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12 unique places to visit in Georgia in 2020

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If you are planning to visit Georgia but aren’t sure where to start in this spectacular country, don’t worry, we have put together a list of 12 unique places to visit in Georgia in 2020.

Malin and I have had the chance to visit Georgia twice in the last few years and are always yearning to revisit and discover more of this hidden gem of a country. There is so much to see here from high mountain ranges, medieval fortresses, historical monasteries, the birth-place of wine and of course, plenty of culture!

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The renovated Keselo Towers are a reminder of a turbulent past

Whether you want to visit Georgia for the abundance of outdoor activities that can be found in this mountainous country or you are more interested in the culture, gastronomic bliss and wine culture you will not be disappointed.  Your trip is going to be an adventure either way as there are so many things to do in Georgia!

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1. Tbilisi

Tbilisi is an ancient city and has been the capital of the country since the 6th century. The city is a mix of old and new. You can find state of the art buildings to little wooden houses that look like they are about to fall apart.

We found that the best way to explore this diverse city is simply by strolling around and seeing what you can stumble across. We especially enjoyed walking up to Narikala Fortress to check out the fantastic views of the city below and the Kura River. Tbilisi is one of the most important places to visit in Georgia. Read our guide to the best things to do in Tbilisi.

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Walk up to Narikala Fortress for a great view of Tbilisi

How to get to Tbilisi

Getting to Tbilisi is possible from almost everywhere in the country. As the heart of this mountainous and historical country there are minivans heading there every day. You can easily get here by train, bus, minivan and of course hitchhiking (it is incredibly easy in Georgia).

Where to stay in Tbilisi

With the growth in popularity as a tourist destination there are a countless amount of places that you can stay in Tbilisi.  Over the past few years more and more Airbnbs have been popping up. We stayed in a small one bedroom apartment for 11$ night the last time we were in Georgia. Of course this was a bit of a gem but you can easily find entire flats for under 20$ and if you use this link you will receive 45$ off of your first trip!

On Booking.com you can find cheap hostel beds for as little as 5$ or a room in a guest house for 10-15$.

2. Sighnaghi

Sighnaghi was the first place we visited in Georgia on our hitchhiking journey from Thailand to Spain and it was a real treat and is definitely one of the best places to see in Georgia if you are looking for food, wine, history and culture. 

The old city wall runs around city, half dilapidated in places and overgrown in others. Archaeologists recently discovered 8,000 year old pottery shards in the Kakheti region with traces of wine-making giving Georgia the crown of the ‘world’s oldest wine producer’. 

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Walk along the ancient wall of Sighnaghi

In Sighnaghi you will find some of the best wine and food in the country and the town itself is a beautiful place to wander around and admire the fantastic views of the surrounding valley. The buildings are draped with grape vines so make sure to visit when they are being harvested.

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The quaint town of Sighnaghi and the birthplace of wine

There is also the majestic Bodbe Monastery that you have to visit and walk around the beautiful gardens. Sighnaghi is a place that needs to be visited so don’t forget to add it to your itinerary when you are looking for things to do when you visit Georgia.

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Don't miss out on Bodbe Monastery, it is gorgeous

How to get to Sighnaghi

You have two main options for getting to Sighnaghi from Tbilisi. If you go by ‘mashrutka’ or minivan it should take around two hours to arrive and will cost you 6 GEL (2$).  

If, like us, you are feeling adventurous and want to hitchhike it will take you anywhere between two – four hours as you may end up having to go in multiple cars. If you want to see us hitchhiking head over to our Georgia playlist here.

Where to stay in Sighnaghi

As I mentioned about Tbilisi, Airbnb is becoming very popular and Sighnaghi is no different. You can find places from as low as 14$ per night for two people. On booking you can find double rooms from 15$ and up and dorm beds from 8$ and up.

You can also just turn up to see what you can find. There are plenty of locals vying for your business when they see you carrying a heavy backpack!

3. Vardzia

Of all the things to do when you visit Georgia, Vardzia Cave City has to be on your list. This incredible cave monastery will blow you away. It is a very surreal place to explore especially once you head inside the bowels of the monastery.

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Vardzia should not be missed when you visit Georgia

This underground monastery was once covered and hidden from view until an earthquake struck and caused the outer part of the mountain to fall down exposing the monastery behind. The caves were built in the 12th Century and were used to hide from invading armies.

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We spent hours exploring the vast expanses of caves and tunnels

We have visited many countries and places throughout our travels and Vardzia is one that we will never forget. It is truly something very special and you should really consider taking the time to visit this unforgettable cave city. It is THE place to go in Georgia if you are interested in history, caving and incredible places in general.

How to get to Vardzia

If you are coming from Tbilisi you will need to get to Akhaltsikhe first either by minivan or hitchhiking which should take around three hours to cover the 200 km. From there you can catch another minivan to Vardzia or hitchhike the last part of the journey like we did which you can see below in the video.

Where to stay in Vardzia

There aren’t many options on Airbnb around Vardzia in terms of where to stay and they seem to be a little over priced.  You might be better off trying to find a place in one of the bigger towns nearby. 

When we visited Varzdia in the summer we camped at the bottom of the hill underneath the cave monastery just next to the river. It was the perfect spot and nobody even came that way.  We did hear jackals howling pretty close to our tent at night so bear that in mind! You can watch our video for Vardzia below.

4. Omalo (Tusheti)

Getting to Tusheti region is an adventure in itself. To get there you need to cross one of the world’s most dangerous mountain pass roads which is only open from around May to October. We recommend reading our Visit Tusheti in-depth guide to get a better idea why you need to visit this incredible and remote region.

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The drive up to Tusheti Region is not for the faint-hearted

With such a treacherous road comes amazing views and stunning open valleys that are totally worth risking your life for! We hitchhiked this road there and back and were lucky enough to have been picked up by 4x4s. If you are looking for beautiful places in Georgia, look no further.

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The beautiful rolling valleys of Tusheti are worth the treacherous drive up

This region is one of Georgia’s most remote areas and very few locals stay there through the winter months. 

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The Keselo Towers are iconic for Georgia

If you have the opportunity to visit you will be amazed by the incredible views and the impressive towers that watch over the area. Out of all the locations on this list this has to be one of the most adventurous things to do in Georgia.

How to get to Omalo

As I mentioned earlier the road to Tusheti is not for the faint hearted and it will take up to or more than five hours. If you are driving in your own car make sure it is ready for some tough off-road sections and don’t forget to take your time. It isn’t worth rushing so leave early in the morning to avoid having to drive in the dark!

If you are coming from Telavi or Tbilisi you need to catch a marshrutka to Alvani. From there you can jump in a Mitsubishi Delica which will leave once it is full and it will cost you about 20$. It is also possible to get a marshrutka all the way from Tbilisi which will be almost double the price and will take around nine hours.

If you are feeling adventurous why not try hitchhiking. We camped in one of our all time favourite spots at the start of the road up in a little village called Lechuri. The next morning we waited for a good hour before someone picked us up. Most of the vehicles going up are Delicas so patience is key. Here is the location of our camping spot.

Where to stay in Omalo

Like anywhere in Georgia and the Caucasus in general you can camp pretty much anywhere and this region is no different. Malin found a really nice camping spot about a 10 minute walk from Lower Omalo village. 

If you are looking for places to stay, more and more guest houses are popping up every year as it becomes increasingly popular. You can find nice guest houses on Booking.com from 21$ and up.

5. Uplistsikhe

Cave cities are not uncommon in the Caucasus and Turkey and they all have something special and unique about them. Uplistsikhe dates back over 3,000 years right back to the first inhabitants from the Bronze-age. At one point there were even 20,000 people living here! In the 13th century the Mongol empire raided and thereafter was abandoned.

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It is astonishing to think that 20,000 people lived here at one stage

There is an odd feeling walking around this 40,000 square metre cave city complex and trying to imagine what this would have looked like. The tunnel leaving the city was very impressive!

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The church is an interesting addition to the cave town

How to get to Uplistsikhe

Getting here by a shared minivan from Tbilisi is going to be your easiest bet. You will have to get the first minivan from Didube station in Tbilisi to the town of Gori for 1$. From there you can take another one to the nearby village of Kvakhreli (0.35$) and if you are feeling lucky ask the driver to take you all the way to the entrance for another 35 cents.

Alternatively you can do what we did and hitchhike from Tbilisi to Uplistsikhe which took us about three or for hours including getting to a good spot. Want to see the adventure? Watch here

Where to stay in Uplistsikhe

The nearest place to stay would most likely be in Gori. I remember checking Airbnb whilst we were there and I believe I saw some in the town famous for being the birth place of Joseph Stalin.  

If you enjoy spending time in nature why not do what Malin and I did and find a grassy camping spot.  If you head down to the river by the entrance to Uplistsikhe and walk about 500 metres to the left you will find large empty grassy fields lining the river. Tap water is also available by the entrance if you are going to filter with a Sawyer Mini or Lifestraw.

6. Mtskheta

Just 25 km north of the capital city of Tbilisi you will find the old capital city, Mtskheta. This old city is considered to be the religious centre of the country and therefore the most important city. 

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The view of Mtskheta from Jvari Monastery

It is particularly important because of Saint Nino, who lived in the city, as she is one of the most important ladies in Georgian history because she preached Christianity in the country which led to the adoption of the religion in the year 330.

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Jvari Monastery is a World UNESCO Heritage Site

There are plenty of places to see in and around Mtskheta but the most important places to visit are Jvari Monastery, Svetitskhoveli and Samtavro Monastery. Remember that if you are planning to enter the churches and monasteries you should dress appropriately. Men should wear trousers and not shorts, women should wear a long dress and cover their hair.

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There is so much to see walking around Mtskheta

How to get to Mtskheta

We got to Mtskheta by hitchhiking from the Tbilisi mall. You can get there by shared minivan from the centre of Tbilisi. Alternatively you can hop on a mashrutka all the way to Mtskheta for 1 GEL(0.35$).

If you would prefer to go on an affordable organised tour you can go with GetYourGuide.

Where to stay in Mtskheta

Most people will likely on be visiting Mtskheta on a day trip, however if you are interested in staying a night or two check out Airbnb (click here to get 45$ off your first trip) as you can find places to stay from as little as 11$ per night.

7. Kazbegi

The mountainous town of Stepandsminda, more commonly known as Kazbegi, was once a quiet little village where few tourists ventured. Now, it is a growing rapidly with hotels and guest houses popping up everywhere. During the summer months it can get really busy with buses full of tourists arriving every day.

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Whoever decided to build a church here had the right idea

However, don’t let this put you off. It is still an incredibly beautiful area and if you can manage to avoid the busiest time of the summer months it should be fairly chill.

There are plenty of activities to get up to here from cycling, walking and hiking as well as many others. One of the most famous things to do is to hike, or catch a ride, up to Gergeti Trinity Church to get unbeatable views of Mount Kazbeg. 

How to get to Kazbegi

Reaching Kazbegi by hitchhiking is probably going to be the easiest hitchhiking you will ever do. If you are in Tbilisi head to Tbilisi Mall and then walk down the road to the petrol station and start hitchhiking. From there you only need to get a ride to the junction that goes towards Zhinvali and Ananuri Castle.  

If you aren’t up for hitchhiking you can always take a shared minivan from Didube Station in Tbilisi for around 10 GEL (3.50$) and the journey will take around three hours.

Where to stay in Kazbegi

Like everywhere in Georgia it is possible to find very cheap and affordable accommodation up to luxury accommodation and Kazbegi is no different. On Airbnb you can find rooms from as little as 10$ per night and up to 230$ per night. So whatever you are looking for in Kazbegi, chances are that you will find it.

8. Gremi Fortress

If you are planning on heading up to Omalo or you are close to Sighnaghi or Telavi then why not take the time to visit the very imposing Gremi Fortress? We were lucky enough to camp close by in a grassy field surrounded by trees (coordinates below). As I keep on mentioning, you can camp almost everywhere in Georgia. 

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Gremi Fortress and town once had a population of 100,000 people

Gremi Fortress is a 16th century building which was built by King Levan of Kakheti who announced it the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti. At the height of its rule there were apparently 100,000 people living below the fortress in the city of Gremi. It is rumoured that the silk-route used to pass through Gremi.

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The views from the tower are very impressive

Unfortunately at the end of the 17th century Persian armies destroyed the city and the King of Kakheti moved to Telavi. This fortress is really worth visiting and to be honest, when we were there not many other tourists were around. You can walk up the path behind the fortress to the hill above to get a great view of this historic settlement. The entry fee was also very low so it is one of many cheap things to do in Georgia.

How to get to Gremi Fortress

If you are in Tbilisi the easiest way to get to Gremi Fortress would be by heading to Telavi first and then from there catching a local mashrutka that goes around the local villages. Failing that you can grab at taxi which should be fairly inexpensive.

However the easiest way will most likely be hitchhiking. Just get yourself to the junction of the road that heads towards Gremi Fortress and stick your thumb out, chances are that you will get a ride in the right direction within five minutes. 

Where to stay by Gremi Fortress

Around Gremi Fortress you will be hard pressed to find something so staying in Telavi will be your best bet. There are plenty of options on Airbnb and Booking.com. 

When Malin and I visited Gremi we wild camped about 1.5 km away just off the main road in a grassy area in a small forested spot (location here). It was a lovely place to camp, very quiet and flat which is always a plus when camping. Malin was even woken up by the mooing of cows and munching of grass near our tent!

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