Georgia Travel Guide – transportation, restaurants, hotels, hikes and more!

  • 23.01.2024 12:15
  • Bruno Arcos

A complete Georgia travel guide with all the information you need regarding hotels, restaurants, transportation and the best hikes in the country. We’ve also included three different itineraries with everything you should see and do in Georgia in 7, 10 or 15 days.

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Located in the still relatively unknown area of the Caucasus, nestled between the region’s towering mountain range and the waters of the Black Sea, Georgia stands out as one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations. The few who bother making their way here, are often allured by the breathtaking landscapes and abundant hiking opportunities, which is why Georgia is particularly sought-after among outdoor enthusiasts.

Yet, the country is far from being one-dimensional. Thanks to its unique position at the intersection of the European and Asian continents, the country boasts a remarkably rich and diverse culture. In the cities, this eclectic blend of influences is downright obvious, standing in stark contrast to the deep-seated isolation of the remote villages where time seems to stand still, offering visitors an intriguing and interesting experience.

So, if you’re planning a trip to this stunning destination, our ultimate Georgia travel guide is here to help. In addition to practical information about hotels, restaurants, transportation and hikes, we’ve also put together three comprehensive itineraries, including all the places you must see and visit in Georgia in 7, 10 or 15 days.

Georgia Travel Guide

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How to get to Georgia – Flights from the UK

Even though Georgia is quite a small country, it is served by no less than 3 international air hubs: the Shota Rustaveli Airport, in Tbilisi, the Alexander Kartveli Airport, in Batumi, and the Kutaisi International Airport.

Unfortunately, there are no direct flights between the UK and Georgia, so the only way to fly to Tbilisi is by having a layover in one of several European cities. If you prefer to fly with legacy carriers, Lufthansa usually has the best deals for flights departing from London, offering deals to Tbilisi starting from €300,00 (return), with a layover in Munich or Frankfurt. On the other hand, you may also fly with low-cost airline Pegasus to several Turkish cities, and then hop on another flight to Tbilisi. Regarding other airport, Kutaisi serves as the country’s base/hub for Wizz Air, allowing you to fly low-cost from several different European cities, such as Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Brussels, Koln, Dortmund, Milan, Prague, Rome and Vienna (and more).

Finally, in case you’re traveling across the region and airfare is cheaper, you may also fly into neighboring capitals Yerevan (Armenia) or Baku (Azerbaijan) and then make your way to Tbilisi overland.

How many days do I need to visit Georgia?

Naturally, the answer to this question will largely depend on the number of regions you intend to visit. Georgia may be a small country, but its terrain means overland travel can be a lot slower than what you’re used to, especially when exploring the mountain ranges.

However, I would say that one week is the bare-minimum to at least cover the essentials of eastern Georgia, granting enough time for a visit to Tbilisi, Kazbegi and Kakheti. Nevertheless, considering the astonishing number of cool places to explore all over the country, one can’t go wrong when spending a full two weeks in Georgia. In addition to the aforementioned locations, this would allow some extra time to explore western Georgia, where you can find the fabulous region of Upper Svaneti, enjoy the Black Sea coast and even squeeze in places like Akhaltsikhe and Vardzia.

Having said that, any period between 7 and 15 days can be considered appropriate for visiting Georgia!

Georgia Travel Guide – Best time to visit the country

Considering Winter will always be quite snowy and cold in the mountains, where you can find the country’s most popular hiking destinations, you’ll be better off avoiding this season when planning your trip to Georgia (plus, road accesses may be closed).

Therefore, the best time to visit the country is between May and October when weather conditions in the highlands are perfect for hiking, and all trails/roads are clear. Additionally, if you visit in the Summer (July-August), you can even go for a swim on the beaches of Batumi. For the latter, though, keep in mind the likes of Tbilisi and Kakheti can be scorching hot, with temperatures easily reaching 40°C.

Georgia Travel Guide – Documents needed for your trip

In order to enter Georgia, British and Irish travelers need to show their passport. The document should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the country.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that passport holders from the UK/Ireland can stay in Georgia without a visa for up to 1 year, one of the most generous policies you will ever find.

Georgia Travel Guide – Internet and SIM Cards

Since there is no special agreement in place between the UK and Georgia regarding international communications and roaming fees, using your regular phone plan is a big no-no!

Therefore, our recommendation is that you either get an Esim before leaving the homeland or buy a physical SIM card in your destination. Although there are sim card kiosks at the airports in Georgia, the packages will be nowhere near as good as those you’ll find if you wait and choose to visit a store in the city center. In Georgia, there are 3 big companies that pretty much run the mobile data market: Magti, Silknet and Cellfie; although Magti is by far the most popular provider since it has the best coverage. Plus, both Magti and Silknet let you buy a virtual sim card (eSIM) through their mobile apps, saving you the hassle of having to visit a store in person upon arrival.

Georgia travel guide – Magti SIM Card

  • 7-day Unlimited Data Package
    • Price: 9 GEL*
    • Data: Unlimited
    • Local calls: Not included
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Not included
    • Duration: 7 days
  • Welcome Package
    • Price: 15 GEL*
    • Data: 5 GB
    • Local calls: Not included
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 15 days
  • 30-day Unlimited Data Package
    • Price: 32 GEL*
    • Data: Unlimited
    • Local calls: Not included
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Not included
    • Duration: 30 days

*SIM card costs an extra 30 GEL

Georgia travel guide – Silknet SIM Card

  • Tourist Start
    • Price: 15 GEL
    • Data: 4 GB
    • Local calls: 30 minutes
    • International calls: 15 minutes
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 15 days
  • Tourist
    • Price: 15 GEL
    • Data: Unlimited
    • Local calls: 30 minutes
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 7 days
  • Tourist Unlimited
    • Price: 30 GEL
    • Data: Unlimited
    • Local calls: Unlimited
    • International calls: 30 minutes
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 15 days

Georgia travel guide – Cellfie SIM Card

  • Optimum
    • Price: 8 GEL
    • Data: 3 GB
    • Local calls: 300 minutes
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 30 days
  • Optimum+
    • Price: 12 GEL
    • Data: 10 GB
    • Local calls: Unlimited
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 30 days
  • Platinum
    • Price: 25 GEL
    • Data: 20 GB
    • Local calls: Unlimited
    • SMS to Georgian numbers: Unlimited
    • Duration: 30 days

Georgia Travel Guide – Withdrawals, banking fees and travel budget

With the Georgian Lari (GEL) as the country’s official currency, any withdrawal using a UK bank card might incur in the payment of several different fees. Besides the percentual fee referring to the currency conversion, some UK banks may also charge a flat commission for withdrawals made outside the UK. In some instances, you may well end up paying 5%-6% of your original withdrawal in banking fees.

On the other hand, exchanging money before your trip is not a viable solution either. Besides not being any cheaper, it’s also not safe or wise to carry so much money on you during your trip. As such, we recommend using the services of online banking fintech companies such as Revolut, N26 or Monzo.

Although each have their own limitations and fees, they allow you to withdraw a certain amount in foreign currency without any fees involved. And even after that threshold is reached, costs are much smaller when compared to traditional banks. Keep in mind, though, this does not apply to fees issued by local banks for withdrawals made with foreign cards. Unfortunately, pretty much every single Georgian bank charge a fee for those instances (usually 3 GEL per withdrawal). Be that as it may, a message will always pop up every time there is a fee per withdrawal, so you will never be caught unaware. Sign up for Revolut for free >> to get 3 months of Premium.

It’s also worth mentioning that, even though electronic payments have become the standard in Tbilisi, the rest of Georgia is still very much a cash-based society, so it’s better to always have some money on you. On the other hand, if you prefer to take cash and exchange your money in Georgia, here are three exchange offices we can recommend in Tbilisi:

Georgia Travel Guide – Common scams and frauds

Though this may come as a surprise for those less attentive, Georgia is actually an extremely safe and chilled destination. Whether you’re visiting the biggest cities or the secluded mountain villages, you can confidently wander the streets at any time, day or night, without having to worry about your safety or the security of your belongings. However, and much like you would do in any other country, using your common-sense is key. That means no taxis whose drivers refuse to start the meter, no accepting help from strangers when you’re using an ATM or trying to buy metro tickets and always keeping an eye out for your stuff when you’re walking through busy areas. To sum up: don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in any other city!

On a broader scope, it’s worth noting Georgia has a strained relationship with Russia, marked by a brief war in 2008 against its sizable neighbor. Plus, unlike the Baltic nations, Georgia isn’t a member of neither the EU or NATO, leaving the country in a delicate situation. However, despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the situation in the country has remained relatively stable. In fact, Georgia has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian refugees, some escaping the conflict and others avoiding mandatory conscription, which significantly reduces the likelihood of a new war or invasion (even if the atmosphere is quite tense and anti-Russian sentiments are running high). And while we’re discussing geopolitics, we ought to remind you that the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, although claimed by Georgia and internationally recognized as part of the country, are effectively governed by “independent” administrations strongly supported by Russia. This means these territories remain disputed, with no international representation within their borders, making any travel to these “countries” strongly discouraged.

Lastly, a word of caution to what could very well be the biggest risk for travelers in Georgia: overland travel! Not only are most of the country’s roads far from ideal, and many vehicles in suboptimal condition, but Georgian drivers are also known for their recklessness. Even when riding in vans/marshrutkas, it’s very common to come across drivers exceeding speed limits and taking risky maneuvers with little to no regard for traffic rules.

Where to sleep in Georgia – Hotels and Accommodation

If you’re looking out for a place to stay on our Georgia travel guide, then we got you covered!

Although price have risen exponentially following the 2022/2023 worldwide inflation spiral, made worst by the recent arrival of many Russians with a much higher purchasing power, the truth is that Georgia is still a budget-friendly destination. This applies to restaurants, supermarkets and transportation, but also to accommodation.

That being said, here are some options based on the cities we recommend you to stay at:

Georgia travel guide – Hotels in Tbilisi:

Georgia travel guide – Hotels in Batumi:

Georgia travel guide – Hotels in Kutaisi:

Georgia travel guide – Hotels in Kazbegi:

Georgia travel guide – Hotels in Mestia:

Georgia Travel Guide – Transportation between Tbilisi Airport and the city centre

The best way to travel between Tbilisi Airport and the city center is by using the local 337 bus line. These buses run every day between 07h00 and 23h00, with a new vehicle leaving every 15/20 minutes. The journey to Station Square, the terminus, will take about 60 minutes, but you can cut your trip short and ask to be dropped off in Rustaveli Avenue, in the city center. Tickets cost 1 GEL and you can buy a Metromoney Card at the arrivals’ terminal (2 GEL) and then top it up with any amount you’ll need (the same card can be used on the Tbilisi metro). Then you just need to scan it on the machine located inside the bus and the 1 GEL fare will be automatically deducted from your balance. Alternatively, you may simply scan any contactless payment card on the same machine and you’re good to go! However, since you’ll most likely be using a foreign bank card (i.e. not issued by a Georgian bank) the fare will be 1.5 GEL.

On the other hand, you can just use a ride-sharing app. Even though Uber does not operate in Georgia, it is perfectly fine to connect to the airport’s wi-fi network and use alternatives such as Bolt or Yandex. The fare will hover around 20-30 GEL, while using an official airport cab will set you back 50-60 GEL.

Georgia Travel Guide – Transportation and how to move around between cities

If you’re planning to explore different regions of the country, then understanding how local public and collective transportation systems operate is crucial. While the metro in Tbilisi couldn’t make it any more convenient to travel within the city, you’ll need to turn to trains or marshrutkas (vans/minibuses) when traveling between different regions. Unfortunately, figuring out their schedules or exact places of departure isn’t always that straightforward.

That being said, we’ve gathered all the information we’ve deemed important to help you ensure your travels around Georgia are hassle-free!

Tbilisi Metro

In true Soviet fashion, Tbilisi boasts one of those old-style metro systems – efficient and remarkably affordable, but notably noisy and with stations that were built at such depth that some escalators might take a full minute to get you from the entrance to the platforms. Be that as it may, the Tbilisi metro stands out as the best way to travel around the city, connecting the historic center to residential suburbs and other more spread-out tourist attractions.

Comprising 23 stations across 2 distinct lines, the metro operates daily from 06h00 to midnight, with an average waiting time between trains ranging from 3 to 5 minutes.

Regarding tickets, the cost for a single journey is currently set at 1 GEL, and you can make as many transfers as you need within 90 minutes of validating your ticket. To purchase tickets, first you’ll need to pay 2 GEL to get your hands on a Metromoney Card, a reusable card that you can load with any amount. Then you just need to scan the card at the turnstiles to get access the platforms, and the fare will be automatically deducted from the balance. It’s worth mentioning that the same card can be shared among multiple travelers, as long as the balance is enough to cover everybody’s fare. Additionally, the card can also be used on city buses and on the Rike Park-Narikala Ropeway.

However, if you plan to use the metro extensively, then you might want to take a look at other offers. To do so, you’ll need to purchase a Travel Card (also known as a Blue Card), as only this card allows you to load daily and multi-day public transport passes. Much like the Metromoney Card, this one is also priced at 2 GEL, although it cannot be shared among multiple travelers. Here are the prices for the tourist passes:

  • 1-day pass: 3 GEL
  • 7-day pass: 20 GEL

Moving around Georgia – Marshrutkas

Widely popular in the former Soviet Union countries, marshrutkas are small decrepit vans, often managed by independent companies/drivers, that help link different cities within a country. Due to the limited leg space and recurring maintenance issues (only made worse by the bumpy roads), marshrutka journeys can be quite uncomfortable, especially if they last longer than 2/3 hours. Besides, unlike conventional bus services, marshrutkas do not follow a strict schedule. Departures do have an approximate time, but usually drivers will wait until all seats are occupied. The same goes for stops. Although there’s a designated terminus, as well as a few other villages/towns for commuters, passengers can request the driver to drop them off anywhere along the route, as long as it doesn’t require any detours.

While the Georgian government has recently expressed its intention to regulate and modernize the intercity transportation system through the introduction of new buses, for now marshrutkas will keep playing a pivotal element in the way people move around the country. Given how informal the network is, pinpointing precise schedules and departure frequencies for each route is not possible. However, marshrutkas will generally operate from 07h00 to 18h00, with a new van leaving for the same route every 60 minutes (or every 20 minutes for popular or shorter routes). Since there’s not a reliable website where all the info is compiled so you can check schedules, we recommend visiting local stations in person and confirming the times of departure the day (or a couple of days) before your planned trip. Plus, if you REALLY need to catch a specific marshrutka and cannot risk missing it, my suggestion is to arrive at the station around 60 minutes before the scheduled departure time to secure a seat (especially when traveling during the summer or holidays).

As for tickets, purchasing in advance is generally not possible. On the other hand, passengers buy their ticket directly from the driver and only in cash (either before boarding or at the moment each passenger is dropped off). In some rare instances, specific stations may have a main counter where passengers go to complete the payment and collect their ticket. Finally, and while it’s humanly impossible to cover all routes in Georgia, here is an overview of the approximate prices for some of the most popular journeys:

  • Tbilisi – Mtskheta: 3 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Goris: 5 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Sighnaghi/Telavi: 10 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Kazbegi: 15 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Akhaltsikhe: 20 GEL
  • Akhaltsikhe – Kutaisi: 20 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Kutaisi: 20 GEL
  • Kutaisi – Batumi: 20 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Batumi: 35 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Mtskheta: 5 GEL
  • Zugdidi – Mestia: 40 GEL
  • Tbilisi – Mestia: 50 GEL
  • Zugdidi – Batumi: 25 GEL

Finally, we haven’t talked about boarding locations yet. In most cities, the process is straightforward, as you can easily identify the local station on platforms like Google Maps. Once you’re there, just ask around for the platform/spot for the van heading to your destination or read the signs displayed on the front of the vehicles. Sadly, things aren’t as straightforward in the capital Tbilisi, where you can find multiple stations across the city. As such, it’s important to know in advance what destinations are served by each of the local stations/terminals:

Moving around Georgia – Trains

Originally established during the Russian Empire, the Georgian railway network is made of 12 lines that span the western regions of the country (there are no trains east of Tbilisi). While the system includes a fleet of old and slow Soviet carriages, the more popular routes among tourists are actually served by faster and more modern vehicles, particularly the Swiss trains. These can reach maximum speeds of 160 km/h and are currently used on the busy route that connects Tbilisi to Batumi along the Black Sea.

On the other hand, for the equally popular journey between Tbilisi and Zugdidi, the last major city before the mountainous region of Svaneti, the network uses the deceivingly named “fast trains”. Despite being significantly more modern than the aging Soviet cars, these trains still operate at a relatively slow speed and offer a somewhat uncomfortable experience. This route can also be taken for travel between Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

Be that as it may, with the exception of the aforementioned two routes, train travel in Georgia isn’t particularly recommended, unless you really hate marshrutkas or particularly enjoy needlessly long journeys. Therefore, here are the prices for those connections:

  • Tbilisi – Batumi: 35 GEL (Second Class); 5 hours
  • Tbilisi – Zugdidi: 16 GEL (Second Class); 6 hours

Although you can buy tickets in person at the station, if you prefer to secure your seat in advance (a must during high season), you can purchase your tickets online through the official Georgian Railways website or via third-party platforms like TKT.GE or BookaWay, though at a slightly higher cost.

Moving around Georgia – Shared and private taxis

When train tickets are sold out and you find no empty seats for the marshrutkas, it’s quite common to find individuals wandering around the stations trying to collect passengers for their shared taxis. The driver will charge a fixed amount for the whole car, which is then split evenly among all passengers. When asked about the fare per passenger, the driver will typically assume that all 4 passenger seats will be filled, so if he leaves with one or more vacant seats, the amount you’ll pay will be higher.

As a result, you might end up having to wait for a while until the driver manages to find three other passengers. Unlike marshrutkas, where drivers are generally honest and charge the same to all passengers, it’s quite common for tourists to end up paying double (or even triple) the amount usually charged to locals in shared taxis. Nevertheless, when facing the unexpected, shared taxis aren’t necessarily a bad solution.

Moving around Georgia – Internal flights

Considering the wide availability of marshrutkas, trains and shared taxis, taking an internal flight in Georgia is quite unnecessary… except for one particular scenario! Depending on how long you’ll spend in the country, if your time is limited but you still want to include a visit to Svaneti, then it might be worth flying between Tbilisi and Mestia. After all, traveling by land between these two places can easily take 10/11 hours each way, while the flight is a mere 60 minutes (plus, the views from the window when flying over the Caucasus Mountains are stunning).

These flights are operated by a small company named Vanilla Sky Airlines, with a frequency ranging from 2 to 6 connections per week, depending on the season. The fixed fare per seat is 90 GEL. It’s important to note that these flights do not depart from Tbilisi’s main airport but from a secondary air hub located in Natakhtari, 20 km away from the capital. However, the ticket includes free a transfer between the company’s offices in central Tbilisi and the airport. Last but not least, be aware that due to the unpredictable weather conditions and the unique location of Mestia, hidden away among some of the tallest peaks in Europe, it’s quite common for flights to be canceled or delayed due to poor visibility.

Moving around Georgia – Renting a car

While it may offer great flexibility and autonomy for your adventure, we cannot, in good conscience, suggest renting a car for the entirety of your trip to Georgia. Unless you are experienced in driving on challenging terrains, taking the chance with a rented car on mountain roads may not be the wisest of choices, both financially and safety-wise. Moreover, Georgians are infamous for their erratic driving and often show little to no regard for traffic regulations.

However, this doesn’t mean renting a car is completely off-limits. Particularly for the region of Kakheti, where roads are mostly flat and the traffic is much more relaxed, renting a car can actually be an excellent way to explore all the villages and monasteries. Otherwise, you will end up spending more time and money using a combo of marshrutkas and taxis to reach all of the highlights. That being said, and beyond Kakheti, we reiterate you’ll be better off relying on public transportation.

As usual, for the most competitive car rental prices, we recommend checking Rentalcars.com!

Moving around Georgia – Hitchhiking

Although it may sound odd to us, Westerners, hitchhiking is actually a relatively common practice in certain parts of the world, particularly in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. Therefore, it’s not unusual to spot locals extending their arms for a lift in some of the most remote areas.

Because it’s so ingrained in the culture, hitchhiking in Georgia is extremely easy, and you’ll seldom find yourself waiting more than 5 or 10 minutes until someone stops. Generally, no payment is expected, but if you wish to express gratitude with a small tip, it will likely be appreciated. Although hitchhiking can be a lot more challenging inside the biggest cities, once you make it out of the central areas and access a highway heading in your preferred direction, securing a lift to your destination becomes a matter of time.

Admittedly, this is an approach that demands time and flexibility, making it less suitable for travelers who like to follow a strict plan. However, it is a particularly good alternative for those looking to travel between Tbilisi and Kazbegi while making stops along the many highlights of the Georgian Military Highway (the road that connects the two cities).

Georgia Travel Guide – Local foods and traditional dishes

The perfect cuisine for those who can’t go without bread and cheese, Georgian food encapsulates the concept of “comfort food”. If you want a prime example, look no further than its main staple: Khachapuri! Although legend has it there are over 50 variations of this bread and cheese combo, notable versions include the Adjaruli (the classic option topped with an egg yolk), the Megruli (looks like a super cheesy pizza), the Imeruli (a cheese-filled tart) and the Penovani (made with puff pastry). Digging even deeper into the realm of tarts and cheeses, it’s also worth trying Lobiani (a tart with a bean filling) and Elarji, a popular Georgian side made from cornmeal and cheese. In the mountainous region of Svaneti, they have an even better variation of the latter – the Tashmijabi – where they use mashed potatoes instead of cornmeal.

On the other hand, if you want something that won’t make your cholesterol levels skyrocket, Georgian cuisine also boasts an array of more varied, healthier dishes, such as Mtsvadi, the local term for juicy meat skewers; Khinkali, flavorful dumplings filled with meat and coriander (also available with fillings of onion, potato or cheese); or Ajapsandali, the Georgian rendition of ratatouille, seasoned with a local spicy paste known as adjika. Other notable mentions include Lobio, a savory bean stew with coriander; Pkhali, vegetable pâté balls served with bread, nuts and pomegranate (surprisingly delicious); Ojakhuri, a savory dish featuring fried pork, potatoes and onions; and Kharcho, a warming beef and rice soup, perfect for the cold weather.

Unfortunately, Georgia certainly drops the ball when it comes to desserts, since sugary treats weren’t really a part of the country’s ancient diet (aside from a few exceptions). As such, there aren’t many decadent desserts that can be considered traditional, with Medoki, the Georgian adaptation of the Russian honey cake, being the closest to Western tastes. On the other hand, Georgian sweets often incorporate boiled fruit pulp and nuts, such as Pelamushi, a pudding made from grape juice; and the iconic Churchkhela, Georgia’s famous sweet snack made from a core of dried fruits (there are many different varieties) enveloped by a layer of fruit juice mixed with flour. To make up for the underwhelming sweets, Georgia produces some of the most underrated wine on the planet, especially the vintages from the Kakheti region.

Georgia Travel Guide – Free walking tours in Tbilisi

While in Tbilisi, you have the option to explore the city with a free walking tour. These tours, led by local guides or tour companies, offer guided visits to the historic center, sharing intriguing stories about each place and providing valuable cultural context. Even though these tours are technically free, it’s customary to show appreciation for the guide’s efforts by leaving a tip at the end. In Tbilisi, a reasonable minimum tip would be around 15 GEL.

That being said, here are a few companies that run free walking tours in Tbilisi:

Georgia Travel Guide – Hidden gems of the country

While Georgia is far from being a big country, it’s remarkable just how many cool places one can visit here. Even for those following the most extended itinerary of our guide (15 days), missing some of the country’s charming villages or historical towns is inevitable.

Be that as it may, we’ve decided to compile a list of some lesser-known gems in Georgia. Some are already part of our recommended itineraries, while others serve as suggestions for those with more time or travelers who would like to make some adjustments to our plans. With that in mind, here are some alternative spots that you might consider adding to your already extensive list of things to see and do in Georgia:

Akhaltsikhe: Located near the borders with Turkey and Armenia, Akhaltsikhe has been conquered by several empires throughout its history, from the Ottomans to the Persians, Mongols and Russians. Though times and rulers kept changing, the fabulous Rabati Castle witnessed it all, having become Georgia’s most impressive fortress, a true symbol of multiculturalism and the ultimate demonstration of how to fuse styles and creeds. Additionally, Akhaltsikhe serves as an excellent hub for exploring the Vardzia Cave City, an enormous monastery directly carved into the wall of a cliff.

Borjomi: One of the favorite spots among Georgians to get away from the intense summer heat, Borjomi is famous for its thermal waters. In fact, during the times of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, this was actually known as a major health tourism destination. Nowadays, visitors can indulge in thermal pools, explore the local parks and savor the famous Borjomi water, one of the world’s finest bottled water brands. Nearby, it’s also worth visiting the Mtsvane Monastery and taking the scenic train to Bakuriani.

Tusheti: Regarded as the most remote and isolate region in Georgia, Tusheti is the ultimate destination for trekking enthusiasts. Getting there requires booking a tour or finding a taxi driver with a 4×4 willing to embark on the 8-hour journey from Tbilisi and cross the daunting Abano Pass (only open in the summer months). In Tusheti, highlights include the picturesque village of Dartlo, the Keselo Towers and the Shenako Church.

Zugdidi: While often treated as a mere transit point on the way to Mestia (Svaneti), Zugdidi is nonetheless worth stopping by, if only to explore the magnificent Dadiani Palace. Once the official residence of the family ruling the Samegrelo region, the beautiful building – in what can best be described as a wonderfully random turn of events – houses one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s original death masks.

Pankisi Valley: Home to the Chechen community in the country, the Pankisi Valley boasts a culture (locals follow Islam), language (Kist) and traditions that differ from those of the rest of the country. More than the landscapes or tourist attractions, the valley offers an immersive cultural experience, especially if you know the right people. Once a dangerous place where Chechen criminals and extremists hided away from Russian government mandates and international courts, the Pankisi Valley is now an excellent offbeat destination, even within the already obscure Georgian context.

Sno: Less than 10 km away from Kazbegi, the unassuming village of Sno is famous for its bizarre stone sculptures of giant heads. Representing kings and other famous rulers from Georgia’s history, these sculptures photograph beautifully against the mountain peaks and idyllic natural scenery of the village. Plus, Sno is also a customary stop for those planning a few days of hiking in the Juta Valley.

Gori: Birthplace of the legendary and horrific Joseph Stalin, Gori hosts one of the most unusual museums you’ll ever see. While most 20th-century bloodthirsty dictators are either loathed or ignored by their contemporary societies, the Stalin Museum openly celebrates the life and work of its prodigal (if infamous) son. Additionally, visitors can explore the main carriage of the official train where Stalin used to travel during his lengthy journeys across the vast Soviet Union.

Tskaltubo: A prime destination for dark tourism enthusiasts, Tskaltubo experienced its heyday during the Soviet era, when workers were encouraged to travel to this spa town and enjoy a mandatory period of rest soaking in its thermal waters. As a result, dozens of spas and sanatoriums were built in Tskaltubo, and there was even a direct railway line from Moscow! With the fall of the regime, the town’s popularity declined, leaving its majestic sanatoriums abandoned, only to be slowly reclaimed by nature.

Asureti: Once inhabited by German families brought in 1815 by order of Catherine the Great as part of a cultural and commercial exchange, this small village features Lutheran churches, half-timbered houses and street signs in German. Unfortunately, the architecture is the only thing that remains from the Germanic era, since the majority of the population was deported during World War II due to fears of sympathies towards Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Chiatura: Another location deeply affected by the collapse of the USSR, Chiatura was a flourishing mining city until the regime crumbled, leaving the mines abandoned. Brutalist structures are what remain, including the eerie 1950s cable car system still in use, featuring rusty vehicles in a seemingly advanced stage of decay. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Katskhi Pillar as well, famous for the ancient monastery perched on top of a colossal rock column (a bit like Meteora, in Greece).

Georgia Travel Guide – Full itineraries for 7, 10 and 15 days

So that this blog post doesn’t turn into an encyclopedia, we’ve decided to create separate articles for each itinerary.

You can check them through the following links:

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