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Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway is a highlight of any trip to Georgia. This scenic route served as a link between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Today it connects Tbilisi to the Russian city of Vladikavkaz, in the North Ossetia region, and was only named “military” after Russia annexed Georgia to its territory in the 19th century.

Even though the route stretches all the way to Vladikavkaz, virtually anyone travelling on this route, will go only as far as the village of Stepantsminda, also known as Kazbegi. Not that this is an issue, since the Kazbegi area is, with no doubt, the climax of the trip. But before I explain why, we need to talk about the whole trip first.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Taxis leave from Didube station in Tbilisi, and I decided to take a private one. Once in the country, we drove past some crazy motorists, before reaching the enormous Zhinvali reservoir. A few minutes later, we stopped at the picture perfect Ananuri fortress and church, on its shores.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Ananuri is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the whole of Georgia.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

We then continued our journey, negotiating the road with many flocks of sheep, before reaching higher grounds. There are many viewpoints on the way, so we stopped a few times, including at one spot where you’ll find natural mineral (sparkling) water, very popular among locals.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

The most picturesque viewpoint of all, was the Soviet-Georgian Friendship Memorial, built in the 80s, with colourful murals depicting Georgian tradition. The construction itself was very unusual, but best of all was the views over the valleys and snow capped mountains.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

As we approached Kazbegi, our final destination, the views became more and more stunning, proving we were definitely in the mighty Caucasus.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH

Most day travellers on this route will skip the town of Kazbegi, and go straight uphill to visit beautiful Gergeti Trinity Church. This is the climax of the trip. Since I was staying overnight, I left my luggage at the guesthouse, then climbed the steep mountains that tower the small town. The two-hour climb, surrounded by woodland, left me breathless at some stage.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Set against the backdrop of Mount Kazbegi, the views from Gergeti Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba) were truly breathtaking. Although hard work, I strongly recommend anyone coming here to brave the climb, instead of a 4×4 drive.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

TRAVELLING ON THE GEORGIAN MILITARY HIGHWAY

There are different ways to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, including organised tours. If you prefer to do it independently, you will have to go to Didube metro station. When you arrive, climb down the stairs and walk past a dark tunnel with lots of sellers and stalls. You will arrive at a chaotic, taxi and marshrutka (van) station.  There will be a lot of drivers offering to take you privately. Ask someone about taxis or marshrutkas to Kazbegi. If you read Cyrillic, watch out for taxis with a Vladikavkaz sign.

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Travelling by marshrutka: If you want to go by marshrutka, make sure to arrive early, no later than 11:30am. They cost 10GEL per person (6USD, £3.50, €4.50) and will go straight to Kazbegi.

Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway

Travelling by taxi: Once you find your taxi, just take a seat and wait for other passengers to arrive. Shared taxis cost 25GEL and only depart when they get four passengers. If you don’t mind paying for a private taxi, be prepared to pay between 80 and 100GEL, making sure you always haggle! The good thing about a private taxi is that you can determine where to stop and for how long. Always negotiate details with the driver before you agree on anything.

In Kazbegi/Stepantsminda: If you’re not on a tour, your driver will drop you at the main taxi stop. There will be many locals offering to drive you here and there. They will ask for 50GEL to drive you up there, so just remember that the rule is haggle, haggle and haggle. You may be lucky and pay anything between 30 and 40GEL.

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59 Responses

    • Pedro Richardson

      Hi Hans, that’s interesting. Then it looks like the Soviets built a friendship monument throughout the whole of the USSR. Is the one in Mongolia in a nice area, as well?

      Cheers!

      Reply
  1. What to see in Georgia

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  3. Hitch-Hikers Handbook

    Georgia is one of our favourite countries and we particularly enjoyed our trip to Kazbegi! Such a stunning corner of the world! We really like your blog, mate and we’re glad we have connected on Twitter!
    Your photos are fabulous too! If you like travel photography, you may be interested in our Travel Photography Competition. It’s a weekly event but in the early edition there were prizes worth over $4000 last year. I will send you the link on Twitter for you to have a look.
    Have a great week!
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook recently posted…Travel Photography Competition – week 108My Profile

    Reply
    • Pedro Richardson

      Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog and for the compliment. 🙂 I’d love to take part in your photography competition. I’ll check it out. Thanks again!

      Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Jenny, it’s an amazing trip, and if you’re pressed for time, it can be done as a day trip. If you can stay and enjoy the hikes and walks in the area, it’s well worth it!

      Reply
      • bob fearn

        Hi Pedro,
        Thanks for all the info. Could you confirm that transport is available from Vladikavkaz and Tbilisi? If so is this a scheduled service and mini-bus or?
        Thanks very much,
        bob

      • Pedro Richardson

        Hi Bob, there are shared taxis (marshrutkas) between Vladikavkaz and Tbilisi. I don’t remember the how much I paid, but I think it was round 30USD. If you’re staying overnight in Vladikavkaz, I recommend Vladikavkaz Hotel, which is where I stayed. The location is great and some of the staff speak English.

      • sebastian

        Hi Pedro

        How are u? one quick question to ask, I will be traveling in Sept 13rd to Georgia, I wonder if you did the hiking from Kazbegi town to the church at top of the mountain on your own? I heard that we need a 4×4 jeep car to get there.
        How long did it take u to hike all way up there? on your way down u did u do on foot or take a car? please share any advise.
        What month of the year did u visit Kazbegi? any hostel did u like most in that area u could recommend? thanks again Pedro
        Best
        Sebastian

      • Pedro

        Hi Sebastian, I’ve been to Kazbegi several times, but I only climbed once to Gergeti, it was mid-May. It can take up to 2 hours, and everyone will tell you you need a 4×4. I went up and down by myself. It was a bit hard, as I was quite unfit, but totally doable and worth it. I’ve stayed in a guest house and at the town’s best hotel. These are the two of them.https://www.booking.com/hotel/ge/rooms-kazbegi.en-gb.html?aid=380527 & https://www.booking.com/hotel/ge/soul-kazbegi.en-gb.html?aid=380527 .

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    • KT

      Hi pedro, I stumbled upon your very inspiring blog , as I am heading to Tbilisi and Kazbegi this New Year. I’d like to ask if you know any private driver around the place or would 100 GEL be that enough if my route will be this MTSKHETA (svetitskhoveli – Jvari church) – passing through Georgian Military Highway to ANANURI (View on Aragvi river ,Jinvali reservoir) – STEPANTSMINDA / KAZBEGI / MT. KAZBEG (juta valley) GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH. thanks

      Reply
      • Pedro Richardson

        Hi KT, you’ll love it there! Unfortunately I don’t have any driver’s contact details, but 100 GEL should be just right. Just remember to tell them in details what you want and be a strong negotiator. Especially if you don’t speak Georgian or Russian, some things may be deliberately lost in translation. 🙂

  5. James

    Hi Pedro,
    Fantastic pictures. I am planning in the summer.
    can you tell what camera you used to take these magnificent pictures/
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Pedro Richardson

      Hi James, thank you for your comments. You’ll love it there. I recommend you walk all the way to the church, rather than taking a jeep. I took these pictures with a Nikon D5300. 🙂

      Cheers!

      Reply
  6. Renato

    Pedro!

    Legal teu blog. Cheguei aqui tentando achar o nome desse memorial soviético-georgiano aí. Tava buscando minhas fotos de quando fui pra Geórgia em 2010 e bati umas fotos desse monumento da Marshrutka que estava me levando, mas não pude parar para observar melhor. Legal encontrar a informação num blog de um brasileiro.
    E que continuemos invadindo o mundo!
    Um abraço,

    Renato.

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Oi Renato, tudo bem? Que bom que pude ajudar! Me apaixonei pela Geórgia, vivo voltando lá o tempo todo. Estou escrevendo mais alguns posts sobre lá.

      Abraço!

      Reply
  7. Lukas

    Hi pedro, nice reading. Heading to Georgia in one week. Can you tell what guesthouse you been to in Kazbegi and how were you satisfied? thanks, Lukas

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Lukas, nice to know you’ll be there soon. The owner of the guest house is one of the local taxi drivers who will offer you a ride as soon as you arrive in Kazbegi. His name is Mikheil and he’s very pleasant and doesn’t speak English. The house is on the edge of the city, in a farm style. It’s basic, but clean. Dinner and breakfast are included and the standard is quite good. If you speak Russian or can find someone who can call Mikheil in advance, his number is +995595566426.

      Reply
  8. Melcy

    nice blog pedro! Planning to visita tbilisi georgia in november for 3days and 2nights trip. Do you think a 1 day tour to kazbegi will fit in to our 3 days trip? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Thank you, Melcy, I’m glad you like it! 🙂

      If you want to go to Kazbegi, it’s definitely doable, but it’ll be quite tight. Just make sure you’ll go very early. It’s definitely worth a visit, but the mountains will be covered in snow. Another option is David Gareja Monastery, near Tbilisi. Check out my post about it here tvped.ro/1IYvJF4.

      Thank you!

      Reply
  9. Pedro (The Author)

    Thank you, Melcy, I’m glad you like it! 🙂

    If you want to go to Kazbegi, it’s definitely doable, but it’ll be quite tight. Just make sure you’ll go very early. It’s definitely worth a visit, but the mountains will be covered in snow. Another option is David Gareja Monastery, near Tbilisi. Check out my post about it here tvped.ro/1IYvJF4.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Yogi

    Hi Pedro. Nice blog. Excellent pictures. How is the Military road? Good/fair/poor? Asking because I plan on driving up to Kazbegi in an SUV (with me driving … cant be worse than 3rd world roads in India and Vietnam?). Doable in a day? Start at dawn, return by sunset? Also, any advice on altitude sickness?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Yogi, I’ve just travelled on that road again two weeks ago and it’s slightly different from when I wrote the post. For most of the way, the road is in a decent, good condition. However there are some works going on roughly 30km before Kazbegi, where, at the moment, it’s more of a dirt road. Just remember that there are a lot of curves and bends, and you’re bound to see flocks of sheep on the road, so just be careful. I suppose you’ve already driven on Georgian (or other Caucasian) roads, but if not, be prepared for dangerous driving.

      The trip is doable in one day, but if you have the time, I’d recommend staying there overnight.

      I’d love to hear how it went! Thanks!

      Reply
  11. João Leitão

    Amazing to read, congratulations! I found your article because I’m writing about this road also – for a future post. Funny to see you made it. I crossed this road back in 2012, driving my own car, but I crossed all the way to Russia, to Ingushetia and Chechnya. Thanks. Greetings from Morocco!
    João Leitão recently posted…List of Top 2300 Travel Blogs on the InternetMy Profile

    Reply
  12. Jai

    Hello Pedro!
    Awesome pictures! Thank you for sharing these with us. I am planning to travel to Georgia in December- do you think it will be worth to visit Kazbegi for 2 days considering the weather?
    I was quite hesitant about Georgia but after reading your articles.. well now I really wanted to go!
    Thanks-

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Jai, it’ll be very cold in Kazbegi, but it’s still possible to visit. You most likely won’t be able to go up to Gergeti church. About 30km from Kazbegi there’s a ski resort (Gudauri), in case you like skiing.

      Cheers!

      Reply
      • Jai

        Aww that’s too bad.. I was dying to see the Gergeti Church in real life and do the hike!
        Gudauri sounds nice.. if only I know how to skii 😀
        Do you think there are other things I can do in Kazbegi in December?
        I am now thinking of doing an overnight instead of 2 days, sort of a recon trip in prep for my return. I gotta reach that spot(Gergeti Church), if not in December then another time. Thanks for your response!

  13. Matt

    Yes a wonderful place, not only this trip but most of Georgia. I am returning May/June next year. Part of this will be organising a 7 day photo tour. Anyone interested search Photo tour of Republic Georgia on Facebook

    Reply
  14. Jey

    Hi Pedro,

    Great blog! Very helpful indeed! Thanks for sharing specially your itinerary in Tbilisi, I’ve got an idea for my trip at Tbilisi by end of April for 3 days only and i want to add that place to my itinerary. Can you please let me know, how much it will cost me to hire for a private car or taxi (approximately) for a whole day trip from Avlaberi Tbilisi going to that place? Appreciate your response. TIA 🙂

    Reply
    • Pedro Richardson

      Hi Jey, you’ll have to exercise your haggling skills. A one way trip cost me 70 or 80 lari, but normally they’ll ask for 100 lari. I presume you’ll want them to take you up to Gergeti church, so make sure you have a 4×4, which will be more expensive. I recommend spending the night there and taking a shared taxi or regular marshrutka to return to Tbilisi.

      Reply
  15. Ana

    hi!

    Find your site really helpful. Can i know what year you went in Georgia? I am planning our own trip as well to Kazbegi, and want to check the private taxis. How much does did it cost you for it?

    Any contact person you can suggest?

    Reply
    • Pedro

      Hi Ana, I’ve been there about 10 times since 2012. If you go to Didube station you’ll find many taxi drivers willing to drive you to Kazbegi. I don’t have any telephone numbers, anymore – sorry.

      Reply
  16. Ryan

    Hi, Pedro!

    First off, thank you so much for your blog. It has been an enormous help as I plan my upcoming trip to Georgia.

    I would like to know, what would you recommend as an itinerary/timeline for traveling (round trip) from Tbilisi to Gergeti Church with a stop-over at the Ananuri Fortress? I’ll be in Georgia for about 8 days, so your recommendation to overnight in Kazbegi seems reasonable. Would you still recommend the guesthouse run by Mikheil? What are his prices? I’m a younger budget traveler, so although I’m trying to keep costs down I’m not looking to totally rough it. Thank you for your help, and I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Reply
    • Pedro

      Hi Ryan, I’m really glad to hear I could help! I’d say about 20 minutes at Anaruri would be fine. Mikheil’s place is simple but nice. If I’m not mistaken, I paid about 30USD.

      I hope you have a fantastic time in Georgia!

      Reply
  17. Natalia

    Pedro YOU ARE A STAR!!! 🙂 After reading so much useless information I finally found all I needed summarized in a few lines in your post! HUGE THANKS!!!

    Reply
  18. sebastian

    HI Pedro, have u been to Mtskheta? i wonder myself if I should visit there on my way to Kazbegi or I should do it another time?
    Not sure until what time is open the church gergeti to visit after arriving Kazbegi considering you said it takes 2 hours hiking, right?

    Any suggestions as for Mtskheta? it it worth it? thanks Pedro

    Reply
    • Pedro

      I’d say go straight to Kazbegi. Mstkheta is only 15 minutes from Tbilisi, so you can go there any time during your stay in the city, using minibus. It’s worth going, as it has one of the most important churches in the country and the view from one of them, up the mountain, is quite impressive.

      Reply
  19. Tina

    Hi! We booked a one night stay at Rooms Hotel in Kazbegi and I wanted to do the same trip as what you did, via private taxi with stops along the way. But the problem is we don’t speak Georgian or Russian. I wondering how were you able to explain your plan to the driver.

    Reply
  20. Tina

    I love the pictures by the way, especially the one with the flock of sheep. I think it’s a cool experience! 😀

    Reply
  21. SEBASTIAN

    Hi, I am planning to visit Kazbegi.
    1) is there anything else to do besides visiting the church trinity at the top of hill?
    in case I decide to stay overnight at Kazbegi, what other options to do around there?
    2) is Kazbegui a nice city?

    3) Have u been to Tresu Gorge/valley?

    4) What is the last minibus from Kazbegui to Tbilisi?

    5) U mentioned above on your blog: “If you read Cyrillic, watch out for taxis with a Vladikavkaz sign”.
    What do u mean by Cyrillic? what does it mean?

    Thanks so much
    Sebastian

    If you read Cyrillic, watch out for taxis with a Vladikavkaz sign.

    Reply

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