20 best places to see in Bishkek – a complete guide to the city

The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek was founded in 1825, and most of the architectural heritage dates back to the Soviet period. In one day you can visit the most important things, but over a longer period you can cover almost everything. And of course, Bishkek is a great starting point to traveling the country.

Top sightseeings

Ala-Too Square

On the main square of the city you can see the National Historical Museum, a monument to Manas (a hero in the Epic of Manas), and the Monument of Friendship of Peoples and government buildings. City holidays are held on Ala-Too Square, and protests in 2005 and 2010 took place here, which led to a change of government.

Oak Park

The park named after Chyngyz Aitmatov was previously called Oak park, which is what locals still call it. This is a real open-air museum. In the 1980s, Soviet sculptors created sculptures on the theme “Work and Peace,” which remained in the alleys of the park. In 2004, a sculptural composition dedicated to Kurmanjan Datka, an important stateswoman of the late 19th century, also appeared. Here you can find a monument to the Red Guards, the Russian Drama Theater and panoramic restaurants.

National Opera and Ballet Theater

Soviet architecture predominates in the city center, but the styles refer to different time periods. The Opera and Ballet Theater (Zhusupa Abdrakhmanova, 167) was built in 1955 in Neoclassical stalinist style. The facade is decorated with a colonnade holding a pediment, and on the roof there are graceful sculptures of muses.

Victory Park

The monument was erected to mark the 40th anniversary of the victory in the World War II. Under the arches there is the a sculpture of a woman waiting for her husband from the war . The names of the Kyrgyz who participated in the battles are engraved on the stone slabs.

Central Mosque

The Imam Sarahsi Mosque is one of the largest in Central Asia and is similar to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This is no coincidence: the mosque was donated by Turkey in 2012 and Turkish building materials were used. There is a beautiful area around the building that anyone can visit. But you can only go inside not during prayer hours.

White House

The government building, also called the White House, is located near Ala-Too Square and is the main residence of the president and parliament. And although you can only see it from behind the fence, you can see interesting architectural solutions of socialist modernism.

Erkindik Boulevard

Erkindik Boulevard runs through the entire center from Zhibek-Zholu Avenue to the railway station. Even now it is often called by the former name of Dzerzhinsky, and the new name “erkindik” means “freedom”. This is one of the favorite walking places of locals, where in the evenings they go out to sit on benches, listen to street musicians and play chess. And the dense crowns of trees provide shelter from both the hot sun and rain.

Railway station

The station was built in 1938 in pseudo-classical style, the interiors are decorated with colorful tiles. Since 1924, the railway has connected Bishkek with Moscow, but unfortunately, now trains as a mode of transport are not very popular in the country. In front of the station there is a monument to Frunze.

GUM, TSUM and the tower

GUM and TSUM are always busy and full of people, all sorts of goods are laid out for sale, and Maksym and Tan are poured. In shopping centers you can find any kind of shops, buy groceries, eat and drink coffee.

Philharmonic hall

Another architectural monument of Chui Avenue is the Philarmonic hall, named after the composer Toktogul Saltyganov. It was built in 1980 in the style of social modernism.

Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum of the Kyrgyz Republic was closed for reconstruction for many years and finally opened several years ago. Previously, there was a monument to Lenin in front of the building, but now it can be found on the other side. The museum was built in 1925.

Be sure to visit the museum on your own or with a guide; the exhibition will allow you to learn about the history of Kyrgyzstan in a fascinating way. Ancient paleontological finds, the difficult period of statehood, cultural heritage, the Soviet period and recent history will be interesting to every visitor.

Circus

The Bishkek State Circus opened in 1978. Since then, the circus has been actively used for its intended purpose, preserving the authentic interiors. In the photo he is undergoing reconstruction.

Architecture

Chui avenue

There are many interesting examples of Soviet architecture along the main avenue. Of course, this is the Historical Museum, the White House, the Philharmonic Hall, the Zoological Museum, the Rossiya cinema, the House of Unions and many other architectural monuments of the Soviet era.

National Museum of Fine Arts

The National Museum of Fine Arts named after Gapar Aitiev (Zhusupa Abdrakhmanov, 196) tells about both Kyrgyz and Russian art. The building was built in 1974 and is designed in the style of Soviet modernism.

Registry office

The most unusual example of social modernism is the main registry office of Bishkek (Zhumabeka, 121). Amazing solutions are implemented both outside and inside. In 1987, when the registry office was built, modernism moved from strict to more experimental: unusual windows, a unique portal (inside), stained glass and frescoes on national themes.

Republican Library

The National Library (Zhusupa Abdrakhmanova, 208) occupies a building dating from 1962 with very interesting architecture. The facade harmoniously combines elements of modernism with national motifs, which change along the entire perimeter.

Interesting Soviet-era residential buildings are found throughout the center, for example at the intersection of Moskovskaya and Abdrakhmanova.

Search and book the best accomodation on Tripadvisor.

One day itinerary

Bishkek is a rather large city, so you won’t be able to visit absolutely everything in 1 day. However, there is a walking itinerary in which you can fit the most important things, not get tired and take beautiful photographs.

The start, of course, depends on the location of your hotel. I advise you to choose the hotel near TSUM and GUM. From there we will begin our walk along the Chui Avenue. On the right is a memorial to the Fighters of the Revolution. You can turn to Oak Park (Aitmatova) and walk past the sculptures. Then walk towards Ala-Too Square, where there will be a monument to Manas, a historical museum and administrative buildings. Pay attention to the houses on the opposite side, decorated with beautiful drawings based on Kyrgyz history. Walking further along Chui Avenue, you will come across various examples of Soviet architecture: the Philharmonic hall, the Rossiya cinema, then the Zoological Museum. I advise you to go further to the Osh bazaar, buy souvenirs, food, maybe clothes. Return to the center along Moskovskaya Street, where you can go to a cafe or restaurant for lunch. That way you’ll reach Erkindik Boulevard, where you can relax in the shade of the trees, listening to the music of street musicians. Walking along the boulevard you return to Chui Avenue, but now head to the Opera and Ballet Theater. Then you’ll see the Victory Monument. After a couple more blocks, you’ll find ourselves at the Central Mosque. Yes, it was a long walk, but you can take a taxi or public transport at any time (it’s rather cheap and not complicated).

Where to eat

It is better to try local cuisine where the locals eat it. The cafes Fakir and Faiza have the highest ratings. If you want more varied cuisine and beautiful interiors, go to the Navat teahouses.

European cuisine can be found in the popular Macaronnaya restaurant, Bublik and Sierra cafes. They have above average prices and a large selection of dishes. By the way, keep in mind that in such places 15% service is automatically included in the bill.

Excellent coffee at the Flask coffee chain; they also have bowls and bagels.

Good samsa is sold on the street, for example, on Chui Avenue, 114. Choose street kiosks based on reviews on 2GIS, which is very popular in Kyrgyzstan. Well, the most popular fast food chain in Bishkek is KFC, which is located on almost all main streets.

Shopping

Groceries

The most popular chains of grocery stores, where there are both local and imported products: Global, Alma, Asia, Narodny.

Bazars

You can buy food, souvenirs and clothing at the following markets: Osh Bazaar, Alamedinsky and Dordoi. Many items are indeed cheaper, however, check the price before purchasing. Popular here are kurut (fermented milk product), local flatbreads, kashar cheese, and fermented milk drinks (maksym, tan, ayran). As well as souvenirs: various textiles with patterns, felt products, including unusual felt soap.

Shopping malls

For popular shops, head to the Bishkek park shopping center, TSUM, GUM, Dordoi-Plaza 2. By the way, there you have a chance to find souvenirs at low prices.

Currency exchange

Dollars, euros and roubles are exchanged almost throughout the city. Most of the favorable rates are at the intersection of Moskovskaya and Abdrakhmanov. Walk around this block and you will find the best rate. Find current rates on the valuta kg website.

You can change money right away at the airport. The rate is not the most profitable, but not extortionate either. It is better to exchange a small amount at the airport, and everything else in the center.

How to get from the airport

The most budget option is marshrutka 380. Cash (soms) only accepted, runs until 21:00. It goes to Chui Avenue, but not to the very center. There are usually a lot of people, so carrying luggage can be inconvenient.

There is a convenient transfer GoBus, which costs 200 soms and takes you to the very center. Tickets must be purchased in advance on their app. But the buses do not run very often, the ticket is bought for a certain time, and if the plane is late, the trip will be lost.

The third option is a taxi. When leaving the airport, many taxi drivers will approach you, however, their rates are not the most favorable. It’s better to order in the Yandex Go application; a trip to the center will cost 650-800 soms.

Places to visit nearby

Types of transport

Ala-Archa

Ala-Archa National Park is located just 40 kilometers from Bishkek, and the landscapes there are truly breathtaking. There are several trails, varying in difficulty. Physically fit tourists can climb to the waterfall and the “Broken Heart” panorama. And a walk along the river along the valley is suitable for absolutely everyone. A map with all the points will be at the entrance to the park; there are also several cafes. It is inconvenient to get here by taxi, as there is an entrance fee for the car (700 soms). So it’s easier to go with group tours, where the payment is already included in the price.

Alamedin Gorge

Alamedin Gorge is also very clode to Bishkek. The road is not difficult, so you can come by rented car or on a tour. A relatively simple hiking trail leads to the waterfall, but you can also simply walk along the valley, enjoying stunning views of the mountain peaks.

Issyk-Kul

Lake Issyk-Kul is definitely a must-see in Kyrgyzstan. The northern coast is very lively, there are many sanatoriums, hotels, private houses, yurt complexes, and discos at night. The southern coast is considered a protected area; it is quiet, but has a bad road. By car you can drive around the lake with an overnight stay in any town (the largest are Karakol and Cholpan-Ata). But from Bishkek it’s convenient to go to the nearest village of Balykchy on your own by minibus from the Western bus station.

Issyk-Ata Gorge

A picturesque gorge 77 kilometers from the capital. There are two trails to the waterfalls, which are more suitable for experienced hikers. It is here that there is a large stone with an image of Buddha, presumably from the 10th century, when the locals practiced Buddhism.

Burana Tower

The Burana Tower is unique architectural monument of the 9th-11th centuries. Now its height is 21 meters, but previously it reached 48 meters. The tower is decorated with ornaments, and inside there is a spiral staircase. It’s more convenient to get here as part of one of the excursions, for example, on the way to Issyk-Kul.

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