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!
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!
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.
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$.
Sighnaghi was the first place we visited in Georgia on our hitchhiking journey from Thailand to Spain and it was a real treat and is definitely one of the best places to see in Georgia if you are looking for food, wine, history and culture.
The old city wall runs around city, half dilapidated in places and overgrown in others. Archaeologists recently discovered 8,000 year old pottery shards in the Kakheti region with traces of wine-making giving Georgia the crown of the ‘world’s oldest wine producer’.
In Sighnaghi you will find some of the best wine and food in the country and the town itself is a beautiful place to wander around and admire the fantastic views of the surrounding valley. The buildings are draped with grape vines so make sure to visit when they are being harvested.
There is also the majestic Bodbe Monastery that you have to visit and walk around the beautiful gardens. Sighnaghi is a place that needs to be visited so don’t forget to add it to your itinerary when you are looking for things to do when you visit Georgia.
How to get to Sighnaghi
You have two main options for getting to Sighnaghi from Tbilisi. If you go by ‘mashrutka’ or minivan it should take around two hours to arrive and will cost you 6 GEL (2$).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This region is one of Georgia’s most remote areas and very few locals stay there through the winter months.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Where to stay in Uplistsikhe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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$).
Where to stay in Mtskheta
Most people will likely on be visiting Mtskheta on a day trip, however if you are interested in staying a night or two check out Airbnb (click here to get 45$ off your first trip) as you can find places to stay from as little as 11$ per night.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
9. Katskhi Pillar
There are many unique places to see when you visit Georgia but none ‘stand out’ like Katshki Pillar. When I say stand out I really do mean it! Atop a 40 metre high limestone monolith sits a tiny church overlooking the valley below. The only access to this unusual placement of a church is a ladder scaling the vertical rock face.
In 1945 researchers were able to reach the top of this column only to find a monk that had been living on top for 20 years! In the 4th century this narrow pillar became a place of isolation for a religious group known as the Stylites. Trying to figure out how they managed to build a church on top is quite the mystery.
How to get to Katskhi Pillar
In Georgia it is possible to hitchhike practically everywhere and getting to Katshki Pillar is no different. First of all you would need to reach Chiatura and from there you can try your luck. If you have no success you can always grab a taxi which shouldn’t cost too much as it is only 20 km from Chiatura.
If you are travelling from Tbilisi you can catch a mashrutka for 6 GEL (2$) which will take around three hours. If you are coming from Kutaisi then it should cost the same amount but take half the amount of time.
Where to stay near Katskhi Pillar
Around the pillar itself you won’t find any accommodation. However, if you are travelling with a tent you have the option of camping on some of the grassy patches nearby.
You can find some very cheap accommodation on Airbnb starting at 10$ per night. If you aren’t planning on staying in Chiatura, which you should as you can ride the old cable cars, then you could stay in Zestafoni or Kutaisi.
10. Shio-Mgvime Monastery
Shio-Mgvime is a medieval monastery complex which name literally translated means ‘the cave of shio’. Shio was one the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia as Christian missionaries. Shio was said to have spent his last years as a hermit in a deep cave near Mtskheta.
When you visit the monastery you may even have the opportunity to speak to a monk like we did. Funnily enough, it was at the time of the 2018 Football World Cup and we spoke about the different teams and who would win! He also gave us a great tip for a place for us to camp that night, more about that in where to stay in Shio-Mgvime.
This monastery is not particularly famous and you could even call it one of the hidden places in Georgia. Visit yourself and see if you can find our camping spot!
How to get to Shio-Mgvime Monastery
Getting to Shio-Mgvime is possible with hitchhiking. We hitchhiked from Tbilisi in the morning and visited Jvari Monastery and Mtskheta and then walked to the road that leads up to Shio-Mgvime to hitchhike. I want to be honest with you here, there was very little traffic heading that way! We waited an hour before we got picked up and got a ride the whole way.
If you aren’t so keen on hitchhikng it is possible to organise a taxi from either Mtskheta or Tbilisi.
Where to stay near Shio-Mgvime Monastery
As far as we are aware it isn’t possible to stay in Shio-Mgvime unless you are planning to become a monk! We wanted to camp near the monastery but couldn’t find a suitable spot but after talking to one of the monks about football and other topics we asked him where we could pitch our tent. He told Malin and I about a tiny church on top of a nearby hill where we would be able to camp.
11. Zhinvali Reservoir and Ananuri Castle
The reservoir was formed in 1986 when a hydroelectric dam was built on the river Aragvi. Depending on the time of day and the weather the water colour can change from emerald green to turquoise blue.
We decided to spend a night by the reservoir on the opposite side to Ananuri Castle in our tent. In the end it was a long walk and we were incredibly disappointed by the amount of rubbish on the shore of the lake. Watch the video here.
How to get to Zhinvali Reservoir and Ananuri Castle
You have a few different options for getting to Zhinvali. You can take a taxi or minivan from either Tbilisi or Mtskheta. Otherwise you can hitchhike very easily from Tbilisi Mall or Mtskheta.
Where to stay around Zhinvali Reservoir and Ananuri Castle
A long way from the cultural Capital city of Tbilisi, in the northwest of Georgia you will find the mountainous region of Svaneti. Nestled amongst the Caucasus mountain range you will find this beautiful region that is full of history. Not much has changed here over the years and you will still find cows, goats, sheep and other farm animal roaming around the villages.
There are a bunch of small villages and hamlets that are overlooked by the stunning mountain ranges you will find in this wild region of Georgia.
If you are looking for an adventure Svaneti is the region for you. The journey here itself if spectacular passing through dramatic mountain ranges, raging rivers and beautiful valleys and gorges.
How to get to Svaneti
When you are planning on going to Svaneti Region your first port of call will be Mestia and from there you can travel to other villages. In order to get to Mestia you will have to catch the overnight or daytime train to Zugdidi. The train tickets should cost between 16 GEL (5.60$) and 21 GEL (7.30$) depending on the time.
Alternatively you can catch a minivan from Vagzali bus station in Tbilisi to Zugdidi for around 30 GEL (10.50$).
Once you have arrived in Zugdidi you need to grab a minivan that will take you to Mestia which takes around three or four hours and will cost you about 20 GEL (7$).
Another way to reach Mestia would be by hitchhiking. If you are travelling from Tbilisi it could take anywhere between seven to nine hours so make sure you get an early start to avoid travelling in the dark.
Where to stay in Svaneti
You will have plenty of options for sleeping in Mestia and other villages such as Ushguli. In the village of Mestia you can find rooms from as little as 10$ per night on Airbnb and even lower on Booking.com
In Ushguli you will find similar prices both on Booking.com and Airbnb. Another great option in Svaneti is camping. There are an abundance of places to pitch your tent. The grassy meadows are perfect. Just remember it can get chilly at night at 2,200 metres above sea level!
Georgia really is an underrated travel destination overlooked by many. It has something for everyone; whether you are a foodie, wine lover or outdoorsy type of person Georgia has you covered! We can’t wait to head back there again soon to explore more and of course eat plenty of Khinkali! Watch our Georgia videos here.
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