Scheduled Caucasus Tour 2020-2021

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia Tour – 2-Week Itinerary15 Days | Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

Journey from towering mountains to endless vineyards, from ancient monasteries to Soviet architecture, and from traditional villages to vibrant modern cities with this 2-week Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia itinerary. Visit the South Caucasus region’s main historical and scenic attractions, including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and three national capitals, while experiencing its legendary hospitality and culture. In Azerbaijan, you’ll explore sights like the old walled city of Baku, the mud volcanoes, and the mountain village of Lahich. Continuing to Georgia, you’ll taste the products of the country’s ancient winemaking tradition, visit Stalin’s hometown, discover the cave town of Uplistsikhe, and much more. The tour ends in Armenia, with highlights including the sparkling Lake Sevan and several ancient monasteries.

Tour map

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Baku – Arrival – City Tour
 
Arrive in Baku and transfer to the hotel (check in is possible from 12:00). After a short break, start a guided sightseeing tour of Baku. Walk along Martyrs’ Lane, known as ‘Shehidler Khiyabany’ among locals, and find a beautiful view overlooking Baku’s coastline. Move to Icheri Sheher, the old part of the city. Visit the Shirvanshah's Palace, Caravanserai, Maiden Tower, and main market square, which has numerous art studios and souvenir stalls. Finish the sightseeing tour by exploring Nizami Street and Fountain Square. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 2: Baku – Ateshgah – Heydar Aliyev Centre – Gobustan – Baku
 
After breakfast, drive to Ateshgah, located in the village of Surakhany. Zoroastrians from India used to travel thousands of kilometres to Ateshgah to worship the fire coming out of the earth. Return to Baku to visit the iconic Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, which is in a quirky building designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. The Centre showcases examples of a wide spectrum of Azerbaijani culture, with national costumes, musical instruments, and carpets providing a good insight into local craftsmanship. In the afternoon, drive to Gobustan to visit the Petroglyphs Museum and explore petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. The Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Weather permitting, switch to a 4x4 vehicle and continue to the mud volcanoes (Gobustan is home to almost half of the world’s mud volcanoes). Return to Baku for overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 8-9 hours
Day 3: Baku – Shamakhi – Lahich – Sheki
 
Breakfast. Depart Baku and drive towards Sheki. On the way, stop at the Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza village. Continue to Shamakhi to visit the historical Juma Mosque, which was restored in 2013. Weather permitting, this will be followed by a scenic drive through the Girdimanchay River Canyon to the 5th century village of Lahich. Lahich is rich in historic and cultural value, with charming cobbled streets. It is famous for its medieval water supply and sewage systems and its many traditional workshops where jewellery, copperware, carpets, pottery, daggers, and iron tools are made. Continue driving to Sheki, a pleasant and easily walkable medieval town set in a lush mountainous area, which is particularly famous for its sweet baklava. Arrive in Sheki at about 19:00 and spend the night at a hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 10-11 hours
Day 4: Sheki – Georgian border – Kvareli – Telavi
 
At 08:30, after breakfast and hotel check-out, visit the colourful Sheki Bazaar. Here, you can find virtually everything you may want to eat, including local fruits and berries, spices, freshly-baked bread, honey, cheeses, and Sheki sweets. Continue to the Sheki Khans Palace, which is surrounded by medieval fortress walls, and then explore the handicrafts workshops and the famous caravanserai. Depart Sheki and head towards the border with Georgia (115 km, ~2 h). Cross the border and start exploring the eastern part of Georgia, which is famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions. The first stop will be the Khareba Winery, near the town of Kvareli. On the way there, enjoy the picturesque landscapes of vineyards and wine-producing villages. Khareba’s unique wine cellar is in a tunnel carved out of the rock. Originally built for military purposes, today the tunnel is used to store Kakheti’s finest wines. Enjoy a winery tour and a tasting session. Continue to Telavi and check in to your hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 7-8 hours
Day 5: Telavi – Tsinandali – Sighnaghi – Bodbe – Tbilisi
 
After breakfast, take a short walk through the charming streets of Old Telavi, stopping for photos at the monument to Erekli II and the giant plane tree that is more than 900 years old. Then continue exploring the Kakheti Region by visiting Tsinandali Palace, the former residence of Georgian dukes. Prince Chavchavadze, a 19th century public figure and poet, turned the Estate into what it is today, with a beautiful English-style garden, a museum, and a wine cellar. The next stop is Sighnaghi, the Royal Town and “City of Love”. This city, surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers, was an important trading centre on the Great Silk Road. Continue to Bodbe Convent – according to legend, this is the burial place of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century. Since 1889, following a decree by Tsar Alexander III of Russia, Bodbe Convent functions as a nunnery. Arrive in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Overnight at a hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 6: Tbilisi – City Tour
 
Breakfast, followed by a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. Start at Metekhi Church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Visit Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk past Tbilisi’s only mosque, down to the sulphur bath house district. Enjoy a stroll through the Sharden area, which is full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine bars, and souvenir shops, and breathe in the history of Old Tbilisi. Also visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre’s clock tower, before crossing the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park.
In the evening, visit a local restaurant for a traditional dinner with a folklore show. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 7: Tbilisi – Jvari – Mtskheta – Ananuri – Kazbegi – Gudauri
 
After breakfast, start exploring the north of Georgia. The first stop will be at Jvari Monastery, which is built on a hilltop and is a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval Period. From here you can enjoy the views of the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. After Jvari, visit Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns in Georgia and the country’s cultural and religious centre. Mtskheta was the capital of the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli from the 3rd century BC. Visit Svetitskhoveli, which is the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is kept. Continue to the Ananuri architectural complex, a former residence of Argveti dukes, which features churches and towers dating to the 16th and 17th centuries and beautifully overlooks the Jinvali Reservoir. Next, drive over the Cross Pass and make a short stop at the Soviet-era “People’s Friendship” viewpoint, which overlooks a deep gorge of the Caucasus mountain range. In Kazbegi, switch to a 4x4 vehicle to reach Gergeti Holy Trinity Church (located at an altitude of 2,170m) and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Kazbegi. Continue to Gudauri. Overnight at a hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Day 8: Gudauri – Uplistsikhe – Gori – Kutaisi
 
After breakfast, explore the cave town of Uplistsikhe, which dates to the Hellenistic Period and is notable for its unique combination of various styles of rock-cut architecture, including both pagan and Christian. Continue to Stalin’s hometown of Gori. Visit the Stalin Museum, which includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and the impressive bulletproof train that Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. After Gori, drive to Kutaisi, the central city of Western Georgia, which was once called “Aia”. The road to Kutaisi goes over the Rikoti Pass and through Georgia’s longest tunnel (1,722 m). This tunnel is also considered to be the border between the western and eastern parts of Georgia. Overnight at a hotel in Kutaisi.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 10-11 hours
Day 9: Kutaisi – Prometheus Cave – Okatse Canyon – Kutaisi
 
After breakfast, start exploring western Georgia. First, visit the Prometheus Cave to see its numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Continue to Okatse Canyon, one of the most picturesque sights in the Kutaisi area. Take a walk through the historical Dadiani Forest and follow a 780m hanging trail that offers breathtaking views of the canyon and the forest. Drive back to Kutaisi and enjoy a free evening in the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 10: Kutaisi – Bagrati – Gelati – Tbilisi
 
Breakfast. At 9:30, start a tour of the Kutaisi area’s main sights. Visit Bagrati Cathedral (11th century), one of the best examples of late-medieval architecture in Georgia. This cathedral towers over Kutaisi and is visible from almost any point in the city. Next, visit Gelati Monastery and Academy, which was built by King David the Builder (considered the most powerful king in Georgia’s history). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gelati was a major centre of spiritual and scientific life in the Middle Ages. In the afternoon, return to Tbilisi (250 km, 4 h.). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 8-9 hours
Day 11: Tbilisi – Free Day
 
Breakfast. Free day in Tbilisi (guide and transportation are not provided). Overnight at the hotel.
Advantour offers an optional culinary masterclass on traditional Georgian food. The masterclass includes 3-4 dishes and snacks and takes 4-5 hours. It should be booked in advance and the price is US$60 per person.
Otherwise, we suggest the following activities and places to visit in the city:
  • Georgian National Museum on Rustaveli Avenue – to visit the “Archaeological Treasury” exhibition;
  • National Gallery on Rustaveli Avenue – to see the works of the famous Georgian artists Niko Pirosmani, David Kakabadze, and Lado Gudiashvili;
  • Tbilisi flea market at Dry Bridge – where you can find antiquities (many of which are from the Soviet era), paintings by local artists, and handmade Georgian souvenirs;
  • David Agmashenebeli Avenue – a recently-renovated pedestrian street full of historical buildings that have beautiful facades in the art nouveau, pseudo gothic, and classicist styles, with a mix of typical Georgian ornamentation and balconies. All along the street there are plenty of cozy art cafés, galleries, shops, and wine bars;
  • Dezertirebi Bazaar – which sells local, natural products including Georgian sweets (such as churchkhela); various types of dried fruits, nuts, and spices; and Georgian cheeses;
  • Funicular railway to Mtatsminda Mountain – which offers a beautiful view of Tbilisi;
  • Wander in Sololaki – a neighborhood full of art nouveau houses;
  • For nature lovers, we offer a day hike to Birtvisi Canyon and Fortress. Contact us to find out more.
In the evening, you can visit the famous Tbilisi sulphur bath houses to relax in the hot, naturally sulphur-enriched water after a long day of exploring (both public and private rooms are available, but private ones should be booked in advance).
For those who are interested in culture, we suggest visiting the State Opera House of Georgia to enjoy a ballet or opera performance (opera.ge). You can find out what other cultural events are on in Tbilisi, and book tickets, at tkt.ge.
Day 12: Tbilisi – Armenian border – Haghpat – Dilijan
 
Breakfast. At 09:00, meet your driver at the hotel and transfer to the Georgian-Armenian border point at Sadakhlo-Bagratashen. Cross the border and meet your Armenian guide and driver to start your journey in this land of ancient churches and traditions. Drive to the Lori region and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haghpat Monastery. This is a stunning example of traditional Armenian architecture, erected between the 10th and 13th centuries. Standing on a hillside, Haghpat beautifully overlooks the Debed River Canyon. The monastery’s location was chosen to protect the peace and seclusion of the monks. Continue to Dilijan, a delightful small town surrounded by wild nature, and enjoy a free evening. Overnight at a hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 13: Dilijan – Sevanavank – Garni – Geghard – Yerevan
 
After breakfast, drive to Lake Sevan, one of the largest high-mountain freshwater lakes in the world (and considered to be the “Jewel of Armenia”). The lake’s coastline is rich with dense woods, white cliff faces, mountain steppes, and Alpine meadows. Visit Sevanavank Monastery, which includes two churches – Surb Arakelots and Surb Karapet – standing among numerous khachkars (carved cross-stones). The buildings were constructed from black tuff, which probably gave the monastery its name of Sevanavank, “the Black Monastery”. Enjoy the magnificent views: the monastery is situated at the lake and is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Continue to Garni, the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. The next stop is the Geghard (“spear”) monastery complex. The beautiful landscape surrounding Geghard is framed by towering cliffs. Decorative art cut into the rocks reflects and explains Medieval development in this region. The complex was established in the 4th century around the sacred spring inside the cave. In the evening reach Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Overnight at a hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 7-8 hours
Day 14: Yerevan – Etchmiadzin – Yerevan City Tour
 
After breakfast, drive out of the city to the Holy See of Armenia, Etchmiadzin, to visit the Etchmiatsin Cathedral (the residence of the Catholicos, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and the museum of Christian relics. Return to explore Yerevan, one of the world’s oldest cities. Yerevan is also nicknamed the “Pink City” and impresses visitors with its grand Soviet architecture. The first stop in Yerevan will be at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on Tsitsernakaberd Hill. Next, visit the Cascade Monument, a 500-metre high, 50-metre wide limestone staircase with over 572 steps. From the top of the monument, enjoy a breathtaking city view that includes the Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, all of which you’ll see as you walk the streets of Yerevan with your guide (~2 km walking). Transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 15: Yerevan – Departure
 
Breakfast, followed by hotel check-out (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to Yerevan International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan, 3-4 pax by Mercedes Vito or similar, 5-9 pax by Mercedes Sprinter passenger van, 10-15 pax by 30-seat bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each country with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Dinner and folklore show in Tbilisi on Day 6;
  • Azerbaijan E-visa;
  • Bottled mineral water (500ml per person per day).
  • Full board (lunches and dinners not specified above);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for drivers and guides (although these would be appreciated);
  • Visa support letter and consular fees for Georgia and Armenia (if required);
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour.

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
Baku - 2 nights
Azcot, Amber, Central Park or similarHoliday Inn, Intourist, Park Inn or similar
Sheki - 1 night
Ruma Qala Hotel, IssamSheki Saray, Sheki Palace, Marxal or similar
Telavi - 1 night
Old Telavi, Alaznis Veli or similarChâteau Mere, Erekle II or similar
Tbilisi - 4 nights
Kopala, Tiflis, Brigitte or similarTiflis Palace, Rooms, Ambassadori, Mercure, Shota Rustaveli Boutique Hotel or similar
Gudauri - 1 night
Quadrum Hotel, Club 2100 or similarMarco Polo or similar
Kutaisi - 2 nights
Old Town, Empire or similarBest Western Congress or similar
Dilijan - 1 night
Toon Armeni or similarBest Western Paradise, Turfenkian Old Dilijan Complex, Dilijan resort or similar
Yerevan - 2 nights
Cascade, Silachi, Hrazdan or similarDoubleTree by Hilton, Opera Suite, Grand Hotel Yerevan, Tufenkian Hotel or similar

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