I know, many people wouldn’t even be able to point out Georgia on a map. But it’s my home country and I would love to share with you why Georgia is a great travel destination.
Georgia is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. And that makes it a great place to see the perfect blend of those two continents. Surrounded by the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountain Range, the country is full of interesting cities and villages that attract many tourists from around the globe.
In Georgia you will find medieval defense towers, a juxtaposition of old and new, gorgeous lakes, and breathtaking views of nature, just to name a few.
These are the main 10 places and things not to miss in Georgia
1. Tbilisi – a must visit in Georgia
The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, is a great spot to start exploring the country. With its centuries-old architecture, cobblestone streets, and wooden curved balconies, the city does amaze its visitors. Tbilisi is the city of contrasts, where you can find modern and ancient architecture perfectly blending with each other.
Stroll down the old town, climb up to the 4th-century Narikala Fortress, admire colorful balconies, hunt down Soviet architecture, and rejuvenate in hot, sulfuric baths that are believed to be good for your health and skin. Or check out some of these other things to do in Tbilisi and how to visit Tbilisi on a budget.
2. Mtskheta – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This former capital of Georgia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is only 30-minute drive from Tbilisi offering a great half or full day trip option. The main attractions of the city are the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the Jvari Monastery.
Svetitskhoveli is a masterpiece of Early Middle Ages and is the second largest church in Georgia, after the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Jvari Monastery, located on the hill near Mtskheta, offers breathtaking views of the city and the confluence of two big rivers of the country.
3. Stepantsminda and its famous hilltop church
Stepantsminda is a small town nested at the foot of Mount Kazbegi. The road to the town follows the Georgian Military Highway offering gorgeous views of the mountains and ok one of the biggest water reservoirs in Georgia. Stop by Ananuri Fortress, a 13th-century castle complex that overlooks the Zhinvali Reservoir.
But the main reason why locals and tourists travel to Stepantsminda is the Gergeti Trinity Church. The church is built on the hill in a gorgeous natural setting, offering splendid views.
4. Kutaisi – for history and caves
Kutaisi is another former capital of Georgia, the second biggest city in the country and home to another UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Gelati Monastery.
Rich in history, the city offers plenty of activities to its visitors. Two of the main attractions here are the Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati Monastery. Kutaisi is also home to various caves like Sataplia and Prometheus where you can walk in and admire centuries-old stalagmites and stalactites. And inside the Sataplia cave you can also find the footprint of a dinosaur!
5. Georgia’s Canyons and National Parks
Georgia’s natural beauty is quite incredible. The country is full of beautiful canyons and national parks, where nature-, camping-, and hiking lovers can enjoy their time. Some of the most beautiful ones you can visit are Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, Lagodekhi National Park with its gorgeous hiking trail to the Black Rock Lake, and Vashlovani.
However, if you are not a big fan of hiking and prefer to walk much less, you can still enjoy Georgia’s stunning nature. There are various canyons in Georgia you should check out including Martvili with its emerald green waters, Dashbashi, or Okatse.
6. Vardzia – an incredible cave town
Vardzia is one of the biggest cave towns and definitely something not to miss when visiting Georgia. This 13th-century town has 13 levels with more than 6,000 apartments, a large church, a throne room, wine cellars and a bell tower. It’s quite an impressive site to explore and incredible to imagine how people lived here during the Golden Ages of Georgia.
7. Tusheti – A picturesque high-mountain region
Tusheti is one of the most remote areas of the country which still tries to preserve its original state. Tucked away in the Caucasus in Georgia’s far northeast corner, it’s a popular summer hiking and horse-trekking area and a weekend getaway for Georgians.
Visiting the area does require at least a couple of days. The narrow, serpentine dirt road is quite long and exhausting, but the views make it worth every minute! This region is a perfect place for hikers, but you can also take a jeep tour to see the main villages of the area.
Something to know: The single road to Tusheti, over the nerve-jangling Abano Pass from Kakheti, is 4WD-only and is only open from around late May until mid-October.
8. Svaneti – a unique historical region
Just like Tusheti, Svaneti is another remote area of Georgia, but on the western side of the country. Home to medieval defense towers, Svaneti is a unique place to visit in Georgia. The central town of the region is Mestia where you can visit the ethnography museum to learn more about the Svanetian culture and see some of the best-kept treasures of Georgia, as well as learn more about the first Georgian alpinist by visiting his house museum.
Preserved by its long-lasting geographical isolation, the Svaneti region is an exceptional example of mountain scenery with medieval-type villages.
Ushguli, located at 2,000 meters (6560 feet) above sea level is another popular community many tourists visit during their trip to Svaneti. Being the highest settlement in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ushguli is nested under the Shkara mountain, one of the highest peaks in the country, offering superb views of the surrounding nature.
Located in the Kakheti region, Sighnaghi is another popular city for many visitors. It was fully renovated a couple of years ago and features cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and splendid views of the Alazani Valley.
On your way to Sighnaghi, make a small detour and visit David Gareji Monastery complex. This is one of the cave towns located in the desert area of Georgia. However, do note that during hot summer days, traveling to David Gareji is not advisable due to the high amount of snakes.
And once in Sighnaghi, make sure to try the local wine. Quite recently, it has been proven that Georgia is the birthplace of winemaking, with at least 8,000 years of producing the beverage. Georgians have their own way of making the wine. They use egg-shaped clay jars buried underground that makes the fermentation process natural. This is also why Georgian white wine, made in those clay jars, or qvevri in Georgian, is amber colored rather than white.
Apart from being a perfect location to enjoy some Georgian wine for a day or so, Sighnaghi is also the perfect base for exploring the region through day trips.
10. Local Cuisine – Food not to miss when visiting Georgia
Georgian cuisine is as diverse as its landscape. Meals are heavy on dough and meat, however, there are vegetarian options as well. The traditional dish is khinkali, a meat dumpling with a broth inside the dough.
Khachapuri, the pizza-like cheese pie is another favorite meal for both locals and foreigners. The meal is widespread across the country and each region has its own variety. The most distinguished one is the Adjarian version as it is shaped like a boat, baked in a brick oven and topped with an egg and butter.
Georgia is a beautiful and very affordable country to travel in. Check out how much it costs to backpack Georgia. And if you do decide to travel to Georgia, consider visiting the rest of the Caucasus region as well.
Enjoy Georgia! I hope you will have time to check out some of these must-visits in Georgia!
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