Georgia Travel

Georgia Travel Ananuri Fortress, Georgia

 

At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia travel blends dreamy alpine landscapes with striking and unusual architecture. Curvy mountain roads take travelers to hidden villages, crystal-clear lakes and ethereal waterfalls, while the vibrant fusion of East and West is palpable in the thriving bazaars and rich flavors of beloved local cuisine. Ancient cave towns coincide with soviet monuments as ruined castles tower over futuristic glass-and-steel buildings. In Georgia, the fairytale charm of medieval kingdoms unites with the modernity of a country pursuing ambitions to join the European Union.

We invite you to familiarize yourself with this astonishing location through our Georgia Travel Guide below. If the country has already captured your imagination and you are looking for travel particulars, you can find useful details on our Georgia Travel Tips page to help you prepare for your upcoming trip.

Your Guide to Georgia by a Local Travel Expert

Contents

Is Georgia Worth Visiting?

With so many potential holiday destinations around the world, why choose Georgia, a tiny and seemingly obscure country in the South Caucasus?

Georgia is a Land of Contrasts

Georgia’s long and spectacular past has set the backdrop for diverse sceneries that banish boredom and spoil visitors with a rich variety of destinations. Attentive travelers will find traces of mythical Argonauts and early Christians mingling with the echo of tragic conquerors which resonate within the walls of ruined castles. Subtle Art Nouveau blends with massive Soviet blocks, while medieval churches hide in the shadow of futuristic skyscrapers. In Georgia, unexpected wonders await you around every corner!

Georgia is Affordable and Accessible

Thanks to its rapidly developing tourist infrastructure, organizing your Georgia travel experience can be simple and straightforward. The country is connected with multiple major cities around the world via daily flights, many of which are run by budget airlines such as Wizzair and Ryanair.

Renowned for its hospitality, Georgia welcomes organized tours and independent explorers alike. Guided group and private trips cost a fraction of equivalent tours in Western Europe and North America, and with inexpensive food and accommodation available in every city, the country is able to host even the thriftiest of travelers.

Georgia is a Gateway to the South Caucasus

Why limit your travel experience to Georgia alone? The country borders two other fascinating lands, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and together the three countries form a popular trio of destinations for tourists.

Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and today this ancient land lures visitors with rugged mountains, obscure monasteries and centuries-old customs. In contrast, Azerbaijan delivers oriental charm via ruined caravanserais, sky-piercing minarets and the impressive modernity of Baku’s skyscrapers. Although Armenia and Azerbaijan remain at odds with one another, accessing them through Georgia allows you to explore both states with ease. Check out our Caucasus Multi-Country Tours for three-country itineraries. If you prefer to visit only one of Georgia’s neighbors, try one of our Combined Georgia and Armenia Tours or Combined Georgia and Azerbaijan Tours.

Georgia Remains Off the Beaten Track

Compared to Europe or Southeast Asia, the South Caucasus is still terra incognita. Remote villages, isolated trekking routes and unspoiled nature await curious visitors. Yet a beauty like this does not remain undiscovered for long. In fact, in 2018 Georgia ranked fourth on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s list of the fastest-growing tourism destinations, which is all the more reason to visit this marvelous land before you have to share it with other vacationers!

Your Dream Vacation

Explore ancient cave towns, step inside the ruins of Zoroastrian temples or amble along robust walls of historic convents. Design your tour around Georgia’s splendid vineyards and local delicacies, or provide an outlet for your adventurous spirit with hiking, rafting and winter ski tours.

At Advantour, we create our Georgia tourism packages to suit even the most selective of our clients. Historical tours, outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, multi-country expeditions - we have it all. And if you cannot find what you are looking for among our pre-arranged tours, drop us a note and we will gladly design a tailor-made Georgia travel itinerary just for you.

Top Historical Experiences:
Top Cultural Experiences:
Top Outdoor Experiences:

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Georgia?

Georgia is among the most accessible and tourist-friendly destinations in the world. Thanks to relaxed Georgia visa policies, citizens of over 100 countries can enter Georgia visa-free for up to one year. Passport holders of over 60 additional nations are eligible for an e-visa at a cost of 20 USD. Additionally, travelers from nations not included in either category above may be eligible for visa exemption if they hold a visa or residency permit of a country included in Georgia’s visa-free policy. For detailed info, check out our Georgia Visa Information page.

Is it Safe to Travel to the Country of Georgia?

Georgia is a very safe country, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Georgians are incredibly welcoming and do their best to make guests feel safe and comfortable during their stay. Still, scam and petty theft can occur, and thus travelers are advised to adhere to basic safety precautions. Do not flash large amounts of cash in public or accept drinks from strangers at bars. Be sure to agree on a price before getting into a taxi or purchasing anything from a street vendor, which can save you from potential scams and misunderstandings.

Best Time to Travel to Georgia

Georgia's diverse weather conditions and wide assortment of activities make the country an attractive holiday destination year-round. Summer and autumn, with their pleasant sunny days and lush landscapes, are the high seasons, yet winter and spring also have their perks:

Winter is the ideal time to admire the snow-covered fairyland of Georgian mountain villages. Georgia boasts of several ski resorts, with well-developed Gudauri being the all-time favorite. As winter is the season for discounts, budget travelers can significantly curtail their Georgia travel costs. Plus, fewer tourists in winter means reduced crowds and easier access to many attractions and landmarks.

Spring is a gorgeous season in Georgia. The weather warms up and the snow gradually melts, opening routes to hidden alpine gorges and valleys in the process. In the country’s lower regions, meadows are transformed under an ocean of wildflowers. Along with winter, spring is filled with national festivities sure to delight travelers who are curious about Georgian traditions and customs.

Summer in the country of Georgia brings hot weather and lush greenery. Local bazaars overflow with juicy fruits and vegetable of every variety, so come prepared to eat your share of strawberries, cherries, melons and peaches. Local restaurants open their gardens and balconies for scenic dining, and pleasant evenings invite casual city strolls. Summer is the perfect time to cool down in the Black Sea waters of Batumi or head north to discover the alpine charms of Kazbegi and Mestia.

Autumn is warm and sunny, a dream come true for travelers visiting Georgia. It is the season of harvests, when tables bend under the weight of freshly picked apples, apricots and grapes. Wine is omnipresent, its scent and taste sensed wherever you turn. The grind of daily life relents as people relax with friends and family in the sunshine. If you are lucky, you may get invited to join them over a glass… or ten… of wine!

How to Get Around Georgia

Located in the heart of the Caucasus, Georgia is surprisingly accessible. Direct flights connect Tbilisi with global travel hubs, including Berlin, Paris, Moscow and Istanbul. Budget airlines offer over forty flights to the country's third-largest city, Kutaisi. There is also a small yet efficient system of affordable domestic flights.

If flying is not your thing, try traversing the region on Georgia’s trains: A direct railway connection links Tbilisi with the shores of the Black Sea, while international trains from Georgia to Azerbaijan and Armenia depart on a regular basis. For those who prefer greater flexibility and maximum privacy, travel by private car will allow you to enjoy the scenery in comfort.

Georgia Travel Map

Use the Georgia Travel Map to locate the country's key landmarks and learn what each one has to offer.

Georgia Travel Map

 

How Many Days Do You Need in Georgia?

Georgia offers an abundance of natural, historical and religious wonders, and you could easily spend days, if not weeks, exploring this addictive country. Our Georgia travel itineraries encompass tours of varying lengths and diverse routes which can be tailored to fit individual interests and schedules. Yet we understand that you may need some initial guidance to plan independent travel in Georgia or to gain a feel for the country before booking a tour package. Based on years of experience in designing such journeys, we recommend the following:

  •  
    Tbilisi – Georgia’s capital offers an attractive blend of modern and historic architecture, charming parks and a plethora of museums, theaters and art galleries.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral, Tbilisi Sulfur Baths
    How to get off the beaten path: Visit Georgian Pantheon or stop at Dry Bridge Flea Market to search for antiques and Soviet memorabilia.
  •  
    Mtskheta-Mtianeti – Beautiful region in the heart of the Greater Caucasus and home to Mount Kazbek, it’s perfect for summer trekking and winter skiing. It also holds some of Georgia’s most important historical sites, including the first capital of Georgia, Mtskheta.
    How long should I stay? 1-3 days
    Major Sites: Mtskheta, Ananuri, Stepentsminda (Kazbegi)
    How to get off the beaten path: Experience Gudauri Ski Resort’s winter charms or trek among the fortified villages of Khevsureti.
  •  
    Kakheti – This land of grapes is a must for anyone interested in local winemaking traditions. Home to 75 percent of Georgia’s wineries , it produces some of Georgia’s most popular wines and is also renowned for its exquisite cuisine and marvelous historical sites.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Gremi Fortress, Sighnaghi, Telavi, Tsinandali
    How to get off the beaten path: Wander the remote highlands of Tusheti or explore the rock-hewn David Gareja Monastery.
  •  
    Shida-Kartli – This landlocked province symbolically unites Georgia’s millennia-long history on a plain nestled between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Gori, Joseph Stalin Museum, Uplistiskhe Cave Town
    How to get off the beaten path: Many travelers do not realize that Shida-Karli is also a prevalent winemaking region. Contrary to Kakheti, the area is dominated by small-scale, family-owned wineries. Consider a visit to the wineries in Kaspi or Igoeti.
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    Imereti – Home to Georgia's second most important city, Kutaisi, and the perfect place to combine historical and nature tours. Caves, waterfalls and canyons vie for space with UNESCO Heritage Sites, while bazaars tempt with assorted produce and warm breezes carry whiffs of Black Sea waves.
    How long should I stay? 2-3 days
    Major Sites: Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery, Prometheus Cave
    How to get off the beaten path: Stop at Green Bazaar in Kutaisi to bargain for wine and fruit. Hike in the marvelous Okatse Canyon Park or take a boat ride on the sparkling waters of Martvili Canyon. For paleontology enthusiasts, the massive dinosaur footprints of Sataplia Cave Park are a must-see.
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    Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti – A charming region with exceptional mountain scenery and unique medieval tower houses which have survived thanks to the region’s seclusion. The pearl of Svaneti, Ushguli Village, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
    How long should I stay? 3-4 days
    Major Sites: Mestia, Ushguli, Zugdidi
    How to get off the beaten path: Leave your vehicle behind and hike from Mestia to Ushguli via the isolated mountain villages of Zhabeshi, Adishi and Iprali.
  •  
    Adjara – A wealthy province on the Black Sea coast near the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, it is home to splendid beaches, unique cuisine and Georgia's second-largest city, Batumi.
    How long should I stay? 2-3 days
    Major Sites: Batumi, Gonio Fortress, Batumi Botanical Garden
    How to get off the beaten path: Visit mountainous Ajara, inhabited by traditional Muslim communities, where you will find rare gems such as Khulo, a small town famous for its 1719-meter-long cable car used by residents to travel to nearby Tago village.
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    Samthskhe-Javakheti – One of the largest and most diverse regions in the country of Georgia, it’s a delightful conglomerate of mountain scenery, numerous lakes and noteworthy cultural monuments.
    How long should I stay? 2-3 days
    Major Sites: Vardzia Cave Town, Borjomi Resort and National Park, Rabati Fortress in Akhaltsikhe
    How to get off the beaten path: Come in winter and ride the "Kukushka" train from Borjomi to Bakuriani Ski Resort. In summer, travel to Paravani Lake and Poka St. Nino Nunnery, stopping on the way to admire the waterfalls of Dashbashi Canyon.

At Your Service

Whether you'd like to join a group tour, arrange a short day trip or request some extra help with in-country travel arrangements, we would love to help make your trip as smooth and memorable as possible.

Services provided by Advantour include:

Train Ticket Concierge Service
Local and international train ticket purchases.
Hotel Reservations
Select and book popular Georgia hotels.
Join a Group Tour
See our upcoming small-group tours with guaranteed departure dates.
Plan a Private Tour
Check out our Georgia private tour packages or contact us to design a personalized Georgia travel itinerary.

Holidays and Festivals

The effervescent Georgians love a good party and celebrate most significant events with splendid traditional feasts called supra. Come be enamored by the elaborate toasts of the supra’s presiding toastmaster, or tamada. Succumb to the seductive charm of vibrant, aromatic wines and succulent flavors of traditional dishes. Let the buoyant hospitality of Georgians engulf you in a flurry of festivity and fun.

Tbilisoba Festival, Georgia Travel
New Wine Festival, Georgia Travel
Independence Day, Georgia Travel

Some of Georgia’s most notable celebrations include:

New Year and Christmas Season (December) – In mid-December, capital city Tbilisi starts to shimmer under a canopy of holiday lights. “New Year” trees and decorations transform boulevards, shop windows and private homes into a winter wonderland, and holiday festivals and concerts are held daily. On New Year’s Eve, the merriment culminates in a spectacular fireworks show held on every main square across the country.
Best place to celebrate: Tbilisi

Orthodox Christmas (January 7) – Georgians recall the birth of Christ with joyful parades, special candlelight services and the decoration of chichilaki, a special Christmas tree made from dried hazelnut or walnut branches.
Best place to celebrate: Tbilisi

New Wine Festival (Second Saturday of May) – In May, Georgians and foreigners alike gather in Tbilisi to sample young wines fermented throughout the winter. The New Wine Festival comes replete with traditional Georgian dishes and a variety of artistic performances.
Best place to celebrate: Tbilisi

Independence Day (May 26) – Georgia's independence is duly commemorated with grand shows and firework displays. Public and private institutions invite visitors to tour their grounds, and concerts and exhibitions are held in every major city.
Best place to celebrate: Tbilisi

Tbilisoba (Early October) – Tbilisi’s birthday typically falls in early October, shortly after harvest time is over. The event is celebrated under the splendid autumn sky with sumptuous feasts, cultural performances and plenty of excellent wine.
Best place to celebrate: Tbilisi

Svetitskhovloba (October 14) – This unique festival celebrates Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, considered one of the holiest places in the country and included with other historical monuments of Mtskheta as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Svetitskhovloba festivities last the entire day and include concerts and cultural performances.
Best place to celebrate: Mtskheta

Check here for more information on local holidays and consider planning your travel to Georgia around one of their famous celebrations.

Dos and Don’ts in Georgia

DO:
  • Wear appropriate clothing when entering a church. Both men and women should have their knees covered, and women are also expected to cover their heads and arms with a scarf.
  • Learn several basic expressions in Georgian and always greet people by saying “Gamarjoba”.
  • Show respect for the elderly by letting them take your seat on the bus and allowing them to cut in front of you in a queue.
  • Confirm prices with taxi drivers before getting into the car to avoid being overcharged.
  • Watch your step; pavements in Georgia can be uneven, particularly on Old Tbilisi’s cobbled paths.
  • Bring flowers or other small gifts if you are invited to someone’s home.
DON’T:
  • Speak loudly or goof off around a church or enter a religious institution in revealing clothing.
  • Smoke in public places, including restaurants and bars.
  • Drink wine without first toasting someone.
  • Blow your nose in public.
  • Give an even number of flowers as a gift. Even-numbered bouquets are offered only at funerals.
  • Hesitate to ask for help or interact with Georgian people, most of whom are very friendly and will be happy to chat with you!

What to Eat in Georgia

Georgia's cuisine is an irresistible blend of tastes concocted from the best of Asian and European influence. You will find a rich palette of cheeses, yogurts and fruit, as well as vegetable paired with a variety of meats and spices. Some dishes appear only locally, while others are a part of Georgia’s Silk Road heritage and thus overlap with the cuisine of neighboring countries. All delicacies are accompanied by fine Georgian alcohol, most notably wine and homemade brandy called chacha. The heavenly flavors of Georgian dishes are sure to satisfy even the most refined gourmets.

Some of the most popular and tasty meals include:

Khinkali, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Khinkali

Perfectly steamed, juicy dumplings traditionally filled with mutton. Nowadays, you can also savor vegetarian options stuffed with mushrooms, cheese or potatoes.

Khachapuri, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Khachapuri

Georgia’s signature food, this delicious cheese-filled bread comes in many regional variations.

Lobio, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Lobio

Delicious stew made of mashed beans with spices.

Pkhali, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Pkhali

Georgia’s answer to European salads, pkhali is made of minced spinach, beets or cabbage and shaped into small balls.

Puri, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Puri

Georgians bake their bread in clay or metal cylindrical ovens called tone. The most popular variations of puri are the large, rounded tonis puri and long, narrow shotis puri.

Kitri Pomidvris Salati, Georgian Cuisine
Kitri Pomidvris Salati

Fresh cucumber and tomato salad served with local herbs and often eaten with walnuts or walnut sauce.

Chikhirtma, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Chikhirtma

Traditional Kakhetian soup of rich turkey or chicken broth which is thickened with beaten eggs.

Ajapsandali, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Ajapsandali

Excellent vegetarian dish blending stewed eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and herbs.

Churchkhela, Georgian Cuisine, Georgia Travel
Churchkhela

Delightfully sweet walnuts threaded onto a string, dipped in thickened grape juice and dried in the shape of a long candle.

Check out our Georgia Travel Guidebook for Food for an in-depth.

Georgian Wine

Georgia has been home to grapevine cultivation and wine production for at least 8000 years. The country produces over forty grape varieties which are used to create both popular brands and homemade artisan vintages.

Every year, Georgian wine gains wider global recognition. In 2019, the country exported 94 million bottles to 53 countries, the highest volume in the history of independent Georgia. Nowadays, you can likely find one of the following Georgian wines in your local store:

Georgia Travel, Wine
Georgia Travel, Wine
Georgia Travel, Wine

Kisi A high-quality white wine with a dark straw color and rich, varied fragrance.

Mtsvane Another prime white wine that comes with a gentle bouquet of melon, pear and freshly cut flowers.

Mukuzani An excellent dry red wine boasting a ruby color and a soft, smoky flavor of oak and berry.

Saparevi A lovely red wine famous for its fullness and intensely dark pomegranate hue.

Take a look at our Georgia Travel Guidebook for Wines to learn more about Georgia's vintages.

Speak the Language

Learn these Georgian phrases for your upcoming trip:

Phrase Georgian
Hello Gamarjoba
How are you? Rogor khar?
Good-Bye Nakhvamdis
Thank You! Madloba!
You are welcome Arapris
Yes/No Ki/Ara
Where is the... (airport)? Sad aris aerop'ort'i?
How much is it? Ra ghirs?
My name is… Me var or Me mqvia...
I don’t understand Ver gavige
Excuse me Ukatsravad
Please Tu Sheidzleba
Nice to meet you Sasiamovnoa Sheni gatsnoba
Cheers! Gaumarjos!

Virtual Travel Guide to Georgia: Further Reading

Did You Know That...

  • Georgia is considered the “cradle of wine”. Archaeologists discovered traces of winemaking dating back to 6,000 BC and further evidence proves that early Georgians discovered that grape juice could be converted into wine when buried underground for the winter. This is how the local technique of making wine in qvevri vessels was born.
  • The leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, was born some 80 kilometers away from Tbilisi in the Georgian town of Gori.
  • Famous singer Katie Melua was born to Georgian parents in Kutaisi.
  • The town of Bochorna in northeast Georgia, with an altitude of 2,345 meters (7,694 feet), is the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. Since the village has only one resident, however, the title normally goes to Ushguli (2,100 meters/6,900 feet a.s.l) as a more “substantial” settlement.
  • Georgia's folk music, well-known for its rich tradition of vocal polyphony, attained international recognition when it became one of the first cultural treasures included on Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity List in 2001. In 2008, its value was further recognized through inclusion on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • The “Khachapuri Index”, developed by the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University, uses the cost of making khachapuri to measure inflation in different Georgian cities.