Updated: Aug 2
At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, lies a country that is a combination of both uniqueness and diversity. Although small, Georgia is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountain range and Black Sea coastline.
The country has a rich history, diverse culture and traditions, delicious cuisine (even for us vegetarians) and a very rich wine culture. I felt it had a hint of Russian architecture and the charm of a quaint European town.
My family and I made this trip at the end of March last year. This is one of the easiest trips you can do from India or the Middle East.
Arrival at night and rest
Day 1 - Tbilisi New Town - Metekhi Church, Bridge of Peace, Narkali Fortress, Freedom Square and Liberty Monument, city of Mtskheta
Day 2 - Day trip to Annanuri and Gudauri
Day 3 - Day trip to Gori and Uplistsikhe
Day 4 - Tbilisi Old Town and departure
BEST TIME TO VISIT
I would imagine the weather is pretty amazing in the summer but the winters are extreme with snow and temperatures in the low 20s. We visited in the "spring" but it felt like winter. There was a bit of rain and the weather was mostly cold.
FLIGHTS + VISA
We flew with Fly Dubai - short, direct flights all through the week.
There is on arrival visa for GCC residents. The process is quick and fairly straight forward.
Official language is Georgian (which we could not pick up much of in just 3 days) but most people understand and communicate in English.
Georgian Lari is the official currency - they also accepted USD. Would not recommend using your credit cards. Carry enough cash for restaurants, cabs and shopping.
Since there was so little information on the internet about this country, we were not sure what to expect. There are plenty of tours available to Georgia from every country. We were traveling with my elderly parents, so this wasn't exactly a "backpacking" kind of trip. We had a guide with us throughout the trip. If you choose not to book a tour from your home country but change your mind later, you will always find plenty of tours that do day trips from the city. You can contact me on Instagram or in comments if you need tour guide information
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the Hotel Old Metekhi right in the heart of the city. The rooms were spacious enough for two and service was alright. I loved the views from the room. We could see the entire city from our balcony. Perfect to capture those beautiful sunset and sunrise hues.
It wasn't anything fancy but I loved that it was just 10 minutes away from all the restaurants and still quite enough for a night in.
Pro tip: as you can see in the picture above, the hotel is up on a mountain... so if you don't want to trek up and down - hail a cab or consider another hotel in the area.
COSTS + GETTING AROUND
Tbilisi is relatively cheap (compared to Europe) for cabs, metros or buses. Easy to get around in cabs anywhere in the city.
Fun fact: like any European city, you will find plenty of cobbled alleys and stone walls. So walking is quite a bit of fun too.
Had no issues with safety. We felt everyone we met was warm and helpful.
Fun Fact: They even have a "TbilisiLovesYou" Wi-Fi throughout out the city. The connectivity wasn't great but it's the thought that counts right?
VEGAN + VEGETARIAN FOOD
Georgia is famous for its fresh juices. No sugar. No preservatives. PURE YUM. We each had at least a dozen of these during out trip.
Fun fact: It's also famous for its wine with wine making being practiced for over 7000 years!
WHAT TO PACK
We traveled towards the end of March - almost end of winter but it was surprisingly cold. Pack rain jackets, winter jackets, scarves and beanies if you are going around the same time as us.
We spent about a day and half in the city and two full days exploring other parts of the country.
We arrived in Tbilisi (from Dubai) at 2 a.m. We were met by our tour driver and checked in to the hotel. The breakfast was good enough to help us kick start our day. Then again - who has the time for food with views like these?
We started by taking a short walk near our hotel to explore the Old Metekhi church. This place is sort of a hidden view point to see the city without the crowd.
Here you see the Mtkvari river flowing through the city.
There is something incredibly charming about these rooftops.
We walked to the cable car station, took the trip up to the Narikala Fortress. The view from the cable car was spectacular. If you have the time, you can also opt to do a short climb from the foot of the hill.
The view from the hill top is just as fantastic and gives you a 360 view of Tbilisi. There were overcast clouds throughout the day which made the entire city look like an old witch's fortress. You can spend close to an hour walking up the fortress. It's a beautiful place to hang out on a sunny day.
As you drive by the Freedom Square, you can see the liberty monument, the parliament and the bridge of peace.
After lunch, you can head to the city of Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia. The main highlight of this place is the Jvari Church also called Cross Church. Apparently, this is the place where the first cross in Georgia was placed.
There is a fantastic view point where you can see River Kora and River Araguae meet. River Araguae connects to River Kora and then flows on. Can you see the two rivers merge?
In the evening, head to Chardin Street - where you can find colorful old European style buildings lining the street. Despite the biting weather, we found this place alluring.
Further down you will see the Botanical garden and as you walk past it, you will stumble on to a pretty little waterfall. There are benches here and it's right behind the old Metekhi street, so it's probably the best place to pack a nice picnic and watch the sun go down.
After dinner, the husband and I took a 20 minute walk down to the Peace Bridge. The bridge is quite new and stands out for its contemporary design in the heart of an age old city.
Pro Tip: Even if you visit this place during the day, I highly recommend coming back at night for the beautiful blue lights.
ANNANURI + GUDAURI
We started our drive up to mountains. The trip up to Gudauri (without any stops) takes about 2 and half hours. Your first stop will be in about 45 minutes at the historic Annanuri Castle. This fortress and church was built in the 17th century.
Here you will find a small monument that outlines the Russia-Georgia friendship and other monumental spots.. not to mention brilliant views of the mountains on all sides.
As you drive further up, you will start to see snow-capped mountains and the temperatures will start to drop quite a bit. Your next stop will be Guduari.
Once you get here, you can take the cable car to the top of the ski resort. If you want to ski - a ski-pass for a full day is around 30 GEL. If you chose to rent gears, boards it would cost 50 GEL.
The whole place will be covered in snow - absolute white magic. Breathtaking landscape. We still fondly remember being here.
If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you can still use the ski pass to ride the cable cars to reach the top. We took turns to ride the snow mobile. SO MUCH FUN. We honestly could not get enough of this place.
If you have never seen snow or experienced it, I would definitely recommend heading to Gudauri (much better than the crowded places in Switzerland). Even though this place is just as touristy, there is enough room for everyone to move around and do their own thing.
On your way back, spend an hour or so walking around in Rustaveli Avenue - later grab dinner at the elegant (slightly expensive) Sanjha Chulla.
UPLISTISKHE - TOWN OF GORI
Time for another trip out of Tbilisi. We were headed to Uplistsikhe and the town of Gori. Once again we drove towards the mountains to explore the Uplistsikhe caves. I loved this place - so much history not to mention amazing views of the mountains, river. It is believed that this place was originally inhabited by pagans.
There are short trails you can take once inside the caves. They all lead to different viewpoints. We did quite a few of these - loved them all. The views from this place were gorgeous.
This was also the only place where we saw glimpses of "spring" - mostly it just felt like winter.
Pro Tip: it can extremely chilly inside the caves with the open grounds and river nearby. Be sure to cover up adequately.
On your way back, pick up a hot cocoa at the shop next to the entrance and drive to the town of Gori. Here you can then check out the Joseph Stalin Museum. This was the original house of Stalin. You can see his bath tub inside and his railway carriage on the outside.
Spend the evening in Tbilisi enjoying your last night in town.
If you have few more hours before you need to catch your flight, I recommend spending an hour or two exploring the oldest church in Tbilisi - the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
It was a rainy morning, so the whole place was quiet. Make your way to the church - you can't take pictures inside but the outside is gorgeous. You can see the old part of the city from here.
Just the kinda calmness you need to end your trip.
During my trip in April 2017, there was not a lot of information about flying in and getting around in Georgia. That has, of course, changed now.
As always, our trip involved being out of the city for most part of our trip. The highlight of our trip was the Gudauri Ski Resort, so definitely make time for that.
You can cover a lot of small towns in 4 days. It's not very expensive to get here or to get around once here. If you are planning on doing a quick trip abroad, look no further than this unassuming charming country.
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