The infamous Republic of Chechnya (Чечня or Чеченская Республика in Russian) is surely the most popular of all the Republics of the North Caucasus because of its two wars in the 90’s and huge diaspora in the West mostly.
Officially the war is over and Chechnya has much more to offer than dark tourism ! It’s an off beaten track destination, especially if you go beyond the city of Grozny. Very welcoming people, unique culture and language, with splendid mountains and villages to discover !
Last updated : 06/03/2023
The border zone
You must have a border zone permit after Itum – Kale (Итум – Кали), to reach Tsoy – Pede for example. There’s a military post on the road. A permit isn’t necessary to reach Veduchi.
My two applications have been denied in 2019 for confusing reasons. There’s a high military presence in the area, do not play with the rules and try to sneak through the moutains to avoid these check posts. You do not want to be mistaken for someone else …
Click to see my complete border zone permit guide
Where to sleep
Many different kind of accomodation are available in Grozny. From hostels to five stars hotels. In the rest of Chechnya you will find hotels here and there like in Argun, Gudermes, Veduchi, next to Kezenoyam lake and in Nikhaloy.
You can book your accomodations on Ostrovok, the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia.
Guys, you might get invited to stay over at someone’s house, but ladies if travelling solo don’t expect any invitation. People are afraid of gossips and in the Chechen culture it’s just not acceptable to invite a woman outside of the family just like that. But you never know, especially among old people.
Chechnya is about 1500 kilometers away from Moscow, roughly 40 hours by train. Two daily flights of two and a half hours are linking the capitals. Within the Republic you can travel by marshrutka (mini local bus) between cities and villages.
Pay attention, sometimes there’s only one per day. Better ask the locals on the spot. Hitchhiking also works really well. At least for female hitchhikers.
Marshrutkas and buses are available from Grozny to get to Magas, Nazran, Makhachkala and even Baku.
In 2019 I have spent weeks travelling in Chechnya itself and half of the year travelling (hitchhiking) around the Republics of the North Caucasus where most of the Western governments “strongly discouraged to go”.
This is only my personal point of view as a solo female western tourist, aware of the potential risks and the recent history. I do not work for any NGO nor consider myself as an expect of the security situation in the North Caucasus.
I’m writing this down for informative purposes only. I have never felt unsafe in Chechnya, I have only met welcoming and kind people.
It is true that there are a lot of police, soldiers, police posts on the roads, like in the neighoring republics.
Both of my border zone permit applications have been denied for the following reasons : “because I’m a foreigner” (which is dumb because I had to apply for this permit exactly because I’m a foreigner) and “anti – terrorists operations in the border zone areas”.
So yes, maybe there’s a small risks as a foreign/westerner to bump into some nutjob. But I consider much higher the chances to meet FSB officers who definetly don’t want you, curious tourist to roam around the sensitive area of the North Caucasus. I have only met these ones …
LGBT community, the republics of the North Caucasus and many other regions of Russia aren’t LGBT friendly as you might already know.
Especially not Chechnya. Many NGOs & other Human Rights organisations have reported these violations, even though Kadyrov the president of Chechnya himself declared that “there are not any gays in Chechnya” …
I know it sucks, but avoid telling people around and public display of affection with your partner. These areas are conservatives and religious. Even for heterosexual couples, avoid public display of affections. They just don’t do that overthere.
Must read & watch to learn more
Tips for the ones looking for thrill & dark tourism : Grozny has been fully rebuilt, you won’t find any marks of the wars. No memorials either, only a “memorial is for the ones who died fighting terrorists”, like daddy Kadyrov.
People won’t speak to you about it, or barely : “walls have ears” someone told me once. Every family has its own tragedies, and there are still recent death of family members, refugees all over Europe and beyond …
If you want to learn about the Chechen wars, here is a list of books you should read and documentaries you should watch.
Your questions can truly offend and hurt people. Please be a respectful tourist/traveler.
There are many other books, movies, documentaries out there, if you know any great ones, please feel free to share in the comments !