7th January 2020
One of Europe's hidden gems, and a country steeped in history and incredible culture. Georgia may not be your first thought when it comes to where to spend your holiday, but it certainly should be. This fantastic destination is bursting at the seams with beautiful experiences to soften even the most hardened holiday-goer. From sweeping natural views to amazing cities, incredible food to ancient coastlines, Georgia, the country, has more to discover than you'd ever think.
Once you've taken a closer look at these ten things to do in Georgia, we are sure that you'll be thinking about a visit to Georgia immediately. Read on to find out more:
Spending time in Tbilisi is a must for anyone choosing to visit Georgia. An incredible capital city that dates back to the 5th century, this diverse and visually stunning location rests along the Kura River, surrounded by picturesque mountains and countryside.
The old town, in particular, is a riot of colour and incredible places to discover. Puppet shows are a frequent tourist feature of the city, and well worth seeking out.
Overlooking Tbilisi to the North is Narikala Fortress, which can be reached by cable car. For those that enjoy panoramic views of cityscapes, the fortress is an option to check out, granting amazing views over the city itself. Tbilisi is packed with amazing architecture, from ancient churches to modern structures, making for a fantastic contrast.
Khachapuri is a local delicacy to Georgia and forms part of the traditional Georgian diet, of course, it certainly doesn't hurt that this bread-based foodstuff is entirely delicious. Typically stuffed with cheese in various styles or forms, as well as eggs and other ingredients, these fragrant pieces of edible Georgian culture can be purchased from countless locations around the country. It's rare that you won't find these on the menu.
Declared as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Georgia, Khachapuri can be found as street food or in restaurants. While street food versions tend to be more portable, 'eat-in' versions of this dish are more elaborate. Rip off the crust and dip it in oozing, runny cheese, typically Sulguni cheese, what's not to love about that?
Another little-known area of cultural significance for Georgia is their incredible wine. While in Georgia, you can purchase it directly from the source. Georgian winemaking is considered to be a UNESCO world heritage experience, which makes these wine tours and tastings the ideal choice for more conscientious travellers.
As an incredibly fertile growing space for vines, Georgia has over 500 different types of grapes originating from the country. Many consider Georgia to be the birthplace of wine, with a wine history tracking back 8,000 years. In comparison to other European wines, Georgian wine is often more flavourful, stronger and is commonly used as part of cultural and traditional feasts.
With a lengthy history and some truly stunning sights, Mtskheta is a destination unlike any other in Georgia. Mtskheta was the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom for the 3rd to the 5th century. In addition to its fascinating history, the site also has great religious significance as the origin of Christianity in Georgia. Just 20 minutes outside of capital Tbilisi, Mtskheta is a great location for a guided tour in a single day and is more than worth the visit.
While Mtskheta isn't the place to go for wining and dining, it holds its appeal for history lovers. The convenience of its location near the capital allows visitors to get a glimpse into the past while still being close to the action. It is perfect for a half-day trip before returning to the modernity of the big city.
Another integral part of Georgian history is the Gelati Monastery, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and has been dated back to the early 1100s. Considered architecture created within Georgia's 'golden age', this incredible complex is located in Kutaisi, within the Imereti Province. The site is another with immense religious significance to the country and is well worth a look for those interested in local history.
While the Gelati Monastery is currently undergoing restoration, it's still fully accessible to the public. The site spans numerous mountains and hills as part of its structure. It's also worth noting that the Monastery is not only significant for its religious history, but also for its use for education and developments in mathematics and science for the whole of Georgia. If you're looking for history with an impact, the Monastery is the way to go.
Alongside its fascinating history and magnificent architecture, Georgia is also well known for its plentiful countryside, much of which is made of hills and mountains. The Caucasus Mountains are perhaps the best-known range and are full of different trails and treks for avid hikers or relative newcomers alike to enjoy. Stretching from northern Russia to Azerbaijan, there's plenty of mountain to explore.
Visitors to Georgia will be granted access to a range of different walking tours and hiking routes. The most popular of which includes Kazbegi, Svaneti and Tusheti’s mountainous areas for hiking. However, there are plenty of options for people of all ability levels, from relatively flat walks through the valleys of the mountains to high-energy hikes requiring stamina and expertise. The Gergeti Trinity Church is one such destination that requires a steep hike to reach.
Davit Gareja, Vardzia and Uplistsikhe are just three of Georgia's incredible cave-based destinations. The cave complexes are carved into towns and cities from the mountains themselves, proving to be a truly astonishing sight to any visitors that stumble upon them. Vardzia is a tourist favourite due to its incredible history as part of a fortification separating Christian and Muslim land back in the 1100s.
These days, Georgia's cave towns are no longer in active use, but they remain an incredible tourist location with a deep and rich history. Thanks to their creation using the strong surrounding of the mountains, each structure has been built to last and has held against the test of time. Making it the perfect educational visit for travellers that enjoy learning about the history of their destinations.
The Joseph Stalin Museum, based in Gori, is a key attraction for many visitors to Georgia. As the place of Stalin's birth, Gori has held a dedicated museum to the Soviet Union leader since 1957 and provides a glimpse into the past and history of Georgia as a Soviet country.
Attractions for the museum include the ability to step into Stalin's private train carriage, preserved as it was when he used it. You will be able to see countless other artefacts and items dating back to Soviet times. For history fans or families looking to understand the importance of Georgia's history, the house and museum of Stalin are attractions not to be missed.
Georgia may not be the first country you think of when it comes to chef-standard cuisine, but there's more to this destination than you might think. Some actually consider Georgian cuisine to be underrated, thanks to its many delicious influences such as Turkey, Greece and the Mediterranean. Chefs' masterclasses are offered in most of Georgia's biggest cities, and they're well worth a try.
You could go savoury with Khinkali, a kind of filled dumpling containing meats and spices. Or you could opt for something sweeter with Tatara, confectionary created from pressed and boiled grapes, originating from the country's plentiful vineyards. Whatever you pick, it's sure to be a culinary experience you won’t forget.
If you're the type that prefers to go low-key for your holidays, then Georgia can more than deliver. The Black Sea coast is the ideal place to try out the slower pace of life, with countless resorts and scenic spots to enjoy the oceanic views. Batumi is one of the most popular cities for its proximity to the Black Sea, and this is reflected in the bustling nightlife and incredible dining.
Why not combine your visits to the older regions and fortified towns, with a relaxing break on the coast?