a street that also bears her name. Moldagulova’s larger than life reputation for her part in the World War II has made her a national darling. An orphan, she was raised by her uncle before he was conscripted and she ended up in an orphanage. With a patriotic spirit and great ambition, she enrolled into a female sniper school in 1943 when she was just 18, and within a year she took control of her unit when her commander went missing in action, bravely leading the troops into combat with the Germans and somehow surviving a landmine blast before being killed by a gunshot wound. She was awarded both the Hero of the Soviet Union badge and the Order of Lenin, which you can learn about at the musum. Nowadays newly married couples come to lay flowers at the foot of her statue, hoping that something of her bravery will rub off on their future children. Address: 47 Aliya Moldagulova Av. Opening hours: 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 6pm Tues – Sun (closed last day of the month). Admission: T25.  

Baikonur Cosmodrome

The Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in the city of the same name, is located in the dry and dusty desert steppe of Kazakhstan, and was the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It was from Baikonur that Yuri Gagarin made the first manned orbital flight, and the entire cosmodrome area, some 6000 km², is rented by Russia, so you can fly directly from Moscow with no visa. There is a small museum at the site. Located around 800 km southeast of Aktobe.  

Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan

Situated in the beautiful surroundings of the mountains of southern Kazakhstan, Almaty is the country's cultural and commercial centre, dating back to prehistoric times. Packed with activities of visitors, from climbing the Almaty Tower to visiting the zoo, exploring the Ascension Cathedral all learning about Kazakh history at the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, Almaty is a bustling and friendly place to visit.

-modern capital

As modern and thriving as Almaty is historic, Astana is also a fantastic destination for visitors. Declared the capital in 1998, it's full of cutting-edge modern architecture, such as the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a glass pyramid designed to act as a space for all religions and ethnicities to feel at home. There's also the giant transparent tent of the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre and the otherworldly tree-shaped Bayterek observation tower.  

The UnescoWorld Heritage Site of the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

In the city of Turkistan, in southern Kazakhstan, the ancient unfinished Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi was first commissioned in 1389 by King Timur, better known as Tamerlane. It replaced a smaller mausoleum in the memory of the famous poet and Sufi mystic Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. The current structure is one of the best preserved of the period, with innovative spatial arrangements, vault and dome constructions and stunning glazed tiles making it an icon for national identity. 

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Surrounding towns

  • Акжар-2 ~10 km
  • Сазда поселка ~14 km
  • Georgihevka ~21 km
  • Ogorodnyy ~11 km
  • Akzhar ~12 km
  • Tyulpannyy ~14 km
  • Shalaksa ~16 km
  • Kurashasay ~16 km
  • Podgorny ~17 km
  • Kargalinskoye ~18 km

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How to get there ?

Getting in and getting around

Citizens of many Asian countries, along with Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Serbia, do not need visas to enter Kazakhstan, but many other nationalities will need to seek out either a single-entry (30 day) or double-entry (60 day) tourist visa before attempting to enter the country. Aktobe has its own international airport just a mile southwest of the city, which is the gateway to western Kazakhstan, but international destinations are limited to Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (reflecting the city's importance in the oil industry). Most visitors will need to fly into the old capital, Almaty, with daily connecting flights with Aktobe taking under four hours, or to nearer Astana, which offers a smaller range of destinations but has twice-daily connecting flights of less than two hours. For a real travel experience, the Trans-Siberian railway chugs over the vast expanse of Asia every two days from Moscow, with stops at both Almaty and Astana. There's even a new high-speed train from Almaty, but don't get excited. In this vast landscape it still takes 17 hours! Unless you speak Russian, bus travel can be confusing, but taxis and marshrutka vans are cheap and plentiful.

Hotels in Aktobe (Aktobe Region)

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Apartments Cottage Stroy on Abai 20

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Amsterdam Hotel Aktobe

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Hotel "Arai"

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Apartment On Abulkhair-Khana 64

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Samal Hotel

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11 mkr dom 112 A

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Apartment on Bokenbay Batyr 129-D

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Apartment 12 mikroraion 16zh

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Apartment Br. Zhurbanovykh 269

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Apartment in 11 Microdistrict 92-4

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Apartment in 11 Microdistrict 89 -132

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Apartment in 11 Microdistrict 89-50

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Apartment in 11 Microdistrict 92-15

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Hotel Dastan Aktobe

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