9 Top Places to Visit in Georgia

By on September 30, 2019 in Europe, GEORGIA, Off the Beaten Track with 0 Comments

9 Top Places to Visit in Georgia

Bearing in mind its size, I’m going to put myself out there and say there’s few countries in the world as diverse as Georgia.

Situated at the edge of both the European and Asian continents, Georgia’s straddled position means it embodies a cultural diversity created by centuries of migration, but also a collection of different landscapes that make travelling here feel like something of a global tour!

From the snow-covered mountains of the high Caucasus to the coastal resorts of the Black Sea, from thronging cities to quaint, cobbled town streets, Georgia seems to combine so much within its borders that it almost appears to be a world in and of itself.

And to be honest, that alone makes travelling here super adventurous, super pleasurable and super memorable… without discussing the history, the hospitality or the great prices this country has to offer too.

Need I say anymore?!

No, you’re sold?

Ok good, so let’s get on with the 9 top places to visit in Georgia when you do get here…


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#1 Tbilisi

Stay: Pushkin 10 hostel,

Georgia, Tbilisi, Red Car

So first up on this list is one of Georgia’s main cities and probably the only destination in the country that every visitor goes to.

And rightly so, for the capital Tbilisi is absolutely one of the top places to visit in Georgia.

A mishmash of architectural styles, the city perfectly showcases the geographical and cultural crossroads that Georgia has been at the heart of for so long.

From the Old City Walls with their stone castles perched on hilltop lookouts, to modern contemporary bridges, soviet metro stations, grand statues, mosques, churches, synagogues, cable cars, markets, parks, street art and public baths, Tbilisi’s got it all.

I absolutely loved this city and spent over 6 days there, which it’s certainly easy to do given both the size and charm of it.

It’s also kind of necessary to do, because Tbilisi lies at the heart of the country and almost all public transport feeds into and out of this city – hence why you’re likely to spend quite a bit of time here if you plan to explore further into Georgia too.

There’s also an international airport in Tbilisi, as well as regular land crossings to / from Armenia and Azerbaijan, meaning many travellers either begin or end (or both) their trip to Georgia in Tbilisi.

For more info and ideas about this city, check out my list of the best 21 things to do in Tbilisi, otherwise make sure finding hidden bars, relaxing in parks, taking a walking tour, climbing to the lookouts and visiting the markets all make it onto your list!

 

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#2 Batumi

Stay: Chillout Hostel

Georgia, Batumi, City

Next up on my list of the best places to visit in Georgia is the main Black Sea resort of Batumi.

This is by far the most popular resort on Georgia’s coastal strip and is the place many local and international tourists go to unwind and soak in the beautiful Georgian summers.

Backed by misty hills and boasting a good boulevard, pebbly beach, quaint old town and musical fountains, few can ignore its relaxing allure and easy feel good fun.

Word of warning however, don’t expect a quiet time if you visit Batumi, expect a wild time!

If that sounds less appealing to you, then there a number of quieter resorts within Georgia’s Black Sea region which are likely to suit you more.

However if you’re using public transport to travel Georgia, you’ll probably arrive into Batumi and then have to make your way to any smaller destinations from there.

Equally, boats into Georgia from Turkey, Bulgaria and Ukraine also arrive into Batumi, making this a place most travellers visit even if it’s only before they move on.

 

5 PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR GEORGIA

#1 Caucasus Lonely Planet – Still my go-to when it comes to guidebooks, the Caucasus Lonely Planet packs in a huge amount of information about travelling in Armenia, Georgia & Azerbaijan and will likely save you the cost of a guide in many of this region’s fabulous historical attractions.

#2 Good Camera – From the mountain landscapes to the village life, you’ll want a good travel camera to capture the best of Georgia and the Sony A6000 mirrorless ticks my box every time!

#3 Headscarf – If you’re heading to see any monasteries in Georgia, ladies will need to come prepared with a headscarf to enter, as well as a long skirt or pair of pants and long-sleeved top.

#4 Hiking Shoes – No trip to Georgia would be complete without spending at least a day or two hiking in this country’s untouched rural landscape. Coming prepared with a pair of good walking shoes is essential therefore and Keen Targhee’s II always get my vote!

#5 Rain Jacket – I visited Georgia in June, technically the start of summer and the high season, but was amazed how storms suddenly blew in across this high altitude country. Having my North Face lightweight, windproof and waterproof jacket therefore saved my life!

 

#3 Kazbegi

Stay: Camp Kuro

Georgia, Kazbegi, Doorway Shot

Unlike the first 2 entries on this list, Kazbegi isn’t a place you’re likely to arrive into or depart from during your time in Georgia.

It is, however, a place you should definitely go!

Yes undoubtedly one of the top places to visit in Georgia, Kazbegi is certainly on the tourist trail, but once you get here, you’ll know why.

A few hour’s drive north of Tbilisi, along one of the most stunning driving routes in the whole country, Kazbegi is situated in the high Caucasus mountains and boasts some of the country’s best hiking and most spectacular views.

The flagship image of the Tsminda Sameba (Gergeti) Church is situated just outside the main town of Stepantsminda and walking up there (and continuing onto the glacier above if you can) is a remarkable day hike you can make without a guide.

Otherwise, both the Truso and Sno valleys here are filled with more opportunities to get amongst it all and to soak in the amazing landscape.

And, if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, you can even get up to very near the Russian border from here too.

Some people only make a day trip to Kazbegi, from Tbilisi, but honestly, this destination deserves a stay of at least 3 nights to do it justice.

Learn more in this complete Kazbegi travel guide I wrote, which covers itineraries, transport, accommodation and more.

 

HOW TO GET TO GEORGIA

The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi has a small, but well-appointed international airport that is an easy taxi or bus ride from the city centre.

The cheapest flights generally arrive here from across Europe including Paris, Istanbul & Lativa , so check out Turkish Air, Air France and Baltic Air via Skyscanner if you’re looking to score a well-priced ticket.

Otherwise, many people take a budget flight to Kutaisi in Georgia, and from there head to Tbilisi via a local bus. Wizz Air flies to Kutaisi from across Europe offering some great deals.

 

#4 Kutaisi

Stay: Dingo Hostel

Georgia, Kutaisi, Cathedral

The city of Kutaisi houses Georgia’s parliament and, as such, occupies an important part in the running of this nation.

For tourists, it’s good to know that Kutaisi’s international airport is where most budget airlines fly in and out of, which means if you’re coming from across Europe into Georgia on a cheap flight, Kutaisi is likely to be the city you land in.

As such, take a few days to get accustomed to Georgian life here, enjoying the views of the Rioni River, on whose banks the city is built, as well as the Bagrati Cathedral – largely thought to be one of the country’s most beautiful and UNESCO-listed.

There’s also plenty of political history to discover in the city (as it used to be the country’s capital) and recent regenerative efforts have left some beautifully restored parks, fountains and squares.

Don’t miss the indoor produce market here either as you get to grip with the amazing Georgian foods and drinks… enjoy!

 

THE BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR GEORGIA

I would never travel to a destination like Georgia without proper coverage and always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads which I’ve used during my time in this country and beyond.

I love World Nomads great protection for outdoors activities like hiking – essential in a country like Georgia – as well their easy claims process and the ability to buy or extend coverage with them when you’re already overseas.

 

#5 Telavi

Stay: Eto Guesthouse

Georgia, Telavi, Building

The main town in Georgia’s famous wine region, Telavi is just a few hours from the capital Tbilisi.

Yet it feels like another world.

Quiet, quaint, small and slow, this is the perfect place to relax for a few days with its mild climate and warm people.

Many come to Telavi on a wine-tasting day trip from Tbilisi, but as one of the best places to visit in Georgia, you’re doing the city a serious misjustice if you don’t stay longer.

Instead, I suggest a stay of 2 nights, which will give you ample time to explore the old Medieval town itself, as well as venture out to a few wineries (Shumi Winery is a great one) and a few Cathedrals (Alaverdi is my pick) which lie scattered across the surrounding picturesque countryside.

Otherwise, if you want to take things at an even slower or more rural pace, then head to the other Georgian wine region town of Sighnaghi, which is 60km southeast of Telavi and arguably even prettier.

 

#6 David Gareji

And from Sighnaghi, it’s then possible to visit the next spot on this list of the best places to visit in Georgia and that is David Gareji.

Situated down near the Azerbaijani border, the only other way to get to David Gareji is via public transport from Tbilisi, with most visitors making a long day trip here from the capital.

This isn’t based on the lack of startling landscape here, which would certainly have most travellers staying longer, but rather on the lack of facilities in and around David Gareji and the changing security situation.

For example, when I visited this place, the Azerbaijani army were occupying half the site, meaning that while day trips were still running, only half the place was accessible to us!

So what is David Gareji?

Well it’s an ancient monastery complex spread over a remote semidesert area – yes didn’t I tell you Georgia was like the whole world rolled into one!

Monks still inhabit some of the monasteries, which are originally thought to have been constructed in the 6th century by Syrian Christians travelling from the Middle East and have been ransacked and rebuilt many times since.

The whole site takes around 2-3 hours to explore (including staring at the mesmerising desert landscape) and daily tours depart at 11am from Liberty Square in Tbilisi during the summer months, costing just 30 Lari.

Oh and you also get the chance to peek across the fence border into Azerbaijan from here too!

 

WHEN TO VISIT GEORGIA

Winters in Georgia can be fiercely cold with snow and freezing temperatures not uncommon across the country, especially in the mountainous areas. At this time, many roads become impassable and travelling difficult.

As such, I would definitely visit Georgia during their summer months, when the climate is wonderful warm and the skies are almost always blue.

The summer season here runs roughly from May to September, however July & August can be super hot in Tbilisi (like 40 degrees hot), so do bear this in mind if you’re not a fan of the heat and want to enjoy some hiking.

I visited Georgia in June and the weather was perfect – very warm and clear days, with loads of wildflowers around and perfect hiking conditions.

Based on this, I would suggest the shoulder season months of May, June and September as the ideal times to visit this country when the weather is good enough to enjoy getting outdoors and sightseeing, but not too hot that you’ll worry about burning and dehydrating!

 

#7 Gori

Georgia, Gori, Stalin Museum

And in at number 7 on my list of the top places to visit in Georgia is Gori… which is a bit of a strange one!

Birthplace of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, I’m not suggesting you take a trip here to honour the man who arguable lead millions to their death, but rather because a trip here adds another level to the fascinating historical patchwork puzzle that is Georgia.

Top of the list of “attractions” (note the inverted commas) in Gori, is the Stalin Museum, where English language tours are available. Go with a critical and discerning approach and it’s quite the eye-opener!

While you can visit Gori from destinations across Georgia, perhaps including it as you make your way to the Black Sea from Tbilisi (or visa versa), it’s also possible to visit this town as part of a great day trip from the capital that takes in several other destinations.

If you’re short on time, this could be a good option as in just 1 day, such organised trips include visits to…

  • Uplistsikhe – an incredible ancient rock-cut town
  • Mtskheta, another of Georgia’s former capitals and home to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
  • Jvari Monastery
  • Gori Fortess

Way to tick off that bucket list!

 

#8 Svaneti

Stay: Nino Ratiani Guesthouse

Georgia, Svaneti, Scene

It’s certainly one of the big daddies in Georgia and rightly so, for Svaneti is a mountain-lovers’ paradise.

Set in the high Caucasus, this is a beautiful and wild place scattered with cute, traditional villages and soaring peaks.

No matter what time of the year you visit, this spot is stunning, with activities as diverse as winter skiing or spring hiking among the wildflower meadows – both possible depending on the month!

The main town of Mestia is the hub for travellers here, with a recent boom in tourists meaning the number of accommodation and eating options have soared.

Around Mestia and the wider region, traditional stone towers dot the landscape, as do tiny churches decorated with beautiful frescoes.

A bastion of Georgian culture, the sublime landscape of Svaneti is probably the place in the county to head for day walks or multi-day hikes to glaciers, elevated passes, pristine lakes and snow-capped summits.

Without question, one of the best places to visit in Georgia.

 

#9 Tusheti

Stay: Hostel Tishe – Find them on Airbnb. Sign up and get £31 off your first Airbnb stay HERE!

Georgia, Tusheti, Dartlo

And finally, we’ve come to the end of the most epic places to visit in Georgia, but, as usual, I’ve saved the best for last!

Yes Tusheti really is the land time forget and is completely off the beaten track, even for Georgia… which is really saying something!

Again situated in the high Caucasus Mountains, this whole region is only accessible during the months of June through September – after that it gets cut off again by snow and residents must either stay separated from the outside world the whole winter or move elsewhere in Georgia away from their homelands.

It might not surprise you to know that as soon as I heard about this place I knew I had to go there.. and trust me, it really was every bit as special as it sounds.

Accessed from either the town of Talevi or nearby Alvani, there is just one road into, and one road out of, the Tusheti region, which must be made in a 4wd as it’s a hair-rising 4-5 hour drive past melting snow glaciers and sheer cliffside drops.

But it’s worth it, for when you reach this untouched land, where time ceases to exist and the pace of life is like something from lost era, you won’t want to leave.

I’d suggest basing yourself in the main “town” of Omalo if you visit Tusheti and from here enjoying day hikes, epic drives and even horse rides to surrounding villages and ruins.

Give yourself plenty of time, bearing in mind it really is a full day journey to get here and another day to get back.

 

Other Places to Visit in Georgia With More Time…

  • Chiatura – the town of quirky cable cars
  • Tskaltubo – spa town with abandoned Soviet Sanatorium

 

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So there you have it, the 9 best places to visit in Georgia.

Is this country on your list yet?

I hope so!

Don’t hesitate to let me know any questions you have in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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