Best Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

Manas equestrian monument in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek

Capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is the first point of call for many travellers arriving in the country. The city offers a glimpse into Kyrgyzstan’s soviet history, with examples of brutalist architecture including the State History Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts and Manas Statue. The central plaza known as Ala-Too Square and the Osh Bazaar are both great spots to while away a few hours. As the day draws to a close, be sure to also check out Bishkek’s nightlife. You’ll find a number of craft-beer bars and pubs to enjoy a drink or two.

yk Kol, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia

Issyk Kol Lake

Stretching 170 kilometres in length and 70 kilometres across, Issyk Kol Lake is the second largest alpine lake in the world. Despite being situated at an altitude of over 1,600 metres, its water never freezes and the lake’s name translates to mean ‘hot lake’ in Kyrgyz. Surrounded by dramatic mountains, including the central Tian Shan range, it offers access to some of the finest mountain trekking in Central Asia. The lake is also very accessible from the capital Bishkek and can easily be added to traveller itineraries for Kyrgyzstan.

The Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol

Karakol

Located close to Issyk Kol Lake, Karakol is a gateway to the Tian Shan mountain range and one of finest trekking destinations in Central Asia. Popular routes include the treks to Ala-Kul Lake and the Altyn Arashan hot springs, but that’s not all this town has to offer. Other sights include the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Dungan Mosque, as well as the Ak-Tilek Bazaar and the Karakol History Museum. There are also plenty more outdoor activities to get involved in such as climbing, off-road driving and horseback riding.

Yurts at the shore of Song Kol Lake at the dawn, Kyrgyzstan

Song Kol Lake

Surrounded by lush pastures high in the Tien Shan mountains, Song Kol Lake stretches almost 18 kilometres across and 29 kilometres wide. A vast and beautiful landscape, this is where Kyrgyz herdsmen come to graze their livestock during the warmer summer months of June to September. Their yurts dot the shoreside meadows and the two main activities for visitors here are trekking and horseback riding. You can also experience staying in a yurt or opt for multi-yurt treks and rides.

View over the town and walnut forests of Arslanbob village in southern Kyrgyzstan

Arslanbob

Nestled beneath the granite crags of the Barbash Ata mountains, the village of Arslanbob is famously surrounded by the largest walnut forest in the world. It’s also the perfect place to unwind for a while and base yourself for enjoying one of the multi-day hikes which lead into the mountains. Perhaps visit the local waterfalls or hike up through the high passes to Holy Lake. With plenty of pretty homestays in the area, you can also gain a little taste of local life.

Jeti Oguz rock formation in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia

Jeti Oguz

A popular day trip from Karakol, Jeti-Oguz is one of Kyrgyzstan’s best loved natural landmarks. This chiseled, burnt red landscape is a protected geological area, with its name meaning ‘seven bulls’ due to the rock’s resemblance. Their formation is steeped in local legend and in the village here there’s also an ancient cemetery and burial mounds. Head five kilometres further south and you’ll find the Valley of the Flowers, which sees poppies and other flowers come into bloom from May to September.

See Also

For more information on visiting Kyrgyzstan, check out our other travel resources:

Best time to visit – seasons and weather in Kyrgyzstan
Top travel tips – information on currency, food and much more
Tourist Visas - what you need to know to enter Kyrgyzstan