Easily accessible from Tbilisi, Kazbegi is home to the magnificent Mt. Kazbek and is one of Georgia’s most popular mountain retreats. The term ‘Kazbegi’ commonly refers to both the town of Stepantsminda (formerly Kazbegi and still called this by many), and the greater Kazbegi Municipality within the Khevi province. Roughly speaking, this area extends northwards from Jvari Pass to the Russian border at Dariali Gorge, westwards up Truso Valley, and eastwards up the Snostskali Valley to Juta.
Bisecting this area is the Georgian Military Highway, a vital road connecting Georgia and Russia on either side of the Caucasus Mountains. A long established trade route, it has led to increased development over the years; trucks constantly ply the main road, and shops, guesthouses, and restaurants are plentiful. This infrastructure, along with the area’s proximity to the capital just three hours away, is what makes it so accessible for many. On the other hand, Kazbegi’s popularity can undoubtedly be attributed to the glorious mountain vistas, natural attractions, and iconic sites found across the region.
In this guide we outline the best things to see and do around Kazbegi. We also provide practical travel info, including the best places to stay, where to eat and how to get there. Additionally, we’ve created a detailed map which can be used online, or downloaded for offline use. We recommend a minimum of 4 days for all of the main activities outlined in this guide, plus extra time if you want to tackle some of the region’s multi-day hikes. If you’re planning a shorter trip, we hope this guide will help you choose something that suits your own interests and timeframe.
Watch the behind the scenes version of our Kazbegi adventures on our Instagram stories highlights
Watch the behind the scenes
version of our Kazbegi trip
on our Instagram stories
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (ONLINE VERSION)
To save this map to use online on desktop or mobile just tap the star symbol at the top. When you open Google Maps on your phone, navigate to ‘Saved’ at the bottom, then swipe along to ‘Maps’ at the top. You’ll find this map in your list of maps.
On desktop, click the three lines at the top left, select ‘Your Places’, then ‘Maps’. Click the map, then scroll down and select ‘Open in My Maps’ to access the interactive version.
Alternatively, just tap the rectangle symbol at the top right of the map in this blog post to view the My Maps version larger on desktop.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to view this version of the map offline, but we’ve created a similar version for offline use as per below.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (OFFLINE VERSION)
Maps.me is our go-to offline mapping app. We find it straightforward to use for planning routes in advance, as well as navigating on the trail. It doesn’t drain our phone battery, and it’s quick and easy to save and organise ‘bookmarks’. There are many trails already marked on Maps.me, plus you can download and import a KML track of your route to the app.
To use Maps.me, first download the app (iOS/Android). Hover over the region or country that you want to visit and the app will prompt you to download this map. Once downloaded, it can be viewed offline.
You can tap anywhere and save it as a ‘bookmark’ by tapping the star symbol at the bottom. Hit ‘Edit Bookmark’ to personalise the bookmark colour, organise your bookmarks into different folders, and rename them.
You can navigate easily or plan routes in advance by tapping your start point and selecting ‘route from’, then tapping your end point and selecting ‘route to’. Tap the car, walking, or cycling symbol at the top of the screen to indicate your mode of travel. If you want to plot a different route to the one suggested by Maps.me, just tap a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) bookmark between the start and end points and select ‘add stop’.
Maps.me shows the distance and travel time, plus elevation profiles for hiking trails. Note that the estimated time isn’t always reliable, but we’ve always found the distance and elevation gain/loss to be largely accurate. It only shows very basic contour lines.
You can track your progress on the trail using GPS. The arrow shows your direction of travel. Tap the compass at the top right of the screen to keep the map in a fixed position (the arrow will rotate). Alternatively, tap the arrow at the bottom right of the screen to rotate the map in the direction of travel (the arrow will stay in a fixed position).
Gaia (iOS/Android) is another offline mapping app that is very useful. It shows the contours in much more detail than Maps.me, as long as you have previously viewed the section of map online. With a paid membership you can download various maps in advance for offline use. The app has existing OpenStreetMap trails marked and you can import GPX tracks and view them offline. You can also create new routes online yourself and export them as GPX or KML files. You can navigate easily on the trail using the arrow that shows your GPS location. Unlike with Maps.me, it isn’t possible to quickly check distances between two points (or at least we haven’t figured out a way to do it). There are a lot of useful features in the free version and even more benefits if you have a paid annual membership, so if you spend a lot of time outdoors it is worthwhile learning how to use the app to its full advantage.
In our experience, Gaia drains your phone battery much quicker than Maps.me, even in flight mode, so it’s best to shut down the app completely each time you finish using it.
OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android) is another great offline mapping app with lots of useful features. In our opinion, it’s not as intuitive as Maps.me, and it has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Like Gaia, we recommend checking out the written and video tutorials on the OsmAnd website to learn how to fully use the app. The benefits of the app include being able to plot routes in advance and save them as GPX tracks, and to view detailed elevation and terrain information, including surface types. You can also import GPX tracks. One downside is that the free version does not include contour lines, but these can be added via a paid plugin.
There’s plenty to keep outdoor lovers busy in Kazbegi, with everything from easy scenic strolls to challenging multi-day hikes. It should be noted though that most places and activities in this guide are spread out across the municipality and require transport to get to. The exceptions are Gergeti Trinity Church and Gergeti Glacier, both of which can be reached on foot from Kazbegi town (Stepantsminda).
Mt. Kazbek, or Mqinvartsveri in Georgian, watches over Kazbegi from the lofty height of 5054 m. The third tallest mountain in Georgia, it is among the most iconic peaks of the Greater Caucasus Range. The peak is visible from most spots around town (weather permitting of course), and admiring its majesty from a cafe terrace or guesthouse balcony is a worthwhile activity in itself. But for those looking to stretch the legs and get a closer view, we highly recommend hiking up to Gergeti Trinity Church, or Gergeti Glacier beyond.
One of the most recognisable churches in all of Georgia, Gergeti Trinity Church is perched picturesquely atop a grassy peak, with Mt Kazbek rising behind and Kazbegi town stretched out below. While the 14th century church is as pretty as any in Georgia, it’s this epic location that really makes it shine.
A view of Gergeti Trinity Church from the northwest, facing away from Mt. Kazbek
A view of Gergeti Trinity Church from the
northwest, facing away from Mt. Kazbek
These days a tarmac road winds up the hillside to the church, making it easily accessible by car. Expect to pay 40 GEL+ for a taxi from town (1740 m) to church (2170 m) and back, including waiting time at the top.
If you prefer more of a challenge, hiking to the church is a great option. There are a few approaches you can take, including a forest trail that criss-crosses the road, and an incredibly steep climb straight up the hillside. However, the best route curves around the southern side of the church and climbs up through a grassy valley past a crumbling watchtower.
We’ve marked this route on our map. Allow around 1.5 hours to get to the church from the main square in Kazbegi town, and a bit less time coming back.
Once at the top it’s worth following the trail around the eastern (Kazbegi town) side of the church to reach a viewpoint (42.6613, 44.6214). From here you’ll have a view of the church in the foreground with Mt. Kazbek rising behind. There is another fantastic viewpoint about 30 minutes’ walk up the hillside to the northwest of the church, on the way towards Sabertse Pass and Gergeti Glacier. To get to it, follow the road and turn left onto a trail leading up the grassy hillside just after the large car park. From the viewpoint (42.66482, 44.6112) Mt. Kazbek will be at your back, and you’ll be looking down towards the church and dramatic wall of mountains behind.