Written by Bradt Travel Guides
With myriad opportunities on offer for its visitors, Kyrgyzstan is brimming with exciting things to see and do. From hospitable people to artefacts of ancient cultures and awe-inspiring landscapes, the country is almost impossible to describe to those who haven’t experienced it for themselves. Nevertheless, we’ve tried our best to choose just five of Kyrgyzstan’s highlights:
Lake Sary-Chelek is but one of several incredible lakes on offer in Kyrgyzstan © Djusha, Shutterstock
Beautiful lakes are a constant across Kyrgyzstan. Although Lake Sary-Chelek is said to be among the most picturesque, it’s Lake Issyk-Kul that normally steals the headlines: not only is it the world’s second-largest lake, but it also boasts a number of beaches.
The variety of the Kyrgyz landscape is astonishing © Evgeny Dubinchuk, Shutterstock
Kyrgyzstan really is an outdoors sort of place. The landscape is magnificent and hugely varied, and it is not uncommon to hear visitors from other countries express surprise at how familiar the scenery often appears. Aside from valleys, there are steppes, snow-capped peaks, forests, meadows, and rolling plains to explore.
Silk Road treasures
In the days of the Silk Road, Burana Tower attracted a heavy footfall © Labusova Olga, Shutterstock
From as early as the 6th century, Kyrgyzstan thrived on trade from the Silk Road. As well as bringing goods across the country, it also brought people from different cultures and religions, thus making it a major influence on the present-day Kyrgyzstan that is a mosaic of Turkic, Mongol and Slavic cultures. Two of the most popular artefacts are Tash Rabat – said to be the country’s most remarkable monument – and Burana Tower.
Experiencing nomadic life
Nomadic traditions remain an integral part of Kyrgyz society in the present day © Maximum Exposure PR, Shutterstock
Whether it’s watching eagles hunt, sleeping in a yurt, riding on horseback, or sampling traditional food, it’s almost impossible to avoid experiencing a snippet of Kyrgyzstan’s distinctive nomadic culture, and who would want to?
Hiking and other outdoor activities
Ala-Archa National Park, a stone’s throw from Bishkek, is the perfect place for outdoor pursuits © Mass Ave 975, Wikimedia Commons
A trip to Kyrgyzstan and outdoor activities almost go hand-in-hand. Even when in the capital, Bishkek, the potential to get outside and experience the staggering beauty of the country’s terrain is at your very fingertips. The most popular outdoor pursuit is, without a doubt, hiking and trekking, but it is also possible to climb the glaciers of the Central Tien Shan, and even to ski.
For more on Kyrgyzstan, check out our comprehensive guide: