The small town of Stepantsminda, once known as Kazbegi, is located in the north-east of Georgia, close to the border with Russia, and will simply delight you with its landscapes. It is close to the mountains, being very much appreciated by tourists who are looking to grab some fresh air, enjoy nature in its purest forms, and take a relaxing walk on one of the numerous trekking routes in the area. The best reason to visit Stepantsminda is the fact that you can enjoy a quiet and relaxing vacation in this area, because the town is rather small and there is no traffic. You have everything you need to enjoy your stay, at the most accessible prices.
There is a place here to fit every budget, because you can opt between staying at one of the local families that are willing to offer you a room and even breakfast, for a small price, or you can choose staying at the hotel. A beautifully designed Rooms Hotel Kazbegi is the best in the area, providing excellent rooms, services, and stunning views towards the Caucasus Moutains.
When choosing to stay at the locals, the hardest part is to break the language barrier. Not many people in Kazbegi know how to speak English, so this can be a problem. Concerning the prices, staying at the locals is far cheaper than at the hotel. Accommodation costs somewhere around $10 and $15, for a person, and for an additional $10 you can enjoy a meal prepared traditionally.
Besides breathtaking landscapes, you should visit Stepantsminda for its cultural and historic vestiges as well. Start with the Gergeti Trinity Church, which was built in the 14th century. If you love working out, you can start the journey towards the church by foot, but it may take up to 2 hours to get there. It is faster to take a car, but that will cost you anywhere between $22 and $25. If you want to save a few bucks, don’t hesitate to bargain with the drivers. Another objective would be the Gveleti Waterfall, plus the remains of an impressive fortress, which can be both found just 9 km outside of Kazbegi. A taxi can take you close to your destination, but the last few hundred meters will have to be made by foot, because the road is not suitable for a car.
If you decide to visit Stepantsminda, one of the best advices you can get is to pack some warm clothes, even if you come here during the summer. In the warm season, temperatures in the area are between 13 and 26 C or 55 and 75 F, so it is not that hot. In the winter, there is plenty of snow here, some roads being completely blocked by snowfall. But, even so, this charming town deserves to be on your list of places to visit in Georgia, especially if you love exploring mountainous regions. As a treat, for people who enjoy trekking even if it may be rather difficult, you should know that Mkinvari, a nearby peak that exceeds 5000 m in height, can be explored. Still, it is recommended not to venture alone up on the mountain and have some expert alpinists with you.