Georgia is not a country, but it is one of the best places for trips to Georgia Europe. People are friendly and the food is phenomenal.
The State has so much to offer with its rich culture, devoted education system, and diverse geographical landscape. There are many reasons to visit Georgia, so come find out for yourself!
What Region is Georgia in Europe?
Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountains are part of a natural boundary between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Georgia is mostly in the middle of these two mountain ranges, which make up the border.
Because the boundary between Europe and Asia is a “historical and cultural construct,” Georgia’s continental placement has changed a lot. Anaximander set the boundary between Europe and Asia along the Phasis River, which is now the Rioni River.
This meant that the northern parts of Georgia were in Europe and the southern parts were in Asia, which Herodotus also did. According to one definition from the 18th century, the Kuma–Manych Depression was the continental boundary.
This meant that Georgia and the whole Caucasus were part of Asia. Another definition, on the other hand, set the line at the Aras River, which meant that all of Georgia was in Europe.
Georgia’s proximity to the rest of Europe, as well as a variety of historical, cultural, and political factors, has led to its inclusion in Europe more and more.
People in the country have joined European groups like the Council of Europe and Eurocontrol, and they have been deemed eligible to apply to join the European Union if they want to.
Is Georgia a Safe Country to Visit?
During the Russo-Georgian War, there was some risk, but now Georgia is a very safe place to visit. This is because the country has changed a lot. Because the International Crime Index named Georgia as the seventh least dangerous place to live last year, that makes it even better!
People don’t know much about Georgia, so I still get messages from people who want to know how safe it is in that country.
So, what do you need to think about before you go? No, not at all.
It’s important to follow the eight safety tips below so that you can enjoy your trip to Georgia in a safe way.
1. Avoid South Ossetia and Abkhazia
There have been a lot of fights in these breakaway areas of Georgia in the last few years.
There are still car bombs and other terrorist attacks in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and there are also landmines that haven’t been used yet.
Just don’t visit the areas, and you’ll be fine.
Also, don’t try to get into Georgia from Russia by going through them. That’s against Georgian law.
2. Stay Alert
A lot of small theft can happen when people think tourists are richer in a country where they don’t live there. It’s not as dangerous as in many countries, but it’s still important to be safe.
People don’t like it when you wear a lot of jewelry or show off a lot of money. Keep an eye on your bags, too. The most common places where people get into trouble are in tourist areas or on public transportation. The best thing you can do is keep your guard up in these places.
3. Beware of the Bar Scam
Keep an eye out for locals who invite you into a bar for food and drinks, then demand that you pay a lot of money for the food and drinks. This is called the “bar scam.” In this country, it isn’t very common. It’s something to be aware of.
4. Be wary of Demonstrations or Protests
Tbilisi and other parts of Georgia have political demonstrations all the time. They usually happen outside of the parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, but sometimes they happen in other parts of the country too.
People should always be aware that protests can turn violent, and it might be better to stay away.
5. Be Careful When Driving
It’s not good to drive on the roads in Georgia because they aren’t very good. As a result of reckless driving by the locals, there are a lot of traffic accidents. Sometimes there aren’t enough road signs, and it can be hard to figure out which driver has the right of way.
When you’re in a car, always buckle up. In addition, don’t drive at night, because there isn’t enough light to make it even more dangerous.
How do I Get to Georgia from Europe?
No matter which country you go to, you need to be aware of their rules for foreigners. I’m glad Georgia is so welcoming to foreigners. They have one of the most generous visa-free programs I’ve ever seen.
They have a long list of countries where citizens don’t need a visa to visit for a year on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs site. A lot of countries are on that list, like the EU and the United States.
If your nationality isn’t on the list, you’re not out of luck. Georgia doesn’t require a visa for people who live in certain countries or have a valid visa for those countries.
They can stay for 90 days without getting a visa from Georgia. That list is here. Other than that, you’ll need to get an e-Visa or a normal visa from the Georgian MFA.
Before planning trips to Georgia Europe, make sure you check all of this out for yourself and keep in mind that the rules for getting into the country can change over time. The information above is only meant to help you get started and was meant to be correct when it was written.
As far as where you can fly to go to Georgia, there are a few different airports. There aren’t just two airports in the capital, Tbilisi.
There are also Batumi International Airport and Kutaisi International Airport, which are both in the city. Many budget airlines offer flights to Kutaisi, which makes it a good choice for backpackers like me.
Do They Speak English in Georgia?
Georgia is in the region of Eurasia known as the Caucasus. It is at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
People who are from Georgia make up about 86% of the population of the country. It covers an area of 26,900 square miles and has about 3.7 million people. Georgians, like most people in the Caucasus, don’t fit into any of the main groups of people in Asia or Europe.
Some of the other groups in Georgia are Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Russians, and Ukrainians. There are also a lot of other groups. Georgian is the most common language spoken there.
There are about 14 languages spoken there, but Georgian is the most common. Some of the other languages that people speak in addition to English are Assyrian, Svan, Urum, and other languages.
Official Language Of Georgia
Georgian is the official language and the main language of Georgia. It is used as a first language by more than 86% of people. It is a language that is spoken in many different ways and written in its own unique way.
There are two groups of Georgian: East and West. These groups are both related to other languages spoken in the country, like Laz and Svan, and they all speak the same language.
There are parts of Azerbaijan and northeastern Turkey where people speak the same language as Georgia. Even though Georgia is in the same region as the Caucasus, the language is a little different from other languages outside of the area.
Georgian became a written language in the middle of the 5th century when the elite of the country changed their religion. It was built on top of a well-known cultural infrastructure, and it took on the conventions and status of the Aramaic language.
As the new language of the national religion, Georgian took the place of Aramaic, which was used before. People who work for the US Department of State say that learning the Georgian language is one of the hardest things to do, and it’s not easy.
It doesn’t have prepositions, and it doesn’t say which gender it is. People in Georgia speak a lot of different dialects of the language, like Imeretian, Kartlian, Adjaran, and Tush.
Minority Languages Spoken In Georgia
6.2 percent of the people in Georgia speak the Azerbaijani language. It is the main language of Azerbaijanis and the official language of the country. Azerbaijanis is a Turkic language that is mostly spoken by Azerbaijanis living in Georgia.
People are more likely to speak Azerbaijani than Russian now that the Soviet Union has broken up. There has been a rise in the number of Azerbaijanis moving to the U.S. and a negative view of the Russian language due to politics.
They make up more than half of all the people who have moved to Georgia. This is because the country is home to a lot of people from Russia, and so the Russian language has a big impact on how people interact every day in Georgia.
It is spoken by 1.2% of the people in Georgia as their first language. Russian is mostly spoken by Russian immigrants and older Georgians who speak it.
Communists mostly spoke Russian during this time. This was especially true in the far-off areas of Georgia, where Russian was the main language.
In some parts of the country, Russian was used as the second language and sometimes as the main language. However, since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian language has become less important.
Status Of The English Language In Georgia
The number of people who speak English in Georgia has gone up a lot in the last two decades because the government is interested in the language.
The government wants to make sure that every child can speak English. Thus, English has been made a required class in schools, so it is now a required class.
Teachers from English-speaking countries like the US and Canada have been hired by the government to help the local English teachers as well as to help and teach the students. In a few years, Georgia wants to make English an official language, and they want to do it quickly.
What to See in Georgia?
Each of Georgia’s regional capitals has something unique to offer visitors, whether it’s a glimpse into local history and traditions or a taste of a different kind of food.
Here are eight of my favorite cities in Georgia, along with the best things to see, do, and eat in each one.
You must spend at least a few days in Tbilisi when you visit Georgia. It’s the country’s capital and the heart of the arts and culture, so it’s important to spend some time there.
At least as far back as the 5th century, Tbilisi has been around. It’s at the crossroads of both the East and the West, which means it’s always been able to combine the best of both worlds.
Tbilisi is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and each one has a high cable car or funicular ready to take you to a new place with beautiful views.
As they stand on opposing hills, Narikala Fortress and Mtatsminda keep watch over ancient churches, domed bathhouses in Abanotubani, and modern wonders like the Bridge of Peace and Rike Concert Hall.
Tbilisi is made up of people from different religions, cultures, and traditions. Synagogues, Orthodox cathedrals, Armenian churches, and a mosque are all near each other. Old bazaars and merchants’ homes show that the city was a major trading center.
Tbilisi is a city full of small things, so after looking at the city from afar, it’s time to get closer and look at things up close. Hours can be spent looking at the old buildings in the Old Town and Sololaki, Tbilisi’s first neighborhood.
Spices and churchkhela can be found at the lively Dezerter Bazaar and the Dry Bridge Market. Visit some of Georgia’s most important museums and galleries to brush up on your history. Starting with the Soviet Occupation Hall at the National Museum, the Folklore Museum, and the Open Air Museum of Ethnography, which is all in the country.
Tbilisi’s wine bars and Georgian restaurants show off the best of the country’s fresh produce, regional cuisines, and organic winemaking methods in their food and drink. You can buy lurji supra blue tablecloths, cloisonne enamel, and other beautiful things at pretty boutiques and studios.
Georgia’s second-largest city isn’t as big as Tbilisi, but it has a very different vibe. It’s a big mistake to only visit Kutaisi airport. This is the most beautiful city in Georgia, at least in my opinion.
Besides that, it’s also one of the oldest places in Europe. In use since the 6th century BC, Kutaisi was the capital of the Kingdom of Colchis in the Middle Ages.
Later, Kutaisi became Georgia’s cultural center, where many poets, musicians, and scholars lived and worked. During the Soviet era, Kutaisi was repurposed for industry and her skyline was changed.
I’m told she lost some of her charms in the process, but with all the cute restaurants and vintage tea houses that dot the town today, you wouldn’t know it.
It’s a good idea to go to the Green Bazaar, ride the cable car over the Rioni River, and go inside Kutisi’s beautiful synagogue. People who live near Kutaisi can visit the Gelati Monastery, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Then they can walk through the forest to the Motsameta monastery, which is very pretty and has a great view. This is the best place in the city to see the sunset.
People who go to Kutaisi can go to the Imereti region, which is a beautiful area in the western part of Georgia that is full of canyons, waterfalls, caves, and wineries. Besides Kutaisi, there are a lot of must-sees that are only a day trip away. I’ll get to them later.
A lot of people think that Georgia’s biggest Black Sea resort city is called “the Las Vegas of the Caucasus.” But now that Batumi is going through a renaissance, my view of the city has completely changed.
Living in Batumi showed me a different side of the city and I now consider it one of my favorite places in Georgia.
For centuries, tourists have come to Batumi to enjoy the same stretch of sand. But if you want to get away from the beach, Batumi has a lot of cool cafes, creative spaces, and a lot of great street art. Even if you don’t like it, modern architecture is a big draw.
The Old Town is full of surprises, too. It’s a great place to visit if you add a wonderful produce market, a scenic aerial cableway, some great urban hikes, and access to some of Western Georgia’s best national parks to it.
Another reason to visit Batumi is to learn about Adjarian culture and food. This is the birthplace of the famous Adjaruli Khachapuri and a range of other indulgent delicacies, including my personal favorite, Borano (melted cheese smothered in hot butter) (melted cheese smothered in hot butter).
Walk or cycle Batumi Boulevard, a beautiful path that runs along the seafront. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can cycle all the way to the border with Turkey if you want to. Batumi is an ever-evolving city that has so much to offer beyond the beach.
Don’t forget to visit the Botanical Garden of Batumi, which is a beautiful green area on the coast north of the city. It has easy hiking trails and beautiful views of the Black Sea.
Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and was the capital of the old kingdom for almost a millennium. It is just 20 kilometers from Tbilisi and is a popular place to go on a day trip.
A marshrutka or taxi can get you there in less than an hour. It can be combined with a trip to Gori or used as a stopover on your way from east to west.
People in Mtskheta, Georgia, were important in the development of Christianity in the country. As a result, the small city has a lot of important churches in it.
One of Georgia’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, is in this area. It’s made up of a group of monasteries known for their frescoes and inscriptions in an early version of the Georgian alphabet.
There is an 11th-century cathedral in the middle of Mtskheta that stands out. This gives it its overall shape. Saint Nino is said to have chosen the site for Georgia’s second-largest church after Sameba in Tbilisi.
As the answer to Westminster, this is where kings were crowned and then laid to rest. There are at least 10 monarchs who sleep under the heavy stone floor.
When you visit Georgia, you should go to Jvari Monastery, which is located on a hill above Mtskheta. It was built around the 6th century and is a must-see.
The inside of the church isn’t very big, but the view from the churchyard of the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, one blue and the other green, is just amazing.
Joseph Stalin was born there and the Stalin Museum is there, so Gori is known as Georgia’s dark tourism capital. I think it’s a good idea to take the guided tour of the museum, which includes Stalin’s birth house and an armored train car that was used by him.
It’s true that Gori is known for Stalin, but there’s a lot more to the city than that. Gori used to be a stop on the Silk Road.
It’s at the base of a huge hill with a unique stone fortress that falls down to the river’s edge. You can climb to the top of the fortress for a great view of the plains of the Shida Kartli region. You can also go to Gori Jvari church, which is a short taxi ride or hike from town.
There are a lot of parks and clean streets in Gori. There are also trellises covered in vines that are full of grapes. Cafes and ice cream shops line the main street. Gori’s old town is made of brick and has a great produce market that is undercover.
Check out the Great Patriotic War Museum, which tells the story of a 2008 war that took place just a few hundred meters away and had a big impact on the city.
Telavi is the largest city and main transportation hub in Kakheti, Georgia’s huge eastern region that has a lot of lands. I like that it’s in the Alazani Valley, which makes it a good place to start when you want to travel the Wine Route and see the many old churches and monasteries in the Kakhetian countryside.
During the 10th and 13th century, Telavi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti. It was also the capital again in the 17th century. People who study history sometimes call it the most “medieval” city in Georgia because it’s the only place in the country where monuments from four different eras stand together. Telavi is a history fan’s dream city.
Telavi itself is a very pleasant, walkable city. It has a cobbled Old Town with restored Kakhetian balconies and a bustling bazaar under the cover of night. This 900-year-old tree, called the Giant Plane Tree, is a big draw.
The huge Alaverdi Cathedral and the ruins of the Ikalto Academy, where Georgian writer Shota Rustaveli learned to write, are both outside the city limits of Telavi, which is where they are. Grimm, the former capital of Kakheti, is another thing to look at while you’re in the area.
Telavi has a lot of restaurants, wine bars, and family-run cellars to enjoy as well, so there is a lot to choose from. It’s not as beautiful as Sighnaghi, the other city in Kakheti that I’ll talk about later. But it’s a good place to start when you want to see everything this area has to offer.
Zugdidi is the largest city in Georgia’s Western Samegrelo region, and it’s a great place to learn about Megrelian culture and food.
If you’re going up to Svaneti, most people only stop for a few hours in Zugdidi on the way. But even if you’re just there to eat at one of Georgia’s best restaurants, it’s worth spending a night or two in Zugdidi to break the trip.
Megrelian food is, of course, the main thing here. Rich Kharcho, stringy Elarji, and creamy Gebzhalia are all on the menu.
There, you can learn about the Dadiani family, who were the rulers of Samegrelo in the past. The immaculate Dadiani Palace and its private gardens, which are now part of the Botanical Gardens in Georgia, are very different from anything else you’ll see in the country.
It’s worth paying for a ticket to the museum to see the eerie bronze Napoleon Death Mask inside. The French connection is so interesting!
You can also visit Rukhi Castle for a view of Abkhazia, watch master potters make black-smoked ceramics at Orkol Studio, look for Soviet-era mosaics in the area, and look for real Adjika, a tasty spice blend that comes from the west.
There are less than 50,000 people in the small city of Akhaltsikhe in south-western Georgia. With direct buses to Gyumri and Yerevan in Armenia, it’s easy to get to the border crossing at Bavra. It’s also a good place from which to visit the cave city of Vardzia.
When you visit Akhaltsikhe, you’ll find that it’s a small city, but it has a long history that includes Ottoman, Mongol, and Iranian rule.
The name “Akhaltsikhe” means “New Fortress,” which gives you a sense of the city’s history and spirit of fight.
Rabati Castle, a huge fortress on top of a hill, is the main thing to see. Lomisa Castle was built in the 9th century and was used as a mosque during the Ottoman period.
Over time, it grew into a complex of watchtowers, fountains, domed buildings, and gardens. After a lot of work was done in 2011, it now looks a lot like the set for a Game of Thrones episode that didn’t go as planned.
Besides, Sapara Monastery and Khertvisi Fortress are also worth a look. The latter is even more impressive when seen from afar, on the other side of the gorge.
SIGHNAGHI & KAKHETI WINE REGION
The walled city of Sighnaghi is the heart of Kakheti, Georgia’s most important wine-producing area. This isn’t the only place in Georgia where grapes grow.
I’ll talk about some other wine regions later. It’s the most popular place to go wine tasting in Georgia because it’s so close to Tbilisi.
Sighnaghi is known as “the city of love,” and it’s a lovely place to visit. It’s surrounded by stone walls and ramparts that you can climb for great views of the valley, which is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains. People who like Pirosmani should also check out the small museum in Sighnaghi, where he was born.
Beyond the town, there are dozens of traditional cellars and commercial wineries of all sizes that welcome visitors for guided tours and tastings.
Georgian qvevri wine, which is made by fermenting grapes in clay vessels that are buried underground, and more modern European wine-making methods are both used.
Visit some well-known wineries on a day tour or hire a car and driver to see the less-known ones on the Wine Route.
If you don’t drink, the Alazani Valley is still one of the best places in Georgia to learn about the history and religion of the area. For every winery, there’s also a monastery. Some are on hilltops, while others are in caves that are as deep as they are wide.
KAZBEGI & GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH
Kazbegi, also known as Stepantsminda, is an alpine town in the Greater Caucasus, north of Tbilisi and close to the border with Russia.
It is also famous for its new name. Georgia’s most famous church is Gergeti Trinity Church. It’s on a hill above the town, and it’s right next to Mount Kazbek, which is mighty and tall.
There is a high-altitude walled chapel that is worth a look, especially when seen from a distance against a backdrop of snow-capped, jagged peaks. Getting to the church from the town takes about an hour on an easy trail. Make sure you take the right path.
As the closest mountain range to Tbilisi, Kazbegi is an easy addition to even a short Georgia trip. You can drive there in less than three hours on the Georgian Military Highway.
Easy hikes to waterfalls, more beautiful monastery complexes (Dariali is especially beautiful), and the open-air thermal pools at Pansheti are all close to Kazbegi. The town itself has some great restaurants that serve typical mountain food.
THE GEORGIAN MILITARY HIGHWAY
This is what the person who said it’s more important to go on the journey than to get there. They must have been talking about the trip up to Kazbegi from Tbilisi. You see a lot of beautiful places on the Georgian Military Highway, but Gergeti Trinity is just a small taste.
This huge arterial is the only way to get from Tbilisi to Russia right now. In itself, the Military Road is worth putting on your list of things to do when you visit Georgia.
There are a lot of places to stop along the way, like the Ananuri Fortress, the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument in Gudauri, mineral water springs, stone head sculptures, and mountain views.
In the winter, Gudauri turns into Georgia’s most expensive ski resort. There are a lot of cute cottages and bungalows here, but I think you should pass through Gudauri and stay in Kazbegi instead (unless you want to do some skiing or snowboarding).
SVANETI (MESTIA & USHGULI)
It is the second most popular mountain area in Georgia after Kazbegi. Zemo Svaneti Planned National Park comes in third place. Mestia, the largest town in the region, is in the far north-west. You can reach there by road or a short flight
As many as a thousand tourists come to Svaneti every year. Mestia has a lot of places to stay and restaurants to eat. It’s a good idea to have a meal of Kubdari (Svanetian meat pie) and Mtsvadi BBQ with Svanetian spiced salt at Laila on the main square after the long and nail-biting marshrutka ride up.
In Svaneti, the best thing to do is to hike. Koruldi Lakes and Chaladi Glacier are two of the most popular places to go hiking. Mount Ushba is for the bravest of people, who can go for a long time.
As beautiful as the landscape here is, the local culture here is just as captivating as well. Svans lived in fortified tower houses and were famous for being fierce fighters.
This is the ancestral home of the Svan people. These stone towers, called “Koshki” in Georgian, can be found all over the north and even in Chechnya. Svaneti’s towers are known for being both many and well-preserved.
There are many ways to get to Ushguli from Mestia. You can take a day trip by van from there, or you can hike from Mestia to Ushguli for a few days.
For its many towers, UNESCO named Ushguli a World Heritage Site in 1996. This is because of how many towers there are in one village alone: there are more than 200 in Chazhashi, one of Ushguli’s villages.
In the southern part of Georgia, there are a lot of “cave cities” and “cave monasteries”. These are huge complexes of rooms and grottoes that have been carved out of rocky slopes. Vardzia is the largest and most well-known of them.
The Vardzia complex is near the town of Aspindza, not far from the city of Akhaltsikhe. It is made up of a 500-meter-long sheer rock wall that is puckered with more than 640 separate rooms spread over 13 levels.
Incredibly, this is just a small part of a much bigger cave city. Earthquake damage it.
BORJOMI & BAKURIANI
The Borjomi town is almost right in the middle of the country. It has long been a favorite place in Georgia to spend the summer.
You can relax and drink Borjomi mineral water, which is one of Georgia’s best-known drinks and biggest exports. The air is fresh and the water comes from natural springs, so there’s not a lot to do here.
People have been drinking, bathing in, and bottle-making Borjomi’s healing waters since the Middle Ages. Things really took off in the 1840s when the Russian Viceroy took his daughter to Borjomi for health care.
By the 1860s, the resort town was a big business. Many members of the Imperial aristocracy built their summer homes in the same area. People who were important in the Communist Party would stay in these mansions to get better.
It’s still a popular place for families to visit in the summer. Borjomi is still a popular place for families to visit. There are two main places in the town: Borjomi Central Park, which has a lot of trees, and Ekaterina’s Spring, calles after the Viceroy’s daughter.
Bring your own bottle of water and fill it up with Borjomi water right from the source. A cable car takes you up to a beautiful plateau. There are also open-air thermal baths.
People can get to Bakuriani from Borjomi by taking the Kukushka, which is the only scenic train in Georgia. Rooms Kokhta is one of a number of lodges in Bakuriani that cater to tourists during ski season.
Also, Tabatskuri Lake is near Bakuriani, and the Romanov Summer Palace is down the road at Likani. In the area behind the palace, there are a lot of hiking trails for people who want to go to Borjomi National Park.
OKATSE CANYON & MARTVILI CANYON
Georgia’s western Imereti and Samegrelo regions are lush and overgrown. There are a lot of river canyons and waterfalls to see, as well.
In Kutaisi, the most popular thing to do is to go to Okatse Canyon and Martvili Canyon and the nearby Khichka Waterfall as a day trip from there. Not at all. It’s not one of my favorite things to do on a day trip, but it’s still fun.
In the Okatse Canyon, which is 14 km long, there is a suspended treetop walkway and glass viewing platforms. It is the most developed for tourism.
Visitors can kayak through pretty Martvili Canyon which is full of emerald pools surrounding the thick forest and emerald pools.
Tskaltubo is a spa town just 20 minutes by bus from Kutaisi. It’s an alternative day trip from the city. Known as the “Waters of Immortality,” these mineral springs are 33 to 35 degrees Celsius when they come out of the ground.
Tskaltubo, like Borjomi, rose to prominence in the Soviet era as a place where workers could get a break from their work.
More than 120,000 people came to the balneology resort and its 19 sanatoriums every year in the 1950s. There was even a direct train service from Moscow to Tskaltubo.
In this small town, there is a park that grows over with small bathhouses hidden in it. Around the edge of the park, there are a dozen big, fancy resort buildings.
Each one has grand entrance halls and ballrooms, collapsible terraces, spiraling staircases, and domed atriums, and they all look very different. Almost all (but not all) of the sanatoriums was banned after the fall of the Soviet Union.
They were stripped of anything that could be sold or used (tiles, pipes, plasterwork). Nature eventually took over, turning these once-grand buildings into a playground for photographers and people who like to go “urbex.”
A lot of people like to get their wedding photos taken at Tskaltubo now, and there are a lot of people there posing for family photos.
In the 1990s, a lot of the bigger sanatoriums were used to house people who had to flee from Abkhazia because of the war.
Many families still live here today, and it’s important to be aware of this when you’re out and about. Take care not to accidentally walk into someone’s house and don’t try to enter any buildings that are close (developers can buy some).
DAVID GAREJA CAVE MONASTERY
David Gareja (Davit Gareji) is one of the most popular cave monasteries in Georgia. It’s at the southern end of the Kakheti region, right on the border with Azerbaijan. It’s about 2.5 hours by car from Tbilisi, and you can get there by bus.
The David Gareja Monasteries (plural) are a group of cave dwellings and cloisters of varying sizes scattered across the semi-desert landscape in Georgia.
They got name after a religious figure who sought refuge in this part of the country with his group of followers. Some of the best-known are Lavra and Udabno, which are twin monasteries with cave rooms, underground chapels, and beautiful frescoes on the walls of rock niches.
There were still parts of David Gareja that were open in 2017 when I went. You could still walk on the tops of the hills to get a good view of Azerbaijan. On my second visit, I learned that a part of the complex is now close because a border dispute that is going on.
You can still go to David Gareja and see parts of Lavra Monastery, but I keep this guide up to date to make sure it has the most up-to-date information about closures and safety.
Uplistsikhe is the third most important cave monastery in Georgia. It is just outside the city of Gori. I think this is the easiest cave monastery to get to. It gets a lot of people because of that.
There are some buildings in Uplistsikhe that date back to the Early Iron Age. Vardzia and David Gareja are younger. Compared to the other two, Uplistsikhe has a very different shape. It’s out on a rocky river bank and isn’t as tall as the other two.
The moon-like landscape of grottos and caves surrounded by folds of rock is a lot of fun to walk through on your own. It’s also very well marked. From the upper parts of the complex, you can see the Mtkvari river valley in all its glory.
CHIATURA & KATSKHI COLUMN
Chiatura is a small city in the Imereti region north of Kutaisi. It’s popular with urbexers, photographers, and people who want to learn about Soviet history. Some people call it Chernobyl in Georgia, but it’s not the same thing.
When Georgia was part of the USSR, Chiatura was a bustling city built around some of the world’s best manganese mines.
During the time when the state went bankrupt, the mines shut down, and most people left with them. In Chiatura today, many people still live there. The city has a time-capsule, blast from the past feel that many people find interesting.
Doing something called “Stalin’s Rope Roads” is a popular thing to do in Chiatura. It’s a network of 17 cable cars that build over the valley in the 1950s to cut down on travel times and boost productivity.
Today, the old cable cars are repairing but the old infrastructure was still in use a few years ago (I went for a nail-biting spin on my first visit in 2017). Four new cable cars open in their place after the old cars takedown in September 2021.
MENJI, A UNIQUE PLACE TO VISIT IN GEORGIA
Menji used to be a health retreat like Tskaltubo and Chiatura, but it’s a lot smaller and less well-known now. There are several neoclassical sanatoriums build top of natural mineral springs in Menji.
In contrast to Tskaltubo, Menji has no one left. If you go to Tskaltubo, you’ll almost certainly not see any other tourists, and you won’t see any wedding shoots, either.
When I went to Menji, there were no other people there, except for the cow who was grazing in one of the spa’s overgrown atriums, which was very quiet.
If you go to Menji, you’ll find at least two beautiful sanatoriums that are now almost in ruins. The most impressive thing is the Roman-style sanatorium next to the train tracks in the small town of the same name. Many of the plasterwork and ceiling in the atrium have been around for a long time.
When workers came to Menji for their summer vacations in the 1800s, the town had a lot more to offer than it does now. The tiles, pipes, plasterwork, and other valuables from the spas in Tskaltubo were all taken away.
It looks like there are rows of private bathrooms that open up from two hallways. Each one has an original ceramic tub, but all have part of the tub missing.
When is the Best Time to Visit Georgia?
For a country that isn’t very big, Georgia’s climate is very different. The Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea both play a role in the different weather.
Most of the time, it’s dry in the east and west in the west. When it’s the best time to go to Georgia is between May and June or September and in the lowlands around Tbilisi. You won’t have to deal with the summer heat and humidity as well as the cold winter weather.
It’s a good idea to talk about harvest time in the fall, especially in Kakheti. Whether you visit during the summer or the winter, quick-drying and waterproof clothes will be important. The weather can change in a split second.
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The best way to go about finding trips to Georgia Europe is to do some research and spend some time looking for the perfect destination.
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