Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Kazakhstan’s main business and administrative centre and the youngest capital in the world, Astana, is located in the North-West of the vast country in Eurasia. The city developed from a Medieval settlement named Bozok and changed its name several times, first from Akmolinsk to Akmola and later from Tselinograd to Astana. It even bore the name Nur-Sultan, after the country’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The city was recently renamed Astana. Taking its inspiration from the towering futuristic buildings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Astana is dotted with numerous imposing skyscrapers and architectural feats of engineering. Kisho Kurokawa, an esteemed Japanese architect, designed many of the city’s legendary buildings, as did Norman Foster, the mastermind behind The Sphere. The iconic building was constructed for the 2017 Expo in Kazakhstan. The event marked a milestone for the windy city, as it hosted visitors from around the world who could experience the hospitality of Central Asia in its most developed city.

Alongside the buildings purposefully built for the World Expo 2017, tourists flock to the city icon, the Baytarek, a 97-metre-tall monument celebrating the year Astana became the capital city. The city is also home to the largest tent in the world, the Khan Shatyr. Although the architecture is undoubtedly imposing, the broad alleys are often surprisingly empty. The locals admit that Astana is chiefly a business centre, whereas Almaty is the country’s heart and soul.

The city is divided into the left and right banks, separated by the Ishim River. One is home to international corporations, hotel chains and shopping centres, while the other is a remnant of socialist influence in the 20th century. Throughout the city, there seem to be plans afoot to put the city on the global map. That is especially evident when talking to younger generations eager to learn, explore and create. Astana has to polish its offer and connect all its venues, local stakeholders and tourist companies under a unified brand to establish itself on the global market.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


With countless modern meeting venues constructed for the Expo in 2017, Astana can easily host large conferences and events. The Expo’s centrepiece, the Museum of Future Energy Nur-Alem, offers a fascinating insight into Kazakhstan’s past, present and future of energy resources. Another imposing building, the QazExpo Congress Centre, is ideal for events, with a bright interior and modern equipment. Its transparent roof ensures every event has a spectacular background. Just across the road, the International Exhibition Centre Expo provides space for exhibitions and trade shows. As all hotels are near, Astana is incredibly convenient for business guests. From Sheraton Astana, the Ritz-Carlton, and Hilton Astana to St. Regis Astana, guests have an array of options when staying in the city. Visiting Astana in the winter is unadvisable, as the temperatures can drop to -30° Celsius. We thus recommend marvelling at the spectacular architecture in the summertime or fall when temperatures are moderate.



At the top of Baytarek, a gilded handprint of the first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, awaits visitors. Locals and foreigners queue for hours to see the monument and place their hands on “Ayaly alakan”, as it has been said that doing so makes any wish come true. If you do not believe in miracles, you can instead enjoy panoramic views. The Baytarek is an architectural pearl, with its glass top gleaming differently according to the light. The ball-shaped top spans 22 metres alone and weighs 300 tonnes. At 97 metres, the height of Baytarek is symbolic for the country, as it marks the year 1997 when Kazakhstan decided to relocate the capital from Almaty to Astana. The structure represents a tree of life, with an egg in the centre, thus paying tribute to nomadic tradition. Baytarek is the brainchild of architect Akmyrza Rustembekov.



Wine tasting at Arba Winery

Winemaking may not be Kazakhstan’s forte, yet the rolling hills near Almaty have proven fruitful for winemakers. Arba Winery started planting vines at an altitude of 1000 metres, where the climate is advantageous for vines. The soil and temperature at the foot of the Ile Alatau Mountains proved favourable for the grapes to acquire a unique aroma. In Astana, Arba Winery opened a wine shop where they often organise wine tastings for groups. Enjoying the flavour of their famed riesling and pinot noir is a unique incentive idea in the heart of Astana.

Photo Credit: Arba Winery


Astana is a city of superlatives. Thus, when visiting, do not be surprised to learn it is home to the tallest building in Central Asia – the Abu Dhabi Plaza and the largest tent in the world – Khan Shatyr. Architects received an empty canvas when designing buildings in the city. Among them, Norman Foster left an ever-lasting mark with his Sphere, instantly recognisable after leaving the airport doors. The architecture is a true delight but somehow overlooked and neglected compared to more illustrious destinations. Kisho Kurokawa is to blame for the city’s imposing, planned layout. Alongside the fascinating buildings, Astana also hides several horticultural gems, including the Presidential Park, the neatly-arranged Botanical Garden and Zhetisu Park. All of them are strewn with fountains, flower gardens and walking and bicycle paths. If you have free time when visiting Astana, a stroll around one of the lush parks is a must.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


One of the staples of Kakazhstan is its famous chocolate in blue packaging. Advertised even by Novak Djokovic, chocolate is an essential gift when visiting Astana. If you seek a traditional product, we suggest purchasing the kalpak hat in stunning colours. Locals often gift one another hand-crafted leather products, including souvenir whips, a tradition dating to nomadic tribes.

Photo Credit: The Astana Times


Among numerous conferences and expos that take place in Astana, the following five will be in the limelight:

Flora Expo Astana (20 – 22 April 2023)

Eurasian Book Fair (21 – 23 April 2023)

Astana Travel Expo 2023 (4 – 6 October 2023)

United Medical Tourism Expo 2023 (19 – 20 October 2023)

Urbanext Central Asia 2023 (8- 10 November 2023)



The cuisine in Astana is incredibly diverse and closely resembles that of European capitals. Visitors can try everything from traditional, Georgian, and Turkish to international classics. We recommend visiting one of the first fine-dining authentic Kazakh restaurants, deservedly named Qazag Gourmet Restaurant. Here, you can listen to live music and the melodies of dombra and indulge in the best local cuisine, including the beshbarmak. Another staple of the cuisine in Kazakhstan is kumys, a sour milk drink with numerous health benefits. In Astana, tea often replaces coffee at lunch or dinner. If you want a mix between authentic Kazakh gastronomy and European-influenced dishes, we suggest booking a table at Nasha Dacha Restaurant.

Photo Credit: Qazag Gourmet Restaurant


Five great reasons to organise an event in Astana:

1. Futuristic and ultramodern architecture
The city of Astana is relatively young, and its streets are unsurprisingly full of spectacular architecture. The city’s towering buildings and imposing monuments are a testament to the country’s swift development after gaining independence in 1991. Astana’s architecture deservedly turns heads.

2. Excellent meeting infrastructure
The legacy of the 2017 World Expo is reflected in the modern buildings that have been given a new lease on life as museums, meeting venues and exhibition centres. QazExpo Congress Centre and the International Exhibition Centre Expo can host the most demanding events. In addition, numerous hotels boast spacious conference halls fitted with modern equipment.

3. Superb hotels
International hotel chains have been expanding their portfolios in Kazakhstan. Thus, guests can choose from an array of superb hotels in the city centre or near the main meeting venues. We recommend staying at the Sheraton Astana, which boasts a central location and meets the expectations of a five-star hotel.

4. Varied cuisine
Whether you wish to embark on a culinary excursion across Kazakh cuisine or play it safe with international classics, Astana will deliver. We relished the variety of dishes across restaurants in the city and were surprised by the excellent value for money.

5. Stepping stone to Eurasia
Astana has a fantastic location for an administrative centre; it is close to Europe and Asia. Thanks to Air Astana’s growing network of destinations, the city is perpetually improving its accessibility and cementing its position as the gateway to exploring Kazakhstan and Central Asia.



At first glance, Astana appears to be a city that travellers visit for its imposing architecture. Yet, behind the glass facades and curved domes, a Eurasian character awaits to be discovered. Astana is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, and cuisine. Its charm is best understood when talking to the locals who are proud to live in the country’s capital. With its geostrategic location, modern infrastructure and advancing accessibility, Astana has the potential to become an international player. The city should focus on holistically connecting the offer and positioning itself as a city of superlatives. Astana is the gateway to the incredibly diverse region of Central Asia and a destination where you will feel extremely welcome.

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