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Svaneti Vs Kazbegi Georgia: Which is Better?

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Svaneti vs Kazbegi – where should you visit for your next adventure in Georgia? Let me help! I visited both of these stunning mountain destinations and created this guide to help you decide which destination to choose.

These two destinations boast some of the most breathtaking landscapes and cultural experiences in the country, but they each offer a distinctly different adventure. In winter 2024, I wandered through the rugged beauty of both Svaneti and Kazbegi, discovering their unique charms.

We’ll explore the accessibility, the must-visit spots, the best activities each destination offers, and, most importantly, the factors to consider when choosing Svaneti or Kazbegi.

Overview of Svaneti

A snowy town with buildings and mountains.

Nestled in the heart of the majestic Caucasus Mountains, Svaneti offers adventure, culture, and stunning natural beauty. Getting there from Tbilisi is an adventure in itself, often involving a 10-hour drive that can become even more challenging in winter.

On our trip, a winter storm turned the journey into a scary encounter with nature, facing avalanches along the way. It’s crucial to check the weather forecast and plan for delays if you’re considering this drive during the colder months.

For those who’d rather skip the long drive, you can fly with Vanilla Sky Airlines from Tbilisi to Mestia. This option cuts down travel time dramatically, giving you more time to explore.

Despite any travel challenges, Svaneti stands out as a must-visit region. Mestia, the gateway to this area, is where tradition meets natural beauty, offering a starting point for numerous treks and a deep dive into the local way of life.

A woman in a purple coat in the snow.

We visited this region in February, and winter doesn’t just dust the landscape—it transforms it. The snow changes everything, from the way the ancient towers stand against the sky to the rhythm of daily life in its villages.

It’s beautiful, but it’s also challenging. The beauty comes with its fair share of cold toes and navigating slippery paths. But then, there’s the warmth from a wood stove in a local guesthouse, the steam rising from a hot cup of tea, and the stories shared across tables.

Things to Do in Svaneti

  • Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography: Full of artifacts and stories, this museum offers insights into the rich history and culture of the Svaneti region.
  • Cooking Class: Dive into the flavors of Georgian cuisine with a local cooking class, a perfect way to bring a piece of Georgia back home with you.
  • Walk Around Mestia: Simply wandering the streets of Mestia can be an experience in itself, with its traditional Svan towers and friendly locals. On my walk, we ran into a party on the street that had been going on for two days!
  • Ushguli Day Trip: A day trip to Ushguli is a journey back in time, offering breathtaking views and a glimpse into a lifestyle preserved for centuries.
  • Ski Resort Tetnuldi: For the winter sports enthusiasts, take the ski lift in town to go skiing and snowboarding.
  • Papa’s Gel Spa: After a day of hiking or skiing, relax in the natural mineral waters of Papa’s Gel Spa, a cozy cabin in the woods.
  • Hiking in Spring/Summer: Svaneti is a hiker’s paradise, with trails leading through lush valleys, past ancient towers, and up to glacial lakes.

🏩 Hotel Posta is the perfect base to explore Mestia, centrally located in town and walkable to many points of interest. Plus, there’s a spa inside to relax after a day of exploring!

Kazebgi Overview

A church on top of a snow covered mountain.

Kazbegi, also known as Stepantsminda, is a gem nestled in the Georgian section of the Caucasus Mountains.

The journey to Kazbegi is notably more accessible than the trek to Svaneti, with a scenic drive from Tbilisi taking around 3 to 4 hours along the Georgian Military Highway. It’s a drive where every turn offers a new view that’s more impressive than the last. Yes, it’s a bit of a journey, but the landscapes are the kind that make you forget to scroll through your phone.

Kazbegi itself is stunning, no doubt. Standing in front of Gergeti Trinity Church with the mountain looming behind, you feel tiny. The place has a vibe that’s hard to describe—somewhere between awe-inspiring and deeply peaceful.

A day trip to Kazbegi is as much about embracing spontaneity as it is about seeing the sights. Yes, you’re there to see the church, the mountain, and maybe even sneak in a quick hike. But it’s the unexpected—the weather changing on a dime, the local dog that decides to guide you, the taste of mountain air—that sticks with you.

A woman reading a book on a balcony overlooking the mountains.

Things to Do in Kazbegi

  • Gergeti Trinity Church: A symbol of Georgia’s enduring faith and beauty, this church is a must-visit for its architecture and awe-inspiring views.
  • Hiking: Kazbegi is a hiker’s paradise, with trails that cater to all levels of experience, leading through meadows, past traditional villages, and up to remote monasteries.
  • Visit Gveleti Waterfall: A short hike from Kazbegi leads to the beautiful Gveleti Waterfall, a serene spot perfect for a picnic or a moment of reflection.
  • The Georiga-Russia friendship monument: Don’t miss this striking circular monument located on the Georgian Military Highway, overlooking the deep valley of the Terek River.
  • Stop in Gaudauri: If you’re visiting in the winter months, Gudauri presents an irresistible detour for skiing enthusiasts. This ski resort is known for its wide-open runs, offering something for every skill level, from beginner to expert.

⭐️This private Kazbegi and Gaudauri day tour takes you to highlights in a comfortable SUV with an English-speaking guide

Svaneti vs Kazbegi: Factors to decide

An aerial view of a village covered in snow.

Time available

One of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing between Kazbegi and Svaneti is the amount of time you have for your trip. Both destinations offer breathtaking views and unique experiences, but the time it takes to reach and explore these areas can significantly influence your decision.

If your itinerary is tight and you’re looking for a quick escape into the mountains, Kazbegi might be the perfect fit. Its proximity to Tbilisi makes it possible to visit as a day trip, although it’s a long day with a lot of driving.

To truly soak in the beauty of Kazbegi and not feel rushed, staying at least one night is advisable. This gives you enough time to explore key attractions like the Gergeti Trinity Church and enjoy some leisurely hiking without the pressure of a return trip on the same day.

On the other hand, Svaneti is a destination that demands more time due to its remote location and the wealth of experiences it offers. The journey from Tbilisi to Svaneti is an adventure in itself, typically taking around 10 hours by road, which means a day trip is out of the question.

To fully appreciate the natural beauty, cultural richness, and tranquility of Svaneti, I recommend planning for at least 3 or 4 nights. This allows you to explore the ancient villages, embark on memorable hikes, and immerse yourself in the local way of life without feeling rushed.

Time of Year

A white van parked on a snowy road.

The time of year you plan to visit Georgia can greatly influence whether Kazbegi or Svaneti is the right choice for your mountain adventure. Both regions offer their own unique set of experiences across different seasons, with winter presenting particular challenges and opportunities.

My winter journey to Svaneti highlighted the region’s wild nature. The snow-covered landscapes are undeniably stunning, transforming the area into a serene winter wonderland. However, the beauty comes with its share of risks, especially when it comes to avalanches and navigating the roads.

If you’re an avid winter sports enthusiast or someone who appreciates the quiet beauty of snow-covered mountains, Svaneti in winter can be rewarding, but it’s essential to be prepared for the conditions.

Kazbegi, while also mountainous, tends to be more accessible during the winter months. Its proximity to Tbilisi allows for more flexibility in planning your visit. If you’re staying in the capital for a few days, you can choose the best day weather-wise to make the trip to Kazbegi.

This flexibility makes Kazbegi a more appealing option for those looking to experience Georgia’s mountains in winter without committing to the long and potentially hazardous journey to Svaneti.

As the snow melts and the landscapes come alive, both Kazbegi and Svaneti offer incredible hiking opportunities. Svaneti, in particular, becomes a hiker’s paradise in the warmer months.

The trek from Mestia to Ushguli is a highlight, offering breathtaking views and a chance to experience the rich culture and history of the region.

Spring and summer reveal the lush, green side of the Caucasus, making it an ideal time for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the trails and natural beauty of both regions.

Things to Do

A woman sitting on a gondola in the snow.

When planning your trip to Georgia’s mountains, the range of activities each destination offers can be a deciding factor.

Svaneti offers many activities, especially for those looking to immerse themselves in outdoor adventures and cultural experiences. In the winter, the region is a hotspot for snowboarding and skiing, with resorts offering slopes for all skill levels amidst breathtaking scenery.

Beyond winter sports, Svaneti’s rich history and culture provide a deep well of exploration. From the ancient stone towers of Ushguli to the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia, there’s a wealth of cultural heritage to discover.

The region’s extensive network of hiking trails comes to life in the spring and summer, offering everything from leisurely walks to challenging treks, such as the famed route from Mestia to Ushguli.

A woman standing in front of a snow covered cabin.

While Kazbegi may seem more limited in comparison, it still offers many activities, particularly for those with a shorter itinerary. The iconic Gergeti Trinity Church provides not just a cultural landmark but also a starting point for several scenic hikes.

For winter sports enthusiasts, combining a visit to Kazbegi with a stop at the nearby Gudauri ski resort can create a well-rounded mountain experience, allowing you to enjoy skiing or snowboarding on your way to or from Kazbegi.

If your itinerary allows for a longer stay and you’re eager to dive into a wide array of activities—from winter sports to hiking and cultural exploration—Svaneti might be the ideal choice. Its diverse offerings ensure that there’s always something new to experience, making it perfect for those looking to fill a longer Georgia itinerary.

On the other hand, Kazbegi, with its iconic landmarks and the option to combine with a visit to Gudauri, presents a compelling choice for travelers with limited time who still want to capture the essence of Georgia’s mountain beauty.

A stone building in the snow.

FAQ: Svaneti or Kazbegi

Is it worth staying in Kazbegi?

Absolutely, staying in Kazbegi allows you to fully experience the breathtaking beauty and tranquility of the Caucasus Mountains, making it well worth it.

Is it safe to visit Kazbegi?

Yes, Kazbegi is considered safe for visitors, offering a welcoming environment for tourists looking to explore its natural and cultural attractions.

Is Svaneti safe?

Svaneti is generally safe for travelers, with a community that is welcoming to visitors exploring its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes.

What is Kazbegi known for?

Kazbegi is renowned for the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church set against the backdrop of Mount Kazbek, along with its stunning mountain scenery and outdoor activities.

Is Kazbegi and Stepantsminda the same?

Yes, Kazbegi and Stepantsminda refer to the same place; Stepantsminda is the official name, while Kazbegi is commonly used due to the region’s main peak.

Is Georgia safe for American tourists?

Georgia is generally safe for American tourists, with a low crime rate and a welcoming attitude towards visitors.

What is the highest village in Svaneti?

Ushguli is the highest village in Svaneti and is often cited as one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe.

What is the elevation of Svaneti?

Svaneti is situated at various elevations, with Mestia at about 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) and Ushguli ranging between 2,086 to 2,200 meters (6,844 to 7,218 feet).

What time of year is best in Georgia?

The best time to visit Georgia depends on your interests; spring (May to June) and autumn (September to October) offer pleasant weather for exploring cities and nature, while winter (December to February) is ideal for skiing and enjoying the snow.

A woman in a black shirt and hat holding purple scarfs in the snow.

Final thoughts: Svaneti Vs Kazbegi

Choosing between Svaneti and Kazbegi for your Georgian mountain adventure comes down to several key factors: the amount of time you have available, the time of year you plan to visit, and the types of activities you’re looking to enjoy.

Kazbegi offers a more accessible option for those with limited time, providing breathtaking views and a taste of Georgia’s mountain beauty, including the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church.

On the other hand, Svaneti presents a deeper dive into the Georgian highlands, with its rich cultural heritage, extensive hiking opportunities, and stunning landscapes, making it ideal for a longer, immersive experience.

Both destinations are safe and welcoming to visitors, each offering a unique perspective on the majesty of the Caucasus Mountains. Whether you choose the accessibility and iconic sights of Kazbegi or the remote beauty and cultural depth of Svaneti, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

girl looking over mountains with overlay text svaneti vs kazbegi


  • Lora Pope

    Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach. [email protected] Pope Lora