Captivating is the word for Kazbegi in Georgia. Currently known as Stepantsminda, this mountain valley looks to be straight out of a fairy-tale storybook. This picture perfect postcard destination is just 150 km away from the capital city, Tbilisi of Georgia. Encircled by the Caucasus Mountains, the landscapes of Kazbegi are worth admiring for hours.
Kazbegi is one of the most picturesque destinations in Georgia. Located on the military highway, the mountainous highway, is close to Russia’s border. Kazbegi is a perfect weekend getaway for mountain lovers. The best part of Kazbegi is that it can be covered on a day trip from Tbilisi as well. The excellent road condition and the scenic views around makes you pop your head out of your window in awe. The road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is considered to be one of the most scenic roads in the country. It passes along Zhinvali Dam and Reservoir, Ananuri fortress, Agravi river and Gudauri, before you reach the final destination, Kazbegi.
Where is Kazbegi
Located on the northern slopes of the humongous Caucasus range, Kazbegi comes under Kazbegi National Park, covering a total of over 8,700 hectares. The Kazbegi Mountain is the third highest mountain of Georgia, located at 5,047 metres above sea level. Kazbegi is named after the largest mountain here – Mount Kazbegi.
This charming little valley offers the most charming breathtaking mountainous landscapes, spectacular grazing lands and it has a luring rustic feel to it. Once a tinsel hilltop valley, it has now grown into a sprawling town with hotels and guest houses. The prettiest mountain valley has become a base for numerous treks, hiking trails, bird watching, sightseeing and many more. For mountain lovers, Kazbegi is the perfect destination for ice climbing and mountaineering as well.
When to visit Kazbegi
You can visit Kazbegi throughout the year. Each season has its own charm. Kazbegi gets maximum footfalls in the summer months. For winter lovers, Kazbegi turns into a white wonderland.
The Jazeera Airways makes it quite easy for Indian travelers to fly to Georgia via Kuwait. You can take a direct flight to Kuwait from Mumbai. It takes four and half hours to reach Kuwait. Jazeera Airways fly directly into Tiblisi International Airport. The flight duration is only 2 hours from Kuwait International Airport to Tiblisi.
Why Visit Kazbegi
The snow laden Caucasus Mountains looked eye-arresting. Dazzling mountain peaks in that sun-kissed morning, the winding road and freezing cold, I was literally in a winter wonderland of Georgia. I had visited Kazbegi on a day trip from Tbilisi. I wished I could stay there for a few days as destination like Kazbegi demands slow travel to admire the real beauty of this spectacular mountain valley.
One shouldn’t skip Kazbegi in Georgia even if you are visiting the country for a few days. The amazing part of Georgia is that it offers diversity in landscapes and destinations with varied character within a few kilometers of the capital city, unlike India. Georgia is not just about the buzzing capital city flaunting pub culture, cool street arts and extravagant design hotels. This unique country, located at the crossroad between Asia and Europe, is much more than that. It is important to step out of Tbilisi and explore other parts of the country. Kazbegi certainly is worth a visit for numerous reasons.
Not far away from Tbilisi
Kazbegi is just 150 km away from the capital city of Georgia. It takes two hours to reach from the city. It is quite amazing how within a few minutes on road, after leaving the city, the landscape suddenly changes. Twisted road leads to the mountainous stretch, making you appreciate the wonders of nature. If you are travelling during winter, the white snowflakes will welcome you on your way up. The best part of the journey is that it has excellent road conditions and the jaw-dropping views are an added bonus. You can also cover Kazbegi on a day trip from Tbilisi. All you need to do is to start early from the city so that you have ample time to soak in the beauty. You can also cover the top places to see in Kazbegi during your day trip.
The best part of travelling to Georgia in winter was that I had the opportunity to explore the winter wonderland of the country and that is Kazbegi. It reminded me of my time in Finnish Lapland. The exceptional scenic beauty of the land made my jaw drop, literary.
My eyes were set out constantly as we were driving up in the mountain. The scattered little colored-roof houses in the village, vaguely visible layers, falling snowflakes, icy road; it felt like a dream destination. The sun-drenched shining Caucasus Mountain peaks made me hooked onto it for hours. More than anything else, I really enjoyed the road towards Kazbegi. If you are someone who likes to spend a few days in a mountain valley, surrounded by towering mountains, grassland, waterfall, forest, etc., Kazbegi is the perfect destination for you. On top of it, if you love snow and winter, there is no better place than Kazbegi to spend a few days in the most gorgeous location of Georgia.
Paradise For Adventure Lovers
Kazbegi offers a range of adventure activities for adventure junkies. If you want to pump up your adrenaline rush, you must do the winter adventure activities in Kazbegi. From paragliding, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, to skiing, you have numerous options to indulge in the adventurous spirit. These activities are mainly available in the winter months. For a skier, a visit to Gudauri, the biggest ski resort in Georgia is a must. If you are travelling in the summer, you can go for long walks, hiking and trekking in Kazbegi. The town offers a lot of trekking routes in the Caucasus Mountains.
Kazbegi is paradise for the trekkers as you can wander off to off-beat paths to explore the mountain area. The small hiking routes are easily doable for non-trekkers. You can also do camping in the woods in Kazbegi. The best part of Kazbegi is that it flaunts breathtaking scenery in both winter and summer seasons. The view of the highland valley is absolutely different, yet spectacular in both seasons.
Enjoy Slow Travel in Kazbegi
Kazbegi is an ideal place for those who love slow travel. No rush, no hassle. You can bask in the glory of the shining sun, enjoy Georgian wine, and relish traditional local dishes, interact with the hospitable Georgian people and just laze around. Kazbegi allows you to unwind, relax and slow down. The enchanting villages, towering mountains, and rustic feel of the place make you appreciate everything around you. Unlike the bustling Tbilisi, things move here slowly. If you are travelling solo, you can go for a long walk and even, bike around the village to explore. If nothing else, you can just admire the amazing valleys, sit back and relax, looking at the grazing horses or just read your favorite travel book in the most dazzling location of Georgia.
Top Places To See And Experience in Kazbegi, Georgia
While in Kazbegi, there are a few must visit places that can’t be missed. Even on a day trip, one can cover quite a few of the tourist attractions in Kazbegi. At least, one night is suggested in Kazbegi to enjoy the serenity of the place. You can see and do a lot of things in the mountain highland. Find out below, the top things to see and experience in Kazbegi.
Gergeti Trinity Church
The Gergeti Trinity Church is Georgia’s most iconic church, located on the hilltop with the backdrop of the Kazbek Mountain. This is the most photographed and landmark Orthodox church of the country. Built in 14th century, the Gergeti Trinity Church is the top tourist attraction in Kazbegi.
Overlooking the town of Stephantsminda, the view from the church is absolutely breathtaking. Surrounded by Caucasus Mountains, the Gergeti Trinity Church plays a very important role in Georgia’s history. It is said that the national treasure was hidden there during various invasions due to its inaccessibility by the invaders. During the Soviet era, religious services were prohibited there.The church has a separate bell tower on the same premises. Tourists are required to cover their lower part with a cloth, available outside the church. Once you enter the church, you have to maintain the decorum and silence inside. It is quite a fascinating sight inside the church.
You can opt to reach the Gergeti Trinity Church by a hired cab/taxi. It takes 20 minutes to drive up the narrow path to the church. The picturesque road is something to get mesmerized while driving up. Since I went during winter, the snow laden road looked absolutely outstanding. If you want to try an adventurous way to reach, you can actually trek up the church. It takes around 2 hours to reach.
Don’t miss Ananuri Fortress on your way to Kazbegi. This is one of the must visit places in Georgia which holds tremendous historical importance. Located along the turquoise waters of the Aragvi River, Ananuri Fortress had seen numerous battles that Georgians both won and lost.The fortress had witnessed the massacre of the Aragvi clan, multiple peasant revolts, and fire. There are two churches in the fortress premises.
The larger of which, known as the Assumption Church, bears quite impressive traditional Georgian architectural design. You will notice the traditional Georgian Orthodox grapevine cross carved into its façade, some stone carvings and various ancient scripts.
The frescoes from 17th and 18th century on the wall, mostly destroyed in fire, are something I found quite fascinating to look at. Roughly 66 km north of Tbilisi, Ananuri Fortress historically belonged to the Eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi. Overlooking the Zhinvali Reservoir, this fortress is now one of the most popular tourist spots on the military highway.
There is a flea market next to the fortress from where you can buy souvenirs. Don’t forget to buy some strange looking big Georgian caps. It has quite an amazing look and feel to it.
It is a must stopover on your way to Kazbegi town. The Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument was built in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk between Russia and Georgia. Located on the Georgian Military Road, between the Jvari pass and the ski resort town of Gudauri, the monument is a striking structure which can’t be missed.
The large round stone and concrete shaped platform overlooks the giant Caucasus Mountains and the Devil’s Valley. The wall of the monument depicts scenes of Georgian and Russian history. This is a great viewing platform which pans around the valley and the mountains.
I had gone during winter and the snow laden landscape and White Mountains looked absolutely stunning from the Friendship Monument.
There are small shops selling local Georgian snacks to tourists. If you are travelling during the winter months, don’t forget to cover yourself with layers of woolens, boots, cap and gloves, since the temperature near the Jvari pass is freezing cold.
Gudauri Ski Resort
If you are a skier, spending a few days at Gudauri ski resort is mandatory. Located at Kazbegi region of Georgia, 120 km from Tbilisi, the resort has been a favorite among skiers. The exceptional landscapes of Caucasus Mountains, sun-kissed slopes, high-altitude Mountains, and the snow laden surroundings, give you enough reasons to holiday at the Gudauri Ski Resort. The resort is open from December to April.
Gveleti Waterfalls & Russian Border
Gveleti waterfalls are one of the top attractions in Kazbegi region. Just 7 km north of Stepanstsminda village, you will find these two waterfalls known as Gveleti. You can opt for trekking to reach the waterfalls as well. It normally takes 1 hour if you decide to walk up to the falls. There is no public transport to reach Gveleti village. So, you can hire a taxi to reach the village and then trek to see the waterfalls.
When you are in Gveleti village, don’t miss the chance to visit the Russian border. Kazbegi is less than 10 km away from the Russian Border.
If you are in Kazbegi for a few days, you must consider exploring gorgeous valley named Truso. Around 17 kilometers from south of Stepantsminda, the picturesque Truso Valley is located. The valley is not accessible in the winter, early spring and late autumn. The village flaunts ancient towers, abandoned Ossetian villages, mineral water springs and mineral lake with bubbles. If you are a hiker, you will find it quite unique to hike to the high altitude villages in the valley. The place is extremely alluring with untouched beauty. The views of the Truso valley are a visual delight. Don’t forget to carry your passport while visiting Truso valley.
Juta village in Sno Valley
Don’t miss visiting the breathtaking Juta village in Sno valley, located 21 kilometers from Kazbegi. Rent a bike or hitchhike to reach this picture postcard village. If you are traveling from Kazbegi town, it will take 40 minutes to get there. The Village flaunts lush green fields, colorful flowers, layers of hills and what not. It is a sight to behold.You need to park the car by the river and walk a 1.2 km to enjoy the view. Once you trek up, you will find Fifth Season Hotel/ hostel with a cafe with captivating views. If you wish to camp overnight, you can opt for that also. If you a serious hiker or trekker, you must trek further up to see the mountain range clearly. Don’t miss the breathtaking lake and the encircling views. The trekking time from the river to the lake is 2 hours. It takes almost a whole day to visit, explore and come back to Kazbegi. Juta is one of the highest settlements in Kazbegi region.
How to Reach Kazbegi?
The easiest way to reach Kazbegi is to hire a cab from Tbilisi. The distance between Tbilisi and Kazbegi is 150 kilometres. It takes around 2 hours from the capital city of Georgia.
You can also opt for public transport to reach Kazbegi. There are mini-buses; they call it Marshrutkas that leave from Didube Station in Tbilisi every day. It costs 10 GEL (Georgian Lari) and takes more than 3 hours to reach Kazbegi.
Is there public Transport Available?
Is Day trip possible?
Yes. You can cover Kazbegi on a day trip from Tbilisi. For a hassle free trip to Kazbegi in Georgia, you can also contact local Travel and Tour Company named Travelist Georgia.
How much you need to spend to visit Kazbegi?
It takes 200 Georgian Lari to hire a taxi from Tbilisi to reach Kazbegi. It can be a little expensive if you are travelling Solo. But if you are travelling with your partner or friends, the cost can be split.
How long you should stay in Kazbegi?
I would suggest that one should stay at least one night in Kazbegi. It has a lot to explore and Kazbegi is the most beautiful mountain region of Georgia. Given a choice, I personally prefer to stay for a week in Kazbegi.
Where to stay?
There are budget accommodations like guest houses and home-stays available in the town and nearby villages.
I would highly recommend the only five star hotel “Rooms” in Kazbegi. The gorgeous property is the best luxury accommodation overlooking the Caucasus Mountains. I had my lavish lunch at The Rooms hotel.
The view from the hotel is to die for. I must admit that I had the best traditional Georgian food at The Rooms Hotel. Everything about the hotel is outlandish. With its excellent location, aesthetically designed interior, elegantly presented décor and top hospitality, the Room hotel is the one of the best designed hotels in the world and worth spending a few days of your luxury stay-cation in Kazbegi.
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