Stepantsminda

Holy Trinity Church in the mist

Stepantsminda (Georgian: სტეფანწმინდა; formerly Kazbegi, Georgian: ყაზბეგი) a town in the north of Georgia, popular for the trekking opportunities in the visually spectacular surrounding mountains, its views of the mighty Mount Kazbeg, and for the beautiful view from the town of the Holy Trinity Church outlined against Mount Kazbeg itself.

Understand

The town of Kazbegi—officially named Stepantsminda (სტეფანწმინდა: st'eh-pahn-ts'meen-dah), but better known under the old name of Kazbegi) is a mountain town on the Georgian Military Highway. The town is 10 km south of the border with Russia, which is open again for some nationalities. On the western side of the river, the town is known as Gergeti (გერგეტი: gehr-geh-t'ee), but for all intents and purposes of a visitor, it is essentially one town.

Get in

Mashrutkas leave more or less hourly the Didube bus station of Tbilisi several times per day. From the Didube metro station, go down, turn right, cross the underway, cross the first parking lot (full of marshrutkas), and the marshrutkas to Kazbegi are in the second parking lot. Fare: 10 Lari. Duration: 2h45.

If you have a bunch of people in your party, you can almost always find a driver hanging around the marshrutka who is going there anyway, and hitch a ride for a fare lower than the total your group would pay on the marshrutka.

To get to the Sno Valley take a jeep from Kazbegi. It's a long and pretty scary way but really worth it.

Get around

The town is easily covered on foot.

See

Do

Gergeti Trinity Church

Hiking

Hiking is the best option, since you enjoy the view. This can be done throughout the year. It takes between 1 and 2 hours one way, and the difficulty depends on the path. Although the easiest way is very easy, keep in mind that there is more than 400 meters to climb. All three are easy to follow.

By taxi

Many taxis (mostly in the main square) offer a return trip to Gergeti Trinity Church from Kazbegi for 40 Lari. This is almost a scam, since this is a mere 6km from the city, and it is much nicer to climb yourself (see above). But if you are old, or in a hurry, why not. Try to bargain as much as possible!

Other outdoor activities

Summer flowers nearing the Gergeti Glacier

Buy

There is now a new ATM in town at the bank branch of 'Liberty Bank'. Its just two hundred meters from the main square, next to the Mini-Markets. The bank also exchanges money and opens around Mo-Fr 10:00 - 17:30 also open Saturdays but a bit shorter. The money changer right on the main square has horrible rates.

Eat

There are few restaurants in the town, it's easier and cheaper to get the food at your guesthouse. Hotel Stepantsminda has a restaurant and the hotel next door as well.

There are some small shops just of the main square, in the direction of the 'center' (big sign on the side of the square).

Drink

The café Shorena's hotel & bar restaurant (right on the main square) has decent prices for food and drinks, and provides free Wi-Fi. English-speaking and French-speaking staff. Update: The place is rather nice but the prices are unexpectedly high and the portions are very small (but food itself is good as usual). For example - chicken shish costs 9 laris but only contains 4 small pieces of chicken.

Sleep

View back over Kazbegi

Plenty of homestays, with older lady's swarming any arriving mashrutka. Expect to pay 15 GEL/person/night for a bed, 30 GEL to include dinner and breakfast. Most of the cheaper guesthouses and hostels are on the other side of the river. Walk a few hundred meters north, cross the bridge to the left and then take another left after three hundred meters.

Go next

Kazbeg looming over the church
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.