Ancient fortresses, endless mountains and apricot porridge. What to see, visit and try in Dagestan? A great guide

Ancient fortresses, endless mountains, and apricot porridge to see, visit, and taste in Dagestan - Big Guide.

Dagestan means the Country of Mountains in Turkic. This phrase reliably describes the landscapes of the region — endless, high, completely different mountains surround the traveler here from all sides. For centuries, numerous peoples inhabiting Dagestan have lived in harmony with the mountains. They learned how to cook delicious dishes from an ascetic set of products available in remote villages, mastered unique crafts such as carpet weaving, woodcarving and patterned knitting, conquered the rocks, laying out terrace gardens on the mountains considered lean, and most importantly — preserved the nature of this southern region and the traditions of their ancestors. Why the Republic of Dagestan is worth visiting, what to see and try there — in the material ” “.

  • The main thing about Dagestan
  • When is the season
  • How to get
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Tours
  • What to see in Dagestan
  • Natural attractions
  • What to eat in Dagestan
  • What you should know before your trip
  • Safety

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Natalia Fedulova / FUN&SUN

The main thing about Dagestan

  • Location: North Caucasus Federal District, Caspian Sea coast
  • Capital: Makhachkala
  • Time zone: Moscow
  • Flight time: 3 hours from Moscow, 3.5 hours from St. Petersburg
  • What to visit: mountains, sea, ancient towns and villages
  • What to try: local cuisine, jeeping, horseback riding, mountain hikes, excursions
  • Swimming season: from June to October

When is the season

The high season in Dagestan is from May to October, and in July and August the air temperature here can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. The middle of summer is considered the best time for a beach holiday, but for a trip to the mountains it is worth choosing May-June or September. In addition, poppies bloom in the region in late spring, and the harvest season begins in September.

On the sea. The Caspian Sea (which is actually a lake) is comparatively shallow, especially its northern part: a maximum of 25 meters deep, and on average only 4. It warms up quickly, already in June the water temperature reaches 22-23 degrees.

Nevertheless, most tourists prefer to go to Primorye Kaspiysk, Izberbash and Derbent by July. At this time, the weather here is comparable to Turkish: on average, it is 28 degrees Celsius, and the sea warms up to 27-28 degrees — even small children can swim comfortably in such water.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: sergeydolya / Shutterstock / Fotodom

To the mountains it is best to rise in May or in the first half of autumn. In March and April it is still cool here, there may be frosts at night, and in May the air warms up to 20-25 degrees. Most guides and agencies offer tours to Dagestan lasting from two to five days, literally hinting that a trip through the mountains is best planned for the May holidays.

According to Olga Ivanova, a representative of the Fun& Sun tour operator, the end of spring or the beginning of summer is ideal for a trip to nature. While it may still be cool in central Russia, the weather in Dagestan is already comfortable, roses are blooming (there are whole gardens here), fruit trees and shrubs.

In winter there is about zero on the coast — you can walk around Makhachkala and Kaspiysk, explore the fortress in Derbent, ancient mosques, try local cuisine: chudu, khinkal, kurze. In addition, in winter they go to the therapeutic thermal springs. The water temperature in them is 30-50 degrees all year round. But in the mountains in winter it can be dangerous: the road on narrow serpentines is often covered with ice, avalanches are possible, and the temperature drops to 15-20 degrees below zero.

As Olga Ivanova notes, Dagestan is a popular destination for celebrating the New Year. Tour operators offer a variety of programs for this time: from visiting natural attractions to a full-scale exploration of Derbent.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Muradbek Ukhumaaliev, a hereditary shepherd (shepherd) from the village of Mekhelta, grazes cows in the Gumbetovsky district in Dagestan.

Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

How to get

By plane. It takes at least two hours to fly from Moscow to Makhachkala, the cost of tickets in the summer months starts from 8,500 rubles, but at the end of August and September you can take it cheaper — from 5,500 rubles one way without luggage. The flight from St. Petersburg will take an average of three and a half hours, in summer tickets will cost 10-15 thousand rubles (in July the most expensive), in autumn — from 7000 to 9000 one way without luggage. In addition to the capitals, flights from Tyumen, Surgut, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Novy Urengoy, Ufa, Novosibirsk and other major cities fly to Makhachkala.

Aeroflot and Pobedy have the most regular flights, S7, Utair, North Wind, Smartavia and other airlines also fly.

By train. There are only two direct trains from Moscow to Makhachkala, and tickets for them are sorted very quickly.

Train No. 135A runs every other day, starts in St. Petersburg at 18:35, passes through Moscow at 6 a.m. and arrives in Makhachkala two days later. The cost of a seat in a reserved seat starts from 8000 rubles, in a compartment — 9400 rubles, in a car — from 30,300 rubles.

Train No. 133M also runs every other day: at 19:27 it starts in Moscow, arrives in Makhachkala in 1 day 15 hours, and then goes to Manas, Izberbash and Derbent. You can get to the final stop on it in 1 day and 19 hours. The cost of a seat in a reserved seat starts from 6,600 rubles, in a compartment — from 12,300 rubles.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Maksim Konstantinov /

By car. This is a long, complicated, but much cheaper option. In addition, you can see other regions along the way: the route from Moscow to Dagestan passes through Tambov, Volgograd and Elista.

How far to Dagestan from different regions of Russia

City Distance Travel time
Moscow 1841 km 23 hours
Saint-Petersburg 2216 km 32 hours
Nizhniy Novgorod 1856 km 23 hours
Kazan 1854 km 23 hours
Krasnodar 859 km 11 o’clock
Volgograd 834 km 10 hours
Fearsome 165 km 2 hours

The main reason to travel to Dagestan by car is the opportunity to explore the local attractions on your own at a convenient pace. However, keep in mind that asphalt is not everywhere here, in the mountains you will have to move mainly along primers and stones. Nevertheless, the roads between the settlements are new and smooth.

The myth of the mountains and the “priors” is not exactly a myth

The locals really drive mostly domestic cars. Firstly, they are cheaper, and secondly, spare parts for them can be found here in almost any, even the most modest and small, service. Thirdly, Dagestani mechanics will go through them literally with their eyes closed.

If the budget allows, locals, especially villagers, buy two cars: LADA Priora — for trips to the mountains and “for every day”, a foreign car — for trips to work and to the city. With the maintenance of a foreign car, especially if we are talking about a new model, problems may arise here: not at any gas station you can buy high-quality gasoline, and spare parts for “Europeans”, “Chinese” and “Koreans” are available only in large cities.


You can travel between cities in Dagestan by trains and buses. For example, the travel time from Makhachkala to Derbent by any type of transport will be about two hours. A train ticket costs 156 rubles, the price of a bus ticket must be found out directly at the bus station — they are not indicated in the aggregators.

It is most convenient to travel by car in the mountainous regions of Dagestan. You can rent it, but it’s not cheap. Renting a domestic car or a foreign car like KIA Rio will cost 2000-2500 rubles per day, Toyota RAV 4 will cost about 7000, but BMW X5 — 30 thousand rubles. Given the peculiarities of the roads, it is worth renting a jeep: firstly, it provides access to more remote attractions where there are no asphalt roads, and secondly, it will better cope with overcoming streams and rain-washed primers.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид


You can book a guided car tour: it will not only take you to the sights, but also tell you about the history of the region. It is at least safer to ride with him.

Mountain roads in Dagestan are winding and narrow, and the serpentines are full of blind turns. And cows, donkeys, goats, sheep and other animals constantly walk along the roadway, which is absolutely not confused by the flow of cars.

You will also have to get used to the driving style of the locals: they drive well here, even in rainy weather, not everyone slows down. Not everyone is wearing seat belts either: drivers joke that if the car flies into the abyss, the seat belt will not help.

Therefore, it is best to travel around Dagestan with local experienced drivers — major tour operators who offer tours to the region also cooperate with them. The guides follow the rules of the road, know all the mountain roads (not all of them are marked on the map at all) and the exact travel time from one point to another, quickly find the optimal access routes and are accustomed to the local driving style. And most importantly, they can show unobvious, but very picturesque routes and locations for photos.

“It’s probably not worth driving around Dagestan villages with young children,” warns Natalia, a traveler who traveled around the region by car. — In Dagestan, it is interesting to move a lot and watch everything along the way. And with children, when one night is here and the other is there, it’s hard: all the unpacking and packing of things and the eternal search for whose socks and toothbrushes. Especially if there are several children.”

Dagestan is for lovers of outdoor activities, not lazy beach, as in Turkey

Natalia is a naturist

As for public transport, minibuses run between the villages here, but they will not take you to the observation decks. In addition, they do not travel according to schedule and you will not be able to plan your time with them.

In large cities, transport is more accessible: popular services like Yandex GO operate in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Derbent, Izberbash and other tourist centers.


Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti


  • Guest houses and recreation centers — from 3000 rubles per night
  • 3* hotel — from 6000 rubles per night
  • 4* hotel — from 10 thousand rubles per night
  • Glamping in the mountains — an average of 10 thousand rubles per night

What is worth knowing

It is better to book accommodation in the region in advance. In high season, there are no available rooms in comfortable hotels, the same applies to glamping facilities in the mountains. Moreover, as noted by local residents, announcements about renting housing here are more often published in Telegram or WhatsApp chats, rather than on specialized sites.

Extending your stay at the hotel after the end of the tour is also unlikely to work. “Dagestan is very popular, a lot of travelers go there. And it won’t work to go on tour and then stay for a few days. It is better to book in advance: there are not so many accommodation facilities, and nothing can be rented there in high season,” Fun&Sun emphasizes.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Natalia Fedulova / FUN&SUN


If you are going to Dagestan for the first time, it is best to buy a package tour of the main attractions. Tour operators offer various programs, mainly beach holidays and sightseeing trips.

Beach tours it includes accommodation in a hotel by the sea with a choice of meals: breakfast, two meals a day or three meals a day. You can only book accommodation, or you can immediately book accommodation and flights.

According to Olga Ivanova, the cost of such tours starts from 42 thousand rubles per week of rest, excluding air tickets.

Sightseeing tours include visits to observation decks with spectacular natural views (some of them are not obvious and it is not easy to find them on your own the first time) and ancient villages with historical stone buildings, narrow streets and ancient mosques. As a rule, the program in such tours is very dense and they last less than a week. The price includes accommodation, meals, excursions, jeep rides with a driver and transfer to the airport. You will have to pay extra only for magnets.

78 thousand rubles

the price of car tours per person for four days, excluding flights, according to Fun&Sun

What to see in Dagestan


The capital and largest city of Dagestan. According to official data, the population of Makhachkala is 759 thousand people, but, according to local residents, more than a million people actually live here.

The ancient city of Tarki

The ancestor of modern Makhachkala, the ancient city of Tarki, was first mentioned in documents of the VIII century, and settlements on this site have existed since the II millennium BC. Today Tarki is a settlement within the city district of Makhachkala.

In the Middle Ages, Tarki was the capital of the Khazar Khaganate, and then of the Tarkovsky shamkhalstvo, the largest state on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, which existed from the XVI to the XIX century. The city was captured by the Arabs, the Golden Horde and Russian troops — all because of the advantageous location of Tarka at the crossroads of trade routes from Iran to the North Caucasus and the Volga region. In 1867, after the Caucasian War, shamkhalstvo was abolished and integrated into Russia.

In 1844, at the height of the Caucasian War, the Russian fortification Petrovskoye was laid not far from Tarka. Later it acquired the status of a city, a port, a railway, brewing, tobacco, oil refining and other industries were built there. And in 1922, the city was renamed Makhachkala – however, the spelling of Makhachkala eventually became fixed.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Makhachkala has an equipped sandy beach with all amenities: sun loungers, awnings, changing cabins

Photo: artaxerxes_longhand / Shutterstock / Fotodom

What to see in the capital of Dagestan:

  • City beach. Makhachkala is located on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and tourists from all regions of Russia come here during the season. Here you can sunbathe and swim, ride a banana, have lunch in a cafe. The entrance to the water is shallow, so even small children will feel comfortable swimming.
  • The central Juma Mosque. The main religious center of the capital of Dagestan. It was opened in 1997, after several renovations it can accommodate up to 15 thousand people.
  • An observation deck on Tarki-tau mountain. It offers views of the entire city and the Caspian Sea. In the evening, you can watch the sunset on the mountain, in the afternoon — barbecue and exercise.


Derbent, the southernmost city of Russia and one of the most ancient, is located three hours away from Makhachkala. Settlements on this site appeared in the third millennium BC, and the modern name of the city was first mentioned in Iranian sources of the VI century. In translation, the word “derbent” means “closed gates” — it was its walls that “locked” the narrow passage between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.

The city had important military and commercial importance, and therefore who did not try to capture it: Caucasian Albania, Scythians, Khazars, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Huns, and even Tokhtamysh, Tamerlane and Peter I. Derbent was finally incorporated into the Russian Empire only in 1813.

Such a rich history has given the city a unique mix of cultures and a huge architectural heritage that tourists come to explore. Even the French writer Alexandre Dumas was here.

It was truly a border town, built between Europe and Asia, at the same time semi-European and semi-Asian. In its upper part there are mosques, bazaars, houses with flat roofs, steep stairs leading to the fortress. Below there were houses with green roofs, barracks, droshky, carts. The crowd on the streets was a mixture of Persian, Tatar, Circassian, Armenian, and Georgian costumes. And in the midst of all this, a lazy, detached, icy, white as a ghost in a shroud, an Armenian woman under a long veil, like an ancient Vestal

Alexander Dumaiz books “Caucasus”

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Houses in the old town have been passed down from generation to generation for several centuries. Nevertheless, they are constantly being rebuilt: the facades are being updated, and the wooden window frames are being replaced with plastic ones.

Photo: Alexey Danichev / RIA Novosti

What to see in Derbent:

  • The citadel of Naryn-Kala. Built by the Persians in the sixth century, it largely determined the history of the region. From the citadel, the walls went into the sea, preventing the bypass of the fortress in shallow water and forming a harbor for ships, and into the mountains — so that the fortress could not be bypassed by passes and valleys. Only the “sea” walls, fortified with towers, the ruins of the Shah’s palace, baths, a prison well and a Russian guardhouse of the XIX century have partially survived to this day.
  • The old town. There are quarters of the old city – magala near Naryn—Kala, each magala is a parish of one mosque. This area is not picturesque in the literal sense of the word, but authentic. The atmosphere of oriental fairy tales is created here by the labyrinths of narrow streets with blank stone walls of buildings, ancient ancestral houses, small mosques, colorful carpets hung for sale and linen drying right in the aisles.
  • The Juma mosque in the old city is considered the oldest in all of Russia and the CIS: it was founded at the dawn of the Islamization of the North Caucasus — in the VIII century, when Arabs ruled Derbent. After that, it survived earthquakes and several reconstructions, and in 1938-1943 it was used as a prison. Today, you can look at the modest decoration of the medieval Juma mosque every day. Tourists are not allowed in only from 11:30 to 12:30 — at this time, a collective prayer takes place here.

Gunib village

Gunib is a mountain village with a large elevation difference: the distance between its upper and lower points is about 600 meters, and the average height of the Gunib plateau itself is about 1700 meters above sea level. It is a natural fortress built of limestone, framed by steep cliffs along the perimeter.

The best panoramic view of Gunib opens from the observation deck on the Keger plateau. It was from this angle that the artist Ivan Aivazovsky painted one of his few paintings without the sea — “Gunib Village in Dagestan. The view from the east side”, today it is kept in the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg.

The painting was completed in 1869, just seven years after the foundation of Gunib. The village was named after the village of the same name, which was located higher on the plateau: during the Caucasian War, it served as the last stronghold of Imam Shamil and was destroyed in 1859.

Modern Gunib is a large settlement by local standards. There is a museum of local lore, there are several restaurants, shops, hotels, and the memorial complex “White Cranes”. The monument was created based on the song “Cranes” based on poems by Rasul Gamzatov — one of the most famous compositions about the Great Patriotic War.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

The White Cranes Memorial complex, built in memory of the fallen defenders of the Motherland, towers over the low-rise building of Gunib

Photo: shirmanov aleksey / Shutterstock / Fotodom

Victory Park, where the memorial stands, is a must—visit location of Gunib. There is an observation deck with a view of the lower part of the village, the cliffs and valleys at the foot of the plateau.

“Culture and everyday life should be viewed not in cities, but in the villages of Dagestan,” says Natalia, a tourist. — There are completely different buildings there, not like in the middle lane. There are blank stone fences everywhere. The house may look plain from the outside, but inside there are unusual oriental interiors, bright carpets, dishes with ornaments, carved furniture.”

The village of Chokh

The small village of Chokh in the Gunib district is one of the oldest settlements in the North Caucasus, founded in the XIV century. Over the centuries of its existence, Chokh has repeatedly become the center of bloody battles, and in the XIX century, during the Caucasian War, the village was under siege by the Russian army for a month. Despite this, Chokh has preserved ancient winding narrow streets (if you lose sight of the guide for a minute, and he will disappear around the next turn), stepped buildings (the roof of one house can serve as a courtyard for another), massive carved doors, traditional masonry and the famous Chokh terraces.

Terraced farming in the mountains

The mountains of Dagestan are not only a picturesque place where you want to photograph everything, but also an extremely difficult area to live in. Logistics here remains difficult in the 21st century, what can we say about the times when people did not build tunnels in the mountains and expressways, but could only rely on their own household.

The ancestors of modern mountaineers came to the rescue of terraces — man-made sites in the vicinity of Choha, resembling rice plantations in China or Vietnam. To build them, it was necessary to raise fertile soil high into the mountains, and to strengthen the areas for agriculture with stones and clay. This is how the “steps” turned out, endlessly flowing from one to another. Trees, cereals and corn were grown on the terraces, and vineyards were planted. And so that the crops would not be destroyed by the summer heat, an entire system of artificial canals and aqueducts was built in the rocks.

Choh has never been a large settlement, despite this, among its natives there are about 300 candidates and doctors of sciences: doctors, Arabist scientists, animal breeders. In 2015, a monument to Ali Aliyev, the first ever five-time world champion in freestyle wrestling and a native of Chokha, was erected next to the local House of Culture.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

In the village of Chokh, an ancient stone building has been preserved, which is adjacent to the symbols of the Soviet era: red stars, a memorial in memory of the participants of the Great Patriotic War and a bust of Joseph Stalin, located in a niche on the facade of the local house of culture

Photo: Ekaterina Chesnokova / RIA Novosti

One of the most famous hotels in Dagestan, the Ethnodome, is located in Chokh. In 2013, the building of the mountain sakli (terrace houses on the slope) was bought by a local resident Zaur Tsokholov, who is not indifferent to the fate of his native village. It took him several years to restore the dilapidated building built in 1875. Now there are several living rooms in sakla that can be rented, a small museum of Avar life and a cafe with traditional mountain food: chudu, apricot porridge, urbech. The terrace of the guesthouse offers panoramic views of the mountains, and in the evening you can see how shepherds drive sheep in the pastures.

Old Goor

The village of Goor is located in the Shamil district of Dagestan, at an altitude of about 1,500 meters above sea level. There is a school, a mosque, a hospital, a library, several cafes and shops. However, tourists do not go to Goor for this. 250 meters above, on the edge of the cliff, there is an abandoned village with a complex of watchtowers. In the middle of the last century, its inhabitants began to settle downhill, and the last person left the village 30 years ago. Today, the dilapidated settlement is called Old Goor.

The foundation of the Goor dates back to the XVI-XVII centuries. Once it was an impregnable fortress consisting of seven towers and adjacent two-storey residential buildings. It was possible to get to the village only from the north side, along a narrow ledge, and even to overcome the guarded iron-studded gates. Only three towers with a height of 15-20 meters have survived to this day, the tallest, 25-meter, lies in ruins.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Today, there are no overlaps left inside the ancient security towers in the village of Goor, however, judging by the embrasures, they had five to seven floors. The towers held large supplies of food to withstand a prolonged siege.

Photo: Stanislav71 / Shutterstock / Fotodom

Only fragments of the walls remained from the houses, too. Moreover, the stones from the Old Mountain to the new one, located on a more gentle part of the slope, were dragged by the locals themselves.

The only building in Old Goor that has been relatively well preserved is the local mosque. This modest one-storey building with semicircular windows and an ascetic interior does not look at all like luxurious religious buildings of our time. Nevertheless, the mosque in Goor serves as the tomb of the three shahs, and there is an ancient cemetery on the slope next to it.

In Goor, you can take a spectacular photo in a fluttering dress with a long hem — bright outfits are rented here. You can also ride a horse here. The horses are rented to tourists by locals, and between the races from the Old Goor to the new one, the horses are driven by boys — they can be met rushing down the mountain bareback, going down a narrow unpaved path.

Natural attractions

Sulak Canyon

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

From above, you can view the Sulak Canyon from several points: each will have a different view.

Photo: Maksim Konstantinov /

One of the main and most recognizable natural attractions of Dagestan is the Sulak Canyon with bright turquoise (as on the brochures with tours to the Maldives) water. The gorge is named after the river flowing in it, at the exit of the canyon it forms the Chirkeyskoye reservoir.

Interesting facts about Sulak Canyon:

  • Sulak Canyon is the deepest in Europe;
  • The depth of the Sulak Canyon is 1920 meters, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon in the USA;
  • the canyon appeared due to the powerful flow of the Sulak River — for many millennia it has been grinding the gorge between the Gimrinsky and Salatavsky ridges;
  • The Sulak Canyon appeared about 100 million years ago, deposits of the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Tertiary periods are visible on the surface;
  • the highest point of the canyon is Alexandre Dumas Cliff. The French writer visited the Caucasus in the XIX century and was very impressed by the local beauties.

You can look at the river from above from the observation deck in the village of Dubki: from here you can see the bends of the Sulak and the velvety green mountains above it.

You can get a closer look at the water and rocks of the canyon from suspension bridges thrown between the walls of the gorge in the Nokhyo Cave complex in the village of Novo-Zubutli. There are observation decks, a coffee shop in the mountain and extreme attractions — you can try zipline and bungee jumping or swing over the water on a giant swing. Entrance to the complex is paid — 500 rubles on weekdays, 700 on weekends. Visitors are required to wear a construction helmet (it must be taken at the entrance, immediately after the turnstile) — rockfalls are possible in the gorge.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Natalia Fedulova / FUN&SUN

The main thing to do is to ride along the Sulak Canyon by boat — from the Miatlinskaya HPP to the Chirkeysky reservoir itself, it is about 15 kilometers. In addition to the steep cliffs on the sides (on which, by the way, you can see quietly grazing domestic goats), there are moss-covered mountains, waterfalls, dense thickets of sprawling southern shrubs and lonely fishing houses on the path of the Sulak current.

3-5 thousand rubles

The average cost of a boat trip per person is

Saltinsky waterfall

The Saltinka River flows in the Gunib district: it originates on Mount Kulal (1840 meters) and descends through the Kudalinsky Canyon to the village of Salt (not to be confused with the neighboring Silta). There, the river breaks through a layer of limestone and falls down into the gorge from a height of 20 meters, forming a pool of the purest cold water.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

After particularly heavy rains, you can swim in the pool formed in the grotto.

Photo: Alexey Gusev / Lori Photo Bank

It is best to go to the Saltinsky waterfall after the rains in summer, at this time the mountain river is the most full-flowing, therefore the flow into the gorge becomes more picturesque. Entrance is paid — 100 rubles, be sure to rent rubber boots, especially if you come here after the rain. The water level in the river (and you will have to walk to the waterfall through the gorge) sometimes reaches half a meter.

You can swim in the lake that the waterfall forms in the gorge. But the water there is very cold in any weather — you will not be able to soak up like in the sea.

In dry weather, you can walk in sneakers — the waterfall gets smaller at this time, and the river dries up.

Karadakh Gorge

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

On dry days, the river in the Karadakh gorge turns into a small stream, nevertheless, the bottom of the gorge is covered with a thick layer of slippery clay.

Photo: Victoria_Balobanova / Shutterstock / Fotodom

One of the local natural monuments, the Karadakh Gorge in the Gunib district of Dagestan, is a narrow corridor (only 2-4 meters wide) between two steep cliffs, whose height reaches 170 meters. Practically nothing grows on the walls of the gorge, and the rays of the sun do not penetrate here — in any weather it is gloomy inside the canyon.

The gorge is located in the area of the Kvartakh River, it is filled with rainwater.
In summer, there are violent floods here, the water level can reach 5-6 meters, so you can visit the Karadkh gorge only in dry weather. At this time, a small stream flows at the bottom of the gorge, but to go deep into the gorge, it is better to rent boots for 100 rubles at the entrance — otherwise there is a risk of getting wet and soiling sneakers, and also slipping on clay and stones.

Troll Language

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photos in the Troll’s Language in Goor turn out to be very spectacular, but it’s scary to do them — it’s better not to look down

Photo: Lizavetta / Shutterstock / Fotodom

This is the unofficial name for a stone ledge on a cliff in Old Goor — a small “balcony” that rises above the abyss. This is one of the most popular photo locations in the whole of Dagestan.

The original Troll Language (Trolltunga) is located on Skjeggedal Mountain in Norway, but due to the external similarity, the name has been transferred to similar natural attractions around the world.

In fact, there are four such ledges in the Mountain, and the largest and most picturesque is also called the Maiden Rock. This ledge is located at an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level, its length is five meters. The cliff overlooks the canyon of the Avar Koisu River, the surrounding mountains and snow-capped peaks in the distance.

Harachi Observation Deck

There are a lot of viewing platforms in Dagestan, but one of them is picturesque in itself. This mountain peak overlooking the Irganai reservoir is located near the village of Kharachi — however, it is better not to navigate it, the road to the observation deck passes by (the village is not even visible from it). By car, you can climb up to the barrier along the winding serpentine, then you will have to walk about 1.5 kilometers. There is practically no shade along the way, so if you go in the heat, you should stock up on water and put on a hat.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

On the way to the Harachi observation deck, there are also stunning views of the surrounding mountains covered with dense forest

Photo: Natalia Fedulova / FUN&SUN

By the way, the locals do not really like tourists — there is even a sign on the road leading to the village warning that it is not worth disturbing the highlanders. Renting a house here, unlike in other areas of Dagestan, is also unlikely to work.

The observation deck itself is a narrow and long strip of land with a path on the edge of a steep cliff. Due to the fact that there is no such site here, the abyss and the breathtaking view of the reservoir and the village of Shamilkala on the other side appear unexpectedly — the mountain road abruptly turns into a picturesque panorama. On the one hand, this produces a powerful wow effect, on the other, it is worth remembering this and observing safety measures: look at your feet and do not let children get ahead of themselves.

What to eat in Dagestan

Dagestan is considered the most multinational region of Russia. It is home to representatives of about 40 nationalities, and all have their own cultural, linguistic and culinary traditions. Even typical dishes for the whole region are prepared in different ways in each village. It is impossible to say for sure whose recipe is original or who tastes better. In any case, it is worth getting acquainted with the mountain cuisine during a trip to Dagestan — at least to understand how people have survived for centuries in mountain villages cut off from the rest of the world.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Khinkal is the main dish of Dagestan cuisine. It should not be confused with khinkali, a dish of Georgian cuisine.

Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

Hinkal. This is, in fact, another aggregate state of the dumplings familiar to a resident of the European part of Russia. Only meat and dough are served separately here. The figures from unleavened dough are boiled in meat broth and served with pieces of boiled meat (lamb or beef). A sauce with spices on sour cream or sour milk is served separately. Each ethnic group in Dagestan has its own khinkal: Avars make bread on kefir mixed with soda, Dargins prepare rolls from yeast dough, Lezgins and Kumyks serve thin lozenges.

Kurze. These are also almost dumplings, more similar in shape to Japanese gyoza. Local housewives can put any filling inside: from meat, cottage cheese and potatoes to nettles. This dish is distinguished by a special weaving of dough — they are necessarily molded with a pigtail.

A miracle. Thin pies, which are two tortillas (or pancakes) with different fillings. They can be sweet, with cottage cheese and baked goods, or they can be hearty — with meat, cheese, potatoes.

Urbech — local Nutella, a sweet paste made from ground nuts. It is more liquid in consistency than chocolate paste from the store, but in Dagestan cuisine it is used much more widely than Nutella in European cuisine. They add urbech to a miracle with pumpkin or cottage cheese, coffee, porridge, and eat it with tea.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Apricot porridge may look plain, but in fact it has a very rich taste.

Photo: regina_kirillova / Shutterstock / Fotodom

Apricot (or dried apricot) porridge — a unique local dessert. Previously, there was no variety of sweets in the mountains, but there were a lot of apricots (there are still plenty of them there, the annual harvest brings a lot of money to farmers), so the locals learned how to make a treat from these fruits. Porridge is cooked from fresh apricots or, out of season, from ground dried apricots, flour and butter are added to it. Dessert is served with bread, honey and sugar — you do not need to mix the additive with porridge, you should eat separately, in layers or in a bowl.

Coffee with a sandwich. In general, coffee in Dagestan can be found anywhere — the culture of drinking this drink in the region is almost more developed than in the gastronomic capital of St. Petersburg. There are coffee shops with original drinks in large cities, small villages, at gas stations and even on mountain roads. In addition to classic Americano and cappuccino, you can try coffee with urbech here — in the heat it is better to choose a cold version of the drink. For example, it is made on the observation deck at Sulak Canyon: espresso, vanilla ice cream and urbech are whipped in a blender. It turns out to be something like a milkshake with the taste of nutty ice cream – very sweet, but refreshing.

What you should know before your trip

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

Dagestan has fairly strict rules of conduct that should be treated with respect. Most of the population here professes Islam and adheres to traditions — tourists are expected to at least observe local etiquette.

  1. Clothes. In Dagestan, revealing clothes are not welcome. Therefore, it is better to think about your wardrobe before the trip in advance: instead of short shorts and skirts, you should choose models up to the knee or below, instead of open T—shirts – T-shirts with closed shoulders and without a deep neckline. Tight clothes should also be avoided. In tourist memos, women are advised to bring a headscarf, but it is only required to visit mosques. They will also ask you to wear an abaya — a long dress with sleeves and without a belt.
  2. Communication. In Dagestan, it is not customary to swear, and couples are not advised to actively show feelings — publicly kissing and hugging.
  3. Smoking. Smoking in public places is not accepted, especially for women. It is better to step aside and not hold a cigarette ostentatiously.
  4. Swimming. It is forbidden to swim without clothes and topless on the beaches here. And after leaving the water, it is recommended for girls to put something on top of a bikini – a pareo or a beach dress will do.
  5. Religious sites cannot be visited in a T-shirt and shorts, women must cover their arms, legs and head. This rule applies not only to mosques, but also to Christian churches, synagogues, ziyarats (burial sites of famous religious figures), and battlefields of the Caucasian War.
  6. Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, its dates are shifted every year. Before planning a trip to Dagestan, check if its dates fall on Ramadan: at this time, believers are forbidden to eat and drink until sunset, so most cafes and restaurants are closed.


The stereotype that Dagestan can be dangerous has been around since the 1990s, and many people think the same about Chechnya today. Counter-terrorism operations do take place here from time to time, but they usually do not affect either civilians or tourists.

In fact, Dagestan is as safe a region for tourists as Sochi or Anapa. In addition, the travel industry has been developing here not so long ago as in the Krasnodar Territory, and local residents (especially guides, employees of resorts and restaurants) are really interested in ensuring that travelers get the best experience.

Древние крепости, бесконечные горы и каша из абрикосов. Что посмотреть, посетить и попробовать в Дагестане? Большой гид

Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

It is also safe for young girls to stay in the republic — people are not kidnapped in Dagestan. And in general, the locals treat travelers as loyally as possible: no one will force women to wear a hijab on the street, and they will not be condemned for a swimsuit on the beach.

“Attention to tourists in Dagestan is increased. And Dagestanis themselves, by virtue of their hospitality, will never raise a hand against travelers. But if a tourist violates local rules: for example, he will walk in short shorts, smoke or drink alcohol in the middle of the street, then, of course, they can make a remark,” says Shamil, a tourist who visits Dagestan regularly.

He emphasizes that it is definitely not worth worrying about life and property in the republic. According to local traditions, a guest is the main person in the house, and no harm will be done to him. “If you did not come to Dagestan with bad intentions, but just relax, ride along the Sulak Canyon, then you are in no danger,” Shamil sums up.


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