If your suitcase is gathering dust in the corner, take it out and go on an adventure! This is why we make these lists of beautiful places to visit around the world – to inspire you. Only the most spectacular sights and the most unusual destinations – just pack your bags and prepare for new experiences ahead!
There are 7 caucasian republics in Russia:
- Kabardino-Balkaria (more about republic here),
- North Ossetia-Alania.
The Republic of Dagestan is a true gem of the Caucasus. The mild climate, high mountains, dense forests, the Caspian Sea, the rich history and culture – the southernmost region of Russia will surprise even an experienced tourist. Do you want to explore the oldest Muslim shrines, walk in the desert, visit a ghost village and swim in a waterfall? Welcome to Dagestan!
1. Sulak Canyon
Locals say that the Sulak Canyon is much more interesting than the Grand Canyon in the United States. At least, it is definitely bigger – the most picturesque sight of Dagestan is 2,000 meters deep, 53 km long and 3 km wide! At the same time, there is no shortage of hiking trails, bridges, and observation platforms there. Also you can hop on a boat tour on the turquoise Sulak River.
- When to go and how to get there: you can visit the canyon at any time during the year. It is located 100 km fr om Makhachkala. Near the canyon there is the village of Dubki, from which many tours start.
- Top tip: also visit the Chirkei hydroelectric power station and the reservoir – it is a nice place to relax after a long hike.
2. Sarykum Dune
Dagestan has a rare natural monument – one for the whole of Eurasia – a giant sandy mountain that covers an area of 600 hectares and is 262 meters high. Sarikum is even called a branch of the Sahara Desert in the foothills, and, according to scientists, it is 5,000 years old.
Today the dune is part of the Dagestansky reserve, and the origin of the mountain is shrouded in secrets and legends that local guides tell tourists. There are paths and bridges along the Sarykum perimeter. You can also rent guest houses on the premises (prices start from 1,000 rubles) to fully enjoy this desert in the mountains.
- When to go and how to get there: you can visit the dune at any time, but take into account the climate of the desert – in the summer months it can be very hot and dry here. To visit Sarikum you need to get permission (at the reserve office in Makhachkala or at the entrance) and pay an entrance fee (50 rubles for adults, 25 rubles for children). It is 30 km from Makhachkala.
- Top tip: there are no cafes and shops there, so take food and drink with you, especially if you plan to stay overnight.
3. Tobot Waterfall
One of the highest waterfalls in Russia is in Dagestan. Tobot gets its name from the Tobot River, but locals sometimes call it Khunzakhsky in honor of the plateau, from the cliff of which a spring flows and falls from the height of over 70 meters. When the snow melts, the Tobot Waterfall becomes especially full-flowing, and a beautiful lake appears next to it. In winter the waterfall freezes and turns into a huge icicle – perhaps many of you would want to see this peculiar sight.
- When to go and how to get there: the best time to visit the waterfall is in May through June or in winter. Tobot is located in the village of Khunzakh, 140 km from Makhachkala.
4. Goor Village
Have you heard of the breathtaking Norwegian Trolltunga? It is a long tongue-like rock, protruding over the gorge. So Dagestan has a similar place that can turn your blood cold. High in the mountains there is the village of Goor with a population of several hundred people.
Sometimes there are even more tourists here than there are locals, and all because of the ancient defensive towers, which are over 400 years old, and the rocks called Maiden, hanging over the cliff. Thrill seekers come here for beautiful photographs and breathtaking views.
- When to go and how to get there: tourists often come to Goor during the warmer months. The village is 170 km from Makhachkala.
- Top tip: Tobot Waterfall and Goor are 35 km from each other, so you can visit both in one day.
5. Shamil's Gate and Fortress
In the 19th century this place was amidst the Caucasian War. At the time, Imam of Dagestan and Chechnya, Shamil, held out as long as he could, but Russian troops still managed to take the local fortress, Gunibskaya.
Today the fortress (or rather its remains) is named in honor of the famous imam and offers breathtaking views of the gorges and valleys of the Gunib region. The entrance to the fortress is called Shamil's Gate – an arch erected as a tribute to the imam by order of Emperor Alexander II.
- When to go and how to get there: you can visit the remains of the fortress at any time. The fortress is located in the village of Gunib, 140 km from Makhachkala.
6. Gamsutl Ghost Village
In the highlands of the Gunibsky region, on the slope of the Gamsutlmeer mountain, you can see the ruins of an aul that was still alive until recently. Gamsutl and Derbent are considered the oldest settlements in Dagestan. In the second half of the 20th century people started living close to each other, cramped in ancient houses.
Phone lines and other benefits of civilization did not reach the area, so the inhabitants of Gamsutl started moving to more comfortable cities and villages, and as a result there is no one left here. Time seems to have stopped in this place, and the entire ghost village looks like a natural continuation of the rock.
- When to go and how to get there: Gamsutl is located on a mountain, so you will have to climb there for about 2 hours (of course, it is more pleasant to do this in spring-summer). The place where you can start your journey is the aul Chokh. The nearest large settlement is Gunib (20 km). Makhachkala is 150 km away.
Best Tours to DagestanShow all tours
7. Aul of Chokh
In the Gunibsky region there is the aul of Chokh, famous throughout the country – about 10,000 years ago the ancient people of the Neolithic period settled here, which makes it one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Today this village is worth a visit not only because of its history, but also because of the unique residential architecture – the village is built up with peculiar terraced houses, the roof of each house is adjacent to the base of the neighboring one. This is a very authentic and important place for the republic.
- When to go and how to get there: people come to the aul of Chokh any time throughout the year. Gunib is 16 km away and Makhachkala is 150 km away.
8. Saltinsky Waterfall
There is only one underground waterfall in Dagestan, but what a waterfall it is! Saltinsky Waterfall is unique and can disappear during a drought. However, during the rainy season and high water, the stream of the Saltinka River falls underground, in a gorge 20 meters deep. The grotto waterfall looks truly magical, and in the warm season you can even swim in it. Due to the structure of the cave, the light is reflected multiple times, which gives the water amazing hues.
- When to go and how to get there: It is better to visit the Saltinsky Waterfall during the warm months, but not at the height of summer. The waterfall is located in the village of Salta, 17 km fr om Gunib and 130 km from Makhachkala.
- Top tip: as you may have noticed, the Gunibsky region has a lot of destinations. We have, of course, given an incomplete list. Tourists also visit the Karadakh gorge, Gunibsky waterfall, Mount Mayak and other places to visit. Therefore, we advise you to combine all these places and devote a few days to your trip around the Gunibsky region.
9. Lake Kezenoy-Am
In the mountains, exactly between Chechnya and Dagestan, there is one of the most beautiful lakes in southern Russia – Kezenoy-Am. Unfortunately, you can't swim in it, but there are other things to do: admire it from a beach or rent a boat. Turquoise lake becomes even more stunning when the surrounding meadows are in bloom. The road to the lake in both republics is equally picturesque.
- When to go and how to get there: in winter the lake freezes over, so the best time to admire it is spring-summer. It is 180 km from Makhachkala.
- Top tip: if you want to stay near the lake for the night, you’ll have to go to Chechnya where the nearest accommodation is.
Our top 10 ends predictably, but we couldn't leave this place out. This oldest city in Russia is the real gem of the Dagestan Republic. Derbent is over 2000 years old, so the old part of the city will definitely make a powerful impression – the architectural ensemble of Old Derbent is even included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Here you will find an impressive list of attractions:
- the Naryn-Kala citadel (another UNESCO site),
- the oldest mosque in the Russian Federation, Juma mosque,
- Derbent lighthouse,
- Kirkhlyar cemetery and much, much more.
It's easy to get lost in the old authentic streets, and the whole city will take at least a couple of days to explore and other things to do. Plus, here you can admire the Caspian Sea. So take your time to see every corner of this amazing place.
- When to go and how to get there: Derbent is beautiful throughout the year. It is 120 km from Makhachkala. You can reach Derbent by train, bus or car from the capital of Dagestan, other large cities in the south of Russia and even from Moscow.
These were only 10 beautiful destinations of Dagestan. Even the writer Alexander Dumas appreciated the splendor of the republic, so the southernmost region of Russia will definitely amaze you with its diversity and picturesque views.
Let's discover our beautiful Russia together!