7 reasons why you should visit the North Caucasus

7 reasons why you should visit the North Caucasus

Panoramic view of the mountain village of Chokh in Dagestan, in the North Caucasus

The North Caucasus is a region often overlooked by tourists and mostly known for the wrong reasons.

It took about 60 years for the powerful Imperial Russian army back in the 19th century to conquer the region. Most of the Caucasian tribes united under the banner of Islam and fought fearlessly against the Northern Russian invaders. 

Nowadays it is part of the Russian Federation, divided into krais and republics :

It shares borders with Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia and Azerbaijan located on the southern side of the Caucasus mountains.

In 204 the North Caucasus is still completely off the tourist maps as it is always portayed and believed by many to be Russia’s corner of lawlessness.

Wrong. Things changed, the Chechen wars are over, the FSB and all sorts of Russian police are all over the region, keeping it under control.

Here are 7 reasons why you should seriously consider visiting the North Caucasus !

Last updated : 09/01/024

The medieval necropolis of Dargavs in North Ossetia - Alania in the Caucasus
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1 – It’s more accessible than you think

Yes, you probably need a russian visa and a couple of days in a train from Moscow to reach Grozny (Chechnya) or Makhachkala (Dagestan), but that’s it. Forget about the false believe that you need a special permit to enter any republic in the region. You don’t. 

The scenic route to Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains

2 – Off the beaten track

It is completely off the tourist maps. So off the beaten track that you will barely meet other tourists unless you hike the Elbrus or head to Sochi.
The rest of it is mostly empty of tourists, especially foreigners are nowhere to be seen.

Dargavs, Russia

3 – Geopolitics

Wars, inter-ethnic conflicts, nationalism, separatism and much more … The North Caucasus is messy and confusing yet fascinating for those those interested in geopolitics. You will never run out of things to learn overthere ! 

Night view of the Akhmat Kadyrov mosque and the Grozny City microdistrict in Grozny, Chechnya

4 – First class hiking

The North Caucasus has nothing to envy to popular Georgia in the south. High altitude mountains, pristine lakes, glaciers, huge waterfalls, lush green meadows, thick forests, hilly mountains and even a sand desert !

Whether you’re an experienced hiker willing to climb the 5 642 meters of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, or a beginner hiking the hilly mountains of southern Dagestan, the North Caucasus is for any kind of hikers ! Even a simple and easy hike leads you to jawdropping views !

The ultimate guide to hiking in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi

A hiking trail in the North Caucasus mountains near Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi

5 – Ethnic and language diversity

From the shores of the Black Sea to the coast of the Caspian Sea you will see a wide variety of different faces and features : from Slavs, Turkics to obviously Caucasians (no, not “whites” – the real Caucasians). 

You will hear many different languages in the streets (get ready for some crazy sounds !), see different men’s hats and the women’s skirts getting longer from Sochi to Grozny. 

One region to another is so contrasting than you might wonder if you didn’t cross a border to a completely new country !

Goor, Dagestan

6 – Picturesque mountain villages

Impressive fortified villages named “aul” in Dagestan built on top of rocky mountains or against steep cliffs and stunning stone made high Vainakh defensive towers in Ingushetia … you will come across the most impressive and epic villages in the whole Russia !

North Caucasus must see places - Russia

7 – Caucasian hospitality

The number one reason I strongly recommend you to go ! People are absolutely amazing, authentic and their hospitality goes beyond anything you might have ever experienced before ! 

If you think people in Russia are cold and unfriendly, I urge you to hop on a train to Makhachkala !

The port of Sochi full of leisure boats at sunset in the North Caucasus
The deep blue waters of Kezenoy - Am lake in the mountains of Chechnya in the North Caucasus
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Tell me in the comments if this post convinced you to travel to the North Caucasus on your next adventurous trip !


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