With epic mountain landscapes that rival anywhere in Europe, fairytale villages, rolling hills and some truly excellent cuisine, the Caucasus mountains are one of the world's best – and most underrated – trekking and hiking destinations.

The Caucasus' trekking industry revolves mostly around Armenia and Georgia. Both countries are well set up for hiking tourism, have some stunning walking country and are well prepared for visitors. There are a good range of long-distance (inn-to-inn) hikes, as well as numerous places suitable for centre-based walking holidays.

Georgia is perhaps the best-known walking destination in the Caucasus, and has welcomed an influx of tourists in recent years. This is an excellent place to try out some long-distance routes, with high mountain peaks, splendid valleys and isolated stone villages. Look out for the many churches and monasteries that frame Georgia’s mountaintops.

Armenia is less about high peaks and more about day-hikes and easier routes. Dilijan National Park has several trails that can be hiked in a day, while the Tatev Monastery hike is almost unbelievably picturesque.

With fewer marked trails than either Georgia or Armenia and a less-developed hiking tourism industry, trekking in Azerbaijan isn't quite so easy. Head to Quba for trails between mountain villages – this is a place to experience the culture as much as the scenery.

Ready to go? Here's our essential guide to trekking in the Caucasus mountains.

Where to go trekking in the Caucasus

Our experts' top picks

The best treks & hikes in the Caucasus

Unless you’re planning on hiking across the entire mountain range, you should expect a hike in the Caucasus to last anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks. Most travellers opt for guide-led small group tours, with accommodation and essential logistics all pre-organised. Here are a handful of our favourite treks and hikes in the Caucasus Mountains.


Tusheti to Khevsureti

Baia Dzagnidze
By Baia Dzagnidze
  • Distance: 78km (48 miles)
  • Duration: Five days
  • Start point: Omalo
  • End point: Shatili
  • Difficulty: Challenging

This spectacular five-day hike connects the regions of Tusheti and Khevsureti – starting from the village of Omalo and ending in Shatili.

Tusheti is one of the most stunning mountainous areas of Georgia, located just behind the main ridge of the Caucasus. Both areas are still unspoiled from tourists and commercial buildings due to poor roads, which also gives another charm to the whole trip.


Truso Valley to Kelitsadi Lake

Baia Dzagnidze
By Baia Dzagnidze
  • Distance: 28km (17 miles)
  • Duration: Three days
  • Start point: Truso Valley
  • End point: Kelitsadi Lake
  • Difficulty: Challenging – self-supported with wild camping

This picturesque and remote trek starts from the scenic Truso Valley, near the border with South Ossetia. Here, you can explore abandoned villages, ancient towers and mineral lakes. The route traverses the Keli volcanic plateau – an arid, rocky land situated west of the Georgian Military Highway. Few hikers come here as it's very close to the separatist territory of South Ossetia and the track is quite challenging. However, the highlight of the hike – crossing two 3,400m high mountain passes and the glacial Kelitsadi lake itself – make the trek worthwhile for hiking in Georgia.


Stepantsminda to Gergeti Glacier

Baia Dzagnidze
By Baia Dzagnidze
  • Distance: 20km (12 miles)
  • Duration: Seven to eight hours
  • Start point: Stepantsminda
  • End point: Stepantsminda
  • Difficulty: Challenging – a long day of pretty relentless climbing

Stepantsminda, also known as Kazbegi, is a popular destination for day or weekend hiking trips from Tbilisi due to the graceful Gergeti Trinity Church found at the foot of Mount Kazbegi. Hiking to the Gergeti Glacier from Stepantsminda is a popular day hike passing by the church and Kazbegi.


Mestia to Ushguli

Baia Dzagnidze
By Baia Dzagnidze
  • Distance: 60km (37 miles)
  • Duration: Two to four days
  • Start point: Mestia
  • End point: Ushguli (can be hiked in reverse)
  • Difficulty: Moderate – lots of climbs & descents with high elevations (max. 2740 metres)

The hiking trail from Mestia to Ushguli is one of the most popular multi-day hikes in Georgia. Best hiked in the summer months of July and August, the Mestia-Ushguli hike takes three to four days to complete.

The trek offers superb views and goes through several traditional villages in Georgia’s northwestern Svaneti region, with excellent home stays – so no tent required.

Facilities on this trek are as good as it gets for a remote mountainous region. Most of the lodges even have free wi-fi. In Mestia, you can also find apartments to rent. Hosts at home stays serve breakfast, dinner, and can even prepare lunchboxes for the road.


Tatev day hike

Joel Balsam
By Joel Balsam

The most popular destination is Satan’s Bridge at the bottom of the gorge where legend has it that a bridge magically appeared to save villagers fleeing a rebel army. It’ll take about an hour to get here from Tatev and it’s easy to find right next to the main road. Another option is to leave from the Tatev Monastery and hike six to seven hours (13.5km) through the gorge to the forgotten village of Old Harjis, which is filled with ruins and grass-covered homes. Along the way, you’ll cross oak and hornbeam forests, the new town of Harjis and a lake that you can swim in.


Mount Aragats day hike

Joel Balsam
By Joel Balsam
  • Distance: Approx. 5 km
  • Duration: One day
  • Start/end point: Kari Lake
  • Difficulty: Moderate

All Mount Aragats hikes start from Kari Lake, which has a small hotel and a popular khoravats restaurant. You can climb all four peaks, the tallest and most challenging being the northern peak, which is 4090m high and involves carrying rope and wading through snowfields. The 8.5km trip takes about two days and is for experienced hikers only. An easier, though no less fulfilling option, is to climb the southernmost peak, which spans 4.7km to reach the 3893m-high summit. Hikers also sometimes climb the western peak (3995m) and the eastern peak (3908m).

On your way up or down to Kari Lake, don’t miss Amberd Fortress, a well-kept 7th-century stone fortress that commands beautiful views over the plains. For something different, 20km northeast of the town of Byurakan is a field of Armenian alphabet monuments built in 2005 as an ode to the 1600th anniversary of Mesrop Mashtots inventing the language.


Dilijan to Parz Lake

Joel Balsam
By Joel Balsam
  • Distance: 14.5km
  • Duration: Four to five hours
  • Start point: Dilijan tourist information centre
  • End point: Parz Lake
  • Difficulty: Moderate

A great hike in Dilijan National Park is from the town of Dilijan to Parz Lake or vice versa, which takes four to five hours and covers 14.5km. On the hike, you'll cross forests, epic vistas and, if you’re hiking in spring, valleys with millions of wildflowers that can be plucked to make tea.

Georgia Tusheti

The forests of Tusheti, Georgia

Planning a Caucasus trek

Everything you wish you'd known before you booked

When to go trekking in the Caucasus

The weather in the Caucasus is at its most pleasant between June and September when you can expect warm and sunny weather. Temperatures can reach 25°C (77 °F), so make sure you pack appropriate hiking gear. It’s also important to bring mosquito nets and repellant, as the summer heat sees mosquitos descend on the region. The higher you get into the mountains, the less of a problem they will be.

Winter brings heavy snowfall to the Caucasus, making trails difficult to find and impossible to trek. It’s not uncommon for the snow to stay on higher ground until late April or even May, keeping higher routes closed off, even though the lowland is green and lush.

The best time to hike in the Caucasus region is from mid-June until the end of September. The high season is July and August, when the weather is dry and warm, whereas June and September are quieter but less reliable.

Hiking in the winter snow is not possible, but some tour companies do offer ski-touring, particularly in Georgia, which is also home to several ski resorts.

Independent trekking vs organised tour

Georgia is the Caucasus country most set up for independent hiking, with some well-marked trails, plenty of villages used to visitors and a burgeoning hiking community. The Svaneti region is particularly well-suited for independent visitors, with apartments available to rent in villages, lodges preparing lunches and breakfasts and signposted trails.

Beyond that, most independent treks take place in national parks, such as Armenia’s Dilijan National Park or Georgia’s Borjomi-Kharagauli.

Independent trekking has a lot going for it: It’s cheap(er) and can be a lot of fun. Trekking lodges—though far from luxurious—are often warmer and more comfortable than tents, and an increasing number now boast hot showers, varied menus and even wifi. There’s also the option of staying in local villages, although it is difficult to book ahead, so you’re often relying on the kindness of strangers.

The biggest advantage of independent trekking is the ability to change your itinerary as you see fit. If you stay in a village and like the feel of it, you can stay for a few days. If you hear about a side trek or different route you want to try out, you can. However, this positive can also be a negative. Attempt an unusual or unmarked route, and you can end up in the middle of nowhere without a place to sleep. Trying to book accommodation in advance can be tedious and difficult. Language difficulties mean you might spend most of the trip on your own, unable to interact with the people you meet.

Organised Caucasus treks

An organised trek doesn’t have to mean a package tour-style trip with coaches and loads of people. In fact, an organised trek can involve just yourself and a guide, taking off across the Caucasus mountains.

Mostly, an organised trek will involve several hikers of varying degrees of fitness and expertise alongside a couple of guides and potentially a porter, depending on whether you’re doing a multi-day or single day hike.

A fully organised trek comes with the benefits of having your accommodation booked in advance each night. Your guide will know the best places to stop for the night and where you can eat, as well as introducing you to locals and explaining the history and geography of the places you’ll see.

An organised trek also means security. Your guide will know the route and any problems up ahead that independent trekkers would not. They’ll also be able to act as a cultural and language translator, meaning your interactions with locals will be more authentic. Finally, having someone book your accommodation along the way means that you won’t have to carry extra equipment or camping gear (note that it is possible to mix up homestays/village accommodation with an occasional wild camping experience).

In this guide:

About the authors

Caucasus trekking & hiking

Baia Dzagnidze

Baia is a travel writer and blogger from Tbilisi, Georgia. With a background in journalism, she has been writing travel articles about Georgia for local and international publications for more than three years. Her articles have been published in Lonely Planet, National Geographic Traveller FOOD (UK edition), Skyscanner, Georgia Starts Here, and Forbes Woman Georgia.

Caucasus trekking & hiking

Joel Balsam

Joel Balsam is a travel journalist and editor whose work has appeared in TIME, National Geographic Travel, The Guardian, BBC Travel, American Airlines, Travel + Leisure and more. He is the Lonely Planet guidebook author for Armenia, Morocco and France.

Other guides you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial travel guides

Our guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world's best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.