Georgia- Sakartvelo to the locals, is on the crossroads of Western Asia & Eastern Europe. Its bounded by the black sea (West), Russia (North), Turkey/Armenia (South) & Azerbaijan (South East).
BEST TIME TO VISIT GEORGIA
If you enjoy lush greenery with snow peaked mountains, you should visit from June until August. If you are in Georgia for the snow, you should plan your visit from November until March. Winters are not always snowy so check this link http://www.gudauri.info/webcam/ before you plan your trip.
HOW TO GET THERE
Here is the list of 94 countries whose citizens can stay for up to 360 days without a visa. http://cbw.ge/georgia/citizens-from-94-countries-can-stay-in-georgia-without-visa/ Indian nationals need to apply for an E-visa to enter Georgia. Indian nationals with a valid residence or tourist permit of countries as mentioned here can get visa on arrival.
FlyDubai, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Air Arabia, Emirates, Air France, S7 Airlines all have frequent flights to the capital city of Tbilisi. You can find the best deals on SkyScanner
Tbilisi can be best explored by foot. But to enjoy the caucasus mountain ranges, a 4*4 vehicle is a must.
WHAT TO PACK
If you are visiting Georgia in Spring, you can pack summer clothes with light cardigans. The mountain ranges will be cold throughout the year with the temperature dropping to 9C in Spring so packing a few winter clothes and a windbreaker is essential. Winters have minus temperatures so layer it up.
ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
We used Tbilisi as our base in Georgia. As its right at the centre, it was easy to plan our trips from there.
Day 1 & 2 TBILISI
Day 3 MTSKHETA-MTIANETI REGION/GUDAURI
Day 4 KAKHETI
Day 5 TBILISI
Day 6 & 7 BATUMI
Day 8 KUTAISI
Day 9 TBILISI
Day 10 GO HOME
Day 1 & Day 2 TBILISI
Tbilisi is a vibrant city full of life with warm & friendly people. You might come across very few natives who speak english, yet they are more than willing to help and make you feel welcome. The best way to discover this city is by foot as driving within city limits can be borderline crazy. Cabs are cheap, though they might take you for a ride literally, so checking with a local on the fare structure can help haggle. Most international flights fly to Tbilisi, so you can start off with Tbilisi and do a full circle and fly out.
Highlights of the city
¥ Rustaveli Avenue
¥ Tbilisi Funicular
¥ Freedom Square
¥ Old Tbilisi & The Bridge of Peace
¥ Try the Chicken Stew Boat Khachapuri at Samikitno Rest. near Freedom Square
¥ Try the Kindzmarauli Wine from Tsangala’s Wine Shop, Shavteli Street
¥ Abanotubani Sulphur Baths
¥ Mamadaviti Church
¥ Narikala Fortress
Where we stayed: Urban Boutique Hotel. Book Here
Day 3 -MTSKHETA-MTIANETI REGION (GUDAURI)
We head to the Kazbegi mountain ranges with a stop over at Ananuri, which is a UNESCO Heritage site. The castle itself is breathtaking with stunning views of the Aragvi river.
It is believed that Christianity was first preached in Georgia during the 5th century and with a majority of Christian population, Georgia has numerous beautiful churches. From childhood I have always believed in three wishes being granted when one visits a church for the first time, and by the end of the trip, trust me, I had run out of wishes!
The trip to Kazbegi took about 4.5 hours from Tbilisi and the drive is nothing short of stunning, with green mountains, patches of snow, fresh water rivers, grazing herds of sheep and cattle and the magical drive through the clouds.
Our first stop was the Holy Gergeti Trinity Church. I could use a whole truckload of adjectives to describe this place but it still wont do justice. The church is at an elevation of 2170 m under Mount Kazbegi. You can either trek up to the church which takes about 3-4 hours or take a local taxi.Now the local taxi’s used are extremely old beat up Russian Lada’s which are well past their prime. Be prepared for a rough ride but the view that awaits you at the top is totally worth all that & more.
This region is a popular ski destination and is mostly a ghost town during Spring/Summer.
Highlights of the Area
¥ Stepantsminda (Gergeti Trinity Church)
¥ Georgian-Russian Friendship Monument
¥ Gudauri Recreational Area- Paragliding (Highly dependant on weather/wind conditions)
Day 4 KAKHETI
The navigator under quoted the travel time and it took us a good 7 hours to reach Telavi, the main city in Kakheti. Famished & tired, we look up hotels to find most fully booked. We finally find a family run B&B nearby and decide to stay there the night.
The first thing on our list was to tour a wine cellar and paid a visit to the Twins Old Wine Cellar.
Most wine cellar visits would involve a tour of the premises, history of wine and a couple of freebies in the name of wine tasting.We were later told that the best vineyard in the area was that of Winery Khareba.
Highlights of the city
¥ Monastery Tours
¥ Winery Khareba Tour
Where we Stayed: Hotel Sweet Home B&B. Book Here
Day 5 Tbilisi
Kakheti to Batumi is too long a drive so its better to stop over at Tbilisi and visit any spillovers from Day 2 or just enjoy the night life before gearing for the long drive to Batumi.
Day 6 & 7 Batumi
Batumi is a seaside city by the Black Sea coast and the capital of Adjara Region, close to the Turkey border. It is about 8 hours of drive from the capital city.
This is also the gambling haven of Georgia. Initially we were only planning to stay a day here but we totally fell in love with the city and extended our stay. The day though cloudy with an occasional drizzle, turned a perfect setting to enjoy a cruise on the black sea and a city tour.
Highlights of the city
¥ Batumi Boulevard – Boulevard itself had so much to offer from restaurants to beach shacks, arm wrestling competitions, Chess matches, Scooter rides, Ferris Wheel, Skateboarding to name a few
¥ Cruise along Batumi Coast
¥ Argo Cable Car
¥ Fountain of Neptun
Where we stayed: Divan Suites. Book Here
Day 7 IMERETI REGION
Three hours from Batumi, we reach Kutaisi by early afternoon. This city is the third biggest in Georgia after Tbilisi and Batumi and has an international airport. The city itself does not have anything much to offer from a tourist point of view.The reason for our stopover here was solely to visit the canyons.
An hour away from Kutaisi, we reach Martvili Canyon late evening and the experience though pretty tame to what we had expected, turned out fun. The ice-cold water and spectacular water falls were well worth the trip. Next stop was Okatse Canyon. A 1km long walkway suspended along the edge of the canyon enables visitors to explore this natural wonder and its beautiful waterfalls. A word of caution here for people with Acrophobia,the pathway though sturdy does not give the same impression and can get pretty scary.
Sataplia cave was the next on our list and must visit for all dinosaur enthusiasts like my better half, where dinosaur footprints were discovered in early 1935 and preserved till date. Next stop was the Prometheus Caves. Discovered in Imereti region in 1984, Prometheus Cave is one of Georgia’s natural wonders with breathtaking views of stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, petrified waterfalls, cave pearls, underground rivers, and lakes.
Highlights of the City
¥ Okatse Canyon
¥ Martvili Canyon
¥ Prometheus Cave
¥ Sataplia Cave
The last day of our 10 day trip dawned with us having mixed feelings about leaving Georgia. We will most definitely miss the lovely people, the country side, the wine and the long drives through this picture perfect country.
Note: We visited Georgia much before the tourism barrage started and it was still a hidden gem. Lot of things have changed over the years and we try to keep the article as updated as possible 🙂