Apr 25, 2024

Direct Flights from Prague to Astana Take Off on May 22, 2024

SCAT Airlines from Kazakhstan is set to introduce a non-stop air service connecting Prague and Astana, starting May 22, 2024.

The flights are scheduled twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as announced by the Prague airport’s press service.

Tickets are available for purchase now, with the starting price for a one-way flight at 175 euros (approximately 4300 crowns).

The travel duration for this direct route is estimated to be 4 hours and 5 minutes.

The Boeing 737-700 aircraft, accommodating 149 passengers, will operate this convenient air link.

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Astana.

A panoramic tower

With its 360-degree city views, Bayterek Tower, in the centre of Nurzhol Boulevard, is the best place to get your bearings. From the top of this landmark building, the new city unfolds beneath you, with eye-catching architecture at every turn.

A white tower with a golden sphere at its apex, this ensemble symbolises the tree of life where the samruk, a mythical bird of happiness, lays its golden egg. The enclosed, spherical viewing platform, located at a height of 97 metres, marks the year, 1997, when it was decided to move the capital north from Almaty.

On the upper floor of the observation deck you can put your own hand into a bronze handprint of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and make a wish to a background of patriotic music and flashing lights.


Independence Square

If you head east from the tower, in the distance you’ll see Akorda, the white marble presidential palace that is topped with a blue dome, and across the river lies the city’s largest public space, Independence Square.

The square has a soaring column topped with a golden samruk, that mythical bird of happiness. As with Bayterek, the height of the monument is loaded with symbolism: it rises 91 metres into the sky to mark the year when Kazakhstan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Around Independence Square there’s a Norman Foster-designed glass pyramid, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, home to a theatre and art gallery, the impressive Hazrat Sultan Mosque, made with more pristine white marble and the futuristic building that houses the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, made from yet more white marble.

The museum tells the story of Kazakhstan from the prehistoric period to the construction of Astana and beyond in a series of themed halls. It features a giant, mechanised golden eagle, a symbol of Kazakhstan’s independence, flying over a huge map of the country.


The ruler’s marquee

Heading west from Bayterek, Khan Shatyr, another Norman Foster building, looms on the horizon at the end of the boulevard. The transparent, tent-like dome of this shopping and entertainment complex is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks.

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Khan Shatyr is designed to have a constant temperature all year round, a major plus in a city that has an extreme continental climate, meaning it has scorching summers and frozen winters.

The complex combines designer shopping and leisure activities, with Sky Beach Club the key attraction. Located within the transparent roof, it comes complete with a beach and an indoor pool: who would have thought you could lie on the sand in a landlocked country while the outside temperature nudges minus 30°C?


Walking Astana

Nurzhol Boulevard is a great place to stretch your legs. Walking along the avenue from Bayterek to Khan Shatyr takes you past Astana Opera, a neoclassical theatre that stands out from the surrounding  post-modern architecture.

Alongside classics of world opera and ballet, the theatre performs many local works, such as the ballet Karagoz, a tale of doomed love, and Kyz Zhibek, the Kazakh Romeo and Juliet.

The boulevard also has a number of restaurants and cafes. To sample some Kazakh traditional food, head for Saksaul, just off Nurzhol Boulevard, a restaurant that specialises in meat and pasta dishes, including beshbarmak, consisting of meat piled on pasta squares, laghman noodles and manty dumplings.

In 2017, Astana hosted the international Expo exhibition. A whole new suburb was built here. At its heart is a huge glass sphere that is now an interactive museum. The Expo site hosts a lot of concerts in the summer months.


A stroll along the embankment

The embankment of the Yesil, the river that divides Astana, is perfect for an evening stroll. Funky Atyrau Bridge that connects the two halves of the city resembles a fish twisting through the water, with its covered section decorated with thousands of metal scales, bringing to mind the Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon, the fish that produces black caviar.

In summer, pleasure boats ply the Yesil’s waters and there are seasonal beaches where you can take a cooling dip in the river. In the depth of winter the  river freezes over and the ice skating season begins. It’s also a popular spot for ice fishing, look out for snugly dressed anglers huddled over holes drilled into the ice.

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