Nalchik is a bustling commercial city in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. Exploring Nalchik in a rental car is easy thanks to the airport's close proximity to the central city area. However, Nalchik is prone to heavy traffic, and winter weather also provides a challenge to visitors.
Renting a Car in Nalchik
Top Nalchik car rentals include everything from small compact cars to SUVs, and even luxury vehicles, though hybrid fuel-savers are an option, too. Rental agencies like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and Thrifty all offer discounted rates on select car types, conveniently located in the airport arrivals hall. Most companies are open and available from morning until night, but book before traveling and read any stipulations in the rental agreement.
Most gas stations are just outside of the airport along Route 288 or within a five- or ten-minute drive after picking up the rental. Avoid any additional charges for not returning the vehicle with a full tank and fill up at Rosneft or Lukoil (two popular gas franchises) or at an AZS station located at the entrance to the downtown area.
What to Do After Renting a Car in Nalchik?
Many facilities like hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas offer free or cheap on-site parking. When parking on the streets, be mindful of road signs and warnings to avoid running the risk of a parking fine. There is plenty to see and do in Nalchik, and it is rather close to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, but note that it's possible for cross border travel restrictions to apply when traveling to another country with the rental car. Be extra cautious when driving during Nalchik's cold season from December to March as the weather lends itself to rain and thunderstorms, and light-to-moderate snowfall.
Popular Activities in and Around Nalchik
A must-see in Nalchik is its version of Central Park (Central Park of Culture and Recreation is the full name), located less than 15 minutes from the airport. Lush greenery and small lakes (complete with paddle boats) dot the park, which is situated along the Nalchik River. Just before reaching the park, visitors can head to Adyge Une, a specialty shop that boasts local Karabardian and Circassian creations, like fur hats and silver jewelery.
A 1.5-hour drive from Nalchik Airport makes for an excellent day trip to Tau El. The grounds serve as a replica of how the old stone homes looked, and visitors can try the specialty, a buttery flat bread called khichiny. En route to this village, be sure to stop and spend some time at the Blue Lakes in Babugent. Less than an hour from the airport, these small karst lakes offer a picturesque scene in various shades of blue. It may seem touristy with the souvenir stands that surround the lakes, and it's not recommended for swimming or even diving, but this cave water source is a true marvel to see.
Skip the taxi line and search Skyscanner before traveling to Nalchik for a rental fit for any budget at a reputable international company.