Georgia (the country) is an incredible tourist destination, particularly for those who love trekking and mountains. Thus, all of these incredible things to do in Kazbegi involve trekking or enjoying the Caucasus Mountains. The Georgian Military Road is the main (and only) way to travel to Kazbegi, though this is not a bad thing, as you can see below 🙂
Best things to do in Kazbegi / Stepantsminda
#1 Climb to the Gergeti Trinity Church
This is the number 1 thing to do in Kazbegi, going to Kazbegi and not going to this Church would be… strange. The Gergeti Trinity Church could well be designated the official postcard of Georgia! The silhouette of the church on the edge of a cliff with the incredible Caucasus mountains in the back makes it a photographer’s favorite and a place you will eager to visit! The church and surroundings are also one of the best viewpoints to the Kazbek Mountain!
The Holy Trinity Church was built in the 14th century at an altitude of 2170 meters. Despite its remoteness is still an active establishment of the Georgian Orthodox Church and a very popular tourist destination.
There are two kinds of people in this world! The ones who take the 30-minute (20 GEL – 2.5 USD) and the ones who prefer to climb/trek for 2 to 3 hours to the church! We obviously took the hard way and climbed up the mountain and can honestly say it was one of the hardest climbs we ever did! Though, if you are at least a little bit in shape you advise you to do it! It’s very rewarding and fun!
Gveleti Waterfalls (small and large)
Gveleti waterfalls are 2 beautiful and secluded waterfalls in the middle of the Caucasus mountains. You just have to drive 7 km north to Stepantsminda and then have a fairly easy 2 Km hike. From here you need to choose between the big falls (go right) or the small ones (go left). We went first to the big and then the small and can honestly say they are well worth the visit.
The walk up to the big Gveleti falls takes 15 minutes but it’s steep. Though it’s worth it, this is a really pleasant place to be. You can have a nice picnic and if you are brave enough you can have a swim, though the water is cold… very cold 🙂 When we arrived at the falls there wasn’t anyone else there and we had the place all for ourselves for a good half an hour. This was in August… Don’t you love Georgia? 🙂
The small waterfall is closer and much easier to get. It was also much more crowded as there was a tour of 50 people arriving there… It’s a pretty waterfall, but much smaller and less interesting than the other. Anyway, we still think it’s worth going there. Reserve at least 3 hours for the whole thing, driving, hiking to both falls and enjoying the scenery 🙂
Hiking in the Caucasus
One of the biggest reasons people go to the Caucasus region and Kazbegi, in particular, is to trek. There are hundreds of trails, from small trails like the ones that go to the Gveleti waterfalls to multi-day treks that cross mountains and valleys. The views are always stunning and you can relax and enjoy the wild and solitude…
One of the best options for a day trek from Stepantsminda is to hike further into the mountains via a path starting behind the ridge to the start of the Gergeti Glacier (at 3000m).
If you want a longer trail I would suggest the Juta to Roshka trail, via Chaukhi pass. It is very popular among hikers due to the “proximity of imposing Chaukhi massif with its seven sharp peaks and the necessity to scale 3431 meters high Chaukhi pass”.
Mount Kazbek is a dormant volcano and one of the major mountains of the Caucasus. Located on the border with Russia. It’s the most prominent geographic feature of the area, with an altitude of 5047 meters. Mount Kazbek is perfectly visible from the town of Stepantsminda and from the Holy Trinity Church. This is a very impressive mountain standing high above everything else and creating an astonishing landscape. Together with the Gergeti Church, Mount Kazbek is a photographers’ wet dream…
Where to stay in Kazbegi / Stepantsminda
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi is easily the best accommodation in Stepantsminda and our luxury hotel suggestion to you. The view from the hotel is incredible, probably one of the best you’ll ever have. The hotel includes an indoor pool, sauna, massages, and fitness center. The rooms are modern, have WIFI and flat screen TV. This an all around great hotel, but it’s perfect for a couple romantic getaway.
If you want more budget accommodation there are plenty of options in Stepantsminda at good prices. Our suggestion to you is Maiko Guest House which features good rooms with private bathrooms at a fantastic price. Some of the rooms even have mountain views. It’s one of the best value for money in Kazbegi.
Travel Attractions in the Georgian Military Road
Well, even if you don’t want to you will do this one, you will probably have to! It’s the only way to Kazbegi from Tbilisi… 🙂 It’s also the main road from Russia to Georgia and then to Armenia and so on… Though, even this isn’t a bad thing! Honestly, driving the Georgian Military road is fun! And the views of the Caucasus are unforgettable… These are the kind of things that make me love driving and doing road trips! I would do this road even if it didn’t have any of these attractions in it…
Sulfur waters near Jvari
The sulfur waters near Jvari, or as I call them the sticky waterfalls were the most surprising of all the attractions in the Georgian Military Highway. I had never heard or read anything about it, we just saw many cars parked and people selling things close to it so we stopped also to check it out! On the other side of the road water was flowing down the rocks, yellow rocks. It looked very slippery though people were standing and playing on it without falling. It looked fun, we had to try and climb those rocks. And it was FUN! The covers the rocks but you keep the grip on it! Thus, one feels almost as walking on water! If for some weird reason, you don’t want to climb, it is also a great photo opportunity.
This is a great 30 minute stop to rest, have some fun, take beautiful pictures and even buy souvenirs by the road!
Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument in Jvari Pass
This monument is a large round stone and concrete structure overlooking the Devil’s Valley. The inside is filled with tiles spanning the whole structure and depicts scenes of Georgian and Russian history. It’s a very freaky monument but a good place to take a break and enjoy both the monument and the views. It has a tavern serving grilled meat with a great view so we suggest you to have lunch here. Unfortunately, the monument was closed due to constructions work so we could see the inside of the monument.
Jvari pass is the highest point of the Georgian Military highway with 2 379 meters above the sea level (there’s an obelisk marking the highest point). The views from the pass are amazing and the fresh clean air will make you feel much alive… Be aware that in Winter the road may be closed…
Gudauri ski resort
Gudauri is a ski town in the Georgian Military Road and as most of these towns, it’s very deserted during summer.has 57 km of ski runs and 7 lifts. The bottom station of first ski lift called pirveli is at 1 990 m above sea level and the top station of the last ski lift is at 3 279 m, called Sadzele. It’s usually known to be one of the cheapest ski resort in Europe, so if you planning a trip in winter, maybe you should give it a few days and have some winter fun!
In summer some of the lifts are open for BTT/downhill or just for doing some trails. Gudauri is also great for paragliding. We went up to enjoy the views and do a very small stroll. It was very relaxing and enjoyed having the top stations for ourselves.
If you are planning to sleep in Gudauri we have the perfect accommodation for you. The Tsar Bani Spa Resort offers probably the best value for money of all spas we have ever met. It’s a spa at a budget price! A perfect option to pamper yourself before going back home! 🙂 After all, traveling can be hard work, right?
This awesome accommodation is usually sold out, make sure you book it early! Check here the actualized prices for your dates.
Ananuri Fortress Complex
Ananuri is a castle complexion the Aragvi River in Georgia, about 72 km from Tbilisi. It’s one of the must do things in the Georgian Military road. The castle, the bell tower, three churches, and beautifully carved walls are the highlights why the site is frequently visited.
It was built by the Dukes of Aragvi in the 16th and 17th century, though its earliest parts date from the 13th. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program. The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenelated curtain wall. The upper fortification with a large square tower, known as Sheupovari, is well-preserved. The lower fortification, with a round tower, is mostly in ruins.
This spectacular fortress with amazing views is well worth your visit! We particularly enjoyed climbing up to the large tower and enjoying the views from above. Incredibly the entrance to the fortress is free.
The Bazaleti Lake isn’t exactly on the Georgian Military highway, but it’s only a very small detour… It isn’t the most famous one either! Honestly, we had never heard of this prior to our visit! We only saw the street sign to it when we were heading to Stepantsminda and decided to have look on our way back. Boy, did we get this one right! We only wished we could stay longer, but it was our last day in Georgia 🙂
The Bazaleti Lake has an are of only 1.22 km² and a maximum depth of 30 meters. It’s is situated at 900 meters height above sea level, with a unique combination of mountain air and wonderful water. The dawn and sunset are beautiful and it’s a great place to rest in any season of the year. Though in Summer you can enjoy the relatively warm water! We strongly suggest taking 1 or 2 days to rest here.
Accommodation in Bazaleti Lake
We stayed at Laguna Apartments and we strongly advise you to do the same! It has great value for money, being very inexpensive for a property with a private beach area and views of the mountains. You can play ping-pong or rent a bike to ride around the lake. It’s Perfect for couples or families with kids. Though, the things we most liked about it was how everything looked so adorable and well maintained. We only paid 20 Euros for one night, but check here the price for your dates.
We love this region of Georgia! It has such an incredible natural beauty that you wouldn’t really need anything… however the old churches, fortresses, and ruins make everything even better!
Our Recommended Travel Guide Books For Georgia
Georgia (Bradt Travel Guide) – if you are only traveling to Georgia!
Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan (Travel Guide) – in case you are planning to travel to the Caucasus
As said above Georgia is pretty safe! Though, You don’t want to risk having a problem and not being insured! So, always Remember to Buy Travel Insurance Before Your Trip!