Caucasus Georgia

Trekking in Georgia: Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church Hike (With Map)

Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first!

Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don’t attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first!

Quick links:

1/ How to hike from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church (and actually enjoy it) 2/ Hiking route map 3/ Photos from the hike & tips 4/ Other ways of getting to Gergeti Trinity Church 5/ How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi 6/ Where to stay in Kazbegi

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A proper mountain hike was one of our top bucket list items for Georgia. The only thing is, I really don’t like trekking.

Give me a flat trail or city and I can walk all day, but as soon as there’s an incline involved, I’m out. Despite my complete ineptitude for strenuous walking or climbing of any sort, I always manage to sign us up for treks.

I guess I enjoy the challenge. Or maybe it’s just FOMO that pushes me into it. Either way, our trekking experiences usually suck at the time, but we always wind up looking back on them fondly.

Serious trekkers might not even consider the walk from Stepantsminda (otherwise known as Kazbegi) to the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church a trek at all.

At an elevation of 2170m, the uphill walk takes the better part of two hours, but it’s nothing compared to hiking to Gergeti Glacier or Mount Kazbek.

I would class it as an entry-level trek, which is exactly what we were looking for. You don’t need any special hiking boots or poles or gear (I did the walk quite comfortably in sneakers). If you’re visiting in winter, you’ll obviously need to assess weather conditions when you get there. Please use common sense and don’t attempt this trek if you don’t have the proper winter gear, especially waterproof shoes.

In the warmer months, the only things you need to take with you are water, some snacks, sun protection gear. I did the trek in early autumn and found I still needed a jumper to fight off the chill at the top of the mountain.

Short on time? Here’s how you can visit Kazbegi and see Gergeti Trinity Church in a day from Tbilisi.

The reason I wanted to do this particular trek so badly—and why I encourage you to do it to—is simple: this part of the world is absolutely stunning, and you can only get a true appreciation for the scale of the mountains if you’re travelling on foot.

Besides, there’s not much else to do in Kazbegi aside from eating at Rooms Hotel—and trust me, that burger will taste so much better if you’ve done the trek first.

Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Beautiful Kazbegi, with Gergeti Trinity visible on the top left.

We visited Kazbegi in May. It was extremely foggy on our first day—so much so that we couldn’t see anything of the landscape on the drive up from Tbilisi. Luckily on the day of our hike, the clouds lifted and the weather was perfect.

I saw photos of Kazbegi just a few weeks prior to our visit and was shocked at how brown and lifeless the landscape looked. May might be a bit wet, but I would definitely pick a time of year to visit Kazbegi when it’s nice and green.

Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike: How to do the trek (and actually enjoy it)

I was originally going to make this blog post all about hiking tips, but I only have one: Choose the path less travelled. Literally.

When you first approach the base of the mountain to ascend to the church, you’ll notice there are three or four different paths cut into the grass. Choose the wrong one, and you could be setting off on the hike from hell. Choose the right path, and you’ll have an awesome hiking experience – even if you’re unfit like me.

One or two of these paths shoot straight up the mountain at an impossibly steep angle. It’s pretty easy to identify them.

There is another path on the far right of the mountain that looks pretty gentle, but eventually becomes interwoven with the road—meaning you’ll have to cross the road over and over again, constantly negotiating 4WDs and Jeeps.

We came down on this path and it wasn’t very nice at all. Plus, nearer the top, it becomes very steep and treacherous.

How to find the correct trail

This gentle trek takes about an hour to complete (one-way). I recommend setting aside at least three hours to walk up, visit the church, and get back down again.

First, make your way to Red Stone Guest House. Follow the sealed road up the hill. Eventually you’ll come to a T-junction where the road turns into a dirt track. Make a left, and continue straight. After you see the water spring on your right, you’ll see Cafe Gergeti up ahead.

Walk up the cafe driveway into the carpark, ducking under the boom gate. You’ll see a steep path up ahead, and a second black-dirt track to the left.

This path on the left is the one you want. It starts by winding around a stone tower (which you can see from the carpark) and follows a stream all the way to the church. As you climb up, keep the stream on your left.

Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
These two photos were taken in September 2018 by Ross’s parents. The first image shows the start of the path outside the Gergeti Cafe carpark. The second image was taken look back on the cafe. The gentle path meets the steep path around this point.

The path isn’t marked—but it’s well-trodden and pretty easy going. You can always buy a Georgian sim and download Maps.Me if you want some extra reassurance.

It basically arcs around the mountain, so you approach the church from the south. For the final leg of the trek, you cross a green field to reach the entrance to the church.

Here’s a rough depiction of what the route looks like on the map (the preferred pathway is marked out in green).

Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike: Route map

There are a few major advantages to taking this route:

  1. It’s very lightly graded, so you’ll have more energy once you get to the top.
  2. The terrain is much better – no loose rocks or rubble.
  3. The path follows a pretty stream and takes you through fields and past a few ruined towers. There are some good photo opportunities on the way.
  4. You probably won’t see another person on the trail (we only encountered a few grazing cattle).
  5. You approach the church from the south—a completely different aspect to the other paths. You get a much nicer view of the church, with green hills in the foreground and Mount Kazbek as a backdrop.

I cannot stress this enough: take the path on the left! (We got this tip from a couple staying at our guesthouse who had done the trek on the previous day. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I could have made it to the top.)

To get you inspired, here are some of my favourite photos from the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church trek (taken in March). You’ll find more tips for tackling the route in the captions.

What to wear/bring on the trek

This list applies to warmer months only. If you’re attempting the trek under snowfall (which I don’t necessarily recommend), you’ll need to make sure you have proper gear.

  • For this trek, you’ll need a lightweight day pack. Here are my favourites.
  • As mentioned, you can do this walk quite comfortably in good-quality sneakers. I wore my Nike Flyknits, and Ross wore his Merrell Men’s Bare Access runners.
  • If you’re expecting weather, bring a wind-proof jacket and a waterproof cover for your backpack.
  • One important thing to note is that men will not be allowed into Gergeti Trinity Church wearing shorts. Convertible pants are ideal for summer trekking (these ones are breathable and rated UV 50).
  • Women need to cover their hair to enter the church. There are apron skirts and scarves on loan at the door, but I recommend carrying your own scarf for ease.
  • Bring a reusable waterbottle and plenty of drinking water. You can fill your bottle up outside the church.
  • Reusable Tupperwear will come in handy for carrying snacks (if you’re staying at a guesthouse, your host will undoubtedly outfit you with breakfast leftovers for the trek!). These collapsible containers are great for travel.

More packing inspiration: What to wear in Georgia, and everything you should pack for a trip to the Caucasus.

Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike: Photos & additional info

Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
See this gate? This is not the path you want to take! Go back down, and walk right until you see the steep dirt track. Keep going, and you’ll eventually come to the ambling track. This is the far superior path!
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Of course, you don’t have to hike at all. It’s possible to get up to Gergeti by 4WD, which is what most other tourists appeared to be doing. In my opinion, this would spoil the experience – the hike is challenging, but as the church comes into view, getting their on foot makes it so much better. Not to mention you get the best views (and photos) of the church as you approach. If neither walking or driving tickles your fancy, you can always hire a horse instead.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Kazbegi, on the way to the trail head. The rest of the town is spread out over the valley below. If you’re planning on trekking and you want to save some time, choose a guesthouse like Red Stone, which is located at the bottom of the mountain. It saves you having to walk all the way across town first.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Taking a break as we neared the end of the trail. If you can, bring some snacks along for the climb. We had a bag full of khinkali and khachapuri courtesy of the mumma at our guesthouse.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
View of the church as we approached along the far-superior left-hand path. Further around to the left, the ground is muddy and churned up from all the 4WDs coming up and down the mountain. This aspect was obviously much nicer. To be honest, the church itself was a bit of a let down. This was truly one of those times when it was all about the journey, not the destination.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Feeling hungry after all that hiking? There’s also a snack van at the top!
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
A holy place indeed.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Looking up at the church from a lower path. We took a different path back to Kazbegi to save some time – it was very steep and tough going, with lots of loose stones. We felt really bad for the people who were coming up this path. Most of them did not appear to be enjoying themselves.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Those Caucasus mountains.
Thinking of doing the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church hike in Republic of Georgia? Don't attempt the trek without reading these essential tips first! | © Emily Lush 2017
Looking over the town of Kazbegi as we descended back down the mountain. The long, thin building sitting just under the low cloud is the Rooms Kazbegi hotel.

Other ways of getting to Gergeti Trinity Church

While I highly recommend the hike, I do understand that it’s not for everyone. If you’re short on time or you just don’t want to walk it, you can travel from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity and back by 4WD. Cars and drivers wait around the bus stop on the opposite side of the river. You can pool together with other people to get a cheaper price.

In the near future, a new road up to the church will open, making the drive quicker, cheaper, and easier for regular sedans (and, presumably, tourist buses) to negotiate.

Planning a trip to the Caucasus? Check out my epic Georgia Armenia Azerbaijan itinerary.

How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi

Kazbegi (the starting point for the Gergeti Trinity church hike) lies roughly 150km north of Tbilisi via the magnificent Georgian Military Highway—which really is an attraction in itself.

Tbilisi to Kazbegi by marshrutka | Marshrutka vans regularly depart Tbilisi’s Didube Station for Kazbegi. A ticket costs 10 GEL, and the journey time is roughly 3.5-4 hours (depending on traffic and road conditions).

When you arrive at Didube, just ask around for the Kazbegi departure area (in all likelihood, a driver will probably find you first). The bus stop in Kazbegi is located on the eastern side of the river, close to the police station.

Tbilisi to Kazbegi by taxi | If you want to get to Kazbegi faster (especially if you’re planning to visit as a day trip) or you want to make stop offs along the way, I recommend travelling from Tbilisi to Kazbegi by shared taxi.

We paid 27 GEL each for two seats in a taxi (three passengers in total). Our driver was happy to stop off at the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, and at Ananuri on the way up. The total journey time was approximately 3 hours—but it would be a lot faster without the stops.

Coming back from Kazbegi, ask around the bus stop area for a taxi—or inquire with your guesthouse.

Or you could use GoTrip to organise a private car and driver. The cost is dearer, but you have more flexibility with timing and the option to stop wherever you like along the way.

Organised tours to Kazbegi from Tbilisi

If you’re short on time, you can visit Kazbegi and Gergeti Trinity as a day tour from Tbilisi. Although it might not be possible to do the hike, these tours include transport up to the church by 4WD.

Where to stay in Kazbegi

There are lots of guesthouse options in Kazbegi. I highly recommend Red Stone Guest House, which is run by a very friendly couple and their daughter. The guesthouse is spacious and very clean, with a long front balcony that looks out over the town and valley. A home-cooked breakfast comes included in the rate.

The best thing about Red Stone is the location: Situated on the western side of town, it’s close to the Gergeti trailhead—meaning you won’t have to walk across town first to reach the starting point for the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church trek. If you’re starting the trek from the other side of town, you’ll need to add at least 20 minutes to the trek.

Check rates & availability for Red Stone Guest House here.

If Red Stone is full, Keti Ciklauri Guest House and Guest House Maili also come recommended by other travellers.

You can find more accommodation options and Kazbegi restaurant recommendations here.

Travelling around Georgia? Here are my guesthouse recommendations for the rest of the country.

Do you have tips for the Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity trek or other treks in Georgia? Please leave them in the comments below!

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39 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Jen Edwards says:

    I wanted to say a big thank you – we followed your instructions for the gentle route back in August (on a very hot day) and it was a lifesaver! Going up by the stream was so much nicer and it was divine to soak hot feet on the way back down.
    Note for other travellers – the mini vans don’t always exist for the return, the last 2 didn’t show so we were forced to pay way more for a private taxi, luckily there were lots of other people stranded too but it still cost way more per head, they knew we had no choice. Our guy nearly caused a riot by under-cutting the competition!

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Hi Jen!

      So glad to hear you found the right trail and enjoyed the walk. That’s really helpful to know about the vans, thank you! I hope it was an anomaly and not a regular thing – I can imagine that was quite frustrating!

      Thanks again for reading and for sharing your experience.

      Safe travels!

  2. Anne and Peter says:

    Thank you for this post Emily. We are heading back to Georgia (and beyond) in the spring and will be certainly spending some time in Kazbegi.

    Apropos of wandering through Georgia, we have discovered on YouTube the wonderful Trio Mandili, three incredible young polyphonic singers with great songs in beautiful Georgian rural settings.

  3. Palakshee says:

    The route for the church is not mentioned in full here. There is no clarity of path after reaching the vertical stone. Information is very half baked. Additionally, pls add a disclaimer on all information being true ONLY in the summer. Also, GO WITH A GUIDE. Don’t risk going by yourselves. We did this yesterday and got caught in a snow blizzard and had to climb up steep snowy mountains with no gear. It was a terrifying experience & we are grateful we made it out okay.

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Hi Palakshee,

      I’m so sorry you had a bad experience! I did the trek in autumn myself and my partner’s parents did it in spring. The path should still be open in winter, although it’s going to be more difficult to distinguish under snowfall. I think if you encountered ‘vertical stone’, you probably took the wrong path from the outset. I’ve tried to be as clear with my instructions, photos and map as possible.

      Most people do the walk without a guide. I would caution against attempting any climb in winter without proper gear. I will add a note about taking extra care in the winter months.

      Thanks for your feedback and again, I’m sincerely sorry you didn’t enjoy the hike! I hope you still enjoyed your time in Kazbegi, despite the rough weather.

  4. Kan says:

    Emily, we followed your exact recommendations and despite even finding the left pathway difficult, I can’t imagine just how treacherous the other pathways are! Thank you for this. Surprisingly, we bumped into a fair few people going up and down this path. Perhaps your blog post catching on with everyone visiting Kazbegi! 🙂

  5. DebbieAnn says:

    Thank you SO much for the easier path info. I made it up and back, but it took me all day – from 1030-630. I found going down pretty hard, because I was already so tired and scared of falling. Could not have done the harder path.

    Our mashrutka on the way back charged us 15lari, it was only 10 going up. We bought some honey at the place they stop, and it is delicious – very dark brown honey.

    I love Tbilisi, we are here for a month and I am ready to stay a year.

  6. Lauren says:

    Thanks for the great tips! We did this hike today and followed your suggested route (taking the same path down as we did up) and it went really well! We got some great photos and it was totally doable (yet challenging) even while carrying our toddler on my back. I’d definitely recommend this hike (and Kazbegi in general) to others. We followed it up with going to the Elias monastery above the Rooms Hotel on the other side of town and unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate to get the photos we hoped for but we’re hoping for another chance tomorrow before we leave!

  7. Miriam says:

    Hi Emily,
    Great post!
    We’ll be visiting on a day trip from Tbilisi so we don’t have time to do the hike. I love your picture of the church from afar with snowcapped mountains in the background. Is it possible to get that photo from the road?

      1. Miriam says:

        Perfect, thanks Emily! Yes’ we’ll be driving up if the weather permits.

        I’ve loved reading through your Georgia posts by the way. Especially the food posts – you’ve included some really great tips!

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Wouter! Thank you SO MUCH for dropping back and leaving a comment!

      I’m so glad to hear you found my post helpful. Wow—your photos are stunning! I’d love to go back and see the landscape in September.

      So glad to hear you enjoyed Georgia and the hike!

  8. Chaitali says:

    Hi Emily, thank you getting back. I am going to try and do this trek on the basis if your suggestions! Wish me luck! 🙂

    Ps: I think I hit gold by finding your blog. Your posts are incredible!

  9. Chaitali Patel says:

    Hi Emily we are going to Kazbegi for a day next week when we get to Georgia. We plan to drive to Kazbegi from Tbilisi and wanted to visit the Church that day. Is trekking in the afternoon a possibility? Dont want to leave the trek for the next day when we have to head back to Tbilisi. Thanks

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Hi Chaitali! It’s definitely possible to trek in the afternoon if you get an early start from Tbilisi. If I were you, I’d just double check what time sunset is—you wouldn’t want to be navigating the climb down in the dark.

      Have a wonderful time!

      1. Chaitali says:

        My only worry is the weather though… it’s raining all through this week. 🙁 might have to cancel if it keeps raining.

        1. Emily Lush says:

          Thanks for the kind words! That’s no good to hear about the weather! I hope you get a break. It was so foggy and miserable the day we arrived—we were so lucky that it fined up for the day of the trek.

          Best of luck!

  10. Vera says:

    Thanks for the tips, this is very helpful info! I’m heading here at the end of the month and I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for that leftmost path. Do you have any cheap hostel recommendations for this area, and did you walk all the way from your lodging up to the church or get a ride closer before trekking up?

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Thanks, Vera! We stayed close to the trail head, so we walked from our accommodation. Our guesthouse was called Red Stone Guest House—I highly recommend it.

      Enjoy your trip!

  11. Mia Kruse says:

    Hi, thank you for this detailed guide. I’m going to Georgia in May 2018. I’m considering if it is possible to do the trek that you did on a one day trip from Tbilisi. Do you think that there would be enough time? 🙂

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Hi Mia! Glad to hear that! Georgia is always a good idea 🙂

      How do you plan to travel to Kazbegi? If you’re hiring a car/driver or you’re taking a taxi for at least one leg of the trip, you could probably do it. Chances are you’re probably a faster walker than me, but you still need a good few hours to get up and back. I’m not sure what time the last marshrutka leaves for Tbilisi, but you could try checking with your accommodation in Tbilisi.

      Good luck!

    2. Teona says:

      Hi Mia. Im from Georgia and i know much ways to enjoy one day trip in kazbegi. U can choose kazbegi tour from tourism companies they have mini buses nd they make nice tours over Georgia. One day is enough to visit Holy trinity church. But i also propose u to go to Juta ( also in kazbegi)

  12. Willem De Poorter says:

    Nice to read all of this. I still have to wait some more months to go there but I am really looking forward to it. But unfortunately I have to go in July – my wife is a teacher 🙁
    Hopefully we will find the track of the left 🙂

  13. Iris Daphne says:

    Hey, I was there a month ago. I was a victim of the deadly path, he steep trail you mentioned. lol. It was literally breathtaking, totally worth it. You might want to read my write up.

    1. Emily Lush says:

      The seasons seem to make a big difference! It was a little overcast in May, but worth the occasional rainy day for the beautiful green landscape. I’d love to see Kazbegi in winter, too!

      1. Debi says:

        Thank you for the brilliant guide to the correct trail. We did it yesterday and really loved it. We were the only ones taking this route!

        1. Emily Lush says:

          Hi Debi! Great to hear that! We had the trail to ourselves this time 2 years ago too – it was wonderful. I’ve just booked tickets back to Tbilisi and will be doing the walk again, this time in summer.

          Hope you’re enjoying your time in Georgia! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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