Take a chunk of Eastern Europe and infuse for centuries with a pinch of Middle Eastern influence and a sprinkling of Byzantine beauty.
Conveniently close, yet tantalisingly different, Georgia lies between Turkey and Russia on the shores of the Black Sea. With an intricate history confounded by its position on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, there’s a fascinating cultural heritage to uncover. Its well-read population are famed for their hospitality and the food combines an exotic blend of flavours.
Known as the ‘balcony of Europe,’ Georgia’s glorious upland scenery mellows into gentle vine-clad valleys around Kakheti, producing some world-class wines. Contrast the dynamic capital of Tbilisi with remote villages hidden amongst the peaks of the Caucasus, and the buzzing beaches of the Black Sea... One thing’s for sure – this intriguing country has plenty to explore.
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Top things to do in Georgia
There are many wonderful experiences to be had in this ancient and intriguing country. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local experts, but in the meantime here are our top things to do in Georgia.
Head for the hills
High in the rural heartlands of the Caucasus Mountains, the true splendour of Georgia is laid bare. Alive with fascinating tales and myths, the Caucasus hold a kind of magic that has remained unchanged for centuries. Journey through steep peaks and picturesque villages where Jason adventured with his Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. This is prime hiking country with routes to suit all abilities. The Svaneti region is particularly spectacular and is home to Ushguli, Europe’s highest inhabited village.
Indulge your taste buds and feast on a delicious blend of European and Middle Eastern-influenced delights. Be sure to try Khachapuri – bread stuffed with melted cheese, and Khinkali – some seriously tasty dumplings. Pair these with herby, mezze-style fresh salads and hearty Persian-spiced stews.
Take your time in Tbilisi
Georgia’s colourful and cultured capital offers a fascinating blend of the old and the new. Divided in two by the River Kura, around its banks the laidback Old Tbilisi is perfect for discovering on foot. Explore hidden courtyards and narrow alleys and discover crumbling buildings alongside trendy pop-up galleries and underground cafés. At night the city comes alive with a fun and sociable nightlife that often spills out onto the streets.
A brief history of wine
Wine is a serious business in Georgia, one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world. The unique practice of producing wine in Kvevri clay jars has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list, and 8,000 years of tradition are respectfully upheld by passionate small-scale wineries.
Lesser-known things to do in Georgia
While there are many well-known things to do in Georgia, what about the lesser-known highlights? Our local experts have shared some of their top tips for where to go and what to do if you fancy a bit of an alternative Georgian adventure.
Delve into an ancient cave city
Three hours west of Tbilisi, Vardzia is an incredible 12th Century cave city that is said to have housed some 50,000 people. With a beautiful setting on the Erusheti Mountain it is well worth a daytrip.
Take to the slopes
Skiing anyone? Gudauri, Georgia’s main ski resort is just two hours from Tblisi and is well set up for visitors, with a developed ski town and even an English-speaking ski school. Further afield in the Svaneti region, there’s some serious powder to play in, as well as some challenging backcountry.
Long-distance horse riding is a fantastic way to explore the wilds of mountainous Georgia. In the Tusheti National Park, you’ll encounter semi-nomadic sheepherders, remote villages and dramatic mountain passes.
When is the best time to visit Georgia?
Spring and autumn (May, June and September) are the best times to travel for reliable sun and milder temperatures. Those looking to miss the crowds should consider travelling in Georgia’s off-season, the months between November and February. And if you’re planning to sun yourself on the Black Sea coast, July and August are the hottest months but be prepared for a some humidity.
Interesting facts about Georgia
Georgia is a fascinating country. But did you know any of our top three facts about it?
Hospitality is considered an art form in Georgia where traditional Supras, or feasts, are presided over by a Tamada – a toastmaster. Their job is to conduct proceedings and propose the toasts. They must be both eloquent and sharp-witted entertainers.
One of earth’s deepest caves is found in Georgia’s Western Caucuses. The Krubera Cave has been explored to a mind-bending depth of 7,200 feet.
Perched at 6,900 feet above sea level, the UNESCO-protected villages of Ushguli in the mountainous region of Svaneti are some of Europe’s highest continuously inhabited settlements.
Insider tips from our trusted local experts
Being local, our experts have an extensive knowledge of the secrets to experiencing the 'real' Georgia. Here are a few of their top tips - ask them for other recommendations when you enquire to ensure you have the most in-depth experience whilst on holiday!
Room with a view…
For a bird’s eye view of the capital, make the climb to Narikala Fortress perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the botanical gardens and the city’s famous bathhouses.
Head to Sharden Street in Tbilisi for a lively mix of shops and bars that comes alive at night.
What to read before you go to Georgia
If you're looking for something to get you in the mood before you set off on your travels to Georgia, we've gathered a list of our favourite books to inspire you.
'A Hero Of Our Time' by Mikhail Lermontov
'Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus' by Oliver Bullough
'Young Stalin' by Simon Sebag Montefiore
And for the culinary enthusiasts among you....
'Kaukasis The Cookbook: The Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond' by Olia Hercules
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