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As a traveler, I have always been fascinated by Georgia’s diverse landscapes and rich culture. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the country of Georgia is a hidden gem filled with rich history, stunning landscapes, and a unique cultural heritage. This Country of Georgia travel guide will provide insights and tips for a memorable trip to this beautiful country with multiple offerings.
Georgia’s rapidly growing tourism industry is a testament to its many attractions, including mesmerizing mountain landscapes, timeless architecture, and a vibrant local cuisine rooted in the ancient Silk Road.
With a fascinating blend of influences shaping its identity, including the Caucasus Mountains to the north and a beautiful coastline along the Black Sea in the west, Georgia provides an amazing variety of experiences for visitors to discover.
From the bustling and colorful capital city of Tbilisi to the serene beauty of the Svaneti region and the lively atmosphere of Batumi, Georgia offers a diverse array of destinations for any travel itinerary.
With careful planning and expert advice, travelers can explore the unforgettable charm of the Georgian people and landscapes, all while creating memories that will last a lifetime. Georgia is a diverse and great country with a rich history, offering breathtaking landscapes and bustling cities for travelers.
- Best Things to Do in Georgia
- 1. Tbilisi
- 2. Batumi
- 3. Day Trips from Tbilisi
- 4. The Wine Route
- 5. Svaneti Region Explorer
- 6. Kutaisi
- Where to Stay in Georgia
- How to Get Around in Georgia
- Land Transportation
- Travel Tips for Visiting Georgia
- Try the Traditional Dishes
- Take Advantage of the Festivals and Events
- Spend Time at Local Restaurants and Cafes
- Sample the Georgian Wine
- Understand Local Etiquette and Customs
Best Things to Do in Georgia
Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, is known for its unique architecture, diverse culture, and history dating back to the 5th century. Some top sights in Tbilisi include the ancient Narikala Fortress, the picturesque Old Town, and the fascinating Georgian National Museum.
The city offers various dining options, including Georgian cuisine and international dishes. To truly experience Tbilisi’s vibrant atmosphere, a visit to the bustling Rustaveli Avenue and the charming neighborhood of Marjanishvili is a must.
Batumi, located on the Black Sea coast, is popular for its subtropical climate, beautiful beaches, and modern architecture. The city’s main attractions include the Batumi Boulevard promenade, the eye-catching moving sculpture Ali and Nino, and the Batumi Botanical Garden.
Visitors can also explore the history of Batumi by visiting the Gonio Fortress and the peaceful, picturesque Makhuntseti Waterfall. Batumi offers a diverse range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to affordable hostels, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene.
3. Day Trips from Tbilisi
As the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi serves as a perfect base for exploring the country’s diverse and fascinating attractions. Some popular day trips from Tbilisi include:
- Kazbegi: Known for its stunning mountain landscapes, Kazbegi is accessible via the Georgian Military Highway. Here, travelers can visit the Gergeti Trinity Church and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Kazbek.
- Mtskheta: This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the ancient capital of Georgia, just a short drive away from Tbilisi. Visitors can explore historical landmarks such as the Jvari Monastery and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
- Gori: Famous as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, Gori is home to the Stalin Museum, as well as the Uplistsikhe Cave Town, an ancient rock-hewn settlement worth exploring.
4. The Wine Route
Georgia is renowned for its ancient winemaking traditions, and the Wine Route allows travelers to experience the culture and taste of the country’s award-winning wines. Some highlights of the Wine Route include:
- Kakheti: This region is the heart of Georgian winemaking, with vineyards covering the beautiful landscapes. Visit local wineries to sample unique wines and learn about the traditional qvevri winemaking process.
- Sighnaghi: Known as the “City of Love,” Sighnaghi offers travelers a romantic atmosphere with charming cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and breathtaking views of the Alazani Valley.
- Tsinandali: A visit to the Tsinandali Estate allows travelers to tour a 19th-century mansion turned museum and enjoy a wine-tasting session in its historic cellars.
5. Svaneti Region Explorer
The Svaneti Region is a remote mountainous area steeped in history and offers an unparalleled experience for adventurous travelers. Key attractions in the Svaneti Region include:
- Mestia: As the central town of Svaneti, Mestia is an excellent starting point for exploring the surrounding landscapes. Visit the Svan towers and the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography, and embark on exhilarating hiking trails.
- Ushguli: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ushguli is a collection of four unique villages boasting ancient Svan towers and picturesque views of Mount Shkhara, Georgia’s highest peak.
- Chalaadi Glacier: Accessed via a moderate hike from Mestia, Chalaadi Glacier offers travelers a chance to experience the natural beauty of Svaneti’s rugged mountain landscapes.
Kutaisi, Georgia’s third-largest city, is famous for its historical sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, which showcase Georgian architectural mastery.
The city is also a gateway to some of Georgia’s most breathtaking natural wonders such as the Prometheus Cave, Sataplia Nature Reserve, and the stunning Okatse Canyon. Kutaisi offers a range of accommodation options and traditional Georgian restaurants that allow visitors to delve deeper into the country’s rich culture.
Where to Stay in Georgia
When visiting Georgia offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors to choose from. Regardless of your budget and preferences, you can find a suitable place to stay while exploring this beautiful destination.
Georgia has many hotels, from luxury establishments to budget-friendly options. In the main cities, such as Tbilisi and Batumi, travelers can expect to find well-known international hotel chains as well as locally operated hotels.
Hotel prices can vary greatly depending on the location and comfort level. Amenities such as free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and private bathrooms are usually standard in most hotels. Use Booking.com to compare pricing from some of the top hotels in Georgia.
For a more authentic and intimate experience, guesthouses are a popular choice among travelers to Georgia. Often family-run, guesthouses provide a cozy and welcoming atmosphere where guests can interact with local hosts and learn more about Georgian culture.
Guesthouses can be found in urban and rural areas and usually offer private rooms, shared bathrooms, and sometimes communal dining areas. Prices are typically lower than hotels, making guesthouses a budget-friendly option.
Backpackers and budget travelers will be pleased to find many hostels in Georgia, providing an affordable way to stay in popular destinations. Dormitory-style rooms with 4-6 beds can cost around 15-20 GEL per night, while private rooms in hostels range from 50-80 GEL per night.
Amenities such as free Wi-Fi and self-catering facilities are standard in most hostels, making them a convenient choice for budget-conscious travelers. Use HostelWorld to find the best possible option with the best pricing.
How to Get Around in Georgia
Visiting Georgia usually begins with a flight into its capital city, Tbilisi. International flights connect Tbilisi with several major cities worldwide, providing various options for travelers. Tbilisi International Airport (TBS) is the primary gateway into the country and serves as a hub for many airlines, including Georgian Airways.
Besides Tbilisi, there are other airports in Georgia, such as Kutaisi International Airport (KUT) and Batumi International Airport (BUS). These airports are connected with multiple European destinations through budget airlines, offering additional choices for those looking for affordable tickets.
If you prefer to enter Georgia by land, there are several border crossings with neighboring countries. Crossings with Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia allow travelers to access Georgia via bus, train, or car.
Remember that some borders may have specific requirements or restrictions depending on the political climate and traveler’s nationality, so it is vital to check border conditions before planning a land trip into Georgia.
For those traveling by car, Georgia has a relatively well-maintained road network, with its main highways connecting major cities and tourist destinations. Car rental services are available in Tbilisi and other big cities, allowing visitors to explore the country conveniently.
If you choose bus or train transportation, Georgia has an extensive network of options, including marshrutkas (shared minibusses) that reach most cities and towns nationwide. Train services are limited but can provide a scenic and comfortable journey between larger cities like Tbilisi and Batumi.
Travel Tips for Visiting Georgia
In order to create the perfect itinerary, travelers should consider factors such as seasonality, key tourist destinations, and available transportation options. With abundant natural and cultural attractions, Georgia presents countless opportunities to tailor trips to individual preferences and interests, ensuring a truly unforgettable journey. Here are some tips for when you visit Georgia.
Try the Traditional Dishes
Georgian cuisine is known for its hearty, colorful, and unique dishes. Some must-try delights include:
- Khachapuri: a cheese-filled bread baked to golden perfection and often topped with an egg and butter.
- Khinkali: Georgian dumplings stuffed with meat, herbs, and spices, traditionally eaten by hand.
- Badrijani Nigvzit: fried eggplant rolls filled with a walnut-garlic paste, served as a cold appetizer or side dish.
- Shkmeruli: a garlic-packed chicken dish cooked in a clay pot and served with a creamy garlic sauce.
Different regions may offer variations of these dishes, allowing travelers to explore the local flavors and ingredients when they visit Georgia.
Take Advantage of the Festivals and Events
Georgia is known for its lively festivals and events that unite locals and international tourists. Some of the most popular events include Tbilisoba, a festival showcasing the traditions and culture of Tbilisi, and the Rtveli grape harvest, which marks the beginning of the wine production season and features traditional music, dancing, and feasting.
Additionally, visitors can attend a variety of music and arts festivals throughout the year, such as the Tbilisi Open Air, Batumi International Art-House Film Festival, and the Tbilisi Jazz Festival, providing a glimpse into Georgia’s thriving arts and cultural scene.
Spend Time at Local Restaurants and Cafes
Georgia boasts a wide range of dining options, from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. Many venues offer traditional Georgian dishes, while others serve international cuisine. Travelers can find local gems and scenic locations to enjoy a meal while exploring the country.
Sample the Georgian Wine
Georgia is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, with a winemaking tradition dating back over 8,000 years. This wonderful country is well-known for its unique wine production methods, including using clay vessels called qvevri. Some popular Georgian wine options to try are:
- Saperavi: a dry, deep red wine with notes of dark fruit, cherries, and spices.
- Rkatsiteli: a dry white wine made from one of the oldest grape varieties, offering a crisp and refreshing flavor with hints of apple and citrus.
- Tsinandali: a white wine blend featuring a combination of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes, resulting in a balanced wine with light floral and fruity notes.
Wine enthusiasts can visit local wineries and vineyards to sample and learn more about Georgian wines.
Understand Local Etiquette and Customs
When traveling to Georgia, it is important to acquaint oneself with the local etiquette and customs to ensure a pleasant and respectful experience. Georgian culture emphasizes the importance of hospitality and warmth towards guests. This aspect of their culture is often showcased in various social interactions and business meetings throughout the country.
In Georgian business culture, formality is less emphasized compared to other countries. Shaking hands with everyone upon arrival and departure is customary, maintaining eye contact during the greeting. The person of higher status should initiate the handshake, and it is polite to wait for a woman to extend her hand first.
Georgians place a high value on relationships and personal connections. It is not unusual for business meetings to include family and personal life discussions. Therefore, it is helpful to familiarize oneself with common Georgian names and basic phrases in the Georgian language to show respect and create a positive impression.
Gift-giving is an important part of Georgian culture, particularly when invited to someone’s home. Small gifts such as chocolates, wine, or flowers are always appreciated. When dining in a Georgian home, it is customary to be offered more food than one can consume. Accepting the host’s offer is considered polite, at least initially. However, if the visitor feels full, declining additional servings is acceptable.
When visiting religious sites, it is essential to dress modestly and adhere to the specific etiquette of the location. Women may be required to cover their heads and shoulders, and men may need to remove their hats. Observing and respecting these customs demonstrates an appreciation for Georgian culture and religion.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.