In the heart of the Caucasus Mountains where tranquil rivers wind through alpine valleys and pointed peaks provide a dramatic backdrop, the region of Kazbegi is home to some of Georgia’s most stunning scenery.
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Located in the northern part of the country a stone’s throw away from Russia, this area lures adrenaline seekers with adventure sports like glacier trekking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and even tandem paragliding. Kazbegi is also a hiker’s paradise, and those same mountain ranges turn into Georgia’s most popular ski spot once the snow falls.
Tiny villages dot the landscape, donkeys and stray dogs wander along the dusty roads, and fortresses and churches are perched high on hilltops overlooking it all. Mysterious Mount Kazbegi looms in the distance, waterfalls cascade over steep cliff sides, and trekking through the vast Juta and Truso valleys that seem untouched by time make for the ultimate escape.
From the best things to do in Kazbegi to the top places to stay, here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to this spectacular spot.
How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi
Kazbegi is a 3-5 hour drive along the Georgian Military Highway from Tbilisi, depending on traffic. Those staying in the area for a few days usually base themselves in Stepantsminda to see the main highlights, Juta if they’re doing a multi-day hiking trip, or at one of the resorts in Gudauri during the ski season.
While some intrepid travellers might brave a ride in one of the shared marshrutka vans to save a few bucks, I personally recommend either hiring a private driver or going on a guided tour. Along with usually being more comfortable and safe, you’ll get an opportunity to stop at landmarks along the way like the Ananuri Fortress and Jinvali Reservoir.
No matter which option you choose, the views en route are absolutely phenomenal. The Georgian Military Highway is arguably one of the world’s most scenic drives, with winding roads where nearly every turn reveals sweeping valleys and soaring mountain peaks.
Day trips from Tbilisi to Kazbegi
While Kazbegi deserves at least a few days during your Georgia itinerary, it’s possible to visit as a day trip if you’re tight on time and want a quick getaway from the capital city. Here are some of the best day tours to Kazbegi:
Best things to do in Kazbegi Georgia
Whether you’re a history buff, adrenaline junkie or love getting off the grid into the backcountry for a few days, there’s plenty to see in this adventurous area. Some fun things to do during a trip to Kazbegi are:
- Tandem paragliding over the Gudauri View Point
- Hiking or taking a 4X4 tour up to the Gergeti Trinity Church overlooking Stepantsminda
- Happy hour on the terrace at the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi with a view of Mount Kazbegi
- Trekking through the Juta Valley, with a stop at the Fifth Season Hotel
- Wandering around the historic Ananuri Fortress
- Standing under the Gveleti Waterfall
- Skiing in Gudauri
- Visit the Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta
How to spend three days in Kazbegi
With so much to do and countless scenic spots, you’ll want to budget at least three days in Kazbegi if possible. This allows time to drive the Georgian Military road, do a couple of hikes and activities, explore Stepantsminda and see some landmarks along the way.
Here’s exactly how I spent three days in Kazbegi, with both tours organized by Gamarjoba Georgia Tours who I highly recommend due to the quality of guides, price point and excellent communication leading up to and during the excursions. This is also a great option since transportation is included, so you won’t need to coordinate any transfers yourself:
Day 1: Crazy Group Tour to Kazbegi– Jinvali Water Reservoir, Ananuri Fortress, whitewater rafting, paragliding in Gudauri, Gergeti Trinity Church, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi
The tour leaves from Tbilisi in the morning, and it doesn’t take long to arrive at the Jinvali Water Reservoir. Built by the Soviet government in 1985s to supply drinking water to Tbilisi, the colour of the water here is incredible. There are also food stalls and souvenir stands near the lookout point.
The Ananuri Fortress was built on the other end of it, which dates back to the 16th century and has incredible views of the reservoir and rolling hillsides. Wander through the church, scale the walls to head up to the tower, and note the Georgian script carved into the walls. A road leads down to the water, making this a popular beach hangout for Tbilisians in the summer.
Enjoy a traditional Georgian lunch in Pasanauri, or get wet during an optional hour-long rafting trip which starts at the confluence of the Black and White Aragvi rivers.
Enjoy the scenery as you continue to drive along the Georgian Military Highway, reaching the ski town of Gudauri. One of the most thrilling things to do in Kazbegi is tandem paragliding, and on this tour you have the option of signing up to soar through the Caucasus mountains and enjoy a birds-eye view of the valley, rivers and the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument.
The last stop of the day is in Stepantsminda, where you’ll make a quick stop at the luxe Rooms Hotel Kazbegi to admire the spectacular view of Mt Kazbegi from the outdoor terrace.
An off-road vehicle will be waiting out front for the bumpy drive up to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which is one of Georgia’s most photographed sites thanks to its dramatic hilltop perch. Click here to book
This full day excursion to Kazbegi is commonly booked as a day trip from Tbilisi which means most guests make the long drive back to the city after visiting the church. Instead, I recommend staying behind in Stepantsminda (preferably at the Rooms Hotel) to enjoy a few more days in the area.
Day 2: Explore Stepantsminda
If you’re fortunate enough to stay at Rooms Kazbegi, enjoy your morning coffee while admiring the views from the terrace. The resort also has a gym, indoor pool area and sauna, and you can also relax by taking a steamy soak in the outdoor jacuzzi.
In the afternoon, take the short walk down the hill into the villages of Stepantsminda and Gergeti to nosh on local foods like khinkali and khachapuri, and sip Georgian varietals at the Panorama Kazbegi winery. Head back to the hotel in time for happy hour, and enjoy the sunset.
Since Kazbegi is best known for its epic treks through the Caucasus, pull on your hiking shoes and spend your last day here exploring the countryside. This tour leaves from the Rooms Kazbegi in the afternoon, since it can also be booked as a full day trip from Tbilisi.
First up is the impressive Gveleti waterfall which translates to ‘Snake’s waterfall’ and plunges over a steep basalt wall near the rocky, green Dariali Gorge. While the walk in only takes about half an hour each way, be sure to watch your footing here to avoid a tumble like yours-truly.
The drive along a winding, dusty road leads to the peaceful village of Juta, which is a popular spot for multi-day treks. At 2,200 metres above sea level it’s one of the highest points in the alpine area, and has a breathtaking landscape of the rolling hills and soaring peaks in the surrounding Chaukhi mountain range.
A short but steep hike leads up to the Fifth Season Hotel, where you can dine outdoors with your group and toast to a great time in Kazbegi before the drive back to Tbilisi. Click here to book
Hotels in Kazbegi
- Rooms Hotel Kazbegi: Boasting one of the best views in Kazbegi, on-site amenities like multiple bars, restaurants, library and a spa area, this iconic hotel is one of the best in Georgia and well worth the splurge. The rooms feature mountain or forest views, and the entire property is beautifully designed with a cozy, industrial vibe to match the natural aesthetic of its surroundings. Click here to book
- Wooden Hotel Kazbegi: With a good location just down the hill from Rooms, the Wooden Hotel has a huge outdoor terrace, ski storage, restaurant and every room has a private balcony with mountain views. Click here to book
- Kuro Cottages: For a memorable stay, check into one of these A-frames which feel like a mountain chalet. Each cottage gets its own deck, and there are multiple room configurations including one where you access the second bedroom by heading up a wooden ladder into the loft. Click here to book
Cost of a trip to Kazbegi, Georgia
Georgia is an extremely affordable destination which makes the country a fantastic option for budget travellers; however, prices are slightly higher in Kazbegi as it’s a bit more touristy. Here are some examples of what you can expect to spend:
- Tandem paragliding: 300 GEL (about $100 USD)
- Full day guided group tour from Tbilisi: $30-$40 USD
- Whitewater rafting: 70-80 GEL (about $25 USD)
- Traditional meal with glass of wine: $6 USD
- Pitcher of chacha (Georgian liquor): 15 GEL
- Cab from Juta to Kazbegi: 20 GEL
- Marshrutksa ride between Tbilisi and Kazbegi: 10 GEL/person
- Jeep ride up to Gergeti Trinity church: 15 GEL/person
- Room at midrange guesthouse: 120 GEL/night*
- Stay at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi: $150-250 USD/night*
- Skiing in Gudauri: 50 GEL/day ($16 USD)
*Accommodation is usually pricier on the weekends versus midweek
Globe Guide explored Kazbegi in collaboration with Gamarjoba Georgia Tours and Rooms Hotels. As always, hosts have no influence on articles.
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