Georgia, the northernmost country in the Transcaucasian region, is full of surprises. It is an incredibly diverse country of stunning landscapes, beautiful villages, towns, charming churches, and cave monasteries. The Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains provide the perfect backdrop to such fascinating architecture. The constant power struggles between Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Russian Kingdom has left its mark in this culturally rich region. However, it is Georgians themselves who have created an incredible distinct country. There are so many fabulous places to visit in Georgia (Country) that you could spend years traveling around. However, we have chosen only the best ones for this Georgia itinerary.
How to Choose the Perfect Georgia Itinerary
Georgia is a country that offers just about everything. Therefore, your Georgia itinerary depends on your interests. This itinerary is for those of you who have at least 10 days to discover the best places to visit in Georgia. We will take you to Svaneti, the jewel of the Caucasus, the main cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi, and a couple of under the radar destinations. We are talking about the town of Sighnaghi, the Cave Monasteries of Vardzia, and the Akhaltsikhe Fortress. All of these destinations are unique and still mostly pristine. What else could you possibly ask for? Friendly people, delicious food, and great hotels complete the feast.
How to Travel around Georgia
Georgia has a longitudinal triangular shape. The main highway goes from east to west, connecting Tbilisi and Batumi. Most of the country is easily accessible, except for the northern areas of the Caucasus Range close to Russia. You need plenty of free time and patience to visit Svaneti. Take note that the new road that goes to Svaneti is very long and curvy. Another alternative is to fly directly from Kutaisi and save some time. You can travel around Georgia by bus, train, or plane. However, the most common way is by minibuses called marshrutkas, which can take you virtually everywhere. Other than on the Tbilisi – Kutaisi – Batumi route, you’ll probably be using marshrutkas throughout the rest of the country. They are quite authentic. So much, that cigarette smoke will surround you constantly.
Our Favorite 8 Places to Visit in Georgia (Country)
The entry point for many tourists, Batumi is an excellent first stop and a great introduction to Georgia. This important Black seaport sits among beautiful mountains and has a lot to offer: a charming Old Town, interesting fin de siècle buildings, new Disneyland style skyscrapers, monuments, and parks. And let’s not forget the very long beach!
Day 1 – Batumi
Batumi is all about quirky architecture. There is so much of it, that you need a bike to travel all along the coast. The city is also home to numerous churches of different denominations, a mosque, and a synagogue. Don’t miss its three squares: Theater Square, Europe Square, and Batumi Piazza. We strongly suggest you take the Argo cable car all the way to the hills in the afternoon to enjoy killer sunsets. Of course, if you go in summer, you have a very long beach to enjoy. Actually, in winter too, though you won’t be able to swim.
Where to Stay in Batumi
Batumi is a rather popular tourist destination on the Black Sea coast. Therefore, you have plenty of great hotels and guesthouses to choose from. That said, we loved the postmodern Sheraton Batumi for its unusual architecture and top-notch facilities. Ask for a top floor room for endless views.
The most beautiful section of the Caucasus Mountain range, the Svaneti region, is nature at its best. However, it’s far more than just pristine nature. Thousand-Year-Old defense towers still stand next to cute villages where domestic animals walk freely, and people are friendly and relaxed. You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The majestic mountains are the perfect backdrop to such idyllic life.
Day 2 – Mestia
In Svaneti, you should base yourself in Mestia, its largest settlement. Mestia is a pretty little town, dotted with defense towers. Get lost in its streets and climb the hill with the cross overlooking the city. There are treks for all levels of fitness, so don’t worry. If you have time, visit the Museum of History and Ethnography.
Day 3 – Ushguli
On your second day, you must go to Ushguli. The town is fairy tale pretty, surrounded by breathtaking landscape. The sleepy little village seems stuck in time, barely touched by tourism. All you have to do here is admire our out of this world planet!
Where to Stay in Svaneti
As mentioned, Mestia is the best place to stay in Svaneti, since it offers the most. In recent years, fantastic hotels and guesthouses have mushroomed everywhere. Our favorite is Chalet Mestia, right in the center of town. Their rooms are quite comfortable and offer great views.
Kutaisi is Georgia’s second-largest city and its legislative capital. Since the introduction of low-cost flights, it has become a common first stop for many tourists. The landscape is fantastic. But that’s not all. The city boasts architectural marvels, such as old stone houses, wooden balconies, and two important monasteries from the 11th and 12th centuries.
Day 4 – Kutaisi
Contrary to what many travelers believe Kutaisi is for sure worth visiting: the town has a lot to offer! Getting lost in its cobbled streets is a must; a visit to the Bagrati Cathedral too. The heavily reconstructed temple may not be a world heritage site anymore, but it’s still impressive. On the other hand, nearby Gelati Monastery is still a Unesco World Heritage. Don’t miss the new Georgian parliament building either.
Where to Stay in Kutaisi
Kutaisi is Georgia’s second-largest city with plenty of grey communist neighborhoods. Avoid them and stay in the center, where everything happens. We strongly recommend Hotel Terrace Kutaisi. You’ve guessed it: it’s a wonderful hotel with fabulous views!
Fortunately, Akhaltsikhe is not one of the country’s most popular sites, yet its recently renovated 13th-century Rabati fortress is worth stopping by. Like many other reconstructed buildings in Georgia, to some, it may lack historical value, but it showcases nicely how oriental fortresses looked like. We simply loved it! Don’t forget to check the church, mosque, synagogue, and the museum inside.
Day 5 – Akhaltsikhe
Akhaltsikhe is all about its magnificent Rabati fortress. The massive fortress dominates the city’s landscape. You can spend hours wondering about its cobbled alleys. Regarding contemporary architecture, the city’s best is the Akhaltsikhe Public Service Hall. Both structures demonstrate that Georgia is a country with a tradition of great architecture.
Where to Stay in Akhaltsikhe
Though Akhaltsikhe is not one of Georgia’s main destinations, it has a couple of fantastic hotels. Our favorite is undoubtedly the Hotel Gino Wellness Rabath. Located inside the Rabati Fortress, it offers a spa center, nice gardens, and great views. You read correctly: the hotel is inside the Rabati castle.
Vardzia, the largest cave monastery in Georgia, lies near the Mtkvari River in a beautiful mountain range just a few kilometers from Turkey. Most of the complex was built during the second half of the 12th century, including the beautiful Church of St. Dormition. Abandoned for centuries, today it is part of a large historical architectural museum-reserve.
Day 6 – Vardzia
In Vardzia, spend your time exploring the cave monasteries. Fortunately, you can access some of the numerous cells and small chapels. The views from the caves are superb and sunsets unforgettable. Be sure to have enough time to hike along the river Mtkvari. Once done, take a dip in a nearby natural sulfur bath.
Where to Stay in Vardzia
You can go to Vardzia as a day trip from Akhaltsikhe. That said, we believe spending the night is a must. Stay near the caves in the fantastic Vardzia Resort. They offer large rooms with great views, a beautiful garden, and a swimming pool. They also rent bikes perfect for exploring the area.
Without a doubt, Tbilisi is the most beautiful city of the former Soviet Union. Today, the city is the cosmopolitan capital of the Caucasus region. What’s more, Tbilisi is a refreshing change from the typical European heritage city. The city is absolutely unique, both when it comes to architecture and nature. Wooden houses, neoclassical palaces, art nouveau buildings, and ultramodern structures cohabit on both banks of the River Mtkvari. The National Park of Tbilisi and the Trialeti Planned National Park surround the city, providing the perfect backdrop.
Day 7 – Tbilisi Old Town
There are so many things to see and do in Tbilisi that you need at least a couple of days. Start your visit in its precious old town and walk about its old houses with wooden balconies. Don’t forget to spot its quirky Puppet Theater and its numerous ancient churches. Visit the sulfur baths neighborhood, Abanotubani, and climb to the Narikala Fortress.
Day 8 – Downtown Tbilisi
On your second day, cross the River Mtkvari, and walk to the Marjianishvili Square. From there, walk along the elegant Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue. Later on, visit the Rike Park and go all the way to the Sameba Cathedral. You can have lunch near Metekhi Church, at any of the restaurants overlooking the river. Rustaveli Avenue is the hip place to be in modern-day Tbilisi. You’ll pass by the City Hall, the Opera House, and the National Parliament. Walk to the river to check out the new Public Service Hall.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is a large cosmopolitan city with a wide range of hotels for every wallet and taste. Among the several fantastic hotels, we chose the Stamba Hotel for its unique design. The hotel is inside a thoroughly reconstructed former Soviet publishing house. In addition to class, you get premier service.
Mtskheta, the capital of the Georgian Kingdom for 8 centuries, is one of the oldest places to visit in Georgia and one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world. Mtskheta has a sacred place in the heart of Georgians. The country adopted Christianity in 334 AD here, second only to Armenia. The large Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the town center is the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Day 9 – Mtskheta
Since Mtskheta is small, you can rush through it in half a day. However, why would you? The place is gorgeous, and at night you will be mostly on your own. You should visit the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of the country’s most impressive churches, and a Unesco World Heritage site. The village itself is nice too, so spend some time getting lost on its quiet streets. For unbelievable views, climb all the way to Jvari Monastery. Go in the afternoon for killer sunsets.
Where to Stay in Mtskheta
As Vardzia, you can visit Mtskheta as a day trip or you can spend a night in the village. In Mtskheta, we recommend staying at the Hotel Gino Wellness Mtskheta, the best in town. They have elegant rooms, a small spa, and a swimming pool. The cathedral is just a step away.
Sighnaghi is the nicest town in the Kakheti wine area, the country’s easternmost region. The town sits on a hill overlooking the valley. What’s more, a massive well preserved 18th-century fortification surrounds Sighnaghi. You have several orthodox churches and numerous traditional houses with wooden porches to discover. Outstanding views and a dry mild weather complete the feast.
Day 10 – Sighnaghi
Sighnaghi is a rather small town and its main highlight is the old city wall and the views from it. Walkabout the beautiful houses with wooden balconies and enter the Basilica of St. George. In the afternoon hike to the Bodbe Monastery and the St. Nino’s Spring. Of course, wine lovers will be in heaven here. You can spend hours tasting the premier wines produced in the region while stuffing yourself with delicious Georgian food.
Where to Stay in Sighnaghi
All the hotels in Sighnaghi are close to each other. Hence, what distinguishes one from the other is the level of service and possibly the views. Our favorite is the rustic Hotel Brigitte, with a super nice garden and a pool. Ask for a room with unobstructed views over the Basilica.
Other Interesting Places to Visit in Georgia
As mentioned above, this 10 Day Georgia itinerary can’t cover all of the fascinating destinations in the country. If you have fewer days to spend, we recommend focusing on its main highlights, Tbilisi and Svaneti. If you don’t have time to visit Vardzia, go to Uplistsikhe or Davit Gareja. Both are smaller cave towns, but much closer to Tbilisi.
On the other hand, if you have more time, travel slowly or add more places to visit in Georgia to your itinerary. In the very center of Georgia, you’ll find the charming spa town of Borjomi. Apart from numerous traditional houses and a royal palace, you’ll love the clean air of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.
If you are into wine, consider a trip to the wine region of Kakheti. Several first-class wineries offer accommodation and wine tasting just outside lovely Telavi. It is a very nice town with an ancient fortress. There’s more: the impressive 11th century Alaverdi Monastery is just minutes away.
Finally, if you want more of an adventure, spend a few days in remote Tusheti. Just like in Svaneti, ancient towers abound, but the whole area is even more isolated. In fact, you can only visit in summer, when the infamous Abano (Torha) Pass is open.