The fourth-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, Karakol - formerly known as Przhevalsk - lies in the northeastern corner of the country, on the east side of the Issyk Kul Lake and near the Chinese border. The city, originally founded as a Russian outpost, is situated close to the Tien Shan mountain range, making for an excellent starting point for a mountain trekking, hiking, or skiing trip.

The city itself a main hub for tourism in the region, Karakol describes its rich history through the monuments, museums, and religious institutions that line its city streets. Whether used as a homebase for a mountain trek or as a city break destination, Karakol has much to offer all kinds of visitors.


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Historic Museum

Visitors may also wish to check out the local history museum located in the western part of town, which reflects the history of the city, major developments and also famous people of the region, for unique insight into the city’s past.

Issyk Kul Lake

Issyk Kul Lake - the world’s second largest saline lake - is located near Karakol and is one of the main attractions to the city. Originally a Soviet torpedo testing site, the lake is named “Hot Lake” in Kyrgyz because - thanks to its high salinity - it never freezes. Today, the lake is a popular destination to swim, beach, and fish.

Learn about Russian Exploration

For more history lessons, pay a visit to the grave of Nikolai Przhevalsky - one of the original explorers of Central and Eastern Asia - which is located just north of the city. Also nearby is a museum dedicated to the early exploration of the area.

Local Architecture

Taking in Karakol's unique architecture, with influences ranging from Chinese to French, is a great way to view the different cultures and traditions that have inhabited the city.

Religious Institutions

Worth a visit within the city center are two buildings, very similar in structure: one, a wooden mosque, the other, a wooden Russian Orthodox church - the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The mosque was built by Chinese artisans in the 20th century, and the cathedral, built before the turn of the century, has undergone a restoration.


The snowcapped Tien Shan mountain range is a great place to go skiing in Central Asia. In fact, the Karakol ski base is one of the most popular ski resorts in the region, boasting both cleared and forested trails.

The Regional Museum

To learn about local and regional history, focusing particularly on the physical landscape, explore the Regional Museum, which includes an exhibit of the area’s geological history as well as one detailing the Issyk Kul Lake petroglyphs.


The Tien Shan, a large mountain range running along the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, is located to the south and east of Karakol, making the city an excellent starting point or homebase for a mountain trek.

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