Hidden Gems in Georgia12 Days | Tbilisi, Telavi, Tsinandali, Shumi, Nekresi, Kvareli, Sighnaghi, Bodbe, Mtskheta, Ananuri, Kazbegi, Gudauri, Gori, Uplistsikhe, Kutaisi, Prometheus Cave, Gelati, Motsameta, Nikortsminda, Katskhi Pillar, Chiatura, Borjomi, Akhaltslike, Vardzia

Tour map

There are plenty of places to explore in Georgia, from popular sights to hidden wonders. Take a 12-day tour to explore them all, with stops in several regions in Georgia. Start with a tour of the capital, Tbilisi, and then head out into wine country, with visits to some of the best places in the Alazani Valley and eastern Georgia. The next couple days are all about churches, and some of the most important places in the Georgian Orthodox Church: Bodbe Convent, Jvari, Mtskheta, and Gergeti Trinity Cathedral. Then discover some of Georgia’s natural wonders, from the caves of Uplistsikhe and Vardzia to the waters of Borjomi and Shaori Lake. In western Georgia, there are still plenty of places to explore. Of course there are more monasteries and churches, but there are also places like Chiatura (with Soviet-era cable cars) and Prometheus Cave (with underground rivers and stunning stalactites). And for just 12 days of traveling, you’ll go beyond these sights to discover Georgia in all its diversity and beauty.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Tbilisi – arrival – city tour
 
Arrival in Tbilisi. You will be met by our driver and transferred to the hotel. Check-in at noon.
You will start your journey in Georgia with a Tbilisi city tour. Start at Metekhi church and the monument of Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take a cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk down to the district of sulfur bath houses, passing by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area, full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars, souvenir shops, and breathe in the living past. Visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the clock tower of famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre. Cross the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. An excellent round-up to the city tour will be a visit to Open Air Museum of Ethnography, a miniature model of Georgia. In the evening, visit a local restaurant to taste dishes of traditional Georgian cuisine. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Tbilisi – Telavi (Batonistsikhe Museum) – Tsinandali – Shumi – Akhasheni
 
After breakfast depart for the Kakheti region of Georgia, the cradle of Georgian wine. The beautiful road lies through the Gombori Pass. Our first stop will be in Telavi, the administrative and historic center of the region. Have a short walk through charming streets of old Telavi and have a photo stop at the monument to Erekli II. Visit newly opened royal castle museum, Batonistsikhe, originally built in the 17th century. Drive to Tsinandali, a residence of Georgian dukes, with a beautiful English garden, museum, and the wine cellar, which belonged to Prince Chavchavadze, a 19th century public figure and poet. Continue to Shumi winery. Take a part in tradition of grape picking (rtveli)* and try baking Georgian traditional cheese pie, called khachapuri. A delicious lunch will be served in the winery. Drive to Akhasheni for overnight.
*Grape harvest is usually possible from mid-August till end of October
Day 3: Akhasheni – Nekresi – Kvareli – Sighnaghi – Bodbe – Tbilisi
 
Continue exploring Kakheti Region and the Alazani Valley. Check out from the hotel and continue to Nekresi Monastery. This complex was founded in the 6th Century CE and since then has been the religious center of the region. Continue to the unique Winery Khareba, located in a tunnel carved out of the rock. Originally built for military purposes, today the tunnel is used to store Khareba’s finest wines. Wine tour and wine tasting. Drive to Sighnaghi, the city of love and a royal town, one of the crossroads of the Great Silk Road, surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers. Have a lunch in Sighnaghi. Depart to Tbilisi, making a stop at Bodbe Convent. Legend says that the burial place of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century, is here. According to the decree of Tsar Alexander III of Russia, since 1889 Bodbe has been functioning as a nunnery. Continue driving to Tbilisi. Drop off at your hotel.
Day 4: Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Ananuri – Kazbegi – Gudauri
 
After breakfast, drive to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns and the cultural and religious centre of Georgia. Mtskheta was the capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the third century BC. Visit Jvari Church, a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval Period, built on a hilltop. Enjoy views of the confluence of Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is kept. Continue to Ananuri architectural complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes. The complex features churches and towers dating back to the 16-17th centuries, beautifully overlooking the Jinvali Reservoir. Continue driving on Georgian Military Highway, passing through the highest point of it at 2379 m above sea level. En-route, make a stop at the mineral water spring flowing down from a hilltop. Arrive at Kazbegi, a small town with the views of Mt. Kazbek (or Mkinvari) 5033 m, the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. Visit Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, located at an altitude of 2170 m, and enjoy breathtaking views to Mt Kazbegi. Overnight at the hotel in Gudauri.
Day 5: Gudauri – Gori – Uplistsikhe – Kutaisi
 
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Gori to visit Stalin Museum. The museum includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and impressive bulletproof train Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Explore the cave town Uplistsikhe, dating back to Hellenistic Period and notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures and the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. Drive to Kutaisi, the central city of Western Georgia, once called "Aia". The road to Kutaisi will take you over Rikoti Pass and through the longest tunnel of Georgia (1,722 m). The tunnel is also considered as a border between western and eastern parts of Georgia.
On the way make a stop to visit Ubisa Monastery, famous for its well-preserved and colorful frescoes dating from the 9th century. Have another stop at the village of Shrosha, where you will have a chance to see versatility of Georgian pottery:"doqi" - jug," piala" - bowl," ketsi" - plate and many more are made from clay that is extracted from the soil of the area. Arrive to Kutaisi for overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Kutaisi – Prometheus Cave – Okatse Canyon – Kutaisi
 
In the morning, have a short walk around charming old town of Kutaisi. Visit Bagrati Cathedral (11th century), one of the best samples of medieval architecture towering over Kutaisi and visible from almost any point in the city. We will leave the city and drive to Prometheus Cave, where you will walk in a 1.5 km long tunnel and enjoy breath-taking views of stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, underground rivers and lakes along the cave. The underground light system is filled with LED lights of all the colours of the rainbow, marvelously highlighting the natural beauty of the Prometheus Cave. Continue to Okatse Canyon, a natural monument of Georgia with scenic views. Drive back to Kutaisi. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Kutaisi – Gelati – Motsameta – Shaori Lake – Nikortsminda – Kutaisi
 
After breakfast, drive to Gelati Academy, built by King David the Builder in the 12th century. Gelati was the center of spiritual and scientific life of the Middle Ages, the tomb of Georgian kings and an important place for pilgrims. It is under UNESCO protection as an object of cultural and historical legacy. Continue to Motsameta Monastery to enjoy fantastic views over the Rioni River gorge. Continue to the north passing over the beautiful Nakerala Pass and making stop at Shaori Lake. The crystal clear water and beautiful forest around will make you feel part of untouched nature. Then visit Nikortsminda Monastery, famous for its unique frescos and architecture. Drive back to Kutaisi. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Kutaisi – Katskhi Pillar – Chiatura – Borjomi
 
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and head to explore other parts of Western Georgia. Drive to Katskhi Pillar. Stunning and mysterious, this 40-meter high natural limestone monolith towers over the gorge of the Karshuna River. On top of the pillar, there is a monastery and reconstructed 8th century church probably built by the Stylite. There is only one inhabitant: a monk named Maxim has been living in the monastery for 25 years in solitude and silence.
Continue to Chiatura, an industrial town founded in 1879. In Soviet Georgia, the town was a center of manganese mining. Presently Chiatura attracts visitors who are interested in Soviet industrial remains. To feel the past, you can ride Soviet-era cable cars still used by locals as transportation. This transport system has dozen of operating ropeway lines for passengers and two cargo lines for transporting manganese. The total length of the cable ways exceeds 6,000 meters. Drive to Borjomi for overnight.
Day 9: Borjomi – Akhaltsikhe
 
In the morning, take a walk in Central Park, famous worldwide for its mineral water reserves. In the afternoon, drive to Akhaltsikhe to explore Rabati fortress. The old stone Rabati Fortress, the main sight of Akhaltsikhe, stands on small hill on the very edge of the Potskhovi River. Its name means “fortified place” from Arabic. Overnight in Akhaltsikhe.
Day 10: Akhaltslikhe – Sapara Monastery – Zarzma Monastery – Abastumani Observatory – Akhaltsikhe
 
In the morning, start exploring the Javakheti Region of Georgia. This region has been cultural center of Georgian Kingdom during its golden ages (12th century CE). Drive to Sapara Monastery. Founded in the 9th century, the monastery was in the possession of the Jakeli family of Georgian dukes. Next stop is Zarzma, where one of the biggest monasteries of Georgia is located, where monks still live. Last stop of the day will be at Georgian National Astrophysical Observatory in Abastumani. Drive back to Akhaltsikhe. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Akhaltsikhe – Vardzia – Poka – Paravani Lake – Tbilisi
 
In the morning drive to Vardzia, a cave city built in the 12-13th centuries during the rule of George III and his daughter Queen Tamara to protect the southern boundaries of Georgia. Vardzia is not just a set of random rooms cut in rocks. It is a multi-storied complex with streets, tunnels and stairs leading to monasteries, temples, fortresses, baths, libraries, dwelling houses and more. Then drive to Poka Nunnery / St. Nino Monastery (11th century). Here you’ll have a chance to taste different kinds of unique Georgian cheeses: white and red Abuli, Javakhetian blue, Albio in a pot and others prepared by old Georgian traditions and other local products, such as jams, oil, chocolate, and honey. We will reach Tbilisi passing by the biggest lake of the country – Paravani Lake, enjoying a scenic drive. Arrive Tbilisi. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12: Tbilisi – departure
 
Check out from the hotel till noon. Transfer to Tbilisi International Airport. End of the tour.

Accommodation:

City

Economy option

Comfort option

Lux option

Nights

Tbilisi

Tiflis, Cherry Garden, Kopala

River Side, Coral Boutique

Rooms Hotel, Mercure or similar

3

Akhasheni

Akhasheni wine resort

Akhasheni wine resort

Akhasheni wine resort

1

Gudauri

Quadrum Hotel, Club 2100, Alpina Hotel

Carpe Diem, Monte Hotel, GoodAura

Marco Polo

1

Kutaisi

Old Town Hotel, Empire Hotel

King David, Argo Boutique

Best Western Congress or similar

3

Borjomi

Motion Hotel Likani, guesthouse on Erekle or similar

Borjomi Palace

Borjomi Likani Health & Spa Centre

1

Akhaltsikhe

Hotel Tiflis, Almi guesthouse

Gino Rabati, Lomsia Hotel

Gino Rabati, Lomsia Hotel

2

 

  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan, 3-4 pax by Mercedes Vito or similar, 5-10 pax by Mercedes Sprinter passenger van);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour program with English speaking guide;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Wine tasting, cooking masterclass and lunch in Shumi winery;
  • Wine tasting at Khareba winery;
  • Cheese tasting at Poka;
  • Separate 4x4 car drive to Gergeti trinity church in Kazbegi;
  • Welcome dinner on Day 1;
  • Mineral water (0,5l per person per day).
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance.

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