Stepantsminda, also known as Kazbegi is the administrative centre of Kazbegi municipality and is located in the north-eastern part of Georgia. It’s one of the most capturing places in the country and one of the most famous places in Kazbegi includes Gergeti glacier, Truso Valley or Gergeti Trinity Church. Generally, Kazbegi is very famous for its trekking roads, amazing views and old churches, which helps tourists to connect to Georgian culture and atmosphere. You can also get to know Kazbegi better with the Camp Caucasus Self-Guided Walking Tour, where you’ll be able to see the most picturesque places in the region.
When is the best time to visit Kazbegi?
Generally, you can visit Kazbegi during each period of year. Even in winter, you can go skiing to Gudauri which is located near Kazbegi and is a very famous skiing resort in Georgia. It’s about 40 mins away from Kazbegi. But if you are thinking of planning hiking tours in Kazbegi, probably, summer is the best season for these kinds of activities. Warm days of summer will give you the opportunity to relax to the fullest and discover new places in the region.
The best things to do in Kazbegi
As we’ve already mentioned, there are so many places to see in Kazbegi. Gergeti Trinity Church is one of the most important reasons why tourists visit Kazbegi. It’s located in the village of Gergeti, Kazbegi, 2200 meters above the sea. The church itself is the building from the XIV-XV century and it has the status of a national cultural treasure. You can go there by car or you can plan your hike to the destination and if you’re interested in hikes, you also have to visit Gergeti Glacier which is situated 3014 meters above the sea. Here you can see the amazing views and make unbelievably beautiful moments while trekking. You can also stay overnight in Altihut, which is one of the greatest accommodations In Georgia. The trek is considered as a difficult one but if you love adventures, every minute is worth it.
Another amazing spot is Truso Valley which includes several abandoned villages, churches, castles and lakes. The lowest spot of the valley is located 2000 meters above the sea. Mostly, this destination includes semi-alpine and alpine zones. Here you can see mineral springs and Travertines. You can also come across the old castles. One of those is Zakagori Fortress which is a very popular touristic destination too. This area was populated in the XIII-XIV centuries and the fortress itself is dated by the XVII century. You can also see The Abano Church which is located in the village of Abano in Truso Valley and was built in the X century. Here, you will discover Abano Mineral Lake too. It’s created by carbon dioxide and is in a continuous “boiling” state. The lake is located 2300 meters above the sea level and because of its unique characteristic features it’s considered as a natural monument.
One of the most breathtaking locations in Kazbegi is Gveleti Waterfalls which is located in the village of Gveleti, Dariali Valley, 7 kms away from Stepantsminda. It is situated 1560 meters above the sea. You can reach the specific point by car and then, you should go through the path until the waterfalls.
Another popular destination is Juta Valley which is located 2100 meters above the sea level. It is the highest settlement in Kazbegi and one of the highest spots in the whole Europe. The location is a very special one because of its panoramic views. If you go for the 6 day self guided tour, you will also have the opportunity to see the Chaukhi Massif, located 3338 meters above the sea level. It’s actually a connective trail between Juta Valley and Abudelauri, Khevsureti, where the famous Abudelauri Lakes are located.
There are so many mountains and peaks in the Kazbegi region. Mount Kazbek is one of the most popular ones because of its height. Actually, it’s the third highest peak in Georgia and is located to the west of Stepantsminda, on the Georgian Military road. This location has a historic role because that’s exactly the linking point between Georgia and Russia. Throughout the years, it played different roles, including trading one. Its length is 212 meters and the alternative routes across the mountains include the Ossetian Military Road and the Transcaucasian Highway.
Khorisari is another mountain in Kazbegi which is located 3736 meters above the sea level. While hiking there, you can also visit Kelitsadi Lake which is considered as one of the most beautiful lakes in Georgia. The best season for going there is definitely summer. The lake is located 3081 meters above the sea. There are different trails to reach the destination. According to one of them, you have to start your hiking from the Truso Valley, cross the river and go over the Khorisari Pass from where you will need approximately two hours. There is also Sherkhota Mountain near to the lake and the trail is considered as a quite difficult one.
How to get to Kazbegi
Unlike getting to Svaneti, there are no train or plane alternatives when you’re traveling to the Kazbegi region. You can always catch marshrutkas though. Marshrutkas to Kazbegi stop in the Didube Bus Station, right next to the Didube Metro Station. They leave for Kazbegi daily, in every hour/two hours. The earliest marshrutka leaves at 08:00 in the morning, the latest one - at 19:00 in the evening. The ticket costs 15 GEL (5 Euros).
If you’re interested in other options, you can always rent the car from the different individuals or car rental companies in Georgia. For example, you can use the following website to plan your trip. All you need is to choose the car, locations and dates for your rental.
If you’re busy or you just don’t want to spend your time on booking the suitable car and driver for your private transfer, you can click here and Camp Caucasus will manage the transfer for you! Generally, the cost of the private transfer to Stepantsminda starts from 200 Gel (68 Euros).
Similar to the other regions in Georgia, there are also different traditions in Kazbegi. Throughout the year, several local traditional events are held. They are connected with the history of the region or simply express the local people’s old beliefs and traditions. For example, some of them are Kopaloba, Kazbegoba, Eliaoba etc. Kopalaoba is held on the 12th of July. Historically, for Kazbegians, Kopala was a kind of god in human’s body. Its purpose was to defeat evil and help people in trouble. During this event, traditional games are held.
Kazbegoba is another local festival which is held on the 9th of October. During the festival, there are different kinds of activities, such as traditional beer making and local product selling. Kazbegians believed that Elia was the god who managed thunder and storms.
Eliaoba is held on the 20th of July and different paganish rituals are performed during the festival.
Where to eat and drink in Kazbegi
There are quite a lot of options when it comes to eating and drinking in Kazbegi. You can find different kinds of outdoor and indoor cafes and restaurants in the region. Most of them are located in Stepantsminda, as it’s the administrative centre of Kazbegi. You can try Georgian national cuisine, as well as international food. Also, you can see the different options and choose the one which will work best for you here.
Where to stay in Kazbegi
Since Kazbegi is one of the most popular touristic places in Georgia, there are so many different kinds of hotels and guesthouses in the region. You can find High class hotels, as well as budget-friendly guest houses here. You can choose where to stay based on your preferences but we’ve tried to present some of them, to make your trip easier.
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi is probably one of the most popular places in Georgia. The hotel is located at the base of Kazbek Mountain in Stepantsminda and has amazing views. The hotel also has a Spa and events and meeting spaces which allows you to do different kinds of activities during your visit. You can get the impression about the hotel and see the conditions here.
If you’re the person who enjoys the cozier style, OISHE Terrace will probably be a good choice for you. The guesthouse is situated in Stepantsminda and is surrounded by the amazing mountains around it. An outdoor space will also give you the opportunity to enjoy your free time and do different kinds of activities while staying at the guesthouse. Since it offers various types of rooms, it’s a perfect choice for the families, as well as the individuals.
The Aloft Hotel is located in Stepantsminda, near to the main road. It is a brand new hotel in Kazbegi, which offers a bar and a terrace. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then The Aloft Hotel will probably be the best choice for you. The mountain views, good atmosphere and cozy interior will give you the opportunity to relax to the fullest during your stay.
Who doesn’t know about Altihut? This place became one of the most popular places for tourists to stay while hiking in Kazbegi. If you’re planning your Gergeti Glacier hike, you will probably come across Altihut which is located 3014 meters above the sea level near Sabertse pass. Near destinations are Gergeti Glacier and Mountain Kazbegi. If you decide to stay at Altihut, its location will help you to perceive Kazbegi with its Wholeness.