Georgia is probably not on your radar. This small country in far-eastern Europe sits between Russia and Turkey. In some ways, it is very surprising that Georgia has not become more popular with tourists. It has magnificent landscapes, dominated by lush forests, spectacular mountains, and scenic pebble beaches on the Black Sea. One of the most beautiful places in Georgia is the area around Mount Kazbeg. The village of Kazbegi sits in the shadow of the mountain, not far from the Russian border. In recent years, plugged-in travelers and adventure seekers have been using this quaint, warm and welcoming town as a base for exploring both the high mountains of the Caucasus Range and the forested valleys below. If you appreciate scenery or have a love of nature and adventure, Kazbegi is a must-visit destination. As I'll show you in a little bit, it is possible to enjoy this region in complete comfort and style.
Kazbegi, which is also known as Stepantsminda, can be reached from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi by bus or by private car. The ride generally takes less than two hours and the scenery as you climb up through the Caucasus is absolutely stunning. Buses leave frequently from Tbilisi's Didube Station, and good hotels in Kazbegi can help arrange a private jeep to pick you up right from the airport. Taxis will also be able to make the trip for around $40-$50 one-way.
One of the best pastimes in Kazbegi is simply enjoying the fabulous views of the mountain that towers over the town. The finest hotels in the village all have indoor sitting areas and outdoor terraces that overlook the mountain. The scenery and outdoor activities fill most people's itineraries. However, there are also a couple of interesting attractions in the village. The Stepantsminda History Museum, housed in the former home of the village's namesake, 19th century writer Alexander Kazbegi, offers an interesting glimpse into local life and regional history. Meanhwile, the Tsminda Samebis Church (also known as the Gergeti Trinity Church) towers above the village. Many tourists hike to the historic buildings both the see the architecture and to appreciate the great views from the church grounds.
The main reason to come to North Georgia is to enjoy its many outdoor adventure activities. With the help of a guide, fit visitors can climb to the top of Mount Kazbegi (which is more than 15,000 feet above sea level at its summit). Or course, reaching the imposing peak of the mountain is not necessary for an enjoyable and memorable vacation. One of the most scenic places near Kazbegi is the Juta Valley. This forested area is crisscrossed by hiking trails, and there are also options to explore on bike or even on horseback. The waterfalls here are especially picturesque. Expereinced kayakers and rafters will find heaven on the Tergi River, while novices and people looking for a joyride on non-dangerous rapids can find the right level of excitement on Snotskali River. Sky Atlantida offers tandem paragliding flights, allowing visitors the chance to see the beauty of Kazbegi from the air.
There are numbers hostels and home stay options in Kazbegi. The best hotel, without a doubt, is the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi. Set on the best piece of real estate in the village, Rooms offers incredible views of the mountain landscapes from its indoor seating areas and expansive outdoor deck. Also, the hotel can arrange all the adventure's we've just mentioned, plus many more (including quad-bike tours).
Because there is little nightlife and few restaurants, the most exciting after-dark scene in Kazbegi is found right inside the hotel. There is even a casino with slots, roulette, and poker and blackjack tables. The public areas of Rooms are certainly luxurious and stylish. But they also have the kind of cozy warmth that many people expect from a quality alpine resort. Rooms Hotel boasts some of the most-unique decor you are likely to find in any hotel in Europe. Local posters, artwork and artifacts decorate the bedrooms, and unique furniture give each living space an individual personality.
As we've mentioned, if you demand luxury, comfort and style, there is really no option in Kazbegi besides the Rooms Hotel. However, we have other hotels and rental villas throughout the world that equal Rooms in terms of luxury and personality. You can check out the options here.
What is your favorite alpine destination? Does Kazbegi sound like a good option for your next vacation? Use the comments section to share your thoughts and experiences.