10 Things to Do in the Heart of the Caucasus Mountains

14/11/2023

The Caucasus Mountains are an extensive mountain range which mark the intersection between Asia and Europe. Stretching 1200 km between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, the mountain range encompasses parts of Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Once part of the historic Silk Road, the Caucasus Mountains offer a journey quite unlike anything else.

From visiting remote villages and eating with locals to exploring incredible ancient artefacts and beautiful landscapes, there are so many things to see and do in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains.

Mtskheta, the Jvari Monastery
Mtskheta, the Jvari Monastery

Dilijan – Armenia’s ‘Little Switzerland’

Located within the Dilijan National Park and commonly referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’, Dilijan is a beautiful spot to visit while exploring the mountains of Caucasus. While featuring plenty of beautiful ancient architecture, Diljan is a rapidly growing urban settlement that hasn’t lost any of its charm.

For culture lovers, Dilijan is the perfect place to visit, as iit is home to many Armenian composers and artists. Guests also have the opportunity to stroll along Sharambeyan Street, a historically preserved street in the city centre.

Baku’s Fire Temple

Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and provides guests with a mixture of bustling city life and ancient history. While the city itself is a beautiful mixture of traditions from the East and West, it’s also home to the UNESCO-listed Old City. One of the highlights of any visit to Ashtegah of Baku, or ‘Fire Temple’.

The Fire Temple of Baku may seem like a castle, but it’s a religious temple dating back as far as the 17th century. Once, it was used as a place of sacrifice as it was built above a natural gas vent. The temple was used as a place of worship for Sikh, Hindu and Zoroastrian peoples, but has now been a museum since 1975.

Ateshgah of Baku, also known as the 'Fire Temple of Baku'
Ateshgah of Baku, also known as the ‘Fire Temple of Baku’

The Burning Mountain

Another of Azerbaijan’s fascinating attractions, situated not far from the Fire Temple, is The Burning Mountain. Locally known as Yanar Dagh, the Burning Mountain is a continuously burning natural gas fire on the Absheron Peninsula near Baku.

Yanar Dagh is an important historical site for the Zoroastrian religion, with fire believed to play a role in the link between humans and supernatural spheres. The fire here is never extinguished thanks to a steady seepage of gas from underneath the surface, and flames are known to reach 3 metres into the air.

Karahunj – Armenia’s Stonehenge

Nestled in Armenia’s Goris Municipality, Karahunj is a small village steeped in history. Karahunj is known as Armenia’s Stonehenge due to the impressive rock formations in the area. It dates back to around 6,000 BC, and guests can enjoy a huge array of stone settings, burial sites and more. In the nearby town of Sisian, you can also find a small museum dedicated to showcasing some of the historical findings from the region.

Traditional Armenian duduk performances

The duduk is a double-reed woodwind instrument made from apricot wood, and it originates from Armenia. Typically, duduk performances feature two players. One who performs the melody and one who adds a steady drone. While traditionally Armenian, variations of the duduk can be found throughout the Caucasus Mountains, giving guests plenty of opportunities to take in a traditional performance.

The beautiful Svaneti region

For nature lovers, the Svaneti Region of Georgia is a must-see. Deep forests, stunning peaks and picturesque waterfalls combine to create a magical setting that also includes glaciers, the source of water for many nearby rivers. The twin peaks of the 4,700m Mt Ushba are another highlight of this region, and the mountains can be seen from various vantage points.

Baku’s Old City

An ancient fortress wall surrounds the Old City in Baku, which includes some equally impressive architecture inside. The 15th Century Palace of the Shirvanshahs is widely regarded as one of Azerbaijan’s finest examples of architecture. There is also the 12th century Maiden Tower and 11th century Muhammad Mosque, both of which you can visit. For lovers of history and unique architecture, Baku’s Old City shouldn’t be missed.

Baku Old City
Baku Old City

The Khertvisi Fortress and Vardzia

Vardzia is a magnificent cave town dating back to the 12th century. Stretching for about half a kilometre along the Mtkvari River, the town features 19 tiers and used to be home to over 3000 cave homes. As impressive as the entire town is, one of the highlights is the church, which has been hewn out of rock.

While travelling to Vardzia, you can also check out the Khertvisi Fortress, one of Georgia’s oldest fortresses that dates back to the 10th century.

Stunning Okatse Canyon

The Okatse Canyon is a must-see for anybody visiting the Caucasus Mountain range. Incorporating the breathtaking historical Dadiani Forest, the highlight of the Okatse Canyon must be the 780m hanging trail. This walkway makes visitors feel as if they’re walking in the sky, finishing with a panoramic view that must be seen to be believed.

Mtskheta – Georgia’s ancient capital

Once Georgia’s capital and still an important religious centre, Mtskheta is around 3,000 years old. There are two standout historical sights in Mtskheta, the Jvari Monastery, which dates back to the 6th century, and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where the Robe of Christ is buried. These are both UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.

If you want to find out more about the beautiful Caucasus Mountains, get in touch with Crooked Compass today. You bring the adventurous spirit, and we’ll do the rest to give you an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.