What to see in Kabardino-Balkaria on your own by car?
If for your next vacation you would prefer Nalchik and the expanses surrounding it, you are to be congratulated on your excellent choice. Indeed, the capital of the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria is a beautiful, hospitable, “green” city. A resort town – here you can not only breathe the mountain air and walk along the terrainkuras, but also take health-improving baths in local sanatoriums.
Where to go in the vicinity of Nalchik: natural attractions
When you have walked through the alleys of the parks of Nalchik, tasted the mineral water and made all the memorable photos, you can hit the road. The main reason to come to Kabardino-Balkaria is its magnificent nature. It will not leave indifferent fans of everything beautiful.
National Park “Prielbrusse”
The main natural treasure of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria is considered the National Park “Prielbrusie”. On its territory there are picturesque gorges, high mountain lakes and meadows, mineral springs, ski slopes, majestic rivers and waterfalls. And also incredible mountain peaks, the highest in Russia and Europe. People come here to admire Elbrus, and perhaps even to conquer this proud beauty a little.
Most of the park is virgin forests. Here grow not only familiar to us deciduous and coniferous trees, but also endemics from the Red Book. You can get acquainted with them by hiking trails, ordering a horse or jeep ride. There is also a cable car that takes you to a dizzying height of +3750 meters above sea level.
Elbrus” ski resort – from November to March you go skiing here, in the warm season you can walk along numerous trekking trails. They will lead you to waterfalls, lakes, mountain passes and valleys, mineral springs. If you want to come here for several days to explore the sights of the national park without rushing, stop in the village of Terskol .
Elbrus ski resort
The ski resort “Elbrus”, located on the southern slopes of the mountain of the same name, is also interesting. It starts from the Azau glade, and is on the list of the most popular all-season resorts in our country. You can come here throughout the year: from November to April for skiing, and from May to early autumn, the resort offers walking trails with fantastic views.
Elbrus ski resort is represented by seven slopes. Their total length is 11 kilometers, and there are blue, red, and black slopes. Tourist infrastructure is well represented: hotels, cafes, restaurants, stores, equipment rentals. Come to the village Terskol with the whole family, have a great vacation.
Auschiger hot springs
Came to Nalchik, not only to enjoy the beautiful nature, but also to have a great vacation? It is not difficult to do this. Just 25 kilometers from the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria there are hot springs Aushiger. Their waters come from a depth of 4000 meters, at the outlet they reach about +40 … 50 ° C.
Several thermal complexes have been built on the basis of the Auschiger Springs. Hotels, cafes, open-air pools and bathing huts welcome guests all year round. Please note: Auschiger thermal waters are suitable for both ingestion and bathing. They relieve stress, fatigue, heal ailments and rejuvenate the body.
Your great Caucasian adventure can begin on the outskirts of Nalchik. Just 40-50 minutes on a normal quality road – and you’re there, admiring the magnificent Chegem Gorge. This place is beautiful and accessible regardless of the season. The cleft in the rocks, which was created by the Chegem river, is 3 kilometers long. At that, its width in some places is only 15-20 meters, and the rocks go up to 300 meters.
It is an impressive spectacle that mesmerizes travelers, but Chegem waterfalls deserve special attention – a lot of water streams along the cliffs. In winter they freeze, and you feel as if you are traveling through the realm of the Snow Queen. By the way, you can travel and explore the beauty of Chegem Gorge not one hour (and not even 1 day). So, pay attention to the ancient watchtowers, the ruins of ancient temples and fortresses. Very interesting and the City of the Dead in the village of Eltuby.
And of course in Chegem Gorge, the place of tourist attraction, excellent infrastructure. There are a lot of improvised stalls with souvenirs and snacks, there are photo zones, cafes and hotels, comfortable viewing platforms. Chegem gorge must be added to your vishlist of beauties near Nalchik.
Blue Lakes of Kabardino-Balkaria
What are the Blue Lakes? These are five reservoirs of karstic origin, in the Chereksky region of the republic. It will take you only one hour to get there from Nalchik. All the reservoirs are located within a radius of two kilometers. These are the two Upper Blue Lake, Lower Lake, Secret Lake and Dry Lake.
The route can be built as follows: to see the Lower Blue Lake, then the Secret Lake. After 500 meters you will be met by the Upper Blue Lakes. If you want you can have lunch on the lakeshore, drink mountain tea with honey or even stay a few days in a hotel. The route to the Blue Lakes all-season, you can come here as a family with small children and young people, it is interesting and relaxing.
Blue Lakes and Chegem waterfalls – the attractions are well known to all. But if you dream to see something more unusual, hidden from the eyes of mass tourists and even exclusive, pay attention to Bezengi Gorge. This is a great route for those who are in love with mountains, because you will get acquainted with an incredible series of peaks – five-thousanders. It is not in vain called the “Little Himalayas”, these places are dreamed of by all mountaineers in the country.
Nowadays, however, the marvelous views of Bezenghi are available not only to alpinists-climbers. It is easy to get to the “Bezengi” camp by car, and from it are already starting various hiking routes. You can choose the length and level of complexity convenient to you. Try to see the glacier of Bezenghi, it is one of the most beautiful places in the Caucasus.
The springs and Djili-Su tract
But if you have to choose just one place in Kabardino-Balkaria to visit, let it be the Djili-Su tract. A true natural wonder of the entire Caucasus, Dzhily-Su is both magnificent expanses, hot springs and impressive waterfalls. Experienced tourists say that all the wonders of Dzhily-Su can not be seen in one day, it is better to stay here with overnight. True, the tourist infrastructure is not yet developed, you have to spend the night in a tent. But you are guaranteed a complete break from civilization!
What can you see in Dzhily-Su? Hiking trails, vivid views of surrounding scenery, the road to Dzhily-Su itself is already an attraction. Do not miss the mineral springs, especially the famous narcan Gili-Su. But the main thing why people come here are fantastic waterfalls. Their noise and power are so high that often a cloud of splash reaches a hundred meters around.
The most famous waterfalls are called Sultan and Karakaya-Su. Sultan is 40 meters high and Karakaya-Su is 25 meters high. Both waterfalls are full-flowing, majestic and incredibly beautiful. They are frequent guests of the lenses of photographers and fans of social networks.
Park “The Valley of the Narcans”.
Acquaintance with Dzhily-Su can be combined with a visit to another interesting object, it is the park “Valley of the Narcans”. Here you can not only take a walk, relax, have lunch in the fresh air, but also taste mineral water directly at the source. The Valley of the Spa is located in a very picturesque place, surrounded by rocky mountains.
The park is buried in the greenery of pine forests, it offers excellent views. The valley got its name due to the same type of springs, there are more than twenty of them. Water in these springs is healing, it is rich in many microelements. The territory is nice and well-groomed, there are both ennobled pump-room with mineral water and cafe services, you can have lunch or a cup of fragrant herbal tea.
What to see in the vicinity of Nalchik: architectural beauty
Very fond of man-made objects, simply put, architecture? In the vicinity of Nalchik there are remarkable monuments of human craftsmanship, both ancient and modern.
Upper Balkaria Archaeological Complex
If you want to travel to the past without the help of a time machine, go to the village of Upper Balkaria. Here you will find a real open-air museum – ancient fortifications, beautiful towers, Zylgi-kala fortress, the city of the dead with burials from the Middle Ages.
However, not only fans of architectural riddles will like in Verkhnyaya Balkaria. All these buildings are towering against the background of an incredibly beautiful natural landscape. And another local attraction tourists call the old mountain road – a narrow serpentine over the abyss. It is no longer in use, but it still makes an impression on travelers.
Do you want to surprise your friends, and bring back from your vacation in Nalchik a photo against a real castle? There is nothing easier. Just 25 kilometers from the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria you will find an elegant structure – modern, but stylized like the palaces of the Renaissance. This is Chateau Erken.
The elegant castle sits on the surface of the lake, with a bridge leading to it. Ducks and swans swim around it, and it’s worth a walk along the lake shore to admire the different views of the castle. The prefix “chateau” here is not accidental: the estate has vineyards, the castle produces wine. You can walk around Chateau Erken on your own or in the company of a guide. You can also book a walk with a tasting. Or have lunch at a local cafe – very cozy, according to travelers’ reviews.
City of the Dead in Eltuby
Thinking what else to see in the vicinity of Nalchik, and want to see something unusual and even mysterious? Go to the village of Eltuby, one of the cradles of life in the Caucasus. The first settlers appeared here many thousands of years ago, and in the early Middle Ages, the villagers founded their own necropolis.
There are several similar ones in the Caucasus, and such towns of the dead have already become part of the local culture. The earliest graves date back to the 10th century, and there are 8 crypts in total in the city of the dead. The most interesting for the study of historians are vaults of octagonal shape with a pyramidal roof. Do not miss the ancient stone houses, the medieval tower of Svan and the ruins of cave temples in Eltubu.
Routes around Nalchik in the stories and tips of tourists
So, you have decided on a destination for your next vacation – it is Nalchik and its surroundings. An excellent choice, the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria is very generous in beauty – both natural and created by human genius. What not to miss in Nalchik and its surroundings, where to walk, dine, relax, buy souvenirs, read the materials of our authors. Their stories, tips, routes, photo albums call to hit the road!
- Interesting routes in Nalchik can be found in our general guide to the city.
- A fresh overview of the beauties of Kabardino-Balkaria is offered by Victor Bashkir in the story “Ah, leave unnecessary arguments;
- How to get to Dzhily-Su waterfalls and what not to miss on the way, read Maria Penina in the essay “Beware, you can fall in love…”;
- Your impressions of the resorts of Kabardino-Balkaria are waiting for you in Tatyana’s article “Two very different days in the mountains of the Caucasus;
- Natalia’s rich review “Three in one – Elbrus, Bermamyt, Dzhily-Su or a fascinating jeep tour”.
Where to stay in Nalchik
Planning a trip to Nalchik and its surroundings, and already decided on the entertainment and excursions? So, all you need to solve the question of accommodation – no problem with that. And regardless of the list of your intended places to visit, it is convenient to stay in Nalchik. And then from here to make exciting excursions on the outskirts of the capital of the republic.
Traveller with any requirements and plans for recreation will find excellent accommodation in Nalchik. If you do not need to save money, book a hotel room. Here you can not only have a rest, but also improve your health. At hotels and sanatoriums Nalchik often receive guests spa centers, thermal pools and medical offices. Importantly, the price tag on such services is not at all low.
Prefer an active vacation, with a backpack on your shoulders? Book a room in a guesthouse or a bed in a hostel, it’s convenient and inexpensive. Also in the hostel awaits the company of like-minded people – you can not only save money, but also make interesting acquaintances.
Or rent an apartment. These options are especially good for large friendly companies, or families with small children – the kitchen will be on hand around the clock.
Do not forget about another way to save money while traveling. This is booking accommodation on Booking.com with cashback.
Interesting excursions in the vicinity of Nalchik
If you want to plunge into the world of wildlife on a full program, go to the National Park “Elbrus region”. Here you can walk along ecological trails in summer, or admire the fantastic snow-covered panoramas in winter. If you decide to stay in the mountains for a day or two, there is no problem: you will be accommodated by Terskol village. It is extremely interesting to explore the mountain landscapes while walking along its expanses.
Elbrus Volcano: the delight and horror of auto-travel in Kabardino-Balkaria
Portal “AutoVzglyad” went on a great expedition, whose key goal was to get close acquainted with the volcanic center of the highest peak of the Old World.
Mineralnye Vody, a welcoming airport, a real gateway to the Caucasus, becomes a starting point for many journeys. People come here not only for balneological procedures and resort recreation, but also for real adventures. Our expedition also starts here. The final point, the culmination and the summit is far away from holiday homes and resorts. Our goal is Elbrus.
Many volcanologists all over the world consider the Caucasus stratovolcano to be one of the most dangerous “fire mountains” in Russia: streams of red-hot lava, which flowed down the western, southern and northern slopes, swept away everything around; the traces of its “activity” were found far beyond the North Caucasus. A layer of ash, about 700 mm thick, was found 700 kilometers from the mountain, between Astrakhan and Akhtubinsk.
Previous studies of frozen lava flows showed that the last three eruptions happened 6, 3 and 1.8 thousand years ago. It is not difficult to draw a parallel: the next eruption may already occur in our century. And this is the main question facing the expeditionary corps: should we expect a catastrophe whose name is “Vulcan”?
After all, there are huge glaciers on the snow-capped peaks of the Mountain – 11 cubic kilometers of ice – which will melt during the eruption, forming a giant wave. Only scientists, who closely and sensitively monitor Mount Elbrus, will be able to give the answer. Fortunately, they exist in the Caucasus.
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What to beware of, traveling to Georgia by car in winter
Kabardino-Balkaria is an iconic place for Russian mountain climbers and fans of extreme tourism. Mountain slopes, unspoiled beauty of nature and peace, provided by virtually complete absence of communication. Yes, yes, there is no internet in many places, no matter how you look for it. There are no fussy crowds of holiday-makers here either: the resorts are concentrated in neighboring Pyatigorsk. Only sweet mountain air, soaring birds of prey and silence.
The first “offroad” point of our route, Sukansu river valley, doesn’t even look like an unpaved road: powerful mudflow has turned these places into unapproachable stone fortress. But this is the only way to enjoy the view of rumbling rocks, to feel the hidden power of Elbrus volcanic center and to see with your own eyes the views hidden from an ordinary tourist.
The stone path running along the edge of the gorge, the cars rise to their first pass, through which a short but difficult way to the ancient Upper Balkaria opens, from where it is already not far and to the Blue Lake, one of the “visiting cards” of Kabardino-Balkaria. The first day allowed us to get only 200m closer to our goal and climb to an altitude of 2,700m. The beginning is given, now the main thing is not to stop.
The valley of five-thousanders
The five main ranges of the Greater Caucasus stretch into the republic, and the highest point, not only in Russia, but also in all of Europe, is of course Elbrus. The height of the volcano – 5 642 meters above sea level.
The start of the third day of the expedition starts at the famous Blue Lakes, the depth of which even the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau could not determine. The karst lakes are one of the main tourist attractions in Kabardino-Balkaria, where every tourist is sure to visit. Then, through the Cherek gorge – a narrow mountain cleft, to the highest in the republic car pass Shkolny. And from there to Bezengi Gorge.
What to see in Kabardino-Balkaria – attractions and interesting places
Many tourists consider vacationing within Russia, so as not to waste time on the registration of foreign passports and visas, as well as to save money. If necessary, you can buy a cheap plane ticket and go to Kabardino-Balkaria, having previously ordered half board. In this republic you will be able to enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery and get acquainted with other local attractions.
It is in Kabardino-Balkaria is the famous Mount Elbrus, which is the highest mountain not only in Russia but also in Europe. It was first climbed by a group led by a general in 1829. Now there are several routes on the mountain, along which many tourists pass.
Mount Elbrus was formed about a million years ago. It is a volcano, which is at a stage of relative rest. For several thousand years there have been no eruptions, but we can not say that the volcanic activity is completely finished. The highest point of the mountain is 5642 meters.
- Location: on the border with Karachay-Cherkessia.
- Climbing with a group: takes 10-11 days (depending on the route).
- Price: from 28000 rubles.
Cathedral Mosque of Nalchik
Architectural landmark of the region is a modern mosque in Nalchik, designed by renowned young architect A. Asanov. It was officially opened in 2004. Before that the building was replaced by the cinema “Yunost”.
The building is a symmetrical monoblock. Near the entrance there are minarets 30 meters high. On the first level the structure has the form of a square, and on the second – of an octagon. Inside there are halls for prayers. The biggest of them can accommodate up to 700 people.
- Address: Nalchik, 133 Shogenstsukov Avenue.
- Working days: Monday through Friday.
- Visiting time: from 9:00 to 18:00.
Aushiger thermal springs
You can have a good time near the village Auschiger. Here is a water, saturated with all sorts of trace elements and minerals. With its help, treat various diseases of the skin, gastrointestinal tract, blood vessels, and many others.
Now this place is a full-fledged resort with a well-developed infrastructure. Directly at the hot spring is built a large swimming pool. It mixes river and healing water to maintain a safe temperature.
- Location: in Chereksky area near the village Aushiger.
- How to get there: by shuttle bus or by private car.
- Hotel price: the cost of a double room – from 2000 rubles per day.
Mary Magdalene Cathedral
The largest Orthodox cathedral in all of Kabardino-Balkaria is located on the territory of Nalchik. It was erected with the donations of the faithful people. The main altar was consecrated by Patriarch Kirill himself. He also presented the modern church with an image of Seraphim of Sarov and a colored Easter egg.
The temple occupies an area of 800 square meters. A capsule with a message to descendants was laid during the construction of the foundation. The building can hold about 1000 people.
- Address: Nalchik, Malbakhova street, 23.
- Services: morning services at 8:00, evening services at 16:00.
- Entrance: free.
Among the natural attractions worthy of a visit is a group of 5 karst lakes. The entire complex is conventionally divided into lower and upper bodies of water. The water in the lakes is crystal clear. At a depth of more than 20 meters is well enough to see the bottom.
The largest by area, but at the same time the smallest is the Upper Lake, which is fed by precipitation. Its water level varies somewhat throughout the year.
- Location: in Cherekskiy district, 30 km from Nalchik.
- How to get there: A-154 highway passes nearby.
- Visiting: free of charge.
National Museum of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic
In Nalchik you can visit the local museum, which allows you to get acquainted with the national history of the republic. It was established in 1921. Since then, its exposition has expanded significantly. The historical part of the collection is represented by various archaeological finds.
In one of the halls there is a relief map of the region and small samples of minerals, which the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria is rich in. The exhibition area is 1000 square meters.
- Address: Nalchik, Gorky Street, 62.
- Working time: The institution is closed only on Mondays, on the rest days it is open from 10:00 to 17:00.
- Ticket price: 50 rubles.
Nicholas the Wonderworker Cathedral
There is a beautiful Orthodox church in the republic, which is located in the town of Prokhladnoye. In its place in 1823 was built a wooden church, which burned down after 50 years. The new building was built of stone. In 1886 the consecration of the cathedral.
During the Soviet period the church worked for a long time, but in 1937 the building began to be used as a warehouse for storing crops. In 1942 the church was reopened to the faithful.
- Address: 141 Stroitelnaya Street, Prokhladniy.
- Days of the week: daily.
- Services: in the morning – at 8:00 am, in the evening – at 16:00.
Alpinist-hunting museum named after V. Vysotsky
In 1997 in Kabardino-Balkaria an interesting museum dedicated to Vysotsky began its work. It is located at an altitude of 1850 meters. It is situated at 1850 meters above sea level, where the shooting of the famous movie Vertikal with the famous singer took place in 1966.
The museum was founded by Khusein Zalikhanov, a resident of the republic. The building was constructed of hard volcanic lava. Numerous hunting trophies and items that once belonged to famous people are on display.
- Address: Tyrnyauzsky district, Tegenekli village.
- Working days: every day.
- Visiting time: from 10:00 to 18:00.
Valley of the Narcans
In a picturesque place along the river Hasaut to the surface comes out 17 mineral springs. The yield of the main of them is about 1 million liters per day. The area is surrounded on all sides by high ridges. From here you can see one of the main attractions – Elbrus.
Tourists are attracted not only springs with medicinal water. There is a very diverse vegetation, as well as there are quite rare species of animals. Now there is an asphalt road through the valley.
- Location: in Zolsky district, 34 km from Kislovodsk.
- Time of visit: at any time of year.
- Cost: in an excursion group – from 1000 rubles.
In Nalchik in the city park is an elegant amphitheater that blends well with the surrounding landscape. It looks especially spectacular in the spring, when the trees around it begin to bloom.
The modern theater, if compared with the previous object, has increased significantly in size. It can accommodate up to 2,500 visitors. It is distinguished by quality acoustics.
- Address: Nalchik, Shogentsukov Avenue.
- Working days: You can buy a ticket only on weekdays.
- Time: The ticket office is open from 9:00 to 18:00, lunch break is from 13:15 to 14:15.
There is an unusual restaurant in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, which is considered a local landmark. It is the largest wooden construction in the form of a barrel on the planet. In the middle of the XX century there was a small mineral water store on the site of the present object.
Nowadays there is a two-storey restaurant and you can enter it from the end of the building. There is a small staircase leading to it. It is very popular among citizens and tourists.
- Address: 3, Shogentsukov Avenue, Nalchik.
- Working days: Monday through Sunday.
- Visiting time: from 11:00 to 23:00.
Monument “To the Heroes of the Defense of Elbrus region”.
On the slope of Mount Elbrus there is a monument dedicated to the heroes of the defense of Elbrus. This monument was erected in 1987, and its grand opening was timed to coincide with May 9. The monument is a construction of seven aluminum steles. All of them are located on a 2-meter base.
The steles reflect the names of the 219 heroes of the USSR who died in the Elbrus battles. The monument was previously located at a different place. It was moved in 2010, when the cableway was built.
In one of the city parks of Nalchik you can visit the observation tower, which was built in 1867. The construction resembles an ancient fortification. However, the building was originally built to create an observation point in the park. Large-scale work on the reconstruction of the object was carried out in 1961.
Now the tower is a popular destination for tourists and locals. Newlyweds often come here to take pictures directly on the wedding day.
El Tubu Tomb.
El-Tuby burial grounds are an ancient and intimidating attraction of the republic. Archeologists found the stands of people whose age reaches 15000 years there. Peculiarities of the soil did not allow digging graves in the ground, so special vaults were built.
The necropolis is shrouded in various secrets and legends. The locals are sure that there were buried titans who lived here tens of thousands of years ago. Many of them avoid visiting this place in order not to disturb the spirits.
- Location: in the Chegem Gorge.
- Time of visit: recommended in warm seasons, as icy trails and roads make it difficult to get to the place.
- Fee: not charged.
Maiden’s Spits waterfall
The waterfall got its name because of the unusual arrangement of the jets. They intertwine like the loose hair of a girl. The stream is fed from a large mountain glacier. It is most powerful in the summer, when the snow-capped peaks melt under the sun.
The waterfall reaches a height of 30 meters. In the summer, some tourists bathe in it, despite the relatively low water temperature. At the base of the stream turns into a rushing mountain river.
- Location: Elbrus district, Terskol village.
- Time of visiting: better in July and August, when the stream reaches its maximum capacity.
- How to get there: the trail begins in Terskol village near a mosque.
To sum up
There are many beautiful and amazing places in Kabardino-Balkaria, which will please many tourists. Lovers of Russian recreation can also go to another region to see the sights of Karelia. This republic is not inferior in the number of interesting sites.
If you are interested in the CIS countries, you can visit one of them. Many travelers will like the sights of Tallinn, Minsk, Astana, Baku and other major cities of neighboring countries.