The most up-to-date, comprehensive guide for travelling from Tbilisi to Kazbegi by marshrutka van, shared taxi or private car. Includes schedules, ticket prices, and everything you need to know about travelling to Kazbegi from Tbilisi.
The town of Kazbegi, also referred to by its new name, Stepantsminda, is one of Georgia’s premier mountain regions.
Located due north of Tbilisi in the Greater Caucasus, Kazbegi is accessed via the magnificent Georgian Military Road, the only thoroughfare that connects the capital with the Russian border.
The highway is an attraction in and of itself, featuring spectacular scenery and lots of points of interest to visit along the way. Whichever means of transport you choose to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, I guarantee this is one journey you won’t soon forget.
There are lots of different options available to travellers, ranging from fast private cars (perfect if you’re doing a day trip from Tbilisi) to slower and more affordable local vans. In this post, I’ll explore each option in detail and show you exactly how to travel fuss-free.
For the return journey, check out my guide to travelling from Kazbegi to Tbilisi.
In This Post
- Tbilisi to Kazbegi distance
- Tbilisi to Kazbegi travel time
- When is the road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi open?
- How to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi: Transport overview
- Option 1: Tbilisi to Kazbegi day tour (the easy option)
- Option 2: Tbilisi to Kazbegi by marshrutka van (the cheap option)
- Option 3: Tbilisi to Kazbegi by private car with GoTrip (the efficient option)
- Option 4: Tbilisi to Kazbegi by shared taxi (the upgraded option)
- Option 5: Driving to Kazbegi from Tbilisi (the DIY option)
- How to get from Tbilisi Airport to Kazbegi
- Tbilisi to Kazbegi transport summary
- Where to stop between Tbilisi and Kazbegi
- How to get from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church
- Where to stay in Kazbegi
- Tbilisi to Kazbegi: Final thoughts
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Tbilisi to Kazbegi distance
Kazbegi is located 154 kilometres (95.7 miles) north of Tbilisi city.
Tbilisi to Kazbegi travel time
It takes between 3 and 4 hours to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi by road depending on traffic, weather conditions, and the type of vehicle you take.
The fastest way to get to Kazbegi from Tbilisi is by private vehicle (hire car or shared taxi), taking as little as 3-3.25 hours. Travelling by marshrutka bus, it takes a minimum of 3.5 hours to reach Kazbegi.
Essential reading: What to pack for a trip to Georgia.
When is the road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi open?
Unlike other mountainous areas in Georgia that get cut-off during the winter, the highway to Kazbegi is open year-round. This is mainly because the Military Road is an important trade thoroughfare used to ferry cargo between Russia, Turkey, and further afield.
Ski resorts in Gudauri near Kazbegi have their peak season in winter, which means the roads need to stay open even in poor weather.
Kazbegi is a year-round destination, but road conditions differ depending on the season. If there is heavy snowfall, the last part of the road between Gudauri and Kazbegi may be temporarily closed. When this happens, you can jump out in Gudauri and ride the 7.5km cable car to Kobi village before taking taxi the rest of the way to Kazbegi.
If you’re planning on hiking to Gergeti Trinity Church, the best time to visit Kazbegi is in late spring/early summer or in autumn (May/early June or September/early October is ideal).
Winter in Kazbegi is perfect for skiing (or chilling out in a cosy cabin), while the summer months are best for longer hikes and other outdoor activities.
How to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi: Transport overview
Here is a quick overview of the six different ways to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi. In the next section, I’ll go through each option in detail.
|1. Day tour||Meeting point||Daily||From $35 per person||11-12 hours||Search here|
|2. Marshrutka van||Didube Station||11 vans per day||10 GEL per person||3.5-4 hours||Buy from the driver|
|3. Tourist bus (Kazbegi Bus)||N/A (not running in 2020)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|4. Private car & driver (GoTrip)||Pick up included||On demand||From $47 per car||3 hours||Reserve here|
|5. Shared taxi||Didube Station||On demand||From 25 GEL per person||3-3.5 hours||Buy from the driver|
|6. Self-drive (hire car)||N/A||On demand||From $30 per day||3 hours||Search here|
Option 1: Tbilisi to Kazbegi day tour (the easy option)
If you’re short on time and you want to visit Kazbegi on a day trip from Tbilisi, joining an organised tour is by far the easiest option. If you’re travelling in shoulder season or low season when daylight hours are short, joining a tour with pre-organised transfers is the only viable way to get to Kazbegi and back in a day.
On an organised day tour, you’ll get a chance to visit Gergeti Trinity Church and stop off at a few sights on the Georgian Military Road. Having a guide to narrate the journey and enjoy a local lunch with is a real bonus.
If you prefer a DIY day trip, it’s also possible to plan your own round-trip route with stop offs using GoTrip. More information on GoTrip below.
Recommended Tbilisi to Kazbegi day trips
I recommend booking day trips and tours in Georgia using Get Your Guide. The site offers dozens of different Kazbegi day tour options from local providers. You can pay securely online, and cancel up to 24 hours in advance if plans change.
These Tbilisi to Kazbegi day tours all follow a sensible itinerary and are highly rated by other travellers.
- Kazbegi full-day group tour (from $28) – a great introduction to the region; perfect for budget travellers
- Kazbegi, Gergeti and Ananuri private tour (from $120) – includes Daryal Gorge and Jvari Pass; the best option for nature-lovers
- Kazbegi mountains cultural tour (from $43) – designed for culture and history buffs
Tip: When booking a Kazbegi day trip, remember to check if the price of an off-road car to Gergeti Trinity Church is included in the price. It’s sometimes added on as an extra for around 15 GEL per person.
Option 2: Tbilisi to Kazbegi by marshrutka van (the cheap option)
If your plan is to spend a night or two (or three) in Kazbegi and you want to save some cash on transport, the cheapest way to travel to Kazbegi from Tbilisi is by marshrutka.
If you’re unfamiliar with marshrutky, they are intercity minivans used to travel around Georgia and other former Soviet Republics (see my marshrutka guide for more info and travel tips). Seating can be cramped luggage space limited, but they get the job done.
Tbilisi to Kazbegi is one of the most popular tourist routes in Georgia. Thus, there are regular van departures from Tbilisi throughout the day, even on Sundays and holidays.
Kazbegi marshrutka schedule & ticket prices
Marshrutka vans to Kazbegi run on a set schedule that is signposted at Didube Station. Vans run 7 days a week (including on public holidays). The schedule for Tbilisi to Kazbegi is as follows: 8am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm.
I highly recommend you take one of the earlier vans and avoid being on the road at night. In winter, that means leaving by 3.30pm at the latest (this will probably get you there around dusk).
Marshrutka vans have limited space and only seat 15 or so people. Once they’re full, they leave – so there’s no use arriving at 8am on the dot and expecting to get a seat. I recommend getting to the station 30-45 minutes before your intended departure time to make sure you get a seat. If there’s not enough room, you’ll have to wait for the next van – but at least you’ll be first in line 🙂
Tickets for the marshrutka from Tbilisi to Kazbegi cost 10 GEL per person, and are purchased directly from the driver either before you board or once you arrive in Kazbegi. Note that it’s cash only (Georgian lari). Drivers always carry change. If you need to withdraw money, there is a Bank of Georgia ATM at the bus station on the west side of the metro as you exit.
Getting to Didube Bus Terminal & finding the right van
Marshrutka vans going to Kazbegi depart from Tbilisi’s Didube Bus Terminal (see the exact location here). To get to Didube from Liberty Square, take the metro (First Line) north to Didube Station (50 tetri per person), or use your local sim card to order a taxi through Bolt (the fare from Liberty Square is around 8 GEL).
Didube Station is… Chaos! You will be approached by flocks of persistent (though usually friendly) drivers as soon as you set foot outside the metro station.
Here’s how to find the marshrutka vans bound for Kazbegi: Once you get off the metro at Didube Station, head down the stairs and make a hard right through the underpass. When you come out the other end, you’ll find yourself inside a small undercover market. On your left, you’ll see a row of taxis, some of them going to Kazbegi. In the next section, I’ll give you the instructions for taking a shared taxi.
For the marshrutka vans, you’ll need to keep walking across the road and a little further through the market. When it opens up into the car park, you’ll notice a big yellow sign posted high up on your right (see photo below). This is the waiting area for vans to Kazbegi. Again, someone will probably approach you first. If not, just ask the nearest person for Kazbegi and they will point you towards the next scheduled van.
There are public toilets in the building directly behind the waiting area (squat toilets; clean; 30 tetri per person). There’s also a ‘luggage storage office’ in front of the waiting area, although I’d be reluctant to leave anything too valuable in there. There are plenty of snack stands and bakeries inside the market in case you skipped breakfast and need a quick bite.
What is the drive to Kazbegi like?
Travelling by marshrutka, know that you’ll be packed in tight. It’s not the most comfortable way to travel, but it’s cheap and straightforward. The road is a tad windy in parts, so if you suffer from motion sickness, it’s a good idea to have your preferred remedy on hand.
The worst thing about travelling this route by marshrutka is that there’s no opportunity to stop along the way for photos. This is one of the most scenic parts of the country, so I highly recommend taking a car or shared taxi at least one way so you can do some sightseeing along the Military Highway.
Occasionally in high season, ‘tourist marshrutky’ also depart from Didube Station and incorporate two 20-minute stops at Ananuri Fortress and the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument. These vans are twice as expensive, costing 20 GEL per person.
Otherwise, vans make just one 10-minute rest stop along the way in Sakuriani. Here, there are bathrooms and snack stands selling packaged goods, coffee and cold drinks.
The journey from Tbilisi to Kazbegi by marshrutka takes an average of 3.5 hours. If there is heavy traffic or poor road conditions, it could take a little longer. And if your driver is particularly zealous, you might get there in as little as 3 hours!
Arriving in Kazbegi
When you get to Kazbegi, the van will terminate at an informal roadside bus station in the centre of town (called ‘Kazbegi Bus Station’ on Google Maps – see the exact location here).
Depending on the location of your accommodation, you might need to take a taxi the rest of the way. Drivers will be waiting around the station to meet passengers. Expect to pay around 5-7 GEL for a taxi. Note that taxi booking apps don’t work in Kazbegi.
For marshrutka times and details about the return journey, see this post about travelling from Kazbegi to Tbilisi.
Option 3: Tbilisi to Kazbegi by private car with GoTrip (the efficient option)
My preferred way to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is with a private car and driver booked through GoTrip.
GoTrip is a terrific service that matches professional English-speaking drivers with travellers for routes all around Georgia. It’s a door-to-door service, you can stop anywhere you want along the way for as long as you like, and all for flat fare that’s set before you travel and paid in cash to the driver.
Prices are very fair, and you can save up to 60% compared to hiring a taxi at Didube Station.
Book a car from Tbilisi to Kazbegi with GoTrip here. For more information, read my review of GoTrip, which includes a detailed trip report about the journey from Tbilisi to Kazbegi.
The first time we visited Kazbegi, we arrived at Didube Station with the intention of taking a marshrutka. However, we were persuaded to take a shared taxi instead, mainly because we wanted to stop for photos along the way.
An upgrade on the marshrutka, it certainly doesn’t provide the same flexibility or comfort as GoTrip. It will get you there more quickly than a van, though, and a shared taxi is cheaper than a private car.
A seat in a shared sedan taxi costs 20-25 GEL depending on the car and the driver. You have to wait until the car fills up, or pay for the empty seats yourself and depart without delay. If there are other passengers in the car, they might not want to stop for photos, so this is at the driver’s discretion.
In addition, this is not typically a door-to-door service. A shared taxi will drop you at the bus station in Kazbegi and not at your accommodation – although you may be able to negotiate a different drop off point for an extra fee.
Shared taxis depart from Didube Station and can be found in the parking lot on the left as you exit the market area from the metro station. If in doubt, just ask around.
Option 5: Driving to Kazbegi from Tbilisi (the DIY option)
I am planning to hire a car and do some self-driving later in the year – but I am yet to experience Georgian roads first-hand.
From my days travelling around the country as a passenger, I think you’d be brave to want to drive yourself, especially on a mountain road like this one. However, it is possible.
How to get from Tbilisi Airport to Kazbegi
If you’re flying into Tbilisi and you want to travel directly to Kazbegi without passing through the city first, the easiest option is to go by private car.
Unfortunately, tourists regularly get scammed by airport taxi drivers. I recommend avoiding airport taxis at all costs.
When booked through GoTrip, a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to Kazbegi costs as little as $35. You have the flexibility to choose your departure time (friends of ours recently took a car to Kazbegi from the airport at 3am), and when you book through GoTrip, you have the security of knowing the price is fixed.
Tbilisi to Kazbegi transport summary
|Day tour||Meeting point||Daily||From $35 per person||11-12 hours||Search here|
|Marshrutka van||Didube Station||11 vans per day||10 GEL per person||3.5-4 hours||N/A|
|Tourist bus (Kazbegi Bus)||N/A (not running in 2020)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Private car & driver (GoTrip)||Pick up included||On demand||From $47 per car||3 hours||Reserve here|
|Shared taxi||Didube Station||On demand||From 25 GEL per person||3-3.5 hours||N/A|
|Self-drive (hire car)||N/A||On demand||From $30 per day||3 hours||Search here|
Where to stop between Tbilisi and Kazbegi
This post is all about getting from A to B – but I’d be remiss if I didn’t end by emphasising that the road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is an attraction in itself.
You can easily make a full day of it by exploring some of the sights along the way. This is another reason why GoTrip is my preferred way to travel.
Key places to see between Tbilisi and Kazbegi include Ananuri Fortress, the impressive Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument and views of Jvari Pass, and Gudauri ski resort. You should also make time to stop at a restaurant in the town of Pasanauri, which is often referred to as ‘the birthplace of khinkali‘.
If you have time, you can also combine a visit to Mtskheta, Georgia’s ancient capital, which is a short detour off the highway just as you leave Tbilisi.
For more inspiration, photos, and trip planning tips, check out my full write-up about driving the Georgian Military Road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi.
How to get from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church
Gergeti Trinity Church is far and away the most popular attraction in Kazbegi. To get there, you can either hike from town (highly recommended – I’ve done it twice now), or take a special off-road taxi from Kazbegi.
Drivers wait around the bus station and outside Hotel Stancia. A taxi costs 50 GEL per car (or 15 GEL per person), including wait time at the top and return to Kazbegi. In low season, you may be able to negotiate the price down to 40 or even 30 GEL per car.
Where to stay in Kazbegi
Family-run Red Stone Guesthouse is warm and spacious. An incredible home-cooked breakfast comes included in the rate.
For something more upscale, Hotel Stancia in the centre of town near the bus stop is chic, modern, and still very affordable.
Try on-site restaurant for lunch or dinner – it serves some of the best Georgian food I’ve eaten anywhere in the country. Breakfast, however, is underwhelming and not worth the extra change in my opinion.
For a truly memorable Georgian mountain experience, don’t look past Rooms Kazbegi. Housed in a converted sanatorium, this is one of the coolest boutique hotels in the whole country. The front deck commands incredible views of the mountains, there’s a great restaurant inside, and there’s a spa complete with outdoor hot tub.
Tbilisi to Kazbegi: Final thoughts
Kazbegi is within easy reach of Tbilisi and definitely deserves a place on your Caucasus itinerary. You can visit as a day trip from the capital, but I highly recommend staying for at least one or two nights.
For convenience and affordability, the best all-round transport option is to travel with GoTrip. If you’re on a tight budget, a marshrutka van is perfectly adequate provided you don’t have large luggage items. A shared taxi is a nice compromise, but just be aware that it doesn’t offer the same flexibility as a private car.
I hope this transport guide proves helpful! If you have any questions about travelling to Kazbegi from Tbilisi (or if you’ve made the trip recently and have something else to add), please consider leaving a comment below to help other travellers.
For planning the return journey, check out my guide for travelling from Kazbegi to Tbilisi.
And if you’re also planning to travel to Kakheti, Georgia’s wine region, check out my comprehensive transport guide for getting to Sighnaghi or Telavi from Tbilisi.