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1. 15 Best Places to Visit in Georgia

Unmatched in its mountain scenery, undeterred by its tumultuous past, the nation of Georgia is now seriously on the up, attracting travelers from both Europe and Asia (continents it straddles neatly on the Caucasus Mountains) and touting everything from the snow-tipped peaks of Svaneti to shimmering beaches on the Black Sea. Here, we take a look at the spots every visitor to Georgia should be sure to have on their bucket list. Enjoy.

1. Tusheti National Park

Cascading down the northern edges of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, right on the cusp of Russia and Chechnya, the Tusheti National Park is the historic home of the eponymous Tush peoples. It’s also breathtaking in the extreme; big on relief and made up largely of soaring peaks and grass-clad hills. There are few roads in sight, and the villages that can be found nestled amidst the misty mountaintops are historic, brick-built affairs like Dartlo, which can be seen protruding almost organically from the Georgian lands, encompassed in rural sheep farms (the region is particularly famous for its wool and cheeses) and swathes of spruce forests to boot.

2. Tbilisi

The great up-and-coming capital of this up-and-coming country, Tbilisi is the nerve centre of Georgia’s drive towards modernity. It’s also a town steeped in history, making it a great place to explore the republic’s fine balance of the old and the new. The city sprawls out along the ridges that bubble about the banks of the Mtkvari River. The district of Old Tbilisi forms its heart; a medley of mysterious Byzantine churches, timber balconies and the occasional piece of striking modern art (check out Sioni Street). Above, draped over the hills, the mighty precipices, cathedral tops and bulwarks of Narikala stand firm, while well-to-do Vake district babbles with public fountains and pretty parks.

3. Borjomi

While Borjomi may still be best known as the source of its namesake mineral water – a salty, uber-frizzante concoction that was beloved by Georgia’s onetime Soviet masters – the city of today has plenty more to offer than just its sulphuric, volcanic springs. For one, the setting is magnificent, with the town plugged neatly between the ridges of the Borjomi Gorge. Then there’s the elegant faces of Russian imperial architecture, painted in pretty yellows an ochres and abutting neatly up to the fountains and grassy lawns of the city park. What’s more, the mysterious Green Monastery lurks just on the edge of town, encompassed by primeval forests and oozing with dark tales of monkish massacres from the Middle Ages.

4. Vardzia

Cut and carved meticulously into the sandy rock faces that rise like phalanxes against the meanders of the Mtkvari River in the deep Georgian south, Vardzia remains without question one of the most dramatic sights to behold in the country. It’s estimated that the various tiers of monolith churches, caves and shrines seen here were inhabited from at least the middle of the 12th century, when the dynatstic kings of the Bagrationi are thought to have commissioned the first constructions on the sheer-cut edge of Mount Erusheti. The real must-see, however, remains the glorious Church of the Dormition; a rock-carved shrine which displays an enthralling montage of murals and iconostasis that fuse Oriental, Byzantine and Romanesque styles alike.

5. Mtskheta

Situated just a short ride out of the capital of Tbilisi, UNESCO-attested Mtskheta clutches the low-lying banks of the Aragvi River confluence. Hailed for its countless Christian sites and importance as one of the nerve centres of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the town draws huge crowds throughout the year. They come to see the beautiful rises and magnificent frescoes of the great Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which stands as one of the finest examples of medieval Georgian religious architecture and a revered pilgrimage site for Georgians right across the country, or the Jvari Monastery on the hill, soaring high above Mtskheta – a curious mix of tetraconch architecture, Hellenistic, Byzantine and Georgian styles hidden between its apses.

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2. 9 of the Best Places to Visit in Georgia (Europe)

There are so many incredible cities, towns, and places to visit in Georgia (Europe) that it’s hard to just pick a few of the best places to visit in Georgia.

In fact, there is so much to see and do in Georgia that one can easily find yourself lost in this stunning Caucasian country for weeks or longer. It’s no wonder that the country of Georgia has exploded onto the tourist scene over the past few years.

With over 65 countries across the world under my belt, Georgia remains at the top of my list. The country of Georgia offers everything a traveler could want: affordable prices, a welcoming culture, excellent and cheap transportation options, incredible mountains, seaside resorts, vibrant city life, and delicious food and drink.

There is a lot to choose from in this incredible country, but you won’t want to miss these 9 best places to visit in Georgia Europe.

And if you are headed to the country of Georgia, be sure to check out my Georgia Travel Guidefor more details on the best places to visit in Georgia, things to do do in the country, sample Georgia itineraries, and more! You also might like this list of 10 Amazing Things to do in Georgia Europe.

1. Batumi

Batumi reminds me of what would happen if you mixed Singapore with Atlantic City, shrunk it down ten sizes and plopped in onto the Black Sea’s pebble beaches. Batumi, Georgia offers modern architecture (Donald Trump once had plans to build a skyscraper here), an enormous and gorgeous botanical garden, and access to the pebble beaches of the Black Sea.

In summer, Russian, Georgian, and international visitors descend on the city, with its beaches crowded by day and its nightclubs throbbing through the night. Batumi is definitely one of the best cities to visit in Georgia.

2. Mestia

Mestia is the main town in the mountainous region of Svaneti. Svaneti isn’t easy to get to (unless you can snag one of the few flights from Tbilisi to Mestia), but it’s well worth a visit to this stunning but isolated mountain region. There you’ll find a unique but fierce culture that has managed to ward off invaders ranging from the Mongols to the Persians to the Ottomans.

With the government of Georgia heavily promoting tourism to Svaneti, Mestia is quickly taking off as a tourist destination. But, while the town now offers higher-end hotels and a airport terminal that looks like it’s from the future, it still retains its centuries-old charm.

3. Ushguli

While I always encourage people to make their own travel path, and don’t believe in such things as “must see” places,” the Svaneti region of Georgia is as close as it comes to a must see in Georgia.

Svaneti is so incredible – it’s my favorite place in my favorite country in the world – that it warrants two entries on this list.

Ushguli is a tiny collection of villages high in the Caucasian mountains. You can only access it via a single dirt road from Mestia, or via a four day trek on foot, but it’s well worth the journey. Dozens of ancient watchtowers guard the entrance to this surreal area, which is hemmed in by jagged and imposing mountains.

It’s still possible to spend a night staying with a Svan family here for a small fee, where you’ll likely be treated to a delicious dinner and copious wine while a fire crackles in the background. I generally shy away from calling anything a “Must See,” but I’ll make an exception here: if you’re going all the way to Georgia, you should make the trip to Ushguli.

4. Tbilisi

Tbilisi is definitely the top city to visit in Georgia.

Almost every tourist traveling to Georgia will make a visit to Tbilisi at some point, and the city, despite being so popular with the traveler crowd, won’t disappoint. Tblisi contains a charming old town situated on a dramatic cliff-side, which mamkes for some awesome views.

It offers first-class dining options at cut-rate prices (at least by European standards), vibrant nightlife, affordable accommodation, and easy access to day trips through large parts of the country. No wonder Tbilisi remains the most popular and best city to visit in Georgia for most travelers.

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3. 10 MUST-SEE PLACES WHEN YOU VISIT GEORGIA

Still largely unknown to tourists outside of Eastern Europe, when Georgia finally gets the international attention it deserves, it will be as an outdoor and adventure travel hotspot. From the peaks of the Caucasus mountains to Kakheti’s rolling semi-deserts, the stony Black Sea coastline to Imereti’s lush inland forests, there’s a landscape and a slew of activities that go with it to suit just about every taste.

Add to this a vivid history of kingdoms and conquest, a brutal but imperative Soviet past and a progressive arts and food scene, and there’s a serious case to be made for Georgia’s towns and cities, too.

It’s true: In this traveller’s humble opinion, Georgia might just be the perfect all-rounder. To help you experience the best of what the country has to offer, here are 10 essential spots to incorporate into your itinerary.

Kazbegi

Just three hours north of Tbilisi via the spectacular Georgian Military Highway, Kazbegi (also known by its new name, Stepantsminda) has long been a popular high-altitude retreat. If you’re on a tight timeline, it’s the perfect place to get a taste for Georgia’s dramatic mountain scenery without straying too far from the city.

The small town of Kazbegi is encircled by the surreal, perennially snow-capped Greater Caucasus mountains. Gergeti Trinity Church – perched over Kazbegi at 2,000m above sea level – is a must-see. Outside of winter, you can reach the church on a two-hour climb through alpine meadows. For the more intrepid, there are plenty of single and multi-day hikes that push deeper into the mountains and glaciers along the Russian border.

Back in town, relax at a homestay or treat yourself to a suite at Rooms Kazbegi, a former Soviet spa that has been transformed into Georgia’s premier boutique hotel.

Kakheti

In case you didn’t know, wine is kind of a big deal in Georgia – one of the first countries in the world to pioneer viniculture. Georgian wine is made by fermenting whole grapes (stems, skins and all) in an underground clay vessel called a qvevri. After a few days in Kakheti, Georgian wine country, you’ll be very familiar indeed with this unusual technique and the distinctive vino it yields.

Base yourself in historic Sighnaghi, a charming town protected by high stone walls and watchtowers. Organise a driver and trace your way between dozens of wineries and cellar doors, including favourites Kindzmarauli and Shumi. The impressive Khareba winery consists of a series of long tunnels cut into a mountainside. It was supposed to be a bomb shelter; turns out the natural climate control creates the perfect conditions for storing wine!

Wine and worship go hand in hand in Kakheti. The area is also famous for its churches perched proudly on mountain tops, including Gremi and Nekresi Monastery.

Lagodekhi Protected Areas

Located at the tripoint of Georgia’s Kakheti region, Azerbaijan and Dagestan (Russia), the Lagodekhi Protected Areas cover 24,000-hectares of pristine forest and prime hiking territory.

Georgia’s oldest nature reserve includes beech forests and alpine zones and is home to East Caucasian tur and brown bears. Of the four hiking trails (Black Grouse Waterfall, Ninoskhevi Waterfall, Machi Fortress and Black Rock Lake), the latter is the park’s main drawcard. The 50km circuit can be completed in three days, sleeping in shelters along the way. The lake itself is shared between Georgia and Russia; you don’t need a visa, but you will need to carry your passport in case you’re approached by border patrol. All trails are weather dependent so make sure you do your research and check in with the visitor centre in Lagodekhi before setting off.

Vardzia

Georgia’s position at the crossroads of Asia and Europe has meant living under the constant threat of invasion. In centuries past, Georgians looked to cloisters and hidden settlements for protection – none of them more impressive than Vardzia, a colossal self-sufficient ‘cave village’ in the country’s south.

Set on the slopes of Erusheti Mountain, Vardzia was constructed in the 12th century by locals seeking sanctuary from invading Mongols. In its heyday, Vardzia stretched for 500m and was 13 tiers high, boasting more than 6,000 individual grotto apartments, an irrigation system, a church, and a throne room for Queen Tamar, the monarch who decreed this incredible feat of engineering. Most of the complex was destroyed by an earthquake less than a century after it was finished, but much of the stone architecture can still be seen and appreciated today.

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3. 8 reasons to travel to Georgia and Tbilisi

I really didn’t know what to think about going to Georgia in the beginning but honestly this country absolutely blew my mind. It was literally something that I was waiting to discover. You have this dream about going somewhere and you just think «Yes that’s the perfect place to be».

It’s like the perfect match and everything you do just amazes you even more. «What’s so magical about it?» you’re probably asking right now. It’s a mix of everything I reckon. The warm-hearted people, the stunning countryside, Tbilisi’s nightlife, maybe something else… It’s hard to describe but I guess it’s the mix of everything.

Technically Georgia is located in Eurasia, but its own people describe it in a very lovely way, it’s the balcony of Europe. Yes I think that is true. Balconies are usually my favorite part of an apartment and I fully agree. I arrived with very little expectation but Georgia took me on a journey, taught me how to appreciate nature and showed me what influence people can have on your soul.

A journey into humanity and kindness. A gem between Europe and Asia and a place you will not regret visiting. This is all based on my personal experience and to date if someone asks me this very, very difficult question about the best country I have ever visited, well…. my answer hasn’t changed in years and I still say it is Georgia, the country that has left a massive impact on my life as a traveller.

no.1 — The nature of Georgia… no words can describe it…

I have to say that I was pretty amazed when I saw the Caucasian Mountains for the first time. It was an early morning on a bus between Batumi and Tblisi… I woke up and wiped my eyes because I couldn’t really believe what I was just seeing there at the horizon. It was a beautiful Friday morning, no clouds, no noise. Just the sun, myself and the mountains.

It doesn’t matter where you go but Georgia’s nature will keep you speechless. One specific region I will not forget is the Tusheti National Park, a northern slope of the Caucasian Mountains and it kinda reminded me of Scotland, just more beautiful and amazing. It’s hard to believe that such a magical place like this is nearly untouched and with no tourists. I think I want to keep it that way and won’t tell you more about it, look at the photos and tell me what you think…

Also the highest peak of Europe can be found here, the Mount Elbrus which rises to a height of 5,642 metres. To sum it up there are more than seven five-thousanders in the greater Caucasian Mountain range. Once in Georgia you should really consider a trip into the mountains. They can be easily reached from Tbilisi and are usually just a few hours drive away. It is a once in a life time experience, don’t miss out on it!

no.2 — The people of Georgia will conquer your heart…

What I experienced in Tbilisi will always remain as one of the greatest human interactions I have ever experienced. It was warm hearted and so touching that I couldn’t believe that strangers who I’d just met can give so much to each other. Mankind can create such respect and love for each other and the bond between people can change the world.

My Couchsurfing host Ninchoo, her friend and my German friend Michael went out for a few beers at a pub in Tbilisi. In the corner were a few guys from the National Choir of Georgia. The boys had already had a few beers and started to sing very loudly, it seemed to be normal because they didn’t catch my attention. They stopped and everyone applauded. I took the oppurturnity with my friend Michael and we started to sing a German song, I can’t remember what it was but everyone suddenly became silent. Everyone was fixated on us but we kept singing…

After we finished everyone in the pub started to shout and to cheer, suddenly everyone started to sing, from the Beatles, to our national anthem and some Georgian folklore songs. It was magical and the boys started to dedicate songs to us and we to them. We hugged, we respected and enjoyed each other presence. It didn’t matter what a horrible singer I was, but I guess it was the gesture that mattered. Music is just not a language but also a way of life…

no.3 — The little local markets…

You’ll find them everywhere. Colourful vegetables, fruits, meat, bread… anything and  everything you could wish for. Very traditional and even if you don’t wanna buy anything you have to visit the markets. It’s a place with no price tags and you always have to negotiate the price with very interesting and sometimes very grumpy old ladies who obviously don’t speak a single word of English.

It’s fun to stroll around these markets and to check out all the things you’ll never find from your local Walmart, Tesco or Woolworths. You can’t really find such cool individual markets anymore and this is what I loved so much about Tbilisi, it’s just unique and very special. All the vegetables are of course Georgian grown and super fresh…

no.4 — Tbilisi is one of the most unique capitals I know…

Why is that? Probably because Georgia is surrounded by so many different cultures and therefore got all the good qualities from each neighbor. Russia in the north, Turkey in the West, Armenia and Iran in the South and Azerbaijan in the East. It’s a great mix and you can see a lot of those attributes everywhere around Tbilisi.

But I guess it was once again the people I enjoyed the most. I was always treated very nicely and people would always try to help me. You won’t find many western chains such McDonalds or Burger King and the whole city is kept in a very traditional way. Little markets here and there, a few Soviet leftovers and a touch of modern architecture. Tbilisi is changing and is trying to find its very own style.

The nightlife is great, and you will see a lot of young people everywhere. The country itself is very religious and there is a huge respect for the church but it doesn’t affect the everyday life of the people like other countries such as Iran for example. There is a new generation taking over, the ones who hadn’t experienced the time of Soviet «occupation». It is a new modern city that is slowly opening itself up to the world.

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4. Twenty Awesome Things to do in Georgia

I’ve kept myself to a manageable 20 things to do in Georgia but in reality there are thousands. Georgia quickly climbed our favourite country list when we spent five weeks there last year and has had us dreaming of it ever since. So much so that we’ve made plans to completely change directions and head back there this summer. If you have Georgia on your mind get inspired by this taster list of incredible things to do in Georgia.

And then get planning with our ultimate Georgia itinerary guide. Including info about transport, accommodation and the best things to see in Georgia.

1. Eat Khachapuri

A trip to Georgia is not complete without gorging on this local delicacy. Kachapuri comes in a variety of forms and is basically bread and copious quantities of cheese. The most famous variety is Adjaran Khachapuri, a boat shaped bread filled with melted cheese and topped with an egg…delicious! 
Georgian food is one of our main reasons for returning, read our list of top Georgian foods to try on your trip. 

2. Visit Gelati Monastery

Georgia is full of monasteries and churches, hilltop monasteries, ancient monasteries, painted monasteries, there’s one in every town. One of the most spectacular is the Gelati Monastery outside of Kutaisi. The exterior of the monastery was under construction when we were there but the interior more than made up for it. 
Mini buses go here each morning from Kutaisi and from there you can walk to Motsameta monastery which is in a stunning hilltop setting. For more ideas of things to do in and around Kutaisi and a guide for the walk between the monasteries read this.

3. Visit Batumi Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens in Batumi have one the most diverse ranges of flora and fauna in the world. Outside of the quirky buildings and bustling beachside of Batumi is an ecological wonderland. Well laid out and with great views of the city you can spend a relaxed day wandering the gardens and enjoying a picnic. You can even camp in the gardens overnight. 

4. Hike to the Church in Kazbegi

Kazbegi is a great overnight trip from Tbilisi. From the little mountain town you can do a couple of hours hiking to a little church with some incredible mountain views. For those not into walking you can hire a jeep to the top to see the mountain panorama. There are many guesthouses in the town but if your budget stretches you should consider checking in at the stunning Rooms Hotel for views of the church and mountains from your bed. If, like us, it’s a bit out of your budget you can head there for a coffee or lunch in the amazing café. 

5.  Fall in Love with Signaghi

Called the city of love, this is the place for all wine lovers. A cute little town surrounded by vineyards it’s a perfect weekend away for wine tastings and vineyard tours. You can also visit as a day trip from Tbilisi. 

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5. How to Travel in Georgia on 300 USD or Less

Money is an important matter to consider when making travel plans. Some places are more expensive than others but Georgia is surprisingly cheap. Here are some tips on how to travel to Georgia on only 300 USD. Georgia’s currency is the Lari (GEL). One Lari can be broken down into 100 Tetri (like cents). The exchange rate between GEL and USD has been fluctuating recently but is generally stable at about 1 USD: 2.34 Lari, which means if you have 300 USD, you will have 702 Lari. That is more than enough to spend 10 days in Georgia with little worries about your budget.

There are some things you can get free of charge in Georgia like accommodation and food/drinks. Couchsurfing is gaining popularity with the hipster crowd in Tbilisi and will often welcome you to their modest flats for no charge. As far as food and drinks go, Georgians love to show their hospitality to travelers and are often eager to invite them for a pint of beer, a bottle of wine, shots of homemade chacha (a very strong vodka-like drink), or even for a whole fiesta! However, if you end up paying for your accommodations, transport, meals, museums, and souvenirs; here are the best ways to use your 300 USD.


Photo Source: Fox Hostel Tbilisi

There are many cheap hostels in Tbilisi and daily rentals are available in big cities like Batumi and Kutaisiwhere you can find comfortable rooms with facilities for about $13. There are many homestays that can be found on AirBnb with similar prices. 10 Days accommodation in Georgia ~ $130. You have $170 left in your pocket which is the average monthly salary in Georgia. Tip: Book your accommodations way before you leave. The tourist seasons are competitive here!

Transport

Firstly, if you do not have a host who can pick you up from the airport (either at Tbilisi International Airport or the Kutaisi and Batumi Airports), you might need to pay for local transport to the city centers. Tbilisi International Airport offers railway, bus, and private cab options with prices that vary from 0.20 USD to 10 USD. Local transport in the cities cost about $ 0.20 (Bus, metro) and the minibuses (marshutka) cost $0.30. Private cabs are also quite cheap and if you travel with a partner, both of you will pay maximum $2.00 most any destination in the city center.

The train from Tbilisi to Batumi costs $10, buses cost $8.50 and a taxi for four people cost $50. Marshutkas to other places like Kazbegi, Gori, Sighnaghi cost around $2-4 each way. 10 days transportation in Georgia ~ $55. $115 is still in your pocket, which means you have $38 more than the average Georgian pensioner gets each month.

Tip: For a private transport, try some mobile applications, like taxify. They can make getting around a bit easier. Hitchhiking is generally safe. Also take into account that private cab drivers are keen to ask more from tourists (as in most tourist areas) so haggle their prices in advance. This is one difficulty, which can be avoided with mobile apps.

Food & Drinks


Photo Source: itap-world.com

Georgia’s a cheese and meat lover’s paradise. Take-out Georgian cheese bread, khachapuri, will cost about $0.60  ($2.50 for two people) in the streets and restaurants. Georgian dumplings – khinkali, cost $0.30 each. A soda,  locally referred to as lemonade, is $0.80. You can also ask for tap water which is free everywhere. For beer lovers, hipster bars offer cold draught and bottled beers from $1.30. Supermarkets have beer for as low as $0.80. Wine is more expensive though. 10 Days Food/drinks in Georgia = $80.00 Now you have $35, the monthly salary for National Army recruits.

Tips: Avoid eating in tourist areas. Eating in small towns and villages are less expensive than in major cities like Tbilisi. Batumi is the most expensive. If you are a smoker, you can buy cigarette packs for about $1.50 or less. Try cooking at home. Groceries are quite cheap in the local markets (even cheaper than supermarkets). The fruits and vegetables in Georgia are mouthwatering making any homemade dish super scrumptious.

Museums

Museum prices generally vary from $0.60 to about $2.00. If you have any valid student IDs bring them along as many offer discounts for pupils of all ages. 10 day museum price – $10.00. You now have $25 with, which you can buy exactly 19 cold beers but how about some souvenirs instead?

Tips: Some museums are free of charge and checking out Georgia’s churches and cathedrals which are also free. Take a look at Kazbegi Sameba, Svetitskhoveli, Jvari and others for some great liturgical art and architecture.

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