8 Things To Know Before You Travel to Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) Georgia

If you have more than a few days in Georgia – get out of Tbilisi and explore the Caucasus Mountains.

Craggy peaks huddle around the horizon, topped with a dusting of snow and a halo of mist. In the valleys you’ll find small villages where cattle wander down dirt roads and colourful lines of washing hang in the cool mountain air. Trucks and vans (that have seen better days) rumble down roads that wind and twist up and down the mountainside. 

As soon as you leave the tourist shops and hipster cafes of the capital – you’ll see a completely different side of Georgia.

Lee and I took a trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi and spent a few days in this beautiful mountain village. We had actually planned to go there in January, but the roads had been blocked by an avalanche of snow – so we ended up in Gudauri instead.

When we eventually went to Kazbegi, it was in June – when the mountains were mostly lush and green except for a bit of permanent snow on their tips. It was gorgeous – although I imagine that there’s no bad time of year to visit somewhere so beautiful.

Here are some of the things that you should know before you travel to this pretty little alpine location.

1. You CAN Visit on a Day Trip from Tbilisi, But It’s Better to Stay Overnight

As I explained in my guide to getting to Stepantsminda from Tbilisi, it is possible to reach this destination on a day trip from Tbilisi. It’s a 3 hour journey each way, so technically you could take an early marshrutka, hang around for a few hours in the mountains and then head back to Tbilisi in the evening.

However, I would recommend staying over for at least one night in Stepantsminda. It will break up your travel time, so that you don’t have to sit in a marshrutka for 6 hours in one day.

You’ll have more time to do stuff in this little mountain outpost. There’s actually plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy here, such as:

  • Hiking or taking a taxi to the stunning Gergeti Trinity Church.
  • Hiking to the Gergeti Glacier.
  • Rafting in the Snotskali River.
  • Kayaking in the Tergi River.
  • Visiting the waterfalls in Gveleti and Arsha-Pansheti.
  • Bathing in the nearby mineral water springs.
  • Horseback riding in the mountains.
  • And much more!

Also, it will give you more time to enjoy the mountains. They look different throughout the day – from the early morning mist to the bright afternoon sunlight to the warm glow of the sunset.

Plus, on your second day you can treat yourself to the glorious breakfast at Rooms Hotel (even if you aren’t staying there!) Which leads me to my next point…

2. The Breakfast At Rooms Is Worth It

Rooms Hotel, Kazbegi

If you are awake and hungry in the morning before 11am, treat yourself to the breakfast buffet at Rooms Hotel. It was one of my favourite things about Stepantsminda.

Yes, it costs about 40 gel. (15 USD) To put that into perspective, you could get an entire meal for two, including wine, for that price at many restaurants in Tbilisi.

It’s not a cheap meal, but oh my is it ever glorious.

This was only the fruit section of the huge, glorious buffet. I didn’t take many photos because I was too busy stuffing my face. 

Crusty baguettes, smoked salmon, thick cream cheese, trays laden with freshly baked pastries and muffins, plates of delicate thinly shaved prosciutto, warm, crispy bacon, baked baby potatoes with tarragon, yogurt, muesli, waffles, nutella, honey… it’s a cornucopia of breakfast goodness.

Depending on the season there will be an array of fresh fruit – when we were there in June I gorged on ripe, juicy cherries and watermelon. There’s also bottomless coffee, tea and juice.

Rooms Hotel is pretty cool

Oh, and there’s also an egg station where you can order your eggs exactly how you like them and they will cook them for you and bring them to your table.

It’s a pretty amazing way to start your day.

3. But You Don’t Have to Stay There To Enjoy It

Noa Guesthouse, where we stayed

If you really want to stay at Rooms, the fanciest hotel in Kazbegi by far, you can. However, the rates are around $200 US per night – so it’s really not budget friendly.

The thing about Rooms is that you can enjoy most of the best features of the hotel – the restaurant, the pool and the incredible views on the terrace – without having to be a guest there.

We stayed at a small local guesthouse only a five minute walk away from Rooms, which only cost about $40 US per night. Of course, the room was a lot more basic – but it was still clean and comfortable. (After all, when there is so much to see and do, you only really need somewhere to lay your head.)

Our hotel room

So, our per-night cost was 80% cheaper, but we were still able to make the stroll over to Rooms Hotel every time we wanted to eat in the restaurant or admire the views from the deck.

The view from our hotel wasn’t bad either.

The view from Noa Guesthouse

I mean, this place really is stunning.

4. The Roads Are Winding

It’s all about the journey, right?

Be warned: to get to Kazbegi, you’ll need to take the Georgian Military Highway which weaves through the Caucasus Mountains. There are some parts of the road that are pretty steep and winding. After all, the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia are some of the largest mountains in Europe.

If you are prone to motion sickness you might feel a little queasy as the marshrutka zig zags around the narrow switchbacks up the mountain. Make sure that you take your motion sickness medication before you go. Our marshrutka had to pull over a couple of times because an American girl needed to jump out and be sick at the side of the road.

Also, our marshrutka had to slow down at one point because the road was full of sheep and we couldn’t pass. Just a typical day in rural Georgia!

5. Most of The Locals You Meet Won’t Speak English

Be patient and think of creative ways to express yourself. I recommend downloading the Google Translate app on your phone. You can type in the English word and it will translate it to Georgian for you.

Google image search can come in handy too. When Lee and I needed more toilet paper for our hotel room, I just showed the guesthouse owner a picture of a roll of toilet paper and she got it right away.

6. It Gets Cool at Night

In the mountains when the sun goes down at night, the temperature can drop quite significantly (even if it was hot during the day.) So, be prepared with a jacket or sweater for the evenings.

I was packing the bags and forgot to pack Lee a jacket – so he was pretty cold in the evenings! Don’t make the same mistake I did.

7. Check Out the Gergeti Trinity Church

The main attraction in Stepantsminda is the Gergeti Trinity Church, a humble 14th century church that is perched high on a mountain peak. It has a lot of importance in Georgian history.

In the 18th century the author Vakhushti Batonishvili wrote that in times of danger the precious relics from the church in Mtskheta (such as St. Nino’s cross) were brought here for safe keeping. I can see why, as this church is NOT easy to get to.

The church itself is not the most spectacular or architecturally stunning building you’ll see in Georgia – but it’s location that makes it special. It is perched 2200m high on a mountain overlooking the small village of Stepantsminda, surrounded by towering snowy peaks on all sides.

Getting to the Gergeti Trinity Church

You have two options to get there – taking a taxi from the center of Stepantsminda or hiking up the mountain.


  • Many of the taxi drivers will quote you 70 gel ($28.50 US) to take you on the short 20 minute drive up the mountain, wait for you for 30 minutes, then drive you back down.
  • This seemed incredibly expensive to us, compared to the prices we were used to paying for taxi transport in other areas of Georgia. I guess the drivers here have a monopoly on the main tourist attraction.
  • However, once the taxi driver saw us balk at 70 gel, it wasn’t too difficult to haggle him down to 45 gel ($18 US) – which we thought was reasonable.
  • Be prepared – the road up to the church is basically just a dirt track and this is a very bumpy ride.


  • The other option for getting up to the top of the mountain where the church is located is to hike there.
  • It’s a two hour trek and although you are making your way up a steep hill, it’s said to be “entry level” difficulty.
  • Emily Lush from Wander-Lush.org wrote a great blog post about hiking from Stepantsminda to Gergeti Trinity Church. Check it out for detailed instructions for where to travel to.  

Whichever way you get to the top – the views are completely worth it.

Ladies, if you want to go inside the church and admire the candles and wall hangings you must cover up.

Around the side of the church you’ll find some scarves you can wrap around your head and aprons for wrapping around your waist (unless you are already wearing a skirt). It’s always important to make sure you dress appropriately out of respect for the local religion.

8. There’s Plenty to See on the Way

If you don’t take a marshrutka from Tbilisi to Kazbegi and you choose to drive your own vehicle or hire a private vehicle, you will have the freedom to stop along the way and enjoy some of the attractions between Tbilisi and Kazbegi.

And you should! There are a lot of interesting things to check out along the way, such as:

  • Mtskheta: Only 30 minutes outside of Tbilisi you’ll pass by this cute, historic town. Take a trip up to the Jvari Monastery on top of the hill and admire the view. (Read our blog post about Mtskheta)
  • Zhinvali Water Reservoir: The dam was built in 1986, creating a beautiful artificial lake with a perfect blue surface.
  • Gudauri: A mountain ski resort town located about 2 hours from Tbilisi. (Read our blog post about Gudauri here)
  • Ananuri Castle: An old fortress that was constructed in the 18th century. It is considered one of the most beautiful churches in all of Georgia.
  • The Soviet-Georgian Friendship Memorial: Built in the 1980s, this unique semi-circular stone structure is covered in colourful murals that depict scenes from Georgian tradition and mythology. It is located in a very scenic perch, surrounded by dramatic peaks.
  • Darial Gorge: This historically important mountain pass is one of the only two crossings in the Caucasus Mountains – the other one being the Derbent Pass. It has been fortified since 150 BC and you can see the ruins of an ancient fortress.

Do you have any questions about Kazbegi?

I was completely blown away by the beauty of the Caucasus Mountains and I found myself just staring at them in awe. They are so huge and imposing that they don’t even feel real. If you have the time when visiting Georgia, I highly recommend that you see them with your own eyes.

Do you have any questions about Stepantsminda, how to get there or what to expect when you are there? Please feel free to ask me in the comments or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. I know it can sometimes be hard to find info about off-the-beaten-path destinations, so I’ll do my best to help by sharing what I know – so that you can plan your travels around Georgia!

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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  1. Hey there fellow Canadian. Your pictures look idyllic!
    We are booked to visit Georgia from Sept 8-15. We land in Tbilisi on Saturday afternoon and plan to spend Sunday exploring the capital. On Monday, will drive over to Kazbegi. There are severl attractions to visit along the way. I’m thinking of spending the night at Sno (Hotel Sno comes highly recommended) and using that as a base to see surrounding attractions.
    We hope to make our way back to Tbilisi by Friday evening to catch our Saturday morning flight back home.
    What do you think? I’m assuming weather will be wet and cold this time of year but we can’t change that. Not that we mind much as we will be coming over from Dubai. Just have to get proper hiking shoes for the kids.
    Should we keep nearly 5 days for this part of Georgia? or travel westward towards Racha National Park Reserve?

    1. Hi there! Sorry, I just saw your comment now! You must be in Georgia already, since it’s the 10th of September. I hope you are enjoying it! I haven’t stayed in Hotel Sno, so I don’t know about that, but I’m sure you’ll find Kazbegi beautiful and you’ll have a great time. Feel free to share links to your social media, I’d love to check out your photos!

  2. Hi,

    You mentioned “bathing in mineral water spring” while I couldn’t find information about such activity. Is there any specific location in Kazbegi to make it happen?

  3. Hi. That’s actually in Borjomi. There’s a national park which has the mineral swimming pools.
    Alternatively, in Tbilisi, the bath houses also use sulphur water.

  4. Hi Kelly,

    We are planning a trip to Kazbegi as well. Loved your blog about it as this is exactly what we want to do and see there. Do you have any suggestions on how to get there from Tbilisi: where to find those marshrutkas or maybe tour agencies which offer drives to Kazbegi? Is the road dangerous or just winding?

    Best regards,

  5. Hi Kelly
    Good to read you travel blog. Well, I have a question, myself friends plan to stay in Gudauri during the first week of july and thinking of travelling on a day trip to Kazbegi and return to Gudauri I read you said the way military highway, I would like to know is there any restriction to travel on our own rent a car.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Bala,

      Sounds great! Hope your trip to Georgia in July goes well. As far as I know, there are no restrictions for driving a rental car on the Georgian Military Highway. You can simply rent a car and go there at your own pace. Just be sure that you are comfortable driving on the steep, winding mountain roads!

      Have a great time,

  6. We’ve been to Georgia several times now, but never too Kazbegi. We’ll have a few days in Tbilisi in July, and think – now is the time! We will likely hire a private driver through a travel agent we know, in order to stop and see things along the way. We’d like to do some easy hiking (if there such a thing in the mountains). We are both 70, in decent physical shape, but we’re coming from the flatlands of mid-America. We know we don’t want to do a day trip. Will an overnight be enough to make some stops, see the church of course, do some moderate hiking, leave mid-afternoon of the second day? Or would we be better off staying two nights, so we have a full day up there?

    1. Hi Midge,

      Sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned!
      An overnight trip would give you enough time to do some hiking in the morning and head back later on the second day. However, if you have the time to stay another night that’s a good option too. For me, personally, I like to stay longer in a destination so I can really take my time experiencing it and not be rushed. But of course, it’s totally up to you!
      Enjoy your trip to Georgia!

      – Kelly

        1. There aren’t a TON of options, because Stepantsminda is pretty small. However, there are a few restaurants to choose from. They mostly serve simple, traditional Georgian food. If you want something a little bit fancier, such as steak or salmon, then there’s the restaurant within Rooms hotel.

  7. Hi,
    I’m planning to go to Kazbegi around 13 September this year. Is there any possibility to have a snow capped mountain view there?
    Thanks in advance.

  8. OMG Major FOMO after reading your post. we missed ALL the enroute attracted even though we self drove all across Georgia and spent 2-3 days in Kazbegi too. There is always so much to see and limited time. sigh.

  9. Wondering how close can one get to the Russian border; and if one can cross it for a brief/quick visit to Russia without a visa (American here)

  10. Hello.. Thank you for this article.. I’m planning to go there for along stay (3 months) but I have to work and my work needs strong internet.. So how is the internet there? Another question.. Can I get money transfer while i’m staying there?

  11. The answer to today’s Wordle is another one that is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Far from it. which is just above the average for the game. And you probably already know that even a simple word can be hard. Right now, wordle hint can solve all your difficult problems and help you find the mysterious word quickly.

  12. Hi, would there be snow in kazbegi in april end? Also, what would be better place to stay, kazbegi or gadauri? and hope the road isn’t too narrow to kazbegi and one can self drive up there?

    is 3 nights too much for kazbegi?

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