How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi (and visa versa) + Military Highway
Visiting Kazbegi (also known as Stepantsminda) is an absolute must visit when you are in Georgia. In this guide, I’ll explain to you in detail, including points on maps, where you need to get on the marshrutka /minivan and how to get there. This includes the “normal marshrutka” and the option for tourists with the minivan + on what side of the bus you should take a seat for the best views.
How to go to the Didube station
Both the marshrutka and the tourist minibus depart from here, so this is where you need to go. The cheapest option is to go here by metro. If you want to use the metro in Tbilisi, you need to buy a metro card. This is a one-time charge and it will cost you a whopping 2 GEL (around €0.64) and per ride it costs you 50 tetris (€0.15). You can buy it at the little desks inside next to the metro entrance. Tbilisi has a lot of metro stations throughout the city, so there is always one nearby your accommodation. The metro station names are all written in our alphabet too, so no worries: it’s easy. Otherwise you can take a taxi. This should cost you 5 – 7 GEL if you use the Bolt or Yandex app. Expect to pay more if you ask a taxi on the street.
Tbilisi center to Kazbegi by minivan
The minibus is the best option if you want to have photo stops along the way. They have 3-4 short sightseeing stops along the way. The Military Highways is the only road going up north to the Russian border and the views along the way are stunning.
When you get off the metro at the Didube station, you need to exit the building at the left side! Otherwise, you’ll end up at a wrong station. When you exit the door, most likely there will be a guy approaching you to take you to the minibus to go to Kazbegi. In that case: follow him, that’s your guy. If there is no one waiting: walk straight. You’ll walk pass a little market and end up at the street. That’s the place. On your left there are the minivans, literally 2 meters away. Just ask one of the many men who are standing there smoking a cigarette. The minivan to Kazbegi costs you 20 GEL per person and departs when there are enough people. Click here to see the exact location on maps.
I however, wasn’t able to enjoy the minivan. I traveled in Georgia in November and there were no other travelers at Didube station while I was there. I’ve waited 2,5 hours in the van, and not one other traveler showed up. I got sick of waiting and decided to just go on the marshrutka.
Marshrutka to Kazbegi
The marshrutka is a little cheaper compared to the minivan, but you have no photo stops along the way. Just one really short toilet break. This one is a little more difficult to find if you don’t know where you need to be. Didube is a really hectic station with a lot of marshrutkas.
When you get off the metro at the Didube station, you need to exit the building at the left side! Otherwise, you’ll end up at a wrong station. When you step out of the building, walk straight. You are walking over a little marketplace. The little bakery at the end of this this little street is really good & cheap. You end up on a street. Cross the street straight and continue walking straight. At the market, take the first street right. Now you enter another part of the station. At your left you’ll see a long line of marshrutkas, one of the lasts ones in this line is the one you need. It has a sign on the window, and plenty of people to ask. You can just take a seat. There will be someone coming up to you for payment. (10 GEL) They depart every hour starting at 8 am. In summer season the last one depards at 19:00 pm. When you are in Tbilisi off season there is change they cut out a departure times. The last marshrutka to Kazbegi was at 17.00 when I was there (November). You can find the exact location on the map here. (41°44’59.7″N 44°46’41.3″E)
What side of the bus has the best views?
First of all: the views are stunning no matter what side you pick. However, I would recommend to sit on the right side of the bus. 2 times. When you go there, and when you go back. The beautiful Ananuri castle and the Zhinvali Reservoir are on the right side, and you don’t want to miss out the views. On the left you are looking at the mountainside for the first hour or so. Prepare yourself for a couple of near-death experiences, as the drivers take dangerous S-turns full speed. And no, they don’t slow down when there is a lot of snow or rain, they just continue doing what they do best: driving like a madman with a death-wish.