Stepantsminda

At the gateway to Georgia’s contentious northern neighbor, Stepantsminda is located along the banks of the Terek River around 100 miles north of Tbilisi. Since 2010, Stepantsminda has been a crossroads to Russia, with the border crossing point "Larsi" to the Russian Federation approximately 12 kilometers north of the city area. Famed for its glaciers, waterfalls, and mineral waters, the mountainous Stepantsminda’s location in the Greater Caucasus mountains amidst alpine meadows provides for adventure sports such as trekking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Also, Stepantsminda is the site of the Kazbegi Museum and Ethnographic Museum in town. Stepantsminda was named for the eponymous Georgian Orthodox monk Stephan.

Experiences

A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.

Gergeti Trinity Church

Also known as Tsminda Sameba Cathedral, this 14th-century church is one of the most iconic images of Georgia: a beautifully-weathered stone church isolated on a hilltop juxtaposed against a dramatic mountain backdrop. The church can be reached by a new circuitous road or a rewarding 90-minute climb up the mountain.

Ananuri Fortress Complex

A must-see for everyone traveling north along the Georgian Military Hwy to Stepantsminda is the Ananuri Fortress Complex which sits along the banks of the Aragvi River. The complex holds two castles joined by a crenellated curtain wall and three churches and offers spectacular views of the river and sloping verdant hills around it.

Dariali Gorge and Monastery Complex

The Dariali Gorge runs on the border between Russia and Georgia with its steep granite walls as tall as 5,900 feet in some places. Historically this is one of only two crossings along the Caucasus mountain range. Its ancient ruins date back to at least 150 BC. Nested along the gorge is the beautiful Dariali Monastery Complex. Relatively new, it was only partially completed in 2011 yet it is already a popular and well-photographed landmark due to the stunning landscape and snow lending a fairytale-esque element.

Gveleti Waterfalls

A fairly easy one-mile hike from Stepantsminda are the Gveleti waterfalls, one big and one small. This pair of waterfalls makes for an easy and scenic half day’s worth of exploration. There are several trails from here that cross through mountains and valleys.

Sno Valley and Juta Village

Juta is one of the highest settlements in Europe, together with Ushguli in Svaneti and Xinaliq in Azerbaijan. Its remote location leaves it largely unvisited throughout the year, and it is almost impossible to reach in the winter due to heavy snow. Those who brave their way to this hidden gem deep in the Caucasus are rewarded with incredible landscapes, gorgeous trails for hiking and horseback riding, and the path to the impressive Dolomites of Georgia. The road to Juta journeys along the mostly unpaved Sno Valley road.

Truso Valley

Branching off west from the Georgian Military Hwy that leads to Stepantsminda is the beautiful Truso Valley, dotted with ancient towers, abandoned Ossetian villages, and colorful tavertine mineral springs. This wide valley invites visitors along its mostly flat trail with fantastic mountain views all around, leading to a crumbling hilltop fortress.

Georgia Regions

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