Almaty’s best winter activity: Skiing at Shymbulak Mountain

Nazerke Makhanova | Live the World

November 23, 2022

When the winter comes, people increasingly check on Google what is the best thing to do in Almaty. With the very first snow, locals already know what to do: they start preparing skiing and snowboarding equipment. Almaty is popular for its mountainous surroundings; thus, it has many things to offer to enjoy in the wintertime - skiing in the Shymbulak Mountain Resort being one of the best winter activities.

© flickr / Tore Khan

How to reach Shymbulak 

There are different ways of reaching the Shymbulak mountain resorts: by taxi, cable car, and bus. Either way, you will reach the place, and it is quite hard to get lost on the way to it because the road signs are placed all the way to the resort. The fastest way to go to Shymbulak is by taxi or rented car, and it will only take around 30 min from the city center. There is bus number 12, which leaves at the Kazakhstan Hotel bus stop and will take you to the Medeu Ice Skating Rink bus stop within an hour. From there, you will have two options to go to Shymbulak

© iStock / taniche

Other ways of reaching Shymbulak 

First, use the cable car with an amazingly beautiful sightseeing experience! People go there dozens of times each year, and every time is like the first - breathtaking. Second and the fastest option is to take the minibus at the entrance of the Medeu Ice Skating Rink and the driver will take you to the resort’s entrance. In that case, you will also witness a nice snowy view, the mountains, and forests. So your choice depends on whether you want to see the beauty directly on the ground or from the above. 

© iStock / Photoprofi30

Skating and skiing equipment

Anything you need for winter sports, you can rent in the Shymbulak Resort. The price of equipment there is higher than the average price, so if you want to save up some money, it's better to collect all the stuff that you need in the sports clothing shops. The well-known chain of rented sports clothes in Almaty is called the Extreme. These shops open at 8.30 am. The time in the mountains is flying fast so in order to enjoy the skiing time, I advise you to prepare the equipment a day earlier. At the shop you will be asked to leave your** **ID or passport, which will be kept there as a guarantee till you bring back rented belongings upon your return to the city.

© iStock / Zolnierek

Shymbulak mountain resort

So, here we are, surrounded by white-headed mountains away from the city but still lively with people who come for fun and skiing. Shymbulak Mountain Resort is located in the gorge of Zailijsky Alatau at an altitude of 2260 m, some 25 km from the center of Almaty. Shymbulak's ski slopes are certified by the International Ski Federation. The resort is visited by people mostly in winter due to the possibility of having sports activities, but it is also open in the summertime from May to October for the sightseeing and walking in fresh mountainous air. Also, Shymbulak has a skiing school for children, and they have a specialized zone for practicing. For your comfort, Shymbulak offers hotels so that you can enjoy your vacation without going back to the city. 

© iStock / KulikovaN

Where to eat

The place has many restaurants and cafes with a variety of dish choices. You can find there the famous coffee chain Marrone Rosso which has many branches in Nur-Sultan and Almaty. Surely, all these dining spots are located in the lowest level of Shymbulak where the journey usually starts. Don’t worry, there will be couple of eating places on the higher levels as well. And the most epic café to visit there is Bar 3200, which name indicates the bar's location at the peak of 3200 m. This is the highest level of the resort. 

© iStock / Elena Odareeva

Prices and working hours

There are several types of tickets to purchase to visit the Shymbulak Resort. Daily tickets, which consider skiing from 9.30 am till about 5 pm, will cost about $16 per adult for weekends and holidays. On weekdays, the price will cost around $12. There is also another ticket option: visiting Shymbulak for four hours which saves you more or less $1. Interesting fact to know that Shymbulak organizes night skiing time on Thursdays and Saturdays, which means that on other days the skiing zone closes by 5 pm and on these special days they are open for skiing at night time from 7 pm to 11:30 pm. 

© iStock / bob_sato_1973


If you are not here for sports activities, but only for sightseeing, then the price for a round trip Medeu-Shymbulak will only be $6 per person. If you desire to go higher than the lowest zone of Shymbulak, then for the price of $9, you will have a chance to go to the highest level of the resort and witness the same view as skiers get, but only without skiing. Apart from the tickets for the cable car, you have to purchase a Shymbulak card, which costs $4 and allows you to enter the resort. 

© iStock / Mathias Rhode

Locals are obsessed with skiing in winter, and even people of neighboring countries come to Almaty to have fun, relax, enjoy the fresh air and experience the best skiing in Shymbulak Mountain Resort. Do not skip this adventurous spot during the coming winter

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