Stepantsminda, commonly known as Kazbegi, is a small town in the north-east Georgia, close to the Russian border. It is one of the must see destinations in Georgia, mostly due to amazing hiking routes and stunning nature. You can go to Kazbegi in a local shuttle, which goes once in every hour from Didube Station in Tbilisi to the main square in Kazbegi and returns also once in every hour from the same place. It costs around 4 USD. As this is not the most comfortable way to travel, you can also order a private taxi. It will definitely cost you significantly more than the shuttle – up to 50 USD one way. There’s only 149 km (93 miles) from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, so you can plan a one day trip, but we would strongly suggest to stay overnight as there are many interesting activities you can engage in. By the way, Georgia is a quite safe country with welcoming people, so don’t be afraid to hitchhike. This will surely save you money, but plan your time correctly, thumbing all the way to Kazbegi could require one full day.

Photo Source: private-guides.com

So, did you decide to stay overnight? There are 2 options, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi and hostels held by local families. These are completely different experiences. Rooms is a boutique hotel with a small casino, cigar bar, swimming pool, and an astonishing design. Prices here are around 120 USD for a double room and you should definitely book in advance. Even if your budget is less than that, you can still visit the hotel for a lovely dinner or to rent bikes and all-terrain vehicles. In case you are tempted, please make sure you have a seat on their terrace and order the very special river trout from the menu.  

Locals offer a slipover for as low as 10-15 USD per person, plus around 10 USD for a meal. Usually the places are equipped with Wi-fi and are quite comfortable, though the major problem is language barrier. Most of the locals (less than 2,000 people) don’t speak English.

Mountain horses in Kazbegi
Photo credit: private-guides.com

Most important thing you should do in Kazbegi is to visit Gergeti Trinity Church. Built in 14th century, this church is located on 1,800 meters above sea level (5,905 feet). If you are well prepared and have time, you can walk, but it will take up to 2 hours. Other options are renting a horse or a taxi. Horse ride will cost 22 USD. It’s a memorable experience, but the ride will not be easy. Taxi, usually a Niva mark of car manufactured in the Soviet Union and the ride also costs about 22 USD. If it is you first time in a Soviet car, let us warn you that this won’t be much easier than taking a horse. Don’t hesitate to bargain with drivers, because they might try to charge you more than locals.

What else? Gveleti Waterfall and the ruins of fortress located in only 9 km (5.6 miles) from Kazbegi. You can rent a taxi on the main square in Kazbegi, but note that you should walk the last several hundred meters and the route is not that easy.

Another note to consider is the chilly weather. Average temperature in summer ranges from +13 to +26 C (55 to 75 F). Winter can be really cold and full of snow. Roads are frequently blocked due to high snow in December-January.

View from the terrace at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi
Photo credit: adjaragroup.com

If you are an experienced tracker, you should be glad to explore Mkinvari, a peak on the 5,047 m (16,560 feet) above the sea level. This mountain offers two routes, but do not risk climbing there on your own. We strongly suggest to apply to professional alpinists, who regularly organize trips in the summer. Tours usually last around 5-6 days and can cost up to 500 USD. Be well prepared for an extreme hiking.

We saved a bonus tip for you, on your way to Kazbegi or back, stop to taste authentic Georgian dish – Khinkali in the place where it is cooked best, in Arsha. The place is called – Tsanareti. It is unbelievably cheap and delicious.

2017-09-09T00:22:44+00:00 May 12th, 2016|