Stepantsminda’s greatest draw is Kazbegi Peak, also known as Mkinvartsveri, which has always attracted the interest of mountain lovers. From the highest point of the mountain, 5,054 meters up, the view is truly unforgettable.
There are many tourist routes starting from Stepantsminda. You can hike, travel with your own car, or take a jeep tour, depending on which direction you choose. However, there are a few must-see places.
Gergeti Trinity Church is the crown of Stepantsminda and an outstanding example of Georgian architecture. The cathedral itself was built during the 14th century. In the old days, whenever Georgia was attacked by an enemy, the church’s treasury was kept here to preserve it, since the road leading to it was extremely difficult. Nowadays there is a paved road from Stepantsminda to Gergeti you can walk up, or you can also take a taxi or jeep tour with a guide.
Dariali Gorge is a section of the Tergi River and a favourite among travelers. The gorge is resplendent with waterfalls and lakes, including spectacular Gveleti Waterfall and a lake in the shape of a heart. Come here with your tents, camp out in the designated campsite, soak in the serenity, take lots of beautiful photos, and gaze up at the stars as you drift off to sleep. It is a transformative experience.
If you want to learn more about life in Stepantsminda and the local culture and traditions, then head to the Stepantsminda Historical Museum, which is located inside the Memorial House of Georgian writer, Aleksandre Kazbegi. Here, you can see cultural relics representing the lifestyle of the region and the culture of not just the valley, but the whole Caucasus, along with the works of local artists.
The local populace celebrates many holidays, including Atengenoba, Kazbegoba, and Gergetoba. On these days a large number of tourists gather and there is a festive mood in all the bars and cafés. While in Stepantsminda you must try the famous local khinkali, while vegetarians will enjoy the traditional pkhlovana khachapuri with a vegetable filling.
Due to its high-altitude, Stepantsminda is always a little chilly, especially at night. You’ll want to have warm clothes with you regardless of the time of year you’re visiting.
It’s also worth noting that you can take a cable car to the popular ski resort Gudauri from Kobi - a village close to Stepantsminda, so the two destinations can be combined into a single trip.