Not really a part of Asia, Europe or Middle East, the caucasus is on the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Though Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have had a very troubled past which kept travellers away from these little pieces of heaven, this region is now open to tourism like never before. A roadtrip through the Caucasus is a trip for the mind and the soul. This mountainous region is as welcoming as its people.
As the Georgian saying goes “A stranger will never die of hunger here”
Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were also part of the ancient silk route, so keep an ear out for the many folklores and stories during your travels here.
How to plan the trip?
Georgia , Armenia and Azerbaijan offer E-Visa services for most nationalities. Ensure you have pre approved visa’s for all countries if you are planning a road trip. This will make the border crossings much easier.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have long standing conflicts with each other, the dislike is felt more at the Azeri side, and all borders between these countries are closed. We would suggest you start from Azerbaijan and make your way through Georgia and not the other way around. Why? Because having an Armenian stamp on your passport does not bode very well at Azerbaijan.
Though we initially thought of driving ourselves, we could not find any inter country car rentals in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and there are many traveller stories online that warn about self driving at borders between these countries so we steered clear and hired a car and driver instead…
Day 1 Arrive in Baku-AZERBAIJAN
Day 2 Gobustan Mud Volacano, Gobustan National Park, Yanardag and Atesgah-AZERBAIJAN
Day 3 Qabala-AZERBAIJAN
Day 4 Qabala and Laza-AZERBAIJAN
Day 5 Kakheti,GEORGIA
Day 6 Tbilsi, GEORGIA
Day 7 Gudauri, GEORGIA
Day 8 Tbilsi, GEORGIA
Day 9 Tbilisi/Yerevan, GEORGIA/ARMENIA
Day 10 Mt Aragat, Lake Kari & Khor Virap, ARMENIA
Day 11 Lake Sevan & Sevanavank, ARMENIA
Day 12 Hankavan Hot Springs, Garni and Geghard Monastery, ARMENIA
Day 13 Yerevan, ARMENIA
Day 14 Go Home
Day 1 & 2 Baku
The capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku is the perfect example of a seamless blend of the East and the West. Numerous skyscrapers on one side and a charming old town with Soviet Era influences on the other, it is popularly referred to as the lovechild of London & Dubai.
Gobustan Mud Volcanos/Gobustan National park
Yanar Dag- The burning mountain
Ateshgah- A hindu temple
Try the fresh fruit jams! (Delish)
Where to Stay: Boutique Hotel Baku
How did we explore Baku in 48 hours? Read here
Day 3 & 4 Qabala & Laza
Time to enjoy the quieter regions of Azerbaijan. Qabala is seen more as a wellness retreat among the mountains with cooler climate, greenery all around and state of the art wellness and ski resorts. Qabala is popularly known as the Switzerland of Azerbaijan.
All you need to do at Qabala is check into your hotel, sign up for the various wellness massages,bathes and activities and relax.
Long walks along the winding country lanes of Qabala
Qabala has amazing ski slopes
Visit the Nohr-Gul Lake
Try fruit lavash & Paklava
Where to Stay: Qafqaz Sport Resort and Spa
Visit the nearby village of Laza– Home to the Caucasian Albanians, popular for its famous waterfalls and scenic as well as challenging hiking trails. This is also the closest you can get to Russia from this side without a visa 🙂
Day 5 Kakheti
Your first touch point in Georgia. 4.5 hours away from Qabala, Kakheti is the wine region of Georgia. Wine is an integral part of your vacation in Georgia, so why not enjoy it at vineyards?
Wine Tours at Winery Khareba
Where to Stay: Stay in a vineyard. Check out Schuchmann Wines Chateau & Spa
Day 6 Tbilisi
After a relaxing day at the vineyards, time to head into the hustle & bustle of the capital city of Tbilisi. Just a 1.5 hour drive from Kakheti, you can either take a cab or a bus.
Once in Tbilsi, enjoy a walk along the Freedom Square area, exploring the various wine bars, restaurants, stores and cafe’s. Also check out the various tour options to Kazbegi. We rented a car and drove to Kazbegi and had a lot of fun.
Old Tbilisi & The Bridge of Peace
Abanotubani Sulphur Baths
Enjoy a glass of local wine along with a cheese platter
Where to Stay: We stayed at the Courtyard By Mariott, overlooking the Freedom Square.
Day 7 Gudauri
A 3.5 hour drive from Tbilisi, the winding road up to the mountains will have you squeal in excitement & fear at the same time. This drive is extremely scenic and the Kazbegi mountain ranges are a sight to behold.
Check out our countdown of the fun things to do in Georgia here
Visit the Gergeti Trinity Church
Georgia-Russia Friendship monument
Where to Stay: If you love the mountains like us, stay overnight at the Rooms Hotel
Day 8 Tbilisi
You will definitely have some spillovers from Day 6 in Tbilisi. Treat this day to enjoy true Georgian hospitality, wine & dine and enjoy the historical sights in this city.
Day 9 Tbilisi/Yerevan
You can either get a taxi, shared van or a bus from Tbilisi to Yerevan. The total travel time including border change takes about 7 hours. We took a shared van which accommodates up to 7 people and is a cheaper option as compared to a private taxi. The cheapest option is to take the bus. The day will mostly be spent in travel and all you would want to do once you reach Yerevan is to order room service and sleep.
Day 10 Mt Aragat, Lake Kari and Khor Virap
You can station yourself in Yerevan and either book normal tours or private tours to explore Armenia. We take a lot of time at each place so decided to go for private tours.
Enjoy Khor Virap Monastery and the stunning views of Mt.Ararat from here. The drive to Mt. Aragat is so much fun and the views at the top are literally unreal. Lake Kari atop the mountain is just pure wow! This tour would take 5-6 hours and you would get back to Yerevan by late evening.
Check out 10 fascinating things you didn’t know about Armenia here
Day 11 Lake Sevan
One of world’s high altitude lakes, Lake Sevan is cooler and windier than other parts of Armenia. The best time to visit Lake Sevan is July & August. There are many hotels by the shore offering spectacular views of the lake. Book here
Try the local fish from the lake
Visit Sevanavank Monastery
Day 12 Hankavan Hot Springs, Garni and Geghard Monastery
Hankavan thermal springs is believed to have medicinal properties and best enjoyed in cooler weather. The feeling of warmth was a welcome change in the bitter mountain chill and we thoroughly enjoyed it inspite of the questionable color of the water (!)
Garni is the only pagan temple in Armenia dedicated to the sun goddess Mythra. This architectural wonder is worth visiting and it brings in a deep urge to meet the great people behind this wonder.
Carved out of rock, Geghard monastery was believed to have housed the spear that was used to wound Christ. Irrespective of the folklore that surrounds the monastery, the moment you step in, you feel a deep sense of peace and quiet. We were lucky enough to visit the monastery after closing and were the only ones inside. *Goosebumps*
Day 13 Yerevan
The last day of your trip to spend at leisure and a full day to explore Yerevan. Lively streets and cafe’s will great you at every corner here.
Stroll around the Republic Square
Visit the History Musuem
Try Oghee (Fruit Vodka)
From Putin to Clooney to Kardashian, they have all dined at Dolmama Restaurant in Yerevan. Fancy a visit?