Dagestan: the new top destination
Whatever you travel for – sea and sand beaches, mountains, deserts, canyons, bright city nightlife, joyful local festivals, ancient authentic cultures, modern extreme activities, hospitality, fashion, food. A lot of sun in summer and lots of snow in winter. All this you can find in the mysterious Dagestan republic.
Is Dagestan popular among Russian tourists?
Oh, yes! The period of 2018-2019 was very successful for Dagestan as a tourism destination. And in spite of the pandemic in 2020, Dagestan became one of the most popular regions among tourists in Russia (more than 0.5 million tourist visits in April-September 2020). Now the life is coming back to normal in the Dagestan republic and it successfully overcomes all possible difficulties caused by COVID-19.
The best time to come to Dagestan is in the end of spring and the beginning of autumn. Temperature is more comfortable for travelling and nature looks twice as beautiful. However, the weather is good and sunny till mid of November still.
Touristic infrastructure is still developing in Dagestan as well as the rest of the North Caucasus area. No large hotels, quite limited options for independent travellers. But anyway there’s something very special and real in this authentic small world.
Where to stay in Dagestan
You can find and book online comfortable hotels in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk and Derbent cities. We can recommend:
- Hotel Jacques in Makhachkala,
- Hostel Cherdak in Makhachkala,
- Hotels Scarlet Sails and Elit in Derbent.
When you go to the mountain area, you will see a lot of small villages peacefully situated on each hill. There you can always find small guest houses close to popular sites. The best way to find them is to ask locals. Mind that locals don’t speak foreign languages and sometimes even speak russian with an accent. Therefore, you can try to use a translator for communication, just remember to download it in advance to use offline because the mobile connection can be poor there.
That’s more like an adventureous way of travelling in Dagestan. In case you don’t want to risk and spoil your trip just use professional guide services. Besides, with a good local guide you will feel like a member of a local family in any village in Dagestan.
We advise you to stay at guest houses in ethnic style (the so-called ethno houses and hostels). Here is the list of some of them:
- “Ethnodom” in Chokh village
- “Mirida” in Chirkata village
- “Mikailov” in Rakhata village
- “Museum of Kubachi” in Kubachi village
- “Zainab” in Gotsatl village
What to eat
Interesting fact: The territory of the Dagestan republic is inhabited by a lot of small and different nationalities. They are all Dagestanian by location but there is no such nationality. Instead, there are Avar, Lezgin, Dargin, Lak, Kumyk, Nogai nationalities as well as Russians, Azerbaijanis and many others.
That is why there is a great cuisine diversity. Try khinkal (each nationality has its own type), kurzae (dumplings), chudu (thin pies) with different fillings, apricot porridge with urbech. Local homemade cheese, bread, sausages, herbal and kumyk tea are very tasty as well. When in Makhachkala we advise you to visit the following places with local cuisine: Restaurant “On Lermontova”, cafe “Dom 15” and cafe “Int” , teahouse “Doma”. In Derbent: “Bayat” teahouse and restaurant “Demir Kapy”.
What are the greatest places to see in Dagestan?
As we briefly mentioned in the beginning of this article, the republic is full of outstanding landscapes and cultural spots. Nevertheless, some of them have become must-sees of Dagestan:
- Derbent city
It’s an ancient city at the seaside on the very South of Russia, as old as Rome, with great history. It is also called “Gates of Alexander Makedonsky”. Visit Derbent Wall (ancient persian fortification), Naryn-Kala fortress (2000 years old), Juma Mosque (one of the oldest in Russia), magal (old part of the city), nice sand beach.
- Sulak canyon
Visit the viewpoint in Dubki village and then go down the canyon to Old Zabutli village to ride in a boat across the canyon.
- Sarykum sand dune
It’s one of the biggest single dunes in the world and situated right near Makhachkala. Visiting it at sunset is a special pleasure for eyes – very much recommended. In summer it’s very hot there in the afternoon, be careful and cover your head. The entrance ticket is about 1 euro.
- Abandoned mountain villages.
They are also called ghost villages. People left them many years ago for different reasons. They are usually situated in a difficult-to-reach areas on tops of hills and look absolutely increadible: lonely and mysterious, with pieces of furniture and beautiful carved doors with paintings and arabic signs. The most popular are Gamsutl, Old Koroda, Kala-Koreish, Kahib and Gor.
That’s all for now and in the following blog post we’re going to tell you about the unique things you can try in Dagestan. Stay tuned!
Have questions about travelling in the North Caucasus?
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