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Bishkek: A modern city in an ancient landscape

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Book flights to Bishkek

A young city nestled against the Tian Shan's majestic peaks, Bishkek serves as a vibrant gateway to Central Asia. Though relatively modern, its roots stretch back to the ancient Silk Road, weaving a rich tapestry of Kyrgyzstan’s history. Explore Bishkek’s wide boulevards and charming streets, where Soviet architecture stands alongside bustling traditional markets, offering a glimpse into the city’s fascinating blend of past and present.

Liberal and welcoming, with an incredibly rich culture, Bishkek is a city not to be missed.  Fly to Bishkek with Qatar Airways and embark on a true Central Asian odyssey, where there’s something new to explore at every turn.

Bishkek travel highlights

Beyond its allure as a gateway to the awe-inspiring Tian Shan, known by locals as the 'Mountains of Heaven,' Bishkek is a captivating destination in itself. Adventure and traditional charm intertwine to create unforgettable experiences here. 

  • Tourist attractions

    Ala-Too Square, Bishkek’s beating heart, offers a vibrant mix of history, culture, and leisure activities. Its bold, neo-brutalist style, with its hard lines and polished concrete surfaces are softened in the summer with colourful floral displays and lively festivals. Start your day in a cosy café overlooking the bustling square while sipping some fragrant Kyrgyz tea and enjoying the melodies of street musicians. The square is just as lively in the evening as it is during the day, with vendors, street food, and a sound and light show that turns the fountains into a dazzling display.

    Kyrgyzstan is famous for its embroidery and felt rugs, and you can find a beautiful collection on display at the State Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the land and explore its richness and variety. Note that many museums are closed on Mondays, so be sure to check opening times beforehand.

    Tucked away from the city’s hustle and bustle, the expansive Panfilov Park offers a tranquil oasis with lush greenery and walkways perfect for an afternoon stroll. Pack up for a picnic, or take a ride on the park’s Ferris wheel, which offers spectacular views of the city. 

  • Leisure activities

    Staying in Bishkek gives you the perfect opportunity to explore some unspoilt natural wonders. From mountains to high plains, Bishkek revels in some of the most exquisite natural beauty in Central Asia, all within easy reach from the city centre.

    Immerse yourself in the Tian Shan Mountains' majestic beauty and embark on unforgettable adventures. Trek through hidden valleys, set up camp beneath star-studded skies, or conquer rugged peaks with guided expeditions - on foot or horseback, you'll experience the safest and most rewarding exploration.

    Craving some breath-taking panoramas and a dash of adrenaline? Then buckle up for a road trip to Issyk-Kul, the jewel of Kyrgyzstan. Turquoise waters shimmer amidst snow-capped peaks in this vast ‘warm lake’ nestled in the Tien Shan Mountain just 250 km (about a 4-hour drive) from Bishkek. And to complete your Issyk-Kul adventure, venture further on to the Karakol Ski Base, a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders. Perched at an altitude of 2,300 to 3,000 metres in the Tien Shan Mountains, Karakol gets a lot of snow. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer learning to snowboard, Karakol will be the perfect place to create unforgettable memories on the slopes. The area also hosts plenty of cosy lodges to warm up in between runs – or to cabin in for the duration of your adventure trip.

  • Food

    From on-the-go ‘gamburgers’ (a distinctly Kyrgyz take on the classic hamburger) to traditional mutton, lamb and even horse meat dishes, the culinary diversity of Bishkek is a delight.

    Traditional Kyrgyz cuisine is focused on starchy staples like rice or potatoes, accompanied by a meat dish, usually lamb or mutton. The most common way of serving this combination is called plov, which is hearty, warming and full of flavour. Meanwhile, the national dish is besh barmak, which is meat (usually horse or beef) combined with homemade noodles.

    If you fancy something tasty when you’re out and about then samsas, which are similar to samosas, are available on almost every street corner. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants around the city serving everything from quality Indian food to pizza and even Mexican food.

  • Shopping

    Immerse yourself in the city’s lively soul at Osh Bazaar, the vibrant epicentre of everyday life and the city’s best-known food market. If you want to get a real taste of authentic Kyrgyz culture, this is the place to go. Be sure to also visit Alamedin and Orto-Say bazaars, especially during weekends.

    Aside from the various bazaars dotted around the city, you’ll also find modern malls with more international outlets – the biggest is Zum Department Store, which sells just about anything you can think of. Dordoy Bazaar, located just outside the city centre, is also a great option to visit for an unusual shopping experience where traders operate from shipping containers.

    If you want to buy an authentic memento of your travels to Kyrgyzstan, the most popular item is a kalpak – a felt hat worn by men across this entire region of Central Asia. Also look out for exquisite embroidery and traditional carpets or shyrdaks. 

Essential facts about Bishkek

Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip

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