Influenced by so many neighbours, the capital city of Tbilisi is a thriving mixture of cultures. With Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to southeast, Armenia to the south, and Turkey to the southwest, you can imagine all the influences that culminate in the region and are particularly evident in the foods which are incredibly tasty. With all that, the features that stand out the most for this country, are the epic scenery and the unbelievably warm hospitality of the people. Those two things alone are worth their weight for putting Georgia on your travel bucket list.
Places to Visit in Georgia
- St. Simons Island
Unique Things to See and Do in Georgia
- Enjoy the view from the Narikala Fortress
- Trek up to the Gergeti Trinity Church
- Admire the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral of Tbilisi
- Explore the 4th century Samtavro Monastery
- Walk through the badlands of the Vashlovani National Park
As an overview to the country, it is easiest to break it down into its respective regions, which is what we’ve done in this next section.
The Kartli region, considered to be the heartland of Georgia, is the most popular among tourists as this is where the capital city of Tbilisi is. Tbilisi is a beautiful city with a history of Roman, Persian, and Russian governance. The evidence left behind is a great mix of cobblestone streets, Orthodox churches, old Russian cars, and Persian architecture. And beautiful people!
In the Rioni region, you will find the city of Racha (which was part of the ancient kingdom of Colchis) and its fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Claimed by many to be ”the most beautiful place in the world.”
A must-do for every traveller is to venture into the Kakheti region known for its Georgian wine, churches, monasteries, and welcoming hospitality. Be sure to book a winery tour where you can sit with the local family over a meal. Another fantastic sight to visit is the 11th century Alaverdi Cathedral.
Just west of Kartli is the Samtskhe-Javakheti region (difficult to say!). Here you’ll find most of the Armenian population and influence, plus the stunning Sapara Monastery. The monastery is hidden in the mountain forests which creates a beautiful backdrop for the photographers out there (no flash photo taking in the monastery though as the frescoed walls are still in good shape). Also, check out the Khertvisi Fortress which survived the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century.
Moving to the southwestern region of Georgia, you’ll find pebble beaches along the coast of the Black Sea. With its subtropic climate and a high concentration of Muslim culture, this is where you’ll find the best Ajaruli cuisine, like Khachapuri bread and fresh nuts.
Do not travel into Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions (see note below).
Did you know…?
The oldest remains of wine jugs where found in Georgia, making it the birthplace of wine!
Did you ALSO know…?
Khachapuri, a bread filled with cheese, is so famous that they export it to Russia.
Getting Around Georgia
Georgia is a mountainous country and the routes are not straightforward which makes travelling around take a little longer. The best way to get around is by taxi; they are cheap and convenient. Always set the price before getting in the cab as most don’t have a metre – unless you’re in one of the “official” taxis. Minibuses are also available. They have set routes for around the city, and some travel between cities too. The train system is extensive but slower than other European cities, and they can be crowded for longer journeys, but they do have overnight trips with sleeper cars to make your trip a little less boring.
Travelling to the mountains is the most popular activity by tourists, as it is so beautiful, but getting there without a tour company can be tricky at the best of times. Many taxis will only go so far and then you’ll either have to hitch a ride with a jeep or lorry, or even rent a jeep yourself. Be sure to fill up whenever possible in the remote areas.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Georgia
For most travellers, the summer months from May to September are the best times to visit, especially if you plan on travelling into the mountainous regions of the Caucasus Mountains and the Greater Caucasus range. The climate is generally determined by the proximity of the Black Sea and the altitude of the mountains. The mountains provide protection from the cold northern winds, and the Black Sea provides warm winds that blow inland. The summer months in the lowlands average around 20C to 24C and the winter months average from 2C to 4C. It can be cold and snowy on the mountains while being warm down along the coast of the Black Sea.
At the time of publishing, there are regional advisories for the Russian border regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In 2008, fighting broke out and even though a ceasefire has been issued there are potential risks: kidnappings, car bombings (usually directed at military), pickpocketing, and violence against foreigners. Avoid political gatherings and, if possible, do not travel into these regions at this time. For hikers, do not travel alone and use guided tour groups and organizations.
Ready to plan your visit to Georgia? Check out these popular guides and trips.