If you have only a day in Bishkek, we recommend visiting the following places:
Erkindik Boulevard (previously known as Prospect Dzerzhinskogo)
The boulevard starts at the city’s train station, designed and built, 1936 – 1938, by a Hungarian sculptor, also an architect and decorator. The Boulevard goes all the way from the station to the main square. This boulevard wins the hearts of all people, and is a perfect place for walks and sweet talks, running and reading, dreaming and reflecting.
The main post office
Right in the center of the city, not far from the Ekrindik Boulevard, at the crossroad of two busy streets, Sovetskaya and Kievskaya, you can easily spot a little square with a water fountain, a clock tower (built in 1984, the chime was a present from Armenian SSR to Kyrgyz SSR) and the main post office of the country.
TSUM (“ЦУМ” – stands for central department store)
Across the road from the main post office and the clock tower, you’ll see TSUM, the oldest store in the city, more than 50 years old. It used to be the main store of the capital and the country in general. It still operates as a department store with an upgraded design inside.
Victory Monument (at Victory Square)
Behind TSUM you’ll see a small park that leads to Victory Square. The monument you’ll see there was built in 1985 for the 40th anniversary of the victory in World War II.
The theatre of opera and ballet
When you are done with Victory Square, walk back to the park behind TSUM and on the opposite side of the park you’ll see one of my favorite buildings in the city, built in the 50s: The theatre of opera and ballet.
The National Museum of Art named after G. Aitiev
Gapar Aitiev is the pride of Kyrgyzstan, one of the first Kyrgyz Soviet artists, people’s artist of the Kyrgyz SSR and USSR. The current building was constructed in 1974 as part of a large-scale campaign to improve the city’s appearance. Today the museum’s collection includes about 18,000 items.
7. Behind the museum you can enjoy a short walk in a beautiful Oak park where you can rest on a bench, rent a fun tandem bike, or play table tennis. The park also houses the Museum of Sculpture, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the Monument of Friendship. If you keep to the left side of the park you will be able to spot a round monument with a sculpture of Kurmanjan Datka (the only Queen of the South Kyrgyz, you can read about her in the last chapter). Across from the monument you can visit an outdoor art gallery, a wonderful world of free Kyrgyz artists. You can visit this street museum at any time of the year for free. Here you can buy paintings of local artists, portraits, landscapes, etc.
The Ala-Too Square
Past the gallery you will see the Ala-Too Square, the heart of Bishkek, the central square of the city. In the middle of the square stands the 10 meter high bronze statue of the hero of the national epic Manas.
The State Museum of Kyrgyz History
Behind the flagpole and the Manas statue you’ll see the State Museum of Kyrgyz history, where you can get a glimpse at the history of the Kyrgyz people and Soviet Kyrgyzstan, its journey from an ancient state into the modern era.
If you continue walking down the main street (Chui) from the Square due South you’ll pass the White House (1 guess what that’s named after) and a Turkish shopping mall called “Beta Stores”, a popular place for food shopping, especially the bakery that offers great quality and low prices, stop by to get some snacks and continue your walk along Chui Street to see the Philharmonia.
The “temple of music” is said to be one of the best buildings in Bishkek: made of white marble, trimmed with copper embossing, decorated with stained-glass windows.
Across the street you will see the beautiful building of City Hall with Ionic columns. Next to the Philharmonia you will easily spot the International University of Kyrgyzstan. If you walk down the alley behind the Philharmonia you will end up at the National University of Kyrgyzstan, the oldest and largest institution of higher education in the country.
Finish your day at “Panorama”, a hill right outside of Bishkek where you can enjoy the view of the whole city. The place is called Panorama and every taxi driver knows this place and can easily take you there. You can also take marshrutka and hike a bit. Perfect place for a small picnic.
Last but not least is the Osh market. You can’t say you’ve been to Kyrgyzstan (or Central Asia) unless you have visited a Bazaar/Market. Bishkek is a city of markets rather than shopping malls, though recently there are more and more shiny malls appearing around the city. It will take you a separate day to visit all the markets we have, so if you have just one day we recommend stopping by Osh market. Most fresh, natural products can be purchased at Osh market. Here you can find almost everything: food products, home appliances, clothing, footwear, construction materials, etc., but we appreciate the market for fresh products and fair pricing. Here you would mostly see local sellers and buyers. This market is a popular destination to buy local souvenirs, traditional handmade felt and leather products. Also, you will be surprised to find a wide range of US army surplus from the ex-military base. Watch your purse (hopefully you still have it), enjoy your day!